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Sales Leaders are the Weak Link in Your Revenue Chain

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Your sales leadership team may be the biggest hurdle to your growth. If you are a sales leader, that might be hard to hear. This week Hamish is joined by best-selling author and sales strategist Tony Hughes.  Tony is widely acclaimed with endorsements from industry luminaries. His first book, The Joshua Principle is in its 10th printing and Tony's second and third books, COMBO Prospecting and Tech-Powered Sales, are published by HarperCollins Leadership New York in partnership with the American Management Association.

What you'll learn:

  • How to build strong sales leaders.
  • How daily sales motions can build great salespeople.
  • What are the biggest mistakes of sales leaders.
  • How to sell in a publicly traded organization.
  • How can you best report to your sales leaders.



Tech-Powered Sales: Achive Superhuman Sales Skills - by Justin Michael and Tony Hughes

Combo Prospecting: The Powerful One-Two Punch That Fills Your Pipeline and Win Sales - by Tony Hughes

The Joshua Principle: Leadership Secrets of Selling - by Tony Hughes

Elite Sales Strategies: A Guide to Being One-Up, Creating Value, and Becoming Truly Consultative - by Anthony Iannarino

Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance - by Jason Jordan, Michelle Vazzana

Tony on Linkedin 

Sales Methodology Website - 

Tony’s Website -

When you need to hire top sales professionals, turn to a recruiting partner that speaks sales. Alaant Workforce Solutions. Learn more and book a discovery call at

The perfect CRM system, streamlined business processes and happier customers – Eligeo CRM Inc can make it happen for your business. Go to for more info

FFF S01E104 Tony


[0:00] In a publicly traded corporation or company, predictability is paramount.
It's almost the most important thing.
Bad news early is something that we can typically do something about.
Bad news late is an absolute disaster. It destroys the credibility of everybody.

[0:21] This is the Full Funnel Freedom Podcast, supporting sales leaders and managers to improve their sales funnels from people to prospects.
I'm Hamish Nox. In this show, you'll learn how you can improve your results, lead a great team and hit more targets with full funnel freedom.
Welcome to the Full Funnel Freedom Podcast. I'm your host, Hamish Nox. Today, we will be getting ideas and insights from Tony Hughes, multi-time published author, co-founder and CEO at SalesIQ Global. Now let's hear from one of our affiliate partners.
Perfect CRM system, streamlined business processes and happier customers.
Aligio CRM Inc can make it happen for your business. Go to slash Aligio for more details. That's slash E L I G E O.
Hey, Full Funnel Freedom followers. If you've been following us on Stitcher, switch over to Spotify, Google, or Apple. so you don't miss a single episode of Full Funnel Freedom.

[1:34] So I am delighted to have Tony Hughes on the Full Funnel Freedom podcast today.
As I mentioned earlier, he is the co-founder and CEO of SalesIQ Global.
He's been ranked as the number one sales blogger globally by both Top Sales Magazine and Best Sales Blogger Awards.
Tony is ranked top three sales expert and thought leader globally by LinkedIn and the most read person on the topic of B2B selling within their platform.
His first book, The Joshua Principle Leadership Secrets of Selling is in its 10th printing and his most recent books, Combo Prospecting and Tech Powered Sales are published by HarperCollins Leadership of New York.
Tony, welcome to Full Funnel Freedom.
Thank you so much, Hamish. I've been really looking forward to the conversation.
Me as well. So I've given the audience the 30,000 foot view of who Tony is and what you've done, where you come from.
Fill in that story. take us down a few thousand feet, tell us more about you and your journey to get where you've got today.

[2:30] I started my sales career at 25. I did that on the back of starting my own business in Australia, selling it, it was really quite successful and moving to the USA.
So I lived in the States for a few years.
My big lesson when I lived in the States in business was that if you cannot personally sell, you'll know where it was an entrepreneur or a leader.
So when I came back to Australia, we were getting royalties for 12 years after selling the business here and that was still in play. And I had a non-compete for that reason. So I decided, you know what, I need to learn how to go sell no matter what I want to do in business in the future, it's a skill I need. So I started in the telco industry working for Bell South, their big subsidiary here in Asia Pacific. One President's Club became their number one rep and then moved into the IT industry. Every company I worked for, I became one of their top reps and ended up being lured into becoming a manager, and realizing that now I get paid at the average, instead of getting paid at the peak as a performer. And the reward for success is just a whole lot more problems. So I just found that I had more and more stress, less and less personal time, and was actually earning less money. Anyway, I kept going through that roller coaster and ended up moving into the software industry and became the CEO running the Asia-Pacific region for.

