I Want to Be in Sales When I Grow Up!
Mark Raffan: Welcome to the Negotiations Ninja podcast, where we develop and deliver the most engaging negotiation content and training in the world. We host negotiation experts, business people and entrepreneurs, and discuss what works, what doesn't work and how we can improve our negotiation skills. Welcome, listeners. You've got Mark here. This is the Negotiations Ninja podcast. Today, my friend John Barrows is coming on the show to tell you all about the children's book that he wrote called I Want to Be in Sales When I Grow Up, which is a brilliant book. By the way, I highly recommend that you go and pick this up to read to your kids. I bought it, and I read it to my two boys, and they loved it. It follows the story of a little girl named Charlie. She plans to sell cookies around the neighborhood. What she very quickly realizes is that sales isn't easy, but with practice, Charlie gets well on her way to making a difference. Really, that's what sales is all about, providing solutions and making a difference in people's lives. I absolutely loved this book. I thought it was absolutely brilliant, and I highly recommend that you go out... If you've got kids or nieces or nephews, or you have friends that have kids, go and buy this book and gift it to those children or to those parents, or read it to your own kids. Please, it is just wonderful. All of the proceeds go to charity as well, which I think is amazing and just incredible. Go and buy this book, and enjoy this interview with Mr. John Barrows. John Barrows, we made it, buddy. How are you?
John Barrows: We're still here. We're still alive.
Mark Raffan: We're still here. Let's be clear, we're still here.
John Barrows: Every day is an adventure, my friend, and you gotta do what you can to stay positive, so crosstalk.
Mark Raffan: Well, man, you know what, I'm just stoked with the way that you're keeping things positive, which is to write a children's book about what you're passionate about, and to teach kids that sales is a legitimate profession, and that kids should be interested in it. Now, as shocking as it might sound to you, there are some people who don't know who you are.
John Barrows: Of course, they don't.
Mark Raffan: For those people, tell them who you are and what you do.
John Barrows: I appreciate it. I run JB Sales, a little company here doing sales training. We got about seven people on staff.
Mark Raffan: crosstalk, much bigger than he makes it out. Much bigger than he makes it out. He's too humble, too humble.
John Barrows: We're trying out best to elevate the profession. I grew up. I got the marketing background, got into sales selling power tools with DeWalt, and then xerox copier is really where I got my true sales education, if you will, then started a company doing IT services, didn't know what I was doing at 23 years old, took every training there was. I came across one that I liked, sold my company to Staples, got fired, because I'm just not a corporate person. Sometimes, somebody else has to tell you that for you to realize it, and then got into training, because I truly believed in this content that it was the right approach, at least from a sales standpoint, doing it ethically and with purpose and then went off on my own about seven or eight years ago now with JB Sales, and work with some cool companies, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Slack, Google. A lot of the fast growing SaaS tech startups in San Francisco is where we do most of our work, so super excited. I still sell. I'm not a trainer that just trains. I still actively sell every day. I prospect into tier one accounts. I manage deals. I also cross sell, upsell, so I'm doing all that stuff while getting out there trying to spread the word here about some tips and ideas on how to elevate the profession a little bit here.
Mark Raffan: I think that's an important distinction. You're a sales guy who happens to be a trainer, and not a trainer who happens to do some selling.
John Barrows: I think that's-
Mark Raffan: I think a lot of people, it's a small distinction, but it's very important.
John Barrows: I believe so. Sales is route with people. We always say if you can't do, teach, right? Nothing against those people. I know there's a lot of really good teachers, who necessarily weren't the best at whatever their profession was, but the problem is the further you get away from the direct selling, the less effective, I think, you are in this world, because things are changing so fast right now in sales.
Mark Raffan: So fast.
John Barrows: I mean, especially with where we are right now, I mean, daily, literally, the messaging that work last week or whatever is not working anymore. If you're not really on the front lines, going out there and seeing what's happening, it's hard to translate that to people that are on the front lines. It's just like being a manager, right? If you're managing a bunch of SDRs, making cold calls and you haven't made a cold call in the past six months, then it's going to be hard for me to listen to you tell me what to do on a cold call when you have never done a cold call in this environment. You might have done a cold call two years ago, five years ago, whatever it is, and been successful, but in this environment, come on, you better be on those front lines making calls with me to have any credibility at all to tell me what to do.
Mark Raffan: I think that's where a lot of people are now starting to leverage really cool tools like gong and others to determine what's working, what's not working to stay ahead of that, because it is changing so quickly. Without tools like that, you're going to be hitting roadblock after roadblock, and you don't have to.
John Barrows: I mean, I think we're in the benefit now of those tools and the insights and stuff to see what does work. It's no longer opinion based, right? It's no longer used to be guys like me could get away with saying something that sounded really good, but it was usually because we said it so often, and we practiced it in a role play scenario. But now, our opinions don't matter. There's data out there that shows, " Okay, Gong or whoever it is, they analyze millions of phone calls and emails, and they compare what the best reps do versus what average reps do," and they give us at least a baseline. For me, I believe now more than ever, the best professionals in the world, forget about sales for a second, are scientists, are ones who are agile, who can constantly test and try different things. When a new idea or new topic comes out that is data- driven, they use that as a baseline to compare whatever they're doing against, and see which one works better. That's where I feel like we need to be right now. That goes to negotiations on both sides of the equation constantly looking at where we can find that common ground, but also the adjustments we need to make along the way. It's very interesting to me right now to pay attention to those types of things.
