Todd Youngblood | The Golf Pro’s Secret for Better Sales

Success in sales is all about personality and relationships, right?

That’s part of it, says Todd Youngblood of the YPS Group. But if that’s all you have, you’re seriously limiting your potential.

Todd is a big believer in a methodical approach for continuous improvement in sales – for both individuals and the rest of the sales team. It involves some tools and tactics that the typical salesperson has never seen (or if they have, they’re afraid of).

But, says Todd, a little discipline and accountability isn’t anything to fear. We explore all the steps in this “scientific” mindset shift. We also discuss…

  • The sales stats that help you gauge the health of your business
  • Knowing your product inside-out isn’t enough to sell it
  • When sales people should become business consultants
  • Why increased revenue shouldn’t be the #1 goal
  • And more

Listen now…

Episode Transcript:

Michael Webb: Hello. This is Michael Webb. Some people concentrate on selling skills, and content marketing. Other people concentrate on data and process improvement. In this podcast, we focus on the principles that enable companies to pursue both. My guest today is Todd Youngblood. Todd, as an independent consultant, I’ve known … Well, how long have we known each other, Todd? Like six years or something.

Todd Youngblood: It’s pushing a decade, I think, Mike, somewhere in that vicinity anyway.

Michael Webb: Yeah. That’s right. I met you when I first moved down here to Atlanta. You were here in Atlanta. Could you give our audience a little bit about your background, how you started, where you came from, and what you’ve grown up to be?

Todd Youngblood: Oh, well, gosh, I guess I got into sales accidentally, which I think is more common than any of us might want to think. I had a degree in biology and stumbled into a sales job with IBM way back when in the mid-’70s and stayed in … I mean my career has been in sales ever since then, 40 whatever, whatever the heck years that is, spent 15 with IBM, started a business in the IT world then got back into a … it was with an outfit called Computer Aid that I spent five years with as a VP of sales and marketing that was doing internet applications before the internet actually existed with old, clunky technology, and then started the YPS Group, which is what I’m doing now, in ’99, so that’s pushing about 20 years. That business was focused on what I had learned as, obviously, a sales professional to begin with and then lots of years in sales management. I focused on working with sales executives, sales leaders, and improving their sales process, which is something I know that you’re awfully familiar with, as well.

Michael Webb: Oh, yeah. Oh, yes. We’ve had many hours of conversation about that. Looking back on it, you learn things as a salesperson, a sales manager, and a VP. What is it that … the kind of principles that intrigued you that helped you, perhaps, be a better salesperson or a better sales manager? What was this process stuff, these principles? Can you give us an example of something that got you going?

Todd Youngblood: Well, I think that I knew absolutely nothing about computer technology, information technology, and I mean literally nothing when I first got out of college. I think the discipline of thought required in that field was something brand new to me, and I found it very intriguing and, almost by default, took the … If you’re going to write a computer program, for example, not that I ever did that or have that skill, but to do so you have to be very disciplined, very structured. Everything has to be correct. I’m talking about things that are very foreign to the natural sales person and-

Michael Webb: Well-

Todd Youngblood: Go ahead.

Michael Webb: It’s like you’re dealing with information, right, and so it’s something that’s going to need to be used by another person, and so it’s not just that the code needs to be lined up, but it’s that the concepts need to be structured in a way that means something for the other person, right?

Todd Youngblood: I think you put your finger right on it. It has to be structured so that I can communicate what’s in my brain to anybody else. The amount of consistency and repeatability … Those are the kind of principles, if I can use the word that you kind of prompted me with that, for whatever reason, struck me as, “Wow, that’s really important in sales.” It’s a whole … Yeah, you’ve got to be articulate and you’ve got to be able to get along with people. You have to have all those basic interpersonal skills to be successful in sales, but combining that with discipline and accountability and sticking to a process struck me from the very beginning of my career as something that’s very different, and I think a differentiator, frankly.

Michael Webb: Differentiator in what way? What do you mean?

