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Sales Intelligence and Beyond: C. Lee Smith's Wisdom Unveiled on Wytpod

C. Lee Smith , CEO and founder of SalesFuel

In this exclusive Wytpod interview, delve deep into the intricacies of sales credibility, as C. Lee Smith shares invaluable insights on bridging the trust gap and navigating the challenges faced by sales professionals. Explore the innovative initiatives at SalesFuel, including cutting-edge AI applications, all while gaining profound wisdom from a seasoned industry authority. Uncover the secrets to standing out in industries like financial services, technology, and advertising, and witness firsthand the power of authority in shaping successful sales strategies. Don’t miss this compelling conversation that promises to unlock the doors to sales excellence and leadership in the digital age.

SalesFuel is a SaaS-based portfolio for sales tools, training, and intelligence, that provides thousands of sales teams with the power to sell smarter

C. Lee Smith
CEO and founder of SalesFuel

Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of Wytpod. My name is Harshit, and I’m the Director of Business Alliances at Wytlabs. We are a digital agency specializing in SaaS and e-commerce SEO. I’ve got a very experienced person with me today, one of the most experienced I’ve ever got on this podcast. I have Mr. C. Lee Smith with me today. He’s the CEO and founder of Salesfuel. Now, SalesFuel is a SaaS-based portfolio for sales tools, training, and intelligence, that provides thousands of sales teams with the power to sell smarter. A big welcome to you, Lee. I’m so happy to have you with me today.

It’s great to be with you. Thanks for inviting me.

Brilliant. Now, before we dive into all the awesome things you do at SalesFuel, can you please let the viewers know a little bit about your journey so far and your background?

Yeah, my Orchard story has been interesting. It was like it started in sales before the internet was a thing. Okay, so that takes you back a little ways. I’m dating myself a little bit. But when I first started my sales career, I didn’t believe that this was a unique story. I was a brand new salesperson, I had to compete with more experienced salespeople, and they had relationships, they had stories to tell, and they were good at small talk, and I had none of that, and I didn’t enjoy small talk. I had to do something to level the playing field with these guys. What I learned is that I was good at researching and digging up stuff and seeing things in magazines, newspaper articles, and everything like that, and taking that out and starting up my conversations that way rather than talking about sports teams or anything like that. I then realized then that I was seen as more valuable. I had no problems getting appointments and getting meetings scheduled and everything like that. We started off having a conversation about that. Then that eventually led to really what problems I could solve and what goals I could help them achieve.

 

That’s really where it all started. Then I go back to the days of having a BBS and then a fax-on-demand service. Then we first went to the internet in 1995 and did our first web app back in 1997. We were in uncharted territory back then. But it was exciting mind you. Here we are today. Fast forward, to three different SaaS platforms. We’ve tried many things that didn’t work. Quite frankly, I like to say that we’d make a terrible surgeon, but we’d be in a Hall of Fame if we were a baseball player. It’s constantly having to reinvent ourselves. Our Ademal product has been around since 1995, serving media companies and agencies, ad agencies, and the like. To do that, to have that longevity, it’s like we’ve had to recreate and re-imagine the product several times and reinvent ourselves and keep up with the changing times and technologies. We’re in the mix of doing that again currently.

Yeah. More than 30 years now. I understand. It’s been a long journey for you. Let’s talk about sales of fuel now. I would love to understand what this mission is to empower the sales team through SaaS-based tools, training, and intelligence.

We’re really happy that we’ve been recognized as a top sales solution provider by industry thought leaders like Selling Power magazine, and Sales & Marketing Management magazine. I’ve personally been recognized by Selling Power on their list of leading sales consultants every year since 2018. A lot of work goes behind that. To do that, though, successfully, again, going back to my roots, is that we create research revenue generators. People just like me, whether you’re in sales, you’re in marketing, business development, or even customer service folks use us. Our goal, our mission is to empower salespeople to stand apart from their competitors by giving them exclusive insights so that they can tell their prospects something that they didn’t know about their business or something they didn’t know about their industry or their customers. We have proprietary market research that helps marketers improve their return on ad spend and help their lead gen efforts. We also use data to help our clients hire and retain better salespeople and marketing personnel. But the most important thing that we do is that we think of a client-centric approach that uses data to build credibility at every level of the sales funnel That makes closing sales much, much easier for salespeople.

