Putting Your Buyers First w/ Amy Volas

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This is a podcast episode titled, Putting Your Buyers First w/ Amy Volas. The summary for this episode is: <p>Today, Amy Volas, Founder and CEO of Avenue Talent Partners, is here to talk with Jeff about her LinkedIn post that shares how she has closed $100,00,000+ in her career. Hint: You must focus on the buyers needs!</p><p><br></p><p>If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain: <a href="http://gaingrowretain.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">http://gaingrowretain.com/</a></p><p><br></p><p>This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...</p><p>Jay Nathan: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaynathan/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaynathan/</a></p><p>Jeff Breunsbach: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreybreunsbach" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreybreunsbach</a></p>
Mindset = action = outcome
02:05 MIN
Alignment is the new loyalty
04:36 MIN
What it means to seek to understand and not sell
02:52 MIN
Make sure you know what your customer is going through
03:55 MIN

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Gain Grow Retain podcast.

Jeff: Gain Grow Retain, you have Jeff here. Before we dive into the show today, we have some exciting news that we've been holding onto. As of this month Gain Grow Retain is officially part of the HubSpot Podcast Network. And this becomes a really important milestone for our community and brings more validation to customer success. Something I love about the HubSpot Podcast Network is all the inspiring shows dedicated to helping professionals learn, grow, and scale their businesses. If you love Gain Grow Retain and want to check out other shows like us, I'm a big fan of My First Million, I Digress, and the Salesman. Check out all these shows and more at hubspot. com/ podcastnetwork. We're here with Amy Volas, another episode of Gain Grow Retain. Amy is the founder and CEO of Avenue Talent Partners, and then the co- founder of Thursday Night Sales. And Amy, welcome back. This is your second time, and I appreciate you spending time. I think we had fun the first time, so I'm excited that you've decided to join us again.

Amy Volas: We had so much fun that I peer pressured my way back into the second round here. So thank you. I love this and I love all the things that we talk about here, but also behind the scenes. I'm really excited for this. Thank you.

Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I don't know if we did this the first time or not, because I don't at the time I don't know if I was a seasoned podcast host, but now I like to ask just some icebreakers for us to get to know you a little bit better outside of the day- to- day what we've seen in here. So, first question, this is going to be a meatball right over the middle for you. Okay? I'm throwing one right down the middle of the plate. What's your go- to snack during the day when you're at home what what are you snacking on? What's in your office? What do you like?

Amy Volas: You mean the snacks that I just brought out of my kitchen to show you? So you are a kindred spirit. We both like a little crunchy, cheesy, salty situation. So what are these called? And I mean, for anybody that's here, you can hear the thing. I literally just put this out. They are these cauliflower... what is this called? From the Ground Up cauliflower stalk. And it sounds gross, but they are so good. And you saw the visual social proof.

Jeff: Yeah.

Amy Volas: Sorry, punching the microphone. But those are my new... that's what I'm snacking on these days.

Jeff: I like it. My go- to is Goldfish. I mean, I would be buying the big tub of Goldfish at the store people would be like, assuming that I have a child because they're like," Oh wow, you're buying like so many snacks." And it's like goldfish, and then apples, and like peanut butter and jelly. And I'm like," No, no, I just work from home, and I like to eat these during the day. I'm just a big kid at heart, I guess."

Amy Volas: You're channeling your inner child. Okay, I have to ask you for the Goldfish, are you a Flavor Blast kind of guy or like you kick it old school, just the original...

Jeff: I kick it old school. I go to the original, I went with the, they made like wheat ones, which are supposed to be healthier, but they're just not the same. So I went back like," We're going old school, original, just your standard Goldfish." And I would have a tub in the house. And again, I would go down like in between meetings, and grab a handful. So I mean, I would be going through that thing way too fast, way too fast. That's why I had to ride the Peloton. That's why I had to get active. So, all right. My next question for you, as we like to do, if you were going to go on Jeopardy, and you were going to own... if you were going to like dominate a category, and it can't be relationship building or sales like it can't be one of those, but if you were going to go, what's something that we wouldn't know about you, if you were on jeopardy, you're like," You know what? I would get from 200 all the way to 1, 000, I would crush that category," what would it be?

Amy Volas: Shopping for 1, 000 Alex?

Jeff: That's a good one. I like it. I've found that such a good question to ask, especially I've actually asked it to a couple of customers recently just to get to know them a little it better. And it's always fun, people's answers. Like I learned somebody was a really big Harry Potter fan. I wouldn't really have known that. And they were like," I would crush that category." Somebody said rugby, which again, I would not have known, but they're like," I'm a huge rugby fan. So like if there's a rugby category." So I credit to Jay, he's the one who brought that nice little icebreaker to me, but I've been using it a lot lately. It's been a good little way to know somebody.

