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Why STRATEGY, Not Working More Makes MILLIONAIRES

Brian Margolis is a former environmental/fisheries scientist turned entrepreneur. He helps sales professionals earn more by focusing on less.

In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Brian is explaining the importance of business strategy to upping our game and going from earning good commissions to earning millions.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:
Win More Deals Or Your Money Back.
Selling Made Simple Academy: The proven way to improve sales results. Trusted by 2,000+ students.

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Brian Margolis
Strategy and Productivity Specialist

Resources: 

Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast.

 

Brian Margolis:

If you want to go to the next level, if you want to be the 20%, the 10%, the 5%, the seven figure earners that I’ve been lucky enough to work with, you have to add in that third component, you need a strategy. Your limiting resource as a salesperson, as a human being is your ability to focus.

 

Will Barron:

Hello Salesnation, I’m Will Barron, host of the Salesman Podcast, the world’s most listened to B2B sales show. If you haven’t already, make sure to click “Subscribe.” And with that, let’s meet today’s guest.

 

Brian Margolis:

Hi, this is Brian Margolis with ProductivityGiant.com. And I’m hoping you will tune in and learn how you can actually grow your sales business through simplification.

 

Will Barron:

On today’s episode, the legend is Brian. We’re diving into how we can work less hours and earn more revenue and so more commissions. How we can focus on the pillars of the activities that we need to do, that actually move the needle, rather than all the stuff around the outside, it doesn’t really do much for us. Let’s jump right in.

 

Is it Fair to Say That Even the Most Talented Salespeople Will Always Perform Poorly If They’re Not Implementing a Sales Strategy? · [01:09] 

 

Will Barron:

So with that said, with all things considered, is it fair to say that someone who has great or even impeccable sales skills, but has no strategy is probably always going to be an average performer?

 

Brian Margolis:

Yeah, I think that’s actually a great way to position it. The way I look at it is most people’s success in terms of their sales career is based on two factors. You combine what you just talked about, you combine their skills, their talents, skills, and then that can be a blurry line and you combine their sales skills and talents, their emotional intelligence, things like that, with their work ethic. And when you mix those two into a pot, that’s the level of success most people are at.

 

“If you want to go to the next level, if you want to be the 20%, the 10%, the 5%, the seven figure earners that I’ve been lucky enough to work with, you have to add in that third component, you need a strategy. Your limiting resource as a sales person, as a human being is your ability to focus. Your ability to focus on these cognitively demanding activities throughout a day or a week. And so you have to have a strategy to make sure where you’re using that focus, where you’re using your mental energy is giving you a big return on investment.” – Brian Margolis · [02:00] 

 

Brian Margolis:

Now for some people that’s enough. You can kind of grind your way to a certain level if you’re skilled and you’re hard working. If you want to go to the next level, if you want to be the 20%, the 10%, the 5%, the seven figure earners that I’ve been lucky enough to work with, you have to add in that third component, you need a strategy. Your limiting resource as a sales person, as a human being is your ability to focus. Your ability to focus on these cognitively demanding activities throughout a day or a week. And so you have to have a strategy to make sure where you’re using that focus, where you’re using your mental energy is giving you a big return on investment. And that’s what I mean by a strategy.

 

Brian Margolis:

And again, there’s a lot of people listening that probably think they have a strategy, and we can talk more about that but I would say 90% of the people that I work with, they don’t have as much a strategy as just a bunch of hopes and goals and areas they want to focus on. Words without agreed upon definitions is a great way to put.

 

Will Barron:

For sure, for sure. And I’ll speak to this and open up about it [inaudible [00:03:03]. We’re four years into the business now. We’re edging towards decent revenue numbers for a small organisation like ours. I’ve got no strategy. I have no idea what I’m doing. All I do is put out poker three times a week, build the sales school, and [inaudible [00:03:19] mobile prior to over time as it drives more and more revenue, but beyond that, I’ve no idea what the heck’s going on. I’m flying by the seats of my pants and so I’m sure there’s some of the audience are nodding along as you go through that, Brian and I’m certainly going to learn a lot in this episode myself.

 

What Does Focus Look Like For a High Performing Salesperson? · [03:38]

 

Will Barron:

With that said, just one last thing to build a bit of context before we get into the strategy itself. So the word focus, are the highest performers, are they capable of sitting there from [6:00] AM, till [7:00] PM, just heads deep in a laptop or on the phone and crush you get over and over and over and over. What does focus look like for a high performer, practically in reality?

 

“If you accept the reality that we only have so much mental energy, we only have a limited ability to focus on these cognitively demanding activities, then you realise that focus management is more important than time management.” – Brian Margolis · [04:34] 

 

Brian Margolis:

Yes, so there’s two levels. None of us, the best of the best, it’s just biology. It’s just biology. You cannot focus on cognitively demanding activities. Synthesis, strategic thinking, the things that… Willpower, the things that use up our men… I’m going to use mental energy, not to get scientific. But you’ve heard this kind of stuff where willpower eventually wears out and we’ve all experienced it like are you the most productive at [3:00], [4:00] in the afternoon? I mean, is that when you’re having your greatest ideas and crushing it? So if you accept the reality that we only have so much mental energy, we only have a limited ability to focus on these cognitively demanding activities, then you realise that focus management is more important than time management. Because there’s plenty of time. There’s no correlation between how many hours somebody puts in and how successful they are. You’ve heard it put as how you use that time.

