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Quotable Podcast Episode #78: Entrepreneurs, Even B2B Sales Is Still Selling to People, with Will Harris

Host: Kevin Micalizzi
Entrepreneurs excel at innovation, but at the end of the day they have to figure out how to sell to people. Join Will Harris, sales consultant and humanitarian, as he helps guide new businesses to success in human-centered B2B sales. Discover a superior approach to hiring the right people and staying focused on revenue-generating activities. Know what type of entrepreneur you are (hustler, starter, builder, franchisor), develop the right habits, and become a guaranteed bet who can close more deals.

The biggest mistake I made was not using the right people for the job.”

Will Harris | Sales Consultant and Humanitarian

Episode Transcript

Will Harris: Being a guaranteed bet will definitely bring you six figures. And your ability to be in multiple places at the same time brings you seven figures.

[Music Plays]

Kevin Micalizzi: Welcome to the Quotable Podcast. Today we’ll be speaking with Will Harris, sales consultant and humanitarian. We’re going to be talking about entrepreneurship and how you approach selling at the different levels and what each one involves as well as some of the challenges and pitfalls involved with each. Let’s jump into it.

Micalizzi: So, Will, thank you for taking the time to join me today.

Harris: My pleasure, Kevin. Thank you for having me.

Micalizzi: Will, for those who aren’t familiar with you, would you share a little bit about yourself?

Harris: Sure. I am the President, CEO, Founder, Owner — whatever that title is that entrepreneurs give themselves when they have to do everything in the world with their company, that’s who I am. My company, Willpower Consultations, specializes in helping companies improve their selves. That could come from me doing sales training, working with managers, helping businesses owners to restructure their business in a certain way. My claim to fame back in the day was that I used to work for Zig Ziglar. You know him? Have you heard of him?

Micalizzi: I do, I do.

Harris: Great man, great man. I fashioned myself to be a humanitarian. I have an outside group separate from Willpower Consultation called Willpower Humanitarian Foundation. We specialize in helping women and children all over the world.

Micalizzi: Fantastic. So Will, I want to ask you. A lot of the conversations we have here on the podcast are centered around sales as a role, as opposed to entrepreneurs are out there and they’re selling every day. They have to to really make their companies viable. I’m curious. From your perspective — you do a lot of work and you yourself are an entrepreneur — what are you seeing?

Harris: First of all, there is no such thing as B2B sales. Business-to-business sales does not exist. You will never hear a knock at the door and you say, “Who is it?” and someone says, “Business.” It’s not how it works. One person is going to be selling to another person. I think that, with all the social media and email [as] a way to reach out and different ways to create a funnel, that we lost track of the basic how do you reach out and start that sell-up when one person talks to another.

I figured that we would talk about how to sell as the CEO, president, founder, or owner of your company. As an entrepreneur, how do you get that thing set off? How do you set it off every day and keep it motivated or keep your team motivated to be able to go out there and crush those numbers?

Micalizzi: A lot of entrepreneurs aren’t salespeople at heart. They have a great idea. They want to create something. How are people approaching it?

Harris: Yeah. Wrongly. And that is why a lot of businesses fail. Listen, my mentor — I had a few of them — but one of my favorite mentors is a lady named Janet.

Janet Shines started off in the basement of her house, single mom in the sales training consultant business, grew it to be in the international firm and taught me everything I know from the political structure and politics to climb up a corporate environment to how do you run a successful business.

One of the things she taught me I’m going to talk about is, if you want to consistently make six figures, then you have to be a guaranteed bet. You have to be a sure thing. That’s what Janet taught me. She said that if you want to make decent money, then you have to remember that people are more willing to pay a ridiculous and insane amount of money to have you do something they know you can do than to pay okay money for something they hope you can do.

When you become a guaranteed bet. Like my clients know. I do a lot of work with Verizon. Verizon knows when they hire me, it’s around an event — boom, it’s going to be awesome. There is no ifs, there is no ands, there is no buts about it. Whatever comes up, I’m going to be able to solve it and crush it because I have a talent around that particular area, and also because of my experience, you can predict what needs to be put in place to ensure that everything goes off the way it needs to go.