Amy Volas: I like it. I might have to rip it off and use it myself, appreciate it.

Jeff: We're all about sharing the wealth here, sharing the knowledge.

Amy Volas: I mean, I sharing is caring.

Jeff: Yeah, exactly. All right, last one, and then we'll get to the actual content. If you had to describe, what is your perfect Sunday morning look like for you?

Amy Volas: Hmm, my perfect Sunday morning? I'm a huge, huge, huge nature person. And my husband is as well. And my perfect Sunday morning would be wake up, get a cup of tea, I'm not a coffee drinker, I'm a tea drinker, and we like to sit on our back porch, or if we're up at the lake, on our deck, and just kind of like soak it all up and just have like talk, right? So like no phones allowed, listening to the nature, seeing the things I love, birds, like all the stuff. So all of that is like the perfect way to start it. Then I like watching CBS Sunday Morning. It makes my soul happy. And then I love cooking like a baller brunch. My favorite pastime is just to get lost in the kitchen and create, and I am not too bad if I don't say so myself. And so I am here for like the incredible brunch with the mister sitting out on the back porch, enjoying the nature yet again, to round out my morning.

Jeff: I love it. I mean, I've seen the last time we were recording I think you were sitting on that porch. And so I'm envious of the views that you have from there. The other piece that I was going to mention to you as well, is that if my mom had to describe her perfect Sunday morning, it would also include CBS Sunday Morning. She's been watching that show probably since I was like in middle school. Like every Sunday, without a tea, she's like texting you about it, she's like," Did you watch Sunday Morning this morning? There was such a cute dog about doing X, Y, and Z," or like," There was some great story." So I think she's with you. It warms her heart, especially with all the negativity in the news these days. She's like," This is just such a nice little bright spot." So crosstalk-

Amy Volas: It is a reminder that there is good in the world. It also ends with a moment of nature. And honestly, I think I was destined for the show. Some of my earliest memories of childhood were snuggling with my parents watching CBS Sunday Morning as a family. So it's just kind of in my DNA, it's ingrained in my brain and my entire family watches it. So my mom will be watching it like your mom, my aunts and my uncles watch it, my grandparents used to watch it. Like, it's like a thing, and then we talk about it. And it is a nice reprieve from all of the other stuff that's super heavy. It's just a reminder of what I call feel- good moments.

Jeff: Yeah, and I'll always take you up on brunch as well. It's like nice baller, get some pancakes or waffles, maybe get some bacon thrown in there somewhere. I'm all about that too. So I'm right on board.

Amy Volas: All the food groups.

Jeff: Yeah, yeah, hit them all. Well, again, so the first time that we had talked, we talked a lot. I mean, you're coming to our podcast and I think people might classify you and say," Hey she's really about helping people in the sales world." And I think when we talked the first time, right, you were kind of going against that in a little bit, because you said really it doesn't matter whether it's a new sale or a sale that's already going on or a sale that we have to give to a current customer, it's all about the relationship that we're building and how we're establishing those relationships because that's what's going to carry through. And so you talked a lot about that in our first podcast. And I think you talk a lot about that in what we see on LinkedIn and how you put yourself out there. And so one post that you had about two weeks ago that just really resonated with me is that you kind of went through and you started talking about... you've had a great successful career so far selling over a$ 100 million in sales. And you outlined five things that you think about when you go in and what you've thought about throughout your career during those sales, in those moments. And I wanted to talk through some of those, because I think a lot of those, again, people might not necessarily think about and they... A lot of these are really trying to make sure that we're developing relationships at a deeper level, not only with the person, but with the company. So the first one you wrote was it starts with mindset. You said," Mindset equals action equals outcome." Where did, where did that little nugget come from? Why does mindset turning into an outcome, why does that matter to you?

