Episode 22 – Justin “TQ” Michael – futuristic sales development theory, taking a deep dive into heuristics around successful cold outbound messaging and assessing your Technology Quotient

If you’re not ready for an insanely thorough conversation about the future of sales development – this episode may have to wait. Bryan Whittington is joined by none other than the Sales Cyborg himself – Justin “TQ” Michael. 

If you’re not already familiar with Justin – He is a Futurist, Technologist, and Consultant at Justin Michael Consulting (JMC) – with over 20 years of sales experience. Justin has worked for companies like Salesforce and Linkedin, partnered with some of the world’s fastest-growing companies to perform massive amounts of cold outreach. 

On this episode, Bryan and Justin cover:

-a breakdown of the term “Technology Quotient” and what it means for the modern seller

-the role that technology currently plays and will play in sales development

-cold email breakdowns – what works – why it works and why you’re not doing it right

Plus SO much more. 

Join Justin Michael’s Patreon community by clicking the link below!

You can connect with Justin on LinkedIn here:

Justin’s book recommendation: Smart Calling 3 by Art Sobczak

Read Full Transcript

Bryan: Hey, everyone. Bryan Whittington with this episode of the Talent, Sales and Scale show. We have Justin Michael with us. Now you probably know Justin Michael as part human, part (unclear) from his ever-changing pictures on LinkedIn. He’s got a new book coming out; thoughts from that in a little bit. He’s on “Beyond Sales Development,” and a bunch of other podcasts. So welcome, Justin.
Justin: Hey, it’s good to be here. Yeah, I’ve noticed that they are around six thousand B. to B. sales leaders. No one has photo shops, no marks on their faces. So I took the liberty to be the first.
Bryan: And you always have to find your one unique, your one distinctive. So let’s go into that. Now I noticed on there, and I was kind of curious here, Justin. Before we go into that, I have a question. What in the world is Justin TQ Michael? What in the world is a TQ?
Justin: Yes. So I was really brainstorming on what to write. And I was talking with Steve Richard. And we were kind of talking about what sales is. And I can’t really find a technical sales job where you sit on the phone or you do emails. Most sales jobs are when you sit in Sales Navigator. You start the job on LinkedIn. And then when you’re on LinkedIn they don’t give you the phone numbers and emails; you have to go to Zoom Info.
And then when you’ve figured out how to do twenty prospecting emails because no one answers the phone, you have to figure out how to automate that with a sequencer, a sales engagement platform, like the Sales Prompter Outreach or the Sandler Group. So I realized that fundamentally what we’re teaching in sales for B. to B. really doesn’t reflect the environment of the SDR’s that I manage.
And then I think, Well, what are you doing if you’re interfacing with a UI or a UX? Is that your IQ? Maybe. How smart you are, you can prove that. Is that your EQ? Maybe your message has empathy in this uncertain time.
But the truth is that just like we learned to type on a QWERTY keyboard, there are many different keyboards. I don’t know if people realize this. QWERTY is one of the least sufficient keyboard styles. And there are actually some different keyboards you can get that are much better economically. We learn; we adapt. Our technology quotient, our ability to fuse humans and machines, humans and software, is just like a race car driver He has a certain technology quotient, using the hardware technology of getting the finesse, right?
You have narrow plasticity of your brain. A 20-year race car driver who’s driving at 240 miles an hour is taking these turns with hair-trigger precision down to the nano-second that has been trained in. The same thing happens with technology. Those people that are using Outreach.IO who have spent years on this thing have a certain edge. They’re so facile; they’re so good with their software platforms.
So I realize that the only way for us as sellers to be ready for the technology five years from now that hasn’t even been built is to learn how to learn, that is to learn how to learn UX’s and UI’s and to fuse with our technology stacks. And so it’s almost a driver sign monsoon. It’s a Tony Start era. We had the Henry Ford era in 2010 with Aaron Ross and Predictable Revenue.
So let’s have openers and let’s have closers. That’s not the problem now. The problem now is that 70% of what we do as B. to B. sellers is automatable by the technology of three years ago. So when as humans we’re spending 70% of our time on low-skill activities, there’s a real opportunity here for an industrial revolution to open up, and return the seller to innocence, to do the things that are really the human AI which is scoping, imagination, empathy, creativity, right? So that’s sort of my mission and my work.
Bryan: So that was a lot of stuff. And we’ll dive into that a little bit more. So I guess before we start off, okay, that was a pretty good intro. So why should anybody listen to you? Why should we listen to you about technology, the blend of that into sales? What makes you an expert on this?
Justin: Yes. So I get that question a lot. I wouldn’t say that I was the top rep ever, or did the most sales. I think I did drive more pipelines probably than anyone in the history of the world. Come challenge me if you did. But I was able to be part of a start-up company called Outbound Works, where we spent a few million dollars rapidly. We had True Ventures behind us.
And we sent 1 million emails for a hundred concurrent customers. You might know someone that has had a hundred licenses of outreach at once. I’ve never met anyone who did that. So it was a bit like going up into space in an early rocket. And you’re kind of like “Well, I might live through this, and the air-lock might work.” We had no idea of what we were going to see. We were sending it just ludicrous scales. We were pushing the platforms to the bleeding limit.
I mean, there are 35 custom fields in outreach. We did them all. We used 38. We asked for more custom fields.
Bryan: Okay.
Justin: We injected sentences. We passed the turning test with email. The prospect could not understand if it was written by a human or a machine, nor could we. So that’s a really strange area to play in. And I think that gives me some ability to have some authority, because I’ve seen such data scales that maybe others have not.
Bryan: Okay.
Justin: And I learn from you every day.
Bryan: Yes. And so this is what I like, right?, because to be excellent at what we do takes a couple of things. And it is no longer just a—you can’t be a one-trip pony any longer. You have to be able to bring a lot of different nuances to yourself. And what I appreciate about you is the humility and the authenticity of hey, I wasn’t always the best sales rep. But you know what? I drove pipeline.
So let’s talk through that, because oh my gosh! Every single day it’s a battle on LinkedIn—on how much customization, on how much automation, how much technology. Just pick up the phone and have a conversation. It’s going round and round and round. And everybody has their different viewpoints.
So from your perspective, what should we be doing? From an outbound, every company needs to drive revenue—that’s the lifeblood,--and revenue comes from sales, unless you’re doing mergers and acquisition. What should we be doing? What should we be using?
Justin: Yes. So I also want to double click that I was trained at Sales Force and Exact Target and LinkedIn and Miller/Hyman and Challenger and Sandler. I’ve been through so many simulations.
Bryan: Right.
Justin: And you’re asking about what is the optimal outbound and inbound motion. What should a B. to B. seller be thinking about on a daily basis? What are the stacks? There’s a lot to unpack in the question.
Bryan: Yes. So at a high level then, I’m the business owner, okay? I’m start-up, fairly new in the game, and I’m looking. Hey, let’s go super-foundational.
Justin: Yes.
Bryan: How do I even get started in this?
Justin: So I met with a money manager who is my friend’s dad and had this conversation. I’m definitely the person of a beginner’s mind. You’re managing half a billion dollars, $500 million, all this family money. And you need people to trust you. And what I’m trying to do is to sell these products and services that are six and seven figures. And I have a very limited time window to establish the trust. What should I do?
And he said that the face-to-face interactivity is 100x the phone. And then the phone is like 100x all this digital stuff.
Now sure, he’s from a different generation. So I don’t want to seem like a digital dinosaur because I think there’s a lot that you can do on LinkedIn. But what I’ll tell you during the pandemic is that the approaches like picking up a phone, getting someone’s cell phone and just talking with them has been extremely powerful, because it allows the human being on the other end to object. And what we can’t get in a cold email or a cold LinkedIn is the fear, uncertainty and doubt and distrust of the seller, because if they feel distrustful they just don’t respond. If you’re on the phone and they express the pushback I can handle that. I can talk to them. I can empathize. I can rule without brush-off, right?
So what I’ve found right now is you have companies that you’re trying to sell to that are very successful. And you don’t understand why they won’t call you back. And if you really press them, watching them open bigger operations or being successful, because there’s a war-chesting motion, right? It’s like a different era. It’s like the market could crash. Yeah, I’m up 300%. I’m going to save my money. I’m not going to talk to vendors. I’m not going to invest.
So what I would say right now to people is that a return to some of the outbound assertiveness and aggressiveness, like getting on the phone and talking to people, which is the tent pole in something called