Mark Raffan: There are so many advancements that are being made in the negotiation world right now, in the sales world right now for AI and the implementation of AI. It's blowing me away on a daily basis. I was chatting with a guy the other day named... I can't remember his last name. Forgive me, Martin. His first name is Martin. He is a co- founder of a company called Pactum. It's an AI negotiation chatbot that negotiates at scale on tailspin. Let's just say, for example, you sold PPE, so gloves, masks, all that other kind of stuff. For most large enterprise companies, that's considered tailspin. Lots of vendors, not a lot of spend, we usually don't pay attention to it. It's something that we just put aside and hopefully consolidate to someone, but now, what this tech can do is that it negotiates multiple different contracts all at the same time, so at parallel, at scale. Previously, you would have to have a procurement person managing each contract, or maybe a handful. Maybe let's get aggressive and say that we're doing 12 to 15 of these contracts at a time. But now, what this technology can do is it negotiates all of the contracts at once, all at the same time, and it can optimize all of them at parallel, so it can make concessions over here to get a better deal over here-
John Barrows: Jesus.
Mark Raffan: ...that's constantly moving the deals to make sure that it gets the most optimum outcome. All of those procurement people that were negotiating those contracts, their days are numbered, essentially, because now this technology is just going to do it for them.
John Barrows: Wow.
Mark Raffan: By the way, it's better, because it has no bias. It has all the data, and it knows how to negotiate, so it can use your own bias against you.
John Barrows: See, that's scary.
Mark Raffan: Isn't that scary?
John Barrows: That's scary, man.
Mark Raffan: That's wild.
John Barrows: I mean, I keep asking, I keep telling reps like, " The one thing that we got to start keep asking ourselves is what can we do that a computer can't, right?" That question is getting harder and harder and harder to answer. It's the same thing on the sales side is those SDRs that are cranking out those inaudible emails with SalesLoft and whatever, and they're not putting any thought into it. They're literally just clicking send. I'm like, "You're the same thing. Your days are numbered, because there's technology out there that can do that." I mean, shoot, I don't even talk about AI for a second. I mean, just the marketing automation tool crosstalk better than the sales reps for crying out loud.
Mark Raffan: Just the automation.
John Barrows: There is a reckoning coming. I was a little bit more freaked out probably three or four years ago than I am now, because I do still believe there is... I have this whole mentality or concept around the last mile, right? Let all the technology do all the heavy lifting. Gather all the insights. Come up with whatever you want, but right before it hits a human, have a human look at that data and contextualize it. Humanize it, but you don't have to do all that heavy lifting anymore, because you have technology that can tell you all these different nuances, but you still have to put your last mile flavor on top of it, for it's a hit.
Mark Raffan: I think what people are now wondering is, " Are the skills that are required for that last mile different than the skills that are required to do all the heavy lifting up front?"
John Barrows: Yes. No question.
Mark Raffan: What are the skills that are required so that I can ensure that I still am successful in sales for the long run?
John Barrows: I don't know exactly. It obviously depends on what the role is or what the tool is, but as example, from SDR standpoint, I don't think it's up to SDRs these days to reinvent the wheel with new messaging all over the place, right?
Mark Raffan: Yes.
John Barrows: I think it's up to them to take the AI bots or whatever it is that craft the messaging that looks like 95% legit, and then almost copyright copywriters, where they can look at it and say, "A human wouldn't say that," or instead of saying, " Hello, Mark Raffan," which is what a computer might do, I'm going to put a little flavor and say, " Hi, Mark," that type of thing. Also, like this, video, I mean, where technology still isn't caught up or at least isn't taking over is empathy, is context, is having this conversation and showing that you give a s*%t, because you said before that technology, there's no bias there. Well, there is bias with humans. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
Mark Raffan: That's right.
John Barrows: You know what I mean? To look at you, Mark, and say, "You're a person, and you're in a tough spot right now because your company is getting crushed by COVID," or whatever it is, and looking at the data and saying, "Well, I should screw Mark and get him down 25% on what I used to pay him because I can." Right? That's technology. Now, humans, though, I can look at it and say, " That's not the right thing to do. Have you ever seen the movie I, Robot?
Mark Raffan: Yes. I love that movie, good movie.
John Barrows: One of my favorite. To me, that is where we're going. I am fully convinced that's where we're going, but I also understand the challenge that Will Smith faced, because the reason that he hated robots so much was because when he crashed into this other car, and there was a little girl in that other car, and they were sinking-
Mark Raffan: Yes, right. crosstalk.
John Barrows: ... therobot came down and did a calculation in its head that said, " This guy is more..."
Mark Raffan: He's more at risk.
John Barrows: The likelihood of survival is higher with him than her, so I'm going to save him, whereas any normal human being would look at a little girl and a grown ass man and say, " I'm going to save the little girl, because she has more life to live." It's the same thing with, I think, the biggest fear with AI bots on driving. It's like, " Okay, yes, vehicle driving is going to make a better decision objectively about swerving around and missing this traffic, and potentially hitting this person. But if swerving around this traffic to a 95- year- old who barely should be in the car, and whatever, versus hitting a kid on the street, data says that it's probably a better idea to hit the kid on the street, because the less likelihood, but... You know what I mean?
Mark Raffan: I know exactly what you mean.
