On this episode of CTW, join Brandon Lee as we celebrate with Amy Franko, founder and president of The Impact Instruction Group based in Columbus Ohio. Going through a technology transformation can be a challenge for companies big and small. Learn from Amy on how they helped closed the biggest deal of their company’s history and what she learned from the experience.
Amy Franko, Keynote Speaker, Consultant and Author, works with growing, value-leading companies at the intersection of B2B sales effectiveness, leadership and learning. She helps people step into their best leadership roles, and build sales teams that are highly engaged and effective to create sustainable growth and long-term profitable customers.
Brandon Lee: Hey, everybody. It’s Brandon Lee and welcome back to Celebrate The WINS. I am so excited that you’re here. If you have been watching, you will notice I have a backdrop now. I have the green screen and my California roots were showing this morning so I’ve got the San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge behind me. I have my friend Amy Franko with us.
Amy Franko: Hello.
Brandon Lee: Amy, how are you doing today?
Amy Franko: I’m good. How are you doing?
Brandon Lee: I am doing well. So everybody. Let me introduce here. This is Amy Franko and she is the founder and the president of Impact Instruction Group and you’re based in Columbus, Ohio.
Amy Franko: Yes, I am.
Brandon Lee: Well, welcome to Celebrate The WINS. Are you ready to celebrate and have a good time having a conversation?
Amy Franko: Yeah, I’m ready to rock and roll. Let’s go.
Brandon Lee: All right. Let’s go. Well, first of all, Amy, because I love to just throw softballs at everybody and let them promote themselves. Tell us a little bit about you and your business and how you got here to your business.
Amy Franko: All right. So a little bit about myself, so Amy Franko from Columbus, Ohio. I’m originally from Cleveland. Spent my whole life born and raised and building a business in Ohio. My background is selling and technology and so I’ve had the good fortune to be able to start a business 10 years ago that combines all of my loves around learning, leadership, selling and so I play in a couple of different spaces now. First is in sales performance. So I work with organizations who want to look at their sales strategy. They want to upscale their selling teams and I work with them to help them accomplish those things. Then usually that will lead into a conversation around leader development which is something I’m so passionate about. I just think that leadership is this choice that we get to make everyday and it doesn’t matter what title you have. We all get to choose and so I-
Brandon Lee: Do you get to help people make more money and be better leaders. That’s your job? You get to do that?
Amy Franko: Yeah, it’s a pretty good gig.
Brandon Lee: That’s not a bad gig at all and people you to do this.
Amy Franko: They do, yeah.
Brandon Lee: Here’s the rules, five questions, 18 minutes or less so we don’t bore people, right? So question number one is is sales easier or more difficult now than it was 10 years ago?
Amy Franko: As I thought about this question, I wanted to answer both. But I’m going to say easier and here’s why. Because I think that the social technologies and the things that we have at our fingertips, they can make us better at selling, at building relationships and it all just matters in how we use them and how we think about it and how we use them. I don’t think I would have been as successful in starting and building a business without the social technologies that are available but I still know and believe and I’ve been successful with building relationships. To me, it comes down to the fundamentals of building relationships and it’s something that I like to think I have a natural, kind of a natural bent toward building relationships but also building it as a skill.
Brandon Lee: Awesome. Awesome. What I love hearing about that too is one of the conversations that we’ve been having here and I’ve been having within my network overall is social selling is really just building relationships. It’s just doing it on this thing. I’ve got LinkedIn pulled up right here, right? It’s doing it on there and what I love is that’s going to transition us right into your next question. Now, I love the win that get to celebrate with you. Can you tell us about the win that you want to celebrate and why it’s so important for you that it was celebrated?