Combo Prospecting is a book where I was the case study. And it’s set as a tent pole. And I truly believe it’s a good way to go. So if I broke it down to brass tax and you get one takeaway today, it would be get back on the phone.
Bryan: Okay. Now there are a lot of different technologies that we can do on the phone. You’re start-up. You’re working with all of these different companies and have a number of different clients that are going through this right now. It’s a lot of work, right? Let’s face it. The integration of all these different resources, whether you’re leveraging Sales Force or Hub Spot or whatever the case may be, I mean any advice that you can give to the people. What should they be doing from a foundational “I’m just getting started?” To hit the phones harder?
Justin: Yes. So there are a couple technologies that I would really encourage you to look at. So first of all there’s a whole slew of dialers. There are dialers that integrate into your CRM. There are software dialers. There are dialers that help you to make more calls at once.
Then there is a whole family called “Parallel Assistant Dialers”—PAD’s. You’ve probably heard of Connecting Sound. There’s something called Connect Leader, Orum. These are ways that you can dial lots of phone numbers at once. And the reason that is important is that right now, if you’re going to Fortune 1000, or you’re just dialing a directory, often you’re only going to connect, even with perfect numbers, with five live humans in a hundred. The numbers are really low.
Additionally a lot of the data sources that you can buy are sometimes 20- to 30% inaccurate because there are so many job changes right now.
Bryan: Right.
Justin: It’s a whole new economy. For somebody like myself, I left a career of advising, consulting and doing a lot of carrying the bag; I had work in six companies. I was a VP, an RVP. I was always great at opening sales. So no one ever let me once be a pure manager, because I always had a number to get on the phone.
Bryan: Right.
Justin: You know, I think that right now, if you’re going to do dialing, you need to do research. You have to have sales navigators. You’re going to have to have a quick look. When I look at Bryan Whittington’s profile do we have common connections? Where did he go to school? What is the skill set that he lists? Look at some of the recommendations. What do people who work with him say about Bryan? When you think there’s some facet of personalization, get on the phone with him and try to establish a rapport. That’s really important.
Now we can reflect that in digital strategies too, like a custom connection request or getting a warm introduction. There are so many ways in. But there is no more cold selling; that’s the thing.
I call it cold calling because you still want to interrupt strangers. But it’s a big miss in my opinion not to at least look at their LinkedIn profile and do 90 seconds of research.
If you bumped into someone at a bar at a networking event, “Well, we were with FedEx in Monterey, and we just saw Al Gore speak.” Well, we have context. In real life a human being has all this beautiful context. And so it’s very easy to get the rapport.
Bryan: That’s right.
Justin: Some industries are in digital, and we have all this context. And we go, “Hey, Mr. Prospect.” Keep it generic. “I see that we both like marketing.” It’s weird. People don’t act human in digital. They do this weird, synthetic thing when they connect up on LinkedIn.
And all you have to do is imagine that you ran into that person in an elevator in real life. You would act completely different. Do what you would do in real life. That’s the key.
Bryan: So why do you think that is? I mean, I have a couple of thoughts on that. But why do you think that we act so differently on digital? Is it laziness? Is it ignorance? Is it uncomfortableness? What do you think?
Justin: I think there’s a synthetic nature to online profiles. When you writing your CD, you’re not saying, “Hey, sometimes I sleep in on a Thursday because I feel de-motivated,” right?, because you don’t really present a CD with your faults. Now a (unclear) would say, “Here are the areas I’m working on,” because a 4.2 star is actually better than 5. When we sell ourselves for a job we give 100% positive. And so the new prevailing thinking is to show a little bit of vulnerability.
But I think when you’re acting in these online environments you’re going, “Ah, it’s my personal brand. I’m going to put my best foot forward.” And so there’s this big hot air, the snowing of circulation, people putting on a happy face. And as Mike Winder will tell you, I do think it creates this synthetic phone voice.
If I call my brother, I say, “Hey, bro, what’s going on?? But when I call him this way, I’m like, (a formal voice), “Hello, Doug. I’m calling from Acme Corp.” You get the movie phone voice or the weather presenter. Where did that voice come from? Be yourself.
Bryan: Yeah.
Justin: When I write cold emails I write really hacky emails to marketing departments. And I get hired on these high profile jobs. I write the email and they’re like “You can’t say this.”
Well,. “hey” out-performs “hi” by 20%. So do you want to get a 20% lift and open rate? Or do you want your marketing department to be pleased with your email?
Bryan: All right.
Justin: I’ll recommend either one. It’s up to you. Do you want results, or do you want it to look right? It’s up to you.
Bryan: And that goes into so much, into culture, into this and that and everything else. So do you want to be right, or do you want to be respected? Do you want to be right or do you want to win, right? It’s all of those different things.
Justin: Yes. I do believe there’s a certain brand voice. And I’m willing to always see the brand voice. If you’re in a very conservative industry in financial services, in FARMA, what I’ve found though is that even in the most technical conservative industries, guess what? These are human beings. They don’t go and sit down with their families and read schematics. They go have a barbecue and go fish on the lake. These are human beings.
Bryan: Right.
Justin: So this whole concept of the conservative prospect, it doesn’t exist. It’s true; you don’t want to upset the formality. You want to have manners and respect and finesse.. But they’re not going to be angry if you say, “hey” versus “hi.” They’re going to be angry if there’s no relevance or value in the email and you’ve wasted their time.
Bryan: We’re doing the authentic, because one reality is that I can’t pretend to be Justin. I can’t speak like you, I’m not you. So if I try to be Justin it’s going to come across as inauthentic. And although it works for you, it’s surely not going to work for me if I just rip and replace, right?
So how much tweaking, how much leeway should we have as we’re doing outbound? So I’m now the sales manager. I’m now the leader of the organization. And I’m overseeing my team doing this outreach. And we’re teaching them, “Hey, behave! Be more authentic; be you.” How much you versus follow the script? How much you and your personality versus do this methodology, this process?
Justin: So I know this is a show about simplifying things.
Bryan: Yeah.
Justin: But there’s a word that comes from computer programming called heuristics. It’s one of these words that you might have just glazed over hearing it. Like “Ah, not this word!” You might hear this word meta. “That’s so meta, dude!”
Okay. Templates. If you’re going to take templates off the Internet,

