Tom Tonkin - Driving B2B - Transcript
9:35PM Sep 29, 2021
Hi, I'm David Masover. Welcome to the driving b2b sales revenue podcast where I'll be interviewing senior sales leaders, sales experts, and sales service providers about what else what it takes to drive b2b sales revenue. So thanks for being here. Let's get started. Hey, welcome to the driving b2b sales revenue podcast. I'm your host, David, mass over today we have done a fantastic guest. We're talking to Tom Tonkin, CEO at the Conservatory group. Tom, welcome to the podcast.
Thank you, David, I look forward to this as well, a chance to nerd out on on b2b sales things. Who would ever use that in the same sense?
I know nerding, geeky and all that stuff, man, unless you're my kind of people, Tom, I love it. So let's, let's jump right into it with our traditional opening question. You've been in sales for a good long time, what what's the best piece of sales advice that you ever received?
So I was really young, this probably mid 80s, we had just walked out of a horrendous demonstration was terrible. The story itself would have taped the entire podcast. But in the back of my young mind, I thought there's no way we're gonna win this deal. I wouldn't buy from us. And the lead sales guy, an older gentleman came up to me with the big smile on his face and goes, this would be great, we're gonna win this deal. was like, Are you out of your mind. And he was really good. And, and he looked at me and he said, Tom, fundamental piece of advice I'll give you people buy from people they like, and they like us. And they like you. And I, of course, started talking about the technology and all this other stuff. And then none of that matters. And sure enough, that was the first deal of that fiscal year, and it was a big one. And that just stuck with me for for a long, long time.
I think, you know, people sometimes misinterpret this whole people buy from people they like thing, it doesn't exist in a vacuum. But I think that when you have a solid relationship of one kind or another, with the people you're working with, you get a little bit of latitude, when things don't go perfectly.
They see your intention, your see your heart, you know, you're trying to solve a problem for them. And they can separate the two where if they don't like you, they'll make up that excuse to be able to suggest that that's, you know, it didn't go their way So, but I have to tell you the spectrum between what I thought was happened, and what happened was amazing. And he said that to me, and I thought, Okay, well, that must be true. Of course, it's a lot more to it than that. But that's one that stuck to me for a long, long time,
young and impressionable. And it stays Top of Mind after all these years. That's correct. I love it. What's some of the worst sales advice you ever received?
same company, same set of issues. But it worked the other way around, where we did not get the deal, everything went went awry. And the person gave me this piece of advice. You know, Tom, if we only had a hard copy machine, we would have won that deal.
That was the missing piece?
That was it. We didn't have a hard copy machine in the demonstration. That was it. That was the euphemism for, again, it's the anti good piece of advice, right? It's like that's all about the technology, you got to have the right thing. And if we only add a hardcopy, we are nailed that. Which of course, is this most the silliest thing you can, you know, they can come up with but again, this was a seasoned sales professional giving me that piece of advice. When he asked that question, those are the two ends of the spectrum that come to mind.
Yeah, it's funny because we get a lot of advice as salespeople and I think that once you've been around for a little while, you kind of have a feel for what works for you. What doesn't work for you. If you've been around a little longer, you understand what works for other people. But man, when you're new, you're like, really, maybe
we'll get a chance to get into that. That's a little topic that I think we're going to be able to pull in here. Awesome. And that's some thoughts. So
that's great, because I you know, I'm excited about this episode. You were a guest on my other podcast, the short form single question, CEO sales insights podcast and your answer to the question to season five, it was about sales training was was really intriguing to me. And so that's why I wanted to invite Yon and I'm really, really happy that you're, you're looking forward to being with us today. And you've given this some thought we've talked about it had some email exchanges around it. But to give us a little bit of context, I want to ask you a little bit about your background, you spent about 20 years at Oracle, which is an extremely well regarded company with a reputation for let's call it organizational intensity. You had a variety of sales and sales leadership roles there, including your most recent which was senior director of sales enablement. I'm curious, what was it that attracted you to sales enablement? Because that's a very different job from working with clients and leading sales teams. What was behind that move for you? Well, if you take
