Colleen Francis, The Sales Revolution

Colleen Francis provides a proven, realistic game plan to creatively adapt our sales and marketing efforts in a topsy-turvy world.

She is an award-winning speaker, consultant, and the author of Right on the Money: New Principles for Bold Growth.

A successful sales leader for over 20 years, Colleen’s results have attracted hundreds of industry-leading clients, including Chevron, John Deere, NCR, Trend Micro, Merck, Abbott, Experian, Royal Bank, and Dow.

Colleen is a recognized thought leader in sales leadership, an inductee in the Professional Speaker Hall of Fame, and has been named the #1 sales influencer to follow by LinkedIn.

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Show Notes

Colleen Francis provides a proven, realistic game plan to creatively adapt our sales and marketing efforts in a topsy-turvy world.

Colleen is an award-winning speaker, consultant, and the author of Right on the Money: New Principles for Bold Growth.

A successful sales leader for over 20 years, Colleen’s results have attracted hundreds of industry-leading clients, including Chevron, John Deere, NCR, Trend Micro, Merck, Abbott, Experian, Royal Bank, and Dow.

Colleen is a recognized thought leader in sales leadership, an inductee in the Professional Speaker Hall of Fame, and has been named the #1 sales influencer to follow by LinkedIn.

In Right on the Money, Colleen writes that the past two years could be regarded as “an evolutionary moment for sales”, and that “evolution came by revolution” as a result of the pandemic. That is, the world of sales was forever transformed once salespeople were forced to be creative sans traditional belly-to-belly interactions.

In fact, many sellers realized that they could be much more efficient and profitable working remotely to meet the needs of the new buyer, instead of being on the road all the time. Expense accounts could be scaled back and a lot of time could be saved—all with virtually no impact on employee and client trust.

Another huge shift Colleen has seen is the morphing of the business development specialist (BDS) role. Historically, this role has served as a “cold-calling team” that passes leads to senior sales people after a simple vetting process The new and more effective role for these more junior people is nurturing existing customers, giving customers strong reasons to stay loyal to your company.

In today’s world, Colleen’s clients have found that the inside sales role is better left to an experienced, seasoned professional able to have high-level discussions with prospects.

Colleen points out that the pandemic revealed poor sales practices, in that some companies had been going overboard on customer-centricity. She explains that a “customer is always right” approach can cost a business money, brand reputation, and access to markets.

 Likewise, there is a danger to incorporating potentially controversial social issues in one’s branding and marketing efforts. Instead, Colleen advises, your company may wish to focus on the good it can do in its own community.

In Right on the Money, Colleen proposes a formula she calls “the Tempo Triad”, in which she encourages salespeople to engage in conversations across three different media platforms (she recommends LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook) in three different ways:

1) sharing their company’s unique content

2) sharing something a customer posted

3) commenting or asking a question about something a customer has posted.


Amanda Setili (00:05):

We all want to do work that we love. And as leaders, entrepreneurs, and employees, wouldn’t it be great to create workplaces where work feels like play, where people are tuned in to the changes going on in the world, around them, where they’re constantly learning, spotting new opportunities and taking action to go after them. I’m Amanda Sati. And this is the fearless growth podcast where my guests and I will explore the mindsets and choices that lead you and your organization to outstanding performance. My guest today is Colleen Francis author of right on new principles for bold growth. Colleen is brilliant at sales strategy. She’s advised John Deere, Merck Merrill Lynch, Dow, and hundreds of other companies on how to accelerate sales while reducing effort and increasing profits. So Colleen, I loved your book. And one of the most, you know, kind of, I guess the whole premise of the book is that this is an evolutionary moment for sales. Can you tell me a little bit about why you say that? Yeah,

Colleen Francis (01:09):

Thanks for her saying that Amanda, you know, it is, we’ve been evolving in sales for a lot of years and as a result of the pandemic what we found is that evolution probably became a revolution. <Laugh> things moved so quickly. As soon as sales people were forced to sit at their desks behind their screens and buyers were locked down and not able to see people. What happened as a, at the same time is buyers became even busy a year than before, because a lot of companies had COVID casualties as one of my clients likes to put it right <laugh> they downsized their staff. They worked harder to try to either maintain their revenues or grow their revenues, or just, you know, stay the course and not fall too far into the negative. So we had busier than ever before buyers. We had fewer buyers, we had people locked down and having to interact in a virtual way, all within a span of maybe like two months. And so we had to revolutionize the way we sell in order to meet the needs of that new buyer.