[3:53] Canadian and North American multinationals. About 12 years ago, I left the corporate world and went out on my own as a sales consultant, helping people with sales methodology and process.
So I've developed a methodology for managing a complex deal.
Big thing I found, however, is that the problem everyone really has is just not enough consistent type. So my latest two books have been around self-generating your own pipeline gap. And I work with some of the biggest brands in the world, including Adobe and Salesforce and SAP.
Very cool. What an amazing journey and you are one of those entrepreneurs who figured out the sales thing There's plenty of entrepreneurs who are like I built a thing you should buy it and it's like, yeah That actually doesn't the way work that way in the real world.

[4:38] Yeah, so and I will say up front for the audience. I read Tony's book tech powered sales on an airplane I actually bought the Wi-Fi so I could connect to a messaging system and I was messaging my team from somewhere over the Midwest USA going, buy this book now, read it before I get it back, because we are going to be implementing some of the things that Tony is talking about in here.
So Tony, speaking of your journey from, you get to the top seller and then they go, hey, how about you become the sales manager, the sales leader?
One of the things that we had talked about off air is, sales leaders are often the weak link in the organization.
So tell us a bit more about that and how we might be able to make them not the weak link.

[5:23] Hamish, it's almost offensive, isn't it, for a sales leader to hear someone say, hey, you're the weak link in the revenue chain.
But it's just what I've universally found. If we look at all of the things that drive success, and there's more than these, but you think about product market fit, you think about the available market that you've got access to, how ferocious your competition is, the quality of your people, brand, sales methodology, all of those things.
But at the end of the day, it comes down to the sales leaders' ability to coach and hold their people to account.
And we live in an era right now where spans of control are being broadened.
So sales leaders have never been spread so thin.
They are absolutely buried with a whole lot of administration.
You know, this insanity of going round and round the boy, to use a, or buoy to use a, to use a sailing metaphor, you know, at the end of the month or the end of the quarter with forecasting, just, just endless, endless wheel spinning that goes on.
And the reality is if a sales leader and hold their people to account.

[6:30] On the input activities that feed into objectives that then create results.
That's really the key. A lot of us make the mistake of trying to manage by results.
You need to hit your number, you need more pipeline.
Rather than show me your list for your outbound tomorrow morning.

[6:49] Show me that you actually have cell phone numbers or direct dial numbers.
Show me the personalization attributes you're going to use to contextualize the outreach. What's your core point of view?
What we call a sales IQ or value narrative. It's a conversation narrative that's got a point of view in it for how that person could potentially drive improved results. Show me some of the emails you're sending out as as part of this concept called a combo. This whole thing of little pattern interruption sequences that actually grab the person's attention. Anybody using a single channel on its own is just typically ignored. And most sellers, for example, give up in less than three attempts trying to get hold of a prospect that they've never spoken with previously. And yet, depending on whose research we choose to believe, it takes seven to 13 attempts. So people need to be positively persistent. So the role of the leader is to hold their people to account for executing their own plan. We need to build emotional connection with our people to know why them stretching themselves is important to them personally, and then rather than having a forecast in one hand and a flame thrower in the other, they need to see that we're holding them to account because we have the right intent. We're all about them and their success rather than the pressures that we're trying to deal with.

[8:17] Yeah. The role of sales leader is so important in an organization. I regard it as the toughest role in any corporation.
Yeah, I do as well. My friend Antonio Garrido has shared that he'll have a sales leader complaining about their team members and he'll say, well, did you hire them that way or did you make them that way? And it's always resonated with me as you were sharing. It's like, yeah, like did we hire them that they're so terrible or are we making them that way unintentionally?
We're not trying to degrade them, but having that individualized plan and being focused on them, not on us is really, really critical.
So when we're considering that accountability and some of the things that you were talking about, about individual plans and show me the emails that you're sending out and all that, some people are probably thinking, hey, Tony, that sounds like micromanagement.
Like do I really have to go to my 5, 10, 15 sellers and get all of those examples?
But I would imagine based on your experience, you've seen that that's actually really, really critical to do those daily motions. Is that fair to say?
Absolutely, yes. And a person needs to earn the right to not be micromanaged. And again, it's why we need to show the right intent. If our people simply perceive that we're some control freak that's trying to micromanage, then it will cause blowback and negativity.

[9:34] But if they think, you know what, my manager actually adds value in the conversations, the coaching conversations they're having with me. They've got great ideas and tips, and they're all about me and my success. And I love the fact that my manager is holding me to account for what I've committed to do. So one of the things we really encourage people to do is to reverse engineer their own activity metrics and build a success plan that translates into time blocks in their calendar that they can share with their manager. So their manager can book some debriefing sessions. Obviously, if a manager's got a lot of people that they're responsible for.

