Ep 41: Closers with No Leads

BuzzSprout Audio

“Pivoting is important. And if you are individuals who are not going to support that movement, whether you are going through an organizational change or a market acceptance change, you have got to make some wise decisions in the best interest of the brand.” – Taylor Barnes



Josh Sweeney : Hello, I’m your host, Josh Sweeney joined by my co-host Taylor Barnes. Taylor, how are you doing?

Taylor Barnes: Well, Josh, I’m thinking about bringing in the righty. Thinking about bringing in the closer

Josh Sweeney: The righty, huh.

Taylor Barnes: But before I do, I think it’s wise to think Do I have a reason to bring in this closer? And I want to talk about that today. Do I have a reason to bring in the right?


Challenge Illustration

Josh Sweeney: Alright, so the challenge for sales leaders or Major League Baseball coaches. You have closers. But they don’t have anything to close. Right? Is it time to bring them in? So, I hired some closers, but they don’t have anything to close, that pipeline is not full. So, let’s talk about some of the reasons this happens. Why do you have a team full of closers and no starting pitchers? You know, or a team full of closers with nothing to close? What’s going on here?

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, I mean, the first thing that comes to mind here, Josh is obviously just no inbound or outbound lead generation. Like you said, there’s so many organizations that have got these veteran salespeople, these men and women that are so great at closing this deal, but naturally, if they had nothing to close, it’s gonna be a little bit challenging. So, they end up being, sometimes they end up being farmers, like everybody’s heard farmers and hunters, then it being a lot of farmers. So, one of the reasons that it happens is that whether there’s a process or a tool or an organization or human being, that’s helping them generate leads, they don’t have any lead generation process in place.

Josh Sweeney:  I see this all the time to where something changes in the environment, and they the inbound leads drop off a little bit, and you need that closer that senior person to do a little bit of prospecting or do a little outbound and, and they haven’t done it in 20 years. They’re like, I don’t do that. I don’t do that, you know, I don’t do that I was hired to do that. And it’s like, well, we really need you to pivot a little bit. But you know, one of the reasons is obviously no inbound or outbound lead generation. So, you’re not getting anything to the closers, or in some cases, not that it’s none. But it’s not enough volume to really take up their entire day. Right. So, what else are they going to do?


Challenge Follow up ( I too have been through this… )

Josh Sweeney: And talking about that pivot? I think pivoting is another reason this happens. You know, company pivots, other things like that? What? What have you seen from like a company business model pivot that causes these challenges?

Taylor Barnes: That’s a good question. And I agree with your statement, the company pivots, let me use an example here. And I can use this one up in one of my own organizations, is we were a very heavy product shop for the first couple years of our business. And then we made a strong pivot in 2010. To services. The reason for the pivot is pretty simple. It was, it was very much the Uber disruption model, when things like virtualization, and consolidation and VMware came into place. Well, all that means is that the job that 20 machines used to be able to do, that would cost a couple million bucks. Now half of the machine can do which costs $1,000. So naturally, the product revenue took a big, big hit in that regard. So, we pivoted. Now, what comes with that is obviously a change management, an organizational change management mentality, where you really have to pivot away from your, this is a part number, this is a SKU number, this is a widget that goes into a sale, and it becomes much more of a solution driven, service-oriented client need point of view. So, the difference between products and solutions is one of those things. And the reason that a lot of times these individuals have tough with that is because it’s kind of like old dogs new tricks, right? They are used to solving the problem and used to getting a transaction with a part number and the answer for them as a part number, a skewed number or widget. And now they have to get into something a little bit more strategic. So that’s one example of a pivoting. You know, you issue, pivoting sales models is absolutely another reason that this happens.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah. And I think it’s interesting, because what we’re also getting into a little bit is like a set mindset, right, a set way of doing things and not being able to pivot or change, right, the business changes. Things are changing at a rapid pace nowadays, anyway. And it’s the concept of well, they were doing it one way they were closing, they had a bunch of deals coming in and something changed. Can they adapt? Yeah. And I know that from most of the books, most of the podcasts, most companies, most of their founders I’ve talked to, I hear the same theme, which is most of the time, the answer’s no. Like if they sold a product and you’re switching them to consultative services and selling. They’re not going to make that switch or they used to sell SaaS and was a certain price point product, maybe the price point was $500 a month products, and now they’re switching over to service and closing $100,000 services deals. For some reason, most people just aren’t able to make that switch. And the longer I’ve been doing that, the harder it is to make that switch.