That’s brilliant. Can you elaborate on SalesCredit Pro and how it assessed sales professionals in building the credibility of the sales Over my left shoulder, you’ll see my book, my Amazon best seller, Sales Cred, How Buyers Qualify Sellers.

It’s a book I wrote a few years ago. Since then, I’ve done training sessions, master classes, put together a mobile app for it, and everything like that. Now we have a SaaS platform to help salespeople take advantage of the lessons and the magic, really, of sales credibility. Some of the things I talk about in the book, we make it easy for them now with a SaaS platform. It’s all about gaining the power of authority because so many salespeople, about 24% of Americans view salespeople as credible in what they say and do. That’s one of the lowest professions out of all the professions. The only lower ones are members of Congress. It’s pretty low down on the list. As salespeople, we start our relationships from behind, from a position not on equal footing with our prospect, but being looked down upon by prospects. Sales credibility is really all about the power of authority and having the power then to have your recommendations taken seriously, have you taken seriously. This all starts with your digital credibility. That’s because you don’t get the chance to make your first impression any more. Google and LinkedIn do that for you.

 

We have a digital cred check then that’s industry-specific, where you tell it you’re trying to attract people that are in a particular industry that are looking to buy a particular type of product. We’ll give you an industry-specific metric that reveals It feels how prospects see you before they see you how they see your expertise and then some of the things that you need to do to improve that. Salescreditpro also has a daily opportunities dashboard. What this is, this has all the latest posts on LinkedIn, on social media, all the new website content that your company provides, that your prospects provide, that industry publications provide, and even keeps you up to date on your competitors. This allows you then to share this content or comment on the content. The idea here is this improves your visibility and keeps you top of mind with prospects. But when you share this content, it also presents you as a subject matter expert so that your prospects see you as legitimate when they search for you online. The thing is that 71% of all B2B business decision-makers will do this before taking a call or meeting with you.

 

That’s super important. Then next, it’s about being prepared for every sales call so that you can provide relevant value every time that you make a sales outreach. Sales CredPro will cut the time needed for pre-sales research from hours now to seconds using AI, but also using our exclusive proprietary research as well. Lastly, this includes a tool called CredCoach, which is an AI-powered sales coach in your pocket. We’ve trained this with my lifetime work on sales credibility, on sales fuel research, and every blog post we’ve written about selling tips and soft skills that we’ve written in the last six years. That’s how we train the AI engine. What’s great is you can ask it all kinds of questions, whether it be something simple as, Hey, I want to tell this person or whatever that that’s a bad idea, but what’s a better way to say it, or I need to break some bad news to them. What’s the best way to do it? Or it could be a simple matter of, Hey, I’m trying to sell residential solar panels, whatever, and I’m having problems selling them door to door, what’s a better way to do it?

 

That’s where we take advantage of AI and also when trained with my work, my experience, as well as all the research that we have here.

That’s brilliant. I would love to understand if you’ve got another promising product at Mall, that focuses on providing tactical business intelligence for local marketing and media sales. I would love to understand, how it makes selling easier and improves the marketing results altogether.

This is our flagship product at Salessieu, and it’s a number one sales research platform used by local media agencies. The whole purpose is to help full-cycle sales reps to be able to sell smarter using proprietary research you can’t get anywhere else. It has everything that a sales rep needs to be seen as a local business’s go-to marketing expert in that local market. What’s cool about it is that we priced it in such a way that a single sale can pay for an entire year of AdMal and our sales intelligence for their entire company. We even have numerous case studies of sales reps who brought in 300, 400, and over $500,000 in business with just a single sale using AdMal. It’s really about giving them the tools, training, and intelligence to be seen as credible experts in the area of local marketing and to be seen as agencies that can help them increase their leads and improve their revenue at the end of the day.

