Podcast Episode #19: Sales Tech & Social Selling with John Barrows

This week on Hunter & Craft Radio, Evan Lewis chats with John Barrows, sales trainer for the world’s leading software companies.

John Barrows



John’s Background

  • Career began in sales with Dewalt Power Tools, then transitioned to Xerox for more formal sales training
  • Started a company called Thrive Networks at 23 years old. Became the fastest growing company in Massachusetts for a few years. Eventually sold the company to Staples.
  • John licensed the BASHO training content and started a training company called Kensei Partners. Eventually went out on his own as JBarrows (JBarrows.com)

John’s New Website

  • Started with a simple WordPress site recording videos on his laptop. Took the Lean Startup approach – didn’t spend much money on a website or content creation until he validated that his model and content was resonating with people.
  • Worked with WhatArmy to develop the site – HubSpot enabled landing pages, high-quality video with Wistia analytics.
  • John wants to elevate the sales profession – sales people need to help eachother out. Anytime he fails or has something that works effectively, he works to document it and puts out content that people can learn from.

Productivity & Writing

  • Finding time to write is difficult. John puts himself in random sales situations to learn and have experiences to document. There is way more content to write about failures than successes.
  • Pay attention. Any time you learn something, see something – document it. John throws ideas into Evernote and then keeps a strict calendar with times when he’s going to write.
  • If it’s on your calendar, make it happen.

Social Selling

  • There are two sides to social selling:
    • 1) Listening to the social world for triggers to make connections to your prospects
    • 2) Building your personal brand and sharing content in a way that is meaningful and helps you build a strong voice and identity.
  • Look at Social Selling as EDUCATING YOURSELF FIRST.
  • Don’t post anything without adding context. Give your opinion.
  • You don’t become a thought leader by automating social and turning into a robot.
  • Every morning, John has a content and social selling routine – 7:30am-8:30am every morning.
    • Has a Top 25 list of accounts – Tier 1 accounts. Puts these accounts into Owler. Email once/day with information on these accounts.
    • Does not use Facebook to engage, but has a dummy Facebook account that he uses to Like all of his Prospects’ Facebook pages.
    • ^^ Same thing with Twitter Lists
    • Feedly – curating content and educating himself. Educate yourself first.
  • Social selling is way more about quality than it is about quantity.
When it comes to #SocialSelling, Content is King, but Context is God. Click To Tweet

Sales Account Strategy

  • Break out your accounts into Tier Ones, Tier Twos, Tier Threes
  • Tier Ones – highest priority accounts – they get the most personal, high-touch outreach.
  • Tier Twos – outreach approach slightly more automated, but still segmented and tailored. Pull out slightly higher-level insights about the company that you can use in your outreach.
    • Understand if a company uses a tool (Salesforce) that meshes well with your company’s offering. Put together a tight message that speaks to the value you can deliver.
  • Tier Threes – lower priority, lower time spent on customization of outreach.

Sales Team Structure

  • What sets the best sales teams apart? Working together and continuous improvement.
  • Use tools like ToutApp and Owler. Standardize templates (75-80% baked) across your team and run a test for a month. Understand metrics across your team and figure out what is working.
  • Aligning Sales <> Marketing: Have marketing come in to do a lunch & learn and talk about a prospect persona. Figure out a few “attention grabbers” that you can send to the prospect, 3 questions that you can ask them to show you know what you are talking about, and then have a case study to back up your points.
    • For 1 hour, have everyone on your sales team use that exact same approach targeting the exact same people.
    • Always use an Approach, as a team. Constantly try things out. Bucket your results and understand which approaches work.
  • Managers need to be involved in coaching. Create a team environment where everyone is on the same page, trying to figure things out together.
  • John doesn’t think managers do enough live coaching. Give feedback right after the call.
  • Grab 3 reps and one manager. Everyone brings in a list. Make round robin dials on speakerphone. In a very short period of time, you learn what works and what doesn’t. Trial by fire.

John’s Products

  • Sales from the Streets – crowdsourced sales training on an app. Tactical sales training videos – nuggets from top sales reps.
  • Tribe – WordPress plugin to help organize eLearning content. Great for sales enablement – puts a presentation layer on top of content to help reps access marketing information better and faster. John only charges people a few hundred dollars per month for this service.

Running A Services Business

  • Figure out what your model is. Do everything you can to “productize” your offering. Consulting is a brutal business – people always want more from you. Don’t do open-ended monthly retainers. Commit to projects with well-defined criteria and start and end dates.
  • People understand how to buy products. People have a very hard time understanding how to buy consulting.
  • Do everything you can to find that ONE customer that has a logo that you can leverage. Show how you took that customer from x% to y%, drive $z in additional revenue. Prove the delta and the value you add, then tell that story to your prospects.



Follow @evanlewis_ on Twitter and Connect on LinkedIn

Follow @JohnMBarrows on Twitter and check out JBarrows.com

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