John Barrows: There's just some piece of empathy there that needs to be there before. Until computers start buying from computers, we still have a chance. I mean, my biggest fear is forget about the seller side of all the technology. My fear is what you just brought up, is the buyer side, is when the buyer start using technology to buy. Therefore, AI goes into their systems, understands all the complexities, knows exactly what they need to consolidate or whatever tool is. It then sends an RFP out to 10 companies that fit that profile, because they're all in Gartner's Magic Quadrant. Then all of a sudden, it runs all those data, and it makes a decision purely based on that. That's crosstalk.
Mark Raffan: By the way, that already exists.
John Barrows: That's my big fear.
Mark Raffan: That's scary. For me, that's insane. I think what I love, what you brought up, is that empathy, that EQ thing that I think is hard to teach, because it requires the emotion behind it, and it requires understanding the counterparty, and thankfully, not there yet with computers.
John Barrows: No.
Mark Raffan: Thank God. Whether we get there is another story. I don't know. I'm not smart enough, and I'm not involved in that enough to know whether we're going to get there, but we're not there yet. That's what I love about what you wrote about in your book is the understanding that's required to be in sales. I think that's came across beautifully in the way that you wrote that. Let's talk about the book. For those listeners that haven't picked it up yet, do yourself a favor, pick up this incredible book. It's called I Want to Be in Sales When I Grow Up. It's all about this little girl named Charlie. Let's walk through the idea of the book. Why come about it, and what did you want to achieve with it?
John Barrows: It was funny, because now, where I am in my profession and in this profession, a lot of people have been asking me all the time, " When are you going to write a book? When are you going to write a book?" I've always struggled with it, because, a, I don't like reading all that much. That's not how I learned. I mean, I'm dead serious. I'd pick up a book. Within four pages, I fall asleep, but I've tried. I've really tried to, " No, I'm going to sit down in an uncomfortable chair," but I legitimately fall asleep. I learned by this type of scenario. I learned by doing, and so I just learned differently. I also thought like, " What am I going to write that hasn't already been written a thousand times?" I mean, I know I have my voice and all that other stuff, whatever, but I just thought I would be writing a book just to write a book. I don't like to do things just to do them. As I rewind a little bit, my daughter when she was about six years old, she got into Girl Scout cookies, selling Girl Scout cookies. She came to me one time and she said, " Daddy, I know you have a big social media following," which no six year old should really know, but she said, " I have this link here where people can buy Girl Scout cookies, so instead of me going door to door, they can buy it online." She's like, " Could you share it out there?" I'm like, " No, absolutely not." She's like, "Why not?" I go, " Well, first of all, that's my audience, and I earned that audience. I'm not just going to post it out there. Also, why would they buy from you? Why would they buy from you compared to any other relative that's trying to sell them Girl Scout cookies?" She's like, " Okay, well, what do I need to do?" I was like, " Well, let's put together a little video. Let's put together a pitch of why you should buy Girl Scout cookies from you." We did this little practice or pitch, and I recorded it. I wrote a little blog post on it. Next year, she was going other it again, and she was doing door to door, so we practiced objection handling. I videotaped that. I wrote another blog post on it. I felt like this was a cool journey, because as I was teaching her how to sell, I was looking at it from a different perspective. I was looking at it as the true essence of sales, a little girl selling cookies, that type of thing. I'm like, " All right, so this will be fun." I used to travel quite a bit, obviously, before COVID. One of the things that killed me was I was always gone. Every week, I was traveling, and I was always looking for ways to connect more with my daughter, help her understand what I did. When you tell your five-year-old kid, they understand what a lawyer is, a doctor, a police officer. They understand most other professions because they see them on TV, and they get it, right? When you tell your kid you're in sales, they look at you sideways, and they're like, "What's that?" Are you talking to them all day long?"
Mark Raffan: They don't get it.
John Barrows: I wanted a book that I could read to my daughter that could help her feel proud of what daddy did. We went on this journey together where we wrote this book. The goal of the book was really to introduce sales, because no kid ever says, "I want to be in sales when I grow up." It's always the default profession, which is why we have such a bad name, because what happens is you go get your degree in whatever you want to get. I still think it's absurd that people are asked to dedicate what they want to do for the rest of their life at 18 years old, but whatever. Then you get out and you realize, either, a, " I don't want to do this," or b, " I can't make enough money," so low barrier to entry sales. I'm pretty good with people, but the problem is that you give a seemingly good person who comes out of school who usually doesn't lie, who doesn't cheat or any of that stuff. You then put them in a situation where they get very little training. You give them a territory. You give them a quota, and you say, " Good luck, and by the way, if you don't hit your quota-
Mark Raffan: You're fired.
