Podcast with Kevin McKann


Hello, and welcome to the frontline Sales and Marketing Podcast where we aim to provide entrepreneurs and enterprise leaders with the three T’s the tools, tips and techniques to help improve sales and marketing knowledge for better results. I am Collis CRM and marketing automation. Good guy. And I’m joined here today by Kevin McCann, President and CEO of the executive Strategy Group in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA. He specializes in strategy marketing and sales for high tech companies and has grown one of one of these companies from 6 million to 60 million in one in 18 months with one of these strategies. That’s pretty amazing. Welcome, Kevin. How are you? I’m doing great. Thanks. Thanks, David. Thanks for the invite. And I’m looking forward to chatting. No worries, well, why don’t we dig right in and say, How the hell did you go take a company from six to $16 million in revenue in 18 months? Sure. So um, so this is back in 19, like 97, timeframe 9798. And my background in my career, I basically started my career in inside sales did that for about a year and a half got promoted to outside sales, which moved me out to Silicon Valley, California. It will try and systems and then Cisco Systems, which is the 800 pound networking gorilla, I get an opportunity to basically become part owner of a Cisco reseller called planetary networks. And at the time, they were doing roughly 6 million just under 6 million in revenue. And they said, Hey, Kev, why don’t you come on over, help us grow this company. And, you know, we like what you’re doing on sales. And we’re very eager to get the same taken off like a rocket ship. So I put together a strategy that essentially I mean, at the end of the day, we grew 18 months. And our approach was a little bit different. There was there was a ton of competitors in the valley Silicon Valley. So if you swing a cat by the tail, you could hit probably 50 other guys that were selling Cisco routers, Cisco switches, you name it, all that technology. And so there’s guys that were targeting enterprise accounts, the big deals, right, and there was

a thin, thin margin, and we didn’t really want to go after thin margin deals, that took a long time to close. Then there were the resellers are going after the smaller deals, the commercial deals, but there’s just a ton of competition. So one of the first secret to our success, essentially was to pick a market or a niche that there weren’t a ton of was selling to internet service providers.com companies and telephone companies, telcos, they call them back in the day. So that was the first thing is creating a niche that you’re going to go after. The second thing was creating a value proposition that was different than what they were hearing from everybody else. So typically,

or coming in saying, Hey, we sell Cisco routers, which routers you want to buy, essentially. So leading with the product, I completely flipped that on its head and said we need to lead with what matters to the customer. So we did our analysis of what dot coms are telcos rice, peas, we’re trying to focus to grow their business, and challenges that those business leaders were facing. And one example we came across was a.com. Company. It wasn’t pet stock calm. It was one of one of the high flying cars back in like 97. And they were about to invest about $3 million on a Superbowl ad. So I said, All right. So we got and we got the meeting. I said, so so I

finding you’re going to use it for marketing to generate leads. So like, Yeah, exactly. I said, That’s awesome. But what happens if when you as soon as you launch that ad, a ton of traffic comes to the website and the website crashes? He’s like, well, that wouldn’t be good. I said, but what’s the impact?

angry but what what do you see as the essential impact of that happening is like, well, we could lose our funding, our customers would go, you know, jump off to our competitors, we’d be on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. And it would be a very negative thing. So all of that. And I said, Well, what would you like, equate that impact to and he was telling me millions and millions of dollars.

And our approach is to focus on that your business justification for what technology you need and why it needs to work. So we connected with him on his business goals before we started talking about, here’s how you build your website. Here’s the right equipment and the technology need the data set? Yeah, really redundant everything. But the difference there is that everyone else was showing up saying hey, I can sell you a firewall or a router or switch. We started with what was most important to him. And then we took that model and replicated it over and over and over again. I hired on sales reps created teams and pawns and had a whole strategy around that and and we killed it.

Who knew putting the customer first would actually result in

Good Stiles. Yeah, go figure. Like, was that people don’t want the nail they want the whole the nail is going to put in all they want. Yes, exactly. Yeah, you gotta like the thing I go through I do copywriting scripts with some of my clients and you know I always say people don’t want a 10 megapixel camera or a 15 megapixel camera they want beautiful pictures of their children. And and that live you get it? Exactly. It’s It’s incredible. So how how did you go? I guess approaching these businesses? Did you? Did you set outside sales? Was that a combination of you call them first? Like, did you have a cadence? What was your? What was your second? Yeah, so we had Um, so So the way I structured so when I grew up through the cable Tron organization, we had an SDR team sales development

reps, then we had inside sales, so sales development reps, usually kids coming out of college just banging the phones trying to generate, you know, demand essentially opportunities, they would promote them to the inside wrap, once they kind of get a fish on the hook, if you if you want to call it that, the inside wrap would do a little bit more digging, try to flesh out if there was an opportunity either

side rep to go in and schedule a meeting. So I took that same model and built it into planetary networks where we had you know, a bit of a kind of a hybrid SDR iosr model, and outside reps I would go in and you know, we had a systems

engineer, right along with the outside reps just in case things got technical. But the SDRs are typically banging the phones, we do a lot of networking events, Silicon Valley is great for that. Because you can be in close proximity to a lot of accounts, like when I was selling for cable Tron and Cisco, I’d have anywhere from three to five meetings per day in person. So it’s just a lot of companies close by, you know, in bigger cities, you don’t necessarily have that same opportunity. But in Silicon Valley, we did. So we’re doing a combination of networking events, str is making the calls outside reps making their own calls, networking, etc. Yeah, I know that, since COVID hit I’ve been able to get like seven or eight meetings a day.

Because you don’t have to travel, you don’t have to park you don’t have to walk it enough to you know, all those lovely things. But then, you know, you sit in the same chair for like, 18 hours or something. And he is like it like start to fail. So close your rings, remember to close your rings. Yeah, yeah. So I guess in terms of your, your approach, I mean, I think taking a technical person along with you is really, really key. I think a lot of times, you know, particularly if that technical person was going door to door, a lot of their time is wasted. So you kind of need to keep them in the wings at near the back end of the process. And it’s really hard to communicate those, you know, high tech selling points right down to the bottom. How did you find that?

Yeah, so so the way so our technical resources were somewhat limited. So we had like, I think at the time, I had hired on about 25 to 30 sales reps. And every sales rep wanted to bring us an SOC or system in

general have enough of the expensive talent of the smart guys. So I built into our process, the questions that the reps needed to ask to make sure that that it was a legit opportunity, it was a qualified opportunity. So that if we brought a system engineer, we were actually talking through a solution. And configuring that, as opposed to, you know, just bringing your crutch with you, and letting the sales engineer run the meeting. So So I made sure very quickly that we weren’t, you know, wasting resources like that.

So the questions, you know, I forced him to ask for the self, you know, business business justification value. So there’s typically there’s, there’s so one of the things I’ve been training for the last, you know, 15 years or so as I consult with clients, is a forced four step sales process or four steps, you know, into your intro language call, where you want to get a complete understanding where the customer is right now. So from a business standpoint, before I start talking about what I sell, and how I can sell it, and how we deliver it all that I just don’t understand where you are right now, relative to the the solutions I can bring to the table. So like, for instance, for companies that we work with right now, typically they’re not generating enough leads or their pipeline is like questionable, or their sales forecasting accuracy is horrible, or their sales reps aren’t generating or the marketing’s generating enough leads, so their sales team just isn’t, you know, jammin right now. So those are the when I show up, I’ll ask questions in that room just to get a sense for Where are they? And then the next set, the second question is, where do they want to be ideally, oh, it’d be great if I had more leads, how many more leads 10 leads, 100 leads 500 leads, or I want a better pipeline? Well, what does better mean it really unpacking that and understanding where they ideally want to be?

Then before you jump into just like solving the problem, you got to understand the impact. So this is like the one of the biggest things like, I think you and I were talking before the call today, like, what’s one of the big things you would make sure, you know, every sales rep, every sales organization, every CEO of an entrepreneurial or upstart company ask, and its impact, because inside the impact is the value of your solution that you’re ultimately going to provide to them is justified, right, so I understand the ever broken leg, now I understand where you would like to be, which is not a having a broken leg, and being able to run around and play soccer and football and everything, it’d be good to go. But the impact of having that broken leg right now means I’m always angry, I am not able to earn money because I can’t go to work. And it hurts so bad, I can’t even think straight. I’m miserable to my kids, because I’m always upset like the understanding truly what that the impact of that broken leg is, before you go and try to fix it. Now there’s when the customer speaks, what that impact is, they can also associate dollar value to it not just like personal but also, you know, professional and dollar value impact. Because if you jumped rate to the solution, you may just quote them what your price is typically, when they when they when they basically state that it’s a million dollar or $2 million impact. And you’re going to quote $195, for your solution, they’re like, that doesn’t make sense. Like I’m telling you, I got a $2 million problem. So before you provide a proposal or pricing, it’s critical to understand what that impact is. So then you’re first of all, you’re in the ballpark of what their expectation would be. Second of all, you don’t shortchange your own value based on what they perceive your value could could be right. So then it’s, you know, understanding that you know, how they’re going to get there and then providing them with the solution, then you start talking through like, okay, here’s how I can help you get to the top of the mountain or help you with your broken leg or whatever those challenges were. So impact is critical. I think that’s pretty key to like, when you think about selling technology to technology companies, they’ve usually got someone in there that thinks they know, all of it. And they’re like, sure, you probably could, but you got to have to run a little course, you’re going to have to do something and learn it or source it or do something, invent it yourself. That’s going to take you you know, six weeks, we can give you this in six hours, which you prefer. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, actually, yeah. Again, a great example. So the company when I came back from Silicon Valley, I started my own reseller called cortex. And now two years into it, we got a call from a customer or a prospect saying, Hey, can you quote us on this HP server? And you know, my sales guy was like, Yeah, I can quote that. I’m like, Well, hold on a second. I said, we can we can quote it. But out of curiosity, why did you Why did you ask for that configuration? with how much storage, how much disk, how much memory, etc. And they’re like, oh, because we got this, we need this application on it. And we’re, you know, we needed it in a hurry. I said, okay, but why that configuration versus any other configuration? He’s like, well, because this other guy over here told me that he had that box. I’m just trying to get a competitive bid from you guys. I said, Okay. I said, Well, well, we can provide you that price. But I just want to share a couple of things with you. Like, first of all, that technology is being end of life. Second of all, there’s no redundancy, based on what you just told me, you need, there’s no redundancy. Third, you’re going to run out of disk space within like three weeks, because of the application. You just told me you’re trying to run on it. Did you share any of that with the other guy who is trying to sell you the box? He’s like, Well, no. I said, Alright, so can we just like start over because this is the wrong, I could sell it to you No problem, but it’s the wrong box, you’re gonna be pissed, and you’re gonna be sending it back to us, you know, within a week. So that completely opened up and then we ended up tripling the value of the box, we did sell them because we sold them the right thing, but he couldn’t have been happier. So it’s like that sales reps typically get too too amped up, like, you know what, tell me tell me about yourself, I got this issue. Oh, let me fix it. Like Hold on a sec, and understand what are you trying to do? What’s the impact and then and then when they tell you well, the impact of this box goes down, we’re gonna lose a million dollars an hour that may change how you price this this box, right?

That’s a sign when you’re like, you know, I don’t know why you like everything is sales, whether you’re going to get your daughter out of bed in the morning, whether you’re gonna go and get a new job, whether you you know, no matter what it is, and I think that you know, that sit very situation, I equate that to going to the family barbecue, and then you say, Look, I’ve got this problem at work and someone jumps in with an answer, like, why don’t you try this and like, well, there’s it’s nuanced. Yeah, there’s some other problems underlying Why don’t you just stop and listen for a bit ask some question actually.

Totally relatable. So what what are three strategies that can contribute to strong revenue growth? What’s what are some things that people can our listeners can take on? Yeah, actually, I’m gonna I’m gonna pick a couple easy ones. So so the I call it the first one I call the the highlighter test. So

When we’re consulting, or frankly, when we’re trying to get a new client, or we’re trying to kind of open up an engagement, I look at this first and just get a sense for you know, are there gaps like that I could immediately see and potentially justify having a conversation with a business owner. So here’s the exercise, I want everyone to take their website and print out every page on your website, printed and paper. So you can set it out on the table in front of you. And actually, not just your website, but any collateral you send any email, scripts, voicemail scripts, calling scripts, you know, email templates, etc, lay all those out on the table in front of you. And I want you to take two color highlighters, one is yellow, say and the other is green, right? So in yellow, I want you to highlight everything we talked about you your company, right, so let me go to just a random website here, I’ll look at it, you know, like, like home contact about us. Our services are our offering, like everything about you, right? And that’s all going to be yellow, your thing, how great you are, how many years you’ve been in business, how many customers you have, how many logos you’ve you’ve worked with, right? That’s all about you and how great you are, then I want you to take in green and highlight anything that says value about two that you deliver to the customer the results, like you were just talking like did I don’t want to buy a drill bit? No, I want to buy the hole. Right now. It’s not the bit, it’s the result I’m looking for. So everything in green is highlighting the results that you will deliver to your customer. And what tends to happen pretty quickly, when I look at websites or you know, landing pages or any that thing I sell, not about the results I provide. So why don’t you look at and you see all this yellow, and very little green, that’s your first, like, cue to yourself that you got to change the copy so that it’s relatable to your customer. Talk to them as as if you’re talking to them in a bar, like like when someone asks what you do.

Typically, you’re gonna respond based on what’s relevant to them. So they’re like, Well, let me let me ask you, what do you do so I can kind of tell you what I do. So it’s relevant to you. And they’re going to tell you a little bit about their industry, maybe their title, maybe their background, where they came from, so that when you explain your business model, you can say it’s kind of like this, and then it’s like relevant to them. That’s how you want your website to flow. Right? So if I show up on your website, and I read through it, I should essentially see myself and my issues I’m dealing with like, Oh my God, that’s me. That’s me. That’s that’s the result. I want. Remember, like I was talking to the sales call? Yeah. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How are you going to get there? The Where are you should show up on your website, or in the email script or the voicemail script. Right? So that’s the first thing.

The second thing is that I can’t tell you how many websites I see out there where the only way to capture leads, is you go to the Contact Us form. And it’s just some nebulous form, like, enter something here, if you want us to get in touch with you, like what’s that there’s no value in that, right. So have value lead magnets things that I can download. Again, that’s relevant to me as your potential customer that I would actually likely pay money for. But you, to me, my contact info for it, no problem. A lot of cases people either don’t have any lead magnets no forms, the only way I can get in touch with you is now I get to pick up the phone and call you make it easy on me the reader, right? So make sure the copy is not scaring away customers, make sure you’re capturing leads, because that’s frankly, the only reason to have a website. If you’re not capturing leads, what’s the point of the website and people like well, people got to know who I am. Only if it matters to them, otherwise they don’t. They don’t care about you. Right? Yeah. And then the third thing is someone downloads something, make sure you’re nurturing them to that first step in the sales process you want them to take so that it’s it’s not at your steam, like Hey, want to be a client, like let’s set up a meeting. It’s kind of like, let me keep giving you things like if you’re, if you go to a bar and you want to like date a girl, the first thing you might want to give her as a compliment, like, Hey, you look very nice tonight, you know, out of curiosity, is this your first time here, whatever, but you’re giving something you’re giving a compliment in business, you’re giving a lead magnet, then you’re giving ideas and you’re giving thoughts, then it might be like, they may ask you like, Hey, you could give me a lot of great stuff. Like, how do we get how do we work together? Like oh, I’m glad you asked, here’s how we get started. So they may pull it out of you. But if not that third or fourth touch, maybe you can then say hey, you seem to be a really good fit for what we do. Because I’ve noticed a couple of things about what you’ve downloaded or what you add interesting. Can we get together for 1520 minutes so I can share with you how I helped another guy just like you do X, Y and Z. That’s the Ask right so it’s Make sure your website’s not scare people away. Make sure you’re capturing leads. Otherwise, what’s the point of having the website and just nurture people and serve them at the highest level wherever they are? By keep giving them goodness and it may actually

actually turn your sales process around, so you don’t even have to sell anymore.

Yeah, I think, you know, the 51% of the people, I’ll say, most customers are 51% of the way through the buying process before they talk to a sales rep. So all of that content, all of that demand Gen. stuff is so, so important. And a lot of what sits behind that is that, you know, that CRM kind of thing. So being able to capture it, being able to track your history with them having a very unique journey, because I think, was 86% of people will pay more for a better customer experience, but only 1% of people actually report having a good consistent customer experience from our brand. So

it’s utopia. Yeah, so um, I guess, of all of this, like, you’ve provided a ton of valuable resources and knowledge and skills and

things that people can take away. Well, what would be your one biggest takeaway for anyone trying to grow their revenue? Yeah, I think I’ll go back to the thing I mentioned earlier, and that’s the impact so no matter whether you’re selling as a sales rep or you’re an entrepreneur, you’re CEO of the company. If you know a lot of people are like Well, well, you got it you got a value proposition, right sales value prop is like business one on one. The challenge of developing a value proposition without first really understanding your customer is that it never goes well. So so you have to do the work upfront and really understand your buyer persona. And an X our program revenue growth mastery which you can get a free free seven day trial for if you if you’d like to try it out. On lesson nine you can download a cheat sheet on creating a buyer persona that will enable you to basically makes your copywriting easier your sales copy for emails easier. Landing Page copies are basically just one exercise. It’s like, knocks over 20 other things that is likely on your plate right now whether you’re a sales rep, CEO, entrepreneur, you know, etc. So, so really on. Yeah, go ahead. I was gonna say that sort of thing helps No matter if you’re writing a text message and email to a friend.

Yeah, I like so that. Yeah. So the way so what it what it takes you through is understand, you know, for instance, their their industry, their title, you know, size of the company, number of employees, etc. But also what their goals are, where they want to be and what their challenges are, and then how they communicate them. So like if I’m a surfer.

Do you surf Avon? I’ve tried, I’ve fallen off I do come from a surfing town.

Alright, so I’m a I’m a goofy foot surfer so so even just in the surfing community, which here in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the waters like hovering right around 40 degrees right now. So it’s like super cold wetsuits are good ways out today. But even the experience I’m a goofy foot versus a regular foot surfer goofy foot means my right foot forward. And I like I like taking you know, I take the left’s, right, so down the left side of the wave. So when I’m when I’m evaluating a beach, I’m looking at a beach, if I can see either a point break or even a beach break, that’s gonna give me a lot of left rides. I want that because I’m facing the wave. It’s more fun for me than doing a backside personally, right? But just that alone just says understanding the difference in what’s going on in the guy’s head as a surfer, you think they’re all the same? They’re not. Like, there’s guys longboard, there’s shortboard if you’re, if you’re doing longboard, you know, you want to have small, so so you just got to really understand the mindset of that of that person you’re trying to cater to, and how they communicate and what words they use and what language they use. So that’s number one. And then number two is that as we go through, like, what’s the what’s the impact of those of those challenges, like we’re talking about with a broken leg, or we’re talking about with not having enough revenue, like companies, I show up and

like, if I don’t get this figured out, I’ve got to go and tap into my retirement savings, my 401 K’s like people are like, literally, like in dire straits, and they just don’t know some of the fundamental things for you to grow their business. So I understand the pain for him is I need more leads. But the impact of that pain is if I don’t get these leads done, I can’t send my kids to college. Hmm. Like you think like sense of urgency is high for this guy. Absolutely. It’s through the roof. But you got to ask those questions as sales reps. Don’t be so quick to jump into, oh, you need more leads here. Here’s a solution. Find out that impact and camp out in that because that’s also where the trust is going to be built. actually ask questions like, hey, Vaughn sounds like that’s, that’s a bit of a challenge there. Tell me a little bit more about that. Like what is the impact both to you personally, and professionally. So I’m showing empathy, I actually give a crap and I want to hear it.

And just that alone may differentiate you as a sales rep. You want to do that? Because guess what? 90% of sales people blow right by

Because they don’t care about you, they’re just trying to throw a product down your throat. So it’s very easy to differentiate yourself showing empathy and just, you know, asking the question like, how does this impact you? And then all of a sudden, now they drop the walls down. And they’ll they’ll probably tell you more things. And then you expect, yeah, fantastic. All right. Well, that’s been really great having you today. And if, if any of our listeners would like to ask a question of Kevin, you can always jump on to his LinkedIn by searching for Kevin McCain. Or you can go on to his website revenue growth mastery.com

Did you have any upcoming events or anything or a book that you wanted to promote?

So So revenue growth mastery is essentially an online book, it’s a digital training course program 21 steps on how to look at your CRM systems, your

no of your all of your your customer relationship, coordination, making sure that that’s set and ready to go. Then module two goes into marketing in creating a marketing loop and execution loop and what steps to take and frankly, the way I built this, this program is around a concept called the minimum effective dose. I don’t know have you ever heard that Avon? The min me D minimum effective dose?

Yes, yeah. Yeah. Okay. So like Tim Ferriss, I think I get the book over there Tim’s like the Four Hour Chef or the Four Hour Body inside of one of those. He talks about midterms of boiling water. So if you boil water, and it gets to, you know, 100 and was 112 degrees Fahrenheit, whatever.

If you go if you crank it up to 180 degrees, is it any more boiled? And the answer is no boiled is boiled. So so whatever it takes to get you to that a minimum, the result you’re looking for the minimum amount of effort to get you the result you’re looking for, that’s all you should be doing. Because if you’re wasting time and energy above and beyond, that doesn’t provide you any additional gain, what’s the point of it right? So the way I built the program was to get you to the results quickly, without throwing in a bunch of gibberish and you know, superfluous information that really doesn’t matter to you. So we look at CRM, marketing and sales and inside of revenue growth mastery that would be essentially a book that’s going to provide you dividends 10 times over. Fantastic, awesome. Well, yeah, definitely jump on to revenue growth mastery comm and check that one out. Otherwise, in the meantime, thank you for listening. And if you want to check out any of our other episodes on the front line, you can get on to frontline podcast calm, and if you have any topics you wish for us to discuss, please fill out your our form and we’ll be in touch with you as soon as possible. So thanks again and do join us next time on the front line. Thank you.

You have been listening to the sales and marketing podcast. We hope you enjoyed this episode. And hope to see you again soon on the front line.