Everyone wants to be a HERO! The Sales Professionals move from hero to guide‌

In the Hero Story of sales the customer should always be made the hero.  There is no place in the story for two hero’s, the sales professional needs to identify the villain our hero is facing and take up the position of the trusted guide.

The one thing that so many sales professionals struggle with when we do coaching is the move from a hero mindset to a guide.  Let me explain, in all good stories there is the hero that has a villain or a problem the hero needs to overcome.  The hero then meets a guide who helps them or gives them the tools to defeat the villain.  The guide is the one who identifies the plan which will help the hero defeat the villain and progress to a happy ending and helps him avoid a tragedy.

  • Hero Story

In our Professional Selling Course, we use a classic example of the movie Karate Kid.  Daniel moves to a new town and starts at a new school.  Daniel finds himself the target and gets beaten up by a group of bullies who are karate students at the Cobra Kai dojo.  Daniel meets Mr Miyagi an unassuming repairman who just happens to be a martial arts master.  Mr Miyagi becomes his guide the thing to note is that not once does Mr Miyagi tell Daniel what an amazing fighter he was or all his accomplishments he might of achieved.  The plan he puts together to train Daniel seems a bit strange, until you see how it all comes together.  We see the results in the epic fight at the end when through all the pain Daniel digs deep and finishes the fight with the amazing crane kick.  

  • Daniel

How do we know when a sales professional is being the hero?  It’s when they make the whole conversation about them.  What a good sales person they are, talk about the products they sell, all their accomplishments.  I know this sounds harsh but your customer doesn’t actually care, they want to know how you can help them solve a problem or defeat a villain.  

I listened to a resent podcast where Tim was interviewed by David Watts from Watts Involved, they discussed the changes in sales just in this year.  The big move as Tim explained for the sales professional is moving towards empathy.  This fits into the role of the guide, how can I help you? 

In order to remain relevant in the market we need to make the whole conversation about our customer we will never be relevant if we remain the hero and everything is about us.

The focus of the guide:

1.     Researching our customer making sure we understand their challenges going as far as understanding the industry they are in.

2.     We only get into the world of our customer when we ask the right questions.

3.     Assisting and offering help to gain trust and build relationship before selling.

4.     We build the plan for our customer based on insight.


5.     It’s all about helping our customers avoid a tragedy and achieving a happy ending.



How to maximise the sales and marketing impact of LinkedIn – Lessons from IBM

LinkedIn offers a powerful platform for communicating your value proposition and having meaningful one-to-one conversations with a focused pool of prospects. And the good news it’s at a fraction of the cost and particularly effective. One of the companies who have done this the best is IBM – apply these lessons and watch your sales grow.

2020 has made a total mess of traditional marketing and sales approaches. It has become almost impossible to do any kind of meaningful lead generation. Traditional marketing is expensive and often ineffective, and e-mails and cold calls are going unanswered. 

Tough times create opportunities for the brave. What it takes is an entrepreneurial spirit that allows you to be in touch with current trends and dramatically changing direction if required.

Spencer Johnson’s classic “Who Moved My Cheese”, describes four mice whose cheese one day suddenly disappears. Sniff and Scurry take off immediately and after a while find new cheese.

Hem and Haw refuse to leave their station, desperately hoping their cheese will one day come back.


This is not the time to wait for things to return to normal – even before Covid-19, customers were limiting access to salespeople and preferring to do their own research online. Winning over new customers requires oodles of empathy, clear sales messaging and clever use of technology.


Plenty of other articles have extolled the benefits of LinkedIn as a tool to develop meaningful business relationships, and there is plenty of research that quantifies the value LinkedIn offers so for the sake of brevity let’s focus rather on what we can learn from IBM.

The IBM experience

Imagine if you had 200 000 people all marketing on your behalf and communicating messages you have written for them. Let’s assume those 200 000 people each have 200 contacts – you are theoretically reaching 40 000 000 people.

That’s exactly how it happens at IBM

  • As part of IBM’s on-boarding programme, you are provided with LinkedIn account, complete with profile written for you. (You also have a Twitter account provisioned for you.)
  • The marketing department (along with an army of consultants) then builds marketing resources specific to your role and the potential audience with whom you generally communicate.
  • Employees are then given a publishing schedule and access to an intranet site which hosts all of the marketing material including posts, links, articles and videos.
  • IBM has a policy of “everyone sells” and so employees are provided with training on how to conduct social selling and part of their Key Performance Indicators is number of connections and engagements.

