Founder Led Sales, Experience Not Required w/ Barrett King

#15: Listen as Barrett King from HubSpot describes the mindset and strategies needed to lead a growing company as a founder with no sales experience. We dive into the mindset crucial to succeed in sales which is applicable to many areas of business and life. Barrett is a rockstar Channel Sales Leader and the former Head of Global Sales Training at HubSpot.

Important Links:

Barrett King’s LinkedIn Profile

Episode Highlights:

“And so I think what a strong, we’ll call it like a product mindset, but a strong creative somebody who’s clearly trying to build a business around an idea versus just having a cool idea they put out there.

That person should be thinking about what their customer is asking and looking for and what would lead them to you? Because sales is really just about positioning value. And really if I think about what a great sales rep does, it comes back to really this core concept of gaining context, which you gather through investigation questions.

We all talk about it as selling, but like you, and I know, or we do this every day. A discovery call is learning about their need, knowing likely full well that your solution is what they need, but then using the context you gather, to connect it back to the value you can provide. And so I think as a starting point, it’s important for, the head of these organizations.

For, for she, or for him to go out and say, okay, like “What do my customers want?” Create some content. Start documenting the value, not the feature. Like it’s great to do the feature part of it, but the value that you provide.

“I use what, how, why? So whenever I’ve talked to sales leaders, whenever I’ve talked to business owners that say to me, okay, Like, “how do I go from where I am to a really good go-to-market message and how do I go and sell this?”

What, how, why.

What do you do? Just flat out, what do you do?

How do you do it? That’s usually where the guys and gals they’re thinking right now. Oh yeah, I nail that. Like it does this really cool thing. And it does this in this really interesting way.

And then the last part is the why is it valuable to your buyer? And if you nail what, that’s easy, how you’re excited at this point, but you really tie it back to the why, what does it solve and why is that important?

Man you are unstoppable when you have that DoubleClick moment there on the end.”

Barrett King starting at 5:28

Tyler Lindley 0:03

Hey Sales Lift audience it's Tyler Lindley here. Welcome to the show. Today we have Barrett King from HubSpot Barrett, welcome to the show. How you doing?

Barrett King 0:11

Awesome, man. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to

Tyler Lindley 0:13

chat. Yeah, me too. Me too. So just so everybody knows Barrett is a one of the top channels sales reps at HubSpot. He's also the former head of global sales training, where he trained hundreds and hundreds of sales reps coming up through HubSpot growing organization. So, Barrett and I really excited to chat today about business leaders who've been thrust into sales roles. But they may or may not have any sales experience that they've been there may be the de facto head of sales and and how that came how that can be in a growing organization. Have you ever seen that before? Barrett, where a business leader is the head of sales, but they've never done sales in their life.

Barrett King 0:50

That's common actually. I feel like I feel like more often than not, I talk to these folks that they've got a great idea, right? A cool product, a great solution. They're just fired up about creating something that helps somebody else. And that's their specialty. And all of a sudden they're quote unquote, leading a business and oh, gosh, I have to sell it to somebody and I have to gain attention. And so I do see it, I'd say more often than not in most small to medium sized growing orgs. Because it's a common theme. Hmm,

Tyler Lindley 1:18

yeah. Interesting. And if someone's got that product experience, we talk a lot about product knowledge in sales training. And and that's so important. Is that enough, though, if you just know the product really well, or the products going, does that even really matter? In terms of generating revenue?

Barrett King 1:34

Yeah, selling Yeah, it's funny because it. So there's two, I'll bring some of my old calm old school. But like the lessons that I talked a lot about with sales reps, when they were joining HubSpot, folks would come in the door, and they'd be all fired up. And oh, gosh, the tool is so cool. And I love that it does this, it does that and you're like, great. I love your enthusiasm. How do we redirect that? Because I think what most folks in particular, in the scenario you're talking about are doing, they're going to feature sell, they're going to bring their knowledge of the tool around that it solves for making this sky look more blue arbitrarily. So it's just does this really simplistic, straightforward thing, or it's super complex.