Amy Franko: Yeah. So the win that I would love to celebrate is a large client that we brought on board a little over a year and a half ago. They’re in the insurance and banking space. They’re going through a technology transformation and they brought me and my team on board to help design and develop all the training that would support both their clients and support their internal folks in making this transition. I think the reason why it’s so important why I want to celebrate it as a win is that it was the biggest deal that we’d ever won in the history of my company and it brought us to this whole new level of sophistication and helped to show that A, small companies can compete just as much as the big boys can for this kinds of opportunities and that we could really bring the right talents to the table to make it happen and we could create a really happy, raving customer and turn that into more successes down the road so that’s why I want to celebrate that one.
Brandon Lee: All of those sound awesome. So we’re going to do the happy dance and celebrate, celebrate Impact.
Amy Franko: All right. I like the happy dance.
Brandon Lee: There you go. All right. So I heard you say a lot of things and what did well or why you want to celebrate it and what you did well in that. Largest client ever, that’s awesome. You told me something earlier today about the effort it takes to close a big client as compared to the small client. Tell us a little bit about that because I think there’s a lot of times that businesses and we’ve had … I’ve had guests from big enterprise companies. I’ve got somebody coming on in a few days, we’re recording it from SAP and then I have others with SMBs like yourself. But I love the insight and the learning that you had through this project. Do you want to share that? You know what I’m referring to in our earlier conversation?
Amy Franko: Yeah. Yeah, I do. I think the most valuable thing that I learned was that it takes as much effort to pursue and win a smaller deal as it does to pursue and win a larger deal. I was working less pursuing and winning this larger deal than I was on some of the smaller deals. That was a huge aha moment for me.
Brandon Lee: Yeah. Amy, and that right there, I love that. That is something worth celebrating right there because even if your net margin was the same, right, your dollar value was much bigger because you went after a much bigger client and what I heard you say was you were working less, right? You said earlier it was, I mean, it had its moments of course but overall it was less stressful than working with someone smaller.
Amy Franko: Absolutely. I think it’s a huge lesson for anyone who’s more in that SMB space. If you’re afraid to go after larger clients because you think it’s going to be too much work or those larger deals, that was a huge mindset shift for me after we had won that and I went through the experience of delivering on it. The delivery on that big deal wasn’t any more work than the delivery on a really small deal. I think the other thing too and I think this speaks to the power of relationships, it also created opportunity not just for me but for the people on my team. There was this kind of ripple effect of success by me being willing to sort off step out of my own comfort zone and pursue these bigger deals.
Brandon Lee: That’s great, that’s great. Well, thanks for sharing that. Because I think all of us, we need those reminders at times that stepping out and going big, it really doesn’t take much more effort than stepping out and going medium to small.
Amy Franko: Right, exactly.
Brandon Lee: Yeah, very cool. So what else did you do well on this process? I know you’ve shared a few things with me but what did you do really well in this?
Amy Franko: Yes, I think there were a couple of things and kind of pointing back toward the social selling aspect of the conversation, my relationship with the decision maker totally started on LinkedIn.
Brandon Lee: Wait, wait, wait. Repeat that.
Amy Franko: Yeah, my relationship with the decision maker totally started on LinkedIn. That’s where it all began. It began with me and a little bit of prospecting to figure out that this person was a potential decision maker and to reach out and to start to build a relationship on LinkedIn. That doesn’t mean selling. That means really being genuine and wanting to get to know this person and hopefully getting to add value to this person over time.
Brandon Lee: Wait, wait, wait. Did you say that you genuinely reached out through LinkedIn and actually built a relationship and didn’t just try to sell them something after a pretend request to build a relationship?
Amy Franko: Yeah. Right, isn’t that funny how that works?
Brandon Lee: Gosh, and it actually worked. You actually closed your largest deal by doing that. Interesting.
Amy Franko: It wasn’t like the next day or the day after either.
Brandon Lee: Yeah. There we go everybody. Listen up.
Amy Franko: All right.
Brandon Lee: This social selling stuff works.
Amy Franko: It works over time.
Brandon Lee: It just has to be genuine and actually build relationships. You have to get this care about people and build relationships.