[10:12] They can't do this for every person with every time block. But But the whole idea to me as a sales manager is to avoid the trap.
Which I fell into when I was a sales director for a public corporation, I've been CEO with sales, leadership reporting up into me. And the biggest mistake when I look back on it, there's really a few of them, but one of them was holding on to the wrong people for too long.

[10:41] We think we're being compassionate, doing the right thing. And businesses do need to be driven by good values in the leaders.
You know, culture is nothing more, nothing less than the lived values and behaviors of the leaders. So we need to be compassionate.
We need to use a mirror as the first diagnostic tool. Are we doing everything that we should be doing to enable the person to be successful?
We remove the roadblocks, are we enabling them well?
But if the person just isn't able to do the job, they're not smart enough, they're not capable enough, they're not committed to their own personal growth enough.

[11:18] If they need to go, they need to go and the longer we hang on to them, the worse it is for the business, the worse it is for us, and the worse it is for that individual.
So we need to fail fast with people. Hiring people is both art and science, but it's difficult and at the end of the day, selling is a game of managing risk.
So we need to think, where are the risks? And sellers talk about doing outbound prospecting because if you can build consistent, healthy quality pipeline is almost a cure of all ills for any salesperson or sales organization.
It takes the stress and pressure out of forecasting. We've got some levers to pull if things do go wrong on key deals. And I've always found that the thing that creates crazy levels of stress is not the goal, it's not the workload. It's really the feeling of not being in control. And if we can help our sellers be in control, they know their numbers, they understand their metrics, and they focus on the activities that go and bridge the gaps.

[12:22] If we hold them to account around those things, we're driving down everybody's stress in the organisation.
That totally resonates with me and I'm really big on that proactive activity and consistent, repeatable, and then it makes the funnel actually not look like an accordion. That's something I find causes a ton of stress is, you know, we talk about pencils and things like that sometimes, but that accordion of like, oh, it's big, it's small, it's big, it's small, that really amps up everybody's stress across the organization.

[12:51] Tony, I am curious about something because you're the first guest that we've had on that has been a part of a publicly traded organization. And I used to be in the capital market space, so I appreciate that quarter to quarter. You've got to deliver, you've got to deliver. From a sales organization perspective in a public area, aside from that, every quarter, you've got to deliver. What are some of the other things that people who are in private organizations might not know about selling in a publicly traded organization?
In a publicly traded corporation or company, predictability is paramount. It's almost the most important thing. Bad news early is something that we can typically do something about.

[13:35] Bad news late is an absolute disaster. It destroys the credibility of everybody. Totally.
And I've seen CEOs lose their credibility and lose their job with the board who just loses confidence in their ability to predictably deliver a number. The language of leaders is numbers. It's one of the things that sellers need to really understand. And when a sales manager or a CEO asks a seller, how's your quarter going? What they don't want to hear is a meandering bedtime story about the people you've been visiting and how good the demos went, and they just want numbers, right? So what they want to hear is something like, I'm on track to finish at 107%. I've only got 137k to go. And I've got three times coverage.
So I'm feeling good about the quarter. That's the sort of thing that they want to hear. What's your what's your worst case, best case, and upside.
And then they want to understand, you know, if there is risk, how are you managing those risks, right?
So have you got a risk mitigation plan in place? We all know that business and selling is a game of managing risk.
Absolutely. I find the longer the story, the skinnier the funnel.
Maybe that's just my experience.

[15:04] That's actually very true. Now you have written three amazing books.
I am curious if you would be comfortable sharing some of the technique, especially from your most recent two combo prospecting and tech powered sales on how to keep that funnel full.
We've talked a lot about consistent proactive activity. We've talked about touch points and multiple touches, especially for net news.
So what are some of those things that our audience would like to hear and that also would probably encourage them to go buy a couple of copies for their team.