Or you’re going to stay my method—the Justin Michael Method--, or Josh Brown and CopyPaste, you could do that. The problem is the linguistics, each phrase. When you’re saying that similar companies got this outcome, you’re using Dr. Chiodini’s Social Proof. There’s a heuristic, there’s a meta which that statement in an email or on a script means.
You need to start breaking out why you’re saying it as a puzzle piece. This is where I’m going to demonstrate social proof—how a similar client that they can relate to—a small business in trucking, (and I’m calling it a trucking company), got this result with our accounting software. That’s interesting to them.
Why would that work? It’s not just “Oh, this template is cool.” Drop the template, change the name. So what I would really encourage sales leaders to do is to work with their teams, to understand why the scripts and why the value profit and why the pain point? If you can capture the meta frameworks you can say almost anything.
Bryan: Right.
Justin: Pain 1, 2 and 3 is what we solve. But let’s trigger that pain in our phone scripts and our writing. So people buy it in motion and close it in logic. And the big issue in selling products and services right now is that we’re not in the modality of the main reason that people buy. People buy to make money, save money, reduce risks or satisfy government regulations. This is the best one if you have it. You’re going to do really well right now.
Bryan: Right.
Justin: They’re not in “making money” mode; they’re in “cost-cutting” mode. So they’re into saving money and reducing risk.
When you write an email and you say, “You know, my marketing software, my SEO software is going to make you 236% RLI. You’re hitting the first one; make money. And people right now are like “That’s great; that’s risky.” If you can say, “I can cut your cost by 17%, and solve this tearing-out-your-hair issue with your server management,” right?
We worked with another company. And the CIO’s hair was on fire because none of the data would aggregate. And they almost got sued, and there was a 71% decrease.
We can solve that. Acme Corp boom!—left-brain, right-brain, emotions, story, pain, challenge, fear—because, in the status quo of “do nothing,” only a small sliver of the population is in affluence right now. And it’s just thinking about “let me just crush it more.” Everyone is looking at cutting, keeping the lights on, pivoting their whole thing. So the first marketing message of growth is just not going to resonate right now. And that’s the biggest thing I’m seeing—high opens and low conversions on email. And people are going “There’s nobody answering.” I just look at the messaging. Immediately I’ m like, this is an analytical grow message pre-crisis. You’re not going to get anything for that.
Bryan: Yeah. And so you bring up a couple of other points. So now I’m going to step away from the owner—the leader, the founder, the sales leader. And I’m going to go down to marketing.
All right, marketing. People love their features and benefits. So I didn‘t hear you talk about features and benefits whatsoever here. Did I just miss that?
Justin: Well, there’s a gal who’s a friend of mine named Christina Finseth. And she has this idea that you never mention your product. It’s all outcomes. I know, that’s wild.
Now sometimes what I’ll do is that I’ll make sure to get to the values. So what is the compelling reason? It’s the golden circle of Simon Sinek. What is the why? Why do your customers work with you? If you have current customers, and you do a “win announce this,” why are they there?
I doubt that they’re going to say, “Well, it’s because your speeds and feeds are the fastest.” No, it’s because of this feature, right? If you ask them and you do give them features you’d say, “Well, what is that feature doing? The truth amounts to Justin seeing me three hours a week. I can go see my kid.”
So this is the reason behind the feature. I think the next order is that sure, you can back into some of the ways that artificial intelligence and machinery algorithms, why they can do it. But if it really can take all this data and crunch it down, I think it shows Silicon Valley, the middle algorithm. Very funny, right? But if they could do this space-age thing, and really can generate this awesome business result, focus on the business results that are driven for similar clients—why they’re happy, the pains that you solve. And you can tie that back into the feature layer. If you’re just spouting features and bullets you’re not going to convert.
Bryan: I’m kind of curious about this. I mean, this has been hashed over forever. Why is it so difficult, do you think, for people to actually do this?
Justin: It’s interesting, because when people join software companies they go through an elaborate amount of sales training. There’s a guy named Rich Cherella who is a Sandler trainer back East. And he wrote a technology Sandler book. He talks about how he takes over these roles in big hardware in the ‘90s and 2000s. And for the first month or two he’s doing better because he can’t answer the questions.
You say, “You know, what’s the square root of infinity?”
He goes, “That’s a great question. I’ll just start here. Let me check with my sales engineer.” And he asks more questions. He’s humble, right? It’s the Sandler idea of “less not okay than that.”
Bryan: Yes.
Justin: When we’re experts we patronize. We talk the whole call and we talk down, and we seem like we know more. That doesn’t sell. We want to let the customer be the hero.
I’ve analyzed this stuff for twenty years. This question remains the most important question, because once you’re fully enabled with all the answers, it’s very dangerous to express to a client or prospect that you have all the answers. It’s not very consultative.
Bryan: Okay. So now let’s go to the next level. We have our list. We have the messaging down. We’re getting away from features and benefits. We’re being authentic. And we’re reaching out by telephone. But you know what? That single channel, just the telephone, is not going to be enough. So now we’re going to throw in some emails through some automation. How do we go to that next level? How do we amp it up? Now we’re having conversations. How do we get more? What’s our next level after we get the telephone down?