When you become a sure bet, that there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it, that’s when you’re going to hit the six figures. There’s a special rule to hitting seven figures, too. And that seventh figure is you have to be able to be in multiple places at the same time. Do you remember the Great Gazoo from Fred Flintstone?

Micalizzi: Yep.

Harris: Good, thank you. Oh, my god. If you if said “no,” that meant that I was way too old. The Great Gazoo was able to go “Poof!” and then he would be in another place, be in multiple places at the same time. The same thing applies for being an entrepreneur and getting to that point where you hit seven figures. There is a huge chasm between six figures and seven figures. It’s like you can’t cross a chasm in two small steps. You’re going to be, “Ahh!” You’re going to fall down, right?

So how do you make that leap? There really are four different levels to being an entrepreneur, and that’s the hustler, the starter, the builder, and the franchisor. If you’re able to progress in those four different levels, you will consistently be able to make money.

Now some people are rich as just a hustler at that first stage, but it’s not going to be consistent. Others are at the builder stage and they may have more money than you. But it’s not consistent. They’re here today, they’re gone tomorrow. So those are the four different stages.

Micalizzi: If I’m a hustler, though, I’m assuming my challenges are different than they would be when I reach the builder stage. What am I facing as a hustler?

Harris: Yeah, so I’m going to define that. I’m going to try very hard not to say, “Wow, that’s a great question,” because I was listening to your other podcasts [and heard], “That’s a great question.” Like, can anybody say, “Man, Kevin, that question sucks. Come on, Kevin. Can you [crosstalk]?”

Micalizzi: No one has yet, but they might’ve been thinking it.

Harris: The hustlers sell anything as long as they don’t go to jail. That’s what a hustler is. They don’t care. They look around and, “Cryptocurrency is in? I’m going to try and sell that. Okay, so wait a minute. This is in? I’m going to try to sell that.” They lack a vision. They can be great salespeople, but they don’t care. They see something and in that moment they’re trying to ride it out. They have no passion for it. They just want to pay the bills, they just want to get things done, and they see an opportunity to jump in.

So the hustlers really don’t have a niche. But I don’t want to dog anybody. You have to be you. There’s a lot of rich hustlers out there. They won’t be rich long or they won’t be able to continue to make money in that area unless they’re continuing to go up.

That is the hustlers. The hustlers are the entrepreneurs that — they may have a great idea for a particular book or they have a great idea for a particular business to start or jump in, but they’re not really too organized around anything else business-related. Do you know any hustlers?

Micalizzi: I do, I do. The hustler is selling anything they possibly can. What happens when you reach the builder level?

Harris: Before you get to the build … The order of progression is hustlers, starters, and then it’s builder, and then it’s franchisor. The next level up from hustler is starter. Now these people are like stars, they really are. They’re stars at their craft. In the very beginning [you see] some people, they may not be great salespeople, but they’re really good at what they do. Those are the starters.

They’re stars at the technical aspect of their job or whatever the nuts and guts, the nitty-gritty is of what they do — they’re fantastic at that. They’re so fantastic at it, they may have been at another company and had been complaining, like, “I’m the one that’s making this work. I’m the great one. Let me go out there. I’m going to do it on my own.” Then they get out there and like, “I have to sell, too? They’re not just going to fall out of the sky on me?”

I have a guy that cold calls for me. He called in to a small business firm yesterday. It was a sales software consulting firm. The guy who owned the company said, “Yeah, we don’t have any salespeople.” I told my cold caller, I’m like, “That guy’s not going to be in business long if he thinks there’s no salespeople.” If he doesn’t know that he’s one, at the very least, or someone on his team is one, yeah, he’s not going to get any business. There is no government welfare for business owners. You’ve got to go out there and do something.

The starters are fantastic at getting started. They have a skill set. Their challenge in the beginning is finding the right people. When an entrepreneur first gets started, they may know what gaps they have to fill. Now you try to get your crazy cousin Larry to fill that position or, “I met somebody last night at a networking event. I’m going to try to get them to do this role.”