John Barrows: ... you won't be ableto pay your rent, because your base salary is not enough, and you'll probably get fired in the next two to three months, right? You put a good person in that scenario. They will do unnatural things. They will work that gray line a little bit there. They will say things that might not be necessarily true. You know what I mean? They will do all these things that automatically put us in a negative perception, because it's like, " Oh, these sleazy sales reps," but it's not necessarily all of our fault. That scenario does not support a successful engagement, if you will. So, if we were to teach kids early that sales is a profession that, (a) they could study, and be proud of, and learn it from the beginning, when they got out into the real world, they might not even have to go to college. Look, I got my own opinions here of four- year colleges. I personally think four- year colleges are a joke. I think they're a nice social education. I think they're ridiculous actual education. I believe that education happens when you come back, and you decide to go get your MBA. Once you're out in the real world, and you're like, " Oh, I don't know if I want to do all this stuff, whatever," and you say, " No, no, no, I want to go learn about this," and you go get your MBA, you've chosen to learn about that. Therefore, that's when learning truly happens, unless you get into college, and you know you want to be a doctor. You know you want to be a lawyer, whatever, but very few of us have that direction. I think a four- year college is somewhat of a joke. Why not give a kid the opportunity when they come out of high school to say either, " Wait a minute. Either I go and drop$ 200,000 a year to get a$ 50,000 a year job that I'm going to have to pay back for the rest of my life and live in my parents basement, or I could go out there, and I could start a business. I could get into sales and generate enough revenue to then choose to go back to school and pay my own way." I'm not saying one is better than the other. Personally, I think the other is better, but I just like the option of it. That's really where this came from. A, the goal is to introduce sales to kids at a very young age, so they, again, see it as something that they could do. Two, it's to get more women into sales, because I believe women are some of the best sales professionals in the world. My daughter, having her as the face of the book. Then three, 100% of the profits go to charity. It's funny, my daughter does not want to be in sales when she grows up. She actually wants to be a veterinarian. 100% of the profits go to World Wildlife Fund. We're about to write another check this year for$ 15,000 to the World Wildlife Fund to help them save the animals and stuff like that. It was a great way of me introducing my daughter to really what I did, but also for a bigger purpose. There are some key takeaways in the back of the book that are really just the essence of what I believe that the profession is really all about.
Mark Raffan: I think, for me, the journey that Charlie goes on through that to learn what it takes to not just... I think this is where most people fall flat on the whole idea of what sales is. They think you're selling something instead of providing a solution to help meet a need. I think that that's where a lot of the mischaracterization of salespeople comes from is they view it as like, " Well, you're just trying to pull something off on someone else, or you're trying to get rid of your crappy product."
John Barrows: Exactly.
Mark Raffan: That's not a thing. The vast majority of salespeople out there, in my opinion, at least, are looking to actually help people and provide solutions to help meet needs, and yet, for whatever reason, and we probably got the media to blame for this to a large extent, there's this idea of what sales people are. The effort that you guys put into this book to try and change that perception, I think, needs to be applauded, because it's a big deal. What you're trying to do is you're trying to shape the perception of what a salesperson is, and you're going against a big battle. You look at movies like Wolf of Wall Street and other movies like that, and you're just like, " Good God, right?" If this is a continuous image that we keep pushing out into the world about what salespeople are, they're never going to win this battle. Getting into kids' lives early enough to be able to teach them what sales is and what sales isn't, I think, is really important, because that's when they can start looking at movies like that going, " Okay, but I know better, right? I know better now, because my dad showed me." When you put this book out, I ended up buying it, and I read it to my boys the night that it came in. It had an amazing effect, because they don't know what I do. As an entrepreneur, as a salesperson, they don't know what I do. For me to be able to show them, " Okay, this is what I do just on a different scale or a different product, they suddenly got it. They're like, " Oh, I get it. I understand. I understand what dad does," because for the longest time, they were just seeing me leaving for the day, and that would be the end of the conversation, right?
John Barrows: Exactly.
Mark Raffan: Now, we have a new connection that we never had before, so that's a big deal for me as a salesperson and as an entrepreneur. Thank you for what you did, man.
John Barrows: Thank you. I mean, that's exactly what I was trying to do, which is I say the same thing. People say, " I don't sell you anything. I either help you achieve your goals or solve your problems. That's it. If your goals aren't big enough and your problems aren't big enough, then why are we having this conversation?" Now, does that mean that I give up when you say no? Absolutely not, because I think there is something, but there's huge difference to me between influence and manipulation
Mark Raffan: Yes.
John Barrows: Manipulation is what bad sales professionals do. Influence is what great sales professionals do, right? I'm not trying to manipulate you. I'm trying to open your eyes a little bit to take down that initial barrier of distrust, and ask you some questions that get you to think a little bit and realize, " Whoa, I didn't even know that that was an option," or, " You know what, you're right. Maybe I should look at this in a different way." I mean, that's what your goal is, right?
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John Barrows: Those movies Wolf of Wall Street, Boiler Room, Glengarry Glen Ross, it's all about manipulation, and it's everything that's wrong about the profession. I mean, truly wrong about the profession. That's why I think they're great movies. Don't get me wrong. They are super fantastic movies-
Mark Raffan: crosstalk. Sure.
John Barrows: ...but they are the worst sales movies I've ever seen in my life, because they hit sales in all the wrong ways. They're just trying to screw people just to get commissions. They're basically selling vaporware, and they're trying to convince people with tactics that trap them in a lot of ways, which is just gross. Don't get me wrong. I'm a big believer in the 80/ 20 rule across the board. There are about at least 20% of this profession that are the charlatans, that are the ones that are just trying to make a buck, don't really give a crap, but the others are just trying to figure out how to make a connection here. I tell everybody that the number one thing I think you need to have to be successful in sales is a belief in what you do, because if you genuinely believe that what you do helps people in a lot of ways, whatever that is, but only for the right people, not everybody, but for the right people, if you genuinely believe it helps, then sales is the transfer of enthusiasm.
Mark Raffan: It then becomes your obligation, right? If you believe in what you're doing, and you believe in what you're selling, and you believe it's going to change that person or that company's way of doing business, then it's your obligation to call them and tell them about it-
John Barrows: That's right.
