Design a site like this with
Get started

Spiro.AI Incorporates New AI-Generated Content into Sales Platform to Accelerate Manufacturing Agility

The post <strong>Spiro.AI Incorporates New AI-Generated Content into Sales Platform to Accelerate Manufacturing Agility</strong> appeared first on Spiro.

from Spiro – Spiro is the first and only proactive relationship management platform. Our mission is to help sales teams close more deals.

Episode 13: The Blueprint for Closing Deals is Data-Driven Sales – with Paul Dietz of Chippenhook


Adam Honig:  Hello and welcome to Make it. Move it. Sell it. On this podcast, I talk with company leaders about how they’re modernizing the business of making, moving, and selling products, and of course, having fun along the way. I’m your host Adam Honig, the CEO of We make amazing AI software for companies in the supply chain, but we are not talking about that today. Instead today, we’re talking with Paul Dietz, the former president, and now senior advisor for Chippenhook, probably the best branded retail fixtures company out there. Paul, welcome to the show.

Paul Dietz: Glad to be here, thank you for inviting me.

Adam Honig: It’s our pleasure. Now tell us a little bit about branded retail fixtures at Chippenhook, what does that mean?

Paul Dietz: It’s a funny little corner of the business, we like to say our products sell your products. And we design fixtures, so let’s say you’re selling necklaces, we design a neck form that helps tell your brand’s story without overwhelming the product. It’s a very odd balancing act, but we’ve done our job well, you don’t see our stuff, but you feel it.

Adam Honig: Gotcha. So the goal is to showcase the product, but still have a great presentation at the same time, so that it all looks wrapped and neat to go. And is it Jewelry, what kind of products do you typically package?

Paul Dietz: So we started with jewelry and with fixtures and displays, then we went into packaging. And then we decided we could replicate that same brand journey in eyewear, we now do it in medical, and we’re in footwear. The concept works the same. As long as there’s a brand that wants to tell its story at retail or in the unboxing experience, when someone gets home, if they want to continue their story there, we’re the place to go.

Adam Honig: Gotcha, that’s really interesting. Of course, retail has been under a lot of pressure for a while now because of eCommerce and the pandemic and stuff. So is the unboxing part of the business becoming a bigger growing sector?

Paul Dietz: It’s very much so. And actually one of the things we do is unsolicited unboxing of people that we don’t, they’re not our customers.

Adam Honig: That sounds kind of scary. What do you mean by unsolicited, tell me more.

Paul Dietz: We’ll go out and buy a brand and buy their packaging and give them at no charge, critique about ways that they could improve the unboxing experience. And we’ve got a lot of customers by putting that time in on the front end. Usually there are not a lot of people at a brand thinking about those things, but you sell a beautiful necklace and your online experience is a Ziploc bag, there’s a problem there. You’re not romancing your own product. And when you’re selling online, the brick and mortar is your box, that’s telling your brand’s story. So it’s a very good tool for us to round up new clients, so to speak. Which is how we’re managing through the change at retail, by increasing our market share because everybody is under pressure. Everybody is under pressure, and we’re just widening our market share.

Adam Honig: Yeah, I really love this concept that the packaging is like retail for people, that makes so much sense to me. And you’re right, there are some companies like Apple, where it’s like a religion for them about how things go. And I feel like companies that I talk to in the manufacturing space seem to either wanna be Amazon or Apple or some combination of the two of those. They want to adopt from these leaders the best practices. I’ve also been developing this theory that as the world has gone to more e-commerce that the packaging, the whole look and feel, even the shipping and everything of products just is so much more important than it used to be. So it sounds like you’re seeing that in your business too.

 Paul Dietz: It’s really critical, I think. We started in jewelry, which is very small, so everybody’s looking at the details, so details matter. So when we started going to bigger things like eyewear, our eyes toward very small details translated very well. It was something they weren’t used to seeing. And frankly, we’re tearing it up in medical right now of all places because you would be surprised at what your doctor uses or puts in your body even, it’s branded, it’s a brand of knee replacement or whatever. And they’ve never really thought about telling their brand’s story and differentiating themselves from the competitors. That’s really what it’s about, is differentiating yourself, I think.

 Adam Honig: Yeah, I totally agree. But I’d like to talk with the guys who name those pharmaceutical products. Is there a requirement, like it needs to be five syllables and have a Z and a Y in it? It’s like a strong password. It’s like a crazy name, who comes up with these names?

Paul Dietz: You’re absolutely right. And what’s even wilder to me is just how they’re packaging requirements, which are right and absolute for safety and to be germ-free. That’s not the space we live in. That piece gets then put into a branded piece, so it’s an extra step, but the packaging requirement for these medical people, holy guacamole. And don’t even talk to me about cannabis because that’s different in every single state, sometimes in different parts of the same state. It’s a crazy thing to navigate, but it’s really important.

Adam Honig: Totally agree. Unfortunately, I’ve been kind of a habitual COVID tester. I’ve gone to a lot of meetings with clients, I didn’t wanna show up and give anybody COVID and if I can buy the Pfizer Binax, it just looks so much nicer than all of the other ones. It makes me feel like it’s a better product, even though it’s all the same [expletive]. I’m sure it’s exactly the same reagents and stuff like that, but I just feel that way.

Paul Dietz: It’s like generic, and so the mind thing is the same, but you feel better buying the branded name because they’ve put some skin in it, right?

Adam Honig: Yep, and in medical stuff, the placebo effect is really important too. So if you really feel like you’re getting that premium heart valve or whatever, then maybe you are, I don’t know.

Paul Dietz: Yeah, I think there’s something to it. In medical so far, at least for us, our client isn’t the end user, it’s the doctor. That he’s getting the very best to put into his client. And they get brand loyal just like you and I get brand loyal about the pants we wear and the shirts, you know, every brand has a story. And in medical, it’s distinctly different than say a beautiful jewelry necklace and bracelet.

Adam Honig: Yeah. Well with the prices of some of those medical products though, I bet they’re more expensive than some of the jewelry, as a matter of fact. And how did you get into this field, Paul? Because I know you weren’t growing up being like, I really want to be in the branded retail fixtures business.

Paul Dietz: You know, I am a complicated guy. I have always been involved with custom manufacturing, which is a weird little corner of the universe. I started making furniture products that were custom, and then I got involved with custom musical instrument cases for people that were in orchestras. They had some valuable stuff and all one or two off. And the guy that sold me my material for the musical instrument cases said “I know a guy that has this business in jewelry display and you guys would be great together.” And I met him, we were great partners, and eventually, that company got bought out by Chippenhook and I ended up being a gift with purchase.

Adam Honig: That’s a great story. I can’t tell you how many stories I tell, or I hear people tell which always start with, “I knew a guy and then this happened.” 

Paul Dietz: I stay in contact with almost everybody I’ve ever been in business with. It’s just amazing how putting a little bit of effort into staying in contact yields you such a robust life, right? You just hear about things, people move on into different industries and you kind of hear a little bit about that. I just think it makes you a more complete person.

Adam Honig: Now you and I were talking about this pre-show, but there’s a lot of lessons that we teach our younger staff that are kind of coming up through the ranks. And I’m just wondering how do you teach them to stay in contact? What’s the advice that you would give folks?

Paul Dietz: So I really don’t like junk email, but for 30 years I put out something called The Monday Maxim, which was just a little saying, just one sentence and everybody I’ve ever known was on that contact list. And you’d be surprised how that little message to everybody I knew resonated with people. I’m sending out a thousand, but I’m always getting five or six back every week saying, oh you know, I was thinking about calling you or this happened to so and so. I think selling today is much different. I think it’s about finding out where the rock is in someone’s shoe. We fix problems, as salespeople today, that’s our job, is to fix a problem. We’re not selling a product. If you can go in and have an honest discussion, I mean, no one calls us up because things are going great, they’re calling us up because there’s a problem somehow. Whether it’s in production, whether the brand message isn’t consistent across the board. Sometimes you have brands that deal with three and four and five and ten vendors. Well, every vendor’s trying to interpret the message and it’s not coherent across the brand. So I think for me in sales training, staying in contact with people and listening, listening, listening, and finding out where the rock is in their shoe, that’s the secret. It’s really simple.

Adam Honig: Gotcha. So really just focusing on the very fundamentals of course. And I know there are so many people out there who talk about all these advanced techniques and emails, sequences, and stuff like that, but I totally agree with you. I think what it really comes down to is how do we help people. I always talk about it with the team, people are looking for the holes, they’re not looking for the drills, and how do we help them figure out where the holes are that they’re trying to either drill or fix or something like that.

Paul Dietz: I think that’s exactly right. And maybe there is a better way. Look, there are many paths to the same place, so I think you have to be authentic, right? I’m a really big reader, I love business books, and if I’m reading a great business book, I’ll buy five and I’ll highlight an area that really spoke to me and send it to people unsolicited. And that’s me, if one of my salesmen tried to do that and they’re not into it…I have a salesman that’s a great chef. He drops off recipes when he goes and makes sales calls, it’s his story, and God bless. I think you have to be authentic, I think you have to be truthful, and I think you have to be highly organized, which is kind of where Spiro comes in, in a way.

Adam Honig: Yeah. Well, let’s talk a little bit about your sales team and experience at Chippenhook. Because I know the manufacturing industry is often not the most technology forward and you’ve just gone through an exercise of getting the team to adopt new technologies. So maybe tell us a little bit about what that was like.

Paul Dietz: So it was possible because, and I used myself as an example, if I can navigate it, anybody can navigate it. And having a platform that was easy to navigate was helpful. What we found that surprised me along the way is we didn’t have standard terminology. We thought we did, but when you start recording it all, define a prospect. I had 15 different definitions of what a prospect was.

Adam Honig: Some guy it was when he saw the sign on the building for another guy’s when he had a signed contract.

Paul Dietz: That’s exactly right. So the first time we made our first weeks pass, there was one guy that had 15 million dollars worth of prospects, and I go, we got a definition problem here and that was helpful to us. How long does a prospect live? We all lose a customer from time to time, but we keep them on the customer master. Well, you can’t, they’re gone, it’s done, life changes.