Amy Franko: Yeah.
Brandon Lee: Okay, I had to illustrate that a little bit in light of in the conversations that you and I have had about. We met at Sales 3.0 conference. We’ve talked a little bit about, I’m speaking at the sales enablement conference in a couple of weeks. The topic that I get to be a part of is on social selling and is it really valuable, does it really work and now I have Amy Franko’s example to share that this stuff works. So what is your advise? You reached out to this person on LinkedIn and I want to focus on this a little bit. We’re going to get into question four and five.
Amy Franko: Yeah, sure.
Brandon Lee: But what is your advise on using LinkedIn to reach out and build relationships? Because I’m sure you have others that you’ve reached out, you have relationships and maybe they’ve never bought something from you but you still have those. So what’s your advise on how you use LinkedIn or Facebook in building relationships?
Amy Franko: Yeah, sure. So for myself, I tend to focus in LinkedIn more so because I spend time in sort of the B2B type of environment but I think that these strategies could also translate to Facebook as well. So for myself, first I’m intentional about who I’d like to reach out to. I use LinkedIn sales navigator as well as the regular LinkedIn tool. So I’m searching on title and I’m looking for people that I could potentially build a relationship with. So you have to kind of start with a pool of people that you think could be decision makers or they’re people that you’d like to build a relationship with. So I start there. The thing that’s really helped me though is beyond that is crafting individual messages. I never send any kind of vanilla message on LinkedIn if I can ever help it, even if it’s an introduction request. I take some time to personalize it and I will at least see where I might have a connection with that person before reaching to them. That makes a huge difference in just getting rate to get connected.
Brandon Lee: Yeah, absolutely. Good.
Amy Franko: Yeah. Then I look for ways to bring the relationship offline where I can, is there a way that I can be a resource for that person and by being a resource, coming at it from the perspective that I may not get anything in return and that’s totally okay. But you have to kind of make peace with that, that you’re a resource without always getting something in return.
Brandon Lee: Absolutely.
Amy Franko: And finding those ways to add value to that person and taking the relationship offline where it makes sense.
Brandon Lee: Yeah, that’s good. I always come back to one of the many famous Zig Ziglar quotes about you can get everything you want in life if you just help enough get what they want in life.
Amy Franko: Yeah.
Brandon Lee: Meaning, you get what you give, right? Give and shall be given.
Amy Franko: Yeah, if I ever need to get out of my own head, bad day, the negativity, whatever it is, someone, I don’t even remember who taught me this but if somebody had said to me, do something for somebody else, whether it’s make an introduction, volunteer somewhere, wherever that is, get out of your own head by doing something for somebody else and I think that speaks to that quote.
Brandon Lee: So question number four, ready?
Amy Franko: Yeah.
Brandon Lee: Where are you going to improve?
Amy Franko: I would definitely improve by expanding further into the client sooner. This is a big organization, lots of complexity, lot of business units, lots of decision makers. You could spend a lot of time just breaking down this organization to figure out, “Okay, where to go next?” I tend to be somebody who loves the new business and loves that win. So now I need to get better at landing and expanding and so my next steps in this particular client is, okay, where can I go from here? Where can I build on this success and create more success and more momentum because it is easier to grow within a client you’ve already built the relationships with and you’ve had some wins with versus always net new.
Brandon Lee: Yeah, always net new is a very painful day.
Amy Franko: Yeah, so that’s where I would improve.
Brandon Lee: Landing and expanding, I like that term. I’m going to look forward to you sharing with me your new system because you’ve used my favorite word several times in our conversations which is the best non-word ever which is systematize.
Amy Franko: Right.
Brandon Lee: How are you going to systematize that landing and expanding? That’s the area you want to improve upon.
Amy Franko: Yeah. I think the systemization, systematizing whatever the word is, I think that’s the key because it’s for myself anyway. It’s easy to continue reinventing the wheel. I find myself there so the the systematizing piece I know is something that I can get better at.