Justin: Yes. So I think that now it’s really about thinking about combinations. And there are a lot of reasons why. So I was very involved with the Combo Prospecting methodology. It’s based on things that I developed with my mentor Tony J. Hughes. It’s based on us thinking about the full cycle seller.
We work with a lot of people that don’t have the luxury of an SDR team. And they don’t have the luxury of the new text apps, because let’s face it. They’re affordable, but it is an investment. It’s not free to get a sequencer or a sales platform, or to get a data source. It’s not easy to get a lot of phone numbers and emails.
I read a study that Lars/Nielson was highlighting, that the average high-growth company at 15% is investing $1000 per rep per month on the text app. And if you think about it, between the cell phone and the G-mail and the Slack and the CRM, and if you just add it all up, it could be even more.
Bryan: Yeah.
Justin: It could cost $2000. So we wanted to create a system for average Joe or Jane. You know, we’ve got G-mail. We’ve got some free tools that are cobbled together. What do we do?
What we isolated is that if you call, leave a voice mail and send an email or connection requests that you call a triple or a quad, in a compressed period. I was watching SDR’s—same scripts, same tack. And the ones that were most effective were doing the touches quickly. The outcome is that I do this thing where I call them. I leave a voice mail or send an email really fast. And the faster I do it the faster I get it.
So I went through it. I researched TOPO. I researched The Triple Touch. Jeff Blount in his book talks about “the triple threat.” If you can blend an omni-channel strategy with a few things, and the reason being is the way the phone works. I’ve been in mobile technology thirteen years.
If I call this it’s going to say “spam call.” I’m going to say, “Nope.” If they leave the message it’s going to beep again twice. And I’ve gotten it to beep one, two, three, four times. And if I send an email it’s going to beep two more; that’s six times. Then I send in a LinkedIn request. They think a restraining order is coming. (Laughter) No. (Laughter)
What happens is that the executive goes “Wow! That reminds me of me! This kid is hustling; this person is trying.”
Bryan: Yeah.
Justin: “You know what? That’s a lot of effort. What the heck is in this thing? I’m going to open it up and read it.” And that’s why you have to put the message that you left on the voice mail in the email. And it has to be identical and short, because they’re finally going to look.
And nine times out of ten, one in a hundred are upset about this. Normally they just admire it. I’ve even had people say, “You know what? You’re just so tenacious. How do I hire you?”
Bryan: Correct. And don’t screw it up, then. You’ve done all that hard work. To your point, don’t go into the “Hey, how are you today?” radio voice, right? Don’t get sing-songy. Bring value whenever you speak to them and solve problems. If you’re not bringing value solving problems, you shouldn’t be talking to the person.
So you keep putting it out, Justin, and you’re so right on this. People put on their pants one leg at a time. We’re all human, right? We’re all the same. And if they weren’t giving you grief from cold calling them or cold outreach, they’re not handing out and having fun, just trying to live their lives the best that they possibly can. So have a conversation with them and bring value. So yes, I love it.
So in a low-tech type way then, we just leverage the telephone, we leverage LinkedIn, and maybe not even Sales Navigator yet from what you pointed out there. We shoot out a simple email that’s succinct and to the point, saying the same thing in precise language. All of that comes in a short stint of time. So you’re talking what? A minute or two kind of thing?
Justin: Yeah, it’s a super light weight. It’s just like you have no time, no money and no tech, and guess what? It’s 2020; you still have a tech stack.
Bryan: Yeah.
Justin: And that was the amazing thing that we found with the book. The publisher is going, “Well, ten people can read the book.” And so we started a book named T. Q., and it morphed into this thing called Tech-Powered Sales. And I just envisioned six million sellers walking through an airport. Now of course this was before the pandemic. We started these ideas before the unfortunate situation happened.
Now the scenario, the crisis, has made every seller more remote. Unless you’re an essential industry you’re now at home with a computer, a laptop, Zoom virtual meetings, and you have a text app. Look at how you just grabbed this call. The amazing thing is that this is a super computer. You know, this thing, this one phone you have is more powerful than all the computing in the ‘90s. And it’s in your hand. And it’s all human knowledge. There’s probably going to be a chip in your brain and this is going to go away. There will be holograms, who knows? Maybe not in our lifetime.
What I can tell you is the biggest (liar) who says, “I was bad at math, and I hate tech stacks, and I’m old school.” It’s funny. A lot of sales trainers who are old school are certainly producing some amazing blogs in social media content, and using quite a lot of advanced media strategies and high TQ moves to promote their low TQ tech.
It’s just ironic; we joke about it. I mean, nine times out of ten if you had to give me a phone or all the tech, I’ll take the phone.
Bryan: Right.
Justin: I’m always going to bank on my own voice. If I can’t talk with you, there’s no chance that I’m doing six and seven for your deals. You know, maybe one in a million you’ll do a deal with social media in seven figures. It’s not going to happen. And right now they’re going to get you on Zooms—lots of Zooms—because they can’t shake your hand. They can’t go to dinner. They can’t sniff you out. They don’t know if they trust you. So they’re going to have every member of their company on the phone with you right now. “What do you think of this guy? Do you trust him? Do you like him?”—you know, all the human stuff that’s very hard to do over two-dimensional Zoom.
That’s really like “mm-hmm.” The CEO Phil Limblin has this new company that’s really cool. I could shrink my head to the corner. I could play CNN back here with a cool Zoom overlay.
Bryan: Okay.
Justin: It’s making it come to life. B. to B. needs a mullet. We need a funny haircut—you know, business in the front, party in the back. It’s way too serious in B. to B.