And it I actually, it's funny, it reminds me, I talked to a co founder, gosh, probably a year ago now. And you know, I need a consultant to come in and help us rethink about our go to market strategy is like, cool. So what do you sell? I have this and he spent, Tyler has been 10 minutes like, it does this, and then it functions this way. And at the end, I went cool. I don't care about any of that. How does it helpme ? It's I think to answer your question, there's a lot of folks that assume because they know about a product, they know how to take that product, position as a solution that solves for a future customer. And that's usually the kind of disconnect between a sales methodology and a like product kind of mindset. Mm hmm.

Tyler Lindley 2:47

Yeah, no, that's a great point. And it's hard. I think when you get so excited about the product, whether you're a new sales rep, or whether you're the owner of a company, and that products, your baby, but something you've been building in the basement and ready to unleash on the world. But the world doesn't really care about the features. And you've got to learn how to what will be the best way. So if you're so jacked up about your product, and you think it's you think it's gonna save the world and really helps to target this group of people? How do you take that excitement and energy and feature list and turn it into actual, like, a sales process? Or put a sales methodology behind it? What's the best step that a founder that could take?

Barrett King 3:24

That's a cool question. So I've had a very similar question asked to me recently, almost verbatim. So you hit the nail on the head, I think what I like gut reaction is actually easier than you would think it's, you created this local product, or you created this product, because you saw a need in the market. What that need came from might have been a conversation with somebody might have been just your own observations. But there's something there that triggered you to say, like I should go and build or create their solve for x, go back to that go back to the root of it, what I think the best sales reps and managers and the best go to market strategies come from, they're all born into this concept of I know that I can solve for something. I know my product fills a need. And they reflect on what questions are that will be asked to come to that conclusion.

Like your product is the product that I need or your service. And so I think what a strong, you know, we'll call it like a product mindset, but a strong creative, somebody who's clearly trying to build a business around an idea versus just having a cool idea they put out there, that person should be thinking about what their customer is asking and looking for and what would lead them to you. Because sales is really just about positioning value. And really, if I think about what a great sales rep does, it comes back to really this core concept of gaining context, which you gather through investigation questions, we all talk about it as selling but like you and I know right, we do this every day. A discovery call is learning about their need, knowing likely full well that your solution is what they need, but then using the content Next you gather to connect it back to the value you can provide. And so I think as a starting point, it's important for the head of these organizations for for she or for him to go out and say, okay, like, one of my customers want, create some content, start documenting the value, not the feature.

Like, it's great to do the feature part of it, but the value that you provide. And so my last thought on it is when I think about how to frame it out, this is a good you're listening to this, take your pen out and write this down. I use what how, why. So whenever I've talked to sales leaders, whenever I've talked to business owners that say to me, okay, like, how do I go from where I am to a really good go to market message? And how do I go and sell this? What how, why? What do you do? Like, what just flat out? What do you do? How do you do it? that's usually where the guys and gals that are thinking right now? Oh, yeah, I nailed that. Like, it does this really cool thing? And it does this, you know, this really interesting way? And then the last part is the Why is it valuable to your buyer? Mm hmm. And if you nail what, that's easy, how you're excited at this point, but you really tie it back to the why, what does it solve? And why is it important? Man, you are unstoppable when you have that double click moment there on the end? Mm hmm.

Tyler Lindley 6:10

Yeah, I totally agree. I think the Why is sometimes left off, but it's almost where you should start. Sometimes I think it's one thing I thought you said was interesting, and I've been trying to do this myself is you talked about creating content as a jumping off point. I think that folks think of creating content is just a marketing something that marketing does, and that you should either hire a marketing agency to do that, or you should have someone that works for you, that is in marketing that they can create relevant content. However, like I think that the founder, the owner of a business, there's no one better to create that content than that person, especially if that content is speaking to the value and you mentioned positioning value at speaking to the why. Yeah, you can talk about the what in the house as well. But really like as the founder your goals to galvanize and energize people. And some of that content can be used to just as a conversation starters. Do you think that like, do you how much time and effort Do you think that these founders and business owners should be spending, like creating their own content? And how can they use that as leverage to start sales conversations?

