Mike Kunkle, a world-class sales trainer, met our host Darryl Praill when Darryl vented online about the poor quality of sales calls, processes, readiness, and preparedness. Everything Darryl lamented about was exactly what Mike had been preaching that sales professionals NOT do. In this episode, the tables are turned and Mike interviews Darryl to get to the stories, and the lessons learned, behind Darryl’s experience. If you prospect C-level contacts then you need to hear what a C-level buyer expects if you want their business.

Not in the mood to listen? No problem, you can read the transcriptions below.

Host:  Darryl Praill, VanillaSoft

Guest: Mike Kunkle, Transforming Sales Results


Darryl Praill: Thank you Paul. How you doing folks? Darryl Praill here back with another episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, I never get tired of saying that. I know you guys are tired of hearing me say that but I just want you to know, it makes me happy every time I say it.INSIDE Inside Sales where the whole focus of the show is about working one-on-one with the sales development professionals, making sure you are more productive, more effective and just more successful at your job that you do every single day. We don’t talk strategy here folks, we talk tactics. So with that said, I got to share with you a little story and then I’m going to bring on my guest.

Darryl Praill: A few weeks ago, I got on LinkedIn and I gave a rant, and the rant was because I was actually actively sourcing some software and some services to buy in my role as Chief Marketing Officer here at VanillaSoft. I was dealing with lots and lots and lots of sales professionals as I was getting multiple vendors to … I was reaching out to them, so I wasn’t even being solicited, I was so … Nothing says qualified when they’re reaching out to you, right? Across numerous time zones because this was going to take place across multiple geographies and multiple yeah locations, I was frustrated. I was frustrated and I went on a rant on LinkedIn and that led to some interesting conversations. We’ll get into that in a second.

Darryl Praill: One of the people who contributed to the conversation and then reached out to me personally and said, “Darryl, can I use this as part of what I do? Can I use you as an example?” He actually sought my permission guys, I love that about him. Is this fantastic fellow, you know him because he’s like massive on LinkedIn, Mike Kunkle. Now, if you don’t know him, I’ll go through the process here. He is an incredibly well-respected sales transformation architect. He’s also, and I’m not making this up guys because it’s right there, just do a Google search, internationally-recognized for his sales training and sales enablement capabilities. He is an expert. In fact, he’s spent over 34 years in the sales profession and 24 years as a corporate leader or consultant.

Darryl Praill: So his big thing is that he helps companies drive dramatic revenue growth and he does that through kind of like best-in-class learning strategies, and he’s got some pretty proven sales transformation methodologies. In fact, he takes a ride … What I like about Mike is that he takes as systems approach to sales transformation and that’s kind of same way I approach marketing, it’s systems-centric. And because of that, he’s able to take that content you get in the sales learning systems and actually map it and so that you actually apply it and you learn and you use it on the job and you become the master of sales and sales development and sales success. So, Mike, you are with transforming sales results, you are the founder, you are the sales transformation architect but most importantly, are you there?

Mike Kunkle: I am here and how are you Darryl?

Darryl Praill: I am doing so well. Sir, how are you doing these days? You’re a busy guy. We had difficulties going back and forth to schedule this, you are in demand.

Mike Kunkle: I’m very fortunate, very busy and never going to complain about it. But you know what?

Darryl Praill: What?

Mike Kunkle: So, I was minding my own business working away on a course on of all things prospecting when I took a LinkedIn break, it’s my guilty pleasure, as you mentioned. I see this post from you and I read through this thing and it was so spot-on. I mean, I’m laughing through some of it but it’s almost embarrassing for the profession to read what you had to say. And I saw the traction it was getting and that’s exactly why I reached out. Because I was looking to find a C-level buyer perspective to actually mention and insert on a course that I was grading on prospecting. So your post was absolutely perfect and I really appreciate you allowing me to use that and quote you in the course, and then of course it led to this and despite some scheduling difficulties, here we are.