Bryan: Got it. Well, I think I remember what I was going to ask you a little bit earlier. So we go into all of that. And you said that 70% of what we do on a day-to-day from the B. to B. can be automated. And then you talked about the human and tech integration? How can we take that blended approach?
So unpack that a little bit. I mean, what does that look like? How do we optimize that?
Justin: Yes. So do we blend more of the stack?
Bryan: Well okay, let’s break it up a little bit; it was too broad. 70% automation.
Justin: Yeah, so—
Bryan: 70% automation, let’s talk about that.
Justin: I’m so spin-trained. I ask and I clarify a lot of your questions. For everybody listening, the technique of answering a prospect’s question is a dangerous idea, right? Do you see how I clarify it? There are so many nuances to what he’s asking.
So 70% is automatable. What does that mean? So some of the new sales engagement platforms have robots that automatically do your admin, right? There are systems that are converged, where you have the dialer and the recording device and the data, and these converged systems.
So there are two ways to go about it. You’re either going to buy individual point solutions that solve the problem, or you’re going to find solutions that may be converged to different stacks.
What I’m thinking essentially about automation is that I don’t want to be looking for emails and new phone numbers. I don’t want to be dialing one phone number at a time. I don’t want to be sending one email at a time.
We’re talking about TQ. We’re talking about the Combo Prospect. It’s like you’re wrapped; you’re on an island. It’s Water World; you’re trying to figure this out. I get that.
But now you’ve got some funding behind you and you want to scale. And it’s super-human scaling. Sending one email at a time is not super-human.
Now we can’t do this across Sales Navigator. LinkedIn has said, “I’m not opening the API, and you’re not going to automate me.” And the reason they’ve done that is very astute, because we’re going to lose every CEO. If we’re going to figure out how to weaponized LinkedIn, and I can send the CEO of IBM an email, we’re going to have 50,000 start-ups sending 250 emails to that CEO. That person will leave or put an EA on that.
Bryan: Yeah.
Justin: So it’s actually really smart that they’ve throttled that, to protect not just the CEO level. But everybody deserves a world in which they can collaborate and not be spammed to death. I mean, email has been destroyed by spam.
So I do appreciate it. But when people are trying to automate the LinkedIn piece, I would actually advise against buying those bots and things because you’ll go to LinkedIn jail. Some company will come in, a fly-by-night gray hat. “We can finally automate LinkedIn.” you’ll use it for a while. And then you get your profile shut off. (Laughter) And it’s never fun to rebuild your whole LinkedIn profile.
So I personally don’t do it. I don’t advocate it in the book. I listen to planners. We could look at them and what they’re doing. But there’s some stuff coming out of M.I.T., alums who are figuring this out. There are some ways to do it undetected. But I used to work for LinkedIn. And do you know what? If that’s LinkedIn’s policy, follow it. You have a guard in there.
So especially for your LinkedIn stuff, don’t automate. Hyper-personalize; take the time. Reserve your LinkedIn behavior for content creation and branding, and thoughtful outreach to the highest-level folks.
The rest of the time you can automate your email; you can automate your calling. And there’s a slew of solutions and ways to do it from affordable to not affordable. I work with some clients who have unlimited money to do this.
Bryan: Right.
Justin: And so we get to have a lot of fun with it. And it still cannot be cracked. If I had a billion dollars and tried to automate sales development, it’s impossible.
Bryan: Right.
Justin: Some of that is because of the API glue. Someone’s going to figure it out. I do think that by 2022 or 2023 that there will be a company that gets real splash. And it’s just a matter of time—turning test type stuff, linguistics. It’s just that some of the scripting is not believable enough yet.
And I can tell you why. It’s because of synthesis and context. You and I can read a book, watch a blog, watch a TV show. And we can synthesize an insight from all three.
Bryan: Right.
Justin: A machine could do that. But the speed with which you can relate a scene in “Tire King” humorously to a scenario that a salesperson traces with the complexity of a data source, and tie those three factors mashed up into a sentence, and your brain just does that fluently. That’s where we get into super AI.
And that’s what I encourage people to do, by the way, in order to make their emails awesome. Take three disparate personalization points at minimum, and synthesize them, because there is no machine that can do that. And then they know it’s not a template.
Bryan: Interesting. So now how much customization should they have? Should it be customized templates? Should it be all customized? I mean, what’s an ideal blend there?
Justin: I think the 80/20 rule is a good place to start. I think that 20% of your touches should be personalized, and 20% of an individual email should be personalized. Jeremy Donovan has done a lot of empirical and quantitative research on sample sizes of six million emails and more. He’s proven things like 20% personalization. Beyond that, it doesn’t really lift results.
I’ve talked a lot with Aaron Ross. You know, he’s sort of the godfather of Predictable Revenue, the initial supply chain models for full cycle selling and breaking into a Henry Ford structure. He said that beyond 20% it gets a little creepy, right?
You can see that I have a Penn State sweatshirt on. And you might then infer and go to my Facebook page and figure out a tweet I did about a Penn state game. And you might just go all the way down the road. I might also have just randomly picked up this sweatshirt. I have no idea why I even have it. (Laughter) So there’s a risk. And maybe you personalize on the wrong thing.
