The Talent, Sales and Scale Podcast
Bryan Whittington and Chris Windley
July 23, 2020
Bryan: All right. So we have Chris Windley.
Transcriber’s Note: The first syllable of Windley is pronounced like the wind.
Bryan: They mess that up over there and call you Chris Windley.
Transcriber’s Note: Pronounced as in wind your watch.
Bryan: Isn’t that right? So we have Chris Windley on the show today. So welcome, Chris. Thanks so much for joining us.
Chris: Hey, Bryan! Nice to be here. Thank you very much. Are you doing well across there?
Bryan: We’re doing well here. So we’re talking to Chris who is across the pond. So Chris, give us a little bit of background, please, on how you developed your expertise in social selling and really leveraging marketing through social channels. How did you get that?
Chris: Okay, Bryan, so I’ll just start thinking about it. I think we probably ought to go back to the days when I started working as a salesperson for American companies. (Laughter) So basically the first American company that I worked for was a company. I don’t know whether you would have heard of them, Bryan. It was called “Memorex/Telex.”
Bryan: I remember them; I’m old enough. I’ve got enough gray hair. I remember those folks.
Chris: You do? Okay. So obviously Memorex and Telex were two separate American companies that merged together at some point. And so basically, if you go back then, Bryan, you’d say that they were sort of like the IBM and the Xerox of selling.
Chris: If you know what I mean, right? Did I pronounce that right, Xerox?
Chris: Actually, they were probably more influenced by method of selling. But IBM was our main competitor.
Chris: So we compete. Obviously we have to understand how IBM sold in order to be effective against them.
Chris: So obviously this is back in the days when IBM was like, you know, king of the block in that day in computer terms and that, you know?
Chris: So very early on, you know, I’d come out of the Navy. I went into a company that was basically a military company. They didn’t really have any strong sales methodology, if you like, right? But then I went to Memorex/Telex and boy, did I get one! (Laughter)
Chris: So it was a bit of a baptism of fire. I worked as a territory salesperson. And then I worked my way up from a territory salesperson to area, to a regional salesperson and then a regional sales manager. That’s as far as I got. And then I left for my first start-up, actually. Well actually, I briefly worked for another American company which was Storage Technology, if you remember them.
Bryan: I don’t remember those ones.
Chris: Okay. Well again, for people who listen to this, they were called Storage Tech. So people that would remember this were in the IBM space; they would know Storage Tech.
Bryan: So you really went from Memorex, which was “Is it real or is it Memorex?”—that type of company, right? So you went from no sales methodology to leveraging a sales methodology. Really knowing your competition is what really started to set you up for this. And then you went up to the start-up space. So how did that background, and then into the start-up space, take you into this social selling, social marketing, marketing through social channels? How did you come to that?
Chris: Okay. So what I am talking about with my social selling and that, Bryan, what I always go back to would be like the traditional selling—
Chris: That we were taught, you know, at Memorex and Telex.
Chris: And you know, all of the processes and all of the rest of it, it would be like (IOU’s) come from them as well. But basically, to answer your question, you know, what really happened was—I’m just trying to think of the timing in terms of this, right? So I guess I went into that start-up, which was basically in the fiber optic infrastructure space. And I spent about three years with them. They were 1.2 million when I joined when I started, and they were 60 million when I left.
Chris: So then, like you say, what happened was that I then started up my own companies and that. And I read something in a magazine—a communications magazine, Bryan. And it basically said that 75% of the people that wanted to buy a phone system, which is what the company was always involved in then, right?, Googled for more information, right?, about a phone system and who to talk to. And I went, “75%?” If it’s only half that, I’d better figure out how to get found. (Laughter) Do a Google search, yes?
Bryan: Can you figure out the year that was?
Chris: Yes I do; I definitely do. That would be around 2004, 2005, all right?
Chris: And when I basically started for the start-ups I was working with, which I was also invested in, I basically started trying to work out how to get it finding Google, right? So that’s how I started, first on SEO. I started SEO, right? It’s difficult to explain this, not from an SEO perspective, but more from what became known as a content marketing perspective, all right?
