Podcast

Don’t Sell. Solve. – Joey Kercher

“I want to be able to text you,” says Joey Kercher of Unicorn Puff, a B2B services company that offers marketing and coaching support to companies looking to scale their business or get out of a sales rut. Joey talks with host Chris Smith about his human-centered approach to sales, which focuses on building lasting relationships with clients and thinking about who they are as people, not just prospects.

As one of three identical triplets, Joey knows what it takes to stand out. His life-long entrepreneurial spirit most recently brought him to Unicorn Puff, where his role is that of a sales and business coach for struggling and scaling companies. In that coaching role, Joey focuses on relationship building. For Joey, understanding the pain points of customers and being able to connect with them on a personal level is a game changer. Though sales people often don’t look beyond a closed deal, Joey sees sales as the initial phase of a lifelong relationship.

From intentionally including typos in your LinkedIn messages to networking tips from the point-of-view of an experiential marketer, Joey shares it all in this episode of Sales Lead Dog.

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Transcript:

Wed, 1/13 12:56PM • 43:35 

SUMMARY KEYWORDS 
sales, crm, people, understand, joey, grow, customer, selling, deal, helping, relationship, tracking, cultivate, important, company, sales team, human, approach, overall strategy, touch 

SPEAKERS 
Joey Kercher, Christopher Smith 

 Intro
Welcome to the Sales Lead Dog Podcast hosted by CRM technology and sales process expert Christopher Smith, talking with sales leaders that have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Listen to find out how the best of the best achieve success with their team and CRM technology. And remember, unless you are the lead dog, the view never changes. 

 Christopher Smith   
Welcome to Sales Lead Dog. Today we have joining us Joey Kercher. Joey, welcome to Sales Lead Dog.  

 Joey Kercher   
Thank you. Thank you for having me. 

 Christopher Smith   
Joey, tell us a little bit about yourself and your company. 

 Joey Kercher  
Yeah. So I’m here in Denver, Colorado. I’ve, so my background is marketing. I used to have a, an experiential marketing agency for the past 13 years really focused on live events and really focused on that human aspect of sales. And then, obviously, COVID has not liking people in person. So, we’re now digital. So I’ve recently started a new agency called Unicorn Puff, where we are a brave trust of entrepreneurs there’s three founders that came together with all different backgrounds, and what we’re doing, we’re helping B2B, B2B service agencies where usually it’s like software development or UI, UX web design companies where we’re working with founders, where they’re either their sales have stalled or they’re, they’re trying to scale. And what we do is we come in helping out with a couple things, not a traditional agency but like focus on strategy sales and marketing, all together. Because typically it’s not, it’s usually a deeper problem they’re having when scaling so that’s kind of what we do.  

 Christopher Smith  
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. I love the name Unicorn Puff too, that’s really creative. 

 Joey Kercher   
Thank you. 

 Christopher Smith   
Joey, tell me about, I like to start the podcast this way, tell me about the three things that have really contributed to your success so far. 

 Joey Kercher  
Yeah, I think, um, you know just thinking of my entrepreneur journey is, you know, failing fast and and learning from it, and and not and not looking back and like, “Ah, that sucked.” And I think it’s just really trying to, to grow from that and continue to, to learn because, you know, obviously even this past year I’ve, we’ve you know you hit a wall and you got to keep driving. I think, you know, so, finding something that you’re really passionate about, you know, I’m passionate about people, and you know I love helping people on on different levels on marketing, and I think that’s been helping you know get through the harder times of being an entrepreneur, so. Yeah. 

 Christopher Smith   
Yeah, I love the fail fast line. As entrepreneurs, so many people we fight to struggle and keep it going, keep it going, and not realizing that if we let it fail then move on, you know, pivot and learn and keep going, we can actually probably be more successful. So.  

 Joey Kercher   
Yeah.  

 Christopher Smith   
Tell us about how you got your start in sales. 