Barrett King 7:13

Yeah, if you think about HubSpot, inbound methodology, the awareness stage right, the opportunity to get your your prospect to pay attention to you is fundamental, if people don't know who you are, but what are we doing here? Like, why are we even spending time even talking about this. So I actually think a strong call founder, but a strong founder or co founder, this strong leader, should be writing something every day, like at least every day or every other day as best they can. I think it's invaluable to the buyer to their business, but just in general to their own exercise of really expressing and articulating the way that their solution helps somebody. Because like, we can talk about sales all day and say it's selling and it's about showing them they need it. And it's about convincing them and like now, buyers are way too smart.

Nowadays, there's too much access with the internet, you can research everything you can get the answers to everything where buyers are being swayed is when you can solve a problem for them now, but if you don't actually highlight that, that problem exists. For a lot of buyers, they may not recognize that a new car is going to help them get to work faster is going to help them do whatever and just crass example. So I think it's important that it's not done enough, honestly. But in most organizations, but like the founder, the head of engineering, and whoever's building your pocket, we're talking about software, like the head of engineering should be producing content. I had a startup before this, we had a CEO, a CTO, a head of customer success, she was our VP of customer success. And we had a VP of engineering, and I was a director of sales. I didn't create content I should have I didn't know any better years ago, but like, I should have been creating content every day, with the most common questions my buyers are asking.

And if you've got some customers, like you probably validated the market, I should probably have the customer success manager partnering with me, tell me what the customers are asking for and asking about. And so honestly, Tyler, like at the end of the day, the content is there. It exists. Like it's the reason you created a business. It's the reason you're still champion and excited about this business. You just got to take it out, put it in a format that makes it easy for your buyer to consume. Yep, so you write an article where you record a video, or you like you do the walking down the street thing everyone does now with their phone out in front of them. And hey, I'm in New York, and I'm talking to so and so like, just do it because doing it is what actually gets people's attention.

Tyler Lindley 9:23

I think the act of doing it too. It also gets to think you start thinking about who's this for, like when I first started this podcast, I was just like, Oh, this is gonna be a sales enablement podcast. And what does that mean that that means nothing to anyone. So I tried to reframe it as well. No, this is actually just a podcast. It's about sales and sales enablement, but it's about it's for revenue leaders who are ready to scale it's for those specific people who are like ready to put their foot down on their like revenue engine for their business. They've got a proof of concept and they're ready to take the next step and hire a sales rep or like really get serious about about selling and growing their business and I think it's more valuable.

If you think about creating that content. If you have the who in mind, then it becomes so much easier to create it for because you can figure out where do those people hang out? And what do they like? And what are their? What are they really struggling with in their business right now, and then talk about those things. And it's also not a it's not a solo effort. It's a team effort. Like you said, Everyone should be creating content founders, I think they've got to do everything. And they, they try to take on everything and be involved in everything. It's a team effort like us, the people on your team that you've hired to do that, who are valuable. They've got all these ideas and content in their head. It's just a matter of getting out of getting it out of them sometimes.

Barrett King 10:35

Yeah, it's Daniel Pink, I think is the one that said to sell as human, get a book on that. And it's the concept of that. If you just boil it down, actually another one to mention just because I'm shouting out evangelists or whatever you want to call it, Gary Vee always talks about shut up and do it, right. Like, just do something. I think if you combine those concepts, being real like actually isn't, here's a real world example. So two years ago, I don't think it was last year is two years ago, that our big inbound event that HubSpot has every year, it was the first time that I really felt like okay, like I know what I'm doing here. I've got my head wrapped around the event, I want to do that next kind of level, like step further stuff, I'm gonna create some content while I'm here and see what happens.

So I did a live video, no, sorry, I did a recorded video on my Instagram account, the first day of the event, I wrote down the escalator. So it's like, I walked in the building and got my badge, I walked to the front doors. And for those of you haven't been to the event, like it's a big grand open space color lights, like it's really impressive. And I came down this escalator making a video. And it got it was like six or 8000 impressions. I'm nobody. I'm just a sales guy at HubSpot, I had no context, I just did something. So that's why I bring it up as you can be Dan or Sally in the middle of nowhere America, or Europe or Canada or South America doesn't matter anywhere in the world, and go out your backyard, and pull your phone out the cool thing about this technology, right? Pull your phone out, don't some headphones, and start talking about what you do. And if it's one person that sees it, or 1000 people, it doesn't matter, you do it every day, create a catalog of value that the people that are looking for you will find. And then that's how your process starts.

