Better Sales and Networking with Robert Gillette

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Better Sales and Networking with Robert Gillette

We sit down with Robert to talk about sales, lead generation, and networking. Robert has experience as an IT employee, a middle manager, and a business owner in more industries than he’d like. In addition, he is the host of Reclaiming Sales, a podcast about improving your sales skills.

Robert is happily married, has two children, and is an SF Bay Area native.

(edited for publication)

Good afternoon. Welcome to another edition of Ask the Experts. We’re here with Robert Gillette Robert; how are you?

You know, I’m doing well today.

You are, how are you? Like you’re surprised?

You know, it’s just in the current COVID landscape. I just think it’s essential, to be honest.

And so you’re doing, right?

Yeah. You’ll see me cough a couple of times. And hopefully, I’ll mute it in time. But yeah, that’s it. We’re all doing well over here.

Okay, good to hear you’re recovering. Sorry to hear you had it to begin with.

You would think the vaccine and the booster would have been enough. But now, when omicron gets all up in this,

The vaccine in the booster means that you could be here again today. So remember that. We’re all good. Let’s just jump right into this before we go too much further down the COVID path. Can you give our audience a little bit of a background of who you are? And why the hell am I speaking to you?

Yeah, well, because you’re nice is why you’re speaking.

I am Robert Gillette. I am a sales coach. And I also sell outsourced IT support services. So I primarily work in that outsourced IT space. But I have a couple of people I’m working with for other reasons. And I’m a podcaster who has a podcast called Reclaiming Sales. And my big, hairy audacious goal is that someday we can reclaim the sales profession as something that we can be proud of. Because the world runs on sales, every business that has ever had a thing has needed to sell it to someone else. And yet, because so many of us are bad at our jobs, we’ve ruined the profession. So from a reputation standpoint, and I’m looking someday to reclaim that, my goal would be that my grandson or daughter, at some point, gets to go to college and get a degree in sales. And everyone goes, Oh, okay, just like an accounting degree or anything else?

Well, I love that you are giving it two generations to sort out that – it’s going to take that long to fix the reputation of a salesperson. I believe that you’ve said in the past that being a salesperson is one of the top five most hated jobs, right behind lawyers and politicians.

I would say that that’s got to be a list that salespeople well populate in most people’s minds.

And why don’t we like salespeople?

Well, that’s probably a very complex question with opinions mostly in the answer. But in my opinion, what I’ve seen is that there are two big problems with sales as a profession. One is that the incentives are very misaligned. What’s good for the salesperson is not good for the company. And it’s not what’s good for the client. So you have all these nonparallel lines that just don’t intersect at the right places. So you have these opportunities where a company can crush a salesperson because they need to hit quota, or a salesperson can lie to a prospect, whether they mean to or not, just to get the deal closed because if they don’t, they’ll lose their job. And you get, you know, prospects that lie to the salespeople because if they don’t, they might get swindled. And it’s just it creates all these missing incentives. So that’s the first problem that we don’t we’re not all in, we’re not all looking for the same thing, often.

And I would say that the second and probably much bigger problem is that most people aren’t professionalized, if that makes sense. If you’re going to be a lawyer in California, not only do you have to pass the bar, but you have to get 25 hours of continuing education every year. Otherwise, they don’t let you be a lawyer anymore. If you’re an accountant, it’s 20 hours. If you’re a salesperson, helping people walk through multimillion-dollar decisions. It’s nothing.

And so we have these people that we entrust with the very ability for our businesses to continue operating. But we don’t train them very well, because you know, 85% of us never wanted to get in sales in the first place. And so we just end up there, and we’re just doing it, and we’re not professional, or not educated. We’re underprepared. And that leads to a lot of people being unhappy with the sales process.

Yeah, I had a business partner, and I remember we would sit in meetings, go into sales mode, and promise a whole bunch of things that we had never done. And I remember leaving the meeting, and I’m like, How can you say that with a straight face? Like why did you say that? And he’s like, “Well, if we get the deal, we’ll figure it out.”

So sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on what you have to do. Are you making promises that you can keep? Are you making promises that others keep? I think that it’s not necessarily bad to fake it till you make it, but you’re betting a lot on making it.

