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 platform helping companies, sellers and customer success engaged with buyers and customers in the modern sales era. Check out sales engagementcom for new episodes resources in the book on sales 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 Kevin Romani, founder and sales coach at Romanti ventures and former head of sales over at closed io, and he has a very unique skill and I've seen it in 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 that can mean for your sales process and sales success. But before we get into that, I'm going to toss it on over to Kevin, who can't introduce himself, tell us a little bit about his background and more about what he's doing these days. Kevin, thank you so much for being on the show. Thank you for having me so a little bit about my background. I had 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 and if you want to know more about that, pign me and I'm happy to talk about some of the projects that worked on. But after having my start in 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 decided to start companies and I found it. A couple of companies that failed miserably until I joined up as founding team at what is today close Io, but was back then a sales as a service business, and we had some moderate success 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 primarily on the sale side, doing just about everything on the sale side, and more recently I started in my own sales coaching business. I work with early stage founders. Having done the startup the roller coaster more than a few times I decided that a lot of the founders can use help, specially on the sale side, a lot of coaching and mentoring that can meaningfully move the needle for them. So primarily work with seed and series a stage startups with the founders themselves and help make them better sales people and help them build a repeatable sales process. So I know that you said Ping. You if you want to talk more about March, but I just want to talk a little bit more about the transition from engineering, the building things that are traveling through space, to sales. Like what was that all about? I know you said you want to do something harder. How did that? How did that come about? Well, I think you didn't blame Richard Branson and Elon Musk for that. Those have been my heroes for many, many years, and being an engineer in aerospace, you tend to work with really large organizations where you are a very small piece of that machinery, and I felt that if I wanted to influence the destiny of the of humanity and make some major things happen, I needed to to become an entrepreneur, to learn how to build business, and so I decided, rather than do all of that. I'm just going to switch focuses and start a company, which is a lot harder than being an engineer, I can tell you that. And because you've been doing all types of sales for so long, you always had had interactions with dozens of, not hundreds of, not thousands of people. So let's jump right into the meat of this podcast about being a master networker. What does that mean to you? Absolutely, you know, after after I left close I, Oh, I was exploring sort of what I wanted to do with my life, and you know what the...

...next steps were, and so I started reaching out to a few folks, you know, just people that I've connected over the years, and I never really done that before. I invariably, as part of my role at close I, I was talking to lots and lots of people and I always believe in paying it forward, so I do my best to help as many people as possible, but I never been back and checked in on people and never, you know, created a network of people that I could help or be helped by. I didn't do any of that. So when I started to reach out to folks because I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, these composition felt a little bit awkward to me, because I reach out to you cold and and what then? What then? I just tell you my story and tell you I need help, and that feels very selfish to me. And so I was like, this is must be something, this supposed to be something about this that 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 I started to employ the idea around, around networking, and had incredible results and to the point where I've been trying to help teach everybody that I know about it, and it's made such a big impact for me. Everything I have today, everything I've been able to accomplish in building my coaching business to helping hundreds 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 about just knowing a bunch of people right, or, you know, being acquaintances with thousands of people. What's kind of the way that you've leveraged and made those 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. Everybody knows somebody right you, as in, if you're starting to do some networking and you want to go out there and connect with folks and open up opportunities for yourself, well, you know people. You've known and connected with people over the 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 that person once, or or I connected...