a look at my career, just from a longevity perspective, you know, arguably, I'm an old guy. So sales enablement wasn't a thing way, way back when. So no one grows up just like someone says, You know, I can't wait when I'm 13 years old, I'm going to be a sales and no one says that, right? I mean, that's, and this is the same situation, no one ever says they're going to be a sales enablement person. What really happened was, there was two trajectories in my life that intersected. One was the sales part of it. I ended up in sales at a very young age. And second was my curiosity for trying to figure out what makes people tick, right, the whole behavioral thing. I'm a PhD in organizational leadership. That's nothing more to say, Boy, I'm super curious on that kind of stuff, right? You have to get a bachelor's and master's blah, blah, blah, you got to write, you got to research. And it's always been a curious thing for me, I just happen to pick up some pieces of paper some degrees, on my way, to really thinking about that. And that's really the intersection, I think it's the intersection of figuring out what makes people tick, in the context of selling both from a customer side as well as the salesperson side
is selling is kind of a funny thing, isn't it? It's kind of like dating, at the end of the day, it's just a conversation. But it's a conversation where at least one participant in the conversation has a desire for a very specific outcome. And I think that fundamentally changes the dynamic from what would otherwise otherwise just be
a couple of people talking, I would challenge that, and say, I challenge it like sort of in a more intellectual way to elevate the conversation one notch up, because I would say there are two people in that room that want the exact same outcome. When you solve a problem. The problem is when the salesperson doesn't want that they're more concerned about selling something than solving a problem. And so that's where you get the discrepancy. But if you're a good salesperson, and you have the mindset, that you're here to help solve a problem, which by the way, I'm willing to bet most customers want that as well. You're instantly on the same page. That's where you distinguish the the success from the not successful.
Fantastic answer. And I think that brings us right into the core topic that we wanted to get to today, which was this question that I asked you on the other podcast, which was, which was a brutally simple question to a complex topic does sales training work? You had some pretty interesting ideas far beyond a simple yes or no answer. One of the ideas that you threw into the mix was the idea of why bad sales training is perceived to be effective, and you captured it with this phrase, synthetic measures? Can you unpack that idea a bit for us here.
Let's start with a running, you know, a running start. Imagine a situation where there is no training. And people are trying to figure out how to get better. So there's chaos ensues, people try to buy content from other people, all this other stuff, then somebody shows up with, arguably, let's say bad training, let's just categorize it for this conversation, that it's bad training it but it's structured. And there's like a course outline and the curriculum and a rubric. And boy, that feels right. And then next thing, you know, people start elevating themselves and performing at a higher level than before. So people would say, Well, this is actually good trade. But the problem is you're comparing it to what was happening versus what could happen. And this brings me into this topic of synthetic measures, I picked the term synthetic, it's part of a blog that I wrote a long time ago, which by the way, ended up getting picked up by all sorts of people. There are two definitions of synthetic if you would like to flip to the dictionary and I fused The both of them the first one is this idea of manmade chemical compound right as synthetic oils that exists right. So, take the manmade are part of that and equated to the second and lesser, lesser known, which is this idea of having truth or falsity that is determined by your experience. So it's an assertion, or an idea that's could be true, or it could be false. But it's really, depending on your experience. Brett Weinstein, if anybody is a podcast person, is just an interesting academic. look him up. He has this term called the metaphorical truth. And the medical physical truth is this truth, but it's based on false falseness, and he gives a great example. And that example is there's this tribe in Indonesia. That believes that tsunamis are this big, huge sea monster that comes up and trashes people and kills people. And they can feel the sea monster getting ready because they, they, they can read the winds and the temperature and the ground shakes. And so what they do is they head for the hills. So here comes a tsunami, this this tribe goes around and warns everyone they say loved Here comes the big monster, and then was like, come on, there's no monster. And sure enough, they head for the hills. And here comes a tsunami wipes everybody out. And then people come and go, what happened? And like we told them, the monster was coming, they wouldn't move. And sure enough, here they are, they wiped out a metaphorical truth. So what happens is we have metaphorical truths and sales. The idea that, well, if I, if I take a lot of courses, if I consume a lot of content, I will become a better salesperson. If that's the assertion, then the synthetic measures utilization, I know why you haven't performed and sales, your utilization on the content is only 20%. Where are these other people are 50%. And hence, that's the problem. But then there's the other aspect of saying, Well wait, how about those that have performed, but also the utilization is down? Let's say, well, they didn't need that kind of training, or they already knew the content, which suggest that that training is correct. It's the big tsunami monster that I've been talking about this entire time. And so what you do is you create synthetic measures, those that are manmade, and have this determined by experience flavor to measure that thing you already want to measure to begin with, which is the utilization of your content.
