The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode · 3 years ago

Become a Master Networker by Asking One Question w/ Kevin Ramani

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Kevin Ramani has worked for Nasa. He’s built things with his hands that are currently on Mars.

But years ago he made a switch to something he says is way harder: starting companies.

Kevin is the Founder and Sales Coach at Ramani Ventures a coaching service to help founders and CEOs accelerate success by reaching go-to-market fit and scaling a high performing sales organization. Previously he was the Head of Sales at Close.io a sales workflow optimization tool to help organizations close more deals.

Before finding incredible success with Close.io and his current company, he’s been through the rollercoaster of founding companies that have failed miserably. Now he works with early-stage startup founders to help coach them and build a repeatable sales process.

Kevin has mastered networking with a unique skill that not many put into practice well. In this episode, we talk about the one question Kevin asks to build a robust network, something that listeners can apply to their sales process for much greater success.

Welcome to the sales engagement podcast.This podcast is brought to you by outreach dot ioh the leading sales engagement platformhelping companies, sellers and customer success engaged with buyers and customers in the modernsales era. Check out sales engagementcom for new episodes resources in the book onsales engagement coming soon. Now let's get into today's episode. Hey everyone,welcome back to the sales engagement podcast. I am your host, Jovi Nolo, senior content managing editor at outreach, and we are joined today by KevinRomani, founder and sales coach at Romanti ventures and former head of sales overat closed io, and he has a very unique skill and I've seen itin action in person. He's going to talk about being a master networker,how people can do that, how you can do it authentically and what thatcan mean for your sales process and sales success. But before we get intothat, I'm going to toss it on over to Kevin, who can't introducehimself, tell us a little bit about his background and more about what he'sdoing these days. Kevin, thank you so much for being on the show. Thank you for having me so a little bit about my background. Ihad a very unconventional start. So I started my career as a mechanical engineer, my first job at a school. I went to work for NASA.I can actually say that I've physically built things that are currently on Mars andif you want to know more about that, pign me and I'm happy to talkabout some of the projects that worked on. But after having my startin aerospace, considered it a false start because I decided to do something way, way, way harder and my life went downhill from there because I decidedto start companies and I found it. A couple of companies that failed miserablyuntil I joined up as founding team at what is today close Io, butwas back then a sales as a service business, and we had some moderatesuccess and eventually pivoted to close Eyo and and we had some pretty significant success. So I've been in startups for many,...

...many years. I've I've been primarilyon the sale side, doing just about everything on the sale side,and more recently I started in my own sales coaching business. I work withearly stage founders. Having done the startup the roller coaster more than a fewtimes I decided that a lot of the founders can use help, specially onthe sale side, a lot of coaching and mentoring that can meaningfully move theneedle for them. So primarily work with seed and series a stage startups withthe founders themselves and help make them better sales people and help them build arepeatable sales process. So I know that you said Ping. You if youwant to talk more about March, but I just want to talk a littlebit more about the transition from engineering, the building things that are traveling throughspace, to sales. Like what was that all about? I know yousaid you want to do something harder. How did that? How did thatcome about? Well, I think you didn't blame Richard Branson and Elon Muskfor that. Those have been my heroes for many, many years, andbeing an engineer in aerospace, you tend to work with really large organizations whereyou are a very small piece of that machinery, and I felt that ifI wanted to influence the destiny of the of humanity and make some major thingshappen, I needed to to become an entrepreneur, to learn how to buildbusiness, and so I decided, rather than do all of that. I'mjust going to switch focuses and start a company, which is a lot harderthan being an engineer, I can tell you that. And because you've beendoing all types of sales for so long, you always had had interactions with dozensof, not hundreds of, not thousands of people. So let's jumpright into the meat of this podcast about being a master networker. What doesthat mean to you? Absolutely, you know, after after I left closeI, Oh, I was exploring sort of what I wanted to do withmy life, and you know what the...