Amy Volas: Because it starts with the stories that you tell yourself and what you start telling yourself, shapes what happens next and what you do from what you tell yourself is the action that you take that then directly correlates with the outcome. And I find we all go through things good, bad, or in different. It's our ability to get through the things that I think is interesting. So when I think about anything that has to do with a customer, and I loved our first conversation, I'm going to carry a little bit of a common theme over to this one. I go back to the old school Jeff, of I had to do all the things. There was no customer success function when I came up through the ranks, and it made me a better seller, it made be a better business woman. It made me just a better human to think through, soup to nuts, what I'm here to do. It's also how I run my company. So if you can't start something, how in the world can you finish something in the way of a conversation with the buyer? And so I'm really grateful for that. So when I think about mindset, it's do I want to focus on every single thing that's wrong in the world, and that doesn't mean that I'm Pollyanna and I put my head in the sand and I don't recognize my problems or my challenges or what's kicking my rear end. I acknowledge it, I realize it, I might get upset about it, but I have to divorce myself of those feelings. So one of the things that I learned through a coach that I had early on, and it also was reinforced by my mom growing up, feelings are feelings. They're not wrong. They're not right, but it's what you do with them that matters. And so that's the thing here is my mindset, I can acknowledge that I'm upset about something, or that I'm frustrated, or that it's not going the way that I want it to. But if I get caught up in that, that dramatically affects the action or inaction that's going to happen here, that then directly correlates to what the outcome's going to look like. So that's that means for me.

Jeff: Yeah, so there's two things that come to mind for me when I read that. And the reason why it resonated a lot with me, one is I've started to do visualization techniques. So I'm a big sports fan, and when you start listening to like the Michael Jordans and the Kobe Bryants, and Tiger Woods and all these great... I mean even tennis players, whoever you look at, right? They all talk about how they go in and they start visualizing... I mean, Tiger Woods used to talk about when he was younger, he would visualize holding the trophy of winning the Masters before he actually went and did it. And so to me, what I've started doing is," Hey, how can I apply that to my daily life?" So I wake up and I start Visualizing. The first thing I do when I wake up is," What do I want, want to feel like when I lay back in this bed, when I lay down at the end of the day, what do I want to, to feel? What do I want to know I've accomplished? What do I want? Like what do I want to envision? And like you said, I think that's just been powerful for me, because it's like, I can go change and seize the day. Like I can go do what I want with the day and my mindset starts there and I've started to even do that before a meeting. So I try to schedule about two to five minutes before a meeting and I'll sit there and I'll say," Okay, how do I want this meeting to go? What do I want to feel at the end of this meeting? What do I want that person to feel at the end of this meeting?" So that again, I can try and make sure that I can manifest that throughout it. So that's one thing that I've started to do recently that I think again, takes a little bit of time, but if you can do it, I've just found, maybe it's a placebo effect for me, but I've just found has totally changed the way I come in and approach situations. And the second thing that I like about your Mindset into Action piece is that I've tended to find that people who are successful, whether they're it's in business, whether it's in life, whether it's in a hobby is that they typically have a bias for action. They're not sitting there wallowing all about what's wrong. They're thinking," Okay, if I'm hitting adversity, what's my bias to get over that adversity? What's the action that I can do to take it? Hey, we have an opportunity, how do we go seize that opportunity? What's the first action I can take. How do I.." So having this mindset, and I think that's where you see a lot of successful executives. I that you see a lot of people who are successful in business doing this, is that their first instinct is," Okay, what's the small step that we can take to drive action to get momentum and start moving?" So I think that just starting with the mindset piece just resonated so much with me because of those two examples that I've had recently that just stand out.

Amy Volas: Well, and it's funny that you wove the word," Manifesting." So you're calling it visualization, I actually am a huge fan of reiki and I'm a big believer in manifesting, and stating... So," Intentionality," is a word that I use a lot. And it's one that I really try to live by and practice, not just talk about. When you are intentional about what your purpose is in terms of what you want to accomplish, it starts becoming very real. So one thing that I'll say about me is I do not do well personally or professionally with people that are riddled with blame, with a victim mentality, or entitlement. I just don't have a lot of time for that. We all have things that happen to us, and I don't minimize the bad things that happen or the challenges that people go through. But I try to look at," Look, we all have stuff," but you there's two kinds of people I think. It's like those that get bogged down by all the bad, and those that recognize it and use that as fuel for the fire to push through it and to get ahead. And that's where that comes into play. And with the outcome, it's like, it's one thing to say," I want to be successful," but what does that look like? And what it looks like for me versus you could be totally different things and that's okay. And isn't that the beauty of the world that we're living in is there are so many different shades of gray, but being a bit more specific and intentional, to your point, I love what you just said, and I'm going to try that two to five minutes before a meeting," what do I want to have happen here?"

Jeff: Yeah.

Amy Volas: "What kind of feelings and outcomes do I want to invoke with the people that are part of this meeting with me?" Not," How do I sell you to upsell you to get something from you?" But it's like,"What do I want to do here?" Because there is that famous Maya Angelo quote," People won't really remember what you said or did, they'll remember how you made them feel."