 

Brian Margolis:

Now, I will tell you this. Once you’ve learned how to manage your focus and place it in the right places that give you the highest return, there are ways to increase your ability to focus. There are techniques to increase your ability to concentrate. I mean, most successful people are meditators and there’s a reason for that. There’s a reason for that. If you look at what meditation actually is, it’s the same thing a performance coach would tell you to do to increase your concentration. They tell you to focus on something for a little bit, if your mind wanders, bring it back. But if you just increase your mental energy, your ability to focus, without having focus management, then you have more focus, but you’re not doing anything with it.

 

Brian Margolis:

So without getting into increasing that kind of stuff, you can talk to performance for that kind of stuff and I’m a big fan of it, but I want to… Let’s take the low hanging fruit. How about where are you putting your focus on a week to week, day to day basis? That’s what the Pillar System’s about. It makes sure you take that limited focus and get the highest return on investment.

 

Are Hustlers Always High-performers? · [06:30] 

 

Will Barron:

Good. So we’ll dive into the Pillar System next and that I guess the first principles of business and what we need to focus on to have a return whatsoever because there’s plenty of activities that we do each day which have no return. We just do them because we’re practically told to, they just dump in our desks. So we’ll cover that in a second. But what are your thoughts on, and I see this as a recent kind of past five, four, three year phenomenon of like hustle culture and being the last one out the office is the winner, somehow. In all this kind of stuff, is there a trend between high performers and individuals who are crushing it and I guess ridiculous amounts of hours worked?

 

“I think there’s a minimum price to entry. If you’re going to be successful in sales, there obviously is a minimum amount of hours you’re going to have to put in. But once you get past that minimum, I don’t think you’ll see any relationship between how many hours someone works and how successful they are.” – Brian Margolis · [07:13] 

 

Brian Margolis:

No. And here’s what I mean. Again, as a former scientist, I’m a big fan of… You’ll hear me challenge assumptions. I’m a big fan of data and I’m also a big fan of correlation versus causation. So I think there’s a minimum price to entry. If you’re going to be successful in sales, there obviously is a minimum amount of hours, let’s call it you’re going to have to put in. But once you get past that minimum, I don’t think you’ll see any relationship between how many hours somebody works and how successful they are.

 

Brian Margolis:

In other words, if you just plot it on a graph, you’re going to have people who average 30 hours a week who are Uber successful and people averaging 30 hours a week who might not have a job in a few weeks. You can also go to the other end of the spectrum and have guys working 80 hours a week who are doing very well and guys working 80 hours a week who are not doing so well. And so that’s what I mean when I say there’s no relationship there. I’m not saying you don’t have to work hard, but I can tell you this, if we just peel off some of the bigger producers I work with, some of the seven figure earners, some of the guys who literally get W2s, they have jobs, but they’re absolutely crushing it, their salespeople, far and away they do a lot less meetings and a lot less activity than probably most of the people who are struggling. And that’s just a fact.

 

Brian Margolis:

So again, there’s not a relationship and I think the other part is here. I used to be this way where it was kind of a badge of honour, how late I worked. The fact that no one in the… When I used to rent an office, there was no one around me at night when I left, I was the last car in the parking lot. And listen, let’s be honest, you could do work-related stuff all day and not really move the needle. So I don’t think it’s as much of a badge of honour as people want to believe it is.

 

Will Barron:

For sure. Well, it’s just dumb. If you-

 

Brian Margolis:

Completely dumb.

 

Will Barron:

… [crosstalk [00:09:02] looking at it, if you’re doing a tonne of hours and you want to do that many hours, because you’ve got certain goals, aspirations, if you fill it with the better use of your time, then you can work the same amount of hours and have twice the effective output. And if you’re doing twice as many hours and you don’t want to be doing the hours, hopefully we can re-optimise people so they can drop those number of hours and they can spend time with the family and do whatever they want to do on the side of things.

 

Why Consistently Doing the Right Things is Your Key to Sales Success · [09:30] 

 

Will Barron:

So with that Brian, so can we distil sales down to the fact that our job is to drive revenue? And if that is true, what is the next layer of things that we should be doing or focusing on above that?

 

“For most salespeople, the assumption that they make is this, they know what the right things to do are, they just have trouble doing them consistently.” – Brian Margolis · [10:29] 

 

Brian Margolis:

Right. One of the assumptions I made early on, when I started working with entrepreneurs and salespeople, and I really don’t differentiate between the two. There’s 90% overlap between entrepreneurs and salespeople because entrepreneurs need to sell and salespeople need to learn how to run a business. And most salespeople, I can say entrepreneurs too, but most salespeople have never actually been taught how to run a business, and I am getting to your question. So this next level of we just drive revenue, this idea that we just drive revenue, it’s most salespeople, the assumption that they make is this, they know what the right things to do are, they just have trouble doing them consistently. So when you say what is the next level, I believe what you were getting at is we drive revenue so therefore we have to do prospecting. We have to do follow-up. We keep it simple, the basics, all that kind of stuff.