So how do you get past that? I mean, it seems pretty natural, right? I'm a sales manager, I'm a sales director, I've got a big investment in the sales content I invested in the sales training, why wouldn't I bang people's heads? If they're not consuming it? Especially if they're not performing? What's a better perspective to take? How do you measure that? And how do you infuse that into an organization?
I don't think most organizations take the time to actually connect, let's just say the program, right? Because it's not just content, right? It's programs, experiences, measures, metrics, and to connect it to the outcome based upon a set of skills. Let me give you a really, really, really good example about sales reports. I'm sure your audience has heard about this idea of lagging and leading indicators, lagging indicators, are those results. And leading indicators? Are these they measure systems? like am I headed in the right way? If I do these things? Can I do it? Will I get to the appropriate lagging results? Here's the problem with reports that come out of CRMs. And the types of reports that CEOs and sales leaders asked for their two types. There's the lagging, indicator report. Look, we didn't make our quota, or we did make our quota, right, these are all things that things have already happened, and you report on them. And that's fine, and you need to do those things. And then there's what people believe is a leading indicator, which is forecasts. But here's the problem, David, those forecasts are predicting lagging indicators. They're not leading indicators. I made a million dollars last quarter, and I'm doing the same thing. So therefore, I'll predict that my lagging indicator will be a million dollars. That's not useful in this case. And this goes right back to all the sales measures and all of the KPIs. There are no good predictive models in the sense that they should conduct to leading indicators. Am I doing the right things? to get me to my results? I'll use a standard example losing weight. So everybody can get that lagging indicator get on the scale, and it's a number. And that number is accumulation of a whole bunch of decisions and things you put in your mouth and whether or not you exercise. That's it right there you have it and the story. What's a leading indicator lean nerd says Well, okay, let's put less in my mouth. So by calories, potentially, or portions or whatever the unit is. and exercise right after burn mean the math is pretty simple. If you want to lose weight, you have to consume less than you burn to completely different scale and pounds versus minutes and calories. Right two different instruments. So imagine us doing the following. I get on the scale and I look at the weight. And then what I'm going to do is I'm going to predict that tomorrow. I will have less a lesser number. There. I'm done. forecasts that is what sales leaders do today.
What are the leading indicators that we shouldn't be looking at and sales? Do they exist?
Well, absolutely. But I will say this, they exist in different shapes and different organizations, because they do connect to operational models. How do you report your revenue? You know, that kind of stuff, right? It's like, you know, are you a recurring revenue kind of company? Or you're, you know, widget, quarterly widget company, you know, those kinds of things, right. But then, because obviously, what's happening now with car sales, have you seen that, where there's a chip shortage. And now, because of that chip shortage, you can buy a used car for the same price as you can buy a new car, because there are new new, no new cards to buy. So had I measured a building cars as my leading indicator, I would have not been able to predict my lack of sales, because I didn't encompass the fact that I can't get chips for those cars. There's a picture on the internet, I think it's Ford, that has just rows and rows of F 150s. All just sitting there already built ready to go waiting for chip. Okay, great. But all I know is I'm not getting a dime each day that goes by because I can't sell those cars. So had I used last year's measure of, hey, am I building enough car for demands might be a leading indicator for me to sell. But in this case, it's not my leading indicator needs to be When am I going to get chips to put in the car. So I think not only does it change by organization, but it also changes by whatever the external factors are at any given company.
So when you and I had this conversation, a couple of weeks ago, when we recorded this other podcast, we were talking specifically about about sales training. And I want to dig in a little bit to some things that you did in terms of sales training, and some ideas that you have around sales training. My macro takeaway was, this isn't the kind of stuff that you typically hear about, typically, you're hearing about, you know, people training on tactics, maybe they're doing role playing, they're talking about concepts. Why is that not enough to be effective? If the goal is to have more effective salespeople?