Chris: Which stood me in really good stead, actually. As Google changed it’s algorithm through Pander and Penguin and all of that, right?, I think maybe you’ll agree with me that actually quality content becomes more important than sort of black cat SEO techniques, if you like.
Bryan: Well, yes. So let’s touch on that really quickly. And you can agree with this or disagree with this. It’s my premise that knowledge is ubiquitous, that if you’re trying to hold back the information you’re actually going to put yourself in a detrimental situation, because I can go anywhere. I can Google it, I can YouTube it, go on any search engine that you want and find the information. And really, it’s how do we take that information, and whether it’s through social, or whatever the case may be, take that content marketing, that valuable content, and share it to be known as the subject matter expert, right?
Bryan: I really think that’s been the shift that a lot of people still haven’t caught up to. It’s my sense, but I’m curious on your end.
Chris: You know, that’s exactly right. And I won’t go off on a tangent, as well. But you know, one of the other things that I learned about a bit later on was establishing a personal brand. That is what it would be like, right? (Laughter) And, you know, from that brand building out a presence, if you like. And that would help you monetize it, right? And I completely agree with what you said, you know?
For me, I’m always sort of like a quality person, you know? I prefer quality or even luxury-like products and that, right?
Chris: So for me it was always important to have quality content, which goes to what you’re saying. It would be like that it shows that you’re an expert in that subject proves that you’re an expert in that subject. So absolutely,. Bryan.
And you know, to me the fascinating thing was that actually, then, of course what happened was that people who had set up their websites in the sort of a black cat way, you know, they disappeared—post-Pander and Penguin. Those websites just disappeared, right? And the content marketers, the quality content marketers, came to the fore.
Chris: And you—
Bryan: And look at HubSpot and what they were able to do from that content marketing. And I think that people that jumped onto that really did well. Now are you saying this?, because you brought up another key point here. It’s developing a personal brand. Now for those listening, Chris was the first person that I reached out to. He had so many connections that you weren’t able to add any more connections on. So I realized that LinkedIn shuts you down at 30,000. So you were the first person that I met who had 30,000, so clearly you’ve developed that personal brand. So how important is developing that personal brand? And is that the key to social marketing or social selling? Can you go into that a little bit?
Chris: It’s one of the keys, right? So I got to the situation, and I’m trying to think where it is in terms of years and that, right? I think it was probably not until about 2010 or something like that, right, that I realized, if you like, that something wasn’t working quite right, you know? But by then I had been working with HubSpot, as you mentioned HubSpot.
Chris: And, you know, I’d been working with HubSpot for two or three years as well. It helped HubSpot to come here from Europe and the U.K. And so, as you say, all of HubSpot too is extremely relevant, right?
But there was something missing there. And I figured out that the other thing that I had to do was that I had to actually do some work on my brand, right? And it was a bit of a struggle in all honesty, because I was doing loads of things. And it took me a while to figure out how to condense that and focus it into something and say, okay, this is who I actually am, right?
Actually, it was a lot of painful thinking, you know? But then there was another company. By the way, there was another American company that I got work with. I don’t know if you know them, but it’s called “Brand Yourself.”
Bryan: I don’t know that one.
Chris: Okay. Well, they’re a really interesting company as well. And Brand Yourself was basically set up right, because the founder of Brand Yourself, he basically was Googling himself. And there was some stuff coming up in Google that he didn’t like, you know? He really didn’t want presented, right? So he basically started this company so that you could either push down content right?, to page three or four where nobody would even bother to look, right?
Chris: And the way that you did that was by producing more content that ranked higher, right? (Laughter) But anyway, going back to that, eventually I figured this out. And I went, “Hey, I’ve just got to do this.” And when I figured out what my brand was, I thought, okay. So now what I’ve got to do is, I’ve got to go across all my platforms. And I’ve got to make sure that my brand is Consistence.
