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Embracing Transparency to Sell Better with Todd Caponi
Episode 5823rd February 2022 • The Science of Selling STEM • Wesleyne Greer
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In this episode of the Science of Selling STEM, I interviewed Todd Caponi, the Founder, Speaker and Workshop Leader at Sales Melon. Todd is the author of a three time best book award winning and international best-seller, “The Transparency Sale”. He is a multi-time sea-level sales leader, behavioral science and sales history nerd. He’s guided two companies to successful exits. His next book, “The Transparency Sales Leader” is planned for the Spring of 2022. 

Todd built the revenue capacity of a tech company from the ground-up into Chicago’s fastest-growing, helped drive an organization to a successful IPO followed by an acquisition worth almost $3B, and in another organization his turnaround efforts were rewarded with a successful exit and the American Business “Stevie” Award for Worldwide Vice President of Sales of the Year.

Todd was gracious enough to reveal his hard-earned sales secrets including how to engage potential buyers with unexpected honesty and understanding the buying brain to get the deal you want, while delighting your customer with the experience. If there has ever been an episode that you mustn’t miss, it’s this one. So stay tuned and if you ever need help with a sales or leadership issue don't hesitate to book a complimentary clarity session with me HERE.

On Today’s Episode of the Science of Selling STEM:

  • Inspired by his dad to go into sales and combining it with his passion for leading and teaching (02:02)
  • Becoming a good sales leader despite having been an average sales person (03:48)
  • The experience of leaving his franchise business to become a new sales leader (05:48)
  • Using the five Fs framework to successfully build process (10:26)
  • Why every sales leader should embrace their flawsomeness and ensure that they don’t just focus on the forecasts (14:18)
  • How the negative are needed in order to trigger a purchase decision (17:51)
  • Breaking down his passion for sales history (26:12)
  • Taking sales back to being a respected profession (30:32)

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Connect with Todd Caponi:

Resources Mentioned:

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Thanks for tuning into The Science of Selling STEM! If you enjoyed this episode and want to learn even more about what it takes to transform your sales, don’t forget to tune into our other episodes and share your favorite episodes on social media!

Join The Science of Selling STEM community on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and visit my website for even more content, information, and resources

Transcripts

Wesleyne Greer:

As a sales manager, you are judged by the

Wesleyne Greer:

performance of your team, and you're praised when they do

Wesleyne Greer:

well. But one thing that you've not been able to figure out is

Wesleyne Greer:

how to get everyone on your team consistently hitting quota every

Wesleyne Greer:

single month. On the Snack size sales podcast, we discuss the

Wesleyne Greer:

science of selling stem sales leadership in the science,

Wesleyne Greer:

technology, engineering and manufacturing fields is

Wesleyne Greer:

difficult. You will learn from sales managers just like you

Wesleyne Greer:

that will give you actionable insights and tips on how to

Wesleyne Greer:

develop as a leader and achieve your revenue targets every

Wesleyne Greer:

single month. So pop your headphones in and get ready to

Wesleyne Greer:

listen to my guest today. They will give you information and

Wesleyne Greer:

inspiration to ensure that you have actionable insights that

Wesleyne Greer:

you can put into place today. Hello, and welcome to another

Wesleyne Greer:

episode of the science of selling stem. Today I am so

Wesleyne Greer:

delighted to be interviewing Todd Caponi from sales melon how

Wesleyne Greer:

are you?

Todd Caponi:

I am fantastic and can't wait to dig in with you.

Wesleyne Greer:

Awesome. Let me tell you guys just a little bit

Wesleyne Greer:

more about Todd. He is the author of a three time Best Book

Wesleyne Greer:

Award Winning an international bestseller, The transparency

Wesleyne Greer:

sale and a speaker workshop leader as the principal of sales

Wesleyne Greer:

Mellon. He is a multi time C level sales leader behavioral

Wesleyne Greer:

science and sales history nerd he's got to two companies to

Wesleyne Greer:

successful exits his next book, the transparency sales leader is

Wesleyne Greer:

planned for the spring of 2020 to behavioral science and sales

Wesleyne Greer:

history like I feel like I am in for such a treat, we're gonna

Wesleyne Greer:

really, really be digging in because I'm all about behavior.

Wesleyne Greer:

So how did you start your career? And how did you become

Wesleyne Greer:

this amazing three time award winning bestselling author,

Todd Caponi:

gosh, there's a lot but I'll tell you this, my dad

Todd Caponi:

was always a sales guy, right? Like grew up in it always came

Todd Caponi:

home with a smile on his face. I knew to a certain extent that

Todd Caponi:

that's what I wanted to do. I was like, I consider myself like

Todd Caponi:

a b b minus sales rep. When I was in sales, right? Like I

Todd Caponi:

wasn't awesome. I had a couple of great years. But I knew that

Todd Caponi:

my calling was something bigger, right? Leading and teaching. I

Todd Caponi:

just love that. And you can ask me all day long. I don't know

Todd Caponi:

where my nerdery for behavioral science started. But I just

Todd Caponi:

always thought that like how our brains engage and prioritize and

Todd Caponi:

decide. And by was interesting, I put the two together, I moved

Todd Caponi:

up into sales leadership, you know, had a blast doing it had

Todd Caponi:

some huge successes. And then we can talk about this story here

Todd Caponi:

in a minute. But there was a research study that happened

Todd Caponi:

while I was in my last role, and it changed my life like could

Todd Caponi:

only happen to a nerd where I quit my job. And I wrote a book

Todd Caponi:

all over a consumer research study that triggered this whole

Todd Caponi:

thing. And I'm sure we're gonna dig into it. So yeah, that led

Todd Caponi:

me to writing a book that I thought might suck because I've

Todd Caponi:

never written a book before, but it's taken on a life of its own.