 

Brian Margolis:

And what I would argue is most salespeople do not know what the right things to do are, and here’s what I mean. They use those words I talked about earlier, those words that have no agreed upon definition. So you’ll hear this, I need to focus more on, blank. I need to double down on this. I need to optimise that. I just need to get better at getting in front of the right people. And they say, so I know what to do, as a salesperson, if I can just get in front of the right people. I just need to prospect more. I just need to get better at my, blank. But those aren’t the right things to do. Those are goals. That’s not what you actually do. And here’s how I define that. How do you know at the end of a week when you’ve optimised or something? How do you know at the end of the week that you’ve gotten in front of more of the right people or gotten better at this or doubled down on that? You can’t measure it.

 

Brian Margolis:

So those are good starting places. But one of the criteria is of these pillars that I talk about is you have to be able to measure it weekly, meaning you have to, at some point during the week, actually know that you’ve done it. So instead of saying, I need to get better at getting in front of the right people, okay, that’s a starting point. That’s a goal though. It’s not something to do, it’s a goal. What does that actually boil down to? What can be measured? Well, it could be a pillar of, I need to spend 60 minutes a week identifying the right people. Whether that’s using LinkedIn or whatever CRM you’re using or lead generators, whatever it is, I need to spend 60 minutes a week identifying who the right people are. And then you may have a second pillar that says, “I need to reach out to X amount of those people every week.” See, those can be measured. Do you see what I’m saying about knowing what the right thing to do is?

 

Brian Margolis:

And again, I just got done doing a whole slew of national sales trainings because it’s the time of year and everyone’s doing them, and that’s all I hear. People get excited that this year I’m going to do more of this and get better at that. Those are not the right things to do. Those are the end points, not the beginning. You don’t control those things.

 

Brian Differentiates Between a Pillar and a Goal When Defining Sales Success · [13:20]   

 

Will Barron:

How far along the process should a metric be? Should it be, I want to do X number of hours of emails, or calls, or outreach, or research? Or should we be saying, I want to have X number of conversations so we can inadvertently achieve one goal or target by aiming slightly favoured on the pipeline and a mastering the next? How do we know where these metrics should come from to have maximum effectiveness?

 

Brian Margolis:

Great questions. So what makes something a pillar versus a goal is that it’s either what I call an action or a predictable result, meaning you control whether it gets accomplished that week. So for example, you just brought up a good one, let’s say your goal is I want to connect, remember, we’re talking about a goal right now. I want to have 10 conversations a week with qualified prospects. Well, at some level, and everyone’s different, that’s why you have to run through the process yourself, for some sales reps, depending on where they’re at, the industry, all that kind of stuff, where they’re at in their business, they actually, if they did enough activity, it’s a predictable result meaning as long as they do the activity, they can have 10 conversations. So for that person, that can be a pillar. As long as I have 10 conversations a week, everything else seems to take care itself. For Will, as long as I record three podcasts a week, from a content standpoint, everything else takes care of itself.

 

Brian Margolis:

Okay. But then you might have a sales person who they’re at the stage in their career or their territory or whatever it is, where they can’t predictably have 10 conversations a week with a, and we got to put criteria on these pillars, with a qualified person, a person that meets a certain criteria. So for that person, we got to peel it back a level. And the pillar doesn’t become, I have to make 10 connections, the pillar becomes, I need to reach out to X number of, and then whatever the criteria is, or I need to spend two hours reaching… See where I’m going with this? You got to keep rewinding it until it’s an action or a predictable result.

 

Will Barron:

So for me and the podcast, it would be… Well, we get way too many people wanting to come on the show so I can pretty easily record three episodes a week and I’m in control of that and the diary. But if, like when we started off and it’s soaked and no one cared, it was real pressure for me to… I would reframe it then perhaps I’ll do so much outreach that will hopefully get me to the point of three interviews because I can control that versus now I’m controlling the flood of people coming out of the show to try and get on. Is that about right?

 

Brian Margolis:

No, no. That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. And the way you want to look at it is, see right now for you, you have so much incoming traffic, so to speak, people who want to be on the podcast and congratulations by the way-

 

Will Barron:

[inaudible [00:16:23] Sorry to interrupt. Let’s reframe this because I think there’s a better example here of someone who has perhaps inbound leads coming to them, that they need to go from a marketing qualified lead to a sales qualified lead versus someone who has no help for marketing whatsoever. That that’s probably a better example to work with.

 

Brian Margolis:

Okay. Yeah, so if you’re someone who has a lot of incoming leads, then leads are not a bottleneck in your business, if you have more leads than time. So for that person, they probably wouldn’t have a pillar of lead generation or anything of the sort. Instead what someone like that may have a pillar, and again, we’re only talking about one kind of pillar right now, but for that particular person, again, they may have a goal of, I want to have 20 conversations or something like that and maybe they can with that amount of leads. So maybe they say, okay, as long as I do enough dials and emails and outreach and follow up, so I have 20 conversations every week, then everything else takes care of itself.