Amanda Setili (02:20):

So how have you, you know, so many salespeople that I will work with were used to traveling, they actually enjoyed traveling. They enjoyed di whining and dining and these sorts of things. And they were really disoriented. I mean, or just feeling kind of a sense of loss in, in a way, have you seen that almost all of them have successfully made the transition or have some just said, does it isn’t for me, you know,

Colleen Francis (02:45):

Most of them have made the transition. They’ve either had to or they’ve realized that they should. So early on in 2020, we did have some clients who sort of crossed their arms and just said, I’m waiting this out. I’m not going to do this zoom thing, or I’m not going to do this video thing. When things go back to normal, I will, you know, start selling again. And what they found is that even as companies opened up and they were allowed to be back on site, that there were restrictions in place, it was still difficult. They still had customers locking them out. Still had customers who were working in this hybrid. Some people remote, some people on site and that it was highly inefficient for them to keep this arms crossed, you know, <laugh> foot down, stomping around. I’m not going to do it. Many sales people realized that they could be much more efficient and much more profitable meeting the needs of the new buyer by being remote by making calls, making zoom calls, sending more emails than having to be on the road all the time.

Colleen Francis (03:49):

And frankly, a lot of companies also pulled back on their expense accounts. I’ve got clients who said to their team, Hey, you guys prove that you can be really efficient working remotely. And so your car allowances, your entertainment, allowances, your travel allowances have all been cut by 25% or more. Yeah. Other companies did that just simply because they need, yeah, we needed to return to profitability. And so I saw some sales VPs just say, you know, no travel or no sales kickoffs, or no more whining and dining, you know, customers for a period of time. So some of it was forced I guess, by companies. And some of it was a realization where sellers went, you know what? I can work this way really successfully. And you know what, Amanda, I had sales VPs who said to me, I gone to every single one of my kids’ little league games this year. And I don’t want to go back to a hundred days on the road. I realized how nice it was to have dinner with my family every night. <Laugh>

Amanda Setili (04:52):

Yep. I’ve, I’ve seen the exact same thing. And, and even if you had your travel budget back and you were able to travel, and even if there were quote COVID restrictions, people’s calendars have just really morphed into something completely different than what they used to be. And people don’t have a couple of hours to spend going out to lunch anymore because, you know, with the availability of zoom being so easy, people’s calendars have gotten filled up, we’re meeting a, with a much more diverse group people like I’ve just noticed that people have been able to work more in a team way more globally across the, the globe on accounts together, for instance. And that brings up another thing that I found really you know, helpful in your book is how you talked about getting more people involved in the selling process and getting more people from the customer side involved in the buying process. Tell me a little bit about that and how that might have changed over the last couple of years as well.

Colleen Francis (05:56):

We’ve seen a real explosion in team selling and companies are recognizing that the more people they get involved from both the buying and the selling side the faster the sales go, the bigger the sales go and their closing more deals we’re seeing clients say that they’re closing ratios are jumping from, you know, 35 to 40% all the way up to 60% when they had at least four people from the client side on the call or involved in the process. And a couple of people from their own side. One of the reasons this started to happen is it became easier to get people involved when we were working remotely. Right? like you said, if there’s global people that need to be involved, we can all get together at a convenient time on the phone or over a video call. It was easier for decision makers, executives to just pop onto a video call or a zoom call. There was kinda less less obligation, you know, the, it was easier for them to pop in and pop out, and it was way easier for you to get as a seller to get your buyers involved. What I love about this, and it’s something we’ve been preaching for years is because it was easier and sales people embraced this notion, and now they’ve seen such great results. They’re continuing to do that regardless of whether they can be in front of the customer or not.

Amanda Setili (07:16):

Right. I like the, the idea of popping in, and that’s what I’ve noticed as well, a senior person that you can’t, you just can’t get on their calendar for an hour. You can get on their calendar for 10 minutes. And so the pop in factor adds so much credibility from both the buyer side and the seller’s side to just come in and say, Hey, I really appreciate you all meeting with this is, you know, this, this is a really important relationship that we have with you, whatever it is. It just adds that extra layer of credibility and respect kind of

Colleen Francis (07:50):

Absolutely it does. And you know, what we also found is that working remotely with clients, especially in a video format, it’s 25% more efficient in terms of time, do you think, you know, like an hour meeting takes 45 minutes or you know, a half an hour meeting takes 20 minutes, but it doesn’t erode the credibility or the trust at all. So with your existing customers using this kind of a format will actually save everybody time, which I’m sure buyers and sellers need back, and it doesn’t erode your relationship with them. And so why wouldn’t you continue to use this format?

