Lori Highby, Kris Harrington, and Erin Courtenay, three broads, bringing you stories and strategies, exploring manufacturing topics that challenge the status quo while laying the foundations for future success. Together with special guests, they'll celebrate what's working and unpack what is not so you can learn, grow, and succeed.
You want to learn more about your host? Make sure to listen to episode one.[:
[00:01:22] Kris Harrington: I'm good.[:
[00:01:39] Kris Harrington: I hope she's gallivanting in excess.[:
And when I think about you, Kris and Lori, and what we've built together on this podcast, I'm, I, it's just a shining light for me. And I just wanted to share that.[:
[00:02:55] Erin Courtenay: Yeah. Yeah. It's good stuff. It's good stuff. And you know, what's fun. We all have a good time. And then our guests are always amazing. And today we continue that tradition. It will be unbroken. So today with us, we have Amy Franko. Welcome Amy.[:
[00:03:12] Amy Franko: Oh, thank you so much, Erin, Kris, we are going to have to carry on without Lori today, but it is great to be here with both of you. And I actually was introduced to the two of you through Lori. So she, she's our connecting point.[:
She is that keystone in, in the network. So let me, let me tell folks a little bit about you, Amy. You are the leader in modern sales strategy. And you help mid market organizations to grow sales results through sales strategy, advisory, and skill development programs. Fantastic. I can't wait for this conversation.
Your book, The Modern Seller is an Amazon bestseller. You have a very fun story about that later. I can't wait for you to share that. And you're recognized by LinkedIn as a top sales voice, which is a very big deal. Welcome Amy Franko. We're so happy to have you here today.[:
And yes, I do have a pretty fun, unique, once in a lifetime story about the book when when the timing's right to get into that conversation.[:
[00:04:27] Amy Franko: That's right. Yeah, that is not above us to.[:
[00:04:30] Kris Harrington: I love the tease, I love the tease.[:
[00:04:47] Amy Franko: Probably on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it an 11 or 12 to kind of just open, open up the conversation and maybe a little, a little extra tidbit about me that's very relevant to the manufacturing space is that I got my start in manufacturing and tech in sales. So I worked for IBM, I worked for Lenovo and I worked for a couple of business partners for the first 10 years of my career.
And I was a quota carrying salesperson and had all roles that were related to sales and essentially like out outbound client experience, if you will. And so so sales has been a part of my my blood, my DNA for my entire career. And probably before that, if we're, if we're being, being we're looking, looking into my childhood and high school and college years, but it is absolutely it's so critical and it's, if I were to pick on a few things, kind of a few threads on that for anybody, who's listening that if you're an individual professional, or maybe you're leading a team, maybe you're a CEO, is looking at the structures of sales. So for example, your sales processes, your customer relationship management structures the sales methodology that you use, which is, has a skill combination along with it.
And then also what is the skills data that you have. at Your fingertips, so that you really understand the strengths and opportunities for your team. So, so those are, those are a few threads that when I'm working with my clients, regardless of industry, those are some structural pieces that we always look at with sales or business development.[:
[00:07:05] Erin Courtenay: Good question.[:
[00:07:10] Erin Courtenay: I love it. Yeah.[:
I hesitate to use the word regulation, but the same level of rigor discipline structure when it comes to sales, it's often kind of left to chance. Like either somebody's good at sales or they're not, they make up their own process on the fly because we don't have one. That type of thing. So if we took some of that discipline and applied it to sales process, sales methodology, organizations that put that focus in will get further faster because they have that structure to support their teams.[:
[00:08:22] Amy Franko: Absolutely. And and if it's helpful for those listening, I kind of give a little differentiation between process and methodology, kind of along the visual lines here.
If you kind of consider your process, think of it like a staircase. It's those steps that you take that are, they're often linear. You might have to backtrack a couple times and jump ahead, backtrack, but there's a, there's a set of steps that you typically will follow to get from finding an opportunity to closing an opportunity.
And it's pretty predictable. 80 percent of your opportunities will follow a very similar if not identical process. Methodology is, I think about like the chess match, methodology are the it's like all the chess pieces on the board. You pick and choose from the pieces that make the most sense to help you get ahead.