...with that person in party, or I help them, that was a customer of ours, whatever it might be. So I serve with that. Just go out and reach out to all of them and asked to catch up. Just I sent all of them messages and said, Hey, would love to catch up with you. You know I'm in town, or love to buy you coffee. I have a few changes that happened my life recently. Had Love to tell you about it and get your feedback or get your advice going forward. That's how I would open these conversations. But the one thing that's different about it is once you do meet these people and you tell them your life story and you ask them for what's up with them, the big difference was, rather than just going ahead and asking for what I needed, I did something different. I asked them what 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 been helpful 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 a help. I started by asking them what they wanted, and it wasn't necessarily something that I could help with, but I just ask them, what do you want? And guess what? Everybody wants something. Everybody wants something, and you can ask this question in many different ways. What do you need right 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 the biggest challenge you're facing? What's a worry that you have? Now, this might sound like a sales conversation where I'm trying to figure out what you want so I can sell you. That's now. That's not it at all. I'm just trying to understand where are you struggling? Where could you need help? Most of the time people are taken aback the answer. Usually get oh wow, 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 me what they want, what they're struggling with, and it's usually well, we're looking to hire people right now, or I'm looking to find people to interview from my podcast, or, you know,...

...we're trying to figure out new marketing process and I need to talk to some marketing experts or a fundraising right now. 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 you know and you made you know, you put that together, you might know somebody who is exactly the type of person they're looking for. So what you do 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 be helpful to you? Now, before we continue here, there's an important part of this that everybody needs to realize. This is always how most of these conversations go. If you ever gone to somebody and ask for a reference or referral, not a reference, but if you actually ask for referral, like if you into a customer and said Hey, can you refer me to other people that 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 my head, but I'll keep you in mind. And nine out of ten times that person never makes you are a referral after saying that. Why is that? Well, the reason that is is that when you ask somebody for a referral, they intend to help you, they want to help you, but you're not their priority and you put them on the spot by making them want anything about this and they brush it off, go I'll do it later. It's just a form of procrastination. And then they never do it. They never do it because their life is more important. Many other things, many other 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 even when you offer to help somebody and say hey, I can make you some I can connect you with people you know, it takes some time to think about it to do that. So what I do in these moments is I actually stop and I'll brain storm in that chat and make a sincere effort to go through people I know that might be a good fit. And as if you 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 can connect you with. If you make that sincere effort, the other person actually feels really deeply grateful because a you're not just making you're not paying lip service to I'm going to help you with connections. Know you actually take the time and effort 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 months ago when we were talking about this podcast and you ask what can I help you with? I said, yes, can can you help me with finding some guests? And we thought about it right then there, and then you are you sent out the emails and connect me with the people right that then there. So I mean I saw an action all of our listeners and it actually 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 what do you say to people that are saying, okay, this is like your mind hacking people here with putting them in debt? There's two ways to look at everything. There's a cynical mind that's going to look at something in and say, well, you have a negative angle. Okay, let's be honest. I do want help, but I don't expect it. I'd like it if you help me, great. If you couldn't help me, I'm still happy to help you because, if anything, I built a great relationship with you. Yeah, absolutely, and I that wasn't try. I'm not trying to 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, it was just great and all, but you know, there's got to be some angle to this. But okay, now, let's say they're listeners are thinking this sounds nice, like I want to build a network of people who are always helping each other, and you know, obviously that's going to be mutually beneficial. You already said start with the list now, do you actually have a list like it? You have a Google doc of here are some people. I know that and they are interested in X. I have my list in close eye. But but yes,...

I have a list of folks that that I you know, when I was for starting out and I made a less than that. I keep a diligent list of everybody I connect with and I make notes of every conversation that I have so that I know what we 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 I offered 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 person that I promised. Or if whether it's introductions, sometimes they actually need help with something that you can help with. So then I'll try to help in that conversation or schedule a suffort called to help with that conversation. But that's the next key component to to doing this is is following through with everything that you are offering to do. Because again, how many times have you asked something something from somebody? They said that they would do it and then they don'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 it a point that if I promise something to somebody, I will follow through with it no matter what, even if it's if it's difficult. So I make it 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'll respect me for having done that and then I can ask for help. At that point, once I've made the genuine effort, I go quick. Who Do 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 just going to get pay me lip service. They're going to brainstorm and make a real effort to doing it, especially at if, after the call they get a 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 of yourself? For sales, right, I mean referrals are powerful, recommendations are powerful. What kind of success you've been saying? What I've seen is that I don't have some specific numbers, but I do know that having previously done just the hey, who do you know? Can you help us out? And people go yeah, well, I'll...