Amanda Setili (08:31):

I agree. It’s very interesting that some people that I’ve only started working with during the last two years, they thought that <laugh>, I went to meet some at their office and I’d never been to their office. I’d never met them in person. We met for a while and I was leaving and he was saying, well, you’ve been here before. And I was like, no, I’ve never, we’ve only worked together remotely. And, and he just didn’t realize it. So that’s, you know, at the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was saying, well, you can’t build trust without being in person, but you’re telling me that based on your experience with your clients, actually, you can build trust without being in

Colleen Francis (09:07):

Person. Absolutely. And I like you have had this happen in my own consulting practice. I’ve definitely, you know, sold and onboarded and executed with clients in a completely remote fashion over the last two years. But it’s not just people like us as consultants, my clients in oil and gas, my clients in manufacturing, my clients in, you know, tool and dye making my clients in software have all had this successful practice over the last couple of years of finding pro aspects, converting them to customers and onboarding them. And now maintaining loyalty all without meeting them. And these were in some cases, environments where the sellers were used to cold calling in person, you know, door knocking, popping in to take orders. And all of a sudden they’ve been able to transform their business. Buyers love it. Now I’m not saying that we’re going to go a hundred percent remote, but we do know based on studies from Gartner that over the last couple of years people in decision making positions prefer a seller list environment.

Colleen Francis (10:12):

In fact, 44% of the youngest buyers in the channel right now prefer a seller list environment and 33% of all buyers, regardless of their their age or their tenure. So we’re moving towards this environment that people want to do a lot of the, the buying online. And, you know, I, I believe Amazon <laugh> gets, he has charged, right? We just got so used to being able to buy everything from groceries to personal goods, to equipment for our businesses online, we’re thinking, well, why can’t we buy, you know, oil and gas? Why can’t we buy consulting services? Why can’t we buy computer equipment that way too?

Amanda Setili (10:55):

Yeah. You tell a really good story in your book about how you called one of your vendors with a very specific request to order a certain thing. And they said you can’t that the

Colleen Francis (11:17):

Happening it’s crazy.

Amanda Setili (11:19):

So when you say, am you, you use the word? I don’t even know if I can say this Amazon application of sales. Yes. what, what other, what other aspects of that? Is it, are you just talking about the fact that people expect to do work without actually having to talk to a person or

Colleen Francis (11:38):


Amanda Setili (11:39):

What, what is the experience that they’re expecting? Well,

Colleen Francis (11:41):

I don’t think that they’re expecting necessarily to be able to transact an entire business to business sale without interacting. They prefer it. And they prefer it. At least on the front end, what’s happening is this is still a pretty risky environment from a buying perspective, especially if somebody is buying something new for the first time or switching vendors. So what we’re finding is it’s about 75% of, and start with the buyers doing a search, doing research. And if you think about it, what they’re saying to themselves is, look, I’ve got a limited amount of time out there to make a decision. And I know that sales people are going to try to quote unquote, sell me. So I’m going to do all the research up front. I’m going to get referrals. I’m going to talk to my friends. I’m going to talk to my call leagues.

Colleen Francis (12:33):

I’m going to talk to my association so that I develop you know, one or two solutions in my own mind that I think are risk free or I think will solve the problem. So I don’t have to waste my time and get wrapped up in sales people confusing me, right? <Laugh> and then once I’ve made that decision, I’ll call the one or two people that I think can help so that they can show me what the right options are, or they can solidify my own feeling. But buyers don’t want to sort of get wrapped up in having a whole bunch of sales people, present things to them, and then them having to sort of scratch their head and weighed through and think, oh, I don’t know who can I trust? Who can’t I trust they want to go into the relationship already feeling like they trust you.

Amanda Setili (13:21):

That makes a lot of sense. And so the point that you make in your book is responding really quickly when those calls come in is essential. And you, you give a couple of examples of how people to respond quickly and they, they just instantly lose the sale. What, what have you seen being most successful in terms of being able to respond extremely quickly to leads with a high enough powered salesperson, to be able to, you know, respond to the, to the buyer’s needs?

Colleen Francis (13:53):

Yeah. You know, I like what you said with the higher, you know, with the highest level of salesperson, because I believe we’re in a, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, hurry up market right now. So buyers are kind of biting their time. They’re doing the research, you know, offline, online in off hours when they’ve got time to do this. And they’re making decisions really quickly because they’ve got so much on their plate. You know, long term planning is five days <laugh> from now. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. So when they’re ready and they engage and they call, or they email to engage with you, they’re ready to make a decision. So a huge mistake companies make, would be to put those leads, those hot leads through some kind of junior level sales intake program who then has to put them through another, you know, account manager or territory manager, a multi-step process because these guys have already decided what they want to buy or not.