Darryl Praill: Why don’t I take a few seconds, I got to read it and I’ll try to be very fast and that’ll give context for those who haven’t seen it. But as of right now, we have over 50,000 views approximately 500 likes, well over a 100 comments and this is what I had to say. And folks, just so you understand conceptually what’s going on, when I wrote this, my wife and I were driving to a family function. I was passengering because I said, you need to drive, I need to write. So I’m on my iPad in the passenger seat tethered to my iPhone going down the highway and this is what I wrote.

Darryl Praill: I said,

Comment on the post on LinkedIn.

Darryl Praill: So that was my post. We’re going to do something interesting here folks. We’re going to flip the table. Normally, I interview my guest but because this jumped out at Mike and because I was the one who was lamenting, Mike is going to interview me. So Mike, I’m yours. Ask me whatever questions you want to ask.

Mike Kunkle: First, I have to stop laughing and clapping, which is exactly what I did the first time I read that. Not laughing at your frustration of course but the fact that I have been in a buyer’s chair for almost my entire career when I was internal, it had the same frustrations. It’s a little scary, a little humorous, I suppose, but it’s really an indictment on the average of selling that’s happening out there. I know the circumstances that I’ve been in when I’ve had the same experience as Darryl but what actually triggered you to write this post in the first place? What was the catalyst that made you sit down in that passenger seat with an iPad and spill this out?

Darryl Praill: In my case, I needed to find in this particular case, there’s multiple sourcing we were doing but I think it was just this one pursuit that just sent me over the edge. We have offices in Australia and New Zealand, small offices at this point in time. Candidly, our head office is in Plano, Texas and we have research and development in the national capital region of Canada. Ottawa, Canada. Candidly, it’s different down in Australia than it is here in North America. The social media is different, the events scene is different, finding lists are different. We were having less than optimal results at trying to organically build our sales team and get the traction we were hoping to get. So I don’t think that’s uncommon, I’m being just forthright.

Darryl Praill: So we said to ourselves, you know what we need? We need a partner in the area who knows the area. Who knows the players, who knows the technology, who knows the networking, who knows the lists and understands what it is we do and we’re just going to pay that money and they’re going to do inside sales for us to drive leads and appointments for my in-country SDRs. So glorified appointment setting, nothing more exhaustive or fancy than that. I couldn’t find anybody. I went on LinkedIn and reach out to my community and I said, “Hey guys, who do you know?”

Darryl Praill: I got some responses back and I start emailing all these people. I kept on getting like stupid-ass responses and lack of responses. Then when I would get on the phone with them, trying to deal with time zones, they would ask me questions and I would go, “But we’ve already answered this.” They would say, sorry. Can we reschedule you again, I’m going to bring in my boss this time. So I had the classic where I was really getting annoying. Was also having this whole conversation with an SDR, which of course I don’t know it’s an SDR, I think it’s just an account exec. They spent all this time with me and I’m … The time’s ticking on the clock, I need to close deals now. So we can’t be dicking around here.

Darryl Praill: Then I get on a call and they’ve brought in somebody new, their account executive and they didn’t do any briefing with them so they don’t have any idea what’s going on and we start from ground zero again. So I had about six different vendors doing this to me and literally everything I went to was what I said. I would have a correspondence with them and then they would go silent. Silent for like a long time, days and days and days. They would ask me questions and I would have to say to them, we just discussed this. Remember, I said A, B and C because you asked one, two and three. They’re like, that’s right. I routinely got rescheduled.

[bctt tweet=”They would ask me questions & I would have to say to them, we just discussed this. 🤦‍♂️ Remember, I said A, B & C because you asked 1, 2, & 3. 😤” username=”@ohpinion8ted @VanillaSoft”]

Darryl Praill: I routinely said, guys here’s my situation, this is my parameters. I’m being straight with you, you have to work within this framework. Can you do this? Yep. Then all of a sudden, they come on, they would bring on their account exec and the account exec would want to do something completely different, and I’d be like, “I told you guys, don’t waste my time if you can’t do it this way. I wasn’t trying to be a dick. I’m trying to be optimal on my time here.” Then they would make the excuses and that just sets me off. So because of them, I missed deadlines and then that made me accountable.