Mark Raffan: ...because otherwise, you don't believe in it. That's what that tells me.
John Barrows: Absolutely. That's the hard thing for a lot of sales reps to come to realize. I didn't realize it until I got fired from Staples, because when I got fired from Staples, it was a real wakeup call for me, because I had never been fired in my life. B, it was my company, but I just didn't realize that I didn't fit in the corporate structure, so they fired me, and it was the best thing that have ever happened to me. But when I was looking for a new job, I was a little bit of a panic because I was an IT sales guy for seven years. I'm sitting there. I'm like, " Is that what I am? Am I an IT sales guy?" I'm like, " I don't even like computers. I really don't. I can't stand them. Servers and routers and all that crap, I could care less about that stuff." I'm like, " Oh no, what do I do?" My wife was the one who actually helped me out with this. She said, " Well, let's take a look back at your career." She's like, " Let's look at why you were the top rep at pretty much every company you worked at." She's like, "Let's start with DeWalt. Why were you the number one rep in your region, the number one rep at DeWalt?" I'm like, "I don't know, because DeWalt power tools are pretty badass. They weren't hard for me to sell, because I genuinely believe that DeWalt power tools were the best power tools in the industry, right?" Then all of a sudden, Xerox was. Why was I one of the best reps at Xerox? Well, it wasn't because I cared about copiers. It's just because I genuinely believe that Xerox was the best in the industry at copiers at that time. Thrive Networks, my company, I didn't give a s$&t about computers, but I knew that the people that I was representing were going to do incredible work for the customer. When it dawned on me that it didn't matter what I sold, it mattered that I had to believe in what I sold. As soon as that happened, that clicked. All of a sudden, I started opening up my eyes to everything. I was just like, " Oh, wait a minute, well, what about this?" I could sell that. I could easily see myself selling that, because I believe in those things. It just so happened I had taken this training, and I believed in this training, and one thing led to another, but that's the... You take any engineer. People say, " I'm not in sales." Yes, you are. When I say that sales is the transfer of enthusiasm, take any introverted engineer, the most introverted engineer you'll ever come across, and ask them what was the last thing that they built. What was the last problem they solved from a technical standpoint? Literally watch them light up a Christmas tree, and go, " Oh, yeah, well, I was doing this, and I saw this problem, and I was able to figure this out. I stayed up until 3: 00 in the morning, and I da, da, da, da, da. Check this out." It's like, " Oh, wow, man, that sounds good. Can I have one?" Guess what? You know what I mean? You just transferred that enthusiasm over to me, right? That's where I believe that if you get that at its essence, then sales is just, yes, it's a profession, but it's also a mindset.
Mark Raffan: I think it comes from intention. I was chatting with Tim David. He was previously a magician, and now he teaches all about influence and persuasion. Well, number one, I'm a massive magic nerd. I love magicians.
John Barrows: Nice.
Mark Raffan: I also think that magicians intuitively understand how to persuade, because they understand audience and dynamics and all that kind of stuff. What he said... He was making the distinction between persuasion, influence and manipulation. I said, " Okay, what is the difference between influence and manipulation?" He said, " It's intention." What do you mean by that? He said, " Well, if the intention is for me to help you, that is influence. If the intention is for me to get something out of this, and I really don't give a s%$t about you, that is manipulation."
John Barrows: That's manipulation.
Mark Raffan: I was like, " I love that. That is a great distinction, because if you start from the right place, then you know that you're going in to help solve a problem. Then everything that comes from that is going to be a pure intent." For the listeners, in order to think about this, maybe differently is if you don't believe that what you're selling right now or what you're doing right now is helping to solve a problem, you've either got to reset your mind frame about, " Okay, can I think that way, and is it actually helping," or you got to go and sell something else.
John Barrows: You gotta go find another job. I tell people this all... I mean, I know we're in a tough spot right now, and people are looking for jobs. You gotta be thankful if you have one right now in a lot of ways, but I get a lot of reps asking me for advice like, " Hey, John, I'm at a company where I just don't believe in what we're doing here, and I'm trying to figure out a way to hit my number and all this other stuff." I go, " My advice for you is I'm sorry, to your point, either go talk to your customers, because if you have customers, seemingly, they're getting value out of whatever you do."
Mark Raffan: Right. Exactly.
John Barrows: Go grab customer success, and get a couple of clients on the phone and just talk to them, and be like, " Hey, look, help me understand. Why do you still do business with us? What difference do we make," that type of stuff so that you can start to see, and then go talk to maybe some of the founders of the business and ask them, " Hey, why did you start this company? Where did this come from?" You can get that, " Okay, now I see it." But if you can't get that, then you absolutely have to go find something else to do. You have to go find some other company to represent, because if you are continuously selling something you don't believe or you believe is not that good, you are the reason that people look at this profession the wrong way, right? You are.
Mark Raffan: I love how direct you are that this is your East Coast mentality. It's like, "What? You're an asshole, sorry to say."
John Barrows: It's crosstalk. I hate to say it, but even though if you don't think... It's like, " I'm not a racist, because I have black friends." That's not true. You'd still be a racist. You can still represent sales the wrong way, even if you fundamentally believe you're not a sleazy sales rep.
Mark Raffan: That's right.
John Barrows: You can convince yourself every morning that, " I'm doing this because I need to make a paycheck and support my family," but ultimately, you're reinforcing the stereotype of bad sales professionals if you are out there selling something you genuinely do not believe in.