Colleen Francis (14:48):

They need some tweaking anding, but they want to move fast. So leads that come inbound where people have raised their hand need to go to that territory manager, for lack of a better word for the sales rep. Who’s working in that patch as quickly as possible. And we found that response time of an hour is what’s going to get the business. So there was an accidental experiment that happened between two of my clients selling the same products in the same market distributor versus the wholesaler. And the difference between the wholesaler having a 48 hour turnaround and the distributor having a one hour turnaround was a 12 times greater closing ratio. So the one hour turnaround time in the same market with the same leads on the same products had a 12 times better closing ratio than a 48 hour response time.

Amanda Setili (15:42):

Well, 48 hours just seems like an eternity these days. Doesn’t it? Yeah, doesn’t

Colleen Francis (15:46):

It. <Laugh> absolutely absolutely. It does. I was going to say, you know, 24 hours even seems like an eternity and, you know, maybe if they had, we were comparing a one hour to a 24 hour, maybe we’d see, you know, a six times <laugh> response rate, but the, our closing rate increase. But the reality is as regardless of the market, we look at 75% of the sales go to the vendor who responded first as, so you need to figure out as an organization, how do we get these leads into the hands of an experienced salesperson who can help the customer quickly you know, provide them the information they need, qualify the lead and get them closed.

Amanda Setili (16:27):

How are you seeing the either organizational structure or the definition roles changing? Because so many companies that I work with have had an inside sales team and an outside sales team, and they’ve just had this idea in their mind that the outside sales people are, you know, more experienced, more knowledgeable about the product, you know, blah, blah, blah. And the inside sales people are a little bit more order takers and or service follow up people. But then that all got upend when, you know, PE everybody’s working inside. So what have you seen in terms of how either the roles are described differently now, or maybe the organizational structures shifting a little bit? What are you seeing there? Well,

Colleen Francis (17:10):

We’re starting to see some companies take what was traditionally called a BDS or a business development specialist. You know, the, for lack of a better word, the cold calling team that was there to create leads to pass onto the sales team were starting to see that team morph into a more experienced seasoned team. Because what we found is that buyers don’t have time to talk to someone who can’t help them and see themselves all the way through. So, you know, I, as I said to one of my clients, so you’re asking your least experienced sales team, your most junior sales team to make calls into your most seasoned senior decision makers. Like, like <laugh>, that makes no sense to me, right? Hmm. Why would you do that? And they realize, oh, you know what, you’re right. We need to kind of reposition this and not have this junior team, necessarily the team that’s making calls to qualify and find leads, needs to be able to have high level discussions with VP level people.

Colleen Francis (18:14):

And so we’re seeing kinda a balancing, I guess, of just a seller in the territory and whether that seller is working inside or outside is really dependent on the type of market that they’re in the maturity of the client base, whether they’re working new leads or whether or not the sales team is remote, because there have been very effective sales. I’m thinking about one of my software clients in the last year or two where they’re hundred thousand dollars opportunities plus in markets where we’re carving out a new solution that are all made inside by an experienced inside sales team. And so why wouldn’t you reward the sales team for being that efficient? So that’s the kind of, kind of morphing that we’re seeing is this kind of blending of inside sales BDS and, and territory who really one role or maybe two roles inside that territory that can work as a team.

Colleen Francis (19:16):

Now, there still is a, I, I see still as a requirement for that kind inside sales, that is more the customer service and order taking role to support existing account. So if you’ve marketplace where the customers are doing repeat orders, for example, you get them. And, you know, every month they have to repeat more, every quarter they have to repeat then a customer service slash inside salesperson is a great person to have there so that they become the point person for the customer, should their territory rep territory manager not be available and they can work as a team then as well from a timing perspective.

Amanda Setili (19:56):

That makes sense. So maybe we rename it instead of inside sales, we call it account management or, you know, existing account leader or something like that. That’s good.

Colleen Francis (20:06):

We’re seeing a lot of that. Yes. you know, I think the account management role is so critical because what clients found, especially through the pandemic is that you definitely couldn’t grow and absolutely could not maintain if you didn’t have strong account management and loyal customers. So those clients, those companies that were used to kind of like sell and forget fire and forget, and didn’t do a, a job of nurturing their client base lost a lot of customers because, you know, they went shopping for cheaper prices or availability with supply chain issues. Those clients of mine that had very strong account management in place strong relationships with their customers and the customers had strong relationships with the company. They didn’t lose those customers.

Amanda Setili (20:55):

You’re right. It’s so much more efficient, easier, more profitable to retain a good customer than to go and get a new one.

Colleen Francis (21:03):

Absolutely. And you know, what happened over the last couple of years is we saw companies lay off people permanently or, or temporarily. And we also saw like on the buying side you know, sales people either get and marketing people, customer service, people in some cases get laid off. We also saw people get sick, right. And have to stay home. And so what happened from an account management standpoint that if you didn’t have strong account management and multiple contact points in the company, and if your client didn’t have multiple contact points inside of your company, when someone got sick or was sent home or had to stay home or got laid off, you lost contact with that customer because your only point of entry was that single person who now no longer could be reached, but if you had four or five really strong relationships, there was always someone to call to find out what was going on to find out who else should be involved to help shore up defenses to make sure that that client relationship stayed buoyant and profitable, regardless of who the contact points were.