Todd Caponi:

And now I've built a whole company around it and replaced

Todd Caponi:

most of my income, all with a lot less Advil, which is nice.

Todd Caponi:

So that's today.

Wesleyne Greer:

So you said something that is so important.

Wesleyne Greer:

And one thing that you said, and I think that this is a very

Wesleyne Greer:

hotly debated topic is that you were a b plus b minus

Wesleyne Greer:

salesperson, but you are a really good sales leader. So

Wesleyne Greer:

talk to me about that. Talk to me about you being you know, an

Wesleyne Greer:

okay, average mediocre salesperson, but you said I'm

Wesleyne Greer:

going to be a sales manager and how you were able to really lead

Wesleyne Greer:

those reps.

Todd Caponi:

Yeah, I mean, what had happened, I was bouncing

Todd Caponi:

around. So after 2000 hit and it turned out y2k For any of you

Todd Caponi:

that are old enough to remember that. Like it didn't cause

Todd Caponi:

planes to fall out of the sky and bombs to go off, right. Like

Todd Caponi:

it turned out to be nothing. But all of a sudden, the internet

Todd Caponi:

bubble burst in March of 2000. And everybody went scurrying

Todd Caponi:

for, like the lights turned on everybody scurrying for cover.

Todd Caponi:

And so I was bouncing around from job to job. And I was

Todd Caponi:

miserable. Like I was just like, What am I doing. And for

Todd Caponi:

whatever reason, on my sales team, I was always the person

Todd Caponi:

that was like seeing differently about how we should be doing

Todd Caponi:

things. And I had leaders that didn't agree. So I ended up in

Todd Caponi:

2003. I sold everything I had, and I bought a sales training

Todd Caponi:

franchise, it didn't go so well. But it allowed me to learn, like

Todd Caponi:

I got certified in leading workshops, and I got to be a

Todd Caponi:

nerd for all of this stuff and work with like 50 different

Todd Caponi:

sales organizations to see what works and what doesn't. And then

Todd Caponi:

when I popped out later, back into the tech world, I moved up

Todd Caponi:

really really quickly because I kind of had a different

Todd Caponi:

perspective than most people did. And so that's what really

Todd Caponi:

kind of kicked things off is looking at this foundationally

Todd Caponi:

plus the science together kind of made a magic combination.

Wesleyne Greer:

Ah, so You bet it on yourself. You said, You

Wesleyne Greer:

know what I'm gonna sell my whole life. And I'm gonna buy

Wesleyne Greer:

this franchise. And like you said it didn't go that well. And

Wesleyne Greer:

I think sometimes what people don't realize is things don't

Wesleyne Greer:

always go as expected, right? Your first business, your first

Wesleyne Greer:

job, your first career, it doesn't always happen as you

Wesleyne Greer:

expect, but you learned so much. You learn the fundamentals of

Wesleyne Greer:

the how the why the what, right. And then you took that knowledge

Wesleyne Greer:

to really propel your career. So tell me when you went from,

Wesleyne Greer:

okay, I'm a franchise owner. Okay, now I'm a salesperson

Wesleyne Greer:

going all the way to sales leader. How are those first few

Wesleyne Greer:

years as a brand new sales leader?

Todd Caponi:

Well, that's the thing. So you mentioned in my

Todd Caponi:

bio, that I'm writing a second book now called the transparent

Todd Caponi:

sales leader. And that was, so I came out of the franchise world,

Todd Caponi:

I got recruited to run sales operations for one of the big VC

Todd Caponi:

funded tech companies in the Valley. I live in Chicago, but I

Todd Caponi:

was competing out there. And I was brought in to help them get

Todd Caponi:

all the fundamentals right, create the structures, the

Todd Caponi:

processes do all that it was called sales training, like

Todd Caponi:

sales enablement, was sales training back then. So I got

Todd Caponi:

into it. I'll tell you one little side story. Day two on

Todd Caponi:

the job. It was our sales kickoff. So I came for sales

Todd Caponi:

kickoff was day one, day two, we have our meetings, we're going

Todd Caponi:

to dinner and my CEO was like, Hey, Todd, you want to jump in

Todd Caponi:

with me? I'm like, Sure. So I get in the car with him. And he

Todd Caponi:

like starts interrogating me about my career and what I want

Todd Caponi:

to do, and I told him, I was like, you know, Michael, I'm

Todd Caponi:

part of why I took this is because I have my sights set on

Todd Caponi:

wanting to run a tech sales organization at some point. And

Todd Caponi:

so Tom, the guy that hired me, I want to learn from him. I want

Todd Caponi:

to see how he does it. I want to see how we grow. Fast forward

Todd Caponi:

about a year, they fired Tom. And I get the call from Michael,

Todd Caponi:

my CEO. Sam, are you ready? We think you are. And I like yeah,

Todd Caponi:

let's go right, like all excited. But to your question.

Todd Caponi:

The reality hits you that I've gotten through my sales career

Todd Caponi:

with a process with a structure, I mean, sales leadership, and I

Todd Caponi:

immediately within 24 hours felt like a dog chasing a car down

Todd Caponi:

the street, never knowing which direction the cars going.

