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Kristie Jones talks about her upcoming book

Author, Kristie Jones, who is a powerhouse in the sales world, chatted about her new book, which will be coming out later in the year.

Kristie Jones
Kristie Jones. Photo Courtesy of Kristie Jones
Kristie Jones. Photo Courtesy of Kristie Jones

Author, Kristie Jones, who is a powerhouse in the sales world, chatted about her new book, which will be coming out later in the year.

Growing up in a self-proclaimed “Sales house,” author Kristie Jones has sales in her blood. She has spent the last 15 years working with small and mid-size businesses to grow their revenue and help her clients reach their goals.

Her direct communication style helps to get the root of her client’s challenges quickly and without complicated talk. Now she has written her first book due out early this year.

Q & A interview

Mentors can be very helpful in achieving success. Who has been your favorite mentor and why?

I would not be who I am or where I am without a wide range of mentors and guides. But the one who was maybe most influential to my career and this book is Sales Guru and Best-Selling Author, Mike Weinberg. From our first conversation he saw something in me I hadn’t seen for myself and invested in helping me to see and leverage that potential.

I was fortunate to meet Mike only a month after I had decided to start my sales consultancy helping startup clients. He was consulting for a local SaaS company where I had interviewed for a VP of Sales position. Before I had the option of accepting that position, I was given the opportunity to consult with two other companies and, somewhat to my surprise, I went from sales leader looking for a job to being the founder of my own company.

I went back to the SaaS company and told them that I had decided to try my hand at consulting and that instead of becoming their next VP of Sales, that I thought they should become a client and I’d become their Fractional VP of Sales. They kindly declined my offer, but a week later called and ask me if I’d meet with their current sales consultant, Mike Weinberg.

Not only did Mike help convince the SaaS company to hire me as their fractional VP of Sales, but he also offered to help me get started. Mike met with me several times in person and on the phone to share best practices around pricing, consulting dos and don’ts, and he even shared his client contract for me to model. But the most important thing he gave me was confidence.

When I wasn’t sure that I was worth the price I had proposed to a prospect, he asked me why I wasn’t charging more. When I told him I thought I should charge less because I was just starting out as a consultant, he reminded me that I’d been a sales leader for 15 plus years and that I was just as qualified and knowledgeable as consultants who had been consulting for years.

I will always be grateful that our paths crossed and that Mike saw something in me I didn’t see in myself and was willing to provide me mentorship and a confidence boost.

What motivated you to write a book?

I love helping sales professionals learn, grow, and succeed, it’s what I’m most passionate about. But as only one person I knew I would only be able to impact a handful of sales reps in my lifetime. I felt like

what I had to share could impact so many more lives if I used a one-to-many strategy. When I was invited to develop a training course for UDEMY (add other designation here) I had the opportunity to put that one-to-many strategy to work, but that course was focused specifically on prospecting and sales funnels, and I really wanted to share everything I knew about personal growth and success strategies in sales.

As a journalism major and someone who loves to write, a book made the most sense.

And while there are hundreds of “how to” skills building books out there from amazing sales experts and any rep who needs that type of information is in good hands, there are actually very few great books on what sets the top performers apart from the other 90 percent.

This is what I love to instill in people – the principles that, once they’ve mastered sales skills, would ensure that they would be able to live the life they might have only dreamed about.

Sales is one of the only professions that allows you to set your own income and I wanted to help new and experienced sales reps look beyond the technical sales skills to the decisions that the best sales reps in the world made to put them on the path to be a top 10 percenter.

What sales trends do you think we’ll see in 2023?

I’d rather look at areas of focus than trends. Trends come and go, but I believe to win in 2023 sales reps and sales leaders will need to be focused and disciplined. Here are the areas sales leaders and reps will HAVE to focus on in order to success in this coming year.

Focus on your existing customers. I think that new customers are going to be harder to acquire in 2023, so the last thing a company needs is to lose existing customers. You need to get closer to your customers to understand how the economy is impacting their business and how you can help.