 

Brian Margolis:

Now, remember I said you control it. You don’t necessarily control how many meetings you wind up having in a week because someone else has to actually show up, agree to it for that week. So what you can control though, what is a predictable result, you can have a pillar of, I need to schedule 20 conversations a week for the future. Makes sense?

 

Will Barron:

It makes total sense.

 

Brian Margolis:

And it sounds like I’m being nitpicky, but I’m not. This is that difference between a pillar and a goal.

 

The Time Between Taking Action and Seeing Results · [17:58] 

 

Will Barron:

Well, it’s the difference between, at the beginning of the year going, I want to do X, Y, Z, and having a rough plan, and then week one realising you can’t track any event. It goes to shit and you forget it versus having 52 weeks of data in front of you, where you go, “Well, I did this, I didn’t do this, I did do this.” And you can hopefully see then the qualities where you did do it all, it comes together. And then that reinforces everything. It makes it all more real.

 

Will Barron:

And I know for my dumb brain, as soon as I see something on a graph, a spreadsheet, a piece of paper, as soon as I can see history on something that isn’t my own brain reinterpreting it in it’s a way, and you’re trying to save my ego, as soon as I can see it, that something was achieved or it wasn’t achieved, everything then falls into place moving forward.

 

“When you judge your weeks and your days based on these lag indicators, like did a sale come through? Did I do this? We can not only get very emotional, but it’s very misleading. You may have closed three accounts this week, but not done all the right things this week. That may have been the compound effect, a lag indicator of what you’ve been doing for the past few months.” – Brian Margolis · [19:02] 

 

Brian Margolis:

Yeah. And I think that’s an emotional rollercoaster that a lot of salespeople are on because as salespeople, as entrepreneurs, a lot of times, there’s a lapse in time between what we do and the result, getting the sale, the money coming in the door, the commission, whatever it is. And so when you judge your weeks and your days based on these lag indicators, like did a sale come through? Did I do this? We can not only get very emotional, but it’s very misleading. You may have closed three accounts this week, but not done all the right things this week. That may have been the compound effect, a lag indicator of what you’ve been doing for the past few months.

 

Brian Margolis:

And just the opposite. You may have done all the right things this week. You may have a hit all your pillars, done all the right things and for whatever reason, nothing closed. And so it’s not just an emotional place to be on Friday night, but it can cause you to change directions when you don’t need to. You’re doing the right things, but your lead indicators and your lag indicators don’t work on the same timeline and so there’s this thing we call on the Pillar System, the “Friday Night Feeling.” And this Friday Night Feeling is this idea that look, as long as you cross off, you’ve done all your pillars that week, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your business is moving in the right direction. And as people whose jobs, you and I and salespeople, there’s no Fred Flintstone that slides down the dinosaur and say, you know what, it’s from a squawking bird and tells him… No one tells us our shift is over. We’re going home to Wilma. There’s always more we could be doing. And so you got to look at lead indicators, not just lag indicators, or it can be very dangerous. You start changing directions too much, even when you’re on the right path.

 

Will Barron:

For sure. I know this personally, I’ve experienced this. And there’s probably all different levels of cognitive dissonance and psychology that go behind but there’s probably reasons why we’re wired to forget the fact that six months ago, you put in a real strong month and then it only appeared this month and then you feel like you’ve done something right last week, as opposed to that lagging indicator of time of that time in the past. There must be a reason why we’re wired this way.

 

The Relationship Between Consistently Doing the Right Things, Every Day, for Long Enough and Sales Success · [21:01] 

 

Will Barron:

But with that said, I don’t want to get into if there’s other types of pillars and how many pills we need in a second, but how important of all this said is just consistency? Because it seems like a simple thing. Do this right things every day for long enough and you’ll have success, but is it really that simple? Because if it is why don’t we all do it?

 

Brian Margolis:

Yes. Well, I think you know the answer to this. It’s simple, it’s not easy. The great analogy is working out or eating right. We all know if we work out consistent… I do this joke sometimes from the front of the room where I ask people, have you ever done a diet programme or an exercise programme and it didn’t work, you didn’t get the results you want, and everyone raises their hand. And then I say, have you ever done a diet or exercise programme for a year straight and not gotten results? And they all kind of start giggling, so they know what I’m getting at. I could make up the mushroom diet today, tell you to go to the gym four days a week and eat more mushrooms or something. And if you did that for a year straight, you’re going to lose weight, you’re going to look better.