Todd Youngblood: Well, as an individual salesperson. If I’m following a process, my customers get to expect that. And I think it’s uncommon. It’s not common for a … I’ll use a trivial example. You know, I say I’m going to deliver a proposal, for example, on August 27 by noon. And on August 27 on noon, there it is. It’s simple as, “Okay, I’ve got a process in place where I promise something, here’s when I’m going to get this piece of work done. By this time, this date, and I’ll have it delivered to you,” and then follow through on that.

Michael Webb: Okay, so now you just transitioned from one kind of principle or concept to another. The first one I would characterize as an operational definition, right? The words we use in our mind are tied to something in reality, and we make sure that these are lined up and that everybody involved is using those terms in the same way. The second one is value-oriented. We’re disciplined. We’re going to deliver something that we promise. We’re going to do what we said. But those two are … obviously, they’re related to each other, but you’re saying that this, instead of being sloppy, the rigor of being consistent and making our actions match our words or ideas … That appealed to you and it differentiated you with customers. Okay, keep going. What happened next?

Todd Youngblood: Well, I want to add one more element to what we’re talking about. Certainly, the process orientation, that’s key. That’s where everything starts. What is your sales process? And when I say you, I might be talking to an individual sales rep. I might be talking to a vice president of sales who has a thousand sales reps working. What is the sales process for this organization? That’s where all the discipline begins so that everybody’s using the same terminology. When I say, “conduct discovery,” that has meaning within this organization. A process that’s defined and followed.

The thing I wanted to add to it was measurement. It’s one thing to have a process, it’s another one to say, “How often are you executing it and how well are you executing it?” The notion of, first of all, defining a process and having one, and then taking the next step of measuring yourself. How well are you doing it? How often are you doing it? The combination of those two things, having a defined process and some measurements so I can judge the quality of how well I’m executing it, that leads to continuous improvement. So I’m getting better all the time. As an individual, as a manager, as a sales team.

Michael Webb: Yeah. You just introduced a third crucial leg of the scientific cycle, mindset, is that we are checking the reality of what we did and what the results were.

Todd Youngblood: I mean, I … I’ll be a little bit of a wise guy here, but if you go up to the typical sales professional and say, “Are you a good sales professional?” 100% of the time the answer’s going to be, “Yeah, I’m good.” Well, then I can follow that up with a question that says, “How do you know that? How do you know that? Are you a good golfer?” You can say yes or no, are you a good golfer? It’s like what do you score? Well, 105. Well, no. You know what? You’re not very good. My point is there’s a very specific measurement.

Michael Webb: Well, and that rich topic. There are certainly issues, and golf is a great parallel. You have a backswing and if you don’t do that right, you’re not going to hit the ball correctly. You have a follow through. If you don’t do that right, you’re not going to hit the ball correctly. You can’t see your own backswing and you can’t see your own follow through, so having someone else, like a coach, can help you improve those things, and certainly you can put instruments on the tee or where you’re practicing your swing, and you can measure that stuff and get feedback that way. I think that that discipline appeals to a lot of people. That’s why sales is actually a profession because you have to learn it. It takes practice. Not everybody does it really well.

And then I have another comment after that, but I want to stop there and say, would you have anything to add to that analogy?

Todd Youngblood: Actually, yeah, because I think it’s more than having a coach looking at you, and I’m putting a couple words in your mouth, perhaps, Mike. I’m going to go back to the golf analogy. It’s one thing to have a coach that says, “Hey, do this on your backswing. Do this on your follow through. Set your feet differently.” Whatever it may be. That is a critically important component to it. There’s another level of measurement. If you look at what professional golfers actually do, they all have records for every single shot they take. I was on the first tee, it’s a par five, I’m using a driver, I hit it this far, it landed on the fairway, it sliced from left to right, just every single shot they take is measured. And if I do that throughout a whole season, as a professional golfer, I’ll know that if I’m in this particular situation, I need a seven iron. Because that’s the shot that I have the highest odds of executing well based on the statistics that I know from the past year.