[15:36] Maybe I'll just summarize a few of the key principles and I'll make sure I don't get bogged down. The first thing that's really important is nail your defined ideal customer profile. The whole world is not a prospect. You need to be brutally honest about product market fit and decide who are you going to target where there's highest propensity to buy. So you think about your ICP, and you think about firmographics, psychographics and technographics. So the obvious thing in firmographics is, you know, industry vertical size of organization where they're located, things like that. Psychographics is maybe you're looking for clients in growth mindset, rather than cost cutting mode, right? So they're innovators, they're growing, you know, that's typically a really good, good place to target. And technographics, you think about, if you sell tech, what are the technologies that we complement really well, that we integrate, we integrate well with that we replace well, which which particular competitors are we really good at displacing. So I even work with a professional services firm once and they don't do anything with technology, nothing with technology. But when they did technographic analysis of their customers, their best customers, they found a common, a common attribute in the technographic stack. Every one of them used Salesforce. Now, this company doesn't do Salesforce consulting, they don't consult around CRM, but they thought, isn't that interesting? And when they dug in, what they realized is.

[17:04] If a company is big enough.

[17:07] And committed to best practice and change enough to put in the world's most expensive and most powerful CRM, that probably means that they want to innovate in other areas of the business.
They've made that kind of investment, it shows the right mindset. A company still running itself on spreadsheets, it just shows the wrong mindset. And alignment is far more effective than evangelism when you're trying to sell, when you think about the amount of runway you've got.
So be brutally honest about ICP, define your ICP and target accordingly.
Then within the organizations you're targeting, there'll be various buyer personas, these roles that we sell to. Maybe you sell to the chief HR officer and to the CFO and the CEO.
Maybe you sell to the sales and marketing manager and the IT manager.
So you think about these buyer personas and you make sure that you've documented them and that you understand their KPIs, how they're measured in their role, the typical objections, they'll push back the words and phrases that resonate to really define your buyer personas.

[18:15] The third thing, based on knowing your ICP and your buyer personas, you can then nail the narrative. We need a conversation narrative that appeals to the 40% of the market that's open to change. That is the very definition of strategic selling, engage the part of the market that's not already looking, that's 3% by the way, 3% of the market is this red ocean shark feeding frenzy of competition, because the client's out looking and filling in forms on different vendors websites, and then we get involved, right? Someone else has set the agenda, it's very tough.

[18:52] We go for the 40% by having a point of view on how people in their roles can drive improved results.
So really nail the narrative, we need to talk the language of leaders, we need to be brief.
We need to have evidence and proof of improved results with others that these organizations would respect. We need to find a way to contextualize and be relevant for them.

[19:14] So that's the first three things. Then we need to find a way to break through.
So once we've nailed the narrative, we've got the right conversation that we can build with people, we need to find a way to break through to them. And that's what combo prospecting and and tech-powered sales are largely about.
They do talk about the message as well.
But what we know is that if you just send emails or you just do in-mails, it typically just gets ignored.
So we need to example, phone them. It doesn't matter that they don't answer.
We made their device ring and they looked at it and thought this person's not in my address book, don't know who it is, probably a scammer or a spammer.
I'll let that go through to Voicemail or I'll just ignore it if they don't use voicemail.
Then what happens is about 15 seconds later or 10 seconds later, their phone goes ding and they go, oh, it wasn't one of those people I thought because they've left the voicemail or they've sent me a text message or a WhatsApp message and they've identified themselves and they listen to the voicemail and there's simply something like, hey, Hamish, it's Tony from Sales IQ.
Hey, just looking to get 10 minutes with you Later this week, I'll send you an email.

[20:25] All I do, I don't give them a value prop. And they go, I wonder what that's about.
And then they hang up their phone and go back to cruising through their inbox, trying to delete the 150 emails that turned up overnight.
And ding, there's your email. We just increased the probability of them opening the email dramatically.
Right, so it doesn't matter they didn't answer the phone, we pattern interrupted them and caused them to actually open the email.
So that's one example.
So we need to find a way to break through. That's what combo prospecting is all about.
And they're probably really the four key things. And the fifth would really be disciplined action and using tech well.
Most sellers fumble around with their tech stack.
Anybody listening to this or watching this that isn't committed to improving your own TQ, your own technical quotient, if it is in trouble, if we don't get good at using technology, we're doomed to be replaced by it.
You know, we've all been watching on the sidelines about what chat GP is doing.
And only a complete fool would have chat GPT writing all of their outbound and automating that and sending it out, right?
Because it looks like a bot. It's all too long. Chat GPT can do some amazing things, right?
There's all sorts of incredible tech out there.

[21:50] You know, there's co-pilots that can be, with you when you're doing virtual or video meetings, recall it, do a transcript, look at talk times, buying signals.
The things that AI can do today already is just incredible. Be disciplined and get good at using your own tech stack.
Love that. Thank you for sharing. Based on my LinkedIn in-mails as well as my e-mails, there are plenty of fools out there who are outsourcing everything, which just makes the rest of us who are trying to do it right, have to work that much harder to actually get hurt.
Yeah, that's true. That's true. So Tony, I could nerd out with this stuff with you all day. And I am, as already identified, a huge fan of your books. And we did implement tech-powered sales and I found my.