Mark Raffan: I think what you brought up there is very important, because there are some people that they may have believed at some point in time, but they got stuck in a rut, and they didn't really... They got out of passion or out of love with whatever it is they're selling. Go back to your customers, right? Go back to your customers and understand why, understand why what you're selling is important to them. Look, motivation is important, and you need to be able to understand what the motivation is of the counterparty to buy your stuff in order for you to be motivated-
John Barrows: Absolutely.
Mark Raffan: ...because otherwise, it's just not going to happen. If you find for whatever reason that your attrition rate on customers is really, really bad, now, it's time. It's time to go do something else.
John Barrows: crosstalk. I think that's a good indicator, Mark, there for reps who are struggling with this is to ask their customer success what is the attrition rate. What is our churn rate, and that's everything, because if it is high, if it is more than 10... Well, it depends on what you sell, so I don't want to put a percentage on it. But if you don't get more customers and repeat customers after, then there's something wrong there with the business, with the service, with the solution, whatever it is, and that could be as opposed to you go and doing a ton of research, you could just look at that number and say, " That seems a little high compared to the other industry averages." Then go on Glassdoor. G2 Crowd, and read some of the reviews that your clients are saying of you and see what that is. If you start to get that negative feeling, then you might want to plan your exit strategy.
Mark Raffan: G2 Crowd's been such a godsend man.
John Barrows: Oh, it's huge.
Mark Raffan: Dude, it's... I've only discovered it recently. I don't know. For whatever reason, I've been living under a rock.
John Barrows: Oh, man, crosstalk.
Mark Raffan: Over the last few months, I've been just like, " This is wild, man. This is amazing." inaudible these reviews.
John Barrows: I did their sales kickoff last year, and I found this out. I almost fell out of my chair, because I was listening to one of the keynotes. Then I was going to come up afterwards. I think it was their CEO that said they're top 200 most trafficked website on the internet. Think about that for a second. You got Amazon. You got Google. You got Facebook. You got all these massive, huge companies. You have a B2B review website that is top 200 most traffic in the world. You tell me that whole stat, that by the time somebody comes to us, they're already 60% to 70% of the way through the sales process, corporate executive board, challenger sale, that type of thing. That is a real statistic. Now, that's inbound. I still need to make sure everybody's clear. That's not outbound, so that's why we still make calls and stuff. But when a deal comes to you, there is a strong likelihood that they have already done their homework on you, and you better go on G2. If you're an organization out there right now not paying attention to G2, you should be paying attention to G2 Crowd right now.
Mark Raffan: Big time.
John Barrows: You should be on it, and you should have a strategy about it, about how to stay up at the top. By the way, if you get negative reviews, I look at every single review that comes in for us. If it's anything less than a four out of five, I will go on, and I will look at why. I will actually personally comment on each one of those. If you had a bad experience, for instance, Mark, because sometimes, we do trainings, 40, 50, 60 people, you can't please everybody, right?
Mark Raffan: inaudible.
John Barrows: Somebody might come in thinking that it was something and have a bad experience, whatever. The way you respond to that makes all the difference in the world. I'll usually jump on, " Hey, Mark, sorry, you had that type of experience, man. Well, the training was supposed to be around these type of things. I'm happy to spend some time with you directly to talk about your specific needs. Give me a call directly if you want," that type of thing, because I don't want to just see the reviews. I want to see the negative... Everybody knows how people make decision on Amazon, right? You look at the reviews, four out of five stars, whatever it is, and then you open those reviews. You scroll all the way to the bottom of the negative ones, and you see which ones are valid, " Oh, well look, their package came broken. Okay, who gives a s%&t, blah, blah, blah," but if there's real issues there, then you see how the company reacts to it. Then you make your decision based off of that. I think those are the types of things that, again, if you're not paying attention to that, you're going to be in some trouble because you'll be doing a lot of churn, and you might not even know why.
Mark Raffan: I agree, man. I think it's so important for people to understand how the market is reacting to whatever it is you're doing. The coolest thing about these tools now is you get to see it real time. It's not anecdotal. It's not like you're just going to be like, " Oh, I'm not sure. We think it's going this way. Oh no, there's the evidence. There's the data, right?" You look at it. You just gotta make decisions off of it. What's next for the whole idea of I Want to Be in Sales When I Grow Up? Are you going to take this further, or is this a one and done thing?
John Barrows: It's a little bit of a pet project. I haven't spent a lot of time pushing it out there, focusing on it. I still have the site. If you go to iwanttobeinsaleswhenigrowup. com, you'll see actually the videos of my daughter and all that other stuff. It's on Amazon. We're not pushing it hard right now. I would sales kickoffs and stuff. We talked about, " Hey, why don't you grab a few copies of it just to push out there?" Once I do get to the point where I can stop working as much in the business and work more on the business type of stuff, I'm still the entrepreneur that still does 90% of the work on my end. You know what I mean? I'm still doing all the trainings. I'm still doing all the client work, which I like, but I'm really, really trying. We got a whole new on demand platform, and that's starting to really take off. As the on demand and passive income starts to rise more and more, I can kick back a little bit more on my professional services. Once that happens, I'll probably start doing a lot more, and not just around sales. I mean, I'm thinking of all the obscure professions that nobody knows about. I want to be in procurement when I grow up. You know what I mean? I want to be in... I want to be a crosstalk.
Mark Raffan: God, no, no one should ever dream of that. No.