But the three questions the starters need to ask are: Can this person do the job well, whoever you want to interact with? Can this person do the job well long-term? And, are they in alignment with me?

The biggest mistakes I made when I started to create my business — and now I have three different international organizations in charge of multiple people working for me in each one. The biggest mistake that I made was not using the right people for the job. I knew which job had to get done. If I needed to get my website done, Tom knows how to make websites so I’m just going to throw some money at Tom.

Micalizzi: With the folks that didn’t work out, was it a capability problem — you just hired the wrong skill set for that role — or was it that kind of shared vision shared value, were you not aligned on that side?

Harris: Oh, my goodness, you’re so much kinder. It was a [stupibility] issue and it was a laziness issue. Being stupid — when you’re starting something off for the first time, you don’t have a mentor that’s guiding you — there’s a lot of times when you look back and you say, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I was so stupid.”

One time I paid a marketing firm thousands of dollars a month to not make me any money. I was on podcasts, radio shows, TVs, ABC, NBC, but they were not held accountable for driving any revenue to me. So that’s like me giving you some money [and saying], “You know what, Kevin? Here’s $3,000. You better not make me any money. You better not make me any money.”

So it’s a [stupibility] thing in terms of you haven’t been through the situation before. It sounds good, so you get caught up in running around doing a lot of stuff that really isn’t driving revenue. That’s the mistake starters make.

For instance, the website. I talked to a business owner yesterday and he was like, “You know what, I really have to get my website up before I can reach out to any customers.” I said, “No, you don’t. You really don’t. That website is not going to be better at talking to your customers or potential customers than you.” But that’s just a block we throw up. If you do not know how much money your website is making you, then it’s just for show. It’s just for show. It means nothing. But these are the things you get caught up on.

Laziness is, “Okay, I need someone to do this. I don’t have the time to go out and interview a whole bunch of people and do a lot of things. This person knows something, so why don’t I just get them started because something is better than nothing?” Not always. Sometimes it’s better to actually stop. Okay? That’s another problem the starters do. Right? They start all these itty-bitty little things that never go anywhere. It’s always best to stop, find the person who is ideal for the role that you need and then move forward.

I don’t do that anymore. I don’t hire my crazy cousin Larry or somebody I’ve met [just last time]. I build out a profile of the type of person I need to fill that role and then I interview and hire for that.

Micalizzi: Excellent. That leads you to the builder stage. Right?

Harris: Right. The builder stage is for someone who lacks a counterpart. The starters got started. They may have been great at their talent or they may have been great at sales. I’m a big picture person. Right? I’m a visionary. I can tell you my vision up until the day I die, and I believe I want to die when I’m 108. That’s what I’m shooting for: 108. Got things going right. I’m trying to prolong this ride we call life. But I have a vision of where I want to go.

Now when you have visionaries that are big picture, sometimes the details are a devil. It’s like, okay, wow, all right. So great big picture, but now we need someone to actually go through and execute on that.

If you are really a big visionary, like I had one boss I worked for, and they were so much a genius that it was frustrating for them to actually talk to the normal people, because the normal people would not be able to keep up. And since they were unable to keep up, it became frustrating to them. So the visionary, as you become a builder, really needs to have something they call an integrator.

The integrator balances them out. The integrator says, “Okay, that’s great that you want to build a bridge to the moon. I believe you. I’ve seen you build a bridge to the sun before, so the moon should be easy. But now let’s go through and talk about the details around that.” The integrator would be the one that brings the visionary back down to earth a little bit and says, “All right, we need a license from somebody to be able to have permission to travel throughout space,” or something like that.

The builders, they understand that they need a counterpart, and that counterpart either becomes a partner or that counterpart becomes someone that works closely to them that has veto power over them. That’s hard, Kevin, because most entrepreneurs, [crosstalk].

Micalizzi: Yeah, you’re giving up a certain amount of control there. Yeah.

Harris: Yeah, but they have to. If not, then they become like the sun, never really having that laser focus to burn through or get through anything, and they just fizzle out.