Jeff: Yeah, it's so true. And in your point too that I think you just wove in there subtly as well, is that action without an outcome is almost just like churning butter, right? You're kind of just like you're going to sit there and just keep doing actions unless you tie it to something that is outcome- oriented and that you can look at, at the horizon, essentially. The second point that you brought to the table here is," Know what you really bring to the table and why you do it. Alignment is the new loyalty." And that stuck out to me, that seems like something that you've been ruminating on for a while, like that quote," Alignment is the new loyalty." So what does that mean for you? How did you come to that?

Amy Volas: So, and pardon any need background noise here, I am going through a house renovation on the outside and on the inside. And the landscaper people are here on the outside and my cat is on the inside meowing, making his presence known.

Jeff: We're all for authenticity here.

Amy Volas: He has opinions about this question as well. He's like," Alignment for me is you feeding me and then I'll be loyal."

Jeff: The outcome is that I'm full.

Amy Volas: Yeah, the outcome is I won't scratch you with my nail. So the way that I think about this, it's inspired by a lot of conversations that's happening. We talked about this a little bit before we hit the record button, the market is bananas. It absolutely is bananas. And I find that employers specifically are really just struggling, for a lack of a better term, to understand and to figure out how to keep their people. Some are more enlightened than others, some practice what they preach. Some don't. I mean, there's all sorts of different things happening there. And then on the flip side, on the actual employee side, it's the same thing of like," I need to feel something more than I've ever felt at work; I need to feel cared for. I need to be seen, I need to be heard. I need to be understood. I need to have a voice. It needs to matter to me." This is a big part of the rhetoric that I'm witnessing firsthand. And when I think about that, what the old way, when I came up through the ranks of loyalty, like," Just shut up, and put up, and do your job." And you get thrown into the deep end and you have to figure it out. And it doesn't mean that these were bad people, it just means that this was a way that it was, especially in sales. Especially again, I go back to the old school, where there wasn't any sort of like customer success function. It was you did all the things. And it was like,"You know what? Do all the things." Now, the pressure cooker environment also wasn't the same then, people had grace to be able to do their roles, to be able to inaudible into customer conversation. So when I'm thinking about why there's this big disconnect between churn, right? So like, let's talk about it from the customer side. Churn is a real big problem, especially with venture- backed startups that focus on the next milestone to get to the next round of funding; it's growth at any cost. Right? It's," let's just focus on the logos that we can put up on the pitch deck." And then there isn't really this care for," You work so darn hard to get that logo in the first place," and now they're just dangling it in the wind, and you wonder why you're losing them. And then when you actually do analysis, especially if you want to IPO as a business, let's say you get to that level and you want to IPO, well now your books are open for everybody. And when you have those earnings calls, people not just think about what are you doing revenue- wise, but what's the profitability of the business? And part of that profitability quotient is how are you retaining your customers? Because it's a lot more expensive to go out and get to something new. So like, it's that side. Then it's also the side of hiring and retention of employees. And then it's also the side of the actual employee, and sticking around and feeling these things. So it's like everywhere, Jeff, the only way that people are going to stick around with each other, regardless of any of those use cases and all the others that we could talk about, if we are not aligned... So this is what I mean about," Know what you really bring to the table, to thy own self be true." That is real. I am a huge Simon Sinek fan; it starts with why, why do I care? why do I want to do this? Why is it important to me? And then it's what, and then it's how. And if my why is aligned with your why, it doesn't mean that we're going to get to the what and the how the same way. And that's the beautiful part about it, right? Like that's where the magic is. But if that purpose piece of, if your why is I really want to be part of something that cares about the customer journey so that we can really win together and do good business for the long haul, you would be my spirit animal because I feel the same way. If your why was," I just want to make as much money as I can make at any cost," doesn't mean that you're a dirt bag per se, it just means that I'm not going to be aligned with you. The work that you want to do is going to be very different than the work that I want to do. And we have a mismatch. So that's what I mean by alignment is the new loyalty, is figure out what you stand for. I can't tell you how many companies and people put this on the back burner and then realize later when it's icky and it's gross and your career is in jeopardy and your business is in jeopardy, it's that intentionality, so here comes that word, up front to understand what you really bring to the table and why you want to do it.

