July 15, 2022
How You Show Up Matters with Jonathan Mahan

On this installment of RRH, we’ve got Jonathan Mahan. Long-time tech seller. Co-founder of The Practice Lab. All-around amazing human. Together we get real about two of Jonathan’s hardest revenue conversations. What happened?...


On this installment of RRH, we’ve got Jonathan Mahan. Long-time tech seller. Co-founder of The Practice Lab. All-around amazing human. Together we get real about two of Jonathan’s hardest revenue conversations. What happened? What did he learn? And how to be better.  

Topics Discussed

  • What were Jonathan’s most uncomfortable revenue conversations? Story time! (2:59)
  • What did you learn? (7:41)
  • What happens to your behavior when you feel like you’re losing control? (9:10)

 

Resources Mentioned: 

 

For more Guest:

 

For more Amy

 

Transcript

Amy:

What's up human. Welcome to the revenue real hotline. I'm Amy Hrehovcik. More importantly, I'm excited. You decided to join us today. I know you've got a ton of options and I appreciate you. This is a show about all the hard and uncomfortable conversations that arise while generating revenue. And how to think or rethink what you're doing, why you're doing it. And then of course, How to execute differently. And like I said, I'm happy you decided to come along for the ride. Don't forget to follow the show wherever you listen. So you can be notified each time a new episode drops. And do me a favor friend. Don't tell anybody about the show. Let's keep it our little secret. I'm Amy Hrehovcik. This is the revenue real hotline. Enjoy Jonathan Mahan. Welcome to the revenue real hotline, sir. Hi, for one I'm honored and excited for this conversation. So thank you for making time for us friend, a

Jonathan:

hundred percent. I love, uh, I. Talking about uncomfortable conversations. Having uncomfortable conversations and really just being real in a way that often times society teaches us we shouldn't. So we shouldn't, I'm here for this.

Amy:

What about practicing uncomfortable conversations? You any thoughts about that, sir? I'm just kidding. We'll come back to that. Everyone, jonathan Mahan started, uh, with Jordana Zeldin who is also fabulous, the Practice Lab. On top of being an exceptional human card, carrying member of team human husband, father AE, full cycle AE, and now co-founder of The Practice Lab. So again, thank you, Jonathan. All right, why don't you give our listeners just a little bit of an overview of who you are and what you're currently doing right now, and then we'll dive right.

Jonathan:

Yeah. So, uh, as you mentioned, I'm on a full cycle. A, I have been in sales for about eight years, about four of those in like B2B tech sales. Although I actually recently just transitioned. I just described myself as a full cycle AE, but I guess that's not true as of two weeks ago. Okay. So that actually moved me into like a upsell focused role little ago, which is kind of cool. So I'm getting my first, you know, experience management, the post-sale side of things.

Amy:

Yeah.

Jonathan:

And as you mentioned, I also co-founded the practice lab, right? It's a place where sales people can come together to practice their selling skills in the same way that other disciplines, performers, actors, musicians, et cetera, practice theirs. Uh, and that's been. Loads of fine, and I'm sure we'll continue to be, you know, even more fine as we really get things moving, uh, in this next.

Amy:

This is amazing. You're speaking my love language. Perfect practice prevents poor performance, friends. That was something like, remember Bart Simpson writing on the, on the chalkboard, right? Yeah. That was one that is still drilled into me to this day. Perfect practice prevents poor performance. Yeah. Perfect practice prevents poor performance. Okay. Jonathan, let's not bury the lead here. Why don't we start? Let's just dive right in. What is the most uncomfortable conversation that you've ever had to have in a revenue context?

Jonathan:

So two come to mind. And it's hard to say, which was the more uncomfortable. One was my very first B2B tech sales job. I had to have a conversation with my manager because the company was rolling out some initiative and some program that I had real serious reason to believe would absolutely flop. And I didn't really know how to handle myself in the conversation. And in retrospect, I did not go about it the right way. I basically said like, no, I'm not doing this. This is bullshit. You're wrong.

Amy:

I never had an experience like that.

Jonathan:

So, so that, that was pretty uncomfortable. Um, that led to me being denied a promotion that I was slated for, that was planned because they were like, wow, I can't really, this guy doesn't follow orders or instructions. This guy's a, yeah. He get with a vision. So there was that one that was kind of uncomfortable. I didn't expect it to be uncomfortable. I just kinda like went in there and started talking and put