Micalizzi: You’re going beyond the “surround yourself with smart people” concept and really trying to supplement where you lack.

Harris: Yeah. Forget that. I know a lot of smart broke people. Smart ain’t enough. Come on. You know it too, Kevin. Yeah, it’s beyond that. It’s really about you knowing yourself and being honest. You have to say, “You know what? I suck as a CEO. I need to hire somebody else to be the CEO. I’m really great at the talent aspect.” Or, “I suck being a CFO. I got a D in accounting in college. I know it, my mamma knows it. So why am I lying to myself?”

Micalizzi: Right.

Harris: The person that gets to the next level [ought] to have no ego. That is the one that can tell their employees, “You know what? You are right, I am wrong.” Those are the ones that give their employees that free range to say, “Hey, don’t just ‘yes’ me.” By the way, I work with big corporations. I see people all the time that encourage “yes,” and they’ll tell themselves, they’ll lie to themselves and say, “No, no, no. Our environment and our team, we welcome people to disagree.” You disagree, you’re going to get fired or, yeah, you’re not going to get that next promotion, or you can get a verbal lashing. These people want to create that environment, but they lie to themselves, and they don’t force themselves to put something in place that protects them from themselves.

When you get into that builder stage, you have to have a system put in place that protects you from you. That’s why you see all these businesses just floundering around that middle level of goodness, never truly getting to greatness because they can’t cross that chasm. They’re not willing to let go of that control. You interview, you find the right person, and then you just have to let go in order to go higher.

Micalizzi: When you’re the entrepreneur launching your own company, even if sales is not your strength, you’re still required — it’s fundamentally a part of what you’re doing — that you need to be able to sell your idea, your product, whatever aspect of it, it is. What happens when the selling is not the strength and you’re at that builder stage?

Harris: People can rely on utilizing tools to get them an introduction, but you really have to have a mouthpiece. If you can’t be the mouthpiece, you’ve got to go out and find one. It really is that balance. It’s sales, it’s marketing, and its operations. By sales, you really need to have someone that’s going to close it. If you’re shy, you cannot become super rich being shy all by yourself. You’re going to need a system or a person to get up to that next level.

You can be the shy genius in the corner, but you’re going to be the broke shy genius in the corner unless you find someone that can articulate your message. Sometimes, like these days, it really comes down to social media. But people get so caught up in followers that they get tripped up. It doesn’t matter if you have a gazillion followers.

Kevin, I have 1 million Facebook fans. One million. Over a million. I think yesterday 1,004,000. But if that’s not bringing me in any money, or if it’s not hitting at the root of why I am operating an organization, then they’re useless. Somebody can have 15,000 LinkedIn followers and be broke. How much money [did that] make you? Right?

Micalizzi: Yeah.

Harris: Just like you have a website. It could be great, it cold be fantastic. “We have 50,000 come to my website a day.” “And how much money did they spend?” “Nothing yet, but maybe when we get to 100,000?”

Micalizzi: Right. If you’re not really attracting the right people and if you’re not using the tool effectively, then it’s not going to net you any value.

Harris: Right. You really have a choice, back to your original question. If you’re not a great salesperson, then either you need to hire someone who is great, find someone who is great, or you need to create a great system. That great system can be social media.

I’m not dogging social media. I have a program we use and help people called Social Selling. So I’m a big fan of social media. But your social media platform needs to be more than just, “Hey, I’m here.” It has to move them down that funnel a little bit, at least to the point where you’re able to engage with them.

If you’re Shy Charlie — I just made that up, too, by the way, Kevin — Shy Charlie. If you’re Shy Charlie, then you need to have it so your social media platform pushes them down that route, or when they come in that website, it gets them engaged enough to get to the point where Shy Charlie can start talking or engaging with them at the level that he needs to make.

Micalizzi: This is a theme I keep seeing in that you’ve got to have that kind of core competence down. You’ve got to have the goal, the objective. You’ve got to have the process. You’ve got to know what you’re trying to do. Technology doesn’t fix that for you. Technology only aids you in what you’re trying to do. If you don’t have that plan, you don’t have that outcome in mind, then technology is not going to get you there because you’re not moving in the right direction to begin with.