Taylor Barnes: And that’s when it becomes really challenging for a sales manager because they are closers. They are they’re good salespeople, but they just haven’t been able to successfully pivot into a different kind of mindset, a different kind of sales, lifecycle, or journey or whatever you want to call it. As we all know, these days, if you’re in the solutions, business versus the product, transaction business, the solutions, business is harder, it’s tougher, takes longer. Now, it’s probably more profitable would be my guess. But it’s still bad. That’s the tradeoff there. So, you have closers, we get it. It’s one of the reasons and one of the things that you really have got to focus in on is whatever you can do to get that individual pivoted into the model that’s going to be suitable for your new marketplace. Those old dogs, they need some new tricks. And so, what are you doing in that regard to get them some new tricks?


The leaders challenge/purpose

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely. And I know, we, you know, we just went over ways that it just changes in your environment, what happened in your environment for lead changes, or company pivots that affect this. But another thing that I see all the time is just hiring the wrong person out of the gate. So, a small business or a company decides that they’re just going to go hire a senior salesperson, which typically falls into the closer mentality right? They’re more of that closer, where they’re used to at least getting some sort of inbound lead or somebody else setting the meeting for them. They’re not doing all the outbound prospecting. And so, when you hire the wrong person that doesn’t do any of those things, or hasn’t done them in a decade, you know, that’s just a total mismatch, you you’ve just hired a closer that has no leads and really isn’t going to go generate any.

Taylor Barnes: That’s right. It’s like a pitcher with no catcher. Right? Yeah. It’s half the battle. So, I agree with you, I see this absolutely all the time in our own organizations and some other organizations that I work with, and that you work with, you have these amazing that these amazing talent. And if they bring some customers with them, okay, well, then that’s a great thing, perhaps they’re able to do so depending on whatever your situation is. But it is a very important thing, especially in this day and age, and in the last 20 years, how much has changed from the way that sales and leads and everything are, is driven? If you’ve got someone that that I will refer to as season two, like you and me, Josh, I want to be nice to us. We’re seasoned. If we go into some other organizations, and we are sitting there like feed me, feed me bring it, I’m ready. All I need is a little just give me the canvas, and I’ll paint the picture. But if there’s nobody bring in, you know, that regard, and I don’t want to do it, well, that is a big width when it comes to my expectations as a new hire. Regardless of if I’m seasoned or not. If my recruiter or my manager or my new boss has not explained to me that look, I’m in charge of also doing this to feed myself, that’s going to be completely a mismatch. So, I see that a ton.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely. And thank you for using seasoned. Yeah, because like you were saying old dogs, new tricks before and seasoned dogs just doesn’t go together quite

Taylor Barnes: It doesn’t. And I think you have to delineate right. All right,



Josh Sweeney: So, let’s talk about some of the solutions to this, you know, what are some of the solutions to the closer with no leads not having inbound leads, or hiring the wrong person, all these different things that we just highlighted? What’s the first solution we have for this?

Taylor Barnes: I mean, when we just think practically speaking here, you know, if we don’t have any inbound or outbound lead generation, we need to go get some outbound or lead generation. Now, there’s a couple different ways you can do this. And I want to give some people out, there’s some hacks here, think about what you have and think about where you want to go. If you’re an organization that wants to stay lean and stay and stay pretty lean. And really hire those big time closers. Well, great, perhaps you don’t need to go out and hire lead generation, perhaps you need to outsource lead generation at a fraction of the cost, most likely not to say that it’s going to be as quality as if you had it in house. But regardless, if you’ve got faith in talent, faith in your talent, then maybe that’s good enough. So outsourcing, or if you’re going to hire, you might need to look at something like an SDR sales development representative BDR business development representative to ultimately fill the top of the pipeline, as you and I talked about Josh, for those individuals. Now, I don’t want to get down a rabbit hole here because there’s a lot that goes into beating those salespeople before the lead. You know when the lead comes right in if it gets passed right over. That’s not going to work either. You have to do some qualification for those closers in order to make them successful. But one thing you can do right now is to figure out a process or figure out what your strategy is going to be whether it’s outsourcing lead generation or hiring general lead generation in house with an SDR BDR model.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah. And I think a big piece of that is, you know, if you’re going to hire really knowing the difference between the different types of salespeople, right, mostly gone are the days with the bag pairing salesperson that goes and does everything. Yeah, these jobs are split up, they’re specialized, they take more nuance. So, do you have a sales development rep that’s doing outbound? Do you have somebody that’s going to networking events, and is a power networker, all of these are different styles and different types. And you really need to know what your organization needs in order to go make that happen?

