Knucklehead Podcast Ep. 129: The Real F Word In Sales With Richard Harris.

Knucklehead Podcast Ep. 129: The Real F Word In Sales With Richard Harris.

(00:00): I got laid off and I was in shock and hurt and frustrated and angry and all those things, and you should be angry and you shouldn't be sad. You should go through those emotional things. Cause that's just being a human could also let you get closer to being a better you, which is what we're all striving for.

(00:15): Choose not to live in a world of filters, realize your mistakes, set the foundation for your success. Get some wins knucklehead podcast.

(00:28): Welcome to another edition of Knucklehead podcast you've got with you today The knucklehead Steve, and the mission of this particular show started when I stepped on it as a relatively new sales manager, I would actually just taking over the entire revenue generation for a ag tech startup down in Austin. And there was this name that kept on coming up over and over and over again, each time I was looking for how to deal with new sales situations outside of the sales coach that I was working with Scott Leese and Richard Harris kept on coming to the forefront, their, their information, their expertise, their experience, their aptitude, all of their perspective really helped. So it's been a mission of mine for the last few years to bring you subject matter experts, to bring you folks that quite frankly are going to lead with the fact that at one point in time, they were willing to make a mistake.

(01:15): They stepped on it, or they've worked with people who were willing to make mistakes and have stepped on it. And yet that set the foundation for the success that they're experiencing counter to other information that's out there that tells you how awesome everybody is. So thank you so much, Richard, for taking some time and gracious to spend some time with us this afternoon, Richard Harris of the Harris consulting group. Welcome to the show. How are you? I'm great, man. Thank you. Very, very kind introduction. I appreciate that. Obviously love the name. I think we all appreciate that. You know, at the end of the day, we're all just trying to figure this stuff out. So I really appreciate it and appreciate you reaching out to me. So thank you. Yeah, of course, you know, that uncomfortable feeling you get when you're talking to somebody and you're almost able to decipher that and they have some good sounding catchphrases, but they may not necessarily have the agility to navigate between certain situations, but they don't want to admit that they don't know what they're talking about.

(02:06): I felt like that was me for the entire early part of my sales career, which I constantly was emotionally reacting to cues over the phone and just, I didn't really understand how to deal with that. So I'm sure you've ran into that in more than one occasion on more than one client having to develop sales plans. Would you say that that's an accurate statement? Totally accurate statement. I think we've all been there. I mean, I know I would like that. I know I still have that challenge. I think some of it's ingrained in us as gen Xers. I'm a gen X, or I'm not saying that you are, that, that sort of having to figure it out mantra that I grew up with meant I didn't get to go ask for help. Right. Or the help I needed needed to be pretty significant. Right. And so for me, that was my own battle with it.

(02:49): And then I do see it now as well. I swim mostly in the startup world, but I see it even at the, at the big companies I work with to where they think they've got it all figured out, right. They think they've got it all dialed in and they can chew bubblegum, but they can't cross the street at the same time. That's an interesting, I think it's really fascinating to hear somebody with your level of experience drawing a distinction between the similarities between the startup world and mature companies. Because I mean, honestly, without the perspective, you'd almost feel as if it's two different types of businesses. You think that that is, um, I can tell I won't name names, but literally two of the largest organizations in the world, you would know them, both. Everybody would actually don't necessarily get it on the sales end.

(03:34): They do to a certain extent, but for different reasons, they don't on the other end. One is a highly, highly well known engineering company, right. That you would, again, you'd recognize and you'd be like, they don't use a CRM. How do they follow a sales across that? Right. The others in the financial and banking world and dig lost the way to just have a teach people how to have a good conversation. Right? And in both those cases in both of those sales scenarios, they both had the ability to just leverage their brand and their name. Right. You know, you're going to do it our way because this is how we do it and you want to work with us, but that's not always necessarily the easiest thing. So when we started knucklehead, it was predicated on getting answers from people who've been able to provide solutions or come up with a framework to uncovering answers, but it wasn't really applicable to my industry.