 

“We are not designed for success. If anyone hasn’t figured that out yet, I mean, we are creatures of survival and immediate feedback and comfort. That’s why success is so impressive in so many ways. We’re not like these people that get out there, “You are destined for success and you were built to be great.” And as a biologist and a former scientist, I’m going, “No, you weren’t.” You were born to survive. Your biology is to survive and be comfortable in the short term.” – Brain Margolis · [22:47] 

 

Brian Margolis:

So I think it is that simple to do the right things and do them consistently, I just think that there’s two problems. And that is, first of all, if we already talked about, I’m not convinced everyone knows what the right things to do are. I don’t think they take it down far enough. They just use generalities like I need to prospect, I need to follow up more, I need to get better at this or get better at that. So the first part is when you say do the right things, yeah, do the right things that you can actually measure, that you’ve boiled down through this process. And then yes, the second part is obviously doing them consistently and the whole second part of my book goes into that, the Custom Accountability Programme, working with human nature, not against it to actually hit your pillars each week. Because we are not designed for success. If anyone hasn’t figured that out yet… I mean, we are creatures of survival and immediate feedback and comfort.

 

Brian Margolis:

That’s why success is so impressive in so many ways. We’re not like these people that get out there, “You are destined for success and you were built to be great.” And as a biologist, a former scientist, I’m going, “No, you weren’t.” You were born to survive. Your biology is to survive and be comfortable in short term. And you know, but…

 

Will Barron:

Well, yeah, when you put it like that, that’s interesting. We all designed for surviving in the moment. We’re not designed… And maybe this procreation is overdrives that are slightly more long-term, looking after kids and that side of things. But other than that, we are designed to survive in the moments and then ponder on tomorrow when it comes as opposed to it’s applied in the head, which clearly is not a good strategy for anyone listening.

 

The Pillars We Need to Reinforce to Achieve Success · [23:47] 

 

Will Barron:

So with that, Brian, and maybe we’ll wrap up the show with consistency in the secondary, maybe we’ll do another show on that because it’s probably a five-hour its own rights, but how many pillars do we need? Because we know the sales process, there might be four steps, there might be 27 steps, depending on how granular you want to get with it and the product that you’re selling, but it seems like an obvious one is number of conversations, number of qualified leads or whatever it is. That could be pillar number one and again, we’ve discussed this thoroughly now of what needs to go in that pillar. How many more pillars do we need typically, or is one good enough if we know that we’re going to have four great conversations each day leads to our target hits the at the end of the month?

 

Brian Margolis:

Yeah. So the great question and the answer, like all good answers is it depends. Which is the amount of pillars you have is less dependent on saying, I have this many or that many, and it’s more dependent on the total time those pillars would take. So for example, I work with people, they have seven or eight pillars, and I do have clients and people I’ve worked with in the past that have one pillar. Because it’s not that the only thing you do during the week are your pillars, it’s just that for some people, if they’ve got their business to the point where if all they do is act, everything else takes care of itself.

 

“I think we’ve got to redefine work sometimes. Most salespeople don’t think of learning as working, as getting better at something is working, yet that’s their shortcoming.” – Brian Margolis · [26:02] 

 

Brian Margolis:

For other people, there’s more areas they need to hit. For example, a lot of people already naturally, like one of the examples or… Sorry, one of the criteria around the pillar is it’s not a habit. If something’s already habitual, it’s not a pillar because by definition we don’t have to focus on it. So in other words, if you’re already a hustler and you’re already the kind of guy who picks up the phone and just always making calls and always talking to people, and the activities there and all that kind of stuff, well, that person’s pillar might be more focused on what I call a Learning pillar or a possibly what I call a Strategic pillar. A Learning pillar meaning getting better at something. Like you’re putting in the reps, maybe you need your results to go up. Maybe you need to work on your story. Maybe you need to work on your messaging. Maybe you need to develop your direct response copywriting skills. Your ability to write an email that someone actually responds to is a pretty important skill. But I think we’ve got to redefine work sometimes. Most salespeople don’t think of learning as working. As getting better at something is working yet, that’s their shortcoming. So learning pillars are important for a lot of people. And so for someone like that, they may have more pillars because they have a learning pillar.

 

“A strategic pillar would be something where when you answer these questions that I’ve come up with, you’re basically looking for something you can organise, plan, or create so that once you’ve done it each week, some other action becomes more impactful.” – Brian Margolis · [26:22] 

 

Brian Margolis:

A strategic pillar would be something where when you answer these questions that I’ve come up with, you’re basically looking for something you can organise, plan, or create so that once you’ve done it each week, some other action becomes more impactful. So we talked earlier about a hit list. So something we talked about identifying qualified candidates. Someone who just smiles and dials or puts out content or whatever it is, just pure activity versus someone who’s strategic and actually says, okay, before I spend a bunch of time recording this, or before I spent a bunch of time dialling, if I actually figure out who I should call, it makes the action of calling more impactful. Makes sense?

 

Will Barron:

Makes total sense.

 

Brian Margolis:

Yeah. So you have guys that have, and I say, guys, I’m from New Jersey here in the United States, so guys means guys and girls, by the way, but you have salespeople who they can get away with, if they just focus on one, two and three, everything else takes care of itself. Other people five, six or seven. You cut it off at the place where you can realistically do it in a week of course.

