Jeff Galas | The Mindset Shifts You Need to Boost Sales
Do you know who your ideal prospect is? Are you sure? Jeff Galas, founder of On Purpose Growth, maintains that too many companies are wasting their marketing dollars and misusing their sales force because they don’t actually know.
But Jeff gives you the tools to find the right answer too… and make sure your whole team knows it too.
You’ll be able to see through your prospect’s eyes… adopt the right mindset to recognize their pain points… and then tailor your approach in sales and marketing to address their most pressing needs.
We dig deep in how to adopt that strategy and also explore…
- Why great sales talent is necessary but not enough
- When you must change your entire sales strategy (it happens more often than you think)
- Techniques for low-cost but fast-moving growth
- How to use mistakes as a vital ingredient to your company’s growth
- And much more
Michael Webb and Jeff Galas episode transcript:
You’re listening to the Sales Process Excellence Podcast with Michael Webb.
Michael Webb: This is Michael Webb. Some people talk about selling activities like lead magnets and deal qualification and selling to senior level decision makers. Other people talk about process tools, measurement of data and systems thinking. But not many people talk about these and how these things can be brought together to motivate people. That’s what we want to talk about in this podcast. My guest today is Jeff Galas. Welcome here, Jeff.
Jeff Galas: Thank you.
Michael Webb: Why don’t you introduce yourself for my audience?
Jeff Galas: I appreciate that. My name is Jeff Galas. I am the founder of On Purpose Growth and I’ve been attacking the strategy, the process, and the people problem for all too long now.
Michael Webb: So, you have a pretty interesting background. We did a project together a number of years ago and I’d not met someone like you. You’re a younger generation, you’d already been introduced to process improvement by your dad, as I recall. Can you tell us how you first learned about this stuff?
Jeff Galas: That’s a long story. I’ll try to give you the cliff notes version. When I was about 12 years old, I went to a baseball tournament. My father was my coach, and I thought I had the best tournament of my life. At the end of the tournament, my dad turned around and handed the MVP trophy to one of my teammates. On that car ride home, I remember being very upset. And my dad turns and looks at me and says, “You have a lot of learning to do.” And that was the start of him teaching me about systems thinking and process improvement and taking this kind of different approach.
Now he introduced me to probably too thick of business books for a 12-year-old to read, but eventually after they held my couch up for a while in college, I actually took them out and gave them a read and that was really the start.
Michael Webb: Okay, but I’ve got to have to drill into this a little bit because I have a son, too. He’s 30 now. Okay. And I tried to talk to him about stuff like this, but it came across as lecturing. I’m not sure it’s stuck very well. So, how did your father get that to stick?
Jeff Galas: Well, as you know my father, there was no choice but to have a stick. I think that what my dad was able to do at a very effective level was use the experiences I was going through and the struggles I was going through to introduce kind of root cause analysis. And then once you get to the root cause and you start applying some of the other theories in process improvement, one of his big lines was always thinking next play. Once he just kind of brought that in to things I care about such as baseball, one of the theories we always have is before every pitch, you think next play. If the ball goes here, where am I going with it? That was really the first version of process improvement that I was introduced to. It was on a baseball field.
Michael Webb: Okay. That was the pain you were feeling. You were sort of playing range of the moment and he wanted you to think in advance about the plays? Is that how he tied in to systems thinking, and that’s why it meant something to you?
Jeff Galas: That’s exactly it. I know most people don’t see baseball as a team sport, but as you get to more advanced levels, the way everybody moves kind of have to go together, and the way the pitcher pitches and then how the field results for … as the fielders move behind them become more and more important.
Michael Webb: Interesting.
Jeff Galas: He was introducing those lessons in, “Hey, wait a minute, you had a negative outcome. What can you change in your process to have a different outcome?” And things like that. And using statistics to help you look at it accurately getting towards a closer version of reality if you will. His tactic was really use the things I cared about, and apply these theories to those. Whether it was-
Michael Webb: Wow. Sort of a mini version of Moneyball.