When you relate your personalization to a business pane that is obvious, you’re going to get a lot farther faster, right? Personalization, relevance and timing. If someone goes on to a slide share or Twitter, or a radio program or a podcast and talks about a problem, and then you can quote that,-- “Hey, in 1 min., 16 sec., you talked about the skills gap. I have this e-learning platform that could help you.” That starts to be relatable personalization and relevancy versus “Go, Cougars!”
Bryan: Right.
Justin: We might get some sports excitement. And the reason this is the case is because there’s an economic graph which is supported by LinkedIn. And there’s an interest graph which is supported by Facebook/Instagram.
And so interest graph relatability is rapport building. You like shrimp cocktail? I like shrimp cocktail. You love the Bears? Go, Bears, right? That’s an interest graph. That’s cats and snorkels on Facebook. But people would come to LinkedIn and solve the business problem.
Bryan: Right.
Justin: So you know, you might spike it with let’s solve your skills gap. I also love cats and snorkels.
Bryan: Right.
Justin: That’s the peppering order. You know, that’s the sizzle of the steak. That person has jobs to be done. To quote Josh Braun and Jason Freed from Base Camp, “there are jobs to be done.” Everybody’s got something. “It’s called work, not play.” They didn’t show it because it wasn’t hard. There wasn’t some wood to chop. They’re trying to get to a goal. They have obstacles and challenges. If you’re not talking about the obstacles and challenges, it’s de-prioritized.
Bryan: How much are you bringing personality into that? I’m not sure. Have you ever messed around with Crystal Nose?
Justin: Yeah, I’m aware of Crystal Nose. And I’m actually an advisor to a company called Lavender.
Bryan: Okay.
Justin: Which, as you’re writing, it gives you a Flesh/Kinkaid score. In simple terms, we all write at a certain level, right? You can tack the Presidents. I think they were at a Flesh/Kinkaid of 19 when you get back to Teddy Roosevelt. . I think the current is at a fourth- or fifth-grade reading level which is purposeful, in a way. You can do this with a Hemmingway app. You can do this with Crystal Nose, where it’s actually looking at the profile, the prospect, and trying to impute their disc profile. It’s like a psychological reading of the prospect. It could say, “Hey, this one is going to be more emotional. This one is more analytical.” And it’s sort of using AI and machine learning in parsing and siphoning this data. It’s very cool stuff.
We’re going to get to a point where we have propensity models. As we’re on a Zoom call it’s doing voice detection, and it’s bench-marking. And during the Zoom call it’s saying, “40% propensity to close.” With 90% you get down to the Zoom and the thing can score the likelihood of the opportunity, even the ACV size. That’s (Vistage) to me.
Bryan: My sense is—and you can tell me if I’m wrong because you‘re way smarter than I am!—I mean, it seems like you just have to be careful. You can get overwhelmed with so much data coming at you. Until we can combine it and actually do something actionable with it, there might be a lot of gee-whiz insight coming at you. But if it’s insight for insight only and not action to take against it to improve, it’s kind of a wasted investment, unless I’m wrong on that.
Justin: You know, they can get really overwhelmed with the tools. And so what I would really like to encourage you to do is to pick two social media platforms that you want to do. LinkedIn and Twitter for me would be really good. Twitter is a great core and LinkedIn is a good broadcaster.
People are overdoing it. What I’ve noticed is the LinkedIn algorithm even on my own stuff. I hired a social media consultant.
Bryan: Mm-hmm.
Justin: And I’ve built networks as big as 200,000 on My Space, and over 300,000. Tony and I have built movements all over the world.
The problem now is that the algorithm for LinkedIn, if you post it too often you get deprecated.
Bryan: Okay.
Justin: And so you want to be deliberate. Here are the top two or three tools I’m going to use. Here are the top two or three platforms I’m going to use. Here are the top two strategies. And you just want to start to get deliberate with an 80/20 rule. What am I going to focus on today?
I think it’s really smart to do calls. I’ll plug a book. He’s one of the great treasures and legends of the space. His name is Art Sopchak.
Bryan: Okay.
Justin: You may be familiar with Smart Calling. This is the third edition. It doesn’t matter if you’re an S. and B., a one-person shop or an entrepreneur, or if you’re doing this as a side hustle. It’s a great book, Smart Calling. It’s all about personalization, what to personalize. It’s timeless.
A lot of these old books that people don’t read anymore, they work again because if you get your tech stack right, uh-oh! Now I’ve got real phone calls!
Bryan: Right.
Justin: Now I’ve got twenty live calls! I have to talk to people twenty times a day. I’d better understand how to do Discovery, Spin Selling, Implication, Payoff, Challenger—all the stuff we used to work on, because your job is no longer “I’m going to sit around writing emails all day researching.” If you use the Justin Michael Method or Josh Brown or Beck Holland, or any of these popular systems, and you start getting more at bats, then you have to be a better salesperson because you’re no longer just an engineer of meetings. You’re an engineer of value.
And I’m encouraging people to move from Excel to SQL, to Sequel.
Bryan: Got it.
Justin: So I know this is a simplicity show. But if it were really easy sales would not be one of the highest-paid professions in the world for people without traditional backgrounds, right? I have no degree. I left school early. I was in the music business doing marketing on the Sunset Strip, doing A&R type stuff.
Bryan: Right.
Justin: I have no degree. But I’ve gone all the way up to the heights of Sales Force and LinkedIn. And it’s been humbling to get to work on some of these teams where everyone around me has this incredible background which helps them in different ways. But I’ve had somewhat of an MBA on life by just going and failing a lot more. So there.
Bryan: Well, unfortunately failure is your best teacher. And you rip off, meaning in a good way, all of these different ideas from the books that you’ve read in the experience.
And knowledge is pointless. I mean, knowledge is ubiquitous. And it’s a waste if you don’t apply it. And Justin, it seems that what you do extremely well is take all your knowledge and then apply it. So good for you.