Bryan: Interesting. So you came full circle, then. So you came out of this from a sales methodology, starting from a sales perspective. But then you started transitioning into marketing and branding, all couched into giving out valuable contents. So you really came full circle.
And you were ahead of the game. I mean, hopefully you’ll take this as the compliment that it is. But you were really kind of like the grandfather of social selling and social marketing. I mean, if we’re talking Memorex on a tape, and bringing it all full circle to HubSpot coming into the U.K., that’s pretty darn impressive.
Chris: Well, thank you; yes. I think it’s important to know, right? So when I sort of decided, I decided that I would get rank for two things.
Chris: Me personally, right? I would get rank for Chris Windley. And I would also get ranked—and you can do it—as top digital sales expert, right?
Chris: And I went for top digital sales expert because, Bryan, we are salespeople, right?
Chris: You know, I always say to people, “I am not a marketing person. I am a salesperson, you know?” This is a bit like a Gary Vainer joke.
Bryan: Yes, absolutely.
Chris: Yes. You know a Gary Vainer joke. In his usual colorful language, you know, he basically says, “I’m only here for the business.”
Chris: I’m only on social media. He’d probably say, “That’s in business, right?” (Laughter) But he’s basically only on social media for business. And that’s me. I’m only on social media to get leads.
Bryan: So let’s talk through that. I mean, one of the questions I have here is what’s your motivation? What gets you out of bed? Why do this?
Chris: Yeah, okay. Well, I guess I’m like naturally driven, sort of naturally a bit competitive. I don’t consider myself to be hugely competitive, actually. But you know, it’s true that I like to see things done the right way. I’m always interested; I’m curious about things and about people, and all the rest of it. So you know, what sort of makes me get out of bed is just going to do a good job, you know? In reality I just like to go and do a good job at something, you know? And something that’s a good job for us is, are we bringing in leads? And are we converting these leads to customers and paying clients? Isn’t that it? That’s a big jump for us, isn’t it?
Bryan: Yes, our premise is this. Entrepreneurship is one of the greatest organizations or one of the greatest entities known to humankind because, if you are a good entrepreneur, selling a good product and hiring good people, you can do so much good with it. Look at Bill Gates, how much he’s giving back to the community because he did really well in entrepreneurship. And that’s what we’re all about here. So I love it.
So now, tell me a little bit about your life’s motto. So we know that what makes you tick is doing things well. Give us a sense of your life principles. What makes you tick? What grounds you? (Laughter)
Chris: Yeah, okay. These are hard questions. (Laughter) Well, you know, I suppose I’m ambitious. I think differently about things. I think I drive change in a minute. You know, we’re talking about going back to work and I understand that. But, you know, basically I’d say, no. We shouldn’t be going back to work. This is like the greatest opportunity ever, you know, for us not to go back to work! (Laughter) So I think, Bryan, you know, honestly I just get excited every day about bringing in leads from people and converting those leads and seeing people’s delight when that happens, you know? And of course also that disbelief, right?
You know, I was just saying this the other day. This is interesting, Bryan. And I actually just had a conversation with him earlier today. A young lad,--a young lad to me,--he contacted me. I won’t say where, but he works at the most amazing U.K. company at the moment. It’s gone in no time flat from 20 million over to a 500-million global turnover. They are absolutely incredible.
This is a young guy. And he had always gotten his leads the traditional way, right? He would constantly pick up the phone, meet people on the train, go to this meeting or that meeting, right? That’s how he got his leads. Suddenly all of that is cut off.
Chris: So fair enough to him, right? He reaches out and he basically goes, “Chris, I’m just really going to try this, because I’ve not done it before.”
But of course he did it in the right way. And the right way is, basically, you know, “Can you help me?” And so I did. And basically he said, “What is it that you do?”
And I have this analogy that I use at the minute. I don’t know how well it works and that, but I say, “Well, look.” (I think you’ve seen this.) “I’ve got a four-cylinder engine, right? I like to make sure it’s running really nicely,” right?
And my four cylinders are inbound marketing or inbound sales, if you like, outbound sales, networking on line and networking off line, right?