Proactive outreach that adds value and provides information that will help your customers make better business decision about their own business is what will set companies apart from the competition and there is no better department to lead that initiative than the sales team.

This will also allow companies to not only identify at risk customers but identify those who are ripe for upsell and cross-sell. It’s much easier to get additional revenue from an existing happy customer than a company who’s never heard of you.

Focus on improving the sales skills (especially soft skills) of your team. As it gets harder to hit quota sales reps will need to work smarter, not just harder. There will be more negotiations with prospects and customers, more objections to overcome, and more apathy (we’ll get by for this year, call me next year.)

All these pushbacks from prospects and customers will require a high level of sales soft skills, so sales leaders need to invest in their sales rep’s professional development to ensure that every deal that gets in the red zone, gets across the goal line.

Focus on micromarkets, find a niche. I’m seeing too many companies trying to boil the ocean when it comes to who they sell to and their ideal customer profile. Yes, if you sell to the HR department technically every company with an HR department could be a customer, but if you only have eight sales reps, you can’t possibly target every company with an HR department.

Companies need to use data regarding the firmographics of their existing customers, industry trends, and what’s going on globally to help narrow their ICP (Ideal Customer Profile.) Sales reps who focus their energy on a specific segmentation, vertical, or geographic region will become a Subject Matter Expert more quickly and be more confident as they come to fully understand everything about that prospect or customer.

Focus on benefits for the end user. What is most often overlooked in training to sell on benefits is an understanding and ability to quantify the business impact for the buyer.

Sales reps will not only need to be able to understand the problem that a prospect has that their product or service can solve, but they need to be able to quantify the positive financial impact that solving that problem will have on the organization. With budget tightening, you’ll need to be able to build a compelling business case for purchasing your product of service.

Get disciplined! The sales leader needs to make sure that the reps and the organization are disciplined with regards to the GTM (Go To Market) strategy they have agreed to use. Getting distracted by a shiny object that looks like it could be a new vertical or segmentation will slow the sales cycle down and leave sales reps confused and frustrated.

How would you describe the ideal sales culture?

The ideal sales culture is one that includes support, encouragement, training, and accountability. To build and maintain a top performing team they’ll need to have support from marketing, product, finance, operations, as each of these departments is a support function for the sales team.

A good culture will also include positive reinforcement and recognition in the form of verbal recognition and financial rewards. Sales reps wants to know that they are valued. A great way to do that is for an organization to invest in their sales rep’s personal and professional development.

Whether that’s tuition reimbursement, a yearly professional development stipend for courses, coaching, or mentoring, or providing professional group training on sales soft skills, show your reps that you are invested and investing in them.

Lastly, a good sales culture will hold sales reps and other supporting departments accountable. Sales is an objective sport, so it’s easy to hold sales reps accountable to expectations that have been laid out by leadership. Set goals, communicate expectations, get buy in, and then hold reps accountable to what they’ve signed up for.

There’s nothing that will damage morale and destroy a good sales culture more quickly than not addressing under-performers, unethical behavior, or negativity. If leaders expect reps to meet expectations, then reps should be able to expect that not meeting expectations will have consequences.

What have been one of your biggest challenges when writing your upcoming book, and also one of your biggest successes?

Writing this book has been a labor of love and full of frustrating moments. I think the biggest challenge was trying to write it while running my consulting business. I’m consistently working with five or more clients, so that’s a fulltime job and then some.

I quickly realized that if I tried to find time to write instead of making time to write that it would be years before the book was finished. I needed to block time on the calendar during the week and set aside bigger blocks of time on the weekends to stay on track.

I think one of the biggest successes in writing the book is how proud I am of the content and advice that is provided in every page. I consistently challenged myself and my coach, Dixie Gillespie, to cut out the “dumb dumb” information that wouldn’t be of high value or that could be found other places so that each page and chapter had all meat and no potatoes.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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