Todd Caponi:

Sometimes you catch up, it's like, you know, Jesse's having

Todd Caponi:

trouble. And it's thinking about quitting that deals on the ropes

Todd Caponi:

I got a forecast to do, I got a board meeting to go to, like

Todd Caponi:

every day was chasing. And so I felt like I needed a structure,

Todd Caponi:

I needed a process. And so I created one, and that served me

Todd Caponi:

incredibly well is just a simple structure. I called it the five

Todd Caponi:

F's of building revenue capacity, but I used it to plan

Todd Caponi:

strategize, communicate, up, down, left, right, when the

Todd Caponi:

bullets start flying, I would always have that to fall back

Todd Caponi:

on. And that's like that first company, we were able to turn it

Todd Caponi:

around, we grew 400% year over year, I want one of those Stevie

Todd Caponi:

Awards, the American Business Award for VP of worldwide sales

Todd Caponi:

of the year within two years. And then we sold the business to

Todd Caponi:

SAP at a nice little multiple. And then I went on and did it

Todd Caponi:

again. But I think for everybody, we are like dogs

Todd Caponi:

chasing the car down the street and we need structure we need

Todd Caponi:

process. And it's not that hard to find. If you look around,

Wesleyne Greer:

you set your intentions. And day two of your

Wesleyne Greer:

job you're like this is what I'm gonna do like a pretty much you

Wesleyne Greer:

told the CEO, I'm gonna have my boss's job and I'm gonna do it

Wesleyne Greer:

better. He is. And the CEO remember that? Yeah, I

Todd Caponi:

was never like that cuz I love Tom, the guy that

Todd Caponi:

brought me in, I would have run through brick walls for him

Todd Caponi:

forever. Like, I was not expecting that call. Like, no

Todd Caponi:

way. As a matter of fact, he started it by saying, I want to

Todd Caponi:

make sure you're alright. Cuz I know you love Tom. Right? I was

Todd Caponi:

like, Yeah, but tell me what's next, like what's going on? And

Todd Caponi:

he's like, Well, we think you're ready. Like, holy crap, really?

Todd Caponi:

So yeah, that was, so it was not like, I'm not that kind of like,

Todd Caponi:

I'm coming for you. Right? It was like, Hey, I know what I

Todd Caponi:

want. I know where I want to go. And this period here with this

Todd Caponi:

company is my investment in helping me get there.

Wesleyne Greer:

And you know, the thing is, it's if you would

Wesleyne Greer:

have never said anything, you would have never gotten the

Wesleyne Greer:

call, right. And so even when we're trying to climb the

Wesleyne Greer:

ladder, or we're trying to do something different within our

Wesleyne Greer:

career or for ourselves, you have to let people know, don't

Wesleyne Greer:

keep it to yourself, tell people, This is what I want from

Wesleyne Greer:

my career. And hey, this is what I want to do. And you know, some

Wesleyne Greer:

people will come to an interview, and they'll be like,

Wesleyne Greer:

I want your job. And you're like, Okay, great. I want to

Wesleyne Greer:

work myself out of a job. Right?

Todd Caponi:

Exactly. Yes, that's it. It's like going, you

Todd Caponi:

know, punching up your GPS and telling them, hey, I want to go

Todd Caponi:

somewhere, but I never tell them where I'm not gonna help. Right?

Todd Caponi:

And like your leader, it's got to be the same way. It's just

Todd Caponi:

like, hey, here's where I want to go. I don't expect to get it

Todd Caponi:

in the next two years. So patience, but I just want you to

Todd Caponi:

have that lens in the way that you think about me and the way

Todd Caponi:

you coach me and when you see opportunities for me to

Todd Caponi:

potentially grow so I can get closer to that you If you're not

Todd Caponi:

aware of them, you have no way to let me know that they're

Todd Caponi:

there. Right? And that's absolutely. So I think for

Todd Caponi:

everybody, everybody, like if you know where you're going, let

Todd Caponi:

everybody know who could potentially help you not with

Todd Caponi:

the intention of I'm coming for you, but with the intention of

Todd Caponi:

if you see those opportunities, hopefully you'll think of me.

Wesleyne Greer:

Absolutely. So you said you had this framework,

Wesleyne Greer:

but I think you said, the five F's that really helped you build

Wesleyne Greer:

process. Talk to us about those five s,

Todd Caponi:

yeah, I'll rattle them off for you. What I

Todd Caponi:

realized very quickly is that the role of sales leader is

Todd Caponi:

primarily five responsibilities, they all happen to start with

Todd Caponi:

the letter F, which is nice. And it almost follows a process. And

Todd Caponi:

once I identified those and wrote them down and thought

Todd Caponi:

about him, like I had them on a little sticky on my monitor all

Todd Caponi:

the time that I wouldn't get stuck going down the silos and

Todd Caponi:

that the five F simply our first responsibility, initially and

Todd Caponi:

ongoing is focus, which is you've got to focus your

Todd Caponi:

organization on the right companies in the right places.

Todd Caponi:

So the right firma graphics, the right demographics, the right

Todd Caponi:

prerequisites, like focus, you've got to hone that, right,

Todd Caponi:

you wouldn't go hunting and just blast off your shotgun in the

Todd Caponi:

woods, like you've got to focus, right. And so one of my mantras

Todd Caponi:

was always know science projects, right? Like, we know

Todd Caponi:

what we're good at. And within that, we know where we're going

Todd Caponi:

to focus. And that's where we get momentum and confidence. So

Todd Caponi:

you establish and maintain focus. The second F is you've

Todd Caponi:

got to then build a field, the field to support that focus,

Todd Caponi:

right people in the right places with the right experiences with

Todd Caponi:

the right tools and the right resources and the right comp and

Todd Caponi:

all that the field is your second F. Once you've built that

Todd Caponi:

field to support your focus, right, not the other way around,

Todd Caponi:

you then have to make sure that you identify and grow the

Todd Caponi:

fundamentals. So make sure that that field is getting the right

Todd Caponi:

things right consistently. Messaging positioning,

Todd Caponi:

prospecting, presenting, negotiating handoffs, that whole

Todd Caponi:

process once we've done that our fourth F is you've got to be

Todd Caponi:

able to predict the future through a forecast right sales

Todd Caponi:

leaders got a responsibility to forecast the metrics, the KPIs

Todd Caponi:

to be proactive. And then your fifth F, which is arguably the

Todd Caponi:

most important, especially now is fun, which is you've got a

Todd Caponi:

responsibility to build a culture where your team wants to

Todd Caponi:

come, wants to stay, wants to run through a brick wall for you

Todd Caponi:

and wants to tell all their friends. And once you've got

Todd Caponi:

those five, that becomes literally it was my means for

Todd Caponi:

all my one on ones up and down. It became my means for all

Todd Caponi:

hands, meetings, board meetings, all that communication, all my

Todd Caponi:

strategy and planning. And then there was one time where we had

Todd Caponi:

missed a number right? After a fundraise, I was brought out to

Todd Caponi:

the valley, put in a room with a sales expert that was there to

Todd Caponi:

beat the crap out of me for three and a half hours. And I

Todd Caponi:

crushed it not because I was any smarter, but because I had

Todd Caponi:

structure. And I was able to take them through. Here's the

Todd Caponi:

way that I think about it, right? Let's go through these

Todd Caponi:

five apps. So we'll spend the next three and a half hours. And

Todd Caponi:

hopefully you can coach me to optimize this. And this guy at

Todd Caponi:

the end of the three and a half hours. Instead of me leaving

Todd Caponi:

crying was like, wow, you're world class. And I was like,

Todd Caponi:

that's awesome, right in mental world for me. And I think that

Todd Caponi:

without the structure, I would have been just floating around

Todd Caponi:

for three and a half hours and he would have destroyed me.

Wesleyne Greer:

Hmm. So as you're going through your five

Wesleyne Greer:

apps, I for some reason I was in visiting a football field. And

Wesleyne Greer:

so I you're talking about focus, and I'm like, okay, that's the

Wesleyne Greer:

ends up, okay, then you're talking about the field of like,

Wesleyne Greer:

okay, this football field, these fundamentals and like, okay,

Wesleyne Greer:

that's practicing. And so as you're going through them, I had

Wesleyne Greer:

this visual, right and thinking about it, a lot of times a lot

Wesleyne Greer:

of people use sports analogies, right. And so thinking about

Wesleyne Greer:

like, really, your job as a sales leader, as a sales manager

Wesleyne Greer:

is to be the coach, right? You have to run point. And so you

Wesleyne Greer:

have in your five apps, you have the game plan in your head, you

Wesleyne Greer:

know, all the plays, and you have to make sure that you're

Wesleyne Greer:

bringing your team along. But you also have to make sure that

Wesleyne Greer:

you're letting your leadership No, hey, this is the game plan.

Wesleyne Greer:

These are the plays, this is what we have in order. And I

Wesleyne Greer:

think so many times sales managers, they focus on the

Wesleyne Greer:

tactical bits and pieces, and they're not thinking about I

Wesleyne Greer:

call it matching up, right? So use going in that room with an

Wesleyne Greer:

expert who they've paid many 1000s of dollars to come with

Wesleyne Greer:

you into shape. It's like, right, I got it.

Todd Caponi:

Exactly. That's exactly yet. And I think with

Todd Caponi:

all of these pieces, too, you know, if you really dig into

Todd Caponi:

each one, it's not that hard. The trap we all get stuck in is

Todd Caponi:

like imagine if you were a coach, but you only focused on

Todd Caponi:

the fundamentals, right? Like you didn't think about all these

Todd Caponi:

other things like that was the trap that I found myself getting

Todd Caponi:

into right out of the gate is Hey, Todd, you got a number to

Todd Caponi:

hit go. Right. And so my focus was the forecast. Right? The

Todd Caponi:

deals, every one on one was the forecast, right? And for

Todd Caponi:

everybody who's a leader, if your one on ones are all about

Todd Caponi:

the forecast, you're doing it wrong, right? Like we got to

Todd Caponi:

think about all of these things. And then the other piece that

Todd Caponi:

you said is, you know, talking about sharing with your other

Todd Caponi:

leaders, that's where the transparency comes in. That if

Todd Caponi:

you've got a strategy and a way that you think about got things

Todd Caponi:

but nobody else knows what it is, it's hard for those people

Todd Caponi:

to run behind you people are going to run behind people that

Todd Caponi:

they have confidence in that are also transparent people that are

Todd Caponi:

able to embrace not only what they're great at, but where they

Todd Caponi:

have holes, right, they're going to run behind those people much

Todd Caponi:

more than anybody who doesn't have a plan or pretends to be

Todd Caponi:

perfect. And so like that's the element of this thing is that

Todd Caponi:

there's a term that was coined by supermodel Tyra Banks, media

Todd Caponi:

like mogul. She's brilliant, and she coined the term philosophy

Todd Caponi:

and philosophy is to embrace your flaws. But know that you're

Todd Caponi:

still awesome. And it turns out, that actually sells better. It

Todd Caponi:

grows better, it retains better, it creates advocates better, and

Todd Caponi:

it leads better when we can embrace our philosophy, this and

Todd Caponi:

I just I love Tyra for that. So anyway,

Wesleyne Greer:

awesome. I love it a lot. So So you talk about

Wesleyne Greer:

behavioral science, how does that really play into sales?

Wesleyne Greer:

Leadership sales? How does that help Junior career?