Jeff Galas: I will tell you that I think my dad invented Moneyball well before Billy Beane ever brought it to major leagues. But the little league diamond doesn’t carry the same kind of weight.
Michael Webb: All right. So, fast forward many years after college. You started getting involved in sales to sales training. Tell us about that.
Jeff Galas: I appreciate that. Before I founded On Purpose Growth, I was working with a sales training firm. One of the things that I noticed is that sales training and sales management just didn’t apply what I would say is sound theory of improvement. It was very tactical based, it was very generic based, and it didn’t supply the theories that I had been learning for the past 15 years.
Now that’s not to say they’re not important and that’s not to say they don’t help. In fact, I think great sales skills and sales talents if you will, are necessary, but they’re not sufficient. That’s when I started connecting the two worlds of, wait a minute, sales and learning how to communicate and learning the ability to ask questions and learning the ability to understand the business problems and the impact that your clients have and want, and then apply systems thinking and apply process to be able to do that more and more consistently.
Michael Webb: Now, would you say that … Well, I guess you would say that the skills of process improvement, the thinking that it brings are helpful to people like sales trainer or sales people in general? Can you tie that down into concrete examples?
Jeff Galas: Well, first, let me confirm what you just said. I couldn’t agree with you any more strongly. The future of sales, in fact, the current sales, and if you look over historically, what has truly succeeded in sales is understanding your clients’ needs. And understanding your clients’ needs at a high enough level that it actually goes to how their pains are impacting their system. The best salespeople have always been able to paint the picture from the clients’ perspective. To do that, you really need a healthy ability to have systems thinking and to see their picture in it’s entirely, not just from your products perspective, if that makes sense. If it gets … Go ahead.
Michael Webb: That’s an issue that’s difficult for a lot of process people to grasp, isn’t it?
Jeff Galas: I guess I’ve been blessed. Most of my mentors like yourself have not struggled to see the bigger picture. I’ve heard of these people. But fortunately for me, I run in the sales worlds where they either don’t know, they haven’t thought about systems thinking or process improvements, which is a greenfield in those arguments, or I’ve been dealing with experts and dealing with people that have already crossed that bridge. I’ve been very lucky.
Michael Webb: Well, I’m thinking of people who grew up in production plants, and they do lean, and we try to bring lean to the salesforce. First thing they do is make everybody 5S the trunk of their car, or 5S their desk, and that duly doesn’t go very well.
Jeff Galas: I wish somebody could come and 5S my desk right now. I’m looking at a pile of papers. and that’s a little too high.
Michael Webb: I’m doing my whole office, right? Because it’s agreed, like yours is probably a big mess. But you have to think differently to do that. And that’s what process improvement, that’s what the lean philosophies about, is grasping how human beings think and gaining more control over that process. Would you agree with that?
Jeff Galas: Yeah. And I think we’re touching on a topic that’s very important here. And it’s mindset over tools and mindset over technique. That’s one of the things that I fail all the time, is don’t give me the too, give me the mindset and the tool will present itself. 5S is great, and I’m not trying to say that 5S isn’t, but one thing sales people will always tell you is that they’re really busy. Now, we all know that the water cooler is probably more busy than they are, I kid of course, because I’m one of the water cooler guys. But the idea of focusing where your efforts have the most impact is a mindset that I try to help with all of my sales people.
When we talk process and we talk all of these tools, first and foremost is when you look at your system, you have to see where you’re applying your efforts to create the optimized output for the system. And 5Sing in my trunk wouldn’t make a difference in the world. I don’t use my trunk. But I’ll tell you what if I haven’t been sold 32 times by different sales trainers that you better have an organized car.
Michael Webb: Yeah. Or you better have an organized way to qualify your prospect, right? You need to 5S your qualification criteria. By the way, we’re using jargon. 5S, I’m remiss. I should have defined what that is. It’s a Japanese term for things like, what is it? Sweeping, setting in place, there’s five words for it like housekeeping that all start with S. and if I have-
Jeff Galas: Sort, set, shine, standardize, and sustain.