Tyler Lindley 12:14

Yep. How do you connect that kind of inbound creating content, valuable things that can help folks help to, you know, build your personal brand and help to make you visible and get that get great ideas that you have that could bring value to your audience? How do you connect that with like specific buyers, who might truly become like almost account based marketing is a big buzzword right now. But basically, account based marketing is just like having a targeted list of people that you create content for that used to get in the door there. So how do you connect it to specific people that might end up in the pipeline? Because I think creating content is great. But like, how do you take that next step of having that having that you equate to someone is actually in your pipeline, and you're talking to them? And you're and they they become a part of your part of your pipeline?

Barrett King 13:00

Yeah, it's just because I think it's, I think we start to blend marketing and sales, we get to this like level of depth, because it's not just do I pick up the phone and call somebody. And as I should be clear, sometimes there's value to that, because you're going to go sell to, I'll just pick a name, you recognize, like, you're going to sell the Walmart, your product is a great fit for Walmart, you call Walmart, go try and say, is this interesting? Do you like it? Do you not have an open humble conversation? They're going to probably kick you in the shin and tell you to go away? Yeah. But you're going to take that experience and say, Okay, what did I not? Do? you recorded? If you can, like, how can I reflect on that opportunity to make it better? take that into that humble mindset of going due into your approach to the market? So who is your buyer? You probably know at least one or two of that, called personas and marketing.

But could that profile is isn't the head of sales? Is it? The head of procurement? Is it the IT director? Is it the CEO? Who are you talking to? Because that, that audience definition will evolve and change and grow and constantly be a moving target. But if you at least can look at yourself in the mirror and say, okay, Barrett, who wants this, who's going to buy this? That's going to drive the results to help you frame out your long term plan? Yep. Because at the end of the day, like, you can sit there all day and do market research and blah, blah, blah. But I think what you're going to find is that once you boil it down to brass tacks, like there's probably only a handful of folks that you should be communicating with. And then your job is to go and talk to people like that.

Do you know somebody in your network? Have you worked with somebody? A past company, maybe there's like, you talk to a director of sales, you don't know anybody, but you were an engineer, your last company, you can probably reach out to whoever the head of engineering was there and say, hey, look, it's weird question, but I started a new company. I love to get your director of sales perspective, do you think you could put me in touch with that person? Use your network and learn through those communications early on what your buyer really cares about because it's not going to be as easy as making an assumption. Put some quotes content out there and the mailing it. There's a mindset of we probably would call it like a growth mindset. But then the day like a willingness to evolve, willingness to try willingness to hate the term fail, find these opportunities, because you have failing, you're learning

Tyler Lindley 15:15

to great. Yeah, no, I totally agree. So it almost sounds like you would add who too early, we're talking about what how and why it sounds like the who is just as important in that equation is figuring out that, defining that who, and also like picking up the damn phone and calling that who I think that so many times in this day and age, people are scared to actually pick up the phone and talk to either existing customers or potential customers, we want to just create content, and we want to tweet, and we want to be very mindful of their time safe.

Yeah, it's safe to play on the sidelines. But at the end of the day, like you don't really find out what's going on inside of your customers head unless you actually talk to them, which I think is is becoming a lost art. But I think the companies that can do that well, and the founders that can do that well and just have the the brass actually do it, I think they are at a competitive advantage, versus the companies who are just making assumptions. doing market research, like you said, you can mark your research the heck out of everything, that doesn't mean sure you're gonna make a sale doesn't mean you're learning anything, it doesn't mean you're doing anything that is actually action oriented. You're just gathering information and preparing to take an action, which is a whole nother can of worms. But how does someone how would you tell that to this founder or this head of sales? How would you tell that person get off the sideline and go and do something?

Barrett King 16:35

I love that. Yeah, I think it's.

So I'm kind of old school like I early my career was in restaurants. Whereas I don't care if you're sick, I don't care if you're tired, put up or shut up kind of attitude. And I carry that through some times. And so when someone asked a question like you do have like, how do you tell that person, the head of the company to go do this, I have a bit of a direct approach, which is put up or shut up, right, like you chose to start a business You didn't? Hopefully, you did, I'm sorry, you may want to rethink your career path. But hopefully you didn't start this was the intent of it being easy. Being a founder of a company being the owner operator being the head of sales, however, you want to think about it being all those things, is not easy.