Todd Caponi:

Yeah, so I was waiting. I wonder when you're

Todd Caponi:

gonna ask that because it's, that was what, like I said,

Todd Caponi:

triggered me. So you know, I've always been kind of looking at

Todd Caponi:

like, how do people make decisions. And so something

Todd Caponi:

happened. My last role, I was the chief revenue officer of a

Todd Caponi:

company in Chicago called Power reviews, you could probably

Todd Caponi:

guess from the name, we are in the review space, right? We

Todd Caponi:

helped retailers and brands collect and display ratings and

Todd Caponi:

reviews on their website. So you've interacted with it, you

Todd Caponi:

probably didn't even know it, right? You bought a pair of

Todd Caponi:

crocs. You look at the shoes, you scroll down, there's

Todd Caponi:

reviews, right? And we did that with them and 1000 other

Todd Caponi:

retailers and brands. But here's the study, we engaged with

Todd Caponi:

Northwestern University to look at just consumer behavior when a

Todd Caponi:

website's acting as a salesperson, what to consumers

Todd Caponi:

do what triggers decisions. And so it was a, you know, simple

Todd Caponi:

study, three data points came out of it, two of which changed

Todd Caponi:

my life like a nerd. So the first data point that didn't

Todd Caponi:

change my life was that we all read reviews today, right? Like,

Todd Caponi:

if you're buying something you haven't bought before, that's a

Todd Caponi:

medium to high consideration, meaning like, not like a pack of

Todd Caponi:

gum, but something matters. You read reviews, and I'm sure you

Todd Caponi:

read reviews, like I haven't found the 2% that don't like I'd

Todd Caponi:

be really curious to talk to them. But the two data points

Todd Caponi:

that changed my life. All right, ready, 85% of us skip the five

Todd Caponi:

star reviews and go right to the negatives. Right? You do that?

Todd Caponi:

Yep. So I see you nodding. So we read the force threes, twos and

Todd Caponi:

ones first. And then the other data point was that on a five

Todd Caponi:

star scale, and this is across all product categories, an

Todd Caponi:

average review score between a four two and a four, five is

Todd Caponi:

optimal for purchase conversion, meaning a product that has

Todd Caponi:

negative reviews, right under it, for two to four or five

Todd Caponi:

philosophy will sell better than a product that has nothing but

Todd Caponi:

five star reviews. So I looked at that like a nerd and thought

Todd Caponi:

that's what a website is acting as a salesperson, we're somehow

Todd Caponi:

drawn to the negative first, we somehow need the negative to be

Todd Caponi:

able to trigger a purchase decision. Why? And does that

Todd Caponi:

apply to b2b? And it turns out everything screamed Yes. Right.

Todd Caponi:

As it turns out, transparency sells better than perfection.

Todd Caponi:

And so we started trying it and we quickly became Chicago's

Todd Caponi:

fastest growing tech company in Chicago, right? Like all of a

Todd Caponi:

sudden sales cycle sped up when rates went up personally,

Todd Caponi:

because we were qualifying in deals better by leading with not

Todd Caponi:

just flaws, but maybe something a competitor does better some

Todd Caponi:

risk area that maybe they're not thinking about, maybe we're high

Todd Caponi:

cost, we lead with that, right? If 85% of us are going to the

Todd Caponi:

negative first. It's what our brain wants, it allows us to

Todd Caponi:

process all the good lead with it. And it turned out that magic

Todd Caponi:

happened over and over again. And I was like, I have to get

Todd Caponi:

these ideas out here. Like not only because it feels good to be

Todd Caponi:

transparent and honest, of course, but it sells better. And

Todd Caponi:

it's 2022. Due to the proliferation of reviews and

Todd Caponi:

feedback and everything we do buy an experience today. You

Todd Caponi:

can't hide your flaws anyway. So throw them out there, leave them

Todd Caponi:

don't lose control of your sale by letting your buyer go out and

Todd Caponi:

do the research on their own and go I don't trust her because she

Todd Caponi:

presented her solutions as being perfect, right. It builds trust

Todd Caponi:

creates advocates. And like I said, that same type of mindset

Todd Caponi:

applies to leadership with your own team. When you embrace your

Todd Caponi:

philosophy, and present yourself as here's my plan. I'm pretty

Todd Caponi:

darn good. ain't perfect. Here's where I need help. Here's where

Todd Caponi:

my holes are. You create people that will run behind you stay

Todd Caponi:

and advocate. So there's a good rant for you.

Wesleyne Greer:

That is awesome. Wow. And as you were talking one

Wesleyne Greer:

thing that kind of was bubbling through my brain was the things

Wesleyne Greer:

that I always have new salespeople do at companies that

Wesleyne Greer:

I'm working with or even within my company is a SWOT analysis,

Wesleyne Greer:

right? Especially when they're brand new. I'm like you don't

Wesleyne Greer:

you're not biased yet. You need to do a SWOT analysis because

Wesleyne Greer:

it's really important to understand what the other people

Wesleyne Greer:

are doing really good and not so good. And the same thing about

Wesleyne Greer:

your company what you guys are doing really good and not so

Wesleyne Greer:

good because you're like being brunt of it. Yeah, we've only

Wesleyne Greer:

been around for three years. But right. We've only done it. Like,

Wesleyne Greer:

literally you have to lean into it. And don't. It's not coming

Wesleyne Greer:

at you from left and right field. I love that. But you're

Wesleyne Greer:

right. The psychology behind that is true. It's like, I'll

Wesleyne Greer:

read one or two five stars. And then I'm going down to the the

Wesleyne Greer:

one starters. Right? And if something is too perfect, you're

Wesleyne Greer:

like, these are prey groups. These are real people, right?

Todd Caponi:

Yeah. And there's so many lessons in b2c that I

Todd Caponi:

think are huge opportunities for b2b Like, you know, IKEA, like

Todd Caponi:

if you've been to an Ikea IKEA is the number one furniture

Todd Caponi:

retailer in the world for 14 straight years. Yet, when you

Todd Caponi:

walk in, you need a map like you know you're in for it. If you

Todd Caponi:

need a map to get through a store, you have to find it, you

Todd Caponi:

have to write down the code because you get to go to the

Todd Caponi:

warehouse pull 100 pound boxes on the carts that don't have

Todd Caponi:

brakes. It seems like a bit of an oversight, jam it in the back

Todd Caponi:

of your car, Tetris style, drive home with a souvenir injury,

Todd Caponi:

open the box and find 100 parts with no words on the work

Todd Caponi:

instructions under that other than like Svarta or whatever the

Todd Caponi:

and F bomb your way through that and then go you know what, we

Todd Caponi:

should have bought the end tables with that bedroom. So

Todd Caponi:

let's go back like it's currently in like Costco is the

Todd Caponi:

same, right? Like I had to go buy some provisions for my

Todd Caponi:

stepdaughters birthday party. And so I was like Costco is the

Todd Caponi:

place to go. You need a subscription to walk in, right?

Todd Caponi:

Like you got to pay to even walk in the door. There's almost no

Todd Caponi:

brand selection, like she loves ranch dressing you better like

Todd Caponi:

Hidden Valley. That's all you got it. Right, and then you walk

Todd Caponi:

up and it's a tank of it, right? It's two thirds of the gallon.

Todd Caponi:

Like you better love ranch dressing. You throw it on the

Todd Caponi:

cart like on the thing, they don't even bag it, they just

Todd Caponi:

throw it in your cart. And then there's somebody at the door,

Todd Caponi:

checking your receipt to make sure you didn't steal anything,

Todd Caponi:

right? And you keep going back their subscription renewal rates

Todd Caponi:

like 98% Why? Because embracing what you give up to be great at

Todd Caponi:

your core that is magic, right? Because it creates expectations

Todd Caponi:

and when you consistently meet those expectations you create

Todd Caponi:

those types of flotsam experiences for people were they

Todd Caponi:

know exactly what they're getting and what they're not

Todd Caponi:

going to get. You go to Ikea for a purpose. If you want your

Todd Caponi:

living room function swayed and you need somebody to come

Todd Caponi:

assemble it and set it all up cool. That's not us go to Macy's

Todd Caponi:

go to room and board go to Crate and Barrel. That ain't us. You

Todd Caponi:

want small quantities and big brand selection at the grocery

Todd Caponi:

store. Costco is go like hey, go to Kroger, Jul, Safeway, we're

Todd Caponi:

like, that's not us. I think every one of our companies when

Todd Caponi:

we do that, and we embrace it, we not only like I said all

Todd Caponi:

those metric values, but we bring people in pre qualified.

Todd Caponi:

And we stop spending so much time filling pipelines with

Todd Caponi:

crap, right. But we get much more efficient spending time on

Todd Caponi:

the deals we should be working on instead of working on deals

Todd Caponi:

that ultimately we're going to lose, but we lose slowly because

Todd Caponi:

we pretend to be perfect. So

Wesleyne Greer:

hmm. And you know, I think that one of the

Wesleyne Greer:

most important things that you said when you compare IKEA and

Wesleyne Greer:

Costco to their big competitors, one thing that I say often is

Wesleyne Greer:

stop giving people a salad bar, give them a salad, like all of

Wesleyne Greer:

those choices. Choices are not good. You are the expert. You

Wesleyne Greer:

know what the client needs, give them the product, give them the

Wesleyne Greer:

service, don't say you can have 12345 Because it's too much. And

Wesleyne Greer:

it's like I got like you said I go to Costco, I can get this

Wesleyne Greer:

brand of this. And that's it. And sometimes they say this

Wesleyne Greer:

brand didn't work well. So you can't ever find it there again.

Wesleyne Greer:

And that's okay. Because I still go back and I try the new thing

Wesleyne Greer:

that they brought it you know what I mean? And so I think that

Wesleyne Greer:

that is the mindset that we in this b2b complex sales world we

Wesleyne Greer:

really need to have.

Todd Caponi:

Yeah, I mean, the one analogy to your point there

Todd Caponi:

is, you know, Toys R Us, like, you know, the greatest store for

Todd Caponi:

kids ever goes out of business. I think I know why. But, you

Todd Caponi:

know, as they were going bankrupt, and going out of

Todd Caponi:

business, you know, my kids at the time, I think they were like

Todd Caponi:

five and seven. So like, right, and Toys R Us age, they were

Todd Caponi:

going out of business. They're having a sale, right? Like going

Todd Caponi:

out of business sale. So we see this and my wife's like, let's

Todd Caponi:

take the kids, right? The kids hear that with their Hawk

Todd Caponi:

hearing in the back of the car. And they're like, Yeah, right.

Todd Caponi:

They're, like, never been more excited in their life to go

Todd Caponi:

somewhere. Fast forward to about 25 minutes later, they're both

Todd Caponi:

sitting in their car seats with a toy, and they're both crying.

Todd Caponi:

Why? It's because they go in with these expectations. They're

Todd Caponi:

like toys. Yeah, I'm gonna get a toy. But to your point, it's

Todd Caponi:

floor to ceiling wall, the wall toys like, I want that. I want

Todd Caponi:

that. I want that. And because they have so much choice, it's

Todd Caponi:

fatiguing to their brains. And they've got fear that the toy

Todd Caponi:

that they got is not the best thing that they could get.

Todd Caponi:

Right? And the only thing that got us out of that store that

Todd Caponi:

day was my wife saying, Listen, there was three things that you

Todd Caponi:

really liked, right? You like that? That and that. I know

Todd Caponi:

there's 100 other ones, but you have to make a decision between

Todd Caponi:

these three, and we're going right and they're like so and

Todd Caponi:

like, like Kryon on their way out. But that's what sales

Todd Caponi:

people do, right? Where it's just like, you know, imagine a

Todd Caponi:

Sherpa at Mount Everest going. It's a big mountain. Where do

Todd Caponi:

you want to go? We could climb any way you want. You'd be like,

Todd Caponi:

we're all gonna die, right? Like, we need a Sherpa to guide

Todd Caponi:

us to the optimal way we know more than our buyers. Do. We

Todd Caponi:

sell this stuff all day long. They buy our stuff once maybe in

Todd Caponi:

their career, we've got to Sherpa them. And the gear

Todd Caponi:

analogy is perfect, right? It's like, we're not sushi menu,

Todd Caponi:

where like, give them the meal. Here's like prefix meal here.