Let me ask you the question back to you. How's it working? Yeah,
okay, that's fair. But you know, as with as with your answer to the to the metrics question, it's specific to organizations, there's lots of factors. So if we're just isolating on training,
the first thing we have to understand is, you're in this business. Somebody calls you up, and they basically did, the questions are never around hard skills. Like, you know, David, we're really having a hard time teaching people how to use Salesforce. Hey, that's not a question that comes up. That's a hard skill, right? We've got hard skills figured out. I bet you get a question I do every day in our communications and submit Lackey, and you know, our leadership and our ability to deal with difficult conversations, soft skills, soft skills, soft skills. That was my first indication that something isn't working. I'm a sort of a behavioral anthropologist, I just take a look at what's going on. And I go, no one seems to be asking me this kind of question or asking me this other kind of question, what are the categories I can split up? So it was a soft skills issue? Okay, so then you dive into it and go, okay, what's going on? Well, online training in general, is perfect. It's wired, for hard skills. If you go out to the Internet, and Google my name, you'll see a whole page. And I bet you half the presentations I give our is on this exact topic, this idea the difference between hard skills and soft skills? And how do we actually train for? And so what people do is they just say, look, it seems to be working for the hard skills, you know, seems to be working for Java, and how do I fill my Salesforce? Why not just take this model lifted? Move it over and drop it in over here? And then boom, goes right back to the conversation you and I add about this synthetic measures? Well, you know, he didn't do enough of it, or didn't practice or even ask questions or, you know, it's you, you It's all your fault. Now, anybody who's been in the sales model, I mean, you know, it's the scapegoat sometimes works both ways. It's like, you know, you didn't make your quota because of you and you didn't train because of you and, and at the same time, it's like the quarterback of sales, right? It's like, you know, the quarterback gets all the accolades. If they win, and they get all the issues, you know, your American football fan, you get all the issues when you lose, and neither is true. So I would suggest the same year to so I think that the training is, you know, in summary, I think the training is really about what is analogous to what we need for soft skills, because that is the problem and is not the same as hard skill training,
we talk a lot about how sales is about relationships, you gave the great advice about if they like you, you know, you can get a lot of latitude. That's not something you're going to learn from an instruction manual. So how do you teach soft skills effectively?
Well, let's really nerd out a little bit here for a second. And I'm going to give your listeners some words to Google. So the first thing we have to understand is we learn hard skills and soft skills in different ways. And because our brain does it differently, hard skills are pre frontal cortex kinds of things. And so therefore, we need to figure out what to do with the prefrontal cortex to get that soft skills is the limbic system, the limbic system is where the fight, or flight or fright or flight can even say it analogy, you know, comes in, it's the emotional side of things. And so if I'm giving you prefrontal cortex kinds of techniques, I'm feeding in the prefrontal cortex. But guess what, that's not where the soft skills are housed. And so what we need to do is we need to start looking at Well, what what do we need to do to feed the limbic system, and it's things like role play, but role play with two very specific ingredients, context, and psychological safety, if I am role playing with you, and I know that I'm role playing with you, and no one's gonna get hurt. And everything is fine. I'm still not getting into the limbic system. I'm still in the prefrontal cortex world. It's all cognitive. We're just reading lines. Yep. And I say the right thing, and you say, Hey, good job, Tom, and all this, and then we tick it off. And we have our synthetic measure, again, of saying, Look, he did the roleplay. But what if you didn't know? What if you didn't have psychological safety? What if your boss is watching? What if you know all this other stuff? I'll give you a real world example that I do in my in my training, which once I divulge this, nobody will sign up for my training. Here it goes. I did a roleplay with four sales reps. And it was in the morning. So they had to prep I gave them I gave them homework the night before with the left, and it was a it was a Who are they going to present to What's the situation? You know, what deck are they going to do? What's their value prop that? Right? Which of course, as you'll find out, that was none of that had anything to do with anything of the exercise. So here comes as a first rep, and it all kind of goes according to plan. And they go according to plan. And everyone's like, okay, okay, get it. Yeah. Okay. So it sounds to my turn, rep number two comes up. So they're about to do the line, you know, feeding you the line. Well, unbeknownst to them, I've changed the context. What I do is, I'm about to sit down and roleplay and Dr. Tonkin, there's somebody waiting for you in the lobby, and was wondering if you could see him, Well, who is it? Well, it's the CEO of this companies. He's literally here, like, I know, some I got to take this, but I want to disrupt the roleplay. Let me go get a buddy of mine. And roleplay. I bring it up. And so the context was that I'm supposed to be this disgruntled prospect. But then my buddy comes in, and he thinks the opposite. He thinks that it's great. I love who you are. And let's talk about something else. And watch the people just have a meltdown? Well, hold on a second, I've spent three hours on this PowerPoint. I'm showing you this PowerPoint, whether you like it or not, because I worked on this and the guys go No, no, I don't need to see the PowerPoint. Let's talk about strategy. Let's talk about really cool things. And they the you know, the psychologic safety went down the toilet, the context completely changed. Let me ask you, David, as a professional, I've given you this scenario, am I out of bounds?