 Joey Kercher   
Yeah. So, back when I was, actually this is way back in my neighborhood, like, I think it was seven years old and when, I’m an identical triplet so there’s two more of me running around here in Denver, and we would, our neighbor bought us a lawn mower that we would pay off during the summer, and how we would get lawns, we also got a trim, an edger, so my brother and I would go to house to house, hey, you know, just as an entry point to mow their lawn, we’ll, we’ll edge your lawn for $10 and we can mow it for $20. So that’s, that’s kind of how we start, I think we also went door to door selling firestarters and things like that and I’ve always had this like entreprenuer mindset. And I think the other piece of it is me being an identical triplet is very unique because, you know, I have two other people that look like me, I’m trying to like fit in and, you know, try to get my, my dad to see me or to recognize me and I think I understood, started learning at a younger age more those psychological like, hey, how can I be seen and how can people see. Well, I think what it really comes down to also is just understanding what human needs are and what humans want. Humans don’t want to be sold to, you know, we want, we want to have a reason to say no, and, and I think a lot of people even nowadays, now that we, you know, you and I can’t be doing this in person. We have to do this over the phone and, you know, understanding that like we’re, we want to be someone that can be heard and and not told what to do, because I think that’s kind of my stride in life, you know, back to three things that got me excited. I don’t like to be told what to do and that was my, that’s why I keep driving to go. So, yeah I think just changing the concept of like, “Hey, I need to sell to you” to “Hey, how can I be that, be of value to you,” because if they can make, if you can make that decision that I’m valued to you, then it’s a great relationship and, and that’s a great way to sell. 

 Christopher Smith   
And it’s so important to create that, like you said, the human connection, you know, because we’re all people we’re dealing another person we all have our own issues, baggage, concerns, worries and being able to understand that is so important. How do you put yourself in your, your customer’s or your prospect’s shoes so you can relate to them on that human level? 

 Joey Kercher   
Yeah, I think just, just the way you’re, I mean, for the first contact right like I mean I do a lot of LinkedIn outreach, a lot of email outreach, you know I try to put a little more humanistic spin in it, instead of like, “Hey I want to get on a call so I can sell you my services.” I don’t even want to listen to you. But if it’s like, “Hey, I’d love to see how we can collaborate. You know, you seem like someone that we could have a genuine relationship with, a genuine connection,” and not leading with a sale upfront or even that idea, but like, “Hey, how can we help each other in some level?” You know, and make it mutual too, because I think I think people don’t realize too other people want to help you as well. But if they’re being sold to it’s a different, it could kind of change that relationship. But even even like copy, like you know I get, we all get LinkedIn messages that are like, you know, a book long, and I’m like, I don’t even know what the whole point of that is, you know, make it very concise of like why do you want to reach out, what, why do you think we have, you know, a connection. And also, like a lot of the automation out there works, but, you know, we’ve, we’ve just started playing with this like making some of the copy with spelling errors that almost makes and that’s kind of a new thing that we’ve been trying out, we’ve been getting a little more higher response on that, too, so it’s really showing that human side. 

 Christopher Smith   
Oh yeah, yeah so it’s definitely not canned, if you notice the little typo in there, something you know. 

 Joey Kercher   
Right, it’s like, oh yeah he did it fast. 

 Christopher Smith   
Yeah, yeah, that’s pretty wild. Tell me about your transition from sales to sales leadership. What was that like for you? 

 Joey Kercher   
Oh, yeah, I think I’m moving to more of a sales leadership because, you know, over the years I’ve always had to do the outbound sales and, you know, get in touch with people, but more of that sales leadership is more of building and helping your peers grow. And, you know, being that thought leader out there, like, you know, for me it doesn’t, it comes pretty natural on that side of it just because I don’t like the opposite of it. I don’t like people calling me and just like, you know, not even knowing what company I am, like why would my service be a benefit? And I think, you know, moving to that side is, just be more that the leader of that of, you know, helping my team grow. Yeah, I’m not sure that answered it, but yeah. 

 Christopher Smith   
Oh no, that’s great, that’s great. Um, was it a difficult transition for you, or was it, it sounds like it was pretty natural? 

 Joey Kercher   
I think it was pretty natural I, you know, for me, I’m, I’m a mix of an introvert and an extrovert. I need a little both, so it’s like I can stand my introvert this, you know, while we’re doing the harder work and then when I need to get out there I can, you know, be that more leader. But I think it’s, you know, I don’t look at it as like a sales leader I think it’s just being a leader in general. You know, that simple concept of, you know, treat others like you want to be treated and I think that’s how I, we’ve grown, you know, my staffing business, the experiential is, you know, we want, we were hiring people at four hour, four hour blocks and how do you get someone to show up on time, sober, that represents the brand across the country, say 200 people. And it really comes down to respect, and, you know, you know what, what do they need to make sure they’re going to continue being successful and I think it’s, as when you’re looking at the overall view it’s a lot easier to, to provide that. 

 Christopher Smith   
So when you’re working with your customers how are you helping them, how are you guiding them in sales leadership? 