...next steps were, and so Istarted reaching out to a few folks, you know, just people that I'veconnected over the years, and I never really done that before. I invariably, as part of my role at close I, I was talking to lotsand lots of people and I always believe in paying it forward, so Ido my best to help as many people as possible, but I never beenback and checked in on people and never, you know, created a network ofpeople that I could help or be helped by. I didn't do anyof that. So when I started to reach out to folks because I wastrying to figure out what I wanted to do, these composition felt a littlebit awkward to me, because I reach out to you cold and and whatthen? What then? I just tell you my story and tell you Ineed help, and that feels very selfish to me. And so I waslike, this is must be something, this supposed to be something about thisthat I can I can do differently. And then I had an idea,and I'm sure it's not the most original idea in the world, but Istarted to employ the idea around, around networking, and had incredible results andto the point where I've been trying to help teach everybody that I know aboutit, and it's made such a big impact for me. Everything I havetoday, everything I've been able to accomplish in building my coaching business to helpinghundreds and hundred of founders, I attribute to that one, one tiny decision, and so I'm excited to talk about that. So it's not all aboutjust knowing a bunch of people right, or, you know, being acquaintanceswith thousands of people. What's kind of the way that you've leveraged and madethose connections so that they work for you, but not only just for you,right, because I think that's a big part of it. Absolutely.So, you know, here's the you start with a blank slate. Everybodyknows somebody right you, as in, if you're starting to do some networkingand you want to go out there and connect with folks and open up opportunitiesfor yourself, well, you know people. You've known and connected with people overthe years. You'll just look through your linkedin profile and facebook and twitter, you recognize a bunch of people like, Oh yeah, I talk to thatperson once, or or I connected...

...with that person in party, orI help them, that was a customer of ours, whatever it might be. So I serve with that. Just go out and reach out to allof them and asked to catch up. Just I sent all of them messagesand said, Hey, would love to catch up with you. You knowI'm in town, or love to buy you coffee. I have a fewchanges that happened my life recently. Had Love to tell you about it andget your feedback or get your advice going forward. That's how I would openthese conversations. But the one thing that's different about it is once you domeet these people and you tell them your life story and you ask them forwhat's up with them, the big difference was, rather than just going aheadand asking for what I needed, I did something different. I asked themwhat they wanted, and that is something remarkably not a lot of people do. People offered to help only after somebody offers to help them or has beenhelpful to them. People don't go out of the way offering to help.So that's how I started the conversations, or the part of the about ahelp. I started by asking them what they wanted, and it wasn't necessarilysomething that I could help with, but I just ask them, what doyou want? And guess what? Everybody wants something. Everybody wants something,and you can ask this question in many different ways. What do you needright now? What do you want right now? What do you care about? What are you spending niney percent of your time thinking about? What's thebiggest challenge you're facing? What's a worry that you have? Now, thismight sound like a sales conversation where I'm trying to figure out what you wantso I can sell you. That's now. That's not it at all. I'mjust trying to understand where are you struggling? Where could you need help? Most of the time people are taken aback the answer. Usually get ohwow, thanks for asking. That's usually the first thing. People go like, Oh wow, because nobody asks them this. Everybody ask for help first. So I asked. I offer help first, and usually people tell mewhat they want, what they're struggling with, and it's usually well, we're lookingto hire people right now, or I'm looking to find people to interviewfrom my podcast, or, you know,...

...we're trying to figure out new marketingprocess and I need to talk to some marketing experts or a fundraising rightnow. Do you know any VC's? Invariably they needs help with something.And now the beautiful thing is if you've gone through your list of everybody youknow and you made you know, you put that together, you might knowsomebody who is exactly the type of person they're looking for. So what youdo then is you ask them. You mentioned those people and you go hey, I could connect you with these three people with that. Would that behelpful to you? Now, before we continue here, there's an important partof this that everybody needs to realize. This is always how most of theseconversations go. If you ever gone to somebody and ask for a reference orreferral, not a reference, but if you actually ask for referral, likeif you into a customer and said Hey, can you refer me to other peoplethat you think we could we could help, invariably people answer the question, Hmm, I can't think of somebody right now off the top of myhead, but I'll keep you in mind. And nine out of ten times thatperson never makes you are a referral after saying that. Why is that? Well, the reason that is is that when you ask somebody for areferral, they intend to help you, they want to help you, butyou're not their priority and you put them on the spot by making them wantanything about this and they brush it off, go I'll do it later. It'sjust a form of procrastination. And then they never do it. Theynever do it because their life is more important. Many other things, manyother priorities take over and they never ever have a chance to think about this. So you never end up getting their referral that they need. So evenwhen you offer to help somebody and say hey, I can make you someI can connect you with people you know, it takes some time to think aboutit to do that. So what I do in these moments is Iactually stop and I'll brain storm in that chat and make a sincere effort togo through people I know that might be a good fit. And as ifyou even give it two or three minutes of worth of time of just thinking, people come up. Oh you know...