(04:25): There's always this uniqueness that whenever you're in the moment or you're in there talking with customers that your situation or your industry is very unique and in today's information age, but have you found that there really is a clear distinctions? I mean, obviously there's, there's nuance between different companies, but I'm curious, have you experienced that tech companies or SAS companies behave differently than insurance agents behave differently than, you know, maybe some of the challenges that wealth management folks run into. Have you, have you seen a clear distinction between all those businesses? So the distinction is the execution of that conversation, right? How do we have that conversation that makes sense for Lisa or Wells Fargo versus Google or zoom, right. They're distinct based on who they're speaking to, who their buyers are and the pains that their solution provides to that buyer, right? If I'm a financial institution like Wells Fargo, how I'm going to try and implement zoom is probably even going to be different than how visa might do that.

(05:29): Right. But it's still the same challenge, right? As some level of communications at some level of security, probably around it, um, which is also going to be very different than how a company like, um, you know, zoom info discover or uses zoom, right? Where maybe it's not having to go through some level of security, but the pains are still the same. The pains are, I need to have better communications. I need to have, you know, something that works on video. I need to have, you know, the pains are the same, but it's that execution right? As it relates to being in the customer's mind. Right? So it's our job, in my opinion, in sales, to meet the customer in their head and then encourage them to come into mind a little bit or encourage them to let me exchange the story a little bit for them in a way that's still in their head.

(06:18): So they go comfortable with it, right? My job as a sales person, ultimately at one, one job, I need to reduce the risk. Someone feels and making a decision. That's it? And hopefully that leads to me. And if not, I certainly built a lot of karma. Well, your, your shirt, for those of you who are listening and not able to see the shirt that he has on his shirt says, earn the right. And I don't want to put words in your mouth here, but what is, what does that mean? Let's go the other way. What do you think it means? Not that you're right or wrong because there is something to the interpretation of the individual. I have an answer and I will gladly give you mine, but I'm curious, what do you think when you see it or hear it and knowing what I do, you have more context, maybe the listeners do.

(07:02): Absolutely. So what I see is I see somebody who's gotten enough knows and built enough resistance and stepdaughter it a few times to where they have the ability to not necessarily form an opinion, but form a respect for the conclusion of how the process informs the result. That's kind of my thought of what it means. That is a way better, higher level answer than mine. Mine is quite simply. This is that I want to teach reps how to earn the right to ask questions, which questions to ask and when to do it. Right? That's that for me is what I'm trying to do. That's not force fed. It's not the type, a aggressive boiler room kind of stuff. That is just, how do you have a conversation? I think even with that answer, I love how you were able to make that. So, so simple, honestly, communication.

(07:51): That's one of the largest challenges that not just sales reps are running into. I think organizations are starting to realize their weak points, honestly, because of this digital transformation. Yeah. Look, I see a ring on your finger. How long has it been there? That's a great question. Very observant, happily, the best 14 years of my wife's life. I'll put it to you that way. Exactly. That's my point. And you just nailed it. We got to have better conversations in all our relationships, right? Whether they're personal or professional, we've got to earn the right to ask the questions. And that doesn't mean that we're asking for permission. I don't want someone to walk out of here going, Oh, I've got to ask for permission. It means, how do I ask this in a good way? How do I, how do I go to my wife and just say, Hey, hon, you know, the guys are all getting together.

(08:34): I'd really like to go not, Hey honey, how'd you get together? Can I go? Right? Like, it's the same, the same answer, hopefully, but we need to respect ourselves as well as the person that we're talking to and speak our truth in a healthy way. I would say that the most consistent observation that, and I think I asked you this on LinkedIn, for those of you who are leveraging podcasts to, uh, to get information and leveraging digital media products in order to facilitate communication as part of your business. One of the questions I had asked you is now that companies are forced to be strategic in their digital communications. Where do you see people dropping the ball now? Or where have you found your prospects that you've seen who've passed? Where are they falling behind? Where some other companies are really setting the charge on how, how to do this very well?