It requires a little bit of grit, a little bit of hutzpah, a little gut in terms of that. So I almost would say what's the marine logo, embrace the suck, like this is going to be difficult, this is going to be frustrating, this might be challenging, but it's that pathway through it, those kind of like scrapes and bumps and bruises that makes you stronger and fortifies your position in the market to go and sell and service this customer. And if you're really just so put off by the idea of approaching that like head of sales you need to sell to or that it person, shoot them an email, and just say, hey, look like I'm testing market fit for a new company. I'm not sure if it works. But if you're up for a 30 minute chat, I'll throw you a $25 amazon gift card. And you guys can buy books or candy or your kid a toy or whatever with it. Make them feel good. Most people will say yes

Tyler Lindley 18:01

to that little ethical bribe, if you will.

Barrett King 18:03

Yeah, it's like, like, Yeah, exactly. Here's a little bit of money. Just listen to me. 3030 minutes, tell me how much I'm doing great or failing. But I think you have to combine that with using what using the people in the industry using your network, being humble about it? Hey, I don't know this is gonna work is anyone willing to talk about it. And I think what you'll find, surprisingly, is that there's a huge population that wants to contribute to what you're trying to do. And they'll probably tell you how much they hate your product. That's the human nature. But I think you're going to learn out of that and combat that messaging in the market to ensure that you're not going to miss the mark, when you actually do go out with that message.

Tyler Lindley 18:37

Yeah, and taking that action almost ensures you're going to get that feedback like you're talking about like you're listening to like which you only get feedback in the real world situation like you get it when you're actually on the court playing the game when you're in the trenches. That's where you get feedback when you're thinking of ideas. And when you're thinking about making a phone call, or you're thinking about sending an email or I'm thinking about creating a video, you have no idea you're just you create all these scenarios in your mind that are just fictitious you have no idea if they would be well received or not if they resonate with your audience or not, if they were going to lead to a sales conversation or not. So almost like jumping off the ledge if you will, gives you that feedback. So then you can start playing the game I'd rather play the game and learn constructively or not fail but learn all the time. Then just be sitting on the sidelines thinking about how I can play the game and thinking about what people how people might react, because all that thinking and planning and and worrying. And these scenarios we build up in our minds. They're not getting you any closer to success.

Barrett King 19:34

I love that you think about that last time it's really important doesn't get you closer to success. We have a company I invested in their CEOs become a buddy at this point. He wants to know why they ping me and say Hey, what do you think about this or that? And he has answered for everything is like Alright, I'm going to go Think about it. I'm going to whiteboard on it. I'm going to create a deck. And so we jokingly I have a couple of friends that invested where I'll be like, hey, you see this deck, you know recently like this guy's just spent 14 hours in this next deck and it's just it's always his deck card.

Because he builds these crazy PowerPoints, right? And cressy, no one gives a crap i no one cares. It's just he can think all day and go for the eventualities and your job as a sales. I don't know, if a person Let me try that, again, your job in selling your solution your product is to create an opportunity for your buyer to recognize their need in you. Yep, your job is to build a mirror that they look into and see their challenges, their faults, their discrepancy, their need, right, your job. I think more than anything, is the idea of like inception, plant the idea, let them water it, let them grow the plant, and then look at you and go, Hey, look at this beautiful plant that I grew in, you're like, Oh, I know a little something about that plant. Let me tell you about it. And the only way any of that works is if you go do it. And so I think that there's a fundamental ingrained concept here, which is, stop talking about it. Yep, just do it. Do it safely. Do it smartly. Be mindful with like, just go do it.

Tyler Lindley 21:02

Yeah. Which is hard. It's not, let's not sugarcoat and pretend like this is easy. Like I thought about starting a podcast for a long time before I actually turned on the microphone and put something out there in the world. And then just my dad watches the first episode, you get nervous, because that's what you're worried about, only my dad's gonna watch it. And so at least somebody can give you feedback, whether that's your dad or your dog, or maybe it's a potential customer, like you never know until you try. And it simply comes so much easier. One thing that I would tell folks that if you're worried about selling or worried about putting yourself out there, it becomes so much easier, like the second time you do it, or the third time you do it, or the thousandth time you do it, it's so hard the first time. But if you build the momentum, it becomes second nature to where you don't even have to, you don't have to build up all this courage and strength just to get to the desk or just to to get out of the car, make the call. It's so much easier the second time, so just do it the first time. So just do it.