Darryl Praill: I got my SDRs who were not getting enough activity over there, they’re rightfully pissed off at me. We are underperforming in a region where we shouldn’t be. I’m not happy. And I’m put in this position because these reps couldn’t do what I asked them to do, didn’t take note of the advice I gave them, didn’t set expectations with their cohorts, their teammates, understanding these are the parameters we have to engage in and then rescheduled me because they literally had something else going. I had multiple times where I know for a fact they double-booked themselves, and for some reason I was the one that got rescheduled. It sounds stupid, I’m going to sound really arrogant when I say this Mike. I’m a C-level. I know when I get a C-level on the phone, I don’t reschedule them. Why are they rescheduling me? Anyway, that was my, I’m done venting. That was my saga…how I got there.

Mike Kunkle: This is like a master class in prospecting. Because there are so many angles and things here that these reps have done wrong. I mean, you’ve got a buyer who has an expressed need, who’s got a sense of urgency, sort of a compelling event, you’ve got outcomes that you need to achieve and because of their behavior, you didn’t achieve those things. And so they were actually the blocker and got in their own way. That’s what’s really disappointing about this and why it fits so perfectly as an example of what not to do in the course that I was creating.

Mike Kunkle: I’m curious, one of the things I’ve done over the years Darryl is that I’ve done a lot of top producer analysis. And what makes that magic isn’t just studying the top producers but it’s comparing them to the average, the folks in the middle to find the differentiating factors. I’m curious, in this entire mix, although you didn’t hit the deadline initially, have you made a decision? Did you find someone? And were there any shining examples on the flip side of all this craziness or was it all just really poor prospecting?

[bctt tweet=”What makes that magic isn’t just studying the top producers but it’s comparing them to the average, the folks in the middle, to find the differentiating factors.” username=”Mike_Kunkle @ohpinion8ted @VanillaSoft”]

Darryl Praill: Well, let’s find out after this brief break. All right. Mike, you wanted to know what was the end result, did I physically get a happy ending? So the end result was this. We have gone to pilot with a firm and what I liked about the firm was they had documented processes, they had the questions to ask. We’ve minimized our risk. If we don’t like the results, if they are making promises they can’t keep, I can bail, there’s no long-term commitment. So what I liked about this was they had the confidence of their own capabilities to lead that way and put it out there and that was a value prop to me and I felt like they understood what it was I needed.

Darryl Praill: Now, what was interesting though was this person, this company, this firm got this deal despite the fact they still made some of these mistakes. For example, what they were really bad in was you could tell, every time I got an email, they skimmed it and they would respond. Again, I would get the same. I’m going, what the hell is this? They didn’t read my email. So it wasn’t until we finally had some live video calls. See the people, got to talk to them and got to have a face-to-face, if you will, that we got past that. But we only got past that because I liked everything else they had to say even though the correspondence was still frustrating me.

Mike Kunkle: Yes. See, that’s amazing. And I talk about this a lot in my webinars. I think there’s a lot of sales happening not because of the rep but almost in spite of the rep. That the reps are not paying attention to the buyer, are not listening, are not absorbing what’s being said in personalizing responses back and that the buyers are very often left not only caveat emptor, buyer beware, but the buyers are left to their own devices to make their own dot connections. Rather than the seller helping the buyer make the dot connections, meeting their buying process exit criteria, whatever the buyer needs to see, hear or feel, understand or believe in that stage to move forward to the next stage. And the sale happens because of the buyer themselves.

[bctt tweet=”Rather than the seller helping the buyer make the dot connections…the #sale happens because of the buyer themselves. 🤦‍♂️ #SalesTips” username=”Mike_Kunkle @ohpinion8ted @VanillaSoft”]

Mike Kunkle: I find that to be incredibly frustrating because I’ve dedicated my entire career to trying to help elevate the profession. I know there were a lot of things here Darryl that were frustrating, could you prioritize just a couple of top ones for your listeners to say, these were the most egregious?