Adam Honig: Let’s just drill into one of these things for a second. So how did you get the team to agree on the terms? Was it, you just told the team this is what we should do, or was it a consensus or how did that work?

Paul Dietz: So it was with the sales managers of which we have two in our family of companies. And I believe that they spoke to their salesmen to get input. It was pretty clear, you threw up a screen of everybody’s sales funnels and it was pretty clear something had to happen. And then it was just a matter of adopting something that was standardized, but there were so many, I can’t remember them all, but things that you thought you knew that you didn’t know, that improved by the old adage, what is measured improved, right? And we weren’t measuring accurately and I thought we were, but we weren’t. And now, today you can look at the top of the sales funnel and with deadly accuracy, you can predict what the sales are gonna be. 

Our sales cycle is very short. So we design something, we build it, it’s maybe a six or eight week build in the factory and then maybe four weeks on the water. So we can go from start to finish in three months on a project quite easily. So with the short sales cycle, your funnel at the top is really big and figuring out how that funnel relates to monthly sales, and of course, now that we’ve been with Spiro for what, five years, we have all that data, and you can play around with it. And that’s what I think the sales managers love, and that’s what keeps selling me on the project. You guys really should put me on the payroll, but it really is a magnificent tool that’s easy to use. My salesman range is probably from 40 to 70. So none of them are just fresh out of school and dying to do more data entry. And this allows data entry once, and then it gets sped into our other systems from there, which is very helpful.

Adam Honig: So from an adoption perspective, of course picking an easy-to-use product, super important.

Paul Dietz: That’s key.

Adam Honig: Getting the definitions right so that everybody’s talking on the same page about what these things mean, and then measuring.

Paul Dietz: And we measure, we have quarterly sales meetings where everybody’s involved, they’re actually using slides off Spiro, so it’s very easy. Then of course, as with any sales group you get, salesmen are competitive by nature, and so they see what other people are doing and it’s in the same format. There’s kind of no wiggle room. One of my favorite sayings our current president Mark Zelk came up with is “You can’t fake the harvest.” At the end of the day, the numbers, and the sales are what they are, doesn’t really matter what the top of your funnel looks like, if you’re not closing the deal. And that is visually clear and apparent, which is a wonderful thing.

 Adam Honig: Now your business sounds like it’s a little bit more analytic than maybe the other companies. What about the culture makes you guys more number-hungry, do you think?

Paul Dietz: So our parent company Sigma Queue, is a huge manufacturer in Central America, one of the top 100 in Central America. And they have plants that make boxes for Colgate on three-year contracts. So it’s a very different beast, right? It’s a numbers-driven company and they bought Chippenhook maybe eight years ago now. And my sister companies have three-year concrete pipelines and they came to me and said what’s your pipeline? I said oh, about three months. And their need for data for a big company to understand and do planning meant that we had to understand our data in a way that when we were an independent company, we didn’t maybe have to, it made us a much better company. Oh my goodness. But it was out of necessity, and it was our parent company, they run SAP and they’re very serious about it. And anybody that’s worked with SAP, it’s about as flexible as my first wife. It’s just a very rigid program, and that fits them. And then we came along and our sales were varying upwards and down by 30% in a month because if the bubble moves past the end of the month, it makes a big deal on our numbers. And boy, we were able to flatten that and be very predictable. And that made me look good in front of the board of directors and probably kept my job for however long I was there because God knows I’m not a numbers guy.

 Adam Honig: So the analytics, the data hungriness was sort of imposed from above in a sense. But what it seems like the takeaway is that it made the business a lot stronger because you guys were able to predict better and that yielded operational efficiencies in the business. Did it improve profitability as well?

 Paul Dietz: Profitability, and for us, we were able to target new clients. We’ve always targeted new clients, but we have programs, there’s a huge one that we’ve started right now towards new client recruitment in a way that we never have before. The success is unbelievable. I think last year for Chippenhook, over 20% of our customers were new customers, so the growth has been phenomenal and I believe it’s managing that data. Obviously we do a good job too, that’s the root of it, but understanding what makes a good client as far as numbers, as far as their sales, and their branding opportunities, all of that is tracked in a much better, more cohesive way. The whole is so much more than the parts. The salesman just sees his little world, but for me to be able to see what’s going on across the scope of the whole company, and you can see someone that’s being incredibly successful and figure out how to replicate that. And really, isn’t it our job to find someone that’s struggling and figure out how to help them? This is all really clear in a way that maybe it wasn’t before. You know, salesmen are really good at telling stories, that’s what we do, but numbers don’t lie.

 Adam Honig: So having a great product, and a great team still doesn’t mean you get new customers, you still have to be in front of them. You still need to know who to target and how to go after them and get in front of them to turn them into those new customers is part of what I’m hearing.

Paul Dietz: Yeah, and to me, it’s always about authenticity, telling a consistent story across all the salespeople, what is our hymnal at Chippenhook? What do we do? Our products sell your products. You’re not gonna come to us and say oh, look at this ring finger, how much can you make this for me? That’s not our thing, I’m more interested in that ridiculous piece of jewelry or that ridiculous pair of glasses that doesn’t fit on any displays. How do we tell that story? Where’s your problem? And telling that across the board has been incredibly helpful. The other thing that’s really unique about Chippenhook is there are no constraints on our designers, and I mean no constraints. They’re allowed to draw with their imaginations, and this has been Chippenhook’s way for 30 years, they can draw with their imagination. It’s our job to find the factory that can make that dream come true. But there are no constraints like okay, this is what this factory’s capacity and capabilities are.

I remember years ago, we had a huge customer that wanted to put an iPad when iPads were new into a counterpad, and we went to our factory and tried to make it, but it didn’t work because we’re not making stuff that people drop and touch screens and all that. So when I was over in China, I went to a place that made laptop bags and I worked with a whole new client and I taught them how to make it look like a jewelry presentation. And we used that to make these however many they were, always being flexible. And we have probably 15 factories we regularly work with in China and we own vertically integrated in Central America. So if we can’t make it in our group, we’ll find the group that can, and that’s really unusual.

Adam Honig: That is really unusual. And you know, what I’m hearing is not just the artistic side of things, which I think is a big thing too, but also the mindset thing, that you’re looking at the problem first. Like the rock in the shoe, but then drawing all the way through to-we need to find the solution for that client, we need to navigate it. And of course there’s gonna be a solution out there, we just haven’t hit upon it yet if it’s not in-house.

 Paul Dietz: But you kind of get good at it if you do it enough times. I mean when you think about it, every project starts with a pencil and a piece of paper, and someone’s sketching something and saying well, what about this? And that’s kind of unusual, it’s so custom in the Chippenhook world. Okay, so we came up with a beautiful display for client A and they may buy it for three years and then they have to change it again. And that’s okay, but in general, our stuff doesn’t replicate, we’re starting every project with a blank piece of paper. That’s really cool to me, that’s what was always interesting, every day was like Jumanji, “What’s coming?”

Adam Honig: Yeah, exactly. Now is Chippenhook getting into 3D printing and custom development and stuff?

Paul Dietz: Absolutely, I remember 20 years ago, I would be in China because you can draw a neck form in the way a necklace hangs on it, but you have to have the jewelry and lay it on the neck form to make sure that the curves are right. I mean stuff that’s way beneath the noise, no one’s gonna notice it, but you’ll notice it in your brain.

Adam Honig: The subconscious will see it.

Paul Dietz: Exactly. Nowadays, we can actually build a 3D model and do it in the office and change it twice, and then send the 3D model, send the file. They make their own 3D model in China or Salvador or wherever it’s being made.

Adam Honig: So you do a 3D image of the jewelry and then send the image of that. And then they lay it out with their own 3D printing of it in the display case so that you know exactly how it’s gonna work.

Paul Dietz: Sometimes. We had a case recently, it was really an award-winning display where they needed real flexibility. And so the designers came up with these octagon shapes that were magnetic. So they kind of snapped together and they could make this beautiful window display to fit any one of 150 different window configurations, and still tell this brand story. It was really magnificent. That started with 3D printers because we weren’t sure we could make it. They designed it, woohoo, now let’s figure out how to make it.

Adam Honig: Man, this stuff is moving so quickly. I was at a factory a couple weeks back in St. Louis that were making images. The dentists would send them images of teeth and then they would make a 3D image of the teeth. And then they would make a 3D printing with metal of the braces that would go on the teeth so that it would be perfectly fit when it gets back to the dentist. They’re very different than the orthodonture of your and my youth where everything was custom wired in your mouth. Can you imagine?

Paul Dietz: Absolutely, it’s just the assists that are available to us in manufacturing today are insane and they’re changing. It’s like your computer is trash in two years, same way with your 3D printer because they’re just getting more cool stuff all the time, but it’s made our life easier. But at the end of the day, it’s all about figuring out what the problem is. It starts with the problem and hopefully, dear mother of goodness, hopefully a solution.

Adam Honig: Right, and hopefully that’ll lend the end customer, the doctor or the retail agency, or what have you, being able to display their product better and sell more. So it’s all part of that one chain.

Paul Dietz: You know, I gotta tell you, every vacation picture I have, there’s a couple of the kids, one of my wife, and then there are a lot of displays in windows in different parts of the country. My wife gets so mad. We get home and review the pictures, I go look at this, all this stuff is misaligned, it’s chaos in people’s minds, they’re not gonna buy anything. And she goes, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s see the pictures of the kids on the beach, oops”.

Adam Honig: That’s so funny Paul. Growing up, my dad was an advertising executive, he was a madman on Madison avenue in New York and we watched TV for the commercials.

Paul Dietz: Kinda like the Oscars, right? Or the Super Bowl.

Adam Honig: Yeah, exactly.

Paul Dietz: It’s wild stuff, and it’s amazing. I’m really glad that I found this little niche that allowed for so much creativity. And it’s just a weird little corner of the world, but I guess all of us in business are in weird little corner of the world. If you strip it away, there’s an entrepreneurial spirit, I think, to most people in businesses under 50 million, and there are people that are driving it. And you can make a change, right? That’s what’s so beautiful. The exciting part to me was always how quickly you could make an impact. And I don’t think you get that in really big businesses. I probably wouldn’t be successful at Toyota, and not to knock Toyota, but just a big corporate environment, you pick the big corporate environment.