Now all of that presupposes, just going back to this, all of that presupposes that I have my brand and my presence in place.
Bryan: Got it!
Chris: Right? Now obviously we can’t do face-to-face networking, so one of my cylinders is gone. (Laughter) But fortunately, as you kindly say, I’m an expert in the other three. (Laughter)
Bryan: There you go!
Chris: Yes. So it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t, you know?
Bryan: It’s just like investing. You need to diversify your marketing approach.
Chris: Yes. Well, definitely. And obviously again, just going back to that and saying that, you know, to me it’s a sales approach. Yes, you know, where is the line between marketing and sales? The line for me is that I only do marketing to get sales.
Chris: And I don’t know what you think about this, Bryan, and I’m curious, you know? You see, to me I think that some marketers don’t understand what the objective is.
Bryan: Yes. So one thing that we always say is that marketing is for generating leads. Although branding is important—and we’re talking about branding here,--branding is absolutely important. And impressions are vital and you need those. But you can’t pay the bills, you can’t pay payroll, you can’t invest in your company with brand impressions. And so my belief is that marketing is all about supporting sales and that alignment thereof. And it’s not which one’s better or worse, or which one should take the lead. There’s absolutely a sales and marketing alignment. And so that’s my premise.
Chris: Yeah, okay. Well, that’s fair enough. But you know, like I say, I sort of like to be a little bit cruel, if you like, (laughter), and just say, “Listen, guys. You know, you’re a great marketer, but you don’t understand what the objective is.” (Laughter)
Bryan: As we wind things up here, Chris, I guess you’ve been around; you’ve had some experiences. My guess is that you’ve probably run into a problem or two. What’s one lesson learned that you’d like to impart to everybody? “Hey, avoid this; don’t make this mistake that I’ve done.”
Chris: (Laughter) Well, there are so many, you know. I mean, I really did find it to be the hardest job in some ways. I’ll admit to people, if you like, that building my first and my biggest company was sort of easy, you know? I mean, like foraging the networks and the Internet at its time in the late ‘90s and that, you know, we just absolutely flew. And, you know, everything came together. And then we sold out to Estee Lauder’s son Ronald, (an American company.) (Laughter) And obviously, you know, we all got along nicely, and that. So it was the hardest thing to repeat that, right?, the hardest thing.
And you know, I spent so much money on things that just didn’t work, you know, that you sort of thought would work. (Laughter) And particularly they would work if you threw a whole lot of money at them, right? But they didn’t work, you know? And in the end I’m glad to say that there were a few successes. But there were a lot of failures there with things that actually, if I’d really thought about it hard, were never going to work. (Laughter)
Bryan: Interesting. And really, if I could sum that up, it’s to know the systems and process of what’s working and what isn’t, so you can repeat and scale.
Chris: Definitely. And you know why. I have to get back to you, and you know, that is exactly part of the journey I had to get back to. So I reached back to the Memorex/Telex basic system, if you like, and said, okay. Let’s produce a digital version of that.
Bryan: Got it.
Chris: And even now, when I talk about it, you know,--and obviously people don’t—Well, I was going to say that people don’t go back to that. But unfortunately, people still (are taught) the old way, aren’t they?
Chris: You know? So actually I was going to say that it’s not relevant for me to tell you about what happened twenty or thirty years ago. But it actually is, because unfortunately,. Some of them are still being taught that way, you know?
Bryan: A lot of people have not changed; you’re 100% correct. So is there any best practice that you want to impart to everybody? If you’re looking at building your personal brand, if you’re looking at driving leads from social marketing and social media, what’s one hack that you can give everybody to do?
Chris: Well, you know, it might not be the primary aim of this. But just to go back to that, it’s what I call the brand-presence-monetization process.
Bryan: All right.
Chris: So without going into a long story, what actually happened was that there was a period where I was working with what was sort of like wannabe celebrities. And they were people that were very high up in network marketing companies, and stuff like that. But basically, you know, one of them said to me, “Chris, I don’t understand.” (And this was in the network marketing company I was part of.) “Why is it that those two women there are absolutely flying, and all the rest of my team isn’t?”