...try to connect you. In the past I found that maybe one in five, maybe one in ten, people will somewhere in that range, will actually follow through and help make introductions. And now I have I have a network that, you know, every other person 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 again or and over. They'll make me more and more connections. And now I don't go out and look at my list and try to reach out to people because I'm constantly just connecting with people that are my existing network is connected with it and I make sure to keep in touch with existing network two and catch up with them time to time and again, every time I catch up with them I 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 sales space. What are some of the things that people need help with the most? When you have these conversations, it is always the dependent context. So just through doing this. I start with connecting with just folks who are start of founders, and then invariably some of the sort of founders who I helped connecting me with the VC's and other executives and advisors and mentors in all sorts of different networks, and then some of them would connect me with sales guys or, you know, just marketing people, and everybody I connected with then became part 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 somebody else, and so I can start to create my own personal network of folks that 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 that are looking to to raise money, because you know, obviously they want to invest in great startups. And if I've got a started up and then I make a connection, they're now grateful to me and they're connecting me with other founders that I can coach. Or if I'm talking to founders who are looking to hire folks, that's one area, or founders are looking for help from some advisors. I can connect them with...

...advisors. And this may sound like a joke question, and it kind of is, but this sounds like you live your entire life with this mantra right, with this kind of if I help people authentically and really do try and help and then it'll be paid back to me in some way or fashion. Do you ever D I up to like a drive through at a fast food place and they go how can I help 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, of course, I've never tried to done what do specifically ask? But you know, just the other day buddy online called me, and you know, this is part of my college group of friends and none of us ever helped each other. We're only all we ever do is make fun of each other and try to put each other down. That's what we do. You know that we didn't college. That relationship hasn't really graduated. Unfortunately. This this very one 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 why I 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 about creating a sales process for consulting and how he would go about creating a network for consulting and get get his first two clients and what things he should think about, what thinks he should not worry about. And he never anticipated me offering to help there, or even taking the time to do it, because none 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 how did you just decide to help me? And like well, I want you to succeed, I want you to do really, really well, and I never expect anything back from it. But I did it anyway, and I know that I do believe in good car mine. I do believe that you know, a reputation. I think repetition probably one of the most important things, 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's a big positive in sales. If you have a positive reputation, you actually are consultative, looking to help people, you're going to be successful. So I think that's a great takeaway. But if there was another takeaway from this entire conversation, Kevin, what would that be? What can, what should our 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 to to ask that, because even if you think you are not capable of helping somebody with somebody else, you should just ask anyway, because just just find the act of asking, you already set yourself apart. That's great. I think that's that's totally true, right, because most most people just go out and they go exactly for what they want and they don't realize that that person that 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 you for that, Kevin. Everybody, everybody yeah, yeah, now people want to get a hold you, Kevin. How can they do that? Well, they can email me, email at Kevin Romanicom, or they could just go 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 Coaching sessions with folks who want to just just chat and get some help. Even if they don't become a client, it's totally fine. And one final question for 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 is yet to happen, but I'm sure that one of these days it will and and if we can, when it does, I'll truly feel grateful that I did something for for the universe. Well, wonderful, Kevin. Thank you so much for being on the show today. I really appreciate it and I am going to pining you later to talk...

...a little bit about Mars because I'm super interested in that stuff and I've I was thinking about how to work work in like space, puns and stuff to this interview, but I just couldn't do 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 of our listeners for tuning in once again and we will see you next time on the sales engagement podcast. Thank you. This was another episode of the sales engagement podcast. Join US at sales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and the book on sales engagement coming soon. To get the most out of your sales engagement strategy, make sure to check out our reach die Oh, the leading sales engagement platform. See you on the next episode.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (331)