Adam Honig: Although, I had this sort of moment, I was at a cocktail party and I was talking with this guy and I said, what do you do? And he’s like I’m the nut buyer for Nestle. And I’m like, well what does that mean? And he’s like, well I fly to Brazil for the nut harvest, and I try all the nuts and I tell Nestle which nuts to buy for all the candy bars, and that’s amazing. First of all, that’s somebody’s job, but if he chooses the wrong nuts, I mean Halloween candy all across the country is gonna be [expletive]. I don’t know what to say.

Paul Dietz: It’s an amazing thing, isn’t it? My brother used to work in the Alabama prison system as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation therapist, and a big wig was coming through once. They were all sitting and the guest asked for an extra pat of butter, and the inmates said “Everybody gets one pat.” And he says, “I’m the supervisor of all the prisons in Alabama”. He said “Oh, I’m the guy in charge of handing out the pats of butter. I’ve always remembered that, everybody’s got a job baby.

Adam Honig: No doubt. Well Paul, this has been awesome to have you on the podcast, I really want to thank you. And we covered so much interesting stuff, like talking about packaging being the new retail with the unboxing. Amazing, great stuff right there. Of course, your whole philosophy about being authentic and finding the rock in the shoe as the problem, that’s so important for everybody to be focusing on in their business. I know we talked a little bit about tech adoption and ways to go about that. And I think there are a lot of takeaways from this podcast that people can get a lot of value out of, so I really appreciate your joining us today.

Paul Dietz: It was my pleasure. And I have to say, one of the great surprises of my life was working towards the end of my career with Spiro. It was just so easy. God bless you all, it’s been a great ride and it is really wonderful talking with you.

Adam Honig: Thank you, that’s a big compliment for us, so thank you Paul. Hey, everybody who’s listening, as a reminder, you can find every episode of the Make it. Move it. Sell it. podcast at

And if you thought the conversation that Paul and I had was interesting, or you took a couple of tidbits out of this that might be helpful to your business, why not give us a good review or a rating or a thumbs up or whatever people do, Paul, when they’re out there in social media. You know, post it on LinkedIn, I know Paul’s a big LinkedIn guy, so tag him or me there.

And everybody, thanks for tuning in, we look forward to the next episode. 

The post Episode 13: <strong>The Blueprint for Closing Deals is Data-Driven Sales – with Paul Dietz of Chippenhook</strong> appeared first on Spiro.

from Spiro – Spiro is the first and only proactive relationship management platform. Our mission is to help sales teams close more deals.


Spiro.AI Incorporates New AI-Generated Content into Sales Platform to Accelerate Manufacturing Agility

Platform Now Leverages OpenAI GTP-3 Technology to Summarize Calls and Draft Recap Emails

(Boston, December 5, 2022) Today, Spiro.AI announced it has added more AI-generated content into its customer platform, with even more planned for next year. This AI content generator, coupled with the ability of Spiro’s AI Engine to automatically collect customer data and then proactively alert next best actions, now provides manufacturers and distributors with an even more dynamic platform that enables external-facing teams to work in more efficient, meaningful ways.

The Spiro AI Engine automatically collects data from all customer communications, and then provides an AI-generated transcription of calls for each customer and individual contact. With this new release, Spiro’s AI Engine now generates a call summary in order to provide fast, concise, relevant updates. The AI Engine also now drafts an email based on the call, which an account manager can quickly send to their customer to recap their conversation and capture next steps. For this release, Spiro is leveraging OpenAI’s GTP-3’s advanced AI features.

“With AI and machine learning, the more data, the better,” said Spiro.AI CEO Adam Honig. “Spiro has spent eight years collecting mountains of data about virtually every customer interaction, and has focused on synthesizing that data to make it instantly accessible to everyone. OpenAI has provided an incredible tool to help us take advantage of this wealth of data in ways that help customer-facing employees take the actions needed to build stronger relationships with their prospects and customers.”

In early 2023, Spiro’s AI Engine will begin classifying and tagging emails with topics, in order to prioritize which emails are presented first. This will help contextualize a timeline of activities for each customer. Spiro will then begin testing how to summarize entire groups of emails, based on those topics, to create and present a single high-level summary of what is happening with a current customer or prospect.

“The power of Spiro’s platform is the proactive recommendations prompting users to take action, like alerting a customer to a fulfillment delay or reaching out about a missed order,” added Honig. “Now we are taking it to the next level by addressing the real challenges that manufacturers face around knowing what’s going on with their most important customers, and ensuring they’re providing the best service possible while continuing to build strong customer relationships.”

The post appeared first on Spiro.

from Spiro – Spiro is the first and only proactive relationship management platform. Our mission is to help sales teams close more deals.

6 Ways to Stay Cool Under Pressure in Sales

If you asked a handful of former salespeople why they left the profession, there’s little doubt you’d hear the word “stress” as part of their answer. While there are exceptions, for most people sales is stressful. That stress comes from pressure: pressure to hit your sales quota, pressure from sales managers, pressure from demanding prospects, and pressure from dealing with everything in between.

While you can’t inoculate yourself from pressure and its resulting stress, you can do something about how you deal with it. If you look at high-achieving salespeople, you’ll find most of them have learned how to manage pressure effectively without letting it affect their performance.

Here are some tips to help you keep your cool when everything seems to be spinning out of control:

1. Understand what’s happening 

If you want to get better at dealing with pressure, the first thing you need to do is recognize when it’s happening and how it’s affecting you. One minute you might be on a call, the next, putting out a fire with a prospect. Before you know it, your stress is through the roof and you feel awful. But when you understand why you feel that way – and that it’s perfectly normal – you can pivot toward a solution and start to take control.

2. Prioritize 

We often feel like there are a million things needing our attention on any given day, yet not all of these things require the same level of urgency. To effectively manage stress, you need to learn how to prioritize. And not only should you prioritize what you work on, you should prioritize what you think and worry about. A phone call from a prospect who is about to close is more important than finishing your continuing education training course, so make sure you’re not giving them the same level of worry.

3. Keep yourself healthy  

This, of course, is not a revelation. When you feel better, you have more capacity to deal with stress. Getting enough sleep is huge. So is eating healthier, getting fresh air and exercising. Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which causes an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure, along with some other unpleasant things. You can minimize this impact by taking control of your health, which has the added benefit of helping you outside the workplace too.

4. Work through it 

When things fall into disarray, many of us have a tendency to sit around and obsess over what’s going wrong, allowing ourselves to get overwhelmed. But instead of ruminating, the best thing to do is get to work. Put out fires one by one, and work down the list of what you need to fix. Taking action to solve your problems will not only eliminate many of the causes of your stress, it will help take your mind off those very things which are stressing you out.

5. Avoid spiraling 

Our brains are hardwired for self-preservation, so when things go wrong at work, our lizard-mind starts catastrophizing, convincing us we’re going to lose our job and end up living on the streets. This, however, is exactly what you want to avoid. Imagining all the “what if” scenarios isn’t just unproductive, it’s harmful to our health. Instead, keep things in context by focusing on the problem at hand, not the nightmare scenario you just made up in your mind.

6. Practice mindfulness 

Mindfulness is all the rage these days, and for good reason. It’s been proven to help reduce stress and increase focus and concentration – who wouldn’t want that? There are many resources available for anyone interested in learning about mindfulness – you can start with a basic Google search. And if, like most salespeople, you’re a busy person, you don’t have to worry. Even a few minutes of mindfulness meditation per day has been shown to have lasting effects. Just schedule an extra fifteen minutes before your morning coffee and you’ll start to see results.

The post 6 Ways to Stay Cool Under Pressure in Sales appeared first on Spiro.

from Spiro – Spiro is the first and only proactive relationship management platform. Our mission is to help sales teams close more deals.

6 Mistakes Salespeople Make When Selling Over the Phone

So much that is happening in our world around us  – the pandemic aftershocks, supply chain disruption, geo-political impacts – has forced many sales teams to change their processes.  Reps who once exclusively sold face-to-face have also implemented the phone and video conferencing to prospect and close deals. 

Despite what some might think, there’s a big difference between selling in person and selling over the phone. Yes, it’s still sales, but the nuances of using only your voice to close deals can create challenges and benefits alike.

The good news is that many of these challenges can be overcome with some self-awareness and a little practice. As long as you’re willing to apply a few rules to your sales calls – as opposed to just winging it – you can be just as successful over the phone as you are in person. Just be sure you’re not making any of the following mistakes when selling over the phone:

1. Not having a plan 

Hope is not a strategy, no matter how personable or quick on your feet you may be. Before dialing a prospect’s number, you should already know who they are, why you’re calling them, what you hope to get from the call, and what your backup plan is in the event things don’t go as planned. This might seem like a lot of work to do before even knowing whether there’s a potential deal or not, but you’ll be shocked at just how much more effective a conversation you’re likely to have.

2. Talking more than listening 

Silence on a phone call can be especially uncomfortable, and it’s natural to want to fill that void by talking. But effective phone sellers leave plenty of room for the prospect to get comfortable and collect their thoughts before responding, giving them (the seller) a roadmap for how to close the deal. The trick, aside from asking open-ended discovery questions, is to train yourself to resist the urge to speak and instead get comfortable with listening. Once you learn how to do this, and sprinkle a little patience into the mix, you’ll be well on your way.

3. Being late 

Far too many salespeople are okay with missing a scheduled start time for their calls. The problem is that even if you’re only a few minutes late, you never know how the person on the other end will react. Some people are okay with an informal schedule, while others will see it as unprofessional or worse: they’ll assume you can’t keep your word. In any case, be as punctual as possible, otherwise you run the risk of costing yourself a deal for no good reason.

4. The information dump

We want to tell prospects everything we think they need to know, and many of us get into the habit of going on long explanatory tangents where we try to impart every piece of information at once. This is a terrible way to do business, especially over the phone. Few people can stay focused through long, detailed diatribes, and will instead tune out while you rant, wasting both of your time. Instead, break things up into easy-to-understand sections, periodically stop to ask if the prospect has follow-up questions, and try to put yourself in their shoes. Your goal is to explain what’s necessary, not to prove you’re a walking encyclopedia.