Absolutely. Not this kind of stuff happens in the real world all the time,
all the time. And yet, we never prepare for it. Never.
Is that the point? I mean, this is this is kind of like one of these reality shows meet sales training. Right, let's let's throw in the tryst, let's make it psychologically unsafe, as you put it is Yep, the point.
Well, that is one of multiple points. But how do I crack open? And again, hopefully people wrote these down? How do I crack open the limbic system for me to be able to stuff some some skills in that spot. And by changing the context and getting rid of psychological safety, that's how I get in there. And all of a sudden, you bet your bottom dollar that that guy lit up, right? He's like, I'll never let that happen to me again. I'll be prepared next time, well, good, because there will be a next time and you will learn and you'll be ready and whatever it is that you need to do and you just keep doing that over and over with different skills in that particular skill was a value proposition presentation skill, I could do the same, you know, pick your, your soft skill, I can create that same scenario over again, I'd have a lots of different stories about what I've done like that in the past where you. So you know, everybody started catching on, right? Because this was a multi, multi week, multi session training with me and everyone started catching on. But here's the fun thing. They never knew what the twist was going to be. And before you know it, David, guess what? They're learning soft skills. You have to understand what the goal is. There's a YouTube where there's a pitcher, and you and I were talking about baseball, and there's this pitcher was kind of an entertaining pitcher. And his team was losing. And so they bring him up to the mound. And he started pitching really, really slow. And the commentators like what is this guy doing? Oh, turn off the speed gun. Oh, this is just embarrassing. And he's pitching really slow, and then a little faster and a little slower. And he got three outs, bam, bam, bam, nobody got on base, nobody scored a run. And the entire time, the announcers, were talking about how embarrassing it was that this pitcher got up. And through these, these really easy softballs throws, I thought, hold on a second. This guy's brilliant. What's the goal? Is the goal to throw the ball really faster is the goal to get three outs? Is the goal in sales, right? To give a flawless presentation to someone who could care less, or to change your, your approach to throw softballs instead of hard, fast balls. But yet, get that goal, get get your point across, get the out. So you know, again, right, that parallel metaphor that I'm trying to paint people's minds, I personally believe that a lot of people get wound up on, I'm going to deliver a flawless presentation and that really pay attention to whether or not the people across the room are actually getting the message.
Is it a stretch to say that we get so hung up on what we're supposed to do? that we're not present? Or maybe the better question is, are we so uncertain about what we might have to do? That we focus on what we think we're supposed to?
Yeah, that's a Yeah, that actually that is the question. That is the question. And I will tell you this, I'll go a step further. Our sales environment breeds that behavior. How many times have you seen sales reps that have retired quota three years in a row become sales managers, that was probably one of the worst things anyone could possibly do. Because you gain a mediocre manager and you lose a really good salesperson. I'm a real big advocate of of reboarding, or onboarding. When sales people make that jump. If you go from an individual contributor to a certain territory to may have maybe a larger territory and industry Okay, get it, right. It's kind of kind of seemed kind of skills, you're gonna keep doing that. But the minute you go from that to say, a line manager, that's a different job. It's a completely different job. And for whatever reason, companies actually wire this. They they're wired to do this, right? They go, all right, David left for another for greener pastures. And now we need to replace them. Louisville, retired quota the most. And everyone can expect it because like, oh, okay, yeah, Tom's gonna get that job because he did really well, last year. Tom gets the job. He knows nothing about management. He doesn't know anything about that. As a matter of fact, he thinks he's a super sales rep. Why does he think he's a super sales? rep? Well, that's how David treated him that David was a super sales. So before that, so so it there's this nasty, nasty cycle, that it's pervasive in our business? And, you know, hopefully we someday we'll we'll be able to break it right? Or better yet, I think companies that are most successful, have figured that out and then have broken it. I've been
in sales for 30 years, I've been consulting, training and coaching for a little more than half of that. And one of the questions that keeps coming back to me is, do we even understand, you know, globally, the sales community at large, not this little pocket of that little exception, but do we even know what sales is and how to teach it? And how to make people better at it is it sounds like this is what you're saying? Like, we've kind of been doing this all wrong?