The strategies. Strategies, skills, relationships, behaviors, all those things that you can choose from that don't necessarily have a linear path, but modern sellers have the acumen to sort out what they need to move something forward.[:
[00:09:27] Erin Courtenay: Oh, such a good differentiation. I have a feeling I know what your answer is going to be, but I still want to ask it. Which one's more important?[:
So I'm in the methodology camp because that's kind of my passion, but the other two pieces have such importance so that you could make it all work together.[:
[00:10:15] Erin Courtenay: It makes perfect sense.[:
I am curious because you know, we're hosted by three broads in this show. You know, what are the unique challenges and opportunities that women in manufacturing sales may face compared to their male counterparts?[:
And the, the thing is, is that I would love to see more of it. So I think this might be the challenge. When I worked at IBM, there was a point in my career. So I was, I was on the sales team. My first, second and third line leaders were all women. And this was. 20 years ago. This is 20 years ago. When I share that story with people, they're like, wow, really?
Like they like, that's not common. And you know, probably at IBM, it might've been a little more common than in other organizations, but generally speaking in the manufacturing sector and in a lot of sectors, that is not the case. What I learned from that was it was really great to be surrounded by female leaders, because I could see myself in those types of roles if I wanted to be in them in the future.
But I was also surrounded by some really awesome rock star saleswomen who kind of took me under their wing when I was younger in my career. They would take me on calls with them. They would let me shadow them. And so I learned a lot from those highly successful women. So if I kind of flip that on the challenge side of things, the challenge side of things is that those examples don't happen enough.
And seeing more women get into those types of roles, stay in those roles, and then bring more women along with them.[:
[00:12:32] Amy Franko: Yeah, that's, you know, that's a really interesting question. So I would say yes, generally speaking, there was probably more emphasis on the, I'd say the relational side of things. More emphasis, whether this was intended or not, on more diversity balance on the team, because we had a pretty 50 50 split between, you know, I'd say men and women on our sales team. So I would say that those are a couple of things that rise rise to my awareness as I sort of reflect back on that experience. And I would also say it was the, in addition to the relational side of things, watching them be really wicked smart at business.
So it wasn't only the relational things, but the business acumen and that piece of it can't be, can't be understood.[:
That's, that's, yeah, a strength.[:
[00:13:42] Erin Courtenay: Yeah. Yeah. Fantastic. So I love, I've got a great question for you cause it is something that I have struggled with. And I know that any of our listeners who've been involved in sales have struggled with. That, that long sale, long and complicated sales process, you know, that's often, you can read a lot of books, go to a lot of classes and that you, the unique, when you're talking about those big dollars and those complicated products.
What then? Tell us.[:
And the more complicated the opportunity, this is going to sound very common sense. The more complicated the opportunity, the more people that are involved in it. Whether they are involved from your company or they are involved from the client's company or if there are other third parties involved like business partners or integration partners, whatever they happen to be, because it's it's like those whale type of opportunities that have a lot of huge priority.
And a lot of those types of deals can take anywhere from 12 months to 24 months, sometimes even longer if they're even more complicated. And so as I was thinking about this and pondering what I would share, there's probably a couple things I would focus my time and attention on, which is the first is what are the top most important relationships that I need to make sure that I have?
Because typically it's our comfort zone to have relationships with maybe people who are of influence, but not necessarily people who are of authority, like the highest level decision makers or the people that have a direct say so over the budget expenditure and finding budget and making sure it's prioritized.
And so a little analysis of the relationships that we have can go a long way. The other two things that I, I would offer up is it, I put it in the category of momentum. Like, how do you accelerate these? Sometimes, sometimes the acceleration is out of our control because. There isn't priorities can shift, things change, something happens out in the industry, right?
But I'm always asking myself, what's the next step to move it along? What's the immediate next step? What are, like, my three next steps? Like, what's out on the horizon? And kind of balancing out what's right in front of me versus what's down the road. So I, I like to try to think in that way so that I can keep things moving along as much as I can.
And relying on my relationships and the people that are advocating for me that want they, they want us to work together and seeing what I can learn from them in order to move something along.[:
[00:17:14] Amy Franko: Absolutely. And they're both really important. But to your exact point, Erin, a lot of us spend time in the influence category and not enough time in the authority category, for sure.[:
I've, you know, asking yourself the next step and then also the three next steps to that's really interesting. I'm curious, and this is going to be a little bit more tactical, but to go deeper is how do you, how do you make sure you're not missing those next step is for you and in a real tactical way is that that you're teaching teams to use their CRM system to document those and create tasks.