Okay. Also, Lee, I was studying the team trade. It uses psychometric assessments to analyze behavioral traits. How does it contribute to identifying high-potential candidates and building high-performing teams altogether?

You’ve got your candidates, for example, that you’re interviewing then that have the skill to do a job well. That can be measured through your ATS and just looking at resumes and everything like that. But what’s more important than that is having the mindset to be able to do the job. We have a methodology that I wrote about in my first book, again, over my left shoulder, Hire smarter, sell more, called the Four Fits. This uses psychometric assessments to score this mindset, which we call the job fit. But we also do something very important that I’ve not seen anybody else do, which is to do something called the manager fit. That’s because a direct supervisor has the most influence on a person’s performance than any other person in the company. What we do is measure the number of potential tensions that a candidate might have with their potential manager, and we create a manager fit score based on that. We also use behavioral data to help managers navigate conversations when they need to have that and to be able to help them retain people longer. But most importantly, it acts as a checks and balances to remove those unintentional biases.

 

But also just when you interview a salesperson, sometimes a salesperson’s best sales job will be the one they had in the interview and you’ll never see that salesperson again. It helps you make sure that you can believe what you’ve heard and believe what your eyes are telling you. You don’t fall in love with the candidate just because they had a really good interview. It provides another set of eyes to help you do that.

That’s nice. Okay. Now, with over 30 years of experience, you are recognized as a global sales credibility authority altogether. How have you seen the landscape of sales credibility evolve over the years?

Sales consultants have been talking about building trust with prospects for decades. The thing is, how do you do that? That’s what only gets talked a little about. First, you have to build and establish your credibility. You can have credibility without building trust, but you can’t earn trust without having credibility. Credibility is something that’s been talked about. Let’s go back to Aristotle and his triangle then of influence and persuasion. At the very top, you have ethos, which is the credibility of the speaker. Then you have pathos and logos. It’s like you have the ability then to make a connection emotionally as well as logically. So many salespeople, particularly those that use research data, then only connect logically and People will make decisions based on emotions, and they’ll justify those decisions logically. It’s really important to have all three. But the tippy top of the triangle is all about credibility. That is really how salespeople can then build trust with prospects. Again, I mentioned that 24% of Americans view salespeople as credible. You have that river of distrust that they have that separates them from the salesperson. Sales credibility is the bridge that you need to get over that river of distrust that has been caused by our worst practitioners, just like any industry.

 

Whether you’re an SEO expert or you’re a chiropractor car salesman, a real estate agent, or anything like that, our worst practitioners tarnish our entire industry. We’re seen through that lens until we prove otherwise. Getting over that river of distrust, sales credibility is the bridge that gets us over that so that we can then build trust with these prospects. That’s probably why Gartner, for example, came out with some research that shows that 72% of B2B buyers don’t believe salespeople can help them achieve their specific objectives and goals. That’s why they try to avoid salespeople whenever possible because it’s a waste of time. But I think the good news is that since the publication of my book, Sales Cred, we’re slowly starting to see other people talk about the importance of credibility for salespeople. We hope that over time, this will be something that will be part of the regular conversation that sales trainers have training salespeople, sales managers have when coaching them in one-on-ones, and so forth.

That makes sense. Thanks for the stats. I’m surprised to see that 70% drop. Those numbers are huge. Thank you so much. Now, as a CEO at SalesFuel, how do you envision the role of sales intelligence and branding in helping salespeople stand out in the industries, especially financial services, technology, and even advertising?

I think the thing I’ve just read a study this morning that shows that the number one brand among GenZs, and GenZs eventually are going to be more decision-makers, more and more as the years roll on, just like millennials are today. I started with them, but Gen Z’s favorite brand is themselves. They truly believe in the power of personal branding. The thing is that in industries that you just mentioned, financial services, technology, business consulting, nothing like that, having credibility and trust is not It’s not just a nice to have, it’s critical. You can’t be successful in this industry unless you have that. When you’re dealing with somebody’s money, you’re dealing with their confidential business information, cybersecurity, mission-critical network services. If the sales representative that represents that company doesn’t come across as someone who knows what they’re talking about and knows how to help, there’s no chance of them making a sale. That person needs to be able to make sense of complexity and know it so well that they could simplify it for CEOs like me who aren’t in the weeds every day. I know the need for cybersecurity and keeping our mission-critical services up and running and all that.