(09:27): Yeah, I think, well, I think there's a couple of things. So one, some companies are succeeding because of what we're involved in. Right. And they're accelerating. Others are struggling even for the ones that are succeeding though. I think it really comes down to product market fit and companies are having to redefine that almost every 30 to 45 days right now. Right. Because that's just what the world is dictating to us. Right. Imagine if tomorrow, all of a sudden we had a cure and you know, within 30 days everybody had the shot. Okay, well now what happens? You're gonna have to go back and redefine product market fit. Again, all these organizations are going to have to go through a whole other level of onboarding their own employees, deciding whether they're going to go back to the office, not go back to the office. Right? Like there's just, so you kind of have to constantly be looking, you know, 30, 60, 90 days out over and over again, which I think is, is what I, I'm not seeing a lot of companies do, but I think the ones that are doing it are getting it.

(10:25): And I think that's really important am I'm hearing you correctly, that, that short term, 30 to 45 days, they're going back and checking, it sounds like almost week to week in order to make a, like a company wide deployment of a change, right? So they're, they're going back and checking these reports if they can. And if the executive team can make that work, right. Look, if you're at a 50 person startup, but it's much harder to do even a hundred person than, you know, a large organization. I also think you have to be looking very far into the future. You know, a lot of people, you know, last week Salesforce announced their record earnings. They're now part of the Dow Jones industrial. And they laid off a thousand people that day and people were all in an uproar. Like how could you do that on your best right quarter and all this stuff.

(11:07): And you know, I got, I came in and, you know, to defend and said, look, you know, Benioff, you know, first of all, he made a promise not to lay anybody off for 90 days. Right. So I think he made it 120 before he started these layoffs. So I think that give the guy some credit, his job is to return value to the organization and to his customers. He has also been on record to say that people have 60 days to apply for a role in the organization. Now, I don't know if that means they didn't get laid off and they've got, and they've got 60 days and then they're going to get laid off, which would be tremendous or it's yes, you're getting laid off, but you get to go to this top of the stack if you want to interview for this role.

(11:48): But again, that's just part of it. Right. Um, and, and he's, uh, he's a performance based guy. So he has to look that far in advance. He's got to look at 2021 in 2022, right. That's his role. Right. And if we can't understand that, you know, it's sad. Like I don't want anybody to lose their job. Good Lord, particularly now. But you know, if, if you're not meeting your performance standards is some of that could be the company. There's some level there, but some of it could be YouTube. So it's this not, everybody's a victim. Right. And, uh, and I think we need to be mindful of that in a positive way. Right. It was not an easy decision for anybody. Nobody wants to lay off people. I'm sure it was very heart wrenching, but you know, he, he's also running a business just like the rest of us.

(12:38): Right. You know, if I got to cut my cable, everybody in my neighborhood cuts cable and Comcast has to, you know, lay off Comcast employees. I don't want that to happen, but I gotta still do right by me. Right. So it's, it's a tough situation, but that's a long answer, but that is how I see. It's a really good example. It touches on the depth of analysis that was taken by, you know, by the organization to first of all, make that decision and to come out with record earnings. But then to follow that up with exactly what their plans were from an organization standpoint and offer no solution, you know, people may have at least some merit to their gripes. However, what we're talking about here, at least what I'm hearing is, is to, to have a level of perspective to take the information that's coming at you at face value, and then change it in enough or absorb it enough and run it through, you know, several filters, uh, before you decide to react, because how you're going to react internally is going to be different than the type of messaging that you're going to put out from a corporate standpoint, or even on your social media channels.