[22:38] Sellers increased their effectiveness massively. So you weren't expecting a testimonial today, but I'm certainly happy to give you one. So I certainly recommend everyone check out Tony's books. Tony, I am curious. You have a wealth of experience. If you could go back and coach younger Tony and say, hey, younger Tony, you're going to end up here in 2023 and have a best selling books and all this amazing experience, but you're also going to have a lot of scar tissue and bumps and bruises. What would you coach younger Tony to say or do different to arrive in the same place, but with fewer bumps and bruises or maybe a little less scar tissue?
Such a great question, Hamish. And if I think back to the 25-year-old self, if I could go back in time, my advice to me would be, it's not all about you. It's actually all about your customer.

[23:31] As a seller, if that value drives you, you're going to be okay. And then as you become a manager one day, apply the same ethos. It's not about you, it's about your people. It's about your people and their customers. So this thing of servant-based leadership.

[23:49] Dialed down the alpha testosterone driven kind of approach to conquering and conquest in selling, you know, selling is something we do for another person, not to them. To me, selling is about making a positive difference in the lives of our customers. If we're not the right fit, you know, we need to have integrity and walk away. So selling right at the beginning is a battle of belief. So we need to be a true believer in the value we provide and the values that drive us.
Very cool. That absolutely resonates with me. Recurring talk track even with my children is, it's not about you, it's about the other person and how are we supporting them. Now, Tony, we're definitely going to link to all of your books in the show notes. What else would you recommend the audience checks out from a book, a podcast, a video perspective that you've enjoyed previously?
Actually, I think I've got a book here. This is the latest book I'm reading. It's by Anthony Ian Noreno. He's based in the States there. He's a really good friend of mine. He's an awesome author. He's a great person. So Anthony Ian Noreno's content is right. This is his latest book, Elite Strategy. So I'd certainly recommend that. If anyone here is a sales manager or a sales leader, a really good friend of mine, Jason Jordan, along with Michelle Benzella, wrote a brilliant book called Cracking the Sales Management Code. It talks about some of of the principles we've talked about today, so they would probably be two books.

[25:15] If anybody would like to connect with me, obviously in LinkedIn, if you just search for Tony J. Hughes in LinkedIn, you should find me.
Bizarrely in LinkedIn, if you search for somebody and can't find them, it's because they're outside your degrees of connection.
That's why if you do a Google search, their LinkedIn profile will come up.
Also, my sales methodology website is, some really good free content there.
If you'd like to see a whole bunch of podcast recordings, including this one, there'll be a link to this podcast recording. you can go to Tony Hughes.
Awesome, we will put all those links in the show notes. Thank you very much for sharing, Tony, and appreciate you offering to connect with the listeners offline.

[25:56] Wrap us up. The closing thought, a bit of wisdom, something to plug, the floor is yours.
Just remember that in settling and leadership in life, we need to be the person worthy of the success that we think we want.
And to be successful, we need to read. We need to be committed to self-improvement.
I know audio books are cheaper and easier, but we don't really learn a lot when we listen to an audio book.
It's harder for it to stick.
Audio books are great if it's fiction or a story. But I really encourage you, if you even listen to an audio book and love it, buy the paperback, underline it, dog ear it, make notes all over it.

[26:35] But a book is probably the best training that you'll ever have in your life.
So find those people that you want to follow.
Awesome. Tony, I have really enjoyed our visit today.
Thank you so much for your ideas and insights and for being a guest on Full Funnel Freedom.
Thanks so much, Hamish.
You've been listening to the Full Funnel Freedom podcast. I've been your host, Hamish Knox.
Today, we have had some amazing ideas and insights from Tony Hughes, co-founder and CEO at SalesIQ Global, multiple time best-selling author of books, including the Joshua Principle, combo prospecting and tech powered sales.
The Full Funnel Freedom podcast is brought to you by Sandler Calgary, Sandler Calgary's clients desire to dominate their niche and seek to scale their sales sustainably.
If you know someone in your network who that sounds like, go to forward slash how to Sandler for additional details and to book a 15 minute initial call.
Thanks for listening. Leave us a review and a rating, share this episode with a sales leader or two in your network who you care about. And until we connect on the next episode.

[27:35] Go create full funnel freedom.
Thank you for listening to Full Funnel Freedom with Amish Knox.
If you want to increase your sales with ease, go to Full Funnel Freedom.

[27:50] Music.