Todd Caponi:

Here's what you need. I'm going to be your personal trainer, and

Todd Caponi:

not somebody who's just sitting here watching you screw

Todd Caponi:

yourself. Right? Exactly.

Wesleyne Greer:

Like literally, you are the expert. Yes, you

Wesleyne Greer:

know your product as better than the buyer does. And so as the

Wesleyne Greer:

expert, they need lettuce, tomato salad dressing, period,

Wesleyne Greer:

no cheese, no croutons, none of the other things, right. So

Wesleyne Greer:

something else that you are really passionate about is sales

Wesleyne Greer:

history. Yes. Tell me about because this is brand new. For

Wesleyne Greer:

me. sales history is not something I don't think I go to

Wesleyne Greer:

much past the 80s when I'm reading sales books, so talk to

Wesleyne Greer:

us about that.

Todd Caponi:

Yeah, I mean that this whole, I've got shelves

Todd Caponi:

filled. It's my nerdery I spend my week I read from books are

Todd Caponi:

like this one here is 1918 The Art and Science of selling like,

Todd Caponi:

I wish you could smell it because it smells like history.

Todd Caponi:

But I just find it absolutely fascinating to look at really

Todd Caponi:

the beginnings of what we today call corporate sales, right?

Todd Caponi:

Like up through until about 1900 The predominant approach was

Todd Caponi:

through manufacturers reps called drummers, right? So you

Todd Caponi:

had products to sell, you hired these reps that represented a

Todd Caponi:

bunch of products, you gave them samples, sent them off, and then

Todd Caponi:

they would send orders, they wire orders back, you pay him a

Todd Caponi:

commission, and then it became corporate, right. And it started

Todd Caponi:

to come in, like into organizations, they started

Todd Caponi:

training. And so it's amazing to me to watch the predominant

Todd Caponi:

philosophies that we live by today be birth back then I

Todd Caponi:

believe that in these books, and literally, I have something

Todd Caponi:

called the sales history podcast where I just monologue on a

Todd Caponi:

different topic every week, like where did cold calling begin

Todd Caponi:

when did like sales process and all that stuff. But like, it's

Todd Caponi:

amazing to me that I could take paragraphs from the early 1900s

Todd Caponi:

drop them in LinkedIn today. No one would know they were 100

Todd Caponi:

years old. And they would think they're brilliant, right? Like

Todd Caponi:

90% of what I find there in like cash was and they think these

Todd Caponi:

people could write like, it is amazing to me. But I'll tell you

Todd Caponi:

one other piece. Do we have time for a quick story? Yeah. All

Todd Caponi:

right. Well, 1916 is a particularly interesting year

Todd Caponi:

from sales history. In Detroit in July of 1916, there was

Todd Caponi:

something called the world sales Congress. It was the first of

Todd Caponi:

its kind. It was a conference that took place in Detroit and

Todd Caponi:

3000 salespeople came to it. What's interesting about that is

Todd Caponi:

your first conference of its type 3000 people, the keynote

Todd Caponi:

speaker was then President Woodrow Wilson. Now imagine a

Todd Caponi:

sales conference today where the the keynote speaker is the

Todd Caponi:

President of the United States like that would be crazy. But

Todd Caponi:

even crazier is, we were about to get into World War One. And

Todd Caponi:

this guy's coming and keynoting a sales conference. Why? Because

Todd Caponi:

back then sales was trusted, respected and even admired as a

Todd Caponi:

profession, to the point where back then, colleges were all

Todd Caponi:

teaching sales, high schools, were teaching sales, there was

Todd Caponi:

11, public Boston high schools teaching sales back then,

Todd Caponi:

because kids wanted to get into it, it was seen as a way to make

Todd Caponi:

great money. But the point is why? Because back then, our

Todd Caponi:

country had an opportunity had an opportunity to kind of build

Todd Caponi:

an economic power lead, but it relied on salespeople selling

Todd Caponi:

the right products to the right companies at the right price at

Todd Caponi:

the right time. And when they did that, and they saw the world

Todd Caponi:

through kind of the macro lens, selling those right products,

Todd Caponi:

the right companies at the right time helped them grow, which

Todd Caponi:

helped the economy grow because they were hiring, which helped

Todd Caponi:

all of us. And so that was the lens, keeping in mind that all

Todd Caponi:

sales had to be done face to face, eye to eye back them. So

Todd Caponi:

we had real strong relationships. And we were doing

Todd Caponi:

right by the economy. And that was the lens by which

Todd Caponi:

salespeople sold, something switched. And I go into that in

Todd Caponi:

a couple of episodes around like when we started to flip that to

Todd Caponi:

where we became self centered instead of like about our

Todd Caponi:

numbers and our metrics and our forecasts, instead of outcomes

Todd Caponi:

and customer success. That kind of changed the perception of the

Todd Caponi:

profession and that there still were some slimy salespeople back

Todd Caponi:

then. Sure. But we went from being respected, trusted,

Todd Caponi:

admired to being at the bottom of gallops annual trusted

Todd Caponi:

professions list for like eight years in a row now, and I think

Todd Caponi:

there's an opportunity to get that back.

Wesleyne Greer:

So as I'm listening to you talk about this

Wesleyne Greer:

history. One thing that is It pops into my mind in industry

Wesleyne Greer:

that I work with a lot of manufacturing. And in the

Wesleyne Greer:

manufacturing industry, a lot of the sales people also in like

Wesleyne Greer:

petrochemical a lot of the salespeople are a little bit

Wesleyne Greer:

older. And if I think about it, their parents were coming of age

Wesleyne Greer:

in that time. And so pushing their kids into that profession

Wesleyne Greer:

was actually something like, Yes, this is a really great

Wesleyne Greer:

career. And then we have this huge gap, right? And now we're

Wesleyne Greer:

trying to get the younger generation to come back into

Wesleyne Greer:

sales, because I think some of what you're talking about is so

Wesleyne Greer:

true. Like there's that huge gap in when sales was a really

Wesleyne Greer:

respected profession. So where it is now, and now we're trying

Wesleyne Greer:

to get back to that.