That will bring them up to ensure that those next steps don't get missed. Or could you just make that a little bit more practical even?[:
Oh, and so, so that, that is her little reminder to say, let's not leave this conversation without the next one scheduled. So that, that's a very tactical thing someone can do. CRM a hundred percent like sales process. This is where you can lean on your sales process. Have, is this opportunity fully qualified?
Have we vetted it? Is it, has it achieved certain milestones that tell us it's a good opportunity? Am I putting the tasks into CRM? So your CRM, if it has really good data in it, and you're using it consistently, yes, you can set those tasks and kind of forget them, if you will, because you don't have to try to remember them in your head. They're in the CRM. So, so those are some very, very tactical ways. I also a lot of people get focused on closing the sale. Right? That's when I'm, when I'm working with teams, there probably isn't a leader that I talk to that doesn't say, I need my team to be better closers. Typically, what happens though, when we kind of pull back and look at the data and you look at opportunities, there's a couple of common threads that I think would be helpful for any sales professional or sales leader to consider.
First is when you have a problem closing opportunities. Typically, that's a symptom of some problems that are further up in the pipeline. If they're getting stuck, we're losing them, you know, how many, how many of us have been told we've lost something on price, that type of thing, analyze further up because the chances are good there's something that was missed along the way earlier in your sales process. And then when you can pinpoint what those things are, you can either remediate them to try to help move it along, or if the opportunity isn't valid anymore, you can just use it for the next time.[:
Very, very helpful. Because I think often that question, you know to you, as far as, you know, we're always trying to close more and we, we can't close, I think it's just something that it doesn't matter the size of the organization. We're all struggling with it and we can relate, you know.[:
Do we have the financial wherewithal to manage inventory, to manage cash? So some of that business acumen, that business acumen and that analysis of what if we do win it, are we in a position, are we in a position to execute on it so that we put our best foot forward and we maintain our reputation in the marketplace or grow it?[:
[00:21:22] Erin Courtenay: Yeah, that's a good point. Yeah.[:
[00:21:41] Amy Franko: And now that that is such a great descriptor, a great example of someone who is a, like a competent sales professional, they're really that they play that role of the trusted advisor, because they're bringing those things to their customer or their prospect.
And they're not fearful of doing it because these are important business conversations to have. So you level up that trust. And those are some of maybe the intangibles, if you will, that can move something forward because you're bringing the right behaviors forward that build trust.[:
[00:22:33] Kris Harrington: You know, I always find it interesting. And I, and Amy, please feel free to, like, just reflect on this, but, you know. I worked in manufacturing for, for a mining company, a mining manufacturer for miners. We sold very large equipment, 25 million pieces of equipment. The sales cycle was very long. You had to have all of the regulatory approvals before you even could start a mine.
And then if it was an existing mine, just the budgeting process alone to get new equipment because we were just one piece of an entire process. Today I lead a technology company, we sell to manufacturers, and you know, our solution year one is about a quarter of a million dollars. But it's still, you know, eight stakeholders that we're selling to, that it's still a long sales cycle, it's still a change for the buyer, right?
You know, any comments just on that about that process and how we all face it is interesting how it can be for large amounts of money or even a smaller amount of money. It's it's still. I'm sharing this story because I know people are stuck in between those two spaces as audiences listening and but we still have to have that process. We've got to have the staircase. We've got to stay committed. We've got to, you know, just curious if you could comment on that.[:
Could be 100 million in my world. Today as a consultant, you know, it's probably more along the lines of what you just described, Kris. But the decision making process and what buyers need to work their way through still has a lot of similarities. And when you're looking at the 25 million piece of equipment, there's probably already an established comfort level, at least with that level of investment.
With technology, there's probably maybe a different threshold, or at least for the customers that you know your situation that you're you're explaining. And my as I reflect on that, it all comes down to how do we help our buyers and the people that are in their ears? They're the people that influence them. How do we give them the right level of confidence that A this is the right solution for them that we understand where they are today and where they want to go. And B that we are the right fit to work together. And I like to use the phrase "right fit" because I think it's a two way street. And this goes to like qualifying opportunities.