Jeff: I also like the reason that you wrote it," Alignment is the new loyalty." Because just like you said, you can almost plug that into so many different use cases. Like the one use case that I just thought of too is we're both married to spouses, and isn't that the ultimate alignment and loyalty, right?" Hey, do you want to have children?" And," How do you envision the Future? What matters to you? What are your values? What's important to you in your day- to- day life?" All of those things end up mattering. And that's where, again, that's like the ultimate one of alignment is loyalty, right there, because you're aligning yourselves for the next 100 years of your life, however long we're going to live. And you need to make sure that we're going to stay connected and loyal. But then like you said, I think there's obvious ones on the surface. Like you mentioned, like a customer, we need to make sure there's alignment there because if there's not, then churn is the case. The employee version though I think is something that was such a good call out, that I didn't really think about. I mean, when you're a manager of people, that is what you should be thinking out and talking about often," Are we aligned?" Are you doing the work that you love? Do you have the expectations set and needed to be successful in this role? What resources don't you have?" All those questions should be asked at any given time when you're managing people, because that's how you're going to make them successful. And in turn, you're going to make them fulfilled. You're going to make them want to stay here, want to be longer, so I just love it. Because like you said, you can plug it, that quote," Alignment is the new loyalty," into so many different things that it is really like a use case, find the use case, plug it in, and it still means something.

Amy Volas: We are the sum of our parts. I believe strongly in that. And the only way to really realize that is to get real clear and right with self. And at every part of it, marriage, friendships, family relationships, business relationships, customer relationships... I mean, it's like on, and on, and on, and on, and on. Snacking, right? We're aligned, we like to snack on the same things, so there you go. And now I'm going to be loyal to you and I'm going to start sending you links of my favorite, cheesy, crunchy, salty snacks.

Jeff: I like it. That's going to be the death of me is that you're sending me snacks and I'm going to start buying them. My wife is going to start crosstalk taking away my... Yeah, she's going to start taking away my Amazon account, I'm going to get a lot of things taken away. All right, we wanted to take a minute. And if you haven't implemented a CRM system into your business now as the time. A CRM platform is at the heart of scaling your side hustle into your success story. CRM platforms take any customer interaction and transform that interaction into valuable data and insights, allowing you to strengthen relationships with your customers and grow your business. With tools for marketing, sales, customer service, content management, and operations, the HubSpot CRM platform is fully customizable for whatever your business needs. Use HubSpot to meet customer demand, align your teams and work smarter without slowing down. With total control and over 650 integrations, HubSpot is totally customizable, and purpose- built for businesses big and small. Whether you're just getting started or looking for all the bells and whistles, HubSpot is the number one CRM platform for scaling businesses. Learn more about how you can customize your CRM platform with HubSpot, at hubspot. com. Now back to the show. All right, well, the third one that you wrote here was," Seek to understand, not sell. The power of real conversation is fierce." This to me comes through in my day- to- day life so often, about seeking to understand and not selling. Because I think again, when you're starting to think about the customer success function, that's your whole goal, you're trying to sell an outcome, you're trying to achieve with your product and how we get them there. But the seeking to understand part, I think is something that I've tried to lean into quite a bit. And that comes a lot with being good at asking questions, being a good listener, understanding how to read a room. Like, I think there's so many things that you could kind of gather from that, but for you, as you've gone through your career, what does that mean? Like when you seek to understand and not sell?

Amy Volas: It's putting my own agenda to the side for a second. Like, especially in sales... And when I say," Sales," for anybody that's listening, I'm talking about all of the revenue stuff. I'm talking about marketing, I'm talking about selling, I'm talking about post- sale with customer success and account management. I'm talking about the whole kit and caboodle. I'm also talking about personal relationships. I'm also talking about employee- employer relationships. I'm talking about starting a company. How many times do you see a company start up, and all these assumptions are made, and all of this sort of rhetoric that you start telling yourself, so back to the stories that we tell ourselves," I'm really smart. I came from Stanford. I have stumbled upon this amazing thing, it's the cure for whatever this is, and I know it's a winner," but you've never talked to a customer. You can't scale something without product market fit. And the only way that you can have product market fit is when you understand. And the only way that you can understand is if you seek to do that. And so this is a really big thing for me, is if I were to be in the mode of doing a bunch of hiring for my own company, the very first thing that I would be doing especially if it was hiring around more entry level, it could be any level at this point because I see it at every level, people do not know how to have conversation anymore, especially difficult conversation. And," Difficult," doesn't mean I'm mad at you. It might mean we have stumbled across something, it's different than what we thought, and I've got to bring it to you. And so when I think about this, we often assume what we think somebody wants, and then we talk at them. I'm sick of being talked at. I want to do," With," not," At." It's kind of like with Thursday Night Sales and this whole concept of community, audience is different than community. Audience tends to be somebody that you talk at, community is with; I'm here for," With." Like in every aspect of my life, I'm here for the with. And so I think it's kind of like a two pronged approach of," With," and then understanding, instead of talking at and assuming; because when we assume, and all of us make assumptions all day long, but when you start to catch yourself and you use that as a signal to," Wait, stop take a breath. Do I really understand what's happening here? No, I probably don't," really great signal to ask a question.