Amanda Setili (22:08):

It’s a great trust builder to have more than one person involved so that you just know if, if Jim’s not available call Bob, if Sally’s not available call Jose or whatever, <laugh>, it’s, it, it just feels so much better when you’re on the buying side to know that there’s more than one person who’s got your back.

Colleen Francis (22:26):

Absolutely. And we saw happen. I mean, there would have been some very tragic and unfortunate things happen over the last couple of years with some of our clients. And in one case they almost lost a customer be a huge customer because then the customer lost touch with the sales rep and didn’t know who else to call and got so irritated by why don’t this guy return my call? Why don’t this guy or my call, why it was return? My call turned out. He was in the hospital and nobody knew the customer was calling that by the time they figured out what was going on, the customer was already talking to other vendors. Now we were able, but you simply of,

Amanda Setili (23:09):

And even without a pandemic, those things happen.

Colleen Francis (23:12):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s, I love this quote from one of my clients. He said, you know, the pandemic really just revealed all of our poor sales practices. I, you know, we, we were in, you know, coming into this, we had gotten lazy, right. We were scooping up business business was buoyant. Our industries were thriving. We had, you know, we were we were lucky in many cases, just as long as we were present, we could get business. And when things slowed down, we realized where our weak spots were. And one of those was account management.

Amanda Setili (23:49):

That is a great quote. Thank you very much for that. Okay. So you had another very interesting idea in your book, which is that companies, some companies go overboard on customer centricity, tell me how that happens and what it looks like.

Colleen Francis (24:05):

Well, there are all sorts of examples of companies who have tried to be so customer friendly that they actually lose money. Right. You know, I always think about people. Costco is an interesting example, and they’ve had to stop this where you could return anything at any time. And there’s a classic story of some woman you know, finding, eating an apple pie, deciding she didn’t like it and returning a second one, like a year after she bought it. Right. <laugh> things like that. <Laugh>, you know department stores, again, who do this, you know, Sears is no longer a business. And they had incredibly CustomerCentric policies because they always believed all the customers. Right. I look at as well, things like you know, Airbnb, you know, you may have noticed in communities all over the world that cities or counties are really cracking down on how you rent your places who can rent.

Colleen Francis (25:03):

They’re putting in bylaws and restrictions because Airbnb has been so customer friendly, it’s been an, anything goes attitude. You can rent anything for any price at any time to any number of people and have any amount of parties. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so as a result communities, they face massive community backlash in the communities that they’re, you know, supposedly serving. And so they’ve also had to put restrictions in place. So that’s what I mean by being too customer centric, it can cost you money. It can cost you brand reputation. It can cost you access to markets if you’re not putting practices into place that protect the people around you that you serve, and of course your business and its ability to change and move forward profitably. Yeah.

Amanda Setili (25:50):

And it’s interesting that if you’re a total pushover and we’ll do anything the customer wants, in some ways you lose respect, you know, when, when I’ve had a problem and a vendor has said, well, what we do in this situation is, and it’s not the thing I wanted the most, but it’s something that seems fair and reasonable. I go, okay, I, I got it. I can see why we have, you know, both of us need to have our needs met here. <Laugh> yes.

Colleen Francis (26:16):

So absolutely well, businesses have profitable. You know, I, I believe that business has to remain profitable, but they also have to improve the community in which they work. Right. Because, and ultimately if they’re not improving their community, both their external community and their internal community, they’re not going to be profitable. <Laugh> right. They won’t ever grow. So there is a balance definitely between the extreme of not caring about your customer at all. And just focusing on the way you, you want to do business at all costs you know, the numbers, the metrics, the data, the velocity, and this you know, customer centric focus.

Amanda Setili (26:54):

So another thing that I don’t think you talk about in your book, but I think is a really interesting phenomena coming out of all this, you know, the way things are moving online is that consumers and just customers in general have so much more power than they used to, to influence social and community type policy. Like, what’s your stand on politics, what’s your stand on? Or, you know, what are you doing to help your community? Are you, do you think it’s gone overboard? Do you, do you have clients that are just almost at the, in the handcuffs do do to what the public is saying?