(13:40): So there's a significant amount of wisdom of what I'm hearing you talk about that I'd like people to be able to take from this episode. Yeah. Believe me, I've been laid off more times than I care to admit. Um, I've even been fired for performance. I, even before I became a consultant, I got laid off because I was not going to be part of the acquisition team when the company I was with was getting acquired and I was in shock and hurt and pained and frustrated and angry and all those things. But it also opened another door. I've been able to set myself up so I could have a little bit of runway the company I was with gave me some additional runway. Right. So, you know, I know that I'm lucky. They're like, I don't, I don't take that for granted, but, and you are, and you should be angry and you shouldn't be sad.

(14:21): You should be mad. You should go through those emotional things. Cause that's just being a human. But on the other hand, it also lets you get closer to being a better you, right? Like that's, which is what we're all striving for. Yeah. Absolutely. If you, if you can absorb that information in a way and digest it and process it, then absolutely. If you're stuck, then you're honestly, you kind of, I mean, that's true. Like people are stuck. I know plenty of people who just, you know, they're always the victim and that's okay. Some of them are related to me and you know, I can only do so much to help them encourage them to do things, but if they don't want to take my advice then so be it, it's not always easy. You know, I'm never saying this is easy or that it's okay in the sense of like, don't treat people that way, but it's just, we got to work it out.

(15:03): We gotta figure it out. And you know, my, the best advice my mom ever gave me was that nobody's ever going to take care of you in business, more than you are, right? Like great advice. Nobody, you can have great mentors and you can have great leaders and you can have good managers and all those things. But ultimately, you know, it's no different that they're letting you go. Then if you decide to go pursue another opportunity, cause they're going to pay you 20% more. And particularly in sales, you know, we have to know that. And I think in sales, we get that faster than I think a lot of other people do, right? We don't have a union. We're not going to have that sort of ability to do those things in that capacity. Although it'd be interesting to see how that continues in the near future. Well,

(15:43): I think that there's two things that I want to maybe land this particular episode with, with somebody, with your level of experience and seeing different organizations go through these, these changes, especially in the COVID world. First one is I hear product market fit quite a bit in, in how companies are taking new products to market or they're deciding to diversify their surface offering. When you hear somebody talk about that, can you define that in a way that's very simple.

(16:12): Yeah. I mean the easiest way to define it is that you don't, your customers define your product market fit you don't right. So, you know, I had to go through this, like I'm a, I'm a sales trainer, right. I show up in people's offices and I do training, well, I had to go redefine my product market fit. Right. And I've adjusted. And the same thing occurs, right? Your CEOs and your heads of sales and marketing, and everybody should be having way more customer conversations now than they ever did, which is also part of the problem because they should have had them sooner. And I think that's a really important, you know, and the conversation isn't, Hey, how do we fit? I would also be saying from a marketing perspective would be like, how do we cut through the noise? How did we get through the noise to get to you? What stuck out to you? And you need to ask the question that way, which is a whole lot better than the other stuff I hear marketing people say, okay,

(17:02): Well they wouldn't be marketers, right? If they, if you didn't have a gripe with them, then the second question is, and I, and I, and I love that distinction. It has more to do with, uh, I hear people talking a lot about culture fit and there's this philosophy that I've seen recently. And I'd love for your input here where a culture fit isn't necessarily a, isn't really a thing. But what they want is they want people that have high performance standards of themselves. And to be able to attract somebody who believes that if they were hiring for a skill like sales or a skill, like, like even engineering that they're, if they're not a high performance organization, they're going to have a difficult time attracting and retaining those a players to begin with. And that's why that, that particular was

(17:50): In a way saying, no, you're not looking for culture fit. What you're looking for is for high performers and make sure that your house is in order before you go after those folks. Yeah. I interviewed someone on our podcast where Scott and I did this woman and it's my favorite definition of culture. This is like two weeks ago. And she said, the definition of culture is not about whether or not you get along with the people at your organization. That's a, that's a small piece, but culture is really defined by how fast can you get shit done? And are you okay with that? Right. If it's slow and you're okay with it, then that's a good culture for it. If it's not, that's not a good culture fit. Right? Like, and I thought that was really important because I think that's even what you're saying is like, Hey, I'm looking for these high performers because that's our culture, our culture isn't type age and all that stuff.