Yes. To your point, right. There's pockets right? There's pockets of goodness as well. But I will go back to the one of the first questions we talked about, which is this idea of this bad training. The fact is that there are highly structured, fun programs out there that appear to work because of this, the idea of structure. The idea that you know, here's a course here's do this and do that. Now, before somebody sends me an email or something about how, yes, they do work, I will tell you through my own personal research, that the real key that is standard throughout our entire industry is, is a salesperson self directed. That is the magic key. Are they self directed? Are they? Do they understand how they learn? Do they understand what they need? And so when I train people, I don't get caught up on what model you use. Like I said, I think I might have said this before, it's like, my favorite British statistician, George P box. Everyone should have a famous British statistician friend basically says all models are wrong, some are useful as how I feel about all of these tactics, right? They're all wrong, but some are useful. So you turn around and you say, Okay, well, my company uses, you know, Model X to sell, where's my focus, my focus is, let me help you teach you how to learn that model for your effectiveness, not teaching you the model itself. And the way I do that, is by making you more self directed. And there's an entire model that we could talk about some other time, but there's actual steps and exercises and all this. That's my bread and butter, really. And so I don't get wound up on I've got the the better mousetrap, right? It's like what what is it that you would that you did that you want to do well at or better at, let's work on your self direction,
it makes an awful lot of sense, Tom, because if you kind of take a step back and look at the the raw materials of what it is that we do, and sales are the components of a particular model, they aren't terribly complex, I don't think it's a net unac a lack of knowledge, that is preventing people from being successful as sales. And it sounds like that's exactly what you're tapping into.
Exactly, you know, you go back, and there's some people that utilize certain models. And they're very, very successful, I would also say, and then they take that model and go from job to job and they're successful. And they go, this is the model. But I would say if I were to take a look at your sales growth experience, I could have dropped another model right in there for you would have been just as successful. And the key is, is that you understood how to be self directed in your adoption of said model. And I think, for those salespeople that are listening to this episode right now, that is probably why you are successful, or that is why you're probably not successful, not because of the model, either situation, meaning you're successful, or you're not successful. It's not the model, it's your self direction. And so my view is those that have success, you have good self direction, those that are not, don't worry about the model, work on yourself direction, and then adopt whatever model you think you should adopt.
Sorry to interrupt before but you kind of anticipated my next question, which is, if a salesperson is out there listening, and they're like, gosh, this guy, Tom is making an awful lot of sense, I can completely understand all of this, I can see where becoming more self directed is the golden key. My organization isn't really into that. How does the salesperson get from point A to point B, if that's something that they're interested in?
So the good news, we live in 2021. And we have the internet, we have Google. And there are all sorts of resources out there, around self direction. And you'll be able to do that. Now what's funny is it's some of this is kind of counterintuitive, because what I'm asking you to do is to be self directed about your self direction. What about those that aren't self directed? Well, I'm going to tell you the number one linchpin for being self directed. And that really is your manager, or your leader, or whoever you depend on to guide you, which also sounds a little bit ironic, right? That's exactly it. And so what I do when I'm engaged is there is also the ability to help sales managers, be teachers, if you will, of the reps that potentially are not as self directed. So for example, if I am not self directed at all, like I'm a newbie, I do better with somebody that's an authoritarian. However, if I am highly self directed, I do better with people that are what I call resources or advisors. Here's the problem. Let's just say there's basically there's four levels of self direction. We'll get into all the nerdy and this or that, but just say that there's for the problem, isn't it? Let's just say they're all equal. 25% people The problem is that if I am a certain type of manager, whether my authoritarian or a, an advisor, or a coach, I'm missing out on the other 75% of the meaning I'm really good with 25% of the people, so they match up nicely. And so what happens is, if I'm an authoritarian, and I'm trying to manage a highly self directed person, what do I say? He's a lone wolf is a, you know, bad cop who is a is like a good cop on his own terms. You know, all you know, that sounds like a movie, you know, that sounds like a bad Sylvester Stallone movie, right? Where you start bringing up all of these excuses an idea for that particular person? We're No, no, no, no, that's not the case. The case is you're an authoritarian, because you're telling that person to be more self directed, and they're being more self directed. And their self direction requires them to do something different. For example, why do I need to fly to Dallas for three days to learn this stuff? Because the way I bet I learned best is I locked myself in a room with YouTube, and I'm good to go. But then you have the people that aren't self directed go, Well, what do I need to do? Well, you need to go to the Dallas and learn to stuff. Yes, sir, Off I go. The problem is, that's may or may not be the way they best learn. So there's a whole bunch of gaps that occur with these misalignments between self directed people at the different four degrees. They're associated managers, and therefore, to different four degrees, and then the multitude of models that people use to learn. Throw that all in a big bucket, turn it and you've got yourself sales organizations in 2021.