Jeff: Yeah. So this, I think actually flows into the next one. So I'm going to say it, but I'm going to come back to a point real quick. So you're fourth one was," Get deep inside your buyer's world so you can, A) help them solve their problems, B) help them reach their goals, C) help them get better, and D) help them pinpoint blind spots. And I think they flow so well together about seeking to understand. There's a couple of things that, again, I think, and I've learned this a lot from Jay, I'll credit Jay with this. We're in the customer success world, but again, I think sometimes people forget that, that we have the ability to talk to customers and listen to customers all the time and then use that for other things that can benefit them. So, for example, we have Gong; going to listen to Gong calls is one of the best things that I think a marketer, a sales person, customer success person, anybody... Like if you have access to recordings of your customers talking, go listen to it, put it on 1. 5 speed. You can also, I mean, with the software these days, you can actually just listen to the customer talk. You don't even have to listen to your team talk if you don't want to, there are so many good things, but you can start pulling nuggets out of that. You can start hearing how the customer talks, what's important to them, what they value. So that's one thing. The second thing that we've been trying to do, which I think fits in this so well is, again, like coming in from the customer success world I think for a long time people thought about kind of scaling customer success as just a series of like," Hey, we're just going to send you some automated emails," and," Hey, we're going to..." And people got this negative connotation, but when you start to get deeper at it, and you say," Hey, can we actually scale customer success in a positive way where we're giving them access to the resources that they need when they need them? And what that means is that we're listening to them, we're understanding where they are in their journey." And that really comes with setting up the mechanisms to listen. So not just getting an NPS response, but did we actually read it? Do we listen for the key words in there? What do they care about? CSAT, we have that. We have a customer community. We should be in there. So what we're doing right now is we're going through the exercise of doing that listening. And then what our teams are trying to do is then turn that into content that we can then push back to our customers. So our customers are talking a lot about how do we prove ROI for community inside of our customer community? Man, what a great way that we can go turn around and say," Here's a slide deck about how we present this to a board," or," Here are some best practices or data point that you would want to capture outside of our software so that you could tie them in." Think about how you could go talk about that and how your customers would feel so indebted because," Man, they not only sold me this software that's helping me accomplish this, but now they're actually listening to me, they're giving me tools and templates that are going to help me, the person, in my role, in my job." So three and four to me are like... Just like you could talk about relationships all day, I could talk about those all day, like seeking to understand and listening. Because again, I think we talk about it a lot, but it's a lot of surface level," Yeah we listen to our customers, yeah we hear them," until you actually start proving it and going down to the nuts and bolts, that's where I think it starts to matter.

Amy Volas: There was a really cool moment, yesterday I was having a strategy call with one of my clients and their global head of sales was on. And he was like," So I have to tell you, I shared in our global sales meeting those four points, so solve problems, reach goals, get better, point out blind spots." And I said," It's really some of the best advice I could ever give," because we show up thinking that we know, or we train CSMs or sellers to look for these signals, objection handle, push, like whatever it is.

Jeff: Yeah.

Amy Volas: And it's like," No, no, no." And this comes up at Thursday Night Sales a lot, like," What do I do when I first start a job?" And it doesn't matter the job. I don't care if it's marketing. I don't care if it's CS. I don't care if it's a sales leader. I don't care what it is. You are there, because the world that I live in is all about the customer. Right?

Jeff: Yep.

Amy Volas: You are there to understand them period. And what happened in yesterday's conversation with my client, they were like," We get so caught up on the problems." I'm like," When you're really good, like when it's meta, it's not about the problems. It's about how you help them do these other things."

Jeff: Yeah.