I could do the same exact thing with the sales process. I come up with a situation, it’s like, “What should I do now?” Let me look back at the data that I have. Let me talk to my coach. Let me talk to my boss, my manager, and get some tips and ideas and talk through it based on that interpersonal kind of interaction. Again, that’s critically important. And then let me go back and look at the raw data, the empirical data that I have and say, “Okay, 87% of the time, when I write a proposal with this kind of structure to it, I win the deal.” Well, shoot. If it worked 87% of the time, hey dummy, do it again. Do it again. Don’t go through a deal and skip that part, because when you skip that part, you lose.

So there’s the coaching aspect of it that you emphasized, and then just the empirical data of how well do I do? What are the best practices that work for me?

Michael Webb: Yeah. I was at a meeting of the … I think it’s Enterprise Sales Forum or something the other night here in Atlanta, and it was a bunch of sales people who … the topic was cold calls. Is cold calling dead, right? When you were at IBM, did you have to make cold calls?

Todd Youngblood: I went for 15 years with IBM, and I can tell you with great precision how many cold calls I made.

Michael Webb: Yeah?

Todd Youngblood: Zero. Zero.

Michael Webb: Benefit of working in an established company, right?

Todd Youngblood: Yeah, I mean I had a … I walked out of my last sales training class at IBM and I got handed a territory that already existed.

Michael Webb: All right. And when I got hired into the computer industry from the business forms industry, I got the job because I had taken a territory in business forms that had about $80,000 of repeat business, and I had turned it into a territory that had about a half a million dollars repeat business. Over a period of four or five years. That’s what they wanted. Because I was working for a no-name computer company. And let me tell you, did I make cold calls. I mean … and that was the roughest part of the thing, and they gave us really good training. How to make the calls, how to handle yourself, how to open it up, and you had to keep track of it.

Matter of fact, that’s one of the things that stirred my interest in computers was because I had a … maybe I’m naturally analytical, but I had a degree in math and I kept track of these calls with my little personal computer. My little Apple computer that I bought. The yield of the cold calling that I did fell dramatically over a period of about four years when I was in the computer business. In the beginning, make 100 phone calls, talk to’s, right? You still had to have plenty of phone dials before you got talk to’s, but if you did that, you would find two, three, four people who were in some stage of buying a computer. Right?

By four years later, five years later, microcomputers had come on the scene. You could make a thousand phone calls, you wouldn’t find two, three or four. It was starvation city. It was horrible. And so the discussion the other night was, how do you make … is cold calling dead, and then how do you do it effectively? The consensus of it was no, cold calling is not dead. You know, human beings still need to be influenced by others. It’s damn hard now, however, to get ahold of somebody and it takes skill, just like it did 30 years ago, to be able to open those conversations. At that time, the only way you could communicate with someone, basically, you either mailed them a letter or you called them on the phone. But today-

Todd Youngblood: That’s about it.

Michael Webb: You’ve got the phone. You’ve got text. You got social media. You got e-mail. You got direct mail. And probably a couple others I haven’t included in there. You have more ways of reaching people. And I kind of agree with them, but boy is that a hard way to make a living. I talked to a couple of young salespeople who are right out of college and they have to go through this sort of rite of passage for a year or two, banging the phones, with a very low yield, very few good talk to’s or results, and that’s just their life and they’re sort of resigned to it. They were good hard workers.

They talked about ways of improving it. Ways of getting better. But it still has a low yield, and what struck me while were there, all the things that they suggested about how to do the calls, what kind of opening statements, selecting your list and all that sort of stuff made good sense, but there was not a single measurement mentioned the whole time. Nobody’s measuring. They’re just doing it.

Todd Youngblood: I would have been jumping up out of my chair had I been there with you, Mike.

Michael Webb: Yeah.

Todd Youngblood: Yeah, and I mean-

Michael Webb: Go ahead.

Todd Youngblood: Cold calling is an interesting example to use on that, because frankly … personally, I was never good at it. I made zero cold calls in my IBM 15 years and then started my own business. I was used to saying on the phone, “Hi, This is Todd Youngblood from IBM,” and people would talk to me. Virtually all the time. And then the next day, here’s Todd from Computer Aid calling? I couldn’t get a receptionist to talk to me. That’s my little vignette. But the notion of measuring it, in my view it’s crazy not to measure it.