 Joey Kercher   
You know, I think, with our customers, you know how we’re helping them grow, you know, almost as not telling how to do it but actually listening on what their problems are, what problems, what, what problems that we can help solve. I think it’s, I think the value approach of like, hey, I’m here to help you instead of like selling, I’m going to actually give you some anecdotes to help you get to that next level. And I think it’s, you know, and it comes back to that human side, right, like someone doesn’t want to sit here and listen to someone just like, “I have the best of this and this.” Well, that may not even portray to them, you know, if you understand your customer’s problem, and really dive in and like why is that a problem, where can we find things to fix that problem to help them grow, they’re going to be more agitative to listen than just us telling. 

 Christopher Smith   
Sounds like your coaching approach, what you do with your customers is very analogous to how you should be selling to people, it’s really listening, understanding what their problems are, and how you can deliver value. 

 Joey Kercher   
100%. And, and obviously stuff I do is a lot of relationship building too because, you know, a relationship I’ve had 10 years ago, could pop up any day now and, oh hey I remember you. And, and understanding like oh I wasn’t sold to I was, I was actually provided high value and hey let’s give this guy a chance again to talk.  

 Christopher Smith   
Yeah, yeah. I think it’s really important to maintain and cultivate that ,your network like that, especially those old contacts that haven’t talked to you in a while, just do that reach out and say, “Hey it’s been a while. How are you doing?” 

 Joey Kercher   
Exactly. 

 Christopher Smith  
You never know what’s gonna come out of that. 

 Joey Kercher   
100% and we were, my team was just talking about that the other day. It’s like, you know, we have some copy that hey, telling people about our new company and how we’re going, and it got it got feedback but, you know, the way I build relationships is, you know, I could text someone like that, that’s the really, that’s where I want to get to. It’s like, I want to provide enough value that hey I can just like, I just want to say, “Hey let’s just get on a call. Happy New Year. Want to see how you’re doing,” so. 

 Christopher Smith   
Yeah. And that’s important, that’s when you really are building that relationship. I like that, I haven’t heard that before where you can, I can text you. That is, that separates you from everybody else like I’m willing to get that personal with you.  

 Joey Kercher   
Right.  

 Christopher Smith   
For anyone considering sales leadership, what should they be thinking about? 

 Joey Kercher   
Um, I think, in what context for? 

 Christopher Smith  
Just like, you know, yeah, I’m crushing it in sales but I want more, I want, maybe I think I’m good for being a sales leader. What should I be thinking about to really prepare myself for that transition into sales leadership because it is so different from being a salesperson? 

 Joey Kercher   
100% and I think that’s all different levels like whether it’s leadership or operations, but I think understanding that you know you’re, you’re going to be in a more of a manager role overseeing obviously, you know, numbers, you know, how many outbound are going, and kind of following that. But I think being able to to understand the overall value of that and to be able to help coach, your team to, to grow as well in being available. You know, it’s, it’s definitely in my opinion more stressful than actually a salesperson, because a salesperson can just, you know make calls all day and really build that relationship but you’re, you’re changing the concept of like, well you know, we also we need to close deals, but we need to do an approach where I’m not desperate. Because the last thing is like hey, you know, Chris, you know I need to, I need to make the sale by the end of the month and we need to close this. You know, I think there’s a lot of coaching that can go involved in that. And I think it’s making sure that person is ready to take that next step of of growth. Obviously there’s, there can be a better money potential because typically you’re, you have an openness for your whole team, but yeah I think just having that more manager mentality is going to be key. 

 Christopher Smith   
Right. The, what are you think are some of the common mistakes that sales leaders make, and what do you recommend for them to learn from those mistakes and overcome them? 

 Joey Kercher   
So, what we like to do is everyone’s gonna, you know, we’re human right? I mean back to that, like we’re gonna make mistakes on all levels, and, and I think being able to fail, being to allow your team to fail, but to learn from those failures. And it’s almost something that I recommend tracking, those failures. Say you lost this big deal, why did you lose that deal? Well, you know, I would try to get on the phone with him again, or at least just get a little bit more feedback, you know look I’ve, we’ve been in this, we’ve been chatting for three months, you know I know we didn’t win it, but I’m trying to help myself grow. So I think, understanding that feedback, tracking it, and then figuring out a solution to to overcome that moving forward. Because I think from an overall strategy that it’s not just going to help you, your manager, but it’s gonna help the whole team grow and help help everything so. 

 Christopher Smith   
Yeah it’s definitely going to help the sales leader, too, if you’re capturing that insight then they have that opportunity to help coach you as to, you know okay, next time we come up with this, let’s try this. You know, and I’m a big proponent from a CRM perspective of tracking all your losses because if you’re not tracking it. You’re never going to be able to go back and do that retrospective and that a deep analysis to understand and look for those patterns of, you know, we keep losing deals to this competitor, why? And what do we need to change or, you know, pricing, product mix, whatever, what can we do to begin to compete and win those deals? So, very important. 

 Joey Kercher   
And exactly and that’s, that’s where that the CRM comes in to really be able to track those and dial those in and understand the industry and things like that. So, yeah. 

 Christopher Smith   
Are there any special things you’d like to do, to cultivate people for sales leadership? 

 Joey Kercher   
I don’t know if I have anything off the top of my head, like cultivating them. But I think it’s, you know, open communication is going to be very key, and just ensuring that, you know, it’s okay to ask questions and, you know, I and I think also understanding the data of, you know, the activity they’re doing, because really sales really comes down to a numbers game, if you’re, if you’re making sure you’re selling to the right client, and you have the right target market that you’re, you’re going after and, and it’s a problem that needs to be solved and, I think, yeah, I think just being able to, being able to track successes to failures is going to be very key.  

 Christopher Smith   
Yeah. That’s awesome. What, what are the signs you look for that says, hey, this person’s ready for sales leadership? What are you looking for? 

 Joey Kercher   
Um, I think seeing someone that that can work, they can take the initiative of growth on their own, and not needing hand holding, and like I think almost an entrepreneur level of spirit, someone that’s very driven, that is very passionate, too. I mean, obviously, you know, there’s sales people that are selling things that they’re not passionate about, but they do it. And that’s not a sales leader. But I think being able to, being able to go beyond just doing the job and thinking outside the box because, you know, sending emails and phone calls are great, but what else can you do, you know, especially when you get the deal. I mean that’s, that’s the most important thing in my opinion. Once you get the deal, there’s more opportunities to not just keep that deal, but to get referred to, because you’ve already built that relationship, you built that value, and what other ways can you help help the company grow and help even your growth, and just understanding, you know, there’s, there’s not just one way of like selling to someone, it’s, it’s, it’s the whole, the duration of that relationship. 

 Christopher Smith   
I think that’s really important. And that’s something I want to pick up in our next topic when we talk about CRM. So let me ask you when it comes to CRM, do you love it, or do you hate it? 

 Joey Kercher   
I, I like it, I, the reason why I say that is there’s a lot of more steps to do it to get into the CRM, but I, I understand the value of it, right, because you know before I had a CRM, it was an Excel file. I had my list of clients and, you know, who I need to go after and, but now I’m, I’m a huge proponent of it. You know, we’re, yesterday we were literally making our sales funnel of like, you know, after a meeting we have a, an email going out we have a reminder to call someone, and just keeping that those touch points. Because, you know, depends on what industry some, some industries are quick sales processes. You know, B2B services, you know, they could be 90 days, 120 days, and really the key thing is just staying in front of them. And that’s, I think, there’s so much value to that all across the board. 

 Christopher Smith   
What has been your biggest struggle or maybe what you think is a common struggle people have when it comes to CRM and being a sales leader? 

 Joey Kercher   
Um, I think one is just using the system properly across your company. Because I think I see a CRM as, you know, a full company-wide system. It’s not just the sales side, it’s, you know, you got to get the operations people to understand, you know, tell you what’s going on in this deal before you call them, you know, and try to upsell things. So I think, you know, really comes down to just the communication and understanding what’s happening. You know, and then just using, using software to your benefit to grow. You know, there’s so many automations that you can do that can be humanized, and reminders to stay in touch and things like that. So. 

 Christopher Smith   
Yeah, I love that I, I don’t know if you saw me, I’m going like, “Yes!”  

 Joey Kercher  
Yeah I saw that.  

 Christopher Smith   
And because that, that actually you couldn’t have teed me up better for my next question because, you know, one of my, my struggles that, you know, when we work with clients, one of the first questions I ask when we’re doing discovery is, you know, what happens when that deal is closed in your CRM, you know, is that customer transitioning to the next hand-off, you know the operations team or customer success, whoever it is, that now is going to manage that relationship. And so I couldn’t agree with you more that CRM needs to be not just the sales team but extended throughout the company, especially anyone who’s interacting with the customer, because you’re, the sales team is capturing so much good data about that customer, their struggles, their pain points, all of that. The next people that are going to manage that relationship, they need to know all that. 

 Joey Kercher   
Yeah, 100%. 