 

I don’t know exactly how that gets done. I have to rely on my people who are in the weeds every day, then to be able to have those conversations with these representatives and make recommendations to me. This credibility and expertise need to be demonstrated both online and in person. It’s something that can be built or can be diminished with every single action, every email, every every meeting. Having that sales intelligence to be able to do that and being able to build that personal brand so it’s a professional brand of knowledgeable expertise and trust is critical in these particular industries.

I agree, Lee. Okay, so Lee, you have three extremely promising offerings. I would love to know, if are there any upcoming initiatives or developments that you’re undergoing in sales in this field that you can share with our audience, The newest thing, we’ve just launched a Zoom app.

The idea is that salespeople, of course, have a lot of the conversations these days by Zoom. Now, sales cred is available as an app within Zoom. That’s brand new. We’ve also launched a seven-day free trial of our SalesCred pro product. Just go to salescred.com. You can see for yourself how your expertise is being viewed by accounts and prospects using our exclusive digital cred check tool. But as far as looking forward, though, like everybody else, it’s all about AI. It’s about how we’re going to incorporate the power of AI in all of our SaaS platforms. But at the same point in time, we also have to be cognizant that we have to still verify the research data so that it’s credible and reliable and to make sure that AI is not just making something up or it’s not using credible sources or like that. We still have to human verify that. It’s that careful balance between using the power of AI, and also making sure that AI is still credible in what it’s doing. That is what we’re doing. We started with our sales cred pro tool that’s got a lot of AI into it.

 

Now we’re putting that into AdMal, into team trade as well. Like everybody else, that’s what we’re doing. AI is not the solution. Its AI is a powerful ingredient, basically, of the solution. That’s what we’re doing going forward.

No, I agree. Lee, a human in a loop is equally essential. I’ve seen a lot of successful AI tools, and when they couple it with the human in-loop thing, it works incredibly well. I completely agree with that point. All right, Lee, we’re coming to an end, and let’s have a quick rapid fire. Are you ready for that?

Okay, go ahead.

Okay. What one word do you want people to associate you with?

Credibility.

That’s nice.

That was easy.

I think if we just run through the complete podcast, we have used credibility phrases so many times. So it makes sense. Are you a private person or not?

It’s interesting as the spokesperson for the company, I have to make an effort to be public and to be visible. Also, it’s like when I’m talking about sales credibility, I have to practice what I preach. I’m one of those people who’s an introvert until I’m put on stage, but then I’m the biggest extrovert you’ll find. It’s really like when you’re going to the gym. Sometimes you don’t want to go to the gym and you to force yourself to go to the gym, but then once you’re there, okay, you’re all into it wherever and you’re building up a sweat, you’re working hard. That’s where I’m at. In my personal life, I prefer to be private, but in my professional life, I prefer to be public.

Yeah, it makes sense. You’ve been putting tons of effort into your branding as well in the last couple of years, plus being the face of sales makes perfect sense.

When you talk about credibility, the last thing you can do is to be seen as doing something that’s not credible. You have to live it when you do what I’m doing. There’s a certain pressure with that, but also there’s a lot of self-awareness that has to go into that and being able to do that every single day.

That makes sense. Any funny nickname your parents, your friends, or even your work colleague used to call you?

That’s a good question. My nickname growing up was Tiger. I was ordinary. I was very active and everything like that. I’m still ordinary and active, maybe just not quite as much. But yeah, that was my nickname growing up, and that was well before Tiger Woods

Okay. What was your last Google search?

What was my last Google search? I don’t remember. I hit Google so many times during the day. I really couldn’t tell you what it is. That’s not true. My last Google search was about GEO, which is generative. It’s like SEO then with generative AI. I was researching a lot of research documents on that, trying to learn more about that and where that’s going.