Michael Webb: Yeah, and it works in the factory. But since we’re talking about how people think, having knowing what an ideal prospect looks like, an ideal sales opportunity and being able to compare one sales opportunity to another among sales people. Most companies kind of think they do that, but they really haven’t defined it very clearly. Ask two or three people in your company who the customer is, in you’re liable to get, especially large companies, you’re going to get three or four answers. That is what prevents them from aligning. Would you agree with that?
Jeff Galas: That is such a great point. And you asked me at the start of this, maybe five minutes ago before I kept talking theory about a practical example. When we’re talking about practical examples, one of the things you just mentioned is we all have to have a shared version of reality on who our ideal prospect is and who our ideal client profile is. And almost invariably, when I work with startups or companies that want that, “explosive growth”, they tell me about their market size.
I had a client that worked in the healthcare market and they would tell me how big the healthcare market is all the time. I’d looking at him and I’m like, “Great, that has nothing to do with you.” Now, they sold in two major insurance carriers. However, that doesn’t mean the healthcare market is their market. This idea of sorting and shining and standardizing and all of that fun stuff that comes with the 5S’s about your qualification, I think is that odd. Because once we actually got down to who they serve and the specific problem they solve, and who could take advantage of the unique way they did it, we actually found they had 28 targets.
Michael Webb: That’s a lot of targets.
Jeff Galas: Well, and 28 companies that could benefit from their service that would be ideal clients. And so, they went from this, how big the health care market is to 28 targets. Think about what that did for their strategy instead of saying, “Oh my God, let’s look at broad street marketing. And let’s look at how we’re pumping into SEO.” We got to switch and say, “Wait a minute, instead of spending all this money making sure we’re number one Google rank, let’s spend this money getting in front of these 28 decision makers.” And instead of having a sales force that was ever expanding to fit a healthcare market, we focused on sales people that had connections with these 28 people.
Michael Webb: Change your strategy entirely.
Jeff Galas: It’s a completely different game. And that’s one of the first things that I always tell clients, is if you can’t not only tell me what your ideal client profile is, but give me a list of people that fit that ideal client profile and tell me why you’re special for them. And if your competitor can say the same thing, you’re not special, but tell me why you’re special for them, you don’t have a strategy and you can’t have a strategy that’s anything more than luck.
The practical example here is the idea that when you do a 5S as you mentioned, of your ideal client profile and your prospect list, when you go through that, and now we all have shared reality, we can now take that to practical action plan. When you tell me you’re selling to the healthcare market and it’s this huge, huge market, and I won’t even venture a guess at how big the “healthcare market” is, and you take that from this huge markets to what is an actual addressable market for you, it completely changes the game. And then you can actually have tactics. We had tactics to get into those 28. And instead of taking the average sale cycle in healthcare is 24 months and longer, and within 12 months, three of those 28 had already signed up. Those were brand-new six figure deals that they hadn’t even touched before. We more than doubled the size of the company just by that one switch.
Michael Webb: Now, the typical kind of company that you deal with is, if I’m not mistaken, small companies? In the consulting work that you do, you’re dealing with entrepreneurs? Can you describe that for me? And then I [crosstalk 00:14:21] one question.
Jeff Galas: I appreciate that. I guess small is a relative term. Our general focus here at On Purpose Growth is the company that’s between one and $20 million, but they believe they should be between 50 and 100. And they’re looking towards either just passing down from a father to son, father daughter, or they’re looking at an event in the next three to five years where they want to sell, be acquired, get investment. That’s really become our focus, because our strategies and our process allows us to quickly work with them to find the right priorities, to find the right strategy to get that quick moving and what I say is low cost growth. Because unlike you, I’ve never worked with the companies that have the million-dollar budgets and the large budgets.
So, I always tell people, “If you have a million-dollar budget, I’m probably not the right guy. But if you’re on a tight budget and you’re worried about how to really maximize the impact of every dollar spent, that’s really our focus.”