5. Failing to define the next step(s) 

Nothing is a bigger waste of time than having a long, productive conversation with a prospect and then ending the call without clearly defining (and getting buy-in) on next steps. On every call, you should know exactly what you hope to walk away with, whether it’s a scheduled meeting, a calendar invite to go over a proposal, or a signed contract. It helps to discuss each step up front, so the prospect becomes a part of the process rather than trying to spring it on them before they end the call. But no matter how you choose to approach it, the only unacceptable plan is not to have one.

6. Failing to engage the prospect emotionally 

Your job is make the prospect enthusiastic about you, your company, or your product – and preferably all three! A dull, robotic conversation can get you to a closed deal, but it’s much less likely than one where the prospect feels emotionally engaged, energized, and gets off the call feeling better than they did before. Over the phone, this is done by listening, showing enthusiasm, digging deeper, and emphasizing with the prospect’s concerns. It’s being emotionally intelligent with your voice, and not just with your body language. And, after all, you yourself are more likely to benefit from an enthusiastic conversation too.

The post 6 Mistakes Salespeople Make When Selling Over the Phone appeared first on Spiro.

from Spiro – Spiro is the first and only proactive relationship management platform. Our mission is to help sales teams close more deals.

Episode 12: Overcoming Customer Indecision in Sales Using the ‘JOLT’ Approach with Author Matt Dixon


Adam Honig: Hello and welcome to Make it. Move it. Sell it. On this podcast, I talk with company leaders about how they’re modernizing the business of making, moving and selling products and of course having fun along the way. I’m your host Adam Honig, the CEO of We make amazing AI software for companies in the supply chain, but we’re not talking about that today. Instead today, we’re talking with Matt Dixon, the author of four Amazon Wall Street Journal, bestselling books including The Challenger Sale. We’ve invited Matt on the program today to discuss his latest bestseller, The JOLT Effect, and other topics. Welcome to the show Matt.

Matt Dixon: Hey Adam, great to be with you. Thanks for the invitation.

 Adam Honig: Yeah, super excited to have you here. Matt, maybe you could just tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to be this four-time bestselling author.

 Matt Dixon: It’s a bit of a circuitous path that led me to studying sales and customer experience. Actually, I won’t tell you my whole life story in the interest of time. After college, I went to grad school, I got a Ph.D. in political economy because I thought I wanted to be a university professor. But 51% of the way through that experience I fell victim to the sunken cost fallacy and decided to stick it out, finish the degree, but I knew I did not wanna teach in a university setting. Maybe one day, who knows? I did love research, I love data, I love storytelling, but I was more interested in research that applied to businesses. And so I ended up working at a company after grad school called Corporate Executive Board, then rebranded as CEB and then was acquired by Gartner in 2017. And I spent almost 20 years there most of that time running the sales, customer service and customer experience research practice. That’s how I got to where I am today. So still a researcher, but a very different subject matter.

 Adam Honig: I feel like when people think about sales books, they don’t often think about research.

Matt Dixon: You’re a hundred percent right, it’s a bummer actually. You know, I remember Neil Rackham who of course wrote Spin Selling, I think it’s kind of considered the gold standard of sales research. It gave birth to the entire solution-selling era back in the late seventies, early eighties. And he wrote the forward to the Challenger Sale. We actually went to go visit him and we sat in his office and he had like a thousand sales books in a bookshelf on the wall right behind him and he pointed to them and he said, “You know, I get one of these a week and I’m always asked to write the forward or give a book jacket quote. And the first thing I do is flip them open and see how many bar charts are in there and if there aren’t any bar charts I send a nice thank you but no thanks note to the author and it goes back on the shelf. Then if it does have a couple, then I sort of probe and try to understand what kind of research it is.” But it’s one of those things that he looks back on and he says is he feels like is a big miss for the sales establishment. The fact that there’s so much data in sales and we have known outcomes. Did our customer buy or did they not buy right? Did they buy more? Did they turn out? There’s things we can actually study with data, but most sales books are personal opinions and I think that was really a source of I think angst for Professor Rackham and I would agree with him there.

Adam Honig: What was the research that you were doing that led you to The JOLT Effect?

Matt Dixon: I’m gonna kind of out myself as a huge geek here because if we think back to March of 2020, which I think those early days where like the lockdown was kind of fun because we were watching Tiger King and learning to bake sourdough bread. I mean the fighting for toilet paper part, probably not so much fun, but it was a different experience and everyone’s kinda learning these new things and we’re adjusting to work from home and these sorts of new things, which then quickly became very old of course. But the moment in time was interesting for sales because sales, as you recall, Adam, went a hundred percent virtual overnight. It was always the case that some of our sales process happened on Zoom or Teams or whatever platform. But in a blink of an eye in March of 2020, we went a hundred percent virtual. All salespeople were called back in this case. So the home office, every sale, all the calls, all the meetings, all the important and mundane meetings were now happening on Zoom and involved the virtual platforms. And so my co-author Ted McKenna and I decided this was kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity to study sales in a very new way. 

And so we went out and we launched something, it was actually called the Sales Vaccine Project because what we decided was like hey, if scientists can figure out a way to inoculate us against COVID, we’re gonna figure out what’s wrong with sales and we can do it in the same time frame. We’re gonna use modern technology to do it. We reached out to several dozen companies and we harvested from them about two and a half million recorded sales conversations over the course of about 18 months. And we used a machine learning platform from a company called Tether, which takes unstructured data and then uses powerful machine learning to try to surface insights from it. And that was the approach we used to write the new book. So it was actually like Neil Rackham’s research that’s been selling but on a much bigger scale and with modern technology. And Neil flew around and spent 10 years sitting in on 32,000 sales calls. Ted and I sat in a room with the data scientist and studied two and a half million with the machine learning platform.

Adam Honig: That sounds like a little bit less of a painful approach to do it.

Matt Dixon: It turns out you get fewer frequent flyer miles doing it that way.

 Adam Honig: Well it wasn’t a good time to get the frequent flyer miles. So this is like an experiment that you could really only do at that one point in time.

 Matt Dixon: We may never go back to it. I mean I get asked a lot what I think will happen to virtual sales and I was just at a sales kickoff last week in Las Vegas, it was two, one in Las Vegas, one in Chicago and these were both for pretty big companies where this was the first time they were getting back together in three years. And I was asking them, how are you getting back out on the road? And I think it’s interesting because they said look, virtual has brought an element of productivity to sales because our customers in many cases like it. Before we really start to get serious and we’re still dating, like let’s stick to Zoom. But those really critical meetings it seems like are starting to go back to in-person and I think that’s good for customers, it’s good for salespeople. I think we’re back in this kind of hybrid mode and so you’re right, it was a window and time that I think is closed at least for the time being.

 Adam Honig: Let’s keep going with the story. So you were kind of going through all of this data. Were you looking to see how to challenge the status quo or was there sort of a thread that you were pulling at that you were going after?

 Matt Dixon: Problem with a big data set like that is you can look at it from lots of different angles and the angle Ted and I had become really interested in actually even prior to the pandemic was this no decision lost. So Ted and I spent a lot of time traveling around going to conferences, presenting at sales kickoffs and we’d always ask sales leaders, we present challengers, present some of our other work, but “What’s the thing that you’re feeling like you don’t have great insight on right now?” And it started as kind of a low hum in that it built to a crescendo and now today it’s like through the roof sales leaders talking about no decision losses. We actually found in our study just to share one data point that 40 to 60% of the average salesperson’s pipeline ends up lost to no decision. And the vast majority of those opportunities are customers who say they wanna move forward with us, they wanna buy from us, they wanna do business with us, they wanna abandon the status quo and they still end up doing nothing. And so it wasn’t really clear to us, clearly the research we’d done before hadn’t completely laid waste to that problem. It was like this zombie kept coming back and getting more powerful and growing. And so we felt like the world was looking for an answer. Why do customers choose to do nothing and what do best salespeople do differently to avoid that happening to them?

 Adam Honig: When I was reading the book, it really struck me that some of the thinking about it, like the idea that a customer could say yes and then still not go forward, that’s the worst thing that could possibly happen to a salesperson.

 Matt Dixon: It’s so painful. I mean you put yourself in the shoes of any salesperson out there and that is the definition of a head fake right? Your customer says they’re bought in, they do a pilot with your proof of concept, they check with your reference customers, they do all the machinations with legal and procurement and finance and you sharpen the ROI calculator, all this stuff and then they don’t do anything. And the real bummer of it is you sort of realize in retrospect that it happened but it’s not like the customer raises their hand and says “Hey, just wanna let you know I’m changing my mind, you can take us out of the pipeline.” What ends up happening is they slowly start to disengage or as my kids would say, they ghost us and they start to go radio silence. They start responding more intermittently to our emails and when they respond the responses get smaller and smaller and curter and curter, right? And then eventually the customer kind of goes dark and you don’t know why and your sales manager says, “We gotta stop spending time and money on this. This is a garbage truck, we gotta mark it as closed.” But you mark it as closed lost no decision because you don’t know why it is so frustrating.

Adam Honig: Everybody who’s been in sales has stories about that, that they never ever got over the hump. When I was reading the book, I was thinking about the sales process changing into my mind to be thinking about that there are really two phases, right? There’s the getting to yes and then there’s the getting to contract or I don’t know what the second phase would be called but when you actually get it closed. And that was an entirely new way of thinking about it for me.

Matt Dixon: That’s a really good way to put it. For listeners, what we found was, and Adam you hit on this, I think every salesperson out there has been to sales training, read any sales book, by the way, including The Challenger Sale, would’ve come away with the conclusion that the only reason a customer would get cold feet is because you haven’t put the status quo to bed, right? They either believe that what they do today is good enough, they don’t believe your solution represents a more compelling alternative or maybe they just don’t think it’s a top priority. And so what we found is that salespeople do what they’ve been taught. The vast majority is like 75% of salespeople in our analysis go back when the customer starts to vibrate and get cold feet, they bust out their status quo hammer and they just go to town.