Amy Volas: And the only way that you do that is to understand, otherwise it falls so short you're just talking at people and you look like a jackass. So what's interesting to me is the very first thing that I tell people to do in any role," Get to your customer, understand what they're going through. If they purchased from you, why? Why do they stay with you? What's falling short for them?" And then look for the common themes. Oh and by the way, is there a particular segment where you're really shining bright versus the other segments? It helps where you spend your time, good, bad or indifferent, right? Spend your time on prospecting, or spend your time on upselling, or spend your time on working with product to make it better. These are all things that help. Otherwise you leave so much opportunity on the cutting room floor. And what's interesting is I'm trying to encourage people to look at metrics that that matter, not just because you read it on some posting on LinkedIn that tells you about," Look at CAC and that's it." No, no, no, there's a lot of other things to look at here, especially at the very top of the funnel. You know I'm very outspoken about sales being over segmented, and CS being... Like the whole kit and caboodle being over segmented. Do you think buyers really want to be handed off? No, I know I don't. I'm a buyer too. It sucks. It's not fun. That's what I'm also mean by," The power of real conversation is fierce," equip people to have real conversation about the things that the buyers want. So what's interesting is I'm curious about how much opportunity is left when you assume that a buyer has intent to buy because they visited your website, or because the lead score is higher, because of whatever it is, and then they can't get their question answered because they're talking to somebody and it's like," Do you want a demo, yes or no?" I don't want to a demo. I want to talk about pricing right now. And then they leave you; nobody's measuring that. And that is significant because the ones that are starting to measure it, it's pretty sobering.

Jeff: Yeah. The thing that comes to mind for me too, is that in any moment as well, what you're trying to do is also... I mean, I think back to your," Alignment is the new loyalty," alignment reduces friction. Like you think about, there's a lot of friction that starts to happen. Just like the example you just gave; and actually, I think you had a post recently about how you were literally about to upgrade because they had told you," Hey, you need to upgrade," and you said," Hey yeah, I'll purchase this," and then they kind of said," Well, you need to have a demo first." And you're like," Here's," whatever, it was$ 3, 000,$ 2, 000, whatever the nominal number, like you were about to just spend that. And then they put friction into the process when you were already," Hey, I already know I need this. I already know why I'm buying this. I don't need to go be sold. I don't need..." Like cool, you put friction in. So that reminds me, that alignment also reduces friction, which is what you're trying to do. And the second thing that I think about quite a bit too, is that like you said, when you have these CSMs, when you're starting to train people about having certain conversations, you're also, you're trying to... you're almost asking them to remove the human component of being curious, asking questions. And so those are the skills that I would want to coach up more than," Hey, did you do the playbook exactly as I wrote it?" Or," Hey, did you do this the exact way that we did it?" It's like, no, like we should have kind of... It's almost like a bowling lane, right? Like," Hey, I want to give you some bumpers for a while and then we're going to kind of course correct. But we're going to coach you to the things that we want to happen, which is building better relationships, making sure our customers can achieve outcomes. And how you get there, yeah I care a little bit about how you talk about us or how you talk about this, but at the end of the day, if you are getting there and you're doing something right, and we want to be coaching that up, the outcome, not every little ticky tack moment, and that's where then we can remove the bumpers. After you've had the experience, then we don't need to be doing this. We need to be making sure that we have the right outcomes that we're trying to achieve together." And it just reminds me of that too. Like you said, just trying not to make people robots essentially, and just following playbooks to a T.

Amy Volas: Well, and as a buyer myself, and yes, you just got my blood pressure up again, it was$1, 500. I was already a customer and I approached them, and I'm like," Do you service Canada?" And the only way that I could get into Canada was to upgrade. And I had just a simple question of how do I upgrade? And their response was," You have to go through a demo." I'm like," What?" And guess what? The answer for me was," No." And that was now, either 13 or 14 days ago, I can't remember when I posted it, but 13 or 14 days ago, I never responded. I've never heard anything back. Like what? So it's just... And by the way, we're approaching the end of the month in a quarter, guess what? That$1, 500 may have helped you, or not, I don't know. But you know what? You're not going to get it from me now. And I have a bad taste in my mouth and it's just... It's these things that I think we get so caught up in, this is where the digital age has hurt us, we're so caught up in the metrics, and in the data, and in the efficiency and automation that we forget that all of the bots have not taken over and people are still doing business with other people. And I think one thing that COVID has reminded us of, people crave human interaction even if we're remote, even if we're Zooming, even if we're not personally together, it's only increased the need for that. So then you get into a customer conversation, or an employee conversation, or a hiring conversation, and you start talking at, or you start automating, or you start blowing people off, not only is that not okay, but what I would love for anybody listening to this to remember is we are in the digital age and the ability to share feedback at scale is significant and it's only going to grow. And so if you act like a jackhole, people talk about that. And if you do that in everything that you do, I'm a big believer how you do one thing is how you do everything, that catches up to you. We are not in the age of when I grew up where you could hide behind the walls of bad behavior. Those walls are crumbling and there are places... It's very easy to back channel. And crosstalk-

Jeff: Especially with communities these days, right? Like you said, that's where you're starting to see a lot of stuff happen; you're starting to get sales leaders connected on TNS where, hey, they're probably talking about sales software they're using day- in and day- out. And they're like," Hey, this is a good one. This is a bad one. This is a good experience I've had, this is a bad one." So yeah, I think the word of mouth is only going to get bigger and faster with more communities and technologies that we have. So I definitely firmly believe in that too.