Colleen Francis (27:27):

I don’t see, I don’t think that it’s gone overboard. I think that most corporations have had to become hyper or acutely aware of, of what people are saying online. And I think sales, sales people have realized they have to, to be careful. But they have to be present. Right. So, you know, it goes back to the old saying, you know, you know, whatever, we don’t talk about religion or politics, right. <Laugh>, mm-hmm, <affirmative> as worker at the dinner table. And those kinds of things we’re seeing really play out in social media because it’s really hurt companies. It’s really hurt sales people. If they’ve made that mistake or across the line, that being said, we need people to show that they’re engaged in their community, that they’re community building, that they’re promoting their customers good work that they’re promoting their company’s good work and that they are engaged and present in an online convers just as they would’ve been in an offline conversation at a networking event.

Amanda Setili (28:28):

Yeah. That’s interesting. So I think you’re saying, be careful what you say yes. But also find some safe things to say about what you’re supporting in your community, how you’re involved, how you’re kind of do your part for the social. Good, I guess. Yeah.

Colleen Francis (28:48):

Yeah. I mean, social good of the community. Right. So how are, you know, how are you participating in advance? How are you participating in the community in which you serve? So we see sales people, for example you know, I’ve got an interesting one, a, a client in the agronomy business. So he sells fertilizer, right. But he routinely posts stories about organic. He routinely posts stories about alternatives to fertilizer, of course his own product, because he wants to get a conversation going, but he does it in a professional way. He’s not slamming the organic movement. But he, I’m sure he could create some really strong galvanized, not, you know saying that he’s better necessarily. He posts things like that in a way to just get people talking about all the different ways that you

Amanda Setili (29:38):


Colleen Francis (29:39):

Interesting. We’ve oil industry who are promoting their use of solar technology on their gas stations and talking about electric trucks and electric cars. So, you know, they’re getting a conversation started in a very neutral professional way in areas that are still controversial to their business, but they’re not getting online and, you know, blaming governments or presidents for high oil prices. They’re not, you know, they’re encouraging people to vote, but they’re not telling people who to vote for. Right,

Amanda Setili (30:09):

Right, right. Yeah. A lot of it is common sense, but it’s very tricky to reign for a lot of people. I think it kind of spooks a lot of people to, to say anything online. Like, oh, oh, what if somebody, it doesn’t like this? You know,

Colleen Francis (30:22):

You know, in the book we talk about a con a formula that I have called the tempo triad, where I encourage sales people to engage in conversations across three different media platforms you know, in three different ways. And this is a way to do it incredibly and stay neutral and stay safe because one way is your own or your company’s own unique content. So, you know, articles or videos about your product solutions, you know, sharing a success story, how to tips, analyst papers, you know, whatever that looks like. The second thing we want you to do is to share something your customer has posted. So if your customer has posted a success story about us, if they’ve posted, you know, that they’ve done a build for habitat for humanity or sponsored a local golf tournament, you know, whatever that looks like celebrated 20 years in the business share that.

Colleen Francis (31:13):

And then the third way is to just comment or ask a question on something that either a customer or prospect or a contact has posted. So if they’ve a story on something good they’ve done, or a win, even just commenting to say, Hey, love to see your success or ask a question, Hey, you know, interesting about that solar technology on your gas stations, how many more are you out this year? The point is just showing your contact, your customers that you’re to, and if you follow that rule, it would be very hard <laugh> to fall into the trap of posting something that would be so controversial that it would get you banned from a platform or a customer site.

Amanda Setili (31:57):

Right? So obviously LinkedIn is a good place to do this. Secondly, and if you have like an industry specific community online, that would be terrific. What other mass social media venues would you recommend that people be posting and engaging in?

Colleen Francis (32:15):

Yeah. Now this is, it’s always a tricky question, cause it depends on the nature of the business. So for most companies it’s either Twitter or Facebook. So Facebook is used heavily by a lot of my clients who are selling products that are very visual. So of all places like the farm equipment business, I’ve got superstar seller for John Deere and every day he’s posting pictures of another happy customer, you know, driving off on their lawn tractor <laugh> or their Gator or whatever it looks like. And so, because he knows his clients are on that platform, whereas other companies we work with they use Twitter in that way as well. So, you know, you have to, this is the hardest thing for so sellers, especially sellers who are selling in different generations than their customers is we have to say, let’s go where our customers are and sort of throw away the, I don’t like that platform. I, you know, I don’t care. I had a sell a young seller say to me today, I hate the virtual it’s artificial. It gets in the way of existing relationships, blah, blah, blah, and kinda went on an anti-social media ran. I said, well, that’s for you, personally of your customers are on. And so are you just going to the platform that they’re using to promote their business? You can’t do that. So in the words of my father, suck it up, princess <laugh>

Amanda Setili (33:45):

Mm-Hmm, <affirmative>

Colleen Francis (33:45):

It out there and talk to the customer. <Laugh>

Amanda Setili (33:48):

Yeah. That’s, that’s interesting. You talk about how some companies almost confuse their customer with too many choices. Can you say more about that?