And so it’s three different approaches they use, the first one is re-articulate the rosy projection.  So Adam, you must have missed how cool our product is. Let me get you back into the demo and show you again because this is really awesome. You must have blinked when I showed you this last time or did you see how many zeros Adam are on that ROI projection because it’s really great. And if that doesn’t sway you, I put away the carrot, I bust out the stick and I try to create the burning platform and dial up the FUD if you’re uncertain and in doubt. These problems are not gonna solve themselves. And you told us your employees hate you for making them use this platform. Your customers hate you, everybody hates you, you know, these problems are not gonna solve themselves. So you try to make the customer squirm them a bit and make them realize the cost of their inaction.

If those two things don’t work, the last resort is always the expiring discount window. That price I quoted is only good this quarter or look in the world of supply chain, you know this better than I do, but limited inventory is also a compelling version of that, right? Like hey, we’ve only got X number of this in stock, I don’t know when we’re gonna get it back in stock and if you don’t buy now, sorry. And so I call those all kinds of FOMO-based reasons, right? We’re trying to get the customer to realize the cost of their inaction of doing nothing and we try to appeal the FOMO. Now what I would say to be very clear is in sales, as you said before, Adam, that is the first thing you gotta do because if the customer believes the status quo is good enough, they’re not gonna buy anything from you. So the first step in sales is always to do that. And whether you’re approached to do that is challenger or any other approach, it really doesn’t matter. But almost every sales, I would say actually every sales approach out there is focused on beating the status quo. But once we do that, the customer stops worrying about FOMO and what they start worrying about is FOMU. FOMU is the fear of messing up and they start to get wrapped around the axle, not around whether they’re gonna miss out but more around whether they’re gonna make a mistake. And not the cost of their inaction, but what might happen if they take action and it doesn’t pan out. 

And so we found there are a handful of very specific things. I don’t know if I picked the right version of the product, the right configuration of the platform, it all looks good to me.

I don’t know what to pick. That’s the first one, you call that evaluation problem. Second is the customer who feels like they haven’t done enough research and it’s the next white paper that’s gonna have all the answers, maybe a really savvy consumer. And the third version we call outcome uncertainty, this is the third fear they have, and this is where they feel like they’re gonna be left holding the bag. Not that you’re gonna take their money and steal it from them, but rather they might not get the ROI you’re projecting. Now you think about this in the current environment, nobody ever got fired for maintaining the status quo, but lots of people do get fired for trying to change it and it not working out. Especially right now where there’s so much scrutiny on big dollar decisions for companies, best case scenario you look like a fool, which nobody wants to look like. And worst case scenario, you could lose your job. And so the real simple way to think about it is, if you were to put a prospect of losing a 10% discount in front of your customer and the prospect of them losing their job for buying your product and having it now return the benefits, turns out they care a lot more about losing their job than they do about losing out on a discount. It’s kind of a shorthand.

 Adam Honig: I wanna go back to the FUD for a second because this is so ingrained in everybody. We were going through a deal analysis and we’re trying to apply the JOLT effect and we’re trying to come up with ways to progress the deal and every idea we’re coming up with we’re like no, that’s FUD. So what did the data show us about the impact of FUD when people were being indecisive?

 Matt Dixon: It’s interesting you asked about this. And I kind of skipped over this, so good catch, but we found that it actually backfires way more often than it works out. So when you have a customer who stated their intent to move forward and we try to use, I would call it FUD or FOMO-based approaches, like to try to push them forward and try to get them off the fence, you actually increase the likelihood they’re gonna do nothing. Which is so counterintuitive because as you said, that’s what we’ve been taught to do forever in sales and somebody asked me just the other day, “Well why does it make things worse?” And the simple reason is because we’re using fear-based approaches to try to sell to somebody who’s already scared and all you’re doing is giving them more to be worried about. I’m worried about looking like a fool to my boss and then you reminded me about the discount that I’m gonna miss out on. Or you remind me about the fact that my competitors are opening up a gap on me in the marketplace, like that’s not great. You know what, not gonna do anything, no, I’m paralyzed with fear.

 Adam Honig: When the customers are being indecisive, the FOMO-based approach is not helping. Giving the end of the quarter discount, telling them about limited availability, all that’s doing is ratcheting up the anxiety and causing them to get into a further spiral of indecision. 

Matt Dixon: That’s right because at the end of the day they care a lot less about any of those things. So many of those things are about FOMO but it’s all about trying to sell the customer on how they’re gonna succeed by making this decision. But what they’re really worried about in that moment is not failing. It’s not that they’re not convinced that this is a good decision, they are convinced. They are convinced that the status quo stinks, they are convinced that you’re a great solution provider, and they are convinced it is a priority and it needs addressing in their organization. But what if I pick the wrong thing and that becomes an irreversible decision? What if I look like a fool because I didn’t do all my homework and it was like the Gardner Magic Quadrant reporter, the analyst report I didn’t read that had all the answers. Or what if I didn’t get any assurance of success? There’s no guarantee here and I built a business case on a 10 x ROI and we only got 2 or 3x and then I have egg on my face, again, best case, worst case, I could lose my job. So in sales we’ve gotta have a beat the status quo playbook but you’ve also got a playbook for overcoming indecision. Because when your customer shifts gears from being wrapped around being the vice grip of the status quo, when you’ve broken that, the thing that they then start to worry about is have I picked the right thing? Have I done enough homework? Do I have any assurance of success? Those are the sources of indecisions. 

So we need a playbook for overcoming customer indecision. The simple way I’d put it is beating the status quo is about dialing up the fear of not purchasing, showing the customer the cost of their inaction. We’ve gotta do that in sales as I said before. But overcoming indecision is actually about dialing down the fear of purchasing. How do we get them to feel like I’m making a great decision? I’m dealing with a trusted advisor here who’s guided me to choose the right thing to I don’t have to be an expert because Adam’s my expert and I trust him to get me to the right decision. The most important thing to him is not overselling me and not telling me stuff I don’t need and hiding the dirty laundry, he’s trying to get me to make the right decision for me and for my organization. Whether that’s buying from Adam’s company, buying from Adam’s competitor or doing nothing. His sole objective is to help me get to the right outcome and he has de-risked this purchase. I feel great. In fact we’re gonna overperform, I’m gonna look like a hero, not like a fool when I signed this contract.

 Adam Honig: One of the strategies that you mentioned in the book is to try to limit the risk, so essentially make the deal size smaller. And I feel like that also goes against sales training. Aren’t we always trying to maximize the opportunity?

 Matt Dixon: As we got into these behaviors, I’ll just tell listeners and Adam knows this and others who’ve read the book know this, but JOLT is actually an acronym. We like it because it’s memorable but it also speaks to what’s happening. We’re trying to jolt our customer forward out of their stuck indecisive state and get them to take action. So we’ve gotta judge the level of indecision, we’ve gotta offer a recommendation, we’ve gotta limit their exploration and then we’ve gotta take risk off the table. And you went to that last one, taking risk off the table, which I find it’s interesting of all of those, that’s one that gets a lot of attention because it feels like I could go do this, but some of the advice is counterintuitive. There’s a couple things that we found there. And this is in the same company, Adam, we’d look at high performers versus average performers, there’s a couple of different techniques that the high performers use that the average performers absolutely do not, they go the other direction. One of them is around deal size as you mentioned before. 

Look, our customer’s eyes always get bigger than their stomach. So like we’re talking about this, we should get Europe involved and we should get Apac, oh we should do it as enterprise-wide and oh you know, we’re gonna want that integration. We want this other thing, we want this too. Give me everything on the menu. The average salesperson’s like this is great because we went from a hundred thousand dollars contract value to like a million. I’m gonna make my year by going to Cancun, this is gonna be awesome. But your high performer looks at that and says first of all, that is a deal it’s gonna take forever to get through the gauntlet of finance procurement and get everyone on board. So the sales process as you went from a hundred thousand dollars to a million like multiplied exponentially. But the other thing, and this is the more interesting thing when you interview high performers, they’ll often say that puts a lot of pressure on the customer because when they sign that million-dollar deal, all eyes are on them. When they start small, it earns them this kind of safe space to get some things wrong early on but figure things out, get some runs on the board and then expand from there. Now if you look at overall performance or high performers up by definition are selling a lot more, but they actually sell a lot more in a land and expand kind of way predominantly versus trying to eat the whole elephant in one bite, right? Try to take down this massive deal right up front.

Adam Honig: Going back to what you said a minute ago, there are many other steps I guess before you get to that point. Really identifying where the indecision is. And the other one that I really love is making a recommendation as a salesperson. 

 Matt Dixon: I would tell you on that one, that’s another one that I think salespeople, almost every salesperson I’ve spoken to, irrespective of performance…And we put a lot in front of our customers, all kinds of different options: contract length, premium versions, basic versions, standard versions, different ways to roll out your solution, all kinds of partner integrations. There’s all kinds of stuff, we love options. But when you ask salespeople, what do your happiest customers buy? What is the version that they buy that you would tell every customer just go by? They know they’ve just been taught in sales training that they shouldn’t tell the customer that, they should go back to diagnose the customer’s needs. So Adam, when you say like, “Boy this all looks great, I’m not really sure what to pick. I don’t know what to take out the shopping cart and what to take out of the proposal.” The best approach is for me to say, “Well Adam, let’s talk about why you reached out to us. Let’s go back to basics here, what are you trying to solve for?” My hope is by asking you good questions, you’ll figure it out yourself. 

The metaphor I’d use or the analogy I’d use is it’s like if you go to a restaurant and you look at a menu and it’s got 20 great dishes and the waiter/waitress comes over and you ask “What do you recommend?” And they say, “Well sir, what are you interested in eating tonight?” And you’re like, that is so unhelpful. Versus a different waiter/waitress comes up and says, “Adam, you know what, this dish is my favorite on the menu. If you’re in the mood for something lighter, there’s this option as well, but truth be told, everything we make here is great. You really can’t go wrong.” Now what’s really interesting what happens, and this is true in selling million dollar solutions, it’s true ordering $30 entrees, something happens called a delegation effect. And what that means is that I am able to shift the blame to the person who made the recommendation. So if I order the dish, the waiter/waitress recommends and I don’t like it, it’s kind of on them, it’s not just on me. And the same thing is true in sales. Like when we are able to make a recommendation, it’s a personal recommendation, we advocate for it. Our customer is thinking, okay, now it’s not all on me because you told me other companies like me always go with this configuration. And so it’s a psychological effect but it is quite powerful and it does get our customers to take things outta the cart and move forward and make a decision.