That’s a very interesting study, to be honest. One of the good things, even Google incorporated it, but it’s not way too cost-effective, at least in today’s age. I’m not sure how long it will take or whether Google will plan to launch it entirely. There’s nothing certain about it. But yeah, right now the scenario is something.

It’s just like anything we all do. We try stuff. The thing is, it’s like what I was coaching kid soccer back when my kids were small, it was always like, even if you’ve lost the game, you’ve only truly lost if you lose the lessons. When you try something that doesn’t work or is not viable on the market and everything like that, as long as you can take bits and pieces from it that you can incorporate into your next project, and maybe that will work or whatever, then that’s a win. All’s not lost.

But I’m optimistic. It’s going to come very soon for sure. It’s a message for the companies to be prepared for it. There are tools out there through which you can see what exactly is the logic, try to decode it, and still get that level of visibility that people are now generating organically. That’s the way.

Like you, I’m also the host of a podcast called Manage Smarter, and we focus that podcast on sales managers and also emerging leaders in companies. It’s evergreen. We record it on a certain day, we put it out there. I think the challenge for you, I have deep respect for you on this, is we’re talking about this idea like it’s a new idea, but by the time someone actually listens to this podcast, maybe two years later or whatever, it’s, Oh, yeah, that’s what we’ve moved on from that. I think that’s going to be very challenging.

Yeah, definitely. I think any smart company would focus a lot on content refresh, all of those things just to keep their web pages updated. I think that also the trend is going that way. You need to keep yourself updated, your website updated, all of those things to have that visibility, to at least qualify for that visibility that you desperately want, that needs to put in a continuous effort to make things better on your site.

You could be the greatest salesperson have the greatest level of expertise and be the perfect fit for a prospect or something like that. But if they can’t find you and you’re not visible and everything like that, sorry. It’s like you miss out. Somebody then who’s less qualified, who’s less talented, everything like that, but is going to get the business. That’s incredibly frustrating.

Yeah. I think that’s where the thought leadership, all this personal branding comes into the picture as well, to be honest. It goes hand in hand. It’s incredible to see after so many years of experience, you are also working in that direction. Although you mentioned that millennials and Genzis are a bit much more focused, I see a lot of experienced people building their brand, and I have been doing it for a long. I think we copied the new generation or millennials have copied that thing because it worked so well for the older generation.

It works well for everybody. It is. It is the base layer of sales credibility, having that digital credibility. It’s something that the older generation certainly can benefit from. Certainly then, too, as they exit then the corporate rat race or whatever, and they have the final chapter of their professional careers, right? They’re looking to be an entrepreneur or start up a business they’ve always thought about or something like that. Then they start to think more about their professional credibility rather than having their identity be a C-suite member or something like that in somebody else’s corporation.

That makes sense. All right, now coming back to the rapid fire. Okay, what’s something you could eat for a week?

We took the wrap and had a rapid fire. Sorry about that.

We made it a general discussion. Okay, what’s something you could eat for a week straight?

Pizza.

Okay. All right. Now, coming to my very last question, what is not a big deal to most people, but is a torture to Oh, my goodness. Wow.

For me, it’s torture getting emails and getting salespeople trying to pitch me on LinkedIn, even though, quite frankly, we’ve seen that 20% of B2B buyers say that they’ll block somebody, a salesperson on LinkedIn if they try to make a sales pitch after connecting. Most people just ignore it. But to me, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. Or I get an email, whatever, which is an automated email that’s sent through a marketing automation tool. Or nowadays, I can tell that when I get an email that’s AI-generated. It’s just frustrating and hate it.

At least on an email level, I’m sure because of these new rules, Gmail has launched, followed by even Yahoo, and Bing, of them. It’s getting tougher for the cold outreach sales guys to land in your inbox. It might end up in your spam folder, but yeah, things are going to improve.

I can summarize what I just said. It sells people who use technology as a crutch instead of using technology to help them to be more helpful and be more of service than their prospects. That’s my overall frustration.

That’s it. Ali, for sharing your experiences about the platform, your incredible products, and your overall wisdom. I appreciate your time here with me. Thank you so much.

Thank you for the interview. I appreciate the conversation. It was great.

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