Colleen Francis (33:59):

Well, we see customers who this is another version of being two customer centric. So an example that I give is you could place orders through text, through email, through calling your customer service assistant to calling your sales rep to I think there was an online ordering a, I mean, I, the joke I used is I expected them to have like a telex machine or a fax in, they have a machine. They did have a, you could fax them in, said NOx <laugh>. And what would happen is, you know, customers would get confused as to the easiest way to do this. And sellers would get texts like, Hey, I need to reorder. And then it would go back and forth reorder what reorder, what we had last time. What did you order last time? Just ship us the same thing to the same address.

Colleen Francis (34:50):

Well, we shipped it to nine people last time, like, you know, and it would take all this long time. And so when we built and kind of went through a buying journey map for this customer, we realized that if they streamlined the Amazon is the extreme, right. You might maybe need to go to one only, but if they streamline the choices, then the customer, it was easy for the customer to order. And the order was accurate because it wasn’t going through multiple hands in multiple formats that had to be inputted multiple times. The order was processed more accurately and more quickly and got, and the delivery was made more accurately and quickly. And so by reducing choices, they actually improve the customer experience.

Amanda Setili (35:33):

That makes sense. And also the customer’s not always thinking, is there a different way I should be doing this? Is there a better way? No, they’re just thinking, this is the way this is how you do it. <Laugh>

Colleen Francis (35:42):

Yes, because the customer’s going to default to what’s easiest for them. And frankly what’s easiest for them is walking through their warehouse to reorder industrial supplies and texting as they go, you know, I need more grease. Okay. You know, and that’s it, <laugh> it’s not always easy for a company to figure out what they mean and, you know, buy, win and how much and and to what address,

Amanda Setili (36:07):

So. Good. Good. Okay. So Colleen, what metrics do you use to measure your own life? So I’m sure that you have revenue goals for your business and probably, I, I don’t know. What else do you have any other metrics that you use for how you just measure the quality and quantity of, of your success in life?

Colleen Francis (36:27):

Wow. That’s a great question. And it’s something that I think I struggle with personally you know, being a salesperson by nature and drawn to revenue goals, right.

Amanda Setili (36:39):

Mm-Hmm, <affirmative>,

Colleen Francis (36:40):

I don’t think that that’s healthy for anyone. Let alone a, you know, a small business owner or a solo practitioner. So, you know, I use metrics like you know, hours worked or time off you know, vacations. Am I able to plan vacations and actually go on you know, time off during the week, am I able to, you know, set? I I’m very goal oriented. So setting goals like, you know, every Friday off or every Friday afternoon off I set health goals for myself as well. You know, I’m an avid runner. And so I like to be able to run a certain number of races a year health, right. As I mm-hmm <affirmative> <laugh> mm-hmm <affirmative> can I get through this injury free <laugh> right. You know, and of course, you know, time off with you know, family time, right.

Colleen Francis (37:28):

With with my husband, with my dog and being able to visit my family. I think those kinds of metrics are really important for people to be paying attention to. And for those corporate sellers out there, it’s frightening to me. How many of you, and I’ll have fallen victim to this as well, pride to yourself in the, you know, 24-hour, you know, seven day a week, always on my customers, even if I’m, you know, scuba diving and believes, I’ll make sure to get back to my customers, whereas we can’t serve our customers effectively. If we don’t get refreshed and renewed,

Amanda Setili (38:04):

I agree that downtime for me, especially like you sports is really healthy downtime because your brain is engaged in a completely different way. That just seems to do a DEFRA or something <laugh>. Yeah. And just so much smart when I get back from doing something that’s, you know, a difficult exercise <laugh>

Colleen Francis (38:26):

Well, I think there are studies that, that came out a few years ago that showed that the best way to, you know, sort of reengage your brain is to turn it off to and do something completely different. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and I always found when I rode a motorcycle, for example, cause you have to be so focused on the task at hand, you can’t be daydreaming while you’re riding down the highway. You have to focus on exactly. What’s here in front of you. You always come back refreshed. I find it’s the same for me with running, you know, it’s my mid and I’m sure with your, you know, with your mountain biking and kite surfing, you can’t be trying to solve the world’s problems while you’re kite surfing or you’re probably going to end up <laugh> right in the water, right?