Michael Webb: Well, yeah. So what I-

Todd Youngblood: I’ve got to add one more thing if I can because there are people that I have met, that I know well, that are really good at cold calling. And I know that because I can say, “I’m Todd, I make 100 calls, I get to two people.” And I talk to Anthony, who makes 100 calls and gets to 30 people. Now, if I have that data across 100 people in my sales force, I’m going to find out, “Okay, everybody’s getting two to three conversations out of 100 dials, this character over here’s getting 30. What the hell is he doing? What’s he saying? How does he …” Without the numbers, I wouldn’t know that Anthony’s the champ.

Michael Webb: Well-

Todd Youngblood: He’s the best guy at that.

Michael Webb: He might be bragging about it or something. But it’s absolutely true.

Todd Youngblood: No, but I want the data. If I have the data, yeah. If he does 30 and everybody else is doing two, let him brag.

Michael Webb: That’s right.

Todd Youngblood: I want him to because then everybody else can learn from him.

Michael Webb: Right. Yeah. And salespeople are … you walk between the cubicles in an office with a bunch of salespeople and the junior salespeople are … particularly in a high commission environment, they’re listening to what the older salespeople are saying. Trying to figure out and crack the code. They’re trying to learn from those guys and all that happens. To me, the senior executives in the company that I work for were not measuring, and they would simply say, “I know it’s hard, but back in the day I did it and you can too. Dialing for dollars is where your future is,” and they were not paying attention to the fact that the yield had declined so much. The company … so it kept depending on that single method of finding new accounts. The product lines had fallen behind. They didn’t really have state of the art … we were getting beaten in the market by less expensive products that could do basically the same thing.

They didn’t have effective countermeasures for that. But they had the opportunity to know that that stuff was going to be happening for a long time. They had the opportunity to try to figure out more effective ways of positioning salespeople in their markets, so that they were better known, to make customers more receptive to talking to them. There’s a bunch of different things they could have experimented with, but they didn’t. That company went out of business. I mean, and I’ve seen that with clients. They keep doing that over and over.

I’m working on an article right now. The working title of it is, Is Your Distribution Company Going to Survive the Next Recession? Because distribution companies, especially in commodity kind of industries, man, when businesses start tightening their belts, those suppliers are … they’re put in a cage match. You’re discounting prices, and so how are you going to survive that? It was tough the last time. Everybody knows there’s going to be another one. How are you going to figure out how to survive that, especially if you’re not looking at where the value-add is in what your salespeople do, and where it isn’t?

Todd Youngblood: I wish you could see me nodding my head vigorously up and down in agreement.

Michael Webb: Well, and so to me, it was a … the light kind of dawning on me of this concept of systems thinking. Because the company failed to do systems thinking with respect to its position in the market. Now when I work with clients, I always ask them, “Our goal here, Mr. President of the company, is to try and come up with a really good answer to this question. What could you do that would make your ideal prospects and customers be willing to pay to get some of your salesperson’s time? To pay money.”

Todd Youngblood: Yeah. The salesperson as a professional consultant. Professional business consultant.

Michael Webb: Well, yeah. At least having value to add. And I think those good salespeople absolutely have value to add, but companies who just leave “the sales problem” up to the salespeople become captive to the ones who can somehow, by hook or by crook, figure out or get lucky and when stuff gets tough again they’ll go to some other job. And those companies have not figured out how to convert customers into their market. That’s a big pain with all that capital investment of your production facility if you don’t know how to make sure that you can constantly bring in the kind of business that you need.

Todd Youngblood: Yeah, I mean I agree. I agree. I’m trying, I’m searching my brain to remember where I got the piece of advice that I’ll share because I’ve adopted it as my own now. I didn’t invent the idea, I stole it. But the notion of a sales professional ought to view him or herself as a member of the executive team of the client’s company.