Yeah, I think you throw that in a bucket, and you wind up with a CEO or a sales leader with a big old headache, right? It's like, how am I going to match up my sales manager, to the teams they have based on this, this, this concept that seems pretty darn important, but that I haven't really considered before?
I was, I mean, I was a sales manager. I mean, right? Cuz I did really well. And then hey, Tom, that's the next thing for you. The good news is I'm like, Okay, I'm self aware to say, I know all this stuff. So I've got to sort of drink my own champagne, a little bit on this. And so I figured out which one of these types of managers I am, which, by the way, I'm going to tell you right now, I'm not a very good manager, I'll come clean on that. I'm also not a very good leader, I would consider myself average to below average, as far as leadership is concerned. And here's here's from a guy who's got a PhD in organizational leadership telling you this, the problem is I happen to know and what do you measure? You're like, okay, Tom, you're not, I kind of have to be true to what I know. However, I'm a really good coach. I'm a great advisor, I'm a great coach. And so what do I do, I use that lever. For the other things, I asked my manager or my peers to help me with those that need managers or they need leaders to grow. But those that need coach, I got it covered. And then what's happened over time, if you go to my LinkedIn, and you have people that have recommended me, they'll say things like, oh, Tom was my favorite manager, Tom was a great leader that both of those are not true. What I was able to do is they adapted to the kind of coaching that I'm really good at, and they were able to absorb that and I was able to figure that out. And therefore they translate it to, I don't know, but this guy seems to be a good guy. So for those that are listening, probably appropriately confused by now. I think that is the self awareness that you have to have is saying, you just aren't good at everything. I'm sorry. But that's okay. If you know that work on your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses. We have this weird tendency in corporate America to fix our weaknesses that's a complete waste of time effort, because it never works. The effort you need to go one tick from your weakness one tick better, is like 10 times the amount of effort to be one tick better at your strength.
Self Awareness is a term that you use in this last answer and that's exactly the term that was on my mind. It sounds like you really have to know yourself but to know yourself and dimensions around which maybe you didn't think about before. It's not just about being a good salesperson it's not just about being a good coach. It's not just about being this are just about being that you know, what else is there that I might be missing that might be getting in my way?
I think you also have to come to the grips that you're not good at everything. Yep. I'm telling you, man, that seems to be such a weird thing. I'm sure you do to run across people that feel like it's a it's a weakness or a failure of some kind. If I were to admit that I'm not good at something, but my goodness, man that is that is that of that truth will set you free on that brothers because that is what you need to do to become better overall, go back to the pitcher. Okay, I'm not smoking these guys with my 95 mile fastball, but I bet you I can get them out if I throw this really soft, curvy things. And that's what he did. So, what's your right what's like, what's your superpower that you can bank on and not worry about the things that you're just not very good at, or just mitigate them get help get resources get, I have a few people work for me and one technical guy, right? When I started business on my own, I think like everyone who's ever done this, you know, you tried to create your own website. And you know, I was charging, I charged between, you know, 200 $250 an hour, you know, to just become completely transparent. And I'm trying to build my website. So the technical guy shows up, he says, only it gets straight, you're paying somebody, not very good $250 to build a website for you. Yeah, that doesn't make any sense, does it? But Heck, that's what I'm doing. Every hour I spend on a website, I'm terrible at it. It's awful. The product is terrible. And I'm paying somebody you know, $200 to do it. Makes perfect sense. So what's your thing? Right? So again, going back to your audience, David bone back to you, like, what's that thing for you? What's the thing that you have to reflect on and change and potentially mitigate and help? And by the way, it's, there's a lot of reciprocity, because the thing you're good at somebody needs, and you can go help them with that?
Yep. What am I good at, that I love that somebody will pay for?
Yep. And get rid of the stuff that's not those things, or, again, go find somebody that is good at those things. And, you know, and I use barter, you know, sort of a figurative kind of way. You know, there's a lot of reciprocity in our business. And I think we would do well with that.
Tom, this has been a great episode. We've gone deep on some stuff. I have never gone deep on in this in this podcast before. It's been a really enlightening conversation I want to close out with, with a more general maybe slightly off topic question or maybe not, we'll say but you've had a decade's long career in sales, sales, management, sales leadership, got a PhD and organizational development? What are some of the resources that have been most helpful to you, as you've traveled along this journey?