Michael Webb: And if you’re in Chicago, right? You zero in on that market.
Jeff Galas: We’re all over the Midwest now and we’re also now opening an office in Denver. So, we’re hitting the West Coast as well.
Michael Webb: Okay. Interesting.
Jeff Galas: We have a very strategic plan on how we chose Denver. I really enjoy the mountains, and I really enjoy that area. So, that was our strategic plan in moving to Denver.
Michael Webb: Well, so when you get an owner of a company who needs your help and wants your help, you probably run into some typical mindsets that they might not know they need to change, right? I’m wondering how you detect that, and then what are typical things you do to help them kind of expand their perspective? Because you’re helping them be better managers, right? So, what are the top three things that you do?
Jeff Galas: I appreciate that. First, you and I have talked operational definitions a whole lot and making sure we have clarity in our language. It’s one of the phone conversations you and I have. And so, one of the first things I’ll say is, “I don’t kid anyone.” We kind of find a partnership, and it’s kind of one of those things that’s more like a marriage than me capturing or me winning prospects. That’s kind of our perspective on it, because sometimes those conversations can be very heated and very personal.
If it’s a matter of win-loss, it very rarely goes well. That’s our mindset here at On Purpose Growth is the idea that we’re entering into a partnership, and our focus is what’s good for the clients is good for us. If the client grows, so will we. That’s the one small switch I’ll make there. You’re asking me a pretty direct question, and I’ll get into it. The first is that one, sales cures all ills. That if they have one problem it’s generally always sales, and their sales people should just then go work on that top line. It’s one of the most dangerous methodologies or theories that I’ve seen. Large companies get away with it because they can swallow that type of waste. Now they get away with it, but it’s still damaging. It’s still waste.
These companies that are 1 to 10, 5 to 20, 5 to $30 million, if your sales people aren’t, if the people that are most intimate with your customers and clients aren’t developing relationships and finding out other issues and learning about the industry and bringing that information back to the company, you will not grow, you will not succeed. That is something that is absolutely necessary for your salespeople, is that they’re responsible for more than just top line sales.
The second one is short-term planning and short-term thinking. They want the sales people to go out, they hire the salesperson and they think it’s magic that it will happen within six to nine months. Depending on your sales cycle, depending on who you hire, depending on the people you hire, it just doesn’t happen that fast. Now growth can happen that fast, but a salesperson onboarding and making these great jumps generally doesn’t. What we tell people is, if your first inclination is to crack the whip on sales people, or that sales people are the problem and the individual efforts of sales people are the problem, we’re going to have some work to do. Because the fastest way we found to growth has very little to do with the actual sales people’s activity and effort level.
So, the second mindset that I’m mentioning here is that most people think the barrier between them and more sales is the idea that the sales people aren’t working hard enough. Or they don’t want it.
Michael Webb: It’s all about what sales people do, right. And it’s not.
Jeff Galas: Yep. That’s probably number two.
Number three is the idea that, and I hear this all the time, if I don’t do it, it won’t get done. When I hear that I say, “Then simply put, you’re a terrible manager.”
Michael Webb: No, that’s why you get into arguments with them.
Jeff Galas: Well, I probably need to work on some of my … I need to go back to some of that sales technique and be a little nicer about it. But the idea that if you have a process that only you can run, you don’t have a process. That’s a mindset that we have to shift. So, those three things are really where the first mindset comes in. That sales people have to do a lot more than just sales. That the barrier between you and your growth is very rarely efforts based. And then three, that if you’re sitting there saying, “”I’m the only one that can do it, things need to change in a hurry.
Michael Webb: So, to build off of that last one, let me ask you a question. Because in the small companies that I’ve worked with, I’ve repeatedly run into fourth kind of obstacles. A distributor happens to be up in the upper Midwest, as matter of fact. Work with them, help them define their undesirable results, help them find their root cause of this and then begin doing improvement on that. And they launched a project, which was their idea, about how to make a change that would create improvement. And the team, we were meeting every two weeks on the phone, I think, and they were making really great progress. It involved going out to customers and, well, ask them some kind of open-ended questions about some problems that the customers had, and assimilating that information.