Darryl Praill: These were the most egregious, okay. Number one, don’t skim. Please read my emails. I do my best to keep them short, I genuinely do. I admit that not everybody is as concise but don’t skim, read it. Because in it I’m actually saying something not what you think I’m saying and when you respond, I want to know that you’ve physically read it because I can tell when you haven’t. Because you don’t answer the question or you go off on a tangent that you thought it said something but you skimmed it, so you didn’t really read what it said. When you skim it and you communicate accordingly because of that skimming, you discount yourself right away. Right away, you’re gone. Either you’re gone or you’re like down the level 2, level 3, level 4, you are not number one, right away.

[bctt tweet=”#Salespeople – Number one, don’t skim. Please read my emails…Because in it I’m actually saying something, not what you think I’m saying. 🤔” username=”@ohpinion8ted @VanillaSoft”]

Darryl Praill: Number two, do not freaking treat me as a transaction. I am not your next commission check. I have too much on the line. If I’ve reached out to you, I am by my own admission, I am serious, I am seeking information. Believe me. And because of that, if I’m actually having a live conversation with you or I’m wanting to have a live conversation with you, I expect you to qualify me. I’m giving you permission to qualify me. Have a conversation with me. If you stick to that damn script and don’t actually understand what I’m saying, I’m going to be frustrated. Care about me. Have an interest in my problem, help me, as you said, connect the dots. I don’t know your solution, I know my pain. You know your solution.

Darryl Praill: If you ask me the questions, you should be able to map how my pain can be addressed by your solution and you should be able to relay it back to me. Don’t make me guess. Because if I guess, I’ll probably guess wrong. So that’s kind of it, don’t skim, don’t treat me as a transaction. Understand that I’m serious and take the time to understand my problem. And last, please for the love of God, record the answer so next time we talk we don’t repeat what we just talked about. It’s all right there Mike.

Mike Kunkle: Nothing is more frustrating than continuing to talk in the circles and that reinforces the whole connect the dots thing for me that I see so many salespeople missing. So let’s talk about your post for a second Darryl. So you pop this out there and when I saw it, it was still building. It’s gotten a lot more traction even since then. Talk to me about the reaction to your post, some of the comments maybe that people made. What was that whole experience like and what things came out of it from your perspective?

Darryl Praill: It was really interesting. It’s kind of four reactions that I kind of got. Let me see if I get all four. One, people which would link it to other people, in essence saying, read this guys. So you could tell it was something that was relevant to so many other organizations and clearly it’s going on out there and they knew it and they were saying to their peers, check this out, this is kind of what we’re talking about. So that was good, that was encouraging.

Darryl Praill: Two, you had a lot of people saying, they’re morons and they shouldn’t be selling them. That would never happen in my organization. While I love the confidence and the bravado they had in that response, I think they’re naive when they say that. Because it does happen at every single organization. That’s why we have people like Mike Kunkle who go out there and teach people how to actually sell and sell effectively. So don’t be naïve. You’ve got this problem somewhere and if you don’t think you do, the chances are, you’re the one who’s doing it wrong.

Darryl Praill: Three, you kind of had a lot of people thanking me. I think I was therapy for many other buyers out there. So a lot of people were thanking me and just adding to the conversation, which was great. Then four, you had a lot of people trying to take advantage of the opportunity, which I actually I get, I don’t have a problem with. Saying, that’s too bad, what don’t you call me at this number Darryl, I’ll show you how a real salesperson works. For those kind of people, my reaction was, that’s really cheesy. Because A, you’ve offered no value prop in your response and you’ve just said that you’re a kick-ass, and you’re actually almost epitomizing what I’m talking about here again.

Darryl Praill: So I was I would call them all out. Like I would say to them, I would say, “So is that your first line you give when someone calls you?” All of a sudden would see them be, I was just kind of being joking, cheeky. Just shows social media can be misconstrued sometimes. So those were some kind of the four categories. But man did we get some conversation going and we had a lot of back-and-forth. I guess, more overall what people were loving was this wasn’t a look at me, I’m a CEO of a professional services company or a product company and I started with nothing and I’ve got something, and let me tell you how I solve world hunger. There’s a lot of social media posters out there, influencers, where that’s every single post they do.