 Adam Honig:  I’ve also noticed that the waiter who makes the recommendation seems to pick the second highest price entree almost every time. Not the highest, the second highest because they don’t want to appear biased in the decision or something like that. A lot of the people who listen to this podcast are in the manufacturing and related industries. A lot of them are involved in the buying process and signing up new suppliers. How do you think this impacts them?

Matt Dixon: Our sales people hate in no decision losses, but our customers think about all the time and energy they waste all the resources from their side. The buying committees they arrange, the time they use up from their business customers from legal and procurements and finance and all these folks who have to get involved to evaluate a solution only to end up doing nothing. It’s a big productivity loss for buyers as well. And so I think one of the things that’s interesting is in the research, this probably won’t surprise you, but we found that the vast majority of customers think they’re very decisive, but the data shows that they’re actually really not. We found that somewhere between 85 and 90% of all opportunities had customers who are either moderately or highly indecisive. But 85 to 90% of those customers would describe themselves as very decisive. So we are not very self-aware when it comes to this stuff. And I think for buyers there are a couple of things that we need to be aware of. So we talk about some different personality types. And this is true, if I’m a buyer and I’m running a buying committee and the last thing you want is to spend six months of that buying committee’s time to end up doing nothing. You wanna make a decision, whether that decision is to stay the course and stick with your status quo. Buy from this vendor, maybe buy from a competitor, who knows, but you wanna make a decision. Having no decision is a terrible outcome for a customer. And so you need to be aware of the indecision markers amongst the people on the buying committee. 

So there’s a whole bunch we talk about in the book, for instance, one of them we talk about is this idea of compensatory and non-compensatory selection. That in simple terms is the difference between people who can prioritize what’s important. So if you think about any product or any solution that we’re evaluating, there’s a whole bunch of attributes, right? There’s price, there’s quality, there’s user reviews, reference clients, ROI projection, there’s all kinds of stuff we can consider. And not every vendor is perfect across the board. Anybody in your buying committee who is only happy with perfection across the board, that person is gonna get your buying committee wrapped around the axle of indecision because that person’s a maximizer, not a satisfier. What you want is satisficers who are content with good enough, but you also want them to be non-compensatory selectors. So what that means is you need them to be able to articulate across all of these attributes, which are the ones that are most important to us, what are the must-have criteria? We’re only gonna put these companies on our shortlist because these are the most important things for our business. 

These other things, we just need them to be good enough on par with everyone else. And these other things candidly are not important to us at all. Could you articulate those things and is there agreement across your buying committee as to what those things are? Now the extent to which again, everyone’s like, well it’s gotta be perfect across the board, that’s a recipe for no decision. The extent to which there’s disagreement on your buying committee around what those must-have criteria are versus the nice to have, that’s also a recipe for no decision. So as a buyer I think you can also use some of these techniques as you’re saying Adam, to assess the landscape within your own organization so you don’t end up in that wasteland of no decision, which again is a big time suck for customers as well.

 Adam Honig: Now that you need more ideas for future research. But I wonder about the companies that are more decisive, whether they tend to grow faster or have more profitability and whether they are a better buyer with less indecision. This is like the dream of all sales people. You can go to the customer and be like, listen, customers who are decisive, that’s really gonna move them forward.

 Matt Dixon: Yeah, it’s a really good question, it’s a really good hypothesis. I would imagine that that’s probably true. And it’s interesting you talk in our work about this idea of, again, I mentioned this earlier, but how do salespeople help instill the confidence? I pick the right thing, I’ve done plenty of research or I’m talking to a salesperson who’s a subject matter expert, they’re a trust advisor, I trust them. I don’t need to read everything, Adam already read it all, he’s gonna tell me what I need to know, what I don’t. Because his only objective is for me to make a good decision for me and for my organization and he’s got my back. I’m not gonna be left holding in the bag and look like a hero, not like a fool. These are things that we can do in terms of driving that lower propensity for deals to be lost no decisions instilling that confidence. But another term I actually like is this idea of self-efficacy. And what’s interesting about this is self-efficacy is you can be confident that you don’t know anything. So confidence is a fine concept, but I could be very, very confident that we are absolutely hosed or that like, I don’t know what I’m doing, right? That’s not the kind of confidence we want.

Self-efficacy I like because it’s about being positive that we can do this and get the returns. And what I might say is that I suspect that the most successful companies out there, they may be more decisive than the average because decisiveness can happen in multiple different ways. It’s like we all agree, which itself can sometimes be dangerous or is decisiveness driven from a hierarchical way. Think about Steve Jobs and what we read about him, right? It was very much a this is the way it’s gonna be and you had this big personality kind of driving the organization of making the really tough calls at every step. You might find those organizations out there, but I think what you would find is you might or might not, I should say, but what you would find is that the really successful organizations have a sense of self-efficacy. So we know that we can do this and we know we can get this done. That’s the thing that I would probably look at. But I’ve still got flashbacks from the last research, so I don’t know if I’m ready to take on the next one yet.

 Adam Honig:  You should definitely take a break from that. I really appreciate your coming on the show. The JOLT Effect is, like I said when we were talking earlier, I felt like it was written for me when I was reading. It’s amazing. I definitely recommend everybody take a look. Well I really appreciate your writing the book though, awesome read, great concepts. I took away so much from it. People can find out more about the JOLT Effect at Is that the best resource?

 Matt Dixon: It’s a great spot. There’s a lot more about the book and the research and a ton of free tools on there as well, coaching tools and otherwise that readers can go download and check out. And then a lot more information about how you can bring some of these skills to your own sales team.

 Adam Honig: I’m sure everybody on the podcast really will appreciate that. Well, as a reminder, listeners can find every episode of the Make it. Move it. Sell it. podcast at, be sure to subscribe. I don’t know, Matt, do you think people should give the episode a high ranking or something like that?

 Matt Dixon: I’m gonna offer a recommendation, I would say yes.

 Adam Honig: Thanks everybody for tuning in and we look forward to the next episode.

The post Episode 12: Overcoming Customer Indecision in Sales Using the ‘JOLT’ Approach with Author Matt Dixon appeared first on Spiro.

from Spiro – Spiro is the first and only proactive relationship management platform. Our mission is to help sales teams close more deals.

8 Ways to Make Your Prospects Happier

Sales is, at its core, about making people happy. A happy prospect is more likely to buy from you, and a happy customer is more likely to refer you to friends and family. But far too often, salespeople focus so much on convincing people to buy, that they forget they should also aim to make people happy.

While human interactions are complex, you shouldn’t necessarily overthink the seller – prospect relationship. Oftentimes, what prospects and customers require to make them happy is actually quite simple. Salespeople who learn how to prioritize their prospect’s happiness will give themselves a competitive advantage. Here are eight tips that will help:

1. Listen

If you’re looking to make prospects happy, listening should always be top of mind. Many people don’t feel heard, especially when dealing with salespeople, so they’ll appreciate you that much more if you take the time to listen.

2. Make the prospect feel important 

Humans also have an innate desire to feel important, or, at least, not unimportant. Mary Kay Ash, the wildly successful founder of Mary Kay cosmetics once famously said, “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.” Heed this advice if you want to make prospects happy.

3. Treat prospects as individuals 

Salespeople talk to so many people that it can sometimes feel like we’re having the same conversation over and over again. It’s important, however, to remember that each person is an individual, and whether or not their situations are similar to others, they have their own unique needs, thoughts, and concerns. If you get into this state of mind, you’ll start to develop better individual relationships with prospects, which will make them much happier with your service.

4. Always keep your promises 

If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you can’t, then don’t make promises. Nothing will make a prospect unhappier than their salesperson breaking their word, whether it’s intended or not. On the other hand, somebody who calls when they say they’re going to, provides the information promised, and delivers the goods, is likely to keep the prospect delighted.

5. Ask prospects what they want 

Instead of trying to deduce what a prospect is thinking or what they want, you should constantly be asking for their feedback. Not only should you ask what they want, but you should also ask how you can do things better. Their answers might surprise you, and some requests might be unattainable, but just asking can be enough to make a weary prospect into a happy one.

6. Overdeliver (whenever you can)

If you’ve ever gotten more than you’ve expected, then you know the joy that comes with the surprise. While intentionally holding back something special does have some potential to backfire, it can also give the impression that you went to bat for your prospects. A prospect will always be happier when you underpromise and overdeliver compared to when you do the opposite.

7. Thank your prospects 

Far too many salespeople go through the entire sales process without thanking the people being asked to part with their hard-earned money. Not only is this poor etiquette, it’s also a missed opportunity to make the customer feel appreciated. Thank them for returning your calls, for signing the paperwork, and even thank them if they have a complaint. It’s an easy way to build goodwill, and it should be common sense.

8. Be human

At times it might seem like we’re all just cogs in the giant wheel of business, but it’s important not to lose sight of our humanity, especially when dealing with other humans. When you build a relationship with prospects, they tend to reveal more about themselves than they would during surface-level business talk, whether it’s slightly personal, or somewhat emotional. There are boundaries, of course, but showing some humanity to your fellow woman or man can go a long way, and allow both of you to walk away happier.

The post 8 Ways to Make Your Prospects Happier appeared first on Spiro.

from Spiro – Spiro is the first and only proactive relationship management platform. Our mission is to help sales teams close more deals.

Why Digitizing Alone Won’t Help You Outcompete Amazon

The post Why Digitizing Alone Won’t Help You Outcompete Amazon appeared first on Spiro.

from Spiro – Spiro is the first and only proactive relationship management platform. Our mission is to help sales teams close more deals.

5 Outdated Sales Tactics That Don’t Work Anymore

Long before the internet gave rise to sales blogs (like this one), sales advice was dispensed with fervor by word of mouth, and by a handful of well-known trainers eager to hawk their wares to the salesmen and saleswomen of the world. The sales tactics of the 20th century have been enshrined in legend, and, for better or for worse, when the general public thinks about salespeople, they usually think of these classic sales techniques.