So being not only a professor of self direction, but a student of self direction, there are three that come to mind. I think things that are very tangible, is others. So other people have been resourceful? Now that sounds kind of like a chintzy answer. but bear with me, one of the self directed skills that you have to possess is what we call interpersonal communication. My ability not only to communicate, but to be able to get information from you that I need. That's hard. But when you figure that out, other people become incredibly valuable as a resource to you. Many times people go to other people go, Hey, Tom, tell me what you know. And somebody says, Sure, I'll tell you what I know. But is that what you need to know? Right? Yeah, there's a little self awareness. So that person may not necessarily be helpful. So other people, right, become them. Number two, is resources as books I'm an avid reader. But again, that sounds like a chintzy answer to so follow along with me to to get the specificity of it. When I read a book, I don't read a book to read a book. My mindset is what is this person saying that I can use for my needs, so completely different way of approaching it. So when I pick up now mind you, I'm talking about nonfiction business books, right now novels or stuff like that, but when I pick up a book, I'm not just reading what that person is telling me I'm reading what that person's telling me and looking for the gem that's going to help me find the holy grail that might help me and I got to tell you, there's not a book I've read that I haven't found a little gem in there, that has helped me all that adds up to font my final point of resources is the skill of critical thinking. and critical thinking is an objective analysis and evaluation to form a judgment. Now for me, the operative word is objective. I can go to the internet and I can find tons of resources that will say exactly what I want them to say. And I can see see David told you
right here on the internet, right?
Yeah, there's the old meme right it's like don't there's a quote from Abraham Lincoln Don't believe everything on the internet let that sink in for a second so my point is can you be objective in the sense that could I possibly be wrong and I gotta tell you I I've changed my mind on some very very serious topics in my life that way where I thought I was dead to rights correct? Only to sit there and go Okay, am I really and then find out that heck I've been I've been Wrong all along. There's a great book called wrong knology or something like that. It's like, Laura, her first name is Laura wish. I read all these books. I keep an eye on a great memory. But she talks about she's got TED talk, and she says this, she says, What's it feel like when you're wrong? And everyone says, oh, it feels terrible. No, no, no, that's not the right answer. I think that's the questions. The answer you're giving me is, when you feel bad when you realize that you're wrong. When you are wrong, it feels a lot like you're right. That's the big leap. It's like, you know, it's like, I'm walking around being wrong and kind of feels like I'm right. And all of a sudden, someone shows you that you're wrong. You're like, Oh, I feel terrible now. So I have found that be critical thinking specifically trying to be objective to form a judgment has really, really been a great self directed learning process. For me, which, by the way, continues till this day.
I would imagine you've already read the book, one of the books with that I've read with my favorite title. I might get this wrong. I read it quite some time ago. It was everything's obvious when you already know the answer. Yeah, same basic idea. Same idea.
Yeah, exactly. And then though, that, that that is that is exactly the point you're trying to make. And it's funny from a sort of a sterile academic, you know, sort of disassociated way to say that, but come on, folks. Everyone, you know, your shot from this podcast. We do this all the time. And I'm including myself, this is not a lecture or self deprecation on my point is just the honest truth. How many times have we found ourselves that way? Till this, I'm sure when we hang up, I'm going to go do the same thing. However, can we minimize it? Right, Kim? Can we lessen it? Can we write our wrongs? That kind of thing? And then that's really what I'm encourage everyone to do.
Dr. Tom Tonkin CEO at the Conservatory group, this has been a fascinating conversation. Many, many thanks for sharing your time and your insights and your wisdom with us. If people want to reach out to you find out about you learn more about you. where's the best place to do that?
So we guess my claim to fame is you can Google my name Tom Tonkin, and you'll find all sorts of different ways, but I am trying something new. I am a subscriber of voxer. My ID is Dr. Tom talk and Dr. Tom Tonkin, all one word. If you want to box me. I would love to chat with you about any of these topics. Because I find it fascinating and I learned a lot.
That's an enticing offer. I will certainly put that into the Episode Notes. And once again, thank you for sharing your time with us today.
Thank you for having me. Look forward to it.
You've been listening to the driving b2b sales revenue podcast with your host me, David mass over. If you'd like to learn more about how I can help you and your sales organization accelerate growth. Or if you'd like to be a guest on the show. Reach out to me at David mass over.com or find me on LinkedIn. Please rate and subscribe to the podcast to be the first to know about new episodes and thanks for listening. Now, let's go drive some b2b sales revenue.