Barrett King 21:56

Yeah, you're spot on. I echo that entirely. I will repeat anything other than just It is not easy. And I don't think that it always gets easier for everybody. I think it's important to say that too. Like I think there is a comfortability with human interaction that is not prevalent with every human, but just really simply put, and so I think sometimes it makes a big difference when you just admit that this is the reality. Except it I used to actually use this as a funny aside, but I read 10% happier Dan Harris a couple years ago, and it's all meditation based and it didn't work for me. But what I felt was really interesting, it was a couple of concepts that came out of it. stuck with me one of particulars is acronym he talks about which is rain, Mark aim.

And so he said it's really simply put recognize, so recognize, feeling a certain way I'm anxious about trying to sell this thing acknowledged. Okay, so I'm feeling anxious. Let me inspect it. Why am I feeling anxious? So recognize, acknowledge inspects the feeling the emotion? Where's it coming from? I haven't talked about this, maybe enough. I haven't felt like I'm selling whatever. The end is the key part non judgment. Don't judge yourself for it. The reality is, you've got to do this, to try and build your business. So try. And don't be upset, because you're going to fall down. But get back up because that's the entrepreneur that's the business leader, the person that says that didn't work, sidestep. And then keep going. Yeah, moving on the path.

Tyler Lindley 23:20

Yeah, I like that acronym, too. That's a good way of thinking about it. Non judgement is definitely the hardest part. But But the most necessary, and it's funny, like you were talking about sales, but you think it sounds like we're also talking about like training for a marathon or we're talking about doing anything sales, it's just, it's tough, and it's hard. And that's why a lot of people don't like to do it because you get beat up a lot and there's there's failure. And the only way to get better at it is to continue doing it and learning from from your mistakes. But that's it's hard and that but it's it's selling is a lot like starting a business. If you're out there and you've started your business, you've already taken a big leap sales is no different. It's just it might make you uncomfortable, it might you might be in some uncomfortable social situations where you don't feel 100% confident but the only way to get better is to try those things and to get better one one call at a time one one piece of content at a time one day at a time. So it's it's important but this applies to life. I feel like we're having a life conversation not just a sales conversation. So there we

Barrett King 24:12

are, we're lightening the world and how to live your life, selling his life to sell us humans Daniel Pink said to be a business leader you have to be humble and willing to try and so I think that would be like my my parting thought if that's helpful, I think about what we're talking about today. It's hopefully inspiring someone to hear it and go Okay, you know what, I am gonna pick up the phone or MSN email, or I'm gonna go to that, but a future state but go into that next year, what networking opportunity, and I think what it comes down to is a willingness to try. But you've already done that you were willing to quit your job or start a side hustle or prioritize this as the thing you invest in. Keep going like if you're doing okay, the lights are still on. But that's really what matters at the end of the day is pursuing what's important and provides value to you 100%

Tyler Lindley 24:55

Thank you so much, Barry for joining today. It's been a blast. if folks want to find you online, what would be the best way to find you They're

Barrett King 25:00

probably my LinkedIn if you just search Barrett j King come up. That's the LinkedIn domain. forward slash fair, Jay King. I'm always happy to connect. Always have to have somebody reach out and have a chat. I love this stuff. I think it's interesting. And the other day, while it is not easy, it's fun. You can make it fun, and really a mix of incredible people along the way. Perfect.

Tyler Lindley 25:20

Yeah, definitely. We'll link to that in the show notes. Thanks so much, Barrett. Have a good day. Thank you so much for listening to today's show. You can find all the links discussed and the show notes at the sales lift, calm. That's the th e sales s a l e s lift. Li have questions for me. Email me at Tyler at the sales Look forward to seeing you back here next week. And we hope today's show brings you the sales lift your business needs. Remember, ideas plus action equals results. You've got new ideas. Now it's time to take action and the results will follow. See you next time.

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