 

Why You Need to Focus on the Most Important Thing and Not What’s Urgent · [27:34] 

 

Will Barron:

So how do we know then? And the answer is it depends. Like all seemingly good questions I tend to ask on this show, because it’s so contextual and sales is such a vast industry. But how do we know what… So it seems obvious if a pipeline isn’t big enough, we need a pillar on number of qualified conversations or something like that to drive more pipeline, which will lead to at least the potential to be more business, and maybe there’s other pillars that go along with that to reinforce that stream. But how do we know whether we are perhaps at maximum capacity with the resources that we have, whether it’s contents and sales enablement technology or whatever is, or it’s our actual skillset, in which case a learning pillar would be a bigger benefit than perhaps just more calls or a higher number there. How do we work out, Brian, what the biggest bang for book thing is for us to do right now, or the biggest bang for buck pillar to implement that’s going to raise everything that will raise all the ships as opposed to just that one on, this is a weird metaphor, the one on stilts that we’re stuck in up in the corner.

 

“Doing more of what’s not working well is not going to help.” – Brain Margolis · [29:24] 

 

Brian Margolis:

Yeah. You nailed it. That’s the process of the Pillar System. So what the Pillar System does, it asks a series of questions and then runs your answers through some criteria so that whatever comes out the other end is the biggest impact activity. Because what you just said, there’s a very common problem where they say, I don’t have enough leads therefore, I just need to make more calls, I just need to send more emails, I just need to put more YouTube videos out there. The problem is at a certain point, you’re multiplying by zero. If your YouTube videos aren’t effective, if your calls aren’t effective, doing more of what’s not working well is not going to help. And that’s where I talk about redefining work. Sometimes the learning pillar’s the right thing. In other words…

 

“Spending time becoming a much better direct response email copywriter, not becoming an expert, but just going from a 1 to a 4 is going to have a bigger impact on your business than just making more calls.” – Brian Margolis · [30:22] 

 

Brian Margolis:

Again, I’m still amazed to this day, how bad people are at writing emails. Knowing full well that people don’t read their email anymore, they just go through them, they still write their email like it’s a letter to their grandmother. Like they’re going to read it from top to bottom and then make a decision whether they want to reply. No, you’ve got to learn, as you probably know, direct response copywriting. How do you quickly, within milliseconds almost subconsciously, get someone to respond and start that interaction. Well, that’s a skill that can be learned. There’s so many great copywriters out there that you can learn anything on the internet these days. There’s books [inaudible [00:30:16] spending time on that, even though it’s probably not what a lot of people listening here want to hear if they’re struggling, but spending time becoming a much better direct response email copywriter, not becoming an expert, but just going from a one to a four is going to have a bigger impact on your business than just making more calls.

 

Brian Margolis:

And so, like you said, what is that bottleneck or skill that’s going to rise? Now, you want to keep making the calls and sending the emails because that’s how you test and learn. But again, if your blade is dull, what’s the point of keeps swinging it? What’s the point. And so, yeah, that’s what these questions do is they help you boil down to what is truly the bottleneck, the limiting resource, like we talked about on the prerecorded call, or before the recording, we were talking about limited resources in a different way.

 

The Benefits of Visualising Activities and Having a Pillar System · [31:10] 

 

Will Barron:

Is there a way to, I don’t know who does this, is there a way to visualise this? Because it seems like if we are struggling to get responses to our emails, we don’t need to send more emails. And so perhaps sending more emails is a $5 an hour job. That’s what a earner is spending. We’ll get $5 back for every extra hour that we spend doing that versus reading a couple of books on copywriting might be a $200 an hour activity in that we don’t need to do forever and perhaps those $200 will only last a set amount of time before it becomes less efficient, but that’s a better use of our time and that will earn us more money over the longer term, versus just more emails. Perhaps having a call or reading your book or do some training on this is a $1,000 an hour activity because it implements wide things. And we can go deeper and deeper into this.

 

Will Barron:

If you’re a smoker, perhaps, it’s a $100,000 activity to quit smoking and do wherever you go do on that front, because it’s shortening your life and so you’ve got to hustle harder to fit more in for the same amount of effort that someone would if they were just living in over 20 years or whatever. Is there a way to, I kind of come up with this [inaudible [00:32:21], but is there a way to visualise this or is that a potentially a good way of thinking about it?

 

Brian Margolis:

You know what, it’s a great way of thinking about it and here’s why. First of all, as far as visualising, don’t forget, the nickname of the Pillar System is the index card business plan. That’s actually the name of the book because literally to me, your strategy can fit on an index card. But visualising it the way you’re talking about, it’s actually important and here’s why. One of the benefits of running your stuff through the Pillar System is you may actually realise that you’re in a bad opportunity. And I know people don’t want to hear that, but it’s like, wait a second, if you’re telling me, even if I do this, this, this, and this, I’m not going to probably get paid for a long time, then you might be focused in the wrong area. You may have the wrong job because… Do you see where I’m going with this? If your messaging isn’t good enough, or your company maybe doesn’t provide a good enough message, you don’t get enough conversions, just doing more of it’s not going to help. And you might realise, okay, I’m going to have to become a five in copywriting, and I’m going to have to really work on my messaging. I’m not going to see the results of that for six months, seven months, nine months.