In this day and age, however, the past is better left alone. Many of the sales tactics that were once preached as gospel no longer work. Not only that, but some of them may actually backfire as better-informed customers now expect transparency, excellent customer service, and can easily see through gimmicks and prevarications.

Here are five outdated sales tactics to avoid, if for no other reason than they no longer work:

1. The high-pressure close 

To be sure, you can still convince certain people to buy using high-pressure sales tactics. But if that’s your go-to, then your career in sales is likely to be short-lived. Not only do people expect not to get hassled these days, they also have a lot of recourse besides simply saying “no.” Review sites, net promoter scores, and the bullhorn of social media make overly aggressive tactics a terrible idea. The days of bullying a buyer into signing a contract before disappearing into the night are long gone —  good riddance.

2. Frequently repeating the buyer’s name  

Perhaps this tactic was effective in the 20th century, but these days, it’s just irritating. Sure, repeating a prospect’s name shows that you remembered it and that you’re a friendly person who’s thinking about the other side’s perspective. But it’s also a fairly obvious gimmick, and anyone who hasn’t been living in a cave for the last few decades will see right through it, and will (rightly) be annoyed.

3. First one to speak loses  

The Wolf of Wall Street mainstreamed this sales tactic, along with “sell me this pen.” However (aside from the valuable lesson that being a good listener is important), there’s really not much truth to its effectiveness. It’s preposterous to assume that if a prospect has no need for your product, or if they’re still researching different options, that all it will take to change their mind is a staring contest. That being said, you should learn how to get comfortable with silence, and always give a prospect the opportunity to tell you everything they want to.

4. Badmouthing the competition 

It was once perfectly acceptable to bash the competition, but these days, it’s a bit of a faux pas. Of course, differentiating your product or service from the competition is fine, but always toe the line carefully and try to keep criticism constructive, not destructive. That being said, if a prospect starts to bash the competition, you shouldn’t necessarily jump to their defense either. Play it cool and don’t try to drag anyone down into the mud — you’ll only make yourself look bad.

5. ABC: Always be closing 

Alec Baldwin’s famous rant in Glengarry Glen Ross touched off decades of always-be-closing speeches on sales floors across the globe. But far too many people forget that movies and theater aren’t real life. Hard-charging sales managers will always exist, and pushing salespeople to focus on the end goal is a good thing. But it’s simply not realistic to take a trite piece of advice like “always be closing,” and to try to make something more profound of it than what it really is: a catchy line from the clever mind of David Mamet.

The post 5 Outdated Sales Tactics That Don’t Work Anymore appeared first on Spiro.

from Spiro – Spiro is the first and only proactive relationship management platform. Our mission is to help sales teams close more deals.

Episode 11: How Catania Oils Overcame Pandemic Supply Chain Challenges and Thrived


Adam Honig: Hello and welcome to Make it. Move it. Sell it. On this podcast, I talk with company leaders about how they’re monetizing the business of making, moving, and selling products, and of course, having fun along the way. I’m your host, Adam Honig, the CEO of We make amazing AI software for companies in the supply chain, but we’re not talking about that today. Instead, we’re talking to Stephen Basile, the Executive Vice President of Catania Oils, one of the nation’s leading processors and packers of the highest quality plant-based oils in the country. Mostly used for cooking, I just wanna point that out right at the get-go. Stephen, welcome to the podcast.

Stephen Basile: Thanks Adam, thanks for having me.

Adam Honig: Well, we really appreciate your being on the show, Stephen, so thanks for joining us. Maybe what we could do is start by talking a little bit about some of the oils that you guys are involved with.

Stephen Basile: Yeah, I’d be happy to do so. We carry a lot of different vegetable oils. So when you think of all the different oils that are available in the market, the standard ones being soybean oil, canola oil, and corn oil. And then we handle a lot of different specialty oils, whether it’s peanut oil, cotton seed oils, sunflower oils, and different varieties of those oils. Safflower oil, different varieties of olive oil, so really just covering the whole array of different oils that derive from various plants throughout the world.

Adam Honig: Gotcha. And what would you say is the most popular oil today?

Stephen Basile: Yeah, the most popular oil is certainly soybean oil, and I only say that just by looking at the sheer demand of our customer base because it’s low-cost oil. But avocado oil, I would say is probably one of the more hot oils over the past couple of years that continues to grow double.

Adam Honig: When you say hot, you don’t mean spicy, you mean like the demand is very high for it.

Stephen Basile: Correct, but also it’s a high heat oil as well, so it’s great for like high heat cooking and baking. Also, it’s very similar to olive oil, so olive oil’s very healthy for you. High-end monounsaturated fats, which are the good fats, lower and saturated fats. And when you look at avocado oil and olive oil and put them side by side from a chemical analysis, they’re very similar.

Adam Honig: Gotcha. And so I know you’re definitely involved in the selling of the oils, but what about the processing? What has to go on for the product to be ready for market?

Stephen Basile: Yeah, so we’re actually not a crusher and refiner, so we will import and partner with different crushers and refiners from all around the world. You know, avocado oil, predominantly Mexico, but also Spain has been planting more and more trees throughout the years as well as other countries. Olive oil, you know, Spain is the largest producer in the world, there are about 50% of world production. But then when you talk about some of the other oils that we mentioned earlier like soybean oil, it’s mainly a domestic product. Canola oil, it’s Canadian, but it’s land mass, we’re connected right to it. We’re still able to bring in rail cars of canola oil into our facility, then break it down into smaller packages, retail packages, food service packages for your restaurants as well as selling it to other manufacturers who are using oil as a raw material in their product. So as an example, somebody who makes salad dressings or fries, potato chips, you know, think of some of the big CPG companies out there servicing many of those brands.

Adam Honig: Gotcha. So you guys are selling to restaurants and restaurant chains to industrial uses and food makers? Is that sort of the scope?

Stephen Basile: Yes in retail. And so retail, we serve a lot of the private brands retailers throughout the country. So whether it’s like a big box national chain or even a smaller regional independent, we’ll white label it and put their label right on the bottle for them.

Adam Honig: Gotcha. And so one of the things that I was kind of thinking about in your business, is it must have been a sort of a challenging few years coming through the pandemic with supply issues and everything like that. How did that impact you guys?

Stephen Basile: Oh yeah, honestly, the employees that we have here, I mean, jumping through hoops just to make sure that we had something at the store. But yeah, it was very difficult from a supply chain perspective, specifically if it was a raw material that’s imported because that caused a lot of other challenges. But honestly even the primary packaging materials, right? So you’re a cap, and all the lead times just got pushed out 2X, 3X, all the forecasting challenges. So you have a forecast from customers that was very good. And when people aren’t going out to eat, then you see the retail business just go crazy and trying to keep products on the shelf for your customer was very difficult. But most customers, you know, collaborating with them and looking at skew rationalization. You know, can we eliminate this one smaller size and focus on these two sizes so we can increase our production output? And that really seemed to help early on in the pandemic. And the biggest thing was just really communicating with the customers, making sure that you guys were all on the same page and they even had a lot of challenges just getting stuff to the shelves. We had some of the buyers who were literally in the stores stocking shelves.

Adam Honig: Yeah. And were they doing that because of the lack of people to help them with this, like a lot of turnovers and stuff like that?

Stephen Basile: Turnover, and then honestly just the Covid bug hitting everybody and then not having people available to put stuff on the shelf early on during Covid.

Adam Honig: Oh man, yeah. I can definitely see that. We’ve been talking with some manufacturers, who for lack of one part, their whole product line was shut down, and they couldn’t deliver any products. It seems like maybe with caps, you guys saw a little bit of that.

Stephen Basile: Yep, absolutely, that happened to everybody. I don’t think anybody got through Covid without having some type of supply chain or product issue.

Adam Honig: Now how did it work from a customer perspective? I’ve been speaking to some people who basically decided that they couldn’t take on any new customers during Covid and other companies used it as a chance to really expand. How did you guys look at it?

Stephen Basile: Yeah, it was really by oil because depending on what was available at that specific point in time, there might have been upstream from our supplier base. There might not have been able to supply us with any more products, therefore we were not really able to bring in new business. And then to complicate things more with the whole Russia-Ukraine situation and Ukraine,  you’ve heard the statement that they’re the bread basket, right? 

Adam Honig: Are they the oil basket too? I didn’t realize that.

Stephen Basile: They are about 50% world’s production of sunflower oil. So there was a major issue early on when that occurred.

Adam Honig: I guess if they put it in a basket, it would all fall out the bottom, so maybe it’s the oil bowl or something like that. I don’t know.

Stephen Basile: Yeah, that makes more sense I guess.

Adam Honig: I’m sorry, so you were saying when Ukraine went offline, that whole market just kind of seized up? Is that what happened?

Stephen Basile: Yep. Like conventional sunflower, organic sunflower specifically, we had some suppliers who went force majeure on some of the contracts that we had. So yeah, it was a significant ripple effect. And then, okay, if customers can’t use sunflower oil as an example, and some customers are using sunflower oil because it’s non-GMO, you’re kind of limited to the other oils that you could flex over to. So a lot of collaboration and coaching with customers as far as, okay, sun is not available right now, here are some alternatives that we can help you with. Certainly that has forced a lot of customers to think about having flexibility on all of their ingredient statements on a go forward basis. And then also diversification within your supplier base. In some cases that helps us, in some cases, it hurts us. We certainly want to do everything that we can to maintain all of our supplier and customer relationships. 

Adam Honig: Yeah, it’s a really tricky position because you’re kind of in the middle of a lot of different things. A lot of people are talking about supply chain agility and it sounds like that was a balance that you guys were really going for.

Stephen Basile: Definitely.

Adam Honig: But even though Covid was sort of a big thing, I imagine it’s always kind of like that in the food industry, right? Because you’re dependent upon the weather or upon the harvests and so on as well.

Stephen Basile: Yep, they all play a big part of it. So specifically the weather, if you rewind to last year in Canada, specifically in August, there was a major drought that significantly impacted the canola crop, about 33% less than it typically is. So non-GMO canola prices soar to become pretty much not available. So then how do you navigate around those waters with customers when that’s all that they have and that’s all that they use. You just gotta really talk about well here’s the other oils that we have access to and here’s why these oils may fit for your specific application.