Amanda Setili (39:06):

Yeah. We’ve been mountain biking recently a lot. And it’s probably similar to motorcycle where if Rob just asked me like a simple question while mountain biking, I like totally lose my focus on the trail and I start to go off or something. So yeah, you you’re just like reacting, reacting, reacting, and I think it’s really healthy for your brain to do something just completely different. So I, I sometimes ask this question of other folks when I’m interviewing them on the podcast. And I’m curious to hear your answer. What did you really love doing when you were 11 years old? Colleen,

Colleen Francis (39:40):

When I was 11. So I think grade, are you in, in grade 11? For me, it would’ve been sports. I, at 11 years old I was dancing you know, classic, which I loved and I was playing soccer, but I also started about that age running track and I loved, loved, loved running track. You know, I just, with my friends on relay teams, we just had so much fun. I, I remember sort of the, the joy of <laugh> sprinting <laugh> around the track.

Amanda Setili (40:17):

Yeah. And I can see that not only in your running life, but you’ve maintained that attitude of just loving the comradery and the speed. You’re a fast person. <Laugh> you get stuff done. <Laugh> yeah,

Colleen Francis (40:32):

I do. I love, I love the speed and I, I love the love the, the competition, the spirit of competition, you know the sport. I still find myself even today. I often wish I could just like take the two weeks off to go to, you know, Olympic track events. One of I ill myself front, one of monitors will always be on during the track field, all fun spirit of competition, never knowing quite what’s going to happen. Having, you know, being in a race, anything can happen at any time is really fun and exciting for me.

Amanda Setili (41:06):

It is fun to watch and you can just feel their heart pumping. I mean, the speed at which their legs, I mean, it looks like a cartoon or something they’re just like Mind blowing in the Olympics. Totally mind

Colleen Francis (41:21):

Blowing. Absolutely. I love it.

Amanda Setili (41:22):

What do you wish you could explore more if time were no issue?

Colleen Francis (41:28):

That’s an interesting it’s the, it’s the, what I immediately went to, where do you wish you could explore more? And having come back from a trip to Africa in and being on safari for three weeks, I immediately went to Africa. That is absolutely where I wish I could explore more if time was no issue. You know, I, I think what would I explore? I would explore more about the, you know, the, the true psychology of success, you know, of people who are, you know, physically and mentally successful. I would spend more time diving into how people are finding balance and how they are really in living a truly fulfilled life.

Amanda Setili (42:14):

I love that idea. I wish I could just have everyone in the world have as much fulfillment as I have. And as I perceive that you have, you do what you’re great at, and you have time to spend with your family and your sports, and you’re helping, you’re helping people and companies so much. So I really at admire that, that aspect of you and I’m, I admire the fact that you want to find out even more about it. <Laugh>

Colleen Francis (42:38):

Well, I think because, you know, I think you and I do it maybe naturally, or, or it’s been learned, I’m sure, you know, through our coaching and mentoring. But I think that it’s hard that that is a subject that I find hard to teach others, rather than just saying to them, take more time off, do what you love. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and I don’t think that that’s a helpful way <laugh> to teach it yet. I think it really is fundamentally at the core of human, happiness and, and business success as well.

Amanda Setili (43:06):

Right. Do what you love. That’s a great point to end on. It’s been so fun having you on the podcast today, Colleen, I I’ve learned a lot and I’ve really enjoyed exploring deeper some of the great ideas that are in your book. How would you recommend that people engage with you if they want to learn more about your fabulous sales strategy and sales training practice and all that you do

Colleen Francis (43:30):

The very best way to stay in touch with me is through our website at engage, or LinkedIn by following me on LinkedIn, Colleen Francis on LinkedIn and there you can get access to all of my content, my videos, my audio is my written and find the links to my book, which of course is available at Amazon or all your favorite book sellers.

Amanda Setili (43:53):

Yes. I would recommend everyone who’s interested in and Colleen’s sales wisdom to watch her videos. They’re short they’re to the point and they just give you these nuggets of wisdom that are so helpful. So thank you so much for being with us today, Colleen, I really appreciate you being

Colleen Francis (44:10):

Here. Thanks for hosting. This was really fun. I enjoyed it learned a lot as well and appreciate you taking the time.

Amanda Setili (44:16):

All right. Bye

Colleen Francis (44:18):


Amanda Setili (44:19):

Thank you for listening to fearless growth. You can find out more about the show at sat, and you can listen on apple podcasts and Spotify. If you like what you’ve heard, please take a moment to write a review and give us a star rating reviews matter so much in helping others find us. Thanks for your support.

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We all want to do work we love, and as leaders, entrepreneurs and employees, wouldn’t it be great to create workplaces where work feels like play? Where people are tuned in to changes going on in the world around them? Where they’re constantly learning, spotting new opportunities, and taking action to go after them? These traits are essential to an organization’s agility and success. In the Fearless Growth podcast, Amanda Setili and her guests explore the mindsets and choices that lead individuals, leaders and their organizations to outstanding performance.

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