Michael Webb: Especially for high-end products. Absolutely. Yes.

Todd Youngblood: And there ought to be … well, for high-end. If you don’t do it with high-end products, you’re sunk. I found that shift in my mindset is I’m not an outsider trying to break in. I want to view myself as a member of the executive team. The top executive team. The decision making thing. I have a subset of the expertise required to run the whole company. But I have a set of knowledge that’s extremely valuable and essential, in fact, for the whole operation to work properly.

Michael Webb: I really like that advice, because it puts you in the mindset, and it’s not just the knowledge that you might have. If you are truly an executive, one of your primary roles is influencing other people. You have to know what those other people are thinking.

Todd Youngblood: What are they thinking, what motivates them-

Michael Webb: And why do they think that? And that puts you in the mode of being a far more effective salesperson. You’re not trying to jump the gun and try to sell them something, you know, like a peddler. But you are trying to understand why they think what they think and what they think will cause improvement, and what’s holding them back. You want candor and honesty from the people, and you control your own behaviors in order to create that. Right?

Todd Youngblood: Yep. Solid tip.

Michael Webb: I struggle, because so many executive teams when it comes to sales and marketing … I don’t know. They just don’t do that. They just don’t think of it, “Oh, we need data over the system that shows us the flow of opportunities.” They continue to think of sales, and this was the analogy I was going to go to about the golfing comparison. They continue to think of sales as, “We’re going to try to optimize the performance of that golfer.” That individual salesperson. That’s what it’s all about. Well, bullshit. I don’t think it is. That’s very important. It’s just a cog in the wheel, though. It’s one piece of a whole system, and that’s the way they need to think about it.

Todd Youngblood: I agree. In fact, I was thinking as we were discussing the cold calling example and everything that we talked about with regard to that, of who’s this guy that’s getting 30 conversations where everybody else gets two. I want to take that exact same principle and apply it to all of the stages of my sales process. Getting the first conversation is hard, but that’s not the end of the job. Once I get the first conversation, then what do I do? I have to somehow pique the interest of that decision-maker, the executive that I’m talking to, and I need to get that individual to say, “Tell me more. Teach me more.”

Michael Webb: Yeah-

Todd Youngblood: I’ve seen so many sales folks that are really good at getting in the door, and then they get in the door and turn into a bumbling idiot. I’m exaggerating, obviously, to make a point-

Michael Webb: Well, but it’s true.

Todd Youngblood: I’ve got to be good. Now that I’ve gotten in the door, I’ve got to earn respect and credibility.

Michael Webb: The trend these days to break up the sales process into those different segments. Somebody finds it and gets us in the door and then somebody else takes over after that and somebody else takes us to get an order.

Todd Youngblood: I’m not advocating that.

Michael Webb: Oh, you’re not?

Todd Youngblood: No, I’m not.

Michael Webb: Oh, that’s interesting. Okay. Help us understand that.

Todd Youngblood: Maybe I’ll get somebody to open the door. That part of it, and then turn it over. Maybe I have professional cold callers, for example. I’ll go with that and then turn it over. But to get through the rest of the process, I want one individual doing it. If I’m the CEO and I’m going to hire somebody to solve a problem, I don’t want to talk to six different people about that problem. I want to talk to one individual. I want the sales professional, once that door is open, to get in there. Understand the operation of the client, understand where the problems are, where the bottlenecks are, what works and what doesn’t work. Figure out how my set of products and services can remove the bottlenecks in the client’s operation. Put together a proposal … I guess, is that old school? Putting a proposal together? What’s the statement of work? What is it that I’m going to do that’s going to make your current operation different and more efficient, more effective, cheaper, faster, whatever the value proposition is?

Put that whole thing together. However, I define that sales process, I want to measure every step of it. And if-

Michael Webb: Well, okay. Go ahead. Measure every step. What do you do with those measurements?