 

“You’re never going to grow a business as a single person, as an individual, as a salesperson. You’re never going to grow your business to where you want it to be by just doing more. At a certain point, you run out of hours in the day. The biggest growth in any business is always going to be higher conversions, getting paid more per meeting, getting paid more per sale. Raising your prices is what I call that.” – Brian Margolis · [34:10] 

 

Brian Margolis:

Now, again, I’m not sugarcoating this, you may realise this is not the best opportunity for me right now. Now the kind of people I tend to work with, usually they’re already at that point where they’re doing good enough, maybe they’re paying their bills, but they want to go next level. And so for them, they have the runway to start getting better at their copywriting. Because the math is simple. You’re never going to grow a business as a single person, as an individual, as a salesperson. You’re never going to grow your business to where you want it to be by just doing more. At certain point, you run out of hours in the day, time for meetings. The biggest growth in any business is always going to be higher conversions, getting paid more per meeting, getting paid more per sale. Raising your prices is what I call that. And so to visualise that is not a fun thing to do for some people, but it might be the best thing for them to do.

 

Will Barron:

For sure. Two examples on this and we’ll wrap up with this, Brian. One, if you’re in a role where perhaps, very literally this is the first example that came to mind, if you’re in a sales role where your commissions are capped, your way is only so far, right? I’ve never worked in a job where commissions have been capped and I’ve never got anywhere near getting to the point where people start to complain about it.

 

Brian Margolis:

It sounds like a horrible place to be.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. But I’m sure there’ll people listening that are in that scenario. And maybe it’s capped at 200,000 or whatever, a nice kind of thick round number like that that people can comfortably live on, but you never going to be able to, if you want to take it to that next level. So that’s a real limit, hard limits, which defines all of this very easily.

 

Will Barron:

I know for thing that came to mind, and this is marketing on sales, and I won’t dive too far into it in case it turns some of the audience off, but with the new version of the sales school, I need to sell it to sales leadership, sales management. So part what we’re going to be doing is creating content of me cold calling cold email and doing what we talked about on the show. And clearly we don’t promote cold calling as a legitimate tactic to get in front of the C-suites or CSO or CRO very effectively, but I’ll do it on video because it’ll be hilarious to watch me probably fail and make a mess of it.

 

Brian Explains Why Focusing on the Right Things Will Always Lead to Sales Success · [34:37] 

 

Will Barron:

But the real strategy behind what I want to do is… what we will be doing, what we’re starting is a podcast for sales leaders. So I think this hopefully demonstrates my thought process on some of this in that I could sit and call people every day, day in, day out, or I can create a piece of content that hopefully thousands of people will listen to, who are my customers, who I can slowly and gradually build that knowing I can trust with so that, that builds a little bit of inbound pipeline or there’s some way of communicating with them via the podcast or not on the podcast and translating it from the podcast to a sales conversation and that scales, right? That’s totally different way of looking at it that I know is possible because I’ve got this far with this show and I’m sure people, especially if you’re not trying to get in front of hundreds of thousands of people, if you want to try and get in front of thousands of people, that’s probably a better way to go about it than just mindlessly calling people every day, right?

 

Brian Margolis:

Yes. Yeah. That’s exactly it. And again, another pillar criteria, you’re kind of leading right into all of these criteria because they make sense is for something to be a pillar, it has to be a high leverage activity. So in other words, if you make a 100 calls a day, let’s just call it, to the C-suite people, just by the law of large numbers, you might get a few wins over time. What is that really the best return on your investment, whereas by building this podcast, it’s like the bringing the buckets of water up the hill from the river. Like you do that at first, but while you’re doing that, you should be building a pump, a well, because eventually, even though you get nothing out of that well the whole time, when you finally build it and that well is working, all you got to do is push down once and water comes out. And so it becomes a high leverage activity, that $1,000 an hour work you were talking about.

 

Brian Margolis:

And so it’s tough. It’s a tough place to be for salespeople when you need money now, but you also want to build a good business. They’re not always [inaudible [00:37:57] ruined. A lot of times you have to do both. [crosstalk [00:38:00]

 

Handling the Dilemma of Wanting to Do Productive Activities and Dealing with Pressure From Sales Management on Hitting Your Quota · [38:01] 

 

Will Barron:

You’re right. It is an interesting balance of… I’ve been there having my myself. It’s one thing for me to say all this now, and clearly I’ve double down on the world of podcasting and this media platform, but I have had my sales manager on my back. I’ve had people chasing me down and I’ve always hit target or just gone over target. I’ve never really failed on that front before, but I’ve been in a position where I’m six months away from hitting target, and I need one big deal to come in that I’ve been working on in a while and my boss, the national sales manager, I’m getting called down to London for meetings because they’re not happy with my performance, even though I know we’re going to be fine at the end of the year. So I do the stresses that the audience are under and I’d want it to kind of, and you alluded to that, Brian, I just want to put that out of… I don’t know if you’ve been in a similar scenario, but I know that pressure of wanting to do the right things, wanting to work long-term but then having to perform in the midterm as well.