What does this mean for you?

  • Before I wrote this article, I went (totally at random) to ten profiles of salespeople in various roles. Every single one spoke about what they do, the skills have they have (hardworking, passionate about sales, experienced account manager and accomplished negotiators.) Not one described the value they delivered to customers.
  • Although LinkedIn has a profile section that allows you to Feature posts, articles, links and media, this was not activated with all ten accounts. In fact only two had posted anything.
  • Only three had more than 500 accounts.

According to LinkedIn research, Social selling leaders create 45% more sales opportunities. If your company is not making full use of this incredible tool, you are missing out. And unless you invest in one of the Premium products, it is totally free.

Five things you can do to use LinkedIn to grow your sales

  1. Incentivise your staff to use LinkedIn as a sales and marketing tool and not for job-hunting. Start with anyone who is a sales role and extend from there.
  2. Invest in a specialist to help you write your profiles: Most LinkedIn training spends the majority of the time working on profiles. They are tricky to write and well worth the investment in getting a specialist to write them for you.
  3. Create focused campaigns: Salespeople need to spend their time prospecting, understanding needs and following up. Build a team from marketing, sales leadership and sales that can build value-based campaigns and other resources required. Make these resources available in a central location and build a publishing plan to be followed. This ensures consistency.
  4. Provide high impact training and coaching: You are now free to train your sales team (and later others in the company) on how to use LinkedIn to generate new opportunities. Because you already have the profile written and well designed resources, you spend the time on how to use the tool for maximum impact.

To thank you for making it to the end of this article, I would like to make an offer. At the Sales Institute we have developed an easy to use template on how to write an effective LinkedIn profile. Send me an email timk@salesinstitute.co.za, or leave me a message on LinkedIn and I will gladly send you the template as well as a video explaining it step by step. 

For the first 20 people who request it, I will even write your profile for you.

I like forward to sharing my passion for this remarkable tool with you.


Tim Keys


I will never forget the day when everything went silent….

stay home

For good or bad, 2020 has happened. This leaves us with a choice – curl up in a heap and wait for things to improve or use the opportunity to take a long hard look at ourselves, personally and professionally and become lean and able to adapt to changing circumstances quickly and efficiently.



Time to clear the MUDA.


I woke up early hours of our first day of lock-down with such a strange, eery silence not even a sound of a car in the distance.  Overnight things as we knew it changed. My first reaction was to panic, thinking about all the things I would not be able to do, a simple thing like just walking my dogs not being able to visit my folks.  Life changed, my husband started working from home. He was now in my space in my office.  My daughter, who had just moved out and I had finally gotten used to her being at university, was now back home.  A lot of our training got cancelled and we had a busy time ahead.

At the end of week 1 and going into week 2, I realised that I had a choice to make. I could be blinded by the negativity or I could choose to learn and adapt. This was now the new normal and I had to decide what changes needed to be made.

I am not sure if you did this, but I registered for so many webinars as so many people were saying they could help navigate this new world this Covid-19 world I found myself in.  I joined the first “The REAL Connect Summit”. This was a whole weekend of speakers from all over the world, who were all in lock-down as well, that I would normally have had to pay for or whose conferences I would not have been able to attend.

In one of the talks the speaker was looking at a number of principals but the one that I locked onto was a Japanese word: Muda.  Just as I do, I went and researched what this word actually meant.

Muda is a traditional and general Japanese term for waste or anything that does not have or add value.  It refers to the inefficiencies within processes which you can seek to reduce or eliminate entirely.

This got me thinking about the times we are in.  Suddenly, we have had to re-evaluate what is important.  Many people have had to adjust spending.  Most of us have had to adjust how we are working. We need to be more creative and maybe adjust our offerings or even re-invent ourselves.  We are having to become lean.

What does this mean?

  • We need to start identifying the waste in both our private and our professional lives, by writing these down.
  • We need to be conscious of and accountable for the waste.
  • Measure what effect this waste has had on us or our business, then we need to eliminate or reduce the waste.


This might mean getting rid of things in your life: accounts that are not necessary anymore, if you have a business you might need to identify those that don’t add value to your business.  We will need to make sure that we become valuable to our customers or to our employees or we will become the eliminated waste on their side.


As we move to level 3 and so much more starts to open up again, remember not to take the waste with you go in lean.