(18:37): It's that we move at this speed. And can you move at that speed? Right. And do you want to move at that speed? Right. People start to hit about the age of 40, 45, particularly, particularly in the tech industry. But I see it even in all industries that they're not coasting, but they're just not going to you can't grind out, you know, 60 or 80 hours a week anymore. Cause now you got kids and mortgage and ball games and all this stuff that you didn't have when you were 25. Right. And some organizations have figured that out and others haven't. So, you know, you got to define what that culture means for you. And you've got to go the other way too. It was like, Hey, do I want to be on that kind of a culture? Right? Do I, is that the rocket ship I need to be on?

(19:17): Yeah. Having options and choices and understanding that you have options and choices and putting yourself in a position to have those options and choices, I think matches the philosophy of your shirt. I look in sales, you always have options and choices. Ain't nobody holding you back. You look, there's nothing preventing you from going out there and seeing if you're worth more, if you don't do that, once every six months or 12 months, then you're hurting yourself. Right now, you got to decide is, you know, $2,500 more a year really worth my time to switch. Right. What's my number. But believe me, what do you think your company is doing when they look at the spreadsheet who's performing, who's not performing, who's making the most money for it. Like we have way more power than the company does. We just haven't been taught otherwise. Yeah. I think that that's a, it's a clear distinction to be able to draw for folks that are, that are coming up in their career.

(20:06): And actually as, as opportunities start to change, as companies start to view their, to your point, their, their balance sheet and even the pace in which they're going through and reviewing the effectiveness of their product offering and their service offering for that matter, those things are gonna change. And so walk me through just real quick, and this will be the last thing. If they're an organization who's, who's in search of somebody who can walk them through a similar process to help people understand why they would want to connect with Richard. And, and what would they ask you to find out whether or not it would be a good fit to start working with your Richard? A couple of questions in there. So without, without getting all pitchy and I asked this of every person I talked to in terms of sales and training is, Hey, at the end of an engagement, we need to be better at blank, blank, and blank.

(20:50): And when you come up with definitions of prospecting and qualification and discovery and closing or negotiation skills, you now need to go and say, well, what does each one of those mean in my organization? This is where Richard wants to meet you in your head and your head space. Right? And it's not hard to do is just sort of, you have to stop think about it and kind of keep digging and digging and digging. So that's the first thing I would tell people to do. And you could even say the same thing before you buy a tool, right? Before you buy an outreach or sales loft, like, Hey, at the end of implementing this, we need the team to be better at blank, blank, and blank. If you just say prospecting, that's not good enough. Right. You know, it might be command of the message.

(21:29): It might be something deeper, right? So that's the first thing I think people should do. Second thing by all means, contact me. I'll talk to anybody. As I said, I'm my goal is to help people sort of reduce the risk they feel and making decisions. Sometimes that means no decision is made. They're happy with status quo. Sometimes it means they choose me. Sometimes it means they choose, you know, one of my competitors in my space, um, we all kind of know our swim lanes. We know where we swim and we know where each other does. So if it's not us, we'll gladly recommend things, right? Like, you know, if someone wants to go and do, you know, email and phone prospecting, I'm your guy. You need to go and figure out how to use the bomb bombs and vid yards of the world. I just haven't spent enough time doing it.