There will be opportunities that aren't the right fit for you as the provider, not just for the customer. And making sure that we're looking at that fit from from both sides of the equation. So it's that right decision to move forward and who's the right fit to do it with. Every buyer goes through that regardless of what the price tag is on, on the thing or the solution.[:
[00:25:57] Erin Courtenay: Wow. Just like you predicted, Kris, we could, we could do a lot of this. Looking forward to your insights and I know there's even more to grab. Which tells us that maybe it's time to learn more about you. Can we have the big reveal? Is everybody feeling like now's the time for you to tell us something that maybe not a lot of people know about you and it might have something to do with a certain book?[:
And we went to four different places, three wildlife conservancies, and then we went to the coast. It was one of those kind of like, trip of a lifetime opportunities. It was amazing. So I didn't know this. It's probably a good thing I didn't know this. But once you get to Kenya You're pretty much flying on bush planes to get everywhere.
And the bush plane is like the size of my office, right? So, you know, it's like eight people on a bush plane. And so we're, so there's a nice little regional airport that we go through and they really kind of treat you like royalty. They walk you through, there's a, there's a concierge who are quarter that helps you walk to your Walk to your gate, help get checked in.
It's just, you know, he's reading the manifest and he's looking, there's like eight people on this manifest. He's looking and reading the manifest and he's looking at the, at the names and he's looking at me and he's looking at the names and he's looking at me. And he's like, are you Amy Franko, the author?[:
[00:27:48] Erin Courtenay: Oh, the author. Right?[:
[00:28:06] Erin Courtenay: Oh, right. You didn't believe it.[:
And I'm, I'm totally not believing him. Right. And he's like, well, how do I get the book? And I said, well, I said, best place to do is to get it off of Amazon. And, and he's like, well, it's an Amazon, you know, in Kenya, in some of those parts of the world, not as reliable as it is here. But so, so we have this little banter back and forth and then, you know, we get on the plane and we go on our way.
Three days later, we come back through the same airport and who's greeting us at the gate. But my, my friend, Kelvin, Kelvin, yes, he's, he's my friend and he welcomes us back and he's like, Miss Franko, I really want to get your book. How do I get your book? And he's naming a couple of other like sales authors.
My husband is in sales who would probably recognize some of these people, but the other two people I was traveling with, they would not recognize these people. And I'm like, you're really serious, aren't you? I said, you're not kidding. And he's like, that's what I've been trying to tell you. Awww. So, so I said, I said, all right.
I said, I said, I believe you. I'm sold. I said, so let's take a photo. I'm going to take a photo of your badge. And I will find a way to get you the book. So, so we go about the rest of our trip, and, you know, I get home, and it took me about three weeks to get the book. And I had to send it through the U. S. Postal Service because that was really the only option. And when I asked for a tracking number to get to Nairobi, the guy behind the counter just laughed at me. I was like, okay, well, I'm just going to have faith that this thing gets here because I had to research the airline that he worked for and kind of sort out where to send it.
So I said, all right, I'm sending this out to the universe. We'll hope it gets to him. And probably about a month later, I got the nicest letter you could imagine from Kelvin with photos of him with the book, just the kindest letter thanking me for sending the book and everything that he's learned and some of the things that he's doing in business school and a nonprofit that he and his brother founded.
And it was just a really cool lesson in you literally just never know whose paths you're going to cross with and who's going to, who's going to like, see what you do in your work and be inspired by it. And it's just, it's my favorite story, like number one favorite story about the book.[:
Yeah, that was such a great story. What a proud moment. I know.[:
[00:31:15] Erin Courtenay: Well, you know, we have just had such a great, great time with you today and I want to make sure that other people can have Kelvin's experience and find you and drink from the fount of your wisdom. So can you tell folks how they can get in touch with you today?[:
When you connect with me, please let me know that you are connected with me, with me on this podcast. I would love to meet you there. And then secondly, you're welcome to go out to my website. It's amyFranko. com. It's a Franko with a K and lots of great resources out there and also some some chapters from the book.[:
[00:32:11] Kris Harrington: It was wonderful.[:
This wraps up today's broadcast. If you're looking to shake up the status quo at your organization, or just want to connect with these broads, visit mfgbroadcasts. com. Contact Lori Highby for your strategic digital marketing initiatives. Contact Kris Harrington for OEM and aftermarket digital solutions.
And contact Erin Courtenay for web based solutions for your complex business. Business problems. We've got a great offer specifically for our listeners. You can find more information about the offers and your hosts at mfgbroadcasts. com.