Let’s talk about that full cycle selling. With an SDR a lot of people, and especially a tech, they want these SDR’s to do a little Bant, right? And they’re bringing no value on those initial conversations. Just to kick over to the AE, that then does a demo dump, feature and benefit. What should change? Let’s look in the crystal ball into the future. What should be changing? How should things happen? Does the SDR stay the SDR? Do they become more full cycle? Talk to me a little bit about that role, please.
Justin: Yeah, Bryan; really eloquently put. You know, if we’re going to go to La Circa, New York, let’s take an analog, pre-COVID scenario. If I’m going to spend $500 or $1000 on an important dinner, and someone has their anniversary, right? They’ve booked this thing out months in advance. This is like a three-star Michelin chef. You don’t show up and have a first-year server greet you. You have a maître d’. Sometimes it’s somebody who has been running that restaurant for twenty years, or it’s the investor. Or there’s a high-level sommelier, or someone who’s a total expert greeting you. He can tell you about the cutlery. He can tell you about the glassware, the lighting,--the ambience, all five senses, the stimulation—they’re deep, deep, deep on everything about that restaurant, at the highest level of goodies, right? Are you going to go there with one of these famous food people? if you watch any cooking show, any show with these restaurants, you’ll see that.
Now what we do in B. to B. sales is strange. We take someone who is potentially inexperienced, a little bit worried. They’re trying very hard, and that’s okay. But the case to be made for full cycle is that if you’re calling C. level prospects and you’re calling very hard, you have enough training so that person can run the acumen and really do that, and have software that supports the research so you can have the conversation.
I talk to Kevin Dorsey. It’s a lot of drilling.
Bryan: Yes.
Justin: You know, let’s build a scenario. You’re brand new at this, and you’ve gone through your neighborhood training. Now let’s just dry run. Do you dry run with reps who are inexperienced? They’ll get confident in answering the question. You as the manager can help to tailor the talk track.
Sure, there will be situations where they get flat-footed. But I remember being 25, 27 years old. And I was being mentored by a couple that sold their company to (unclear) And I would actually call executive directors all day on the phone. And I just don’t feel like I can hold a candle to what they know.
Bryan: Yeah.
Justin: What they’ve done is that they’ve said is that your acumen and your understanding of business will add ten years to your voice. And what Sandler calls this is equal business stature. Almost every giant hardware and technology deal that’s gone down of seven figures, you’ve got a P&L holder in a Fortune 1000 who’s making some ludicrously based salary. And you’re a rep that is just draw versus commission.
Bryan: Yes.
Justin: But in the crucible of that moment, if you know a lot about your solution and have that subject matter expertise, you’re an authority in their eyes. They don’t understand mobile analytics technology the way you do. “Tell me. You sell to all my competitors the whole industry.” You have equal business stature.
So the two things we need to improve are that we can’t be Banting them on the one call, handing them over and Banting them again. Amy Bullas talks about this. Whether you’re a junior or senior, and whether those words even matter, it’s the smooth intake. You have to think of the restaurant. You have to have the sharpest point of the spear in taking. Someone has desire and interest in your solution. And on that first call there’s active listening, there’s notation, there’s good CRM.
But they get to the second call. And they don’t have to do it all over again and tear their hair out.
Bryan: Right.
Justin: The best companies will have a very good note-taking system, a very clean hand-off. If the SDR is going to take you through Bant or Medic or MedPick or any of these systems, that is notated so that when the AE gets on, the AE says, “Hey, I see you talked with Marjorie. And it really sounded like you’re inventory turns is the issue.”
“I just want to confirm. Let’s go a little deeper there. Do you have the notes?”
With that you feel like the maître d’. “Hey you know, I realize that it’s your aunt’s birthday. And she has a gluten allergy. And welcome here. We sat you over here because you wanted a more quiet table, right?”
We have to think like the high-end restaurant. It’s the greatest analogy for me. I use a lot of these for restaurant books.
I was actually trained by Todd Caponi from the Transparency Sale. He was my trainer at Exact Target and Sales Force. And this was in the era of Challenger. And I went through the Challenger Simulation from CEB. And my coach was actually Susan Saint-Leger, who is the president of Splunk.
Bryan: Okay.
Justin: And that was very senior in the marketing crowd. So no pressure, right? And during those times Todd would train us about Restaurant Possible and about Gordon Ramsey.
You go into this little restaurant in England. And the first thing you do is that you go down to the freezer and you pull up the floor. We probably shouldn’t have rats in the freezer. (Laughter) And oh, your fresh vegetables! They’ve been frozen for three weeks in your salad! That’s problematic.
You know, there’s this challenge and the refrain, right? Scott Leist is another great one. “People can’t change until they themselves acknowledge the problem.” It’s the addiction model.
Bryan: So let’s hit that. I mean, what Justin did here is what we all should be aspiring to do: it’s story-telling. It’s leveraging each and every one of these tidbits, because I’ve said this so many times. “There is nothing new under the sun.” It’s simply a matter of how you take it and adapt it to the current situation. And like you were talking earlier, I don’t remember the exact language that you used, Justin. But whenever you’re taking all of these disparate ideas from all of these different areas and tying it together to make it work, there are so many different tools out there. It’s knowing when to pull one and how to combine them in a way that’s really going to work, and doing that in a conversational manner that’s authentic, and not getting sing-songy or anything else. Now that’s really good. My Internet is showing Unstable, so hopefully that came through.