Darryl Praill: There’s a lot of gratitude that we actually had a real heartfelt conversation around this back and forth and back and forth and we didn’t necessarily have to agree but we were able to at least a chat. So that was constructive and I think it’s part and parcel why we had so many views.

Mike Kunkle: I saw some really great discussion happening out there and I did notice some of the other things that you mentioned. I shared it to all of my followers just because I thought it was a really great summary of the things that I see sellers doing all the time. And if we’re going to elevate the profession, we have to really start to focus more on our buyers and give you as the C-level buyers the attention you deserve, the respect you deserve, the listening that you mentioned, the personalizing of conversations, helping people connect the dots. That to me epitomizes professional selling.

Mike Kunkle: You did the profession, I thought a service with your rant. And I don’t know if you really saw that coming when you did it but I was so glad you did it, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to chat with you more about it today and I thank you for allowing me to quote you in the course that I’m developing as well.

Darryl Praill: Mike, frankly the honor is mine. You’re right. I had no expectations this was going to happen, for me this was just therapy and then it blew up, so clearly I must have hit something. But talk to me. I mean, this is what you do all the time. This is what you’re so famous for, it’s why you have such a huge following. When you go into organizations, how do you assess this issue? How do you talk to the executives or to the actual people on the frontline selling and how do help them stop doing these mistakes that I’m talking about right here?

Mike Kunkle: Well, the first thing we do is, I’m a big fan of diagnose first then prescribe. So I want to find out what’s actually happening on the front lines. How reps are being taught, what they’re actually doing, how they’re being observed or coached and look at all the moving parts to start to understand what is the state today. Then understand with the executives because they may not have the same vision as I do of what excellence looks like, but where do they want to take it and what is point B? Then we can start to look at ways to close those gaps. Whatever we teach, it’s got to be about the buyer.

[bctt tweet=”I’m a big fan of diagnose first, then prescribe. 👨‍⚕️ So, I want to find out what’s actually happening on the front lines. #Sales #SalesSuccess” username=”Mike_Kunkle @ohpinion8ted @VanillaSoft”]

Mike Kunkle: I’m a big fan of doing buyer persona work in understanding the buyers, their journey, the challenges they face, who they typically work with and especially, what’s the buying process exit criteria? What are the things that each buyer, each decision maker, and they could be different, want to see, hear, feel, understand and believe in the stage they’re in to feel comfortable moving forward to the next stage. Then it’s about teaching them in a way that they can learn what really works and then getting managers to coach, reinforce, do field training to help them move the needle and get from point A to point B. None of what I do is rocket science but it is a systemic and systematic approach to helping the organization improve performance, and it all really starts with understanding the buyer.

[bctt tweet=”None of what I do is rocket science 🚀 but it is a systemic…and it all really starts with understanding the buyer. #Sales #Prospecting” username=”Mike_Kunkle @ohpinion8ted @VanillaSoft”]

Darryl Praill: So if my audience today is listening to this, they can relate to this, they’ve got co-workers perhaps or maybe they themselves recognize they’re guilty of some of these sins, where can they learn more about you and your organization?

Mike Kunkle: The best place is probably mikekunkle.com/services. That’ll take them right to the transforming sales results piece of the site, they can see how to reach me or contact me there or they can just email me at [email protected].

Darryl Praill: All right guys, you know I only hang out with really cool, smart people on Inside Inside Sales. So if you are not following Mike on Twitter and on LinkedIn and all those social media platforms, you need to. So make that your take away right now. Go to LinkedIn, follow him, read his past posts, you’ll love him. With that all said folks, we are out of time today. So Mike, thank you so much for your time today.

Mike Kunkle: Thank you, Darryl. It’s a pleasure to be here and to be a part of your podcast.

Darryl Praill: All right guys. For more of these fantastic episodes, more people like Mike, check out insideinsidesales.com. If you haven’t followed me on LinkedIn or Twitter, please do that. In the meantime, we’re out of here folks. Have a great day. Bye-bye.