John Barrows: Think about it. Think about it. There's all sorts of professions that nobody knows anything about until they get well into their careers.
Mark Raffan: I want to be an actuary when I grow up. What?
John Barrows: Right? What even is that? I think there's an opportunity to partner up with other people in space like yourself, for instance, and say, " Hey, let's use this framework as a way to get the word out there."
Mark Raffan: I love that idea.
John Barrows: Again, going back to intent, the intent here is to elevate the profession, is to give people another option to consider. Then I'm all in. We'll see. I hope that I can continue on this journey, and maybe do some stuff with kids and readings and those type of things. As it gets more and more, I still got a bunch of these copies in my garage, so I gotta get rid of them someway.
Mark Raffan: Let's talk about the on demand platform, because I think this is really changing the game, in my opinion. Your whole idea behind this, correct me if I'm wrong, is to be the Netflix of sales training, essentially.
John Barrows: Pretty much.
Mark Raffan: First of all, why? You're making a lot of money doing your training right now. Why do that? Then how's things going, and where can people find more about that?
John Barrows: The whole concept here is I go back to the'90s rap moguls like Dr. Dre and those type of things. They didn't become billionaire. He didn't become a billionaire. Well, beats obviously had a big thing to do with it. He didn't get to where he was by putting out better tracks. He would go find somebody like Eminem, and bring them in and show them how to do it. Then when Eminem spun off, he took a little piece of that. My whole thing is I know I'm not the smartest cat out there by any stretch of the imagination, and there's other people that are really good in certain areas. There's always also other up and comers here. Also, the way people are learning is changing, so it's no longer sit in a classroom, go through this LMS that is structured and boring as s$%t, whatever. There's dynamic. I also want snippets. I don't want long format. What we did was we took my content, some of the core programs, by filling the funnel, driving a close, went into studio, cut those up, but then I found Morgan Ingram and James Buckley. They have their brands, and so we bring them into the fold, get them to create their content, and fold it under this. Now, I'm looking for more of those, so Richard Harris and a few others as we build this, so it's just a collection. It's almost going to be a, yes, Netflix, but almost like masterclass for sales specifically.
Mark Raffan: I love that.
John Barrows: Also, what the hope here is or my vision, at least, I don't know if it's going to come true. I was a little bit early on it a couple years ago when I thought about it, but I do believe it's coming, is just in time learning. I do believe that we are going to be in a position, talk about technology and AI circling back to that, where you're going to be in Salesforce. You're going to be in whatever, and you're about to make a phone call to Mark Raffan, who is the chief procurement officer of XYZ company. Before that call happens, a little video is going to pop up and say, " Hey, John, before you call Mark, make sure you do X, Y, Z, blah, blah, blah, prep this way. Make sure... Remember the questions you want to ask him or whatever."
Mark Raffan: I love that.
John Barrows: That content, snippets, if you will, we've created a format where there's no standard format for how content is created online. You go on to YouTube, and you find some dude standing up on stage, and just recording it for two hours. Then you find somebody behind a green screen. There's all these different ways that content is created. There's not a standard for it, so we've created a standard for it, so now, anybody can come in and put their content in this format. It folds up under our Netflix. They can then sell it for themselves for their own brand, but it also fits into the just in time learning. When that pops, we'll be in a position to really put our content anywhere and everywhere. It's not just about me, right? Yes, I've gotten to the point where I'm the umbrella here, but I'm not the umbrella. JB Sales is now the umbrella. I mean, we've actually made a pretty distinct switch from it used to be, JBarrows, John Barrows, JBarrows, LLC, and now we've shifted to JB Sales, because it's not about me. It's about quality content at the right place, at the right time for the right people, and allowing them to go in and consume it how they want. That's the whole concept here. It's going really well. I mean, we launched it. I don't believe in luck. I believe you make your luck in a lot of ways. Back in December, we went in studio. We recut all of our content, and we were planning on launching this in April, and lo and behold, COVID hits, and everybody has to go home and content is all of a sudden something everybody's looking for. Holy s$#t, you just hit the holy grail there. It's slowly but surely moving upstream, and it's putting us in position to do some really interesting things. I'm excited to see where that's going to go.
Mark Raffan: Dude, you're crushing it, man. I'm super stoked every time I see you guys online, whether it's you or Morgan or James, whoever it might be online talking about what you're doing. It's really great. By the way, man, James has a great voice. I was listening to an intro that he did for your show the other day. I was like, " Who the f$%k is this guy? Oh, f%$k, it's James Buckley. Oh my God, this guy's voice is incredible."
John Barrows: James is an interesting character in a lot of ways. I mean, again, him and Morgan are a testament to personal brand building, right? They were both out there doing their thing. I didn't put a job description out there and said, " I'm hiring." I saw what they were doing, and I said, " Hey, do you want to come on board here?" James has got such an interesting story. I mean, talk about putting me on my heels. I actually brought him on my podcast. I said, " James, I gotta ask you, man. You're always so happy. Why are you so happy, man?"" I try to stay somewhat optimistic, but I'm usually like a pragmatic. You know what I mean? I'm in the middle there, but you just always seem happy." It was amazing. He paused for a second and said, "You know what, John, I've never said this out loud to anybody. I don't know why I feel comfortable saying it with you, but there was a point in my life where I almost killed myself. I was strung out on drugs, and I was suicidal. I just woke up one day and said, " I don't want to do this." I was living in Florida selling drugs. He's like, " My wife divorced me. My kids left me and all that other stuff, so I packed up my car and just drove to Tennessee and started a new life. Now, every day is a blessing." I'm sitting there like, " Holy s@$t."