Harris: You nailed it. You know what, it comes down to comfort zone, really. People know that. You and I both know we just can’t drink water for the rest of our lives and live. You have to have some food, too. You just can’t [eat] food and not drink any water. It’s like balance: mind, body and spirit. In business you have to have sales, marketing, and operations.

What people normally gravitate to [is] that thing that they’re most comfortable [with]. If you’re most comfortable with technology, if you’re to the point where you like guarantees and sure things — “I can depend on tech and I can depend on my calculator because when I hit one plus one equals, it always tells me two.” If you’re that person, okay, I get it. But you better get somebody in those other areas to off-balance you, or you’re just a temporary fix to a permanent problem, because it’s not going to last.

I’ve seen it. I’ve seen companies come and go. Big ones, small ones, they just get stuck in that stage. It could be the builder stage, and then after that they don’t go any higher.

Micalizzi: Let’s talk about going past the builder stage: the franchisor.

Harris: Right. The franchiser is someone who developed a system that puts them in multiple locations at the same time. It’s one of those tips I told you about. Right? If you want to be rich, if you want to hit that seven figures, then you have to be able to be in multiple places at the same time. As long as Will Harris is only dependent upon Will Harris for getting information out, it’s not going to work.

Everybody who’s rich, they’re able to be in multiple locations at the same time. Even down to sports athletes, the highest paid sports athletes are the ones that are able to touch multiple people through TV. In essence, they’re in millions of households that one night. They’re hitting multiple people.

Within your business, if you create something, if you really want to maximize your financial impact, you need to create a system that’s going to be [duplicatable], something that somebody else can take and run with. That’s some hard lessons I learned around that.

The biggest lesson is going to sound crazy. When you’re a smaller entrepreneur, the problem is, you cannot work with anyone who wants to be you. If they want to be you, you’re in big trouble.

I tell you, I know a lot of people who — I’m in training. Right? They would bring someone on as a contractor who had their own business, and small, and maybe they didn’t work out or whatever. They bring them on and they get them started and introduce them to the class. Next thing you know, that person is working — your client is working with that person. And so they, in essence, stole it.

In their heart they’re like, “I didn’t steal it. It’s just that I worked with them so much and they felt more comfortable with me. They just said, ‘Hey, I want to work with you’ or ‘We’re just not going to do this anymore.’” And that’s what happens.

That’s the trap that many entrepreneurs fall into when they bring in outside contractors who want to be them. If you’re going to get to that level where you’re going to branch off and be a franchisor, then that means that you are taking people and hiring them as an employee.

I had someone who worked for me when I was head of global sales training at Motorola. That person never said, “You know what? We’re going to try to sell the competition another telephone. We’re going to try to sell them another radio.” That guy didn’t do that because he was an employee of Motorola.

But when I went off on my own and I had outside contractors, people who didn’t advance or weren’t good enough or big enough to get their own stuff, but I turned them on, they already had in their minds that, “I could be just like Will if I just had a break with some clients,” and now they have their break.

So if you want to grow and not get [taken] either on purpose or by accident, you cannot work with people who want to be like you. You need to work with those people who have that mindset that, “No, I don’t want the responsibility of being a business owner. I want to be great at my craft and not worry about anything else like that.”

Now, you may not be able to do that right now. But in order for you to grow, you need to start thinking: What is that point where I make that transition from building this corporation that I have, to actually hiring on someone that’s going to be an employee with me that I want to invest in, long-term.

Micalizzi: Will, we’re still early in the year, and a lot of people are focused on their New Year’s resolutions and what they tackle in the coming year. From your perspective, what is the most important thing that entrepreneurs should be focusing on right now?

Harris: Habits. Absolutely habits. I wrote a book called WillPower Now. I literally wrote the book on willpower. Okay? I just turned 46. Things have changed for me in terms of my thought process and experience.