After about two months of doing this, and the team was buying in, they’re making progress, the data was taking shape. The owner of the company, who had brought me in, got an idea, and said, “Wow, we’re doing a trade show at the end of the month. So, let’s use this information to make a presentation at that trade show.” Which kind of diverted the project into what he thought was important. And of course, everyone was lined up saying, “Oh, yes, sir. That’s a good idea, we’ll do that.” It became his project instead of the team’s project, right? Unfortunately, improvement stopped after that.
I wonder if you’ve seen that before, where … I’m sure you must have. And this is kind of what you were referring to there in that third point, where the owner of a company needs to recognize the people who work for you are the ones who own the problem, they have to own the solution. Your job is to … If you want them to grow without you, without you having to be at the center of everything, then you have to let them drive, use their ambitions to help the company grow. They may not be used to you doing that, and it may be uncomfortable. But have you seen that mindset where executives have sort of got in their own way without realizing it?
Jeff Galas: I don’t have a good name for it. But yeah, we see a fair amount where when things are going well or there’s a perceived lack of traction, then one of the executives, the partners, the leaders, the founder, the presidents, whatever the title is, is going to jump in. And whether that jump in is good or bad is all a matter of perspective. And so, one of the things that I know you and I have talked about many times is getting to a shared reality. And very rarely does the person sitting in the corner office have a clean view of what the boots on the ground see, and to be making decisions to shift a project or to jump in. You see this all the time with sales managers when there’s a proposal that goes out, it’s with a big number on it, or a key client, that there’s a key client. Meaning, all of a sudden, the manager is going to be there.
They don’t look at what that means to the customer experience, they don’t look at what that means to employee engagement, and it’s really short-term thinking. The brother or sister of that is the lack of willingness to let people make mistakes. When you go to meetings, the comments that I hear all too often from executives who have that mindset is, “Well, somebody would have just told me. I could have avoided that mistake.” There’s enough quotes about the benefit of hindsight, but one of the things that I focus on with my executives and founders is, “Hey, let’s take a look back at the last two years, and give me a list of all the mistakes you’ve made.”
Michael Webb: That’s beautiful.
Jeff Galas: The only point of that exercise is not to go back in with them, but to get them to acknowledge that they’ve made mistakes, too. And if they’re particularly hard nose, we’ll have fun and I’ll tell them how dumb they were for that mistake. And if they spent any time thinking about it, that was an easy mistake to avoid. But the idea is that these small businesses, you’re going to make mistakes like that. The reason I’m talking about this in the context of these managers jumping in to take over the solution is the idea is that managers, owners, founders forget how many mistakes they made to get to where they’re at.
Not only from a personal development point how important that is, but from a boots on the ground perspective, there’s going to be mistakes made no matter who’s doing the work. And the leader can’t step in to try and avoid those mistakes because you’re just causing other mistakes. And now you’re removing the ability to have a stable process and improvement of that stable process.
Michael Webb: Yeah. One of the mantras for that is the things that people repeat in the lean philosophy is problems are treasures. Instead of hiding the problems and sweeping them under the rug, not talking about those deals we lost, or the things that went wrong, no, we need to get them out in the open and inspect them and learn from them, respectfully. But when people make mistakes, that’s the chance they have to learn.
Jeff Galas: I really agree. That’s her well put, well described story there and example. And some ways of talking to executives to help them put in perspective the issue.
You brought up one of my personal favorites, is the idea of the lost deal and the value of a lost deal. And the idea that we not only can learn from that, but also the idea that sometimes you look back and say, “We lost that deal. But we lost that deal because we’re running our process.” Now, the instinct of almost every sales leader is to jump in and go do something to win that deal. And to make a change based on one data point, and it absolutely drives me crazy. Because one of two things happens. One, we go in, we win that deal because we promised a bunch of things and for manufacturing, or software as a service, or even consulting. When you promise things that are out of your norm, the variation that you cause downstream has huge costs to carry with it. But don’t worry, you won that deal. That kind of stuff just absolutely drives me crazy.