...what, I know somebody who canconnect you with. If you make that sincere effort, the other person actuallyfeels really deeply grateful because a you're not just making you're not paying lip serviceto I'm going to help you with connections. Know you actually take the time andeffort to make that that effort then and you make them real connection.You offer them real people that you've brainstorm right then and there. Okay,yeah, and I can speaking experience here and talking with you a couple monthsago when we were talking about this podcast and you ask what can I helpyou with? I said, yes, can can you help me with findingsome guests? And we thought about it right then there, and then youare you sent out the emails and connect me with the people right that thenthere. So I mean I saw an action all of our listeners and itactually works. And you know what, at first I thought, well,what's his angle's what's he getting out of this? Right? Is this?Is this authentic, or is this building some sort of obligation? So whatdo you say to people that are saying, okay, this is like your mindhacking people here with putting them in debt? There's two ways to lookat everything. There's a cynical mind that's going to look at something in andsay, well, you have a negative angle. Okay, let's be honest. I do want help, but I don't expect it. I'd like itif you help me, great. If you couldn't help me, I'm stillhappy to help you because, if anything, I built a great relationship with you. Yeah, absolutely, and I that wasn't try. I'm not tryingto poke holes in your process here, because I know you're an authentic guy. But there are some naysayers out there. They're like, all right, itwas just great and all, but you know, there's got to besome angle to this. But okay, now, let's say they're listeners arethinking this sounds nice, like I want to build a network of people whoare always helping each other, and you know, obviously that's going to bemutually beneficial. You already said start with the list now, do you actuallyhave a list like it? You have a Google doc of here are somepeople. I know that and they are interested in X. I have mylist in close eye. But but yes,...

I have a list of folks thatthat I you know, when I was for starting out and I madea less than that. I keep a diligent list of everybody I connect withand I make notes of every conversation that I have so that I know whatwe talked about and kind of what a next step is. So let's say, then, in that scenario, I took the time to brainstorm and Ioffered to make some intros. I will write them down as tasks and I'll, immediately after the call, make sure and make the introductions to that personthat I promised. Or if whether it's introductions, sometimes they actually need helpwith something that you can help with. So then I'll try to help inthat conversation or schedule a suffort called to help with that conversation. But that'sthe next key component to to doing this is is following through with everything thatyou are offering to do. Because again, how many times have you asked somethingsomething from somebody? They said that they would do it and then theydon't follow through and it's just one of those things where it's not a priority. So people didn't do it. So I make it, I make ita point that if I promise something to somebody, I will follow through withit no matter what, even if it's if it's difficult. So I makeit a point not to to offer things that I can't do and therefore,when I follow through with it, people hold me in high regard and they'llrespect me for having done that and then I can ask for help. Atthat point, once I've made the genuine effort, I go quick. WhoDo you know that might be able to help you in my situation? Suation, and now, just because I set their brainstorming it, they're not justgoing to get pay me lip service. They're going to brainstorm and make areal effort to doing it, especially at if, after the call they geta bunch of introductions to people that I promised them that I would connect them. And what kind of success is you seen with people implementing this outside ofyourself? For sales, right, I mean referrals are powerful, recommendations arepowerful. What kind of success you've been saying? What I've seen is thatI don't have some specific numbers, but I do know that having previously donejust the hey, who do you know? Can you help us out? Andpeople go yeah, well, I'll...

...try to connect you. In thepast I found that maybe one in five, maybe one in ten, people willsomewhere in that range, will actually follow through and help make introductions.And now I have I have a network that, you know, every otherperson that I talked to connect me with somebody, and so there's a very, very and not only once. They'll do it on over and over againor and over. They'll make me more and more connections. And now Idon't go out and look at my list and try to reach out to peoplebecause I'm constantly just connecting with people that are my existing network is connected withit and I make sure to keep in touch with existing network two and catchup with them time to time and again, every time I catch up with themI ask them, so what do you need help with right now,and what do you hear from most people right I mean we're in the salesspace. What are some of the things that people need help with the most? When you have these conversations, it is always the dependent context. Sojust through doing this. I start with connecting with just folks who are startof founders, and then invariably some of the sort of founders who I helpedconnecting me with the VC's and other executives and advisors and mentors in all sortsof different networks, and then some of them would connect me with sales guysor, you know, just marketing people, and everybody I connected with then becamepart of my networks. So then so when somebody's hiring for a salesperson, I know a good salesperson because that person was connected to me by somebodyelse, and so I can start to create my own personal network of folksthat I'm connecting with. But it does depends if I talk to ABC,the VC ones, Hey, who what are some good companies you know thatare looking to to raise money, because you know, obviously they want toinvest in great startups. And if I've got a started up and then Imake a connection, they're now grateful to me and they're connecting me with otherfounders that I can coach. Or if I'm talking to founders who are lookingto hire folks, that's one area, or founders are looking for help fromsome advisors. I can connect them with...