And I said, “Well actually, if you look at them, naturally, if you look at them, right?, there are basically two things about those two people that they’ve really got going on. One is that they have very strong personal brands.”
Chris: #2 is that they use social media to massive effects, right? Whereas, (and you may know this as well, Bryan), a lot of network marketers are still teaching their downlines, as they call them, to do network marketing in the old way, right? And they don’t use social media. But some of them do.
And so if you put those things together, when you put a brand together with a great social media outreach, you just get amazing results. I can tell you that one of these women, she was on Tenerife, I think it was, the island of Tenerife, right? She had no physical access to anybody. But she was one of their leading recruiters. And the reason that she was one of their leading recruiters was because she had an amazing brand. And she just really knew how to use not all social media platforms, but certain platforms.
So then we actually took that brand-presence-monetization process, and we taught it to all of the senior managers of their downlines, right? So the process was proven.
Bryan: And it goes back again to that proven process that you just tweak and adapt. You figure out what works and you repeat it. Love it.
So as we wrap up here, are there any resources that you might recommend? Where should people go to find out how I can best build my personal presence, or how can I do like you said—build my own brand and have a presence and monetize it? What suggestions would you have?
Chris: Well, you know, not that I use them massively now, but I always point people to HubSpot.
Chris: You just go inside to HubSpot and see what happens. (Laughter)
Bryan: And they do have lots and lots of resources there between blogs and videos and everything else, and that’s a great resource. Chris, who should reach out to you? How should they do it, and why would they want to connect with you?
Chris: Okay. So we haven’t really talked about it, have we, Bryan? But you know, at the minute I’m predominantly in the cyber-security space.
Chris: So that’s the main thing that I’m doing. If you look at my LinkedIn you’ll find me on there, obviously Chris Windley. And so in the cyber-security space we’re Lujam Cyber. And we’re also building what are called “business and cyber-affiliate centers” across the U.K. We’ll be coming to your part of the world soon.
So basically the Lujam Cyber is mainly taught to people who are service management providers.
Chris: Or TELCOs, or ISPs, or sometimes cyber-security specialists. So those are the people that I really want to talk to there. I think the business of cyber-security has resilience in the U.K.; that’s a bit more complicated because there are different types of people that we want to connect with, mainly in the U.K. at the minute.
So the Lujam Cyber one is easy to do. I’m pleased to say that we’ve just won a major contract in the Far East. So later on this week, Bryan, we’re actually training the sales teams that are based in Singapore.
Chris: On Lujam Cyber if you like, on our Go-To-Market Strategies. And of course, what’s happened really,--and this is the only way you’re going to keep your antennae up!—is that the Far East is coming out of the pandemic.
Chris: All right. Now we were going to go in anyway. But now the guys have pushed the button. They’ve said, “We’re opening up. Now is the time to really push the message out there.” So that’s why we’re doing the training this week.
Bryan: So very interesting. Well Chris, I can’t thank you enough. It’s been fun jammin’ with you from Lujam, and I appreciate it very, very much. And we’ll get this out to the team and I’ll mark up some marketing notes for everyone.
But some key takeaways here. Marketing is about sales-driving leads. You have to know your competition. Use a sales methodology, a marketing methodology. We need to really condense our focus. We need to be really curious and authentic in everything that we push out and bring value.
Coming up soon, keep a watch out; we’ll reach out to you. We’re going to be doing a deeper-dive conversation with Chris on “The Dueling Banjoes of Sales and Marketing”, and which one you should really lead with. So keep abreast of dates and times coming forward with that. So again, Chris, thanks so very much; we really appreciate it. Any parting words from you for the folks?
Chris: No. I’m really looking forward to that though, Bryan. I haven’t got a banjo, but I’ve got a folk guitar upstairs. I mean, you’re going to be providing the banjo, aren’t you?
Bryan: I’ve got the banjo; you bring the guitar.