 Christopher Smith   
Yeah. So what are you guys doing in your company, can you talk a little bit about your approach and your, you know like, it sounds like it’s very collaborative in terms of how you’re implementing and growing your CRM with your team? 

 Joey Kercher   
Yeah. Um, Ss the way we’re implementing is, you know, obviously we’re using it to, for prospecting and keeping in touch. And just, you know, having those reminders of continuing to have those touch points. But I think it’s, like, kind of back, you know, back to an overall strategy of growing a business, you know, usually there’s a year goal, like of where you need to be at. Well, to get to that goal, you need you need to have so many reach-outs. So many reach-outs will get you meetings, the meetings will get you proposals. And then, the proposals are the big deal, if you can get, you know, if you can close 25% or 30% of your proposals, and you, you all already understand how many reach-outs you have to get to that point, it’s so valuable, you know, from an overall strategy. And it just gonna help with better decision making, better for growth. You know, we’re also implementing some of the marketing email strategies with that because you know it’s managed through that, but I think, you know, the way we’re doing things is we don’t like to do, like when we do the, the marketing side, we don’t like to do this spray and pray approach. You know, especially with what we do because we’re so focused and what we’re hoping to do is really send out targeted emails and create these personal personas per client where a CRM can track that and you know almost tee up your sales team to have content to be able to send to a CEO, and all their problems they have to, you know, a lower person, that type of thing. So that’s how we’re using it. 

 Christopher Smith   
Sounds like you have a great approach with all of that. Do you have any advice for someone that needs or wants to engage their team better, maybe they’re having some user adoption issues, people just aren’t using it like they hoped, any advice for people? 

 Joey Kercher   
Yeah, and I mean that’s something I’ve been dealing with for years because I’m, I’m a tech guy and I like systems, but it can be overloaded with the team that use it, and I think it’s just making sure that there’s touchpoints of like saying why we’re using it and helping them understand like, oh, it’s Joey again, he’s giving us a new system to use because you know he’s a nerd. Well no, it’s more of like, why are we doing this, you know, from a higher level, we need to do this and I think it’s, you know, being able to implement more training and just touch points by per week and months to, to get to that point to start using it, and you know doing check-ins. Yes it does provide a little bit more work, but in the long run, you know, the only number that matters is that bottom line number so. And that’s especially, you know, keeping your job. 

 Christopher Smith   
Oh yeah, yeah. No, I love what you’re saying. I tell that to people all the time that you have to have a why, but sometimes it’s more than one why, you might have to have multiple. But people understand, need to understand not only you know the benefits for the company, this is why it’s strategic for our vision and what we’re trying to do, our strategy, but it’s also communicating it at that human level. Because we all want to know what’s in it for me or how’s this going to help me do my job better. And so having that conversation and that dialogue and understanding that user and what they’re worried about, their concerns and making it relatable to them is so important to drive in that adoption and your overall success. So I really, I love your approach. I think that’s spot on.  

 Joey Kercher  
Yeah, thanks. I think it works too and, and just being upfront with them too, and, you know, having, you know, having goals and quotas that kind of align with the CRM, too. I think that’s key.  

 Christopher Smith  
Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, Joey, it’s been great talking with you, we’re coming up on our time here for Sales Lead Dog. If people want to get in touch with you and learn, you know, connect with you, learn more about Unicorn Puff, what’s the best way for them to reach out and connect? 

 Joey Kercher   
Yeah, they can, you can go to UnicornPuff.com, or send us an email, send me an email and it’s [email protected] Even search me up on LinkedIn, I’m always open to, to discuss and help people grow in their journey.  

 Christopher Smith   
Yeah, that’s awesome. Well thank you again for being on Sales Lead Dog. It’s been great talking with you.  

 Joey Kercher 
You too. Thanks, Chris.  

 Outro 
As we end this discussion on Sales Lead Dog, be sure to subscribe to catch all our episodes on social media. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Watch the videos on YouTube, and you can also find our episodes on our website at Empellorcrm.com/salesleaddog. Sales Lead Dog is supported by Empellor CRM, delivering objectively better CRM for business guaranteed. 

Quotes:

  • “There’s not just one way of selling to someone, it’s the whole duration of that relationship” (23:14-23:23)

Links:

Unicorn Puff Website
Joey Kercher LinkedIn
Unicorn Puff LinkedIn
Empellor CRM Website
If you have any question on how Empellor CRM can help you? Contact Christopher Smith

Podcast production and show notes provided by FIRESIDE Marketing