...advisors. And this may sound likea joke question, and it kind of is, but this sounds like youlive your entire life with this mantra right, with this kind of if I helppeople authentically and really do try and help and then it'll be paid backto me in some way or fashion. Do you ever D I up tolike a drive through at a fast food place and they go how can Ihelp you, and you go, no, how can I help you? Ha, ha ha. That's funny. You know, believe it or not, I try to help anyone at any time that I can not, ofcourse, I've never tried to done what do specifically ask? But you know, just the other day buddy online called me, and you know, thisis part of my college group of friends and none of us ever helped eachother. We're only all we ever do is make fun of each other andtry to put each other down. That's what we do. You know thatwe didn't college. That relationship hasn't really graduated. Unfortunately. This this veryone specific group of people. But he called he said, you know what, I just quick my job and I don't know what I'm doing and whyI did it. Is I told them. Well, you know, he said, I'm thinking about doing consulting. So then, right on the call, I spent the next hour outline to him exactly how he would go aboutcreating a sales process for consulting and how he would go about creating a networkfor consulting and get get his first two clients and what things he should thinkabout, what thinks he should not worry about. And he never anticipated meoffering to help there, or even taking the time to do it, becausenone of our other groups of friends would have taken the time to done that, even though many of them are professional and and very, very capable.And so he was taken aback because like, well, how, why and howdid you just decide to help me? And like well, I want youto succeed, I want you to do really, really well, andI never expect anything back from it. But I did it anyway, andI know that I do believe in good car mine. I do believe thatyou know, a reputation. I think repetition probably one of the most importantthings, and if you have a reputation of being somebody who's deeply helpful,people just help you and then, and even if they don't doesn't matter.Yeah, reputation is solid, absolutely,...

...yeah, and I think that's that'sa big positive in sales. If you have a positive reputation, you actuallyare consultative, looking to help people, you're going to be successful. SoI think that's a great takeaway. But if there was another takeaway from thisentire conversation, Kevin, what would that be? What can, what shouldour listeners take away from this? I think the key thing here is,well, I think that that everybody wants something and you should not hesitate toto ask that, because even if you think you are not capable of helpingsomebody with somebody else, you should just ask anyway, because just just findthe act of asking, you already set yourself apart. That's great. Ithink that's that's totally true, right, because most most people just go outand they go exactly for what they want and they don't realize that that personthat they're asking for something form probably has desires and one's and needs as well. So that's that's not just a great thing for being a successful salesperson,but it's great for just being a good person in general. So thank youfor that, Kevin. Everybody, everybody yeah, yeah, now people wantto get a hold you, Kevin. How can they do that? Well, they can email me, email at Kevin Romanicom, or they could justgo to my website, which is Kevin Romanicom and it's our am and ICOM, and they can just book a call with me. I Do Free Coachingsessions with folks who want to just just chat and get some help. Evenif they don't become a client, it's totally fine. And one final questionfor you. When you do these things, when you do these podcast interviews,how many people reach out to you asking what can I do for you? How can I help you? You know what this yeah, this isyet to happen, but I'm sure that one of these days it will andand if we can, when it does, I'll truly feel grateful that I didsomething for for the universe. Well, wonderful, Kevin. Thank you somuch for being on the show today. I really appreciate it and I amgoing to pining you later to talk...

...a little bit about Mars because I'msuper interested in that stuff and I've I was thinking about how to work workin like space, puns and stuff to this interview, but I just couldn'tdo it my head too cheesy, but I'd love to talk more about that. So thank you for me on the show. Thank you for all ofour listeners for tuning in once again and we will see you next time onthe sales engagement podcast. Thank you. This was another episode of the salesengagement podcast. Join US at sales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and thebook on sales engagement coming soon. To get the most out of your salesengagement strategy, make sure to check out our reach die Oh, the leadingsales engagement platform. See you on the next episode.

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