(22:11): I can do it, but there's a couple other trainers I'd recommend ahead of time because they're ready to dial in tomorrow. Right. So understand that in the best way, find me on LinkedIn, Richard at our Harris four one five, Richard R. Harris four one five. And then this was the crazy one that I always love to do. And rarely do people ever do it. My cell phone number is (415) 596-9149 (415) 596-9149. Rarely do I get a phone call or a text, but feel free to shoot me a text. Give me a call. I'm happy to chat and try and put something on the calendar. Well, for those of you who

(22:43): Or listening, what Richard offered you the opportunity to do, and he made reference, he didn't have to name, drop to talk through some of the organizations. You can go to his LinkedIn and look at his track record. I appreciate it being gracious with his time here, but when he gave you his, he gave you an outlet. So if you are in today's sales world and you're, and you're figuring out how to honestly, how to look at the future or how to make sense of the recent past. So you can make a better decision going forward is to connect with them. And the challenge that I hear in what he's saying is to bet on you, you have to be willing to be able to bet on you. And if there's something that's not giving you a confidence in order to bet on yourself or align with an organization, he just told you his cell phone number. It's not gonna, he's not gonna do the work for you. He may have a suggestion or two, but that's my encouragement. And here at knucklehead, by the way, I think that's your tagline, the knuckle

(23:30): Podcast, where you learn to bet on you. Like, I think that's all, that's a great line. I love it. Yeah.

(23:35): Yeah. I think, well, in my opinion, it's, there's more folks that are in that particular scenario. Then there are folks that are just clicking within everything's moving the way that it needs to be. And granted, I may be biased. However, I do believe that that lack of conviction that happens in a lot of sales folks, not just sales folks and really any industry that lack of conviction simply just comes from the loss that wind of that other has kind of been taken out of their sales. And listen, if you're not having those nose bloodied moments, or you're not scraping your knee and you're not doing something right. In my opinion, you're going to have those moments, even if you have things dialed in pretty well. Totally agree, man. Thank you so much, Steven. I appreciate you having me on it's been a fun conversation. Absolutely. Well, for those of you who like listening to Reggie just told you how to get in touch with him. Those of you like listening to knucklehead. I think we may take Richard's suggestion on our tagline, make some changes. So learn a bet on you. Don't be a bait about the process. Get you some wins, have a good rest of the day guys.

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Getting rid of the distractions and clutters from so much promotions or advertising will help in developing a powerful marketing strategy in a fairly flooded marketplace. Cutting through the noise can make your message stand out and will drive potential clients to remember your message.

In today’s episode of the Knucklehead Podcast, our guest, Richard Harris will share his wisdom about the distinction of sales processes between different business models, why companies need to review their strategies frequently, and what’s his definition of product/market fit and culture fit in business.

Richard Harris is the Founder of The Harris Consulting Group. They provide real world examples to help you build a sales training and infrastructure that is based on your business goals, values, products, and ideas. Bringing over 20 years of technology and SaaS experience in sales training, operations and sales leadership into his role as a Sales Consultant, Richard has built, led and consulted with a wide range of organizations including start-ups, mid-size companies, and global organizations. 


Favorite Quote

“I got laid off and I was in shock and hurt and frustrated and angry and all those things. And you should be angry and you should be sad. You should go through those emotional things cause that’s just being a human. It could also let you get closer to being a better you, which is what we’re all striving for.”

– Richard Harris

In This Episode

4:57 – The distinction in sales processes between  different companies and businesses

7:24 – His interpretation of the catch phrase “Earn the Right”

9:27 – Why companies need to reassess their strategies during this trying season

13:47 – His takeaway during the times he’s been laid off and fired

15:04 – The best advice his mother gave him in business

16:12 – How he defines product/market fit

17:58 – His input about culture fit

20:39 – What people should have in mind before reaching out to Richard

Connect with Richard Harris


Call or Text:  (415) 596 9146

Connect with Knucklehead Media Group



• Knucklehead Media Group is your “push button” for podcasts. We help companies and organizations tell their story using podcasts and best practices for content distribution. Home to some of the top podcasts across multiple categories, captivating coursework on gaining traction with your show, and consulting to those companies BOLD enough to get some wins. We believe your mistakes set the foundation for your success, those stories help customers beat a pathway to your doorstep, and the myths from bringing business online shouldn’t hold you back from getting yours.

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