Brandon Lee: I think mentally it’s easy for us to keep doing that and we forget sometimes to land and expand, systematize this so that we can go from the initial sale and add more, go wider, go deeper with the existing clients.
Amy Franko: Right.
Brandon Lee: Yeah, absolutely.
Amy Franko: Yeah, going back to our earlier part of our conversation where we talked about those connections being genuine and the value being genuine, systematizing can be completely genuine.
Brandon Lee: Do you have any example of that of some way that you systematized your relationship building but yet it still is genuine?
Amy Franko: I’ve loosely systematized it if you will and that I tend to follow the same type of a process where I’m looking at who would I like to build relationships with. I’m looking for something personal or something I can connect with them with and I’m always personalizing my messages and I’m always looking for how can I take that relationship offline. So I would say from a prospecting standpoint, that kind of systemization has helped me when I’m in a client, think that the one thing that I always do is I will work with happy clients and happy decision makers and I will ask them could they introduce me to or could they give me some advise on how to build relationships in other parts of the organization.
Brandon Lee: How do you systematize that? How do you trigger that? How do you not get three months afterwards then go, “I forgot,” and then have to go back and try to get back in there?
Amy Franko: Yeah. So in the real world, sometimes that time goes by and for me it’s kind of getting past the discomfort and saying, “Okay, I know this time has gone by but I am still going to.” I’m going to reach out and pick up the phone. I’m going to work on scheduling time with this person and I will find a way to work it into that conversation.
Brandon Lee: What’s one thing very concrete that you’ll do next time that you’ve learned from this win, this engagement?
Amy Franko: So what I would do the next time is make sure that I have vetted all of my talents. I had a couple of new people on the team. I would have had more vetting upfront to make sure that they were the absolute right fit because I did have to make some changes mid flight to go along with our plane analogy. I had to make some changes mid flight. It did not affect the overall quality of the project or the client relationship but it could have and I want to make sure that that never happens again.
Brandon Lee: Be slow to hire but quick to fire.
Amy Franko: Yeah.
Brandon Lee: Right? When you find out that, hey, we missed this one. It’s the wrong person. They really don’t belong on our bus. This isn’t working out. Be okay moving quickly because the longer you wait, usually what I find is when people’s instincts are, “Hey, this isn’t working,” it’s not going to work either. So it’s time to move on. That’s kind of what I heard you say there. If you’ve watched any of our Celebrate The WINS episode is that I always throw the surprise question.
Amy Franko: Oh no.
Brandon Lee: It usually comes through the things that we know about each other. Okay, here’s what I know about you and the question I want to ask which is you’ve got this big Hawaii trip coming soon.
Amy Franko: Yeah.
Brandon Lee: What are you most excited about seeing in Hawaii? Because I think you said this was your first trip, first trip to Hawaii.
Amy Franko: Yeah, it is our first trip, yeah.
Brandon Lee: Okay, what are you most excited to do and see in Hawaii? I threw you an easy one.
Amy Franko: Yeah, you did throw me a softball. I love being outdoors and so I am excited to just … I’m excited to tour the island and I’m excited to do a, there’s some biking and hiking tours. I’m excited to go do one of those and just see all the scenery.
Brandon Lee: Awesome. Good for you. Well, I hope you and your husband have a great trip. Enjoy it. Thank you so much for being a guest on Celebrate The WINS. I really appreciate it. Everybody, this is Amy Franko and Amy, actually, before we go. How would people contact you if they wanted to get in touch with you?
Amy Franko: So, first you can head out to the website which is impactinstruction.com. You can learn more about me and connect up there. Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. Amy Franko on LinkedIn and Amy Franko on Twitter.
Brandon Lee: Awesome, Amy. Thank you so much. Everybody else, thank you for being part of Celebrate The WINS. We will see you next time on Celebrate The WINS. Have a fantastic. I will talk to you soon.