Todd Youngblood: Yeah. The simplest thing, have you ever noticed that salespeople are competitive? Duh. It’s the nature of the beast, and if all I’m measuring is dollars in the till at the end of the year. If I’ve got one metric, who sold the most? Okay, great. I want to know that number. That’s important. But I also want to know who got in the door most often. Who got the decision maker really intrigued and requesting more information, more discussion? Who’s really good at designing the system, of taking all the stuff that I have to offer, my products and services, and figuring out how to integrate that into the customer’s operation? Some people are better than that at others.

What I want to do, if I have a … just for argument’s sake. Say I got a six stage process. It might be five, it might be three, it might be ten, but say it’s six steps. I want to know, who’s my best performer at step one? And I want the best performer at step one to teach everybody else how to do it as well as he or she does it. Now let’s look at step two. Who’s the best at step two? It’s probably a different person. I want the best person at step two to teach everybody else how they do step two. And I’ll go to step three, four, five, however many steps I got in my sales process. If I have metrics on who’s performing best at each one of those stages, now I’ve got … within my sales team, I got everybody teaching everybody else. And I might be, if there are 10 reps, I might be number 10 in terms of dollars spent at the end of the year. So I feel bad about myself. But you know what? In conducting discovery, step three of our sales process, I’m the king. I’m the best. That makes me feel good about me, I’m teaching everybody else how to do that one little stage. Because I’m the best at it.

Michael Webb: Let me stop you there. That’s all, that’s good. Let me challenge you a little bit on that. Because in systems thinking, there’s this principle called the constraint, right? In any system, there’s one step, element of it, that has … I mean, all the different steps and elements have different capacity, and one of them tends to be the bottleneck. As this thinking goes, the most effective way of improving the performance of a system is not to improve the performance of each step, but to find the bottleneck and elevate the performance of that, and then the bottleneck will move someplace else and elevate the performance of that.

Todd Youngblood: I’m trying to figure out where the disagreement is, Mike. Because I’m-

Michael Webb: Well, you said you start with stage one, and then go to stage two, and then go to stage three. I’m saying if the bottleneck is in keeping the customer because we’re not delivering on time, or these installations aren’t going very smooth, or the customer’s not using the product like happens a lot in software if that’s where the bottleneck is, that’s not stage one. That might be stage seven or six, right?

Todd Youngblood: Okay. Different, we’re coming at it from a slightly different perspective. I think we’re saying the exact same thing. I’m thinking about how, as a sales executive, do I improve my overall sales process. That’s my job. I want to find the constraint, again, say it’s six steps. As the VP of sales, I want to know which of those six steps is my constraint? I absolutely want to know that. If I look at it more on an individual basis, I might have rep number one, well, his problem’s at step two. Rep number two has a problem at step six. Rep number three has a problem at step four. At an individual level, I want to know where’s the constraint in that guy’s sales process. And if it’s step three, I want him to go talk to the best rep at step three and figure how the hell to do it better, because that’s the constraint in that individual sales rep’s process. We’re saying the same thing.

Michael Webb: Well, okay. So now, and I don’t mean to be argumentative, but let me come back and bring another wrinkle in here. We’re thinking in terms of the sales guy. What about the president of the company? His perspective is a little different-

Todd Youngblood: True.

Michael Webb: Because on the one hand, the company has only a certain capacity at any given time. And the way you make the company the most profitable is to be able to match the capacity with the demand, and that’s hard to do. That can be very difficult to do, right? On the other hand-

Todd Youngblood: That’s why CEOs make a lot of money.

Michael Webb: Well, yeah. So there’s a lot of different people and their opinions and internal conflicts and what’s really going on here, the old blind man and the elephant sort of a story that goes on. But on the other hand, there’s another thing that the CEO needs to think about. The positioning in the market, right? Sales guys tend to be focused on the revenue goal, but the revenue goal can take care of itself if the business is capable of giving the customer the value they want. I’m thinking of an analogy of a hospital software company I heard about a while back, and when hospitals converted to their software, they had proof positive of performance improvements in financial and the patient statistics, by using this hospital information system. Because that stuff was out there in the market, and it was so clear that this hospital information system was so much better than the others, customers were kind of lining up. The sales people’s job was to qualify these customers. They could only take so many at a time.