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, one thing that I think you do really well, just you on your side, you’ve gotten a really great process or a really great methodology on how organizations should hire. So, if we’re eventually hiring the wrong person, which, you know, you see all the time. What’s one of the fixes? In that regard? I’m assuming that you look at what potentially might have been, you know, part of their last role. But I think that really comes down to expectations. So, what are you seeing? And how do you fix that problem?

Josh Sweeney:  Yeah, most definitely. So, I mean, knowing what a new hire or a potential prospect of hire right perspective salesperson, did, based in on their last role, and really getting an understanding of what they will and won’t do. So, a lot of times we hire, and we say, here’s what all you’re going to do. And it’s in the job description. And we assume that since they applied to the job description, you know, they read it and are basically agreeing to it. But that’s not really the case. If you need somebody that’s going to pick up the phone, I don’t know how many salespeople, I’ve seen clients hire and find out, they’re not willing to pick up the phone. No, they they’re afraid of it or whatever it is. And there’s all kinds of tactics during the hiring process to figure out like, how much of what they did in their last role matches this role. And we highlighted it earlier to around, hey, this person is really good at selling themselves, they’re an awesome sales rep, they crushed their quota at the last place, at least, that’s what they’re telling me. They seem great. But they sold a $500 a month product to a group, you know, and had lots of inbound leads coming and never had prospecting. And we’re a different type of company word or selling services. And the leads don’t just flow in, you got to go hustle for some leads, like that’s a total mismatch, in most cases, and you’re going to end up with somebody that’s not a fit based on your sales, culture and what you need in your organization.

Taylor Barnes:  Right. So learning, asking questions in that interview process, figuring out if you’re gonna hire somebody for sales, well, let’s talk about what a day in the life of that looks like. And if you’re not explaining to him or her what the infrastructure already looks like in your organization, whether you outsource or insource, your lead generation, well, that individual might come on and have some, you know, pretty unrealistic expectations. And guess what, you probably have some unrealistic expectations, too, if you if you don’t communicate that properly, at a time. And really, Josh, I think one of the lasting kind of tougher things to do here is when it comes down to let’s look at what we have. And if our people aren’t willing to get in the boat and roll with us, we’re gonna have to make some tough decisions,

Josh Sweeney:  Right? Yeah, eventually, you know, if there’s a pivot, if there’s something that happens in the business, you really just have to let that person go. learn that lesson, understand why they didn’t succeed. And what I like to do is not say, well, they didn’t succeed because they didn’t do something. They didn’t have something. I like to flip that around and really take ownership as a leader and say, why didn’t they? Why didn’t they succeed? And what did we do wrong?

Taylor Barnes Barnes: Right?

Josh Sweeney: What did we do wrong in the hiring process? What did we do wrong in expectation settings? What did we not provide? And if I were to go hire again, what would change? Right? What attributes Do I need to hire for so sometimes, like you said, you just you got to let that person go, and go find the next one. That’s a better fit for your methodology and what you might have just learned over the last month or a year or however long that person was around.

Taylor Barnes: That’s right. The brand lives men and women, the brand lives regardless, and if you’re not changing, it’s going to be pretty challenging, I’d made me change is the wrong word. If you’re not evolving, how about that if you’re not evolving based on what the market is yielding and what your customers are asking? You very well might get left in the dust. So obviously, pivoting is important and if your individuals are not going to support that movement, whether you’re going through an organizational change, or a market acceptance change, then you really have got to make some wise decisions in the best interest of the brand. No emotions, it’s all about the brand is all remember that detach, as Jacko says detach employment and, and leadership and ownership in that regard in the best interest of the brand. So, I agree it’s a tough conversation, but a very necessary one to right size. The ship if we have to make some tough decisions in that regard.

Josh Sweeney:  Yeah, most definitely. So, lots of ways lots of reasons that you could end up with closers on the team that have no leads and don’t see what they need coming in to really fill their day and go close and work opportunities and deals.


Final Question

Josh Sweeney: So, with that, our final question is, how are you ensuring that your closers are focused on what they do best?

Taylor Barnes: And this has been Purpose Driven Sales with Barnes and Sweeney, no, go lead with purpose.

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