The bigger challenge is that we just, we’re bad at art. We’re just bad at our jobs a lot of the time. We’re not professionally trained. So it’s, there’s a huge part of it. Yes, that is the incentives I talked about. But so often, we’re talking to salespeople who are just from the out from just the first out of the gate, not being honest about their incentives or what they’re trying to accomplish.

I can’t tell you how many people reach out to me on LinkedIn every day who want to help me expand my network or are interested in what I do. No, you’re not, don’t, don’t lie to me, like I’m not stupid. Friends, really, theater 20 of these every day, like, I’m not fooled by your messaging, I’m not going to click on it and go, Oh, my gosh, and suddenly realize that you’re trying to sell me something. And I’ll be shocked. Like, we’re just not acting in a way that we would want to be treated because of just the complicated. I’m going to say trauma; we have our sales.

Every time I get one of those things on LinkedIn, I feel compelled to respond. And I always respond with, “Has this ever worked?” And I don’t get a response

I want people to be aware of the way they present themselves. I think that’s one of the first things that we can do as salespeople are just honest about our incentives. I think people respect that. And if they’re interested in what we have, they’ll engage. And if they’re not, they won’t.

This might contradict some of the training I give to my salespeople when they’re doing something like cold calls. Because there is a fine line, you have to walk. But I believe that people, in general, would instead be treated the way they’d want to be treated, which is I don’t want to get tricked. When someone calls me on my phone, I get a call from a certain payroll company. It’s the same guy about every six months. Awesome that he still works there. But I told him the phone rang; he said, “Hey, it’s x from this company. And now, just wondering if you got that email I sent you?” I did get your email, and hey, you got to update your CRM. I don’t make those decisions here. I’m just a sales guy and site. And it goes, “Oh, God, dang it. I’m sorry about that.”

But he never updates the CRM. I’m so excited that he’s putting in the hustle and doing the hard work. And he’s also really upfront about his incentives. But we have to just again; it’s that professionalization, he’d be so much more successful. So if you would update a CRM, kind of a tangent, I apologize.

So is there a better way?

Well, there’s probably always a better way to do anything. I’m a big fan of the concept of Kaizen, which is continuous improvement. I don’t think anything in life is perfect. I don’t think anything in life couldn’t be improved. So that’s the first thing is always as a salesperson, as a business owner who sells has anybody tasked with helping other people make a decision.

And when one of those outcomes might benefit you, being good about how we do what we do and continually improving it is very important. So the answer is, is there a better way? Yes, all the time, every time. To be more specific requires a little more specific question. But one of the challenges we get to get into as salespeople is finding a thing that works, and then we’ll do it. We want to repeat it; we want to find a system that makes it easier, cheaper, faster, better, better close ratio.

And that’s not wrong, but it’s incomplete. Those iterations never remove the work.

Because it’s based on continuous improvement, how is that different from “fail fast, fail often”?

Fail fast, often fail versus Kaizen; I’m sure that probably is in the eye of the beholder. But for me, failing fast fail is often like the lean startup model. The lean startup says you create a thing on Friday, you release it on Monday, you hear about how people feel about it on Wednesday, and then you release a new thing on Friday. And I think that’s fine as long as you’re not hurting people.

The challenge is that failing fast and often in the sales process leaves a trail of trauma behind you because you’re not, you know, your people who engage in a sales process have a need, even if that need is just for a candy bar. Or if that need is a multi-million dollar business solution around their technical support. Its people come to you because they’re in pain.

Do you want your doctor to fail fast and fail forward? Do you want your lawyer or CPA to fail fast and fail forward? Like that’s a terrible idea. When people are in pain, and you’re tasked with solving that pain or helping them find the thing that solves their pain, and when we’re bad at that, people get hurt, you know, maybe no one dies when I’m bad at my it, or if I’m bad at the sales process, but people have trauma. And I know this because I talked to 150 or so businesses every year that is in pain about their it, and they don’t, you know, they have behind them all this baggage from the last three guys that lied to them over the decade. And that’s just what I see. And I don’t think it’s unique to the technology industry.

You know, you mentioned that we don’t typically salespeople get training. And I would argue we do, and it’s awful training. Because I remember my first job out of school, I was an insurance salesman, a very reputable career.

Can be can be. Yeah,

I remember some of the stuff they taught us in sales boot camp – never give up, never know how close you are to closing the deal. Just keep bugging the client, and wear them down. There are tons and tons on how you respond to getting a NO. That’s not about listening to the customer. It’s not about listening to the customer. But part of it, I think, is how do we train our people? And why do we teach them that way?

Yeah, that’s interesting; you mentioned that because one of the words I’m trying to use more is professionalization Training is a part of that. But in the same way, I talked about incentives earlier, who’s paying for that training, who developed the content, it’s someone who has a financial incentive for you to do whatever it takes to get the deal. It doesn’t matter how you feel about yourself, it doesn’t matter your morals, it doesn’t matter whether or not you burn out in 18 months, and you’re gone. If they can make the revenue, they need to justify your salary, then they win.

And maybe that’s a brutal way of looking at it. But when that’s the incentive, it’s no surprise; the training says call until you get a yes, you know, it’s no surprise, that’s where the motivation is. So that’s why I tell every person in sales, whether it’s their first year or their 50th year, you can’t take training from the person who pays you like you have to do it. And it’s important because you’re going to learn a lot of technical stuff.

But suppose you’re not in charge of your education. In that case, if you’re not seeking that professionalization from someone outside of the person that pays you money, you’re never going to get a complete picture of the process of your profession because you’re looking at it through the small lens of the person who will profit off of your skillset.

Especially when the company gets bigger, the bigger the company, the harder it is for the machine to be interested in you as the salesperson. And so, just making sure you’re aware of those incentives. Now, you’re going to get excellent tactical training on how to sell insurance. You know how to sell insurance; when you go to a big fortune 500 insurance company, they’ll get you the tactics you need to succeed.

Learn that stuff. But it can’t be all your training; you have to understand what the profession is like and how to get good. Or you’re only ever going to know how to burn out working for your company.

And what are the elements that would identify or define professionalism?

Yeah, professional. And this is a little bit tough because how would you identify, you know, a good litigator? You know what, what book do I need to read to become a good litigator? That’s just some people are good litigators. Some people are great estate planners. You know, there’s I think that every salesperson needs to understand their own sales process, not like the process for selling insurance.

But every salesperson has to understand how they sell what works for them over the first few years in their job; I can tell you how I sell, tell you the resources I lean on and tell you what my flavor is. But even at EndSight, where my day job is, my manager sells entirely differently, and we sell the same thing. But the way he approaches his prospects, explains our services, negotiates objections, how he does, what he does, is mixed with the flavor of his personality. And if I try and be him, I will suck at it. And I will piss off my prospects.

I need to find my way of doing it. So I need to take all the training that my company gives me, I need to take, take all this knowledge that I learned from other sources, and I need to mold it into my own sales process, my own sales method,

How important or is it important to be likable?

Likable – this is where we leave the world of facts and enter into speculation and preference. I highly value likability for me. In ProVisors, we talked about the know, like, and trust, and people like to think that it’s linear. Well, I got to know you to like you. Yeah, I want you to trust me. And I trust you to refer you. I think it’s more like an equation. It’s know and trust, to the power of like, equals refer.

And a perfect example is if I know my buddy comments about one, Yeah, seriously, put in the show notes. If my buddy comes to me, he says, “Robert, I’m struggling. My wife did this; I think I need to talk to a family attorney.” Whether we’ve had lunch, it doesn’t matter how many accolades you have or how many times I’ve met you. To refer my good friend in his moment of need to a divorce attorney, I will have to feel comfortable with that person. And I’m not going to lock on to feel pleased with them if I don’t like them.

Now, I need an appellate attorney who will appeal my case and maybe keep me out of jail or get me out of jail. Maybe likeability matters a little less, but will I refer that person even if they get me out of jail? I don’t know. It’s a unique circumstance.

At that point, you want the person best suited to get you out of jail regardless of personality.

Hopefully, the person that sold me my house insurance, I like her just fine. And she did a good job. But you know, insurance is a little bit of a commodity. You see, it’s not like that Farmers agent could give me something different than that State Farm agent. They maybe have a few differences, but they’re all going to come up with the best price they can for the most coverage they can get me. And really, what it’s going to come down to is, you know, I like Kelly a lot more than I like Stan Stan pissed me off, and Kelly’s very affable.

So even if their prices are, you know, 10 or 20% off, I might still go with Kelly. Because yeah, I got great warm, fuzzy feelings about her. So I guess maybe if I had to sum up my lengthy pontification, it depends on many different factors. But I don’t think we can ever ignore it.

And you alluded to professional networks, such as ProVisors, at the beginning of that discussion, while back,

Oh, years ago, yeah.

How important is networking in the sales process?

For me – very important networking and referrals. It depends on what you’re selling. Lining up three references for my Snickers doesn’t matter if I’m selling candy bars. Quite as much. There’s a product that someone can try and taste for very little money and find out everything they need to know about the product.

EnSight sells outsourced IT support. So his promises, we say we’re going to do a thing you don’t understand. And the last guy who said he would do a sure thing that you didn’t understand didn’t do it. So now I’m going to come in, and I’m going to make more promises. And you know, if you trust me enough, you’ll sign my contract, you know, which probably has a multi-year thing on it. So I sell promises and trust. So for me, referrals are essential. Because how do you trust a person? How do you build that trust in a sales process, you know, a competitive one, even if it’s very difficult?

And so, being able to build that likability and trust across another group of professionals, they can begin to trust my promises, and their clients trust them. So maybe they’ll trust my promises. That helps me in a big way, not just make more money and sign more clients. But it makes the sales process just so much easier. I’m allowed to ask questions that maybe would be harder to ask if they had found me through a Google Form, and then I’m a total stranger to these five people in this bid process. I get to be an advisor for more If their general counsel refers me in instead of Google’s algorithm.

It makes sense, and professional networking brings it to another level. Whereas if you’re relying on organic word of mouth, you’re probably not seeing real growth.

All of them are organic, which I define as accidental. People like to think that there are things you can do to increase your chances; I can’t make you give me a referral, I can’t make a happy client refer me, the only thing I can do is take activities that will increase my chances of getting a good referral from one of those people. Those activities will vary greatly by person, industry, and all that stuff.

But realistically, that’s all cold calling is; as I’m dialing on the phones trying to work the numbers, the probability that the person who picks up the phone will want to meet with me, that’s all a cold call is, or referral is the same thing, I’m going to meet with people. And I’m going to build trust and relationships so that the math works out; there’s a certain probability that one of their clients will stub their toe on its dresser and scream. Then their lawyer will hear it, and their lawyer might refer me that’s, that’s all networking is, it’s the same function. It’s the same business model but approached through very different activities, getting different results.

And do you believe that a lot of networking is based on the idea of giving first to do because

I think the people that win the most in networking are givers. You know, if you give, you’re going to get back just by, like Newton’s third law. Most people in networking groups are what I call “matchers.” I got this from our friend Sam Lee.  You push on them, and they’ll push back; you give them referrals, they’re going to give you one back, and then they’ll return to a state of entropy. And that’ll be it.

And then there are real givers.  Givers are there to do one or two things; they’re actively trying to build their business and build their network by going out of their way to give referrals

. And then other givers just have the stuff to give. And what they’re doing is they’re just brushing it off their desk as their client asks them about things; they can’t make any money off of it. And they just need it to go somewhere and be handled so that it doesn’t reflect poorly on them or bother them. You know, it just has to have a safe place to land.

Givers can both be some of the most successful people in a network.

And some of the most taken advantage of people.

It’s tricky for a giver. But, on the other hand, I think that if you show up to networking, and you don’t need a high volume, and you need one or two referrals a year, and you’re very likable, it’s possible, you’ll stumble into more than enough business to pay the feed for the next year. But, again, this is because many people and BNI, ProVisors, and other structured networking groups fit that model. And there’s nothing wrong with that if that works for you.

But if you’re a professional saying, “2022 is my year, and I’m going to make this happen, and I want to grow 50%, I want to double my business”, you have to have a process for acting on that network in such a way that the probability of getting referrals is much higher. And the easiest way to do that is by just being a good giver. If you give someone a perfect referral, they’re very grateful. You give them a second perfect referral. Super happy. You know, it’s interesting. The third one, though, is that metric we always talk about. It’s the one that cements the relationship.

It is interesting when you talk about networks. When they are selling you to join, the common refrain is, “how many referrals do you need to cover your membership fee? After that, everything is gravy.” But that’s never the goal of networking, to cover your fee. I get it from a risk standpoint, but I want a lot more than covering my membership fee, considering the time investment. 

You know what, I want to be respectful of that. Because if you think about it, understand that you can’t have everyone in the top 10%. The math doesn’t work that way. You know, and there’s a lot of people that especially in something like pro visors, like their company pays for the fee. It shows excellent activity gives them something to do; they’re already super successful. Like I’ve talked to many lawyers who like they have all their billable hours projected out for the year. They don’t need more business. They’re in the ProVisors group because this is what lawyers do. And they’ve been doing it for so long. It’s just part of their success. But then other people join, and they’re like, No, you don’t understand. This is a strategic initiative for me. I’m going to grow, and this is how I will do it. So I think we need to support those people.

One of the things that a new network is told is it might take a year or two to start seeing referrals. If this isn’t disheartening, I don’t know what it is. So how do we support them? Because that’s a long time – putting in the work and not expecting a return for yourself.


Can you define what supports them looks like? I mean, how do we define support? We are told there is a long game or potential that you will someday see.

Yeah. So, if I was joining the network, I’m just trying to think about how I would want to be treated. I’m a big fan of leading the horse to water. One of the things all these groups have talked about is a misaligned incentive. I don’t think the regional director is trying to ensure that everyone succeeds. So there is an incentive there to add people and let them figure it out when they get there.

I think that because people don’t know if they want to be in the top 10%. Or if they wish to participate. We don’t often tell them what they need to do to be in the top 10% because 90% of us don’t want to get there or aren’t going to do what is necessary to get there. And so, I think that the best way to support a person when I’m bringing a member into one of my groups is to show them as best as I can a complete picture of what it looks like to join the top 10%.

And are you mentoring them through this processing?

My group doesn’t have an official mentorship program because mentorship is a tool I have to offer, and they have to accept it. And again, I can’t help everyone in ProVisers be in the top 10%. So we’d have to keep moving the bar. But you know, for someone to join a group, I want to support them to show them what success looks like and what it would take to get there. And then they need to on their own to decide and figure out their what, where they’re going to fall. Is the top 60% Good enough? 70% 80%? Do they want to be in the top 1%? What are they prepared to do to be successful?

That’s kind of what I would want to layout for a new member and help them decide, you know, maybe this first year is just, you know, top 50% would be excellent. But perhaps you jumped in, and you’re like, No, I need to triple in size. And I can’t wait a year, you know, I needed to be six months? So I’m happy to show you what it will take to get there. You know, but a person has to decide what will work for them.

And what do you think the key differentiators are between the folks that ultimately succeed?

Strategic Yeah, it’s strategic giving. It’s not just giving. It’s strategic giving. It truly understands how to farm referrals and use your influence as a person with your clients and your prospects in your network to uncover a referral. And a referral is defined as a problem that someone wants to solve and will pay money to solve. Anything less than that is just a leap.

It has to hit those three criteria for it to be a referral. So a real successful top 10% person will be actively searching out in the people they have influenced with those referrals like pigs searching for truffles, and they’re going to uncover those, and then they’re going to give them to the right person.

So instead of just giving it to the person in your group, or the last person you met, when you find that truffle, who were you going to give it to that has the greatest statistical probability of becoming an activated referral partner, not just a match or someone who’s going to provide one to get one. But someone who can genuinely be a part of your network that’s out doing the same thing for you, looking in their backyard for something they can give you that is valuable.

And how would someone identify this type of person?

Yeah, that’s a million-dollar question, right? I’ve been doing this for four years now in ProVisors, I think about four years, and I think I have a pretty good grip handles on it. But you know, I’m teaching a guy to do it now, and I’m 1,020 hours in just to the teaching, and he still has a lot of learning to do to find out his winning lottery ticket. I have mine; I can show you what mine looks like. But yours is going to have different numbers on it.

So I can show you how to buy the ticket, but it still got to be the one that wins. And so that’s what I’m, I’m trying to figure out; I don’t think there’s an easy answer for that. It requires you to figure out how to present yourself well and identify those people. And once you’ve recognized them and you’re likable, how do you nurture a relationship with a person who’s willing to look for your needs and theirs? So that’s a whole thing. So I’m sorry, I don’t have a more straightforward answer.

One of the things that I use in the beginning is to begin by watching the room and understanding who folks make referrals to. And some folks have never made referrals, and you’ve never seen anyone give them a testimonial. So if you are looking to provide a referral for someone you’ve never heard anyone give a testimonial to, you shouldn’t have high expectations.

Yeah, we should be willing to nurture them. That’s what you want. But I’ll take it a step further. And this is a bit of a controversial opinion. But if I said, look, I was only legally allowed to have 12 referral partners, you know, and I had to identify them. And I had to put them on a list, and I wasn’t allowed to get referrals from anybody else. That’s not how it works. But let’s pretend that was it. How would you go about choosing those 12 people? Well, it would be based on a couple of criteria.

And one of the first things I would do when I joined ProVisors, and I did this for my first year, I’m not as religious about it as I was, but I used to, when I sat in a meeting, I would take notes of every single person that gave a referral, and who received it. And then I would mark very specifically, is it a line of the business referral or not. And what I mean by that is, if you are an estate planner, your job is to someone comes to you, and they need an estate plan, they need to figure out how to take this $20 million, they have a net worth and make sure they don’t give any of it to the government and as much to the kids as they can. And when they’re doing the estate plan, they’re almost legally obligated to ask who’s your money manager and who’s managing your wealth. And if they don’t have anybody kind of almost required just as a function of doing your job to refer them to someone. So you’re going to refer them to someone, and then that’s going to work out; they will stand up in a room and say, Thank you so much for that referral from one of your clients. And that’s great.

But as an IT Support Guy, do I hold a lot of weight in that? Probably not, because it’s not part of your job to make sure it is handled. So if I look at a person and have their last five or ten referrals, they are all lines of business. I’m not going to go out of my way to try and activate that person as one of the 12 I’m allowed to have. I’m either looking for people whose line of business is going to uncover something for me. Or I’m looking for people that can reliably ask questions. They have no business asking. And I mean, no business, not that they’re not allowed, but they’re just not going to make money off it.

They’re not surprised.

Yeah, they’re not incentivized directly with the client. There’s no direct financial incentive. And that’s one of the reasons why I love referring people like HR, outsourced finance, data, privacy attorneys; these are things that, like the data privacy attorney, come up quite a bit in it. But something like an HR professional it’s not something that’s in my line of business. And when I can draw out with my client or my prospect, a need can be solved by a professional who’s not in my line of business.

It does two things. It activates a whole line of business that I’m not involved in that might become a great referral source. So I’m almost doubling my network size in terms of line of business referrals and my prospect or client. It doesn’t make it hard to think of me as just an IT guy.

I remember sitting across the table from someone who had recently been hired and got three months after she was hired; they reincorporated because they’re not they did some kind of legal jujitsu because they got a bunch of private equity money. And this person became a minority shareholder. She got ownership stock in the company. I remember asking her like, so when you negotiated that agreement, who was your lawyer? She says, Oh, it was just the company lawyer saying okay, well, that was the company’s lawyer. Who was your lawyer? I thought the company’s lawyer was my lawyer. Well, no, that was the company’s lawyer. So it might benefit you to connect with someone who could help you look at those options and ensure that you’re being served well. But would that help you? She says, Well, yeah, that one, okay. It’s a free consultation. Let me connect you with somebody.

After I have that kind of conversation, doesn’t it get hard to shove me back into the IT guy box? Isn’t that just really difficult to do? So does that help me a lot in my profession, to be capable and have a hand up above anyone else that gets invited in? So there’s a great incentive to start thinking outside of your line of business. And if I were going into providers to take this back to the original question, if I were in my first month, I would be looking for people that can reliably prove through testimonials that they refer outside of their line of business. And man, I’d be having coffee with those people.

And we have a mutual friend who says that every person is just displacing the last provider. And, regardless of loyalties, there’s always a price tag that will replace a current referral partner.

I don’t believe that’s untrue. But I don’t think it’s the whole picture either. I think that there are certain lines of business where that’s true. And at the end of the day, I don’t, you know, I didn’t join pro visors because I needed more friends. I joined ProVisors because it’s a tremendous professional decision; it helps me generate revenue and employ more people at insight, which means I can help more clients.

It’s a business move. So yeah, at the heart of it, maybe there is some cold, brutal reality. But I think the like factor is also significant. I won’t say their names. There are people, but I can think of people right now that could refer me to 10 perfect clients. And I still would not feel comfortable referring them just because of who they are, how they present professionally, where I would never feel comfortable connecting you with someone in their time of need.

Thankfully, I don’t have many of those people giving me referrals. So to feel bad about it. But I would probably, if someone gave me three referrals who fit that category, and they leaned on me to try and get something back, I would tell him the truth if that’s what, what incentivizes you, if that’s what’s important to you, then you should probably find someone else. Because to me, it’s essential.

For other people, it’s not; there is a cold, hard truth that if you gave him three years out, he had to boot the guy that gave to. There are people in my network, even by the way that I refer to; I have a one-person consulting shop that I reliably give like 10 or 20 clients to a year because nobody else does what he does. He’s never referred me to anything. He’s a good friend. I love him dearly. I’ve known him most of my life. But if someone came along who did what he did and gave me like five clients, I’d be having a challenging conversation with him. And, and definitely, that deal flow would probably go a different way. But that’s not a black and white line. That’s part of operating as a professional, understanding when to let money move you.

And so, do you drink the Kool-Aid when it comes to how you’re supposed to network or how you’re told to network. And what I mean by that is we are told, you know, we go to our home group and visit other groups. So, we should do this one to one that they set up for you. Or should you seek out folks outside of that to match up with better aligned with your goals?

I think ProVisors and BNI and every one of these professional organizations that connect people like you and me and lawyers and all that stuff. They are a tool like a hammer. ProVisors has no value to me – sorry, guys – other than connecting me with professionals that I might add to my network. That’s it.

I don’t think it benefits anyone to go well, I don’t really like this guy, but he’s in my homegroup. So I’m going to refer to No, my loyalty is to the client. My belief is in my company, my commitment is to my scruples, and then somewhere down the list, ProVisors hits.

I think it’s important to understand the nature of why ProVisors exists. It exists to connect professionals with other professionals, where they both can meet the client’s needs in a way that benefits everyone. It’s funky, The organization puts us in home groups affinity groups, and there’s one person per group. And that’s a carefully calculated system to increase the likelihood that I’ll find the right partner. But for every single person in ProVisors, it’s about finding the right partner. So I don’t know if that answers your question. But in that way, I’m bought in.

Maybe my question about finding the right partners is, do you independently look for those partners? Or do you wait to see if they’re your home group, or wait to visit another group and sit through an hour and a half meeting hoping to meet somebody?

That’s where you have to be strategic. So there’s no data privacy attorney in my group, SF 10. San Francisco 10 has no data privacy attorney, and the one I was working with recently went private with a company. So I’m on the hunt for a great data privacy attorney with whom I can get along, and I feel comfortable asking stupid questions and introducing the clients who will ask stupid questions. So I’m on the hunt for that. And if there was one in my group, that’s where I’d look first. But if we don’t have one, or if I don’t like that one, I will find a different one.

And what am I going to do? Go to the yellow pages? No, I’m going to go to another provider script. That’s what I mean by helping me find the function. A person of a particular profession in my group should give me lots of referrals. And I probably should provide lots of referrals based on their job title. But man, we’ve never worked it out, we’ve never really had a one-on-one, you know, we made a choice once, and nothing came of it. And, and that’s okay, doesn’t mean I’m failing, or they’re failing, it just means that’s not someone who, um, you know, we just didn’t hit it off. And that’s okay.

And we might in the future. But as of now, I have other people that get those cyber liability referrals for a complex reason. And I don’t feel guilty that the person in my group doesn’t get them. And if they think feelings about it, they should talk to me, and we could figure it out. But it’s just I don’t feel obligated to give them to my group because they’re in my group.

Yeah. And the fact that they’re not reaching out to us suggests that either they don’t want to, or they don’t know how, you know. Yeah. Um, so I recently had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of your presentation about how to give a testimonial. And can you, as we wrap up, can you sort of talk about testimonials and their importance? And how to provide a good one?

Yeah. So first of all, thank you. This might be specific to ProVisors, in terms of the words testimonial, but I think something very, very important at its heart. And I wholesale just stole this from Simon Sinek. And I’m rebranding it in the ProVisors context. But we would love it if I asked you if I wanted. If I meet you for the first time, what I’m going to ask you, what’s your name? What’s the second question? Am I going to ask almost any stranger? What do you do? What do you do? I’ll ask you, what do you do? And then they’re going to tell me I’m a litigator. I’m an accountant. I’m an IT person. And what my hypothesis is, no one gives a crap what you do. That’s not what anyone’s asking.

What we are asking is, why should I care about you? But we can’t say that because that’s mean. You know, no one would like you if it was. Hey, Mike, who are you? That’s like, what’s your name? Mike. Okay, why should I care about you? No one’s going to ask that it’s me. So but what we need to do is think to ourselves, when someone asks, what do you do? They’re asking, Why should I care about you. And if you can find a way to bring it out of your mouth, the first thing is why people will care a lot more. And they won’t put you in a bucket. If you say I’m an IT person, they put me in the IT bucket, and they feel like they know all they need to know, and they do it very subconsciously.

But as soon say, Hey, Robert, what do you do? And I go, Well, I get to make people happier, more productive and make their lives better, making them healthier to go well. How do you do that? Will you support people’s technology 70% better than the rest of the nation? I got data that shows that we can do that.  OK, now they put me in the IT bucket, but I’ve been able to show them why we are better.

So if I do that, when I professionally want to talk to people, testimonials are the same thing. People, I’m going to stand up in a room, and people are expecting me to talk about a professional; they already know what bucket that person isn’t. Okay, nothing I can say will help them understand what they do better. Maybe how they do it? What people are looking for is, why should I care that there’s an accountant in my group? Why? And that’s how our brains are wired.

We understand that; why? And we care about that. Why? So I always want to present in a testimonial, and you should, too; when you get up and talk for 30 seconds or a minute, why does anyone care? No one cares about the business. No one cares about what you charged or whether or not you did a good job. No one cares whether or not the guy in their group does a good job. We assume he does because he’s in our group. So why do I care about what happened to you? And who gave it to you? And so you have to tell a story about that. Why? And if there isn’t a why then I don’t think you’re looking very hard. Because if there wasn’t a why someone wouldn’t have paid lots of money to solve the problem. So focus on that; why, why does anyone care? Why do I care that that estate planner referred that money manager? Why? I don’t know, tell me. And that’s what a testimonial is good for? That’s what you have to focus on, or no one will care what you say.

So, Robert, assuming you haven’t offended half of our audience, they want to hear more from you and learn more from you. You have a podcast. Tell us about that.

Yeah, it’s a podcast where my grand, hairy audacious goal is to change how the world interacts with salespeople and how they interact with the world. It’s called Reclaiming Sales. You can go to reclaiming; shoot me an email, or look me up on LinkedIn. And, you know, as long as you don’t send me a, you have lots of people in your network, LinkedIn request, I might accept it, and we can talk.

It’s also available on the other channels, right, Apple and other companies.

Yeah, but I want you to go to my website because that’s what I care about, but you’ll find it on Apple and Spotify and all those people.

OK, we will push the website – Reclaiming Sales. We won’t promote Apple Store, sorry.

There’s a link on the website to Apple so you can get it, you know.

How often do you publish?

It’s trending more towards monthly these days. So again, if you think you might be a good guest. I’m always looking for good guests.

Good guests are hard to find. So we have the pleasure of having Robert today, a good guest.

Thank you very much. I appreciate you. Thank you, man. This is what was fun.

We appreciate your time. We very much look forward to chatting with you in the future. But thank you for joining us on Ask the Experts. Check the link out below. Visit Robert, listen to his podcast, and we’ll talk to you soon. Bye, guys.


Better Sales and Networking with Robert Gillette