Adam Honig: Yeah, I remember I went to the store to buy some canola oil and I wound up coming home with a coconut oil blend as a result because it looked the same to me. I didn’t even realize they were out of canola oil.

Stephen Basile: That’s a little different, but yeah, absolutely.

Adam Honig: So I’m curious, for your customers that are in the CPG, the consumer packaged good manufacturing space, are they as happy to switch inputs as some of the other customers? Because their products are a lot more specifically made, I would imagine. 

Stephen Basile: Yeah, every customer is different in that regard. I mean, sometimes the CPG companies, they move a lot slower than some of the smaller companies, tend to be a lot more nimble. But in this situation that we were all facing, even those  big companies were able to move rather quickly. Because anytime that you can’t deliver them one of their production inputs, they’re shutting the facility down and shutting the facility down is big dollars. So yeah, they moved pretty quickly even. 

Adam Honig:  Even for them. Well that’s great to hear. You know, I’ve been talking with a lot of people about sort of changing customer expectations and people have been saying things like oh it’s the Amazon effect. Everybody expects everything to be right away and everybody expects everything to be returnable. How are you seeing that in your customer base?

Stephen Basile: Yeah, definitely. Our lead time used to be five days and now it’s 10 to 15 days, depending on this certain channel that we may be servicing. And all the customers certainly understand that because they’re experiencing a lot of the same challenges on a lot of their production input costs. So going from that kind of just-in-time model, I guess, to a model of supply security I think is the best way to kind of frame it up. That’s kind of been a shift. And certainly in the commodity market, which we’re serving, a lot of price conscious consumers are not necessarily not price conscious anymore, but prices becoming secondary to that of making sure that they have product available for their production, for their restaurant, and for their shelves in the retail market.

Adam Honig: That’s super interesting. So you mentioned supply security and I’m super interested in this topic. So does that mean your customers are building up a bigger inventory position or they’re just contracting with you for a guaranteed share of what they need?

Stephen Basile: Yeah, it means the former, like they’re building up more inventory. Right now, September 30th is a little bit early traditionally when customers are starting to build up their inventory for the holiday. They started building inventory a month ago.

Adam Honig: Wow.

Stephen Basile: Yeah, because they’re just concerned that they’re not gonna have products available to stock their shelves for the busiest season of the year. And then in addition to that, because the lead times have moved out a bit, they’re putting in more orders more frequently.

Adam Honig: I see. So are they putting in larger orders more frequently? I mean that would be great, right? 

Stephen Basile: It is, but when you’re forecasting your production and then all of a sudden the forecast is 30% over, it makes it very difficult from the operation, both from production input, and from labor as well. So if you’ve planned your production based on a specific forecast and then all of a sudden you’re coming in 30% over, you can’t flip a switch overnight. You have to add a shift. So how do you hire, train and then retain those employees, all along when the orders keep coming in? You gotta stay ahead of it. And when you use a forecast to try to stay ahead of it, and then you’re overshooting the forecast, it’s just not possible to maintain that, I guess.

Adam Honig: Yeah, no, I hear you on that. And a lot of the predictive analytic models, like it’s really hard for them to take into account the changes that are happening because they’re so unprecedented. 

Stephen Basile: Totally. 

Adam Honig:  Yeah. So I know that we’re kind of looking at different methods of forecasting, but the summer is just traditionally slow and the models, for so many years, have taken that into account. So is summer usually a slower season for you guys?

Stephen Basile: So because we serve into a few different channels, so we sell into that manufacturing space, we sell into the retail space, and then we sell into the food service space. We may see one channel take a break while the other channel’s picking up. Like in the summer, we typically see our food service business pick up, but because of inflation and labor shortages, we didn’t see the food service business pick up this year. We saw the retail channel continue to maintain that demand.

Adam Honig: Gotcha. So when you start to think about next year’s planning, I’ve been speaking with a lot of people who are like, I just don’t know how to plan, everything is so up in the air, what’s your perspective on that?

Stephen Basile: I have the same exact answer. We have these conversations weekly, monthly, quarterly of okay, what’s the next 30, 60, 90 looking like? What’s next year looking like? And when you’re talking to the customers, every single customer gives me that same exact answer that you just said, Adam, every customer.

Adam Honig: Yeah, so I guess we all just should plan for a lot of growth and then it’ll just happen. That’s the only advice I’ve got. If everybody’s like, well, we’re worried about the economy or stuff like that, it’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy in some ways, so yeah. And are there other trends that you’re seeing with your customers, are they doing anything innovative that you’ve been starting to sniff out?

Stephen Basile: No, not really because yes, there’s still new product introductions, but the focus on new product introductions is not like it used to be pre-Covid because a lot of people are really just concerned about how are we gonna take care of the customers and the items that we have today.

Adam Honig:  So in a sense, the focus on just taking care of today’s business is maybe lowering the innovation a little bit, is that what I’m hearing? New types of potato chips aren’t being launched? I’m trying to figure out what the new products would be. 

Stephen Basile: You know what, it’s a really good question and I have not heard of many new items that are getting launched at this time.

Adam Honig: Yeah, interesting. Well I wonder if the workforce issues have something to do with that as well because there’s such a big drain on talent right now.

Stephen Basile: A hundred percent, and I still try to figure that out. Because the Covid money’s gone, everywhere you go, everybody’s looking for labor or for talent. Where did all these people go? I can’t figure it out. Did people just leave the workforce completely? 

Adam Honig: Well from what I’ve been reading,  the economists have been saying that more people have been entering the workforce. I mean, people did come out of it. We’ve had a lot of issues with childcare. I don’t know if you’ve seen this on your team, people with young kids, it’s been hard to get nannies and daycare slots and stuff like that. So we’ve definitely had some people out as a result of that, but that seems to have kind of cleared itself up a little bit more. So I think people are back in the labor force, but I think for me it seems like people have made a little bit of a mental shift and they really want to choose a profession or a job that they really love and not just kind of doing whatever comes by. So I don’t know, maybe that has something to do with it.

Stephen Basile: I mean, certainly we’re experiencing more challenges with the workforce and the operation more so than anywhere else. So production, skilled labor, warehouse, forklift operators, those positions seem to be the most challenging to hire, train, and basically retain them.

Adam Honig: Yeah, and you’re competing for those kinds of positions with a lot of people now too.

Stephen Basile: Yeah, Amazon.

Adam Honig: Exactly, there you go. I think the other trend that I’ve been hearing a little bit about is if there’s gonna be more domestic United States production of material, that there’s gonna be more forklift job operators just to pick on one topic. And if people’s supply chains are kind of brittle and they wanna have more stuff locally,  again, it drives the demand for those kinds of employees.

Stephen Basile: Yeah, and then obviously those challenges can become opportunities when you look at maybe some of the functions of the forklift that are repetitive. Well there’s ways that you can automate that with unmanned fork trucks or just other ways to move products.

Adam Honig: Oh yeah, exactly. So again, take another page out of the Amazon playbook. I feel like when I talk with companies today, everybody either wants to be Amazon or Apple. And I think that you gotta find your own thing, man, but I think automating a lot of the stuff that goes on in the distribution center could be a good way to go.

Stephen Basile: Yeah, I, a hundred percent, agree with that.

Adam Honig: All right, so we’re looking at the future and we’re thinking, we don’t know, so we gotta figure out some way to improve on that. I guess we’ll get working on that. Maybe there’s something can do to help. Stephen, I just wanna talk on another topic, which I know that you’re a family-owned business, and that’s a different work experience than most people, have you always worked at Catania Oils or do you have other outside-of-the-family experiences as well?

Stephen Basile: I’ve always worked for the family business. At the young age of 11 years old, my grandfather used to pick me and my younger brother up on the weekend, go to the plant, walk around. And you’d a have leaking product, change this, change that, clean this, clean that, and I always liked to joke around because back then we didn’t know what we were doing, so I’d always say that he miaged me into the business.

Adam Honig: Got it, yeah, that’s awesome. My sense of talking with a lot of family-owned businesses is that there is more of a family feel even to the employees and so on. Is that the case with you guys?

Stephen Basile: Definitely, one of our core values, we are family, it’s one of our most important core values. And we definitely do a lot of events around family, like coming up in a couple of months around Thanksgiving for the past 12, 13, 14 years. For some time we’ve been doing a major turkey fried and peanut oil here. The family and the sales team get together and we’ll fry 13, 14 turkeys for the entire company, you know,  all the fixings, the stuffing, and the mashed potatoes. And that’s just one really great example of how we treat everybody here like family.

Adam Honig: Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, I definitely would encourage people if they’re looking for employment in the sector to look out for family-owned businesses because I think it’s definitely a different feel than some of the corporate-owned ones, at any rate. 

Stephen Basile: Thank you. 

Adam Honig: Yeah, totally. Well Stephen, this has been awesome. I’m really happy that you were able to make it onto the podcast today.  Certainly learning a little bit about oils and the best ones for different circumstances. Avocado oil, I gotta look out for that.  I’ve never used avocado oil, so I’ll check it out.

Stephen Basile: We’ll have to send you some.

Adam Honig: Yeah, please, send me some, I’d love to see some. But also from a business perspective, learning a little bit about how you guys dealt with the challenges in the supply chain, super interesting. I wish that we didn’t have to guess as much about the future, but I guess we’ll see. Maybe we’re always guessing, and we just thought that we knew something before. Maybe there’s something to that as well, I don’t know. But anyway, it’s been really great to talk with you, and talk about the family business, really appreciate it. And just as a reminder I wanna let our listeners know that they can find every episode of the Make it. Move it. Sell it. podcast at Be sure to subscribe and if you liked what we were talking about today, maybe give us a thumbs up or a good review or something like that. Stephen, what do you think, should they do something like that?

Stephen Basile: Yeah, maybe some jumping jacks. Absolutely.

Adam Honig: I like that, exactly, and some pushups while you’re at it, yeah. Well thanks everybody for tuning in, we’re looking forward to seeing you on the next episode.


The post Episode 11: How Catania Oils Overcame Pandemic Supply Chain Challenges and Thrived appeared first on Spiro.

from Spiro – Spiro is the first and only proactive relationship management platform. Our mission is to help sales teams close more deals.