Again, that goes to one of the things that I talked about, is that sales should only be focused on the top line, and that’s one of the damaging effects of that mindset is we don’t we have to look at every lost deal as something we want to go with. Now, the second part of this is how often the sales manager, the sales leader, the executive getting involved in those deals to make sure you don’t lose them, actually costs them to deal. Because the sales person sitting in front has spent hours cultivating that relationship. They’ve spent hours understanding that business. Some of these some of these deals go 9, 12, 18 months where you’re spending days upon days with them. And all of a sudden, the sales manager, sales leader comes in and tries to play hero, but doesn’t understand the customer, doesn’t understand the client, doesn’t understand the perspective.
One of my favorite stories on this, and talk about practical examples. I was helping develop a brand-new sales force. It was a bunch of 20 something kids brand new to sales, and we spent a lot of time talking about getting rid of a standard pitch deck. And instead, have a standard set of resources you can pull from to develop a pitch deck to your clients’ needs. To develop a process that can accept the variation from prospect to prospect. We go in, one of these kids broke down the door at what would be their largest client. When it came down to do the proposal, we actually all agreed that we needed a subject matter expert in the room, and that was unfortunately in this case, the CEO. The CEO came in, took one look at the pitch deck and instead of listening to the boots on the ground of what the prospect needed, the new-found salesperson CEO shifted the pitch deck.
The first four slides were those standard slides of, “Hey, look how awesome we are. We’ve been in business for X amount of years. Hey, look at all the other logos that we have.” All of that garbage. He got through it those slides, the prospect stood up and said, “This was not what we agreed to. This is not what I wanted to see. You’ve now wasted my time, and you guys need to go.”
Michael Webb: Wow.
Jeff Galas: They lost that client because the CEO didn’t listen to the boots on the ground. The CEO had the mindset of, I know better. What really got me is when they walked out, the CEO looked at the salesperson who did a great job, who was ready, and instead of tipping his hat and saying, “Man, I should have listened to you about that pitch deck,” turned and said, “You didn’t do a good enough job qualifying that prospect.”
Michael Webb: Oh, my goodness.
Jeff Galas: That also happened to be the last day I worked with that client because I had a few choice words. But that’s my ego going for a walk instead of doing the right thing. But the idea there stands and it’s really simple, is that the sales manager, the sales leaders, they have to understand the process, the variation and give room for those mistakes. Because unless you’re on the ground, unless you have knowledge of the situation, you’re not the right person to solve it.
Michael Webb: And that goes towards operational definitions and making things visible and having gone through the thought processes to establish a common reality as you put it across the organization. That is a excellent story. We’re approaching the end of our time period here, but this has been great. Can you provide a little bit of your contact information, any recommendations you might have for my audience and how they could get ahold of you?
Jeff Galas: So, onpurposegrowth.com or look me up on LinkedIn, I’m Jeff Galas. That’s probably the easiest way to get a hold of me. But if you want to do the old-fashioned email, it’s J-G-A-L-A-S@onpurposegrowth.com. That’s email@example.com. Michael, if you don’t mind, I’m going to leave them with one piece of advice. It’s something that’s near and dear to my heart for all managers is, really create that that priority list, do the first thing first, and the second thing never. It’s directly taught us. And that the focus should be on improving the process and improving the system as a whole. If your first thing first doesn’t impact the whole, you’re not really doing anything.
Michael Webb: Excellent. Excellent. Well, this has been fun. I would look forward to having you back again if you’re willing to do that. Thanks a bunch.
Jeff Galas: I appreciate it. Let’s see how your audience react before they have to listen to my voice again.
Michael Webb: All right, great. You take care.
The Sales Process Excellence Podcast is sponsored by Sales Performance Consultants. Discover how to improve your b2b sales with systems thinking at salesperformance.com.