A CEO of an organization ideally wants to find the bleeding neck out in the market that he can fix, so that people are lining up. And then he can control the input to his business system so that they consistently create this visible performance improvement in the market. When you are able to do that, your marketing … you don’t have to spend as much on marketing. Right? You see what I mean? Marketing makes your sales effortless less necessary. You’re less dependent on it. There’s definitely sales effort going on, but it’s the knowledge that’s built into the system of how the company works.

Todd Youngblood: Well, I mean you remind me of the old Peter Drucker thing about the objective of marketing is to make sales superfluous. I mean, the scenario you laid out there if I have a widget that is as impactful as the software system you described in the medical industry, yeah. I want to advertise the daylights out of that in magazines, on social media, whatever means I do it.

Michael Webb: Or get your customers to brag about it. Yeah.

Todd Youngblood: Well, that’s even better.

Michael Webb: And it takes … often, in any business, the number of people who really understand what the customer’s problems are and how to solve those customer’s problems and how to convert those customers from not even hearing of you before to bragging about their relationship with you, there’s only a small number of people in a business that understand those various parts of that. Salespeople are key among it. To be able to extract from those heads the important nuggets of knowledge, so that we can build it into … because customers are looking on the internet to solve their problem. They’re avoiding salespeople.

Todd Youngblood: Yeah. It’s a lot more efficient.

Michael Webb: Well, to them it looks like it’s more efficient. But customers don’t always know what they really need to know. They don’t always make the best decisions.

Todd Youngblood: Well, that’s … yeah. It is true. I’ve run across many myself that don’t … the customer’s not asking the right questions of him or herself because of some gap in their own knowledge.

Michael Webb: Right. So this whole shift is taking decades. This information economy kind of a shift because of the internet. A lot of B2B companies, they don’t have a framework to think about it and like those distribution companies, the old glad handing distribution guys, their product doesn’t differentiate, but they build those relationships. Is that going to be enough? I wonder about that.

Todd Youngblood: I don’t think it’s enough now. I think that started going away … my gosh. 20 years ago? Relationships are still important. Relationships can still take you a heck of a long way. But the knowledge of the customer’s business process is still going to be the king.

Michael Webb: Relationship is a prerequisite. It’s necessary, but not sufficient.

Todd Youngblood: Well said. Well said.

Michael Webb: And here we are, we’re way over our time here of what we typically ask people to listen to.

Todd Youngblood: Isn’t that what we do? Almost every time we talk, Mike.

Michael Webb: Unfortunately, it is. But let’s … this was fun. I think we should definitely do it again. How can people … do you have any recommendations for people, and how can they get ahold of you if they would like to know more about your particular view of the world?

Todd Youngblood: Well, I hope this comes across humbly, but I’ve been writing blog posts … I think I was a pioneer. I have 700 or 800 of the darn things out there that represent what I think and what I have thought over a couple of decades. is the website, and I’d point folks to the blog. There’s a little search engine on that thing to have a topic. If you want to learn what I think about some topic, take a look there, and if what I wrote and what you read in one of those blog posts makes sense to you, shoot me an e-mail. I’d love to talk to anybody about it. I don’t want to force my opinions down anybody’s throats, because that’s too painful for me and the other individual. But if there’s some nugget of information or some concept or some perspective … I’ve put myself out there on the internet, so if it intrigues you or really annoys you, either way, reach out.

Michael Webb: Super. Well, thank you very much, Todd. We’ll do this again soon.

Todd Youngblood: My pleasure, Mike. Thanks.

Announcer: The Sales Process Excellence Podcast is sponsored by Sales Performance Consultants. Discover how to improve your B2B sales with systems thinking at


Michael Webb

Michael Webb founded Sales Performance Consultants to create a data-driven alternative to the slogans and shallow impact offered by typical sales training, sales consulting, and CRM companies. Michael helped organize and delivered the keynote speeches for the first conferences ever held on applying Six Sigma to marketing and sales. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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