Mark Raffan: Wow.
John Barrows: For his enthusiasm, his passion for helping, I mean, talk about a passion for helping people. I mean, that kid has it. It absolutely comes through in his delivery, and what he talks about and how he talks about it. I'm super stoked to have him on board. He's doing some fun stuff now, too.
Mark Raffan: That's awesome, man. Listen, what's the last thing that you want to leave the listeners with today? We've talked about AI. We've talked about I want to be in sales when I grow up. We've talked about your on demand stuff. What do you want to leave people with?
John Barrows: I think it goes back to the why. Right now, I think, is a really important time. I think it's an opportune time for a lot of people to take a step back and think about why they do what they do, what gets them excited, what gets them to really assess their lives right now, their careers, and go find something that they can believe in. If you're not doing that right now, I would really highly recommend it. Go Google. Find your why. Go Google how to understand your true values, right? Go Google that stuff, and go through that exercise, and put together a game plan and try to get better every day. This is not a situation where anybody's going to come out of this on fire or whatever, but it's just continuous improvement, believing in what you do, and trying different things and being agile and doing it for the right reasons in a lot of ways. If you can go do that, you'll be successful period. As you know, I'm a huge Gary Vaynerchuk fan. I believe what he says when he says happiness is the true measure of success. You could be making$ 40,000 a year and living in a single family home, whatever, but if you are going to work and happy every day and coming home to your kids, and that's happy, to me, that's success compared to a multi millionaire who's a miserable prick. You want to go be that. Go find out whatever happiness is for you.
Mark Raffan: Listen, I love talking to you, man. Whenever I have this conversation, for the next few hours after that, I'm always chuckling to myself with the s$@t that you'd say.
John Barrows: Unfortunately, I think I'm at a point in my career where I used to get... I always say, " In your 20s, you're always looking up for permission, so you don't really take the gloves off. In your 30s, you figure out, " I think I know what I'm talking about," but you're still holding on to your 20s a little bit because you think you're cool. Once you get into your 40s, you realize, " I don't give a f@$k. I'm going to say whatever the hell I want to say." I've gotten to that point in my career. I probably got through it a lot earlier than most people, because I've been like this, but at the end of the day, people authenticity and crosstalk.
Mark Raffan: I love it, man. I love it. I think it's great. I think there needs to be more of it. For the listeners, just so that you know, we'll be linking out to all of these amazing resources in the show notes. John, it's always a pleasure, my friend. Thank you so much for being here.
John Barrows: Thanks, Mark. I'll give one more offer. Actually, last thing here is John M as in Michael Barrows is my handle on Instagram. Like I said, I got a whole bunch of these books in my garage. If anybody has a kid or wants to give them as a gift, just hit me up on Instagram. I'll send it over to you. I'll have my daughter autograph it, because she's way cooler than I am, and we'll send it out to you. If anybody listening here-
Mark Raffan: Amazing.
John Barrows: ...just hit me up on Instagram, and I will happily send you one of these books as a holiday gift here to try to get some spirits a little bit higher these days.
Mark Raffan: I love it, man, an incredible offer. For the listeners, just please go and buy this book, whether it's either you're getting it through the link or whatever it might be, if you hit him up on Instagram, get the book. That's the only thing that I can leave you with. It's changed the way that I communicate with my kids, because we're connecting at a totally different level now. Again, john, always a pleasure, my friend.
John Barrows: Thanks for having me on, Mark. I really appreciate it.
Mark Raffan: Hey, friends, thanks so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, please share it with friends and colleagues so that they can benefit from it as well. If you find Negotiations Ninja podcast worthy, please go on to iTunes, and give us a cool rating with a nice review. We certainly appreciate every single one that we get, because it helps us to understand who is listening, how they're listening and what it is they like. If there's something that you would like me to discuss around negotiation, influence or persuasion, give me a shout. You know how to reach me on social media, or you can get me on my website, which is www. negotiations. ninja.
I Want to Be in Sales When I Grow Up! Is the title of the book John Barrows wrote to teach kids that sales is a legitimate profession—and one to be proud of. I read my boys this book, and they finally understand what I do. It forged a new connection that we’ve never had before. Not only does it serve an amazing educational purpose—but John’s book gives back. 100% of the profits go to the World Wildlife Fund to help them save animals. What other purpose does John hope this book serves? Will he be writing more? What’s the next step in his journey? Listen to this episode of Negotiations Ninja to learn more!
Outline of This Episode
- [0:34] I Want to Be in Sales When I Grow Up!
- [2:28] Just who is John Barrows?
- [5:03] Leverage the technology that’s available to you
- [9:25] Technology isn’t replacing salespeople—yet
- [13:14] Why John wrote a children’s book
- [21:53] There’s a huge difference between sales and manipulation
- [28:17] Don’t sell what you don’t believe in
- [35:11] What’s next? Is John writing more?
- [37:08] The Netflix of sales training
- [42:35] It always goes back to the “why”
Resources & People Mentioned
Connect with John Barrows
- Hit John up on Instagram for a FREE book!
- BOOK: I Want to Be in Sales When I Grow Up!
- I Want to Be in Sales When I Grow Up website
- John’s sales training website
- Follow on Twitter