Justin: So I will just say it again for purposes of the podcast. Amalgamation, synthesis. I grew up somewhat in the music business playing instruments and producing music and managing bands. And I fell into sales as a day job.
But what we did is,. You wouldn’t learn about one production style, right? You would go study Farrell/Williams. And then you’d study all the producers and all their gear and all their tech. (Unclear)
You ask, “What do you read?” Everything. I’m reading Gap Selling by Kenan.
Bryan: Yes.
Justin: But I’m also on blogs. I’m on those micro-communities like “The Wizard of Ops.” And I’m studying advanced revenue technology. I’ve had people read my book and say that it’s not technical enough.
I’d say, “I need to know you. Let’s hang out. What are you doing?”
“Well, we’re doing those really advanced API calls, where we use Xapier or Trey or Ricotto or Sinkhari. We’re doing these things where all our data syncs together.”
“Take me through that.”
“Oh, it’s really technical.”
“Take me through that.” There are people that are actually figuring out how to make these tech stacks work. I had a chief customer officer of a Fortune 1000. He put on LinkedIn that his tech stack cost is $250 thousand. And he puts the whole thing in there—color codes, here are the areas I’m considering, how it all talks together. He’s got a daily scientist on staff who is writing algorithms. He’s just a wiz kid developer.
Bryan: Yes.
Justin: He’s helping them to just orchestrate the stack. So my work is actually to crawl, to walk and to run. No matter where you’re at with this stuff, if you’re overwhelmed, :I don’t even know what to do,” I have guides for that. If you’re at the most elite level, I’ve looked very dep into that.
In fact, my first version of the book was like I looked for that. I put so many used cases. It was just like drinking room a fire hose.
I would just encourage people. The machine era—the machine, the platform, the crowd,--it’s here. If you start just taking a little bit of curiosity and aptitude and interest into the sales operations piece of your business, the technology stacks, you will find that most of the technology vendors have a university. There’s Outreach University, Sales Opt University, Zant University, Groom Pass Wikis and Resources. You can just go online and freely study this.
How about Sales Force? They release trail heads. Those are like $200 a pop. You can get the trail heads. You can put the Certifications from Linda from LinkedIn Learning and her trail heads on your Living CV, on your LinkedIn. You can literally sit and upscale and train for fun with your LND budget of your company or yourself. And you can start getting certified in Sales Force Admin level 1, level 2, recording all these things. And you can build a whole career yourself right now in your spare time through Sales Force trail heads. So I tell everybody to do that if they have the aptitude and the will.
Bryan: And that is what it boils down to: the aptitude and the will to be able to take all of this. Knowledge is ubiquitous. What are you going to do with it? How much are you going to work? And are you going to out-hustle and to out-work everyone else? You know, it’s all simple to understand, but not easy to do because you’ve got to suck it up. And that Thursday morning, whenever you just feel like sleeping in, are you going to give into how you feel? Or are you going to have radical, fanatical discipline to that consistency of driving forward?
So good stuff. Justin, I can’t thank you enough. I’m cognizant of time; let’s wrap this down. You gave us a ton on what does the future hold. You gave us tons of tricks and tips and hacks, so thanks so much for that. Hit that book again, please—that one recommendation of your book.
Justin: Oh, I love promoting other people. I think we can expand the pie. This is Art Sopchak. If you want to read my book that’s cool. But if you want a true legend, this guy is a treasure. He’s been teaching people how to cold-call for twenty or thirty years. He’s a really nice person; he cares a lot. Reach out to him. Tell him I sent you. We need to support leaders like this one. He sent me a shirt. (Laughter)
But it’s a good time right now to learn how to use LinkedIn, which is so strange, because actually emails to clients are down about 35%. And LinkedIn has moved from a top forty website to top 16. You may have read that it’s #4. If you’re on LinkedIn developing business this is the best time in the history of the world to use LinkedIn. So capitalize on that. Use it like a phone. Use the stuff in this book to personalize and get your LinkedIn game going.
Bryan: Absolutely. All right. Now let’s go to you, Justin. What should we be reading from you? Who should reach out to you, how should they do it, and why should they do it?
Justin: So what I decided to do was that I decided to lower the barrier to entry to my techniques to $10. I’ve released a method where people say it’s worth $1000 for $10. It’s on my Patrion Community. And it’s a $10-a-month subscription. And if they go to Justin Michael on LinkedIn they can click the link and sign up. I have 100 people in a master mind. We have email tear-downs We cold-call live. We hang out in this clubhouse and we’re obsessed with B. to B.
If you’re a brand-new SDR, if you’re a business holder and you want to learn how to crack the phone and crack email, I’ll give you my life’s work for $10 and you can start there.
Bryan: Good deal.
Justin: And my book Tech-Powered Sales is going to be out in early 2021. And just find me on the Internet. I’m not hard to find. Look for the robot face. You can’t miss it. (Laughter)
Bryan: And it changes everything on LinkedIn, I knew this was going to be just a packed conversation. We could have gone so much longer with so much more.
Justin: Thanks, Bryan.
Bryan: So I really appreciate your insights. And I hope that everybody listening realizes the wealth of information you just got. So Justin, I appreciate it. All the best. Hey, this is Bryan Whittington with Justin Michael singing off on this week’s Talent, Sales and Scale Show. Get after it!

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