 

Brian Margolis:

A 100%. And that to me is, like for example, in my own personal business, I have pillars now that makes sure I get paid now. My one-on-one clients, my meetings I do when I go out and do talks and workshops and things like that. But in the background, I have other pillars that I’m working on for hours each week that I see nothing from. But they’re high leverage where when they’re finished… So for example, I’m creating a product, an online course, so you can run through this whole system yourself. When that is done, well, then I can get paid on that when I’m sleeping. But I get paid nothing, as you know, creating this now and you had to create your stuff, you get paid nothing now, but you’re building it for the future.

 

Brian Margolis:

Well, you can do both and that’s where my pillars are. I have pillars to make sure that I pay my bills every month and I have pillars to make sure that a year from now, I’m in a better place than I am now. And both of those are just as important, but if I wasn’t pillar focused, then it’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll get to that next week because there’s no consequence on Friday for not working on my product. I don’t lose any money this Friday, I don’t feel the effect.”

 

Brain’s Advise to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [40:25]

 

Will Barron:

Good. Love this. Okay. So with that Brian, I’ve got one final question, mate, and you can tell us where we can find out more about your Pillar System and how to potentially work with you, mate. And the one final question is something I asked everyone to comment on the show. If you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, what would be the one piece of advice you’d give him to help him become better at selling, that has nothing to do with the Pillar System?

 

Brian Margolis:

Better at selling? Well, the piece of advice I wish I had followed, because I had heard it a million times, is plan your day. As funny as that is, I call it planning your day broccoli because it’s like, we’ve been hearing in our whole life that vegetables are good for us. Well, just because we’ve been hearing it our whole life and it’s white noise at this point, it doesn’t mean it’s not true. I’ve been hearing my whole professional career, “Plan your day, work your plan. Don’t start your day till it’s finished on paper,” all the different ways of saying it. And I would just hear it and hear it and hear it. And about six years ago or so I started actually planning my day, every day. Sitting there, what’s the most important thing, all the things they teach you. And now that I’m on this side of the fence, I don’t know how anyone operates any other way. So yeah, if I could tell my younger self… And by the way, that increases sales. When you work strategically throughout a day and focused, everything changes. So that would be my piece of advice.

 

How to Plan your Day the Brian Margolis Way · [41:50]

 

Will Barron:

Love it. Well, the new version of the sales school comes with a planner, a journal, daily activity [inaudible [00:41:46] that helps with some of this. But I was not ready to rock and roll yet, anyone who else who wants to jump into that world a little bit earlier? Do you use a journal, do use a notepad, do you creator to do list the night before? How would you go about structuring that?

 

Brian Margolis:

For planning my day, I use a legal pad. In the left margin or my appointments for the day they get highlighted in yellow and the middle is three columns. It’s my personal to-do list. The middle is my business to do lists, and I’m simplifying this, and the left side is my priority list. And I have one simple rule, you do not start on the second thing until you’re done the first. That’s it. That’s the rule. Do not start the third thing until you’re done the second.

 

Will Barron:

How, because this is interesting to me. Well, I promise we’ll wrap up in a second, I’m conscious of time. But do you consciously do that, so, and I know you’re simplifying it because it can depend on the day, it could be a sprawl of different activities right, based on your pillars, but there seems to be lots of different systems. There’s the getting things done system, there’s all kind of filing systems, there’s this planners, is kind of what we’re working on. How did you refine, because I feel that you will fall through this process more than most. How did you refine fruits of just having free columns because that seems like simplified genius?

 

Brian Margolis:

And by the way, this is in the book. I don’t know why, I just said that, but I just remembered. I was like, wait, this isn’t the book. It was reverse engineered. I’ve been trying different ways forever and this just turned out to be the system that works for me. To me it was more a mental exercise of making sure I always had a place to get things out of my head. So you can’t get back on track unless you actually have a track to begin with. And so to me it was more of a reverse engineer to it, simple. And that’s why I love simplifying things. It’s not easy to do, but when I get there, I always think, oh, that was stupid and then I share it with other people and they go, “That was genius.” I’m going, “Really?” It’s like, that’s it.

 

Will Barron:

That’s exactly why I wanted to get out. That’s what I wanted to suss out there of I always have… every aha moments I have as an entrepreneur, as a sales person and I carry a quota internally within our organisation like the audience do as well. It’s always a, “Oh, I’m just an idiot trying to over-complicate things.” I like numbers. I’m trying to build a system. I want to buy this new app or this software and nine times out of 10, it’s a piece of paper, a phone and then just being present with someone and having a conversation and building relationship. All the stuff that is talked about, books that were written a 100 years ago, that’s what moves the needle for me.

 

Parting Thoughts · [44:30]

 

Will Barron:

With that Brian, tell us where we can find out more about you, sir, the book and anything else you want to share?

 

Brian Margolis:

Yep. You know what occupant real simple. I don’t need all the social media handles. ProductivityGiant.com. ProductivityGiant.com will take you everywhere you need to be. You can get the book, you can contact me, you can get free reports, things like that.

 

Will Barron:

Good man. Well I’ll linked out in the show and [inaudible [00:44:50] this episode over at salesman.org. And with that, Brian, I want to thank you for your time. I really enjoyed this conversation, mate and for joining us on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Brian Margolis:

You got it. Thank you so much.

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