Amy Volas: Yeah. Well, and the one thing that we have as a rule is you cannot disparage anybody because there's always three sides to every story, and unless that vendor, or software provider or company was there to weigh in for themselves, that's not cool and it's not fair; which is why I'm bringing this up is don't assume, three sides to every story.

Jeff: Yeah, I like it. Well, the fifth point you made on this post was the," When the contract is signed your work is just beginning. Retention is the new growth," which we could just do a mic drop. I don't even think... Like there's not... That should just be common knowledge these days; like retention is the growth, especially net retention. And I know we're running time, and I wanted to make sure... you and Scott have been doing such a great job with your Thursday Night Sales. I have been a intermittent guest. I try to come when I can. But, like you said, they're so fun. You guys have done such a great job of creating a tight- knit community. One of the best things, and I think one of the biggest kudos that I could give you is that one of the ones that I was on recently, you gave the floor to somebody who talked about how they just got a new role and people on the call were literally like clapping, coming off of mute saying," Congratulations." Like, how cool is that? That when somebody got a new role, you've got hundreds of people that are coming to your back saying," Oh my gosh," like you said, just an amazing moment for me when you start to see a community start to band together like that. So what you guys are doing, Thursday Night Sales live in person, so I want to make sure you get a chance to plug that and make sure, if any customer success leaders are out there listening to this right now, even though it's called Thursday Night Sales, it's about relationships, it's about the long term sale, it's about driving long- term retention so you have a place to go to in Thursday Night Sales, and this event is going to be awesome. So give us a quick plug.

Amy Volas: Thank you, I just got the chills thinking about that story. Yeah, so it isn't just for sales. We have sales leaders, we have people wanting to get into sales, we have people that are in various stages of sales, different kinds of sales. It's also see us, it's also marketers, it's also technical founders wanting to crack the code on all this stuff. So it's a lot, it's entrepreneurs, it's consultants. We have a mixed bag of folks. But October 15th through 17th, The Hard No Tour is coming up. We're all going to be in person in Vegas. We're going to be doing it safely. It's a place where... And some of the folks that are coming have been with us since we launched in March of 2020. And it feels almost like a family reunion to me at this point, but it's that, thursdaynightsales.com is how you can get your hands on some tickets. It's also how you can register to join us week over a week if you're not able to join us in Vegas. So thank you for the love. Thank you for showing up and thank you for the plug. I really appreciate it.

Jeff: Yeah. And I just have to give you kudos, The Hard No Tour, it's a really good name; just a hard no," I'm going to take a hard no on that." I love it. Well, Amy, I love these. You're definitely somebody that I follow and look up to in respect in what you're doing, love the way that you're going to... And I feel like we've got a nice lifelong friendship we're building here. So I appreciate you coming on and spreading some knowledge with us here soon.

Amy Volas: Thank you kind sir. And right back at you; look, there's a reason why I'm here for the second time and I just have all the admiration, respect, and love for you. So thank you for the second go round. There will be a third, possibly fourth, inaudible, seventh. I'm manifesting it.

Jeff: Yeah, hey, I like it. You're putting it out in the atmosphere and you know what? I'm going to take you up on it so we'll have to find a time to do it, but I hope you have a good Thursday. I hope you have a good rest of your we week and weekend, and hopefully you can go manifest that perfect Sunday.

Amy Volas: Thank you, thank you. And I hope that you can manifest some snacks, so there's that.

Jeff: Hey, it's coming soon, yeah.

Amy Volas: Thank you so much.

Jeff: All right, awesome. Thank you, Amy. Have a good day.

Amy Volas: You're welcome. Thank you, right back at you.

Jeff: Hey guys, thanks so much for taking the time to listen to the Gain Grow Retain podcast. If you liked what you heard, please take a moment and share the podcast with your friends and colleagues and subscribe, we really appreciate it. Talk to you soon.


Today, Amy Volas, Founder and CEO of Avenue Talent Partners, is here to talk with Jeff about her LinkedIn post that shares how she has closed $100,00,000+ in her career. Hint: You must focus on the buyers needs!

If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain: http://gaingrowretain.com/

This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...

Jay Nathan: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaynathan/

Jeff Breunsbach: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreybreunsbach