How To Make B2B Sales “Effortless” With Greg Mckeown

On this episode of the Salesman Podcast, Greg McKeown shares how to focus on the essential parts of your sales job and make B2B selling effortless.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Greg McKeown
Best selling author

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

This episode of the show is brought to you from the Salesman.org HubSpot Studio. Coming up on today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast.

 

Greg McKeown:

Well, yeah I think that so much of what we do in management, in sales, in life, is making things more complicated than they need to be. What do we really think is essential now? And why do we believe that what’s the very best way to achieve the objective that we’re trying to? Instead of, let’s just try and do everything. The people that are unbelievable in sales, aren’t the people doing that.

 

Will Barron:

Hello sales nation. My name is Will Barron. I’m the host of the Salesman Podcast, the world’s most downloaded B2B sale show. On today’s episode, we have an absolute legend. We have Greg McKeown. He is the author of the million copy bestseller, Essentialism. Highly recommended for me a great book. And he’s also the author of the new book, which is out right now, Effortless. And on today’s show, Greg is helping me answer the question well, does B2B sales really need to be as difficult, as painful, as brutal, as what it seemingly is? Everything that we talk about included in Greg’s podcast, books and everything else is available in the show notes over at salesman.org. So with that said, let’s jump right into it. Greg, welcome to the Salesman podcast.

 

Greg McKeown:

Well, it’s great to be with you.

 

Does the Path to Success Need To Be as Complicated as What Everyone Tries to Make it To Be? · [01:20]

 

Will Barron:

I’m glad to have you on, mate. Okay. So we’re going to dive into the new book. We’re going to spin that into context to B2B sales, and hopefully we can start to answer this question. The question that we talk about all the time on the show of, does B2B sales need to be as hard and as seemingly complicated as what everyone tries to make it out to be? And let me frame it up from your perspective. Let me give you as open-ended question as I can, to get things started. Does the path to sales success, business success, life success, does it have to be as complicated as what we all make it out to be? Or is there a different way? Is there, perhaps, a simpler part?

 

“So much of what we do in management, in sales, in life, is making things more complicated than they need to be.” – Greg McKeown · [01:50] 

 

Greg McKeown:

Well, yeah I think that so much of what we do in management, in sales, in life, is making things more complicated than they need to be. And one of the ways, actually, is a conversation I had with ,his real name, Mike Evangelist … he created the first DVD machines or was in the early stages of those. And so when they first came out, these were massive machines at $60,000 per machine. I mean, they’re just cost prohibitive for anyone outside of the industry. And they were trying to make them more affordable, 25, 35,000 and so on. They had a 1000 page manual to go with it, if you can imagine. And then they got purchased by Apple and the goal that was to try and make the product even simpler, the software that they created, even simpler. And so they worked the next two weeks preparing to meet the Steve Jobs to try and make this simpler still.

 

Greg McKeown:

And when Steve walks into the room, they’re quite proud of what they’ve done because they made it so much simpler than what they had before. But this is where walks in and this is the part of the story, if people know the story, they know this bit, which is he walks in and he says, listen, this is what the app’s going to look like. There’s going to be one button. It’s going to say burn. You drag your thing over there and that’s the app we’re going to build. And in that moment, Mike, first of all, just felt embarrassed because of how simple that was compared to what he had. But he also discovered a lesson that has lived with him, and I think is worth repeating, which is that he realised he was trying to go from complicated to simple, from his thousand page manual to something more digestible.

 

Greg McKeown:

Whereas in what Steve was doing, even with all his experience was to start with zero and say, what do you have to have in order to achieve your purpose? And I think that’s a very portable story and it applies to B2B sales where you say, what do you have to have, start with zero. What do you have to have in order to make a sale, to be effective in what you’re doing? And that’s better than just trying to take all the clutter of everything you’ve ever heard and all the, sometimes the nonsense and so on that you’ve been poured into your mind and then try to simplify it. To me, that’s one way to think about the question you asked.

 

Will Barron:

I love this. So a similar anecdote. So one of the things that Amazon tracks, very few things that Amazon tracks, is the number of tickets per order. So they don’t want you to speak to anyone. They don’t want any questions. They don’t want you to spend time going from multiple pages. They want you to find the right product at the right price at the right time, get delivered the next day, same day here in the UK, kind of as I’m waiting for delivery to come at some point this evening, pre 10:00 PM. And they track number of tickets, number of questions on that. So they want to create such a seamless solution, that there is no sales or the sales is done at scale via website and to content.

 

Human Beings and the Complexity Bias · [05:10]

 

Will Barron:

So I guess it’s a similar kind of way of looking at things, perhaps paradoxically or inverting, what we think is normal and to refine a better solution for everyone involved. So with that then, Greg, it’s one thing for us to share these anecdotes. It’s another thing to start to implement this and to change mindsets on it. Are we wired to want complexity? Because it seems like every product gets more complex over time, over the maybe Apple products that get redefined. They’re clearly very good at UX design and user interface design … Why is it that things that seemingly could be simple, we humans tend to over-complicate and make unsimple?

 

Greg McKeown:

Well I think that there’s only really two things that simplify. One is failure. When a system no longer works and so you have now no choice, but to change it. And the second is to be, it doesn’t have to be this name, but what I call the essentialist, which is someone who simplifies before you have to. And that’s what Steve Jobs is. That’s what Amazon was doing when they came up with, to use another anecdote, the one click system. I mean, that shows exactly the point is that he didn’t wait till they weren’t making sales to go well, Mike, maybe our systems too hard. Maybe there’s too complex. He says, look, I want to remove everything … this was the time of the internet when Jeff Bezos of course, and at the time, if you wanted to buy something online, every page was a diff … you’d have to put in your name, click of put in your address, click, click, click, click.

 

“It doesn’t matter how simple you make a step. What if you don’t have a step? That’s always a better option.” – Greg McKeown · [07:01] 

 

Greg McKeown:

You’ve got so many steps and you’re doing it every single time you want to buy something. So it’s this very convoluted process, but it was completely accepted and normalised. I spoke to the lead engineer on that project too. And for weeks, months, even, he had been trying to simplify and streamline the existing process. But again, if you come at it from a perspective of an essentialist, you say, well, how do we have no steps? Doesn’t matter how simple you make a step. What if you don’t have a step? That’s always a better option. So you’re trying to use the agile manifesto term. You’re trying to maximise the steps not taken. And so that is a very particular frame.

 

Greg McKeown:

The traditional frame is that you start simple and you come up with a problem and then the problem, you get together, you brainstorm either on your own or with other people. What’s a solution and you find a solution and you add that. Now you’ve added something and you feel good about it until you keep doing this process of new problem, solve it, add complexity, new problem solver, add complexity, and without really ever meaning to, you’ve just continued to add complexity and add complexity to the point of failure. In fact, now this is deeper than maybe you want to go or whatever, but there’s actually a really amazing book about the fall of complex societies. And basically what he says is that these massive societies that ceased to exist, the Roman Empire, the Greek Empire, and some others that are collapsed even further than that so we don’t really even talk about them anymore, that they all have in common, pre to this analysis.

 

Greg McKeown:

People thought, well, every collapse of complexity is just to do with, well, one was a famine and one was an external war, civil war, whatever. That was why. But actually what this historian is identified is it’s all same problem is that your complexity gets to the point that you use up all of the resources, that you have your disposal to maintain the complexity. And at that point, your system becomes very fragile because it can’t deal with the next big issue that comes along. You’ve got no more resources to add more complexity. So I think it’s very well-intended, but it grows out of a certain perspective that says, we need to solve problems by adding complexity. There’s other leaders come out with a different perspective that really say, no, what we need to do is constantly be starting from zero and making this as close to effortless as possible. And that’s, excuse me, and that is what I would be advancing for people in B2B sales.

 

Will Barron:

This translates probably more surprisingly accurately to B2B sales than what you might imagine first counts, Greg, because this isn’t always the case, but 99 times out of a hundred salespeople become sales managers become sales leaders. I don’t know of any sales leaders or even CROs, people at that level, whether you said the enterprise, or if it’s small, medium enterprise, that haven’t had at least some sales within their career. Now, what happened 20, 30 years ago is you’d cold call people because individually you’re trying to sell to. I had an office desk, they were sat in the office, the phone rang, they picked it up. Then it moved on to cold email. So people would get so few emails every day that you’d reply to them all, you’d open them all and to become, it was just such an effective channel.

 

Will Barron:

Now, people using social selling, social media, people using a blended approach, salespeople are leveraging adverts to target individuals and get inbound leads. HubSpot, our partner for this show, just did the masters of generating inbound leads and then having salespeople follow up with context on the content that’s being consumed and all this kind of stuff. But what happened is, I think for every company I’ve ever consulted with ever, this has happened. The sales managers are now, they’re the individuals who succeeded with cold email. So they’re in middle management pitching more emails, more often, less customization, just span the marketplace. The individuals above them were brought up in ad success on cold calling so they had more dials. And the individuals at the bottom of the hierarchy all willing to experiment and see what works and perhaps start from scratch and remove some of this legacy burden that they have.

 

Essentialism: How to Simplify Your Sales Process · [10:19] 

 

Will Barron:

Of course, they’re all targeted. They’re all centralised. The whole system is built upon falsehoods that were once correct and now are incorrect. So that the whole thing’s just a mess, Greg. So with that said other than having yourself commit, other than having Steve Jobs reincarnated and come in and change the sales process. From this perspective of a sales person from the bottom of the hierarchy, how do we perhaps sell this idea of a essentialism and sell this idea of starting from zero and re-sourcing out what’s fundamentally true and false? How do we sell that up the food chain and how do we start to implement some of this ourselves?

 

“I think that everyone has the obligation to be able to be an essentialist in their place and to ask the question, what do we really think is essential now.” – Greg McKeown · [12:20] 

 

Greg McKeown:

Yeah. I mean, I think there’s a few things that you can do. I think first is that you have role to play in that conversation. So I’m not advocating the essentialism that you should certainly say no to everyone and everything without thinking about it. That would be a book called Nomism. I didn’t write that book. It’s about what’s essential, but I also don’t think you have to simply say give only a polite yes. Is if there’s only those two options polite yes or a rude no. I think that everyone has the obligation to be able to an essentialist in their place and to ask the question, what do we really think is essential now? And why do we believe that? What’s the very best way to achieve the objective that we’re trying to? Instead of just, let’s just try and do everything that we could do in every generation of B2B sales.

 

Greg McKeown:

That strategy, to me, doesn’t seem like a thoughtful one. It’s an undisciplined pursuit of more versus the disciplined pursuit of less but better. And so wherever you are, I think it’s to start having that conversation. Well, If we could only do one thing, if we could only pursue one strategy, what would it be now? Why do we think that now? And what’s the latest to support that? And to be able to have a conversation around those things in your sphere of influence, I think can be quite powerful. There’s a good metaphor for this that I like, which is, on these massive ships, the rudder the ship, you can imagine, this is the big sales enterprise, the great huge ship, and the rudder on the back, these runners themselves are so massive they need a smaller rudder to move that larger brother that moves the ship. And that smallest rudder is called a trim tab.

 

“W I N, What’s important now. You win by figuring out what’s important now, not what was important 10 years ago, or 20 years ago, or what everybody else is doing.” – Greg McKeown · [14:15] 

 

Greg McKeown:

I think that’s quite good analogy for the individual sales personal, wherever you are within the great ship of sales to say, my job is to not just do everything everyone else is doing, to not do everything that every competitor is doing, but instead to try to seek out in collaborative ways, but what really is essential for us right now? What’s important now, and that’s the way you win. I think that’s a nice metaphor, a nice phrase, W I N, win. What’s important. Now you win by figuring out what’s important now, not what was important 10 years ago, or 20 years ago, or what everybody else is doing and advocate and discuss and collaborate around that question.

 

Why a Simplified Sales Process Drives More Sales · [15:10] 

 

Will Barron:

I love this idea of do less, better. And a layer of B2B context on top of that is that not all sales leads are as valuable as each other. If you cold call, someone and say, maybe I’ll speak with you next week at this date, I’ll say how I feel. That’s worth X and someone who reads content on your website, sees you as a thought leader in your space, reaches out to you personally, because they appreciate the concept that perhaps you are producing or that you’re featured in the organisation that you represent is producing, that lead is clearly got a social proof behind it. There’s a level of rapport. There’s a level of trust already built. So that lead is going to be worth more. So is it fair to say then that if we do dumb sales down the best that we can into lead generation, and then closing of leads, we made the whole process easier, more seamless, if we focus on getting less, better leads, as opposed to focusing on more of your stuff.

 

Greg McKeown:

Yeah. A hundred percent. And what I’ve found is that your busy but not productive people in sales. The people that are stretched too thin all the time, that group it’s like they imagine sales to be, I don’t know, like mining coal or something where their job is just to make as many touch points as possible, as many people as possible. And it’s just get as much coal from point A to point B. The people that are unbelievable in sales, aren’t the people doing that. They’re the ones that on day three of the quarter, they’ve hit the numbers for the quarter.

 

It’s like a diamond mine. And so the job isn’t to get as much possible stuff. It’s what are the right ones.” – Greg McKeown · [16:24] 

 

Greg McKeown:

They’re just, it’s unbelievable. They’re not doing the all-nighters, they’re not doing the burning themselves out. Maybe they’re doing six hour work day, or sometimes even less. Because they have the perspective, it’s like a diamond mine. And so the job isn’t to get as much possible stuff. It’s what are the right ones? What are the right leads? And how do I do nurture those leads? How do I get those diamonds out and polished and cut? Because they’re so extremely valuable. I think that contrast is a big difference between a non-essential salesperson and an essential salesperson.

 

Greg’s Thoughts on the “Hustle” Culture in Sales · [16:44] 

 

Will Barron:

Massively leading question here, Greg. But what’s your opinion on this idea of … hustle culture. So you see your whole Instagram, I think we’re probably going to be the same truck as this, but they’ll see a whole Instagram profiles, massive audiences of hustle this, hustle that, working crazy hours. And people’s blown up an audience and get a tonne of attention by just doing more just crap every day and glorifying the fact that they are perhaps spending time with doing what they want, family, friends, whatever it is that we … what I’m getting at is, I’m trying to ask you a leading question because that’s what I want to talk about. I’m trying not to put words in your mouth, but I think I know where you’re going to go. What are your thoughts on that kind of culture, Greg? And is that healthy longterm for salespeople who have aspirations to do really well in their careers?

 

Greg McKeown:

Yeah … There is an alternative to essentialism, I call it non-essentialism. This is for driven, capable people who to say yes to everything all the time. They want to be hustling 24/7. And if that’s working for people, what I generally say is, well keep doing it. Just ignore what I’m saying. In fact, double down on it. Don’t sleep at all. Just go all the way in if the strategy is so effective. But what I find is that generally speaking, and by generally, I mean pretty close to always, it doesn’t produce what it says on the packaging. We have been sold, ourselves, a bill of goods. And what we end up getting is burned out ourselves. We strain our most important relationships, both professionally and personally. And we just lose our sense of discernment about what projects to pursue, what strategy to pursue, in our career and our life.

 

“I think non-essentialism is based on a lie. If you try to do it all, you won’t get it all.” – Greg McKeown · [19:04] 

 

Greg McKeown:

And so you just get to the point where, really, none of it’s working. But the nature of hustle is that you can keep on going and keep doubling down on more and more hustle, working even harder and harder, even as it’s not producing the results you want. And so it can be quite a cycle. That’s one path. I think non-essentialism is based on a lie. If you try to do it all, you won’t get it all. That’s inconvenient, but that is the vast majority, the research and also the anecdotal research and also my personal experience, just working with companies all over the world is that. This is simply not workable. It isn’t sustainable. In fact, I just literally this morning was reading some interesting new research that showed that leaders could not tell the difference. This was an actual study within an organisation, deliberately.

 

Greg McKeown:

They couldn’t tell the difference between someone who was working 80 hours a week, and someone who said they were working 80s hours a week. This was part of the actual study to try and assess this. So this is just this false dominant assumption that 80 hours a week will produce double the results. It just doesn’t. And so once people start to discover that either because they choose to get ahead of the curve in essentially before you have to, or whether you wait until everything starts to discombobulate and you start to find my goodness, my personal life is a mess, my relationships are a mess, my numbers at work are a mess. Whichever point you get to you, we’re going to find one day that you need to find an alternative path, a way out. And the way out is the way of the essentialist.

 

Will Barron:

I love this. This is an epidemic in the sales industry of, as outreach becomes less effective. Cold calling clearly is less and less. The audience know this, Greg, but you might enjoy it. I think cold is this uneffective and such a waste of time that no one’s managed to do it yet. I’ve got an open bounty. Someone cold calls by mobile phone and pitches something, I’ll give them a thousand dollars. I will literally send them cash to them immediately. And no one’s managed to do this in six years of the podcast. So that’s how dead I think cold calling is.

 

Will Barron:

Now the epidemic though, is that as something becomes less and less effective, it doesn’t just tend to drop off a cliff. So it becomes less and less effective over the course of 10 years. And as a senior management is it’s pitching that cold calling works and the trying to pass that message down throughout the sales teams, it doesn’t become a, let’s find a more effective way of doing business. It becomes, how can we do more of this faster, more spam-like, which makes it even less effective. And we get in this vicious cycle. So that’s why I really want to have you on to talk about this. Are you familiar with the book, the One Thing?

 

Greg McKeown:

Yeah. Yeah. I just had one of the co-authors of that on my podcast, the What’s Essential Podcast and yeah, we have terrific support. Go ahead.

 

Focus on One Thing: The Key to Sales Success · [22:07]

 

Will Barron:

We’ve interviewed Jay bunch times, and then also Jeff, who is now the president of the One Thing, we’ve had him on the show. So I love the way that they framed it up. I feel it’s quite similar to your methodology and thoughts on this of, and I’m probably going to butcher it now as I say, Greg. But they pitch you to ask this question of, what’s the one thing that you could do that would make everything else obsolete? Is that a good starting point if we are looking to change our sales process? Is that a good way to frame it up practically of, what is the one thing that we could do that would make all of the other stuff that we’re doing obsolete or less useful?

 

Greg McKeown:

Yeah, I definitely think so. I mean, the word priority came into the English language in the 1400s and it was singular. What is the very first or prior thing. And it stayed singular until the industrial revolution where people started, speaking of priorities. And I struggle sometimes to really know what the useful definition of that word is, how can you have, or can you have very, very many very first before or other things, things. And yet we surely all of us have been to some sales meeting where somebody said with no sense of irony, here are my 34 priorities and when do they all have to be done? Yesterday. And so I just think that the idea of what is the most important thing to do, what is the first thing?

 

“To have a single strategy, to know what your most important strategy is in this environment is an area I think a lot of sales people, especially B2B sales, struggle with. Because there’s so many possible ways to go about it now.” – Greg McKeown · [23:45]

 

Greg McKeown:

What is the one thing that you can do that will have the most lasting impact in today’s environment? And because it’s such a noisy environment, you have to sometimes create a bit of space to be able to even ask that question and to get clear on it. And even within sales when your objective is clear. Most people have some sort of number that they’ve either been assigned or they choose some stretch or whatever. So that part can be quite clear compared to other areas of the business. But how you’re going to do it, to have a single strategy, to know what your most important strategy is in this environment is an area I think a lot of sales people, especially B2B sales, struggle with. Because there’s so many possible ways to go about it now.

 

What is Essentialism and How Can You Benefit From It? · [24:04] 

 

Will Barron:

For sure. So let’s make this show slightly more holistic here. Do we need to do what we’re talking about here in B2B sales, in other areas of our life? And if we do, is there a way to segment our life into a finite number of areas to practise all of this in, because if we spent our life into a hundred areas, then we’re going to have a hundred goals. And so we’re back in back at square one.

 

Greg McKeown:

Yeah. I mean, something that I really have thought a lot about, and this is since writing Essentialism is these three concentric circles that the inner circle is protecting the asset. That’s you as the salesperson, you as the individual. The second is your most important relationships. So that’s the second circle. And I particularly mean, well, I suppose it’s both, but it’s your personal relationships, the ones that are going to matter throughout your life forever. But also your most important plans. The other people you need to take care of and nurture. And then the third is just the other important projects out there. And here’s what I have found. It’s the simplest idea in the world is that, non essentialist just start from the outside in. They’re trying to drink the ocean first. Every possible thing they could do out there, all the different latest things, all the shiny objects, all the latest tactics, all the meetings, all the emails, all the training, all the webinars.

 

Greg McKeown:

I mean, just all of that noise, all that stuff. And so then when they get to their most important relationships, there’s actually not much left for them. Get to the end of the day and in COVID times it can be sometimes even worse. You just go on it’s five, o’clock at six o’clock at seven o’clock. There was no natural end. By the time you see the people that matter most to you actually not showing up very well, which doesn’t help matters. And those relationships get strained. Well, then at the end of the day it’s midnight and instead of going to sleep, you don’t feel very satisfied. You’re you feel fatigue. Somebody said to me recently, oh yeah, well, I’m just scrolling through Zillow for two hours just trying to protect their asset, but actually to just sleeping less.

 

“Essentialist starts from the inside out. Start by protecting your asset to make sure that you are physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually in a good, strong position. So that then when you show up to the most important relationships, you’re able to show up well to them.” – Greg Mckeown · [26:20]

 

Greg McKeown:

So that’s the negative cycle. Essentialist starts from inside out. That’s the switch is, start by protecting your asset to make sure that you are physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually in a good, strong position. So that then when you show up to the most important relationships, you’re able to show up well to them. You’re able to listen to them and understand what they actually need. You’re not misjudging what saying and missing the cues of what they need and how you can personalise what your offering is to them. And so it just works so much better if you get the sequence right. To me, that’s one way to divide it life that feels useful.

 

Can Some Complexity Add Value to Our Lives? · [26:58]

 

Will Barron:

Makes total sense. And when you mentioned projects, so clearly we can have work personal projects. Is there any data or research on whether we should have projects out of work? So this is from the context of a B2B salesperson. Hopefully the audience loved the job. They love the product they sell. I used to love going to hospital operating rooms here in the UK. And my partner is a doctor. So I’d see her all the time in hospitals. My mom worked as a technician and my brother is a pharmacist. So I’m surrounded by people in the NHS. So I used to love going in. I’m really proud of UK’s NHS. I used to love going in there, hanging out with surgeons, selling the products, and it was an easy sale. They love the service that we offered and it was dead simple. I used to love it.

 

Will Barron:

So … I used to find it really fulfilling. I really used to enjoy it. But for people who listen to this who perhaps aren’t in such a great position and they’ve got a job, as opposed to, is there research or data that shows that additional projects or projects outside of that, anything, whether it’s charity work, whether it’s building a business, whatever it is. Is there any data that shows that that is valuable? What I’m asking is can a slight bit more complexity, add more value to the overall picture?

 

“The 10% Entrepreneur. If you’re doing your main thing, your main thing either isn’t a hundred percent satisfying or you’d like to make a shift, or you’d just like to explore something else. Don’t try a hundred things, try one thing, but give it 10% of your energy and time.” – Greg McKeown · [28:41] 

 

Greg McKeown:

Well, I think that one of our favourite examples of this is the person who first coined the term FOMO, fear of missing out, Patrick McGinnis. And I had him also on the podcast recently. And one of the things that he learned was what he called the 10% entrepreneur. And so he’s saying, look, if you’re doing your main thing, your main thing either isn’t a hundred percent satisfying or you’d like to make a shift, or you’d just like to explore something else. Don’t try a hundred things, try one thing, but give it 10% of your energy and time. So you’re saying that extra amount of space that I might use up just doing maybe sometimes just more work in my existing job, or just wasting it, you just create that 10% so that you can try out and experiment in this new area. And he goes into more depth about it, but that’s quite a nice way to deal with FOMO. So fear of missing out of course, is generally seen as a negative thing.

 

Greg McKeown:

And I think he thinks that too, but he also sees that you can do a test the next time that you feel the fear of missing out. You can say, am I just being jealous and just a sort of quite unimaginative way, or is this indicating to me that there’s something I ought to be doing? Is it tapping something that’s a genuine desire in me that I’m going, wow, that speaks to me. It’s naming something in me. And so you can sometimes use FOMO to your advantage in this way. And that’s what he’s advocating when you do you then try and say, okay, let’s take a 10% portion of my life and let’s test this. Let’s actually go after this, but not in a way that’s a complete, I’ve got to quit my job and pursue this area. And then you just put yourself in such a stressful position. And so I think that’s one clever way to be able to also keep your primary work, your first job, in balance so that it doesn’t just consume every waking hour, every thought and consume your body and soul.

 

Will Barron:

So I do this, I encourage the audience to, similar to how you’re describing there of if you can, you want to pick something that’s synergistic to your career. So if you’re a B2B sales, perhaps it’s building close leadership, perhaps it’s get involved in industry events if you’ve got an interest in that. Whatever it is that then adds to the bottom line over time. So some of the audience will know this because there’s loads of entrepreneurs and freelancers and people like that who listened to the show who wanted to learn to sell as well. Clearly it’s valuable tool for them, as opposed just to B2B salespeople that we create and cater the content for. So some of these individuals I’ve had chats with, and I do a lot of the web design and UX design on our training product and things like that. And it’s a total waste of time and energy from our perspective.

 

Will Barron:

My time is best spent doing these conversations, doing these interviews. That’s what the sponsors come in for during the training content. That’s what people are paying for when people partner was on that side of things, but I will carve out probably two or three hours a week, if not more and a bit of time on the weekend of, I don’t know a way to phrase it, but basically time where I’m not prepared to feel guilty, where it’s pretty much wasted where I could pay one of our team a salary to do the graphics work. And I just love doing it. I love messing around and literally getting the fonts perfect and all that kind of things. And I get tonnes of enjoyment out of it. And of course, it’s synergistic somewhat to the content that we’re producing. So that’s how I kind of spin that. Because if I wasn’t doing this, I probably would be in some kind of more graphic design, 3D design, 3D rendering kind of role. So that’s how I tie things up.

 

“Graphics, to me, are as important, sometimes even more important than the ideas themselves.” – Greg McKeown · [32:40] 

 

Greg McKeown:

I want to speak to that because, because I think that’s even something slightly different. It’s not just, hey, I just enjoy it so I’m doing it. I think sometimes when we feel that pull, what we’re discovering is important, distinctive talent. Almost gifts that just maybe we didn’t unwrap them fully, or maybe we don’t appreciate them as something because sometimes they’re so deeply within us. I mean, for me personally, I relate to it because graphics to me are as important, sometimes even more important than the ideas themselves for me. I think the presentation of ideas and the graphic representation are hugely valuable and really not always appreciated by people that don’t know that matters so much, but they still feel it when they see it, when they hear it, when they experience it.

 

Greg Turns The Tables and Asks Will About The one Essential Thing in His Life That He’s Been Neglecting · [34:01] 

 

Greg McKeown:

And it leads with, this is another Steve jobs example. But when he used to everyday, despite all those other things he could be doing, all the more valuable things he’d be doing, having lunch with Johnny Ive and actually just talking possible products and discussing it. Was that the most important thing he could do for the bottom line for a company that was on the edge of bankruptcy? From a certain perspective, you would say that was not the essential thing. You’ve just got to sell what you have right now, it’s suppose to B2B analogy. And he’s going, no, that isn’t priority. The priority is to create products that we love, that we’re proud of, that create the future and so I’m going to invest there. And I think that leads me to question, actually, it’s a question for you. Okay. You ready for this? Turn the tables if anyone does this normally, we have no idea. So what is something for you right now in your life that is essential, that you’re under investing in? First answer, first thought.

 

Will Barron:

I’d still say what we’re saying. That the graphics, that side of the business. We really started out in the marketplace, our content, not because for example, we’ve just done this massive deal with HubSpot. They sponsored the show for multiple years. It’s the biggest sales training podcast partnership that has been done in the industry. I’m really happy, it’s really awesome. And as you watch this back, Greg, and the audience sees this, there’s going to be a HubSpot thrown all over the content. So they showed this already, but one of the reasons why brands like HubSpot and all the brands that we deal with, like Peloton, all these really cool brands want to work with us, is because of the characters who have an illustrator, who does the characters. The comic content that we’ve put out, the polish on things, the cameras that we use.

 

Will Barron:

This studio is hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stuff that I didn’t need to spend. We could have just done this on a webcam, but I really enjoy doing it. So I don’t know if I’ve answered your question here, so you can feel free to kind of pull me back and re-ask the question. But something I feel is essential to me and I really enjoy doing is all the production stuff. And I could outsource all of this, and that would probably be the essential way to go about it. Let other people mess around with this, let them leverage their expertise. Whereas I’m interested in and I want to learn how to do it.

 

Greg McKeown:

Yeah. So it sounds like you just told me, again, that this stuff really matters to you. The stuff that’s not the traditional, what you normally think was the essential path. But I want to actually use different language because you would say that’s not the efficient path because in pure efficiency, you’d say, well, no, you can just outsource this, outsource that, somebody else can do it. It doesn’t have to be me. So that’s the end of it.

 

Walking and Appreciating The Essential Path · [36:20] 

 

Greg McKeown:

Whereas as I listened to you talk, it’s completely obvious to me that this is the essential path for you. This is not, even to me, there’s no query about that. It’s what you’re pulled to, what you’re drawn to, it’s what you’ve understood and experienced is working. So all of those reasons say, trust this, lead into it, double down on it. Now, the question I asked was whether this was something you were underinvesting in. And that is actually a question back to you. Do you feel, no, I’m investing the sufficient level, I feel good about it, or do you wish, I wish I did spend extra X amount of hours per week on this? Because I just feel there’s more here. Your thoughts.

 

Will Barron:

It’s difficult to answer without hindsight. Right now in the moment, I feel like I’m putting enough time to this and I’ll give you an example. Last Friday, as we record this the beginning of the week. I did our first live stream that we’ve done in ages. We got tonnes and tonnes of questions and so we’re going to launch a new show. I don’t know what it’s going to be called, Ask Will All Sales Answers, or something like that. And all weekend, I spent a tonne of time, again, I could pay the team will do this for me. The team would advise us, we’ve got specialists in the team that could help. But I really enjoyed learning about live video production. So rather than just doing a two, one camera Q and A session, I really want to spruce it up and see what value can we add in and, to your kind of expertise, what you think is essential.

 

Will Barron:

The graphics, the animation, the metaphors via slides that we can add onto on top of it, doing a bit of preparation on the questions rather than just kind of thrown out there. I really enjoy doing that. So it’s a bit of a cop out. I don’t know whether this is, to answer your question, going to be effective until after I’ve done it. But thus far, my gut feeling on all of this is that it is useful. It separates us from all the competition. Anyone can start a podcast. It’s very difficult to get a podcast as polished that we have. And I treat it like a moat right around the castle, business-wise. The more and more water that goes down the moat, the deeper it gets, is more and more difficult for someone to catch up. And so from a business perspective, it’s valuable and I enjoy doing it from that perspective as well. So I’m not sure how that’s answered your question again, Greg?

 

“What you want in life is to be operating at your highest point of contribution and not simply be doing a tonne of things because that’s what everyone else is doing.”  – Greg McKeown · [38:45] 

 

Greg McKeown:

I think you did not answer the question, but you did it a certain way. What you’re saying is that you feel good about the direction you’re going and that’s what you just said. And I think you can tell that. You spark up, your energy as high talking about this. You are all in with it. And I think these are all things that are hard to pretend about when talking to people. I’m always interested in, where is the energy? What are people being pulled towards? Because what you want in life is to be operating at your highest point of contribution and not simply be doing a tonne of things because that’s what everyone else is doing and you’re copying them and so you’re just in the mode of sort of doing everything that you’re keeping up with the Jones’s type of way of making decisions. You want less but better. But better means the stuff you feel passionate about, driven towards, your talent is being connected to. It sounds like that’s what you feel this direction is for you.

 

Will Barron:

You might have other judgments on that, interview me here and my abilities and all of this. But yeah, I do feel like, for me, so I’m selling product or service. I could be cold calling. I could be emailing. I could be, not necessarily, but I could be going to conferences. We did a space of conferences a couple of years ago, and I’ve not been to a conference since, because it didn’t enjoy it. It wasn’t the fact that we weren’t generating leads. I just didn’t enjoy speaking to random people. And I’m just BS my way into conversations. When I know that I can produce this show and this show will get 30, 40,000 downloads on the audio side of things. We’ve had episodes on YouTube that have taken off, one with Chris Voss, that’s got half a million views, a bunch they’ve got hundreds of thousands.

 

“I’m aligning what I enjoy with the sales process. And thankfully it works. And I think it works because it’s congruent with what I want from the business.”  – Will Barron · [40:10]

 

Will Barron:

Some of them have got a couple hundred. So I know … I’ll wrap up with this, Greg, I guess is where we go with this. I’m aligning what I enjoy with the sales process. And thankfully it works. If it didn’t work, I’d be knackered and I’d have to probably take a different approach. But I think it works because it’s congruent with what I want from the business. It’s congruent because I enjoy these conversations with you and have yourself flip the tables and averaged an interesting conversation and the audience buys into that as well. They enjoy listening to it. And so it works for everyone. And so that is the purpose that I could throw out into the world of rather than just talking about how to start a cold call, which nobody really gives an F about.

 

Will Barron:

I can help these more in depth conversations and hopefully for the audiences, that little bit of spinoff, and this is why I had to try to play out of sales that kind of midway through the conversation of these conversations, add the extra layer of value. And hopefully people go, oh, he’s not a complete idiot. Maybe we’ll buy from him in the future. So I think that it all kind of aligns up with I’m still selling, but I’m doing it in a way that is congruent and effective with kind of how I see the world. And I want to be shown up in it.

 

“There’s a presumption that essential things have to be hard and trivial things will be easy.” –  Greg McKeown · [41:39] 

 

Greg McKeown:

That’s such a good way of connecting the dots on that. And I think that for me too, so one of the reasons I not just wrote Essentialism, but then after seven years of teaching on essentialism just felt like it’s time to put out another book and the book is Effortless. That’s the name of it. One of the principles in that, one of the chapters is about, how can I make this enjoyable? There’s a presumption that essential things have to be hard and trivial things will be easy. And that is a mindset. And sometimes that’s true, but what if it doesn’t have to be? And your example is now one more anecdote, one more case study, of how the essential can also be made more enjoyable. You don’t just have to say, well, sales is cold calls. Like a 1980s motivational speaker, are you just willing to do the hard stuff, get out and do it.

 

Effortless Sales and Effortless Living · [42:10]

 

Greg McKeown:

Well, you can do that. That’s what I did. Or you can find an easier, funner, more enjoyable, more aligned to your talents, your interests, way of being successful. That’s exactly what you’re saying you’re doing and you feel it. You didn’t like the conferences. How often do people, well, yeah, but you got to do it. You don’t like it, but you got to do it. You’ve got to eat your greens. So just, or you find a different path, a better path, an easier path. It’s still essential, but it’s more enjoyable. I mean, that is exactly, you’ve just made the case for the whole idea, for one of the main ideas in effortless sales and effortless living.

 

Greg Talks About The “What’s Essential Podcast” and His New Book “Effortless” · [42:54]

 

Will Barron:

Great stuff. Well, tell us more about the book. And then for everyone who’s just enjoyed you turning the tables there, Greg, tell us about the show and everyone’s listening on their iPhones right now. They get it. Tell us where they can find it so we can subscribe as well.

 

Greg McKeown:

Yeah. It’s the What’s Essential Podcast. You can find it anywhere where you’re listening to podcasts. You can just search for it. What’s Essential with Greg McKeown. We just have people on the very top of their game. Just had Matthew McConaughey, just interviewed him on Friday. A very interesting conversation. We went beyond, he has a new book out. We talked about that in the story, but we ended up having a real live coaching session in which, I won’t spoil it now, but it was absolutely fascinating to watch to see what he’s grappling with and how he is trying to get to the next level in his life and his career.

 

Greg McKeown:

And he went beyond wherever, I think, he’s ever gone before in he’s thinking. So we do these very live essential interventions and it makes for it’s not candidates it’s for real. So that’s the podcast, What’s Essential Podcast. For people who are interested in Effortless or Essentialism. If you order either of those books, you can go to essentialism.com, either one, you’ll get access to a 21 day essentialism challenge, which helps you to try and make it easier to try and implement some of these changes in your life so that you can focus on what’s essential, but also you can make it more achievable, doable, enjoyable, easier, eventually effortless.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing. I’ll link both books and the podcast in the show notes over Salesman.org, so we could find it nice and easily. I’ll link to some of the other books and content that we talked about in this episode as well. And with that, Greg, I really thank you for your time. I am massive fan of the books. So I will give you my kind of seal of approval for what it’s worth on the show as well for everyone who’s listening. And with that, Greg, I really thank you for joining us on the show today.

 

Greg McKeown:

We’ll it’s been fantastic. Thank you.

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