Todd Caponi:

Yeah, and I don't think we can help it. I think it

Todd Caponi:

has to happen. You know, like in 2015, Forster predicted that

Todd Caponi:

like 1 million b2b sales jobs that go away by 2020? Well, the

Todd Caponi:

opposite happened, like 3 million at it, right. And I

Todd Caponi:

think because it's a resilient profession, and part of being

Todd Caponi:

resilient is realizing that our buyers don't need us the way

Todd Caponi:

they used to. And so being aggressive, being slimy, hiding

Todd Caponi:

the truth, no longer will make you somebody that they're going

Todd Caponi:

to invite in their office. If we look at our role, just like you

Todd Caponi:

were talking about earlier, right? To be the guide to be the

Todd Caponi:

Sherpa to say, Hey, listen, my role is to help you make smart

Todd Caponi:

decisions. And that smart decision is going to happen as

Todd Caponi:

quickly as we can possibly make it happen either with us or for

Todd Caponi:

somebody else. And I'm going to help you see if it's somebody

Todd Caponi:

else, if it should be as quickly as possible. That is our role.

Todd Caponi:

Whether we say that or not. If we come from that mindset and

Todd Caponi:

go, Hey, listen, here's something that you might not

Todd Caponi:

love about us. Here's something that a competitor does that if

Todd Caponi:

that's going to be important. Let's talk about it now. Hey,

Todd Caponi:

listen, our pricing is x, if that's way off from your

Todd Caponi:

expectation, let's bet that now, right? Like if you're having a

Todd Caponi:

like a six figure conversation with a four figure buyer, one of

Todd Caponi:

us in the wrong conversation, you better figure that out right

Todd Caponi:

now, right? When we do those types of things, and we help the

Todd Caponi:

buyer predict that's when we build that trust, and people

Todd Caponi:

look at salespeople, like an aide versus a necessary evil

Todd Caponi:

like they were 20 years ago.

Wesleyne Greer:

Hmm, that's good. So when you think about

Wesleyne Greer:

this very, very full career that you've had, what is one thing

Wesleyne Greer:

that you are most excited about accomplishing or doing? Josh?

Wesleyne Greer:

There's

Todd Caponi:

a couple, but I honestly, when I wrote the book,

Todd Caponi:

my intention is and was to get the ideas out there. I literally

Todd Caponi:

thought I would write this book, and it would suck. And all my

Todd Caponi:

buddies would be like, Oh, Todd, good for you. You wrote a book,

Todd Caponi:

right? And then I would go get a CRO role again, but I am. It's

Todd Caponi:

hard for me to not be super proud of how well this is done.

Todd Caponi:

But like really the impact it's having. And like, you know,

Todd Caponi:

companies are like they're buying it for all their new

Todd Caponi:

hires, right? Like, really, that's insane. But it's great

Todd Caponi:

that I'm seeing more and more like this Rolling Stone of

Todd Caponi:

leaders that are going, Yes, this isn't 1985 anymore.

Todd Caponi:

Transparency does sell better than perfection. And because of

Todd Caponi:

the proliferation of reviews and feedback today, we have to do it

Todd Caponi:

anyway, we better optimize it right? And so I'm super proud

Todd Caponi:

that this has kind of taken fire the way it is. And I'm just I'm

Todd Caponi:

happy that I've had the opportunity to do this because

Todd Caponi:

being a CRO was a blast was stressful as all get out. But

Todd Caponi:

for me to be able to be home with my family, and then do

Todd Caponi:

right by the profession is just super cool to me. And I think

Todd Caponi:

that it's hard not to land there.

Wesleyne Greer:

That's awesome. And I think that, you know, when

Wesleyne Greer:

we're in the corporate realm, we're really excited about what

Wesleyne Greer:

we do the lives that we're impacting. But when you write a

Wesleyne Greer:

book, you're touching so many more people than you could ever

Wesleyne Greer:

do in your role as a CRO. So I think that that is an excellent

Wesleyne Greer:

thing to be proud of.

Todd Caponi:

Well, thank you. Thank you. And I can't believe

Todd Caponi:

I'm doing it again. So that would be out a couple months

Todd Caponi:

here. So

Wesleyne Greer:

you signed up for it again. So that was I

Wesleyne Greer:

mean, that was a fun ride.

Todd Caponi:

Exactly. What am I doing? Yeah.

Wesleyne Greer:

Well, thank you so much time. And if people want

Wesleyne Greer:

to get in contact with you what is the one best way

Todd Caponi:

My website is just Todd Caponi calm, and it links

Todd Caponi:

to everything. There's articles, videos, the podcast links, you

Todd Caponi:

can connect with me on LinkedIn too. But Todd compone calm is

Todd Caponi:

probably the best place to start soaking in all my nonsense.

Wesleyne Greer:

I love it. Thank you so much. This conversation

Wesleyne Greer:

has been amazing. And you've given us a history lesson in

Wesleyne Greer:

sales, which is definitely a first for the podcast. So I

Wesleyne Greer:

really appreciate you taking your time sharing your energy

Wesleyne Greer:

and your expertise with us today.

Todd Caponi:

Well, you are a delight to talk to and I'm so

Todd Caponi:

happy that you invited me on so thank you.

Wesleyne Greer:

Thanks so much again. Well guys, that was

Wesleyne Greer:

another episode of the science of selling stem podcast and

Wesleyne Greer:

remember in everything that you do to Transform your sales until

Wesleyne Greer:

next time.

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