I used to think that willpower was like a muscle, that the more you used it the stronger you would get. Now I look at willpower more like a battery with a limited amount of juice. In the morning I have a lot of willpower, but in the afternoon and the evening that willpower dies down. I may not eat that cookie in the morning, but in the evening C is for cookie and that is good enough for me. Just call me the Cookie Monster.

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, I wake up every morning, Kevin, at 4:00 a.m. every morning no matter where I am in the world. I travel globally and I adjust my time clock before I get out there. I wake up at 4:00 a.m. I meditate from 4:00 to 5:00. I work out from 5:00 to 6:00. And then I clean up breakfast, take my son out to school, and then my day starts from there, and I go to bed at 8:30.

But I created that habit because I knew that willpower was not going to be enough to get me there. It’ll get me started, but I had to do something long enough until it became a habit. Once it becomes a habit, then you get into the auto mode. They just naturally do it.

Like you don’t have to think when you drive a car or when you turn. It becomes automatic. As you’re driving from home to work, sometimes you’re like, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m home. I don’t remember getting home.” It was just that they were automatically in that mode where they did it so much, they just go through and do it. That’s the key to the New Year’s resolutions that people have. People need to make sure they put a plan in place where they are going to do something long enough to develop a habit.

When you look in my office I have at home, I have a list of all the goals I want to achieve, and then to the right I have what are the habits of the people who would achieve that goal. If I want a multimillion-dollar organization, what are the habits of the people who have a multimillion-dollar organization? I don’t mean just like physical and behavior. I also mean thought. What type of thoughts do they allow to go in their head or they’re putting into their head?

New Year’s resolutions are easy when people look at it from a habitual standpoint. Do you want to double your business? What are the habits of the people who double their business? Maybe they start their day early or maybe they look at revenue generating activities, like I spoke to 10 decision makers today and not just call volume. Anybody can do it, man.

When you stop looking at it like a muscle, look at it more like a battery, and tackle your hardest tasks of the day early on. I try to schedule no serious big time important sales meetings in the afternoon. I try to schedule them all earlier. Very few people are happier at the end of the day. The day is what it is at 4:00. There’s no more optimism. It’s not like the tooth fairy showed up or Santa. The day is just what it is.

Micalizzi: No, no. The countdown begins. Absolutely. Will, I want to ask you the lightning-round question. If you could take all the knowledge and experience you have now, go back to the beginning of your career, and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you tell yourself?

Harris: Keep going. You’re going to make it. The life I have now is exactly what I wanted. It’s exactly what I planned it out to be going back over a decade ago. I would not change my life for anything. I love my wife, I love my kid, I love the fact that we help people all over the world. I do it with my money. I don’t go around asking anybody else for money. I give it from my own heart and it makes me feel good.

There’s nothing I would change. There’s nothing I would do different. For anybody else, if they don’t feel that piece within them, because nobody really wants money, nobody really wants fancy cars or a billion friends. What they really want is peace, and they do all those things thinking that they will get peace.

If somebody else lacks peace, I would say just start being yourself. Because when you’re you, you don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to worry about, “Somebody caught me being me.” No, just be you. That just comes from letting go of the fear that people may not like the real you. If you’re true to yourself, there’s no way that people won’t like you. We were all made in a particular way, so just be yourself. Yeah, I guess if that counts. I ain’t saying my life is perfect, Kevin. I’m just saying that if I go back, I like where I am. So I would just say, “Keep going.”

Micalizzi: No, that’s fantastic. You know what you wanted your life to be like and you’ve gone after it. That’s phenomenal. I think a lot of people, they haven’t given it that long term-thought. They’ll set the vision for their work and for other things but not their life holistically. I think that’s phenomenal.

Harris: Thank you. People have to understand, they can’t be too tough on themselves. There’s a lot of traps in life. They wake up one day and they realize, “I am not the person that I wanted to be.” It all starts with a little bad habit that they keep reinforcing versus getting off that track and going in the right way.

Micalizzi: Understood. Will, thank you so much for joining me today.

Harris: My pleasure, Kevin. It was just awesome. I’ll come back anytime. I didn’t tell you that your questions were great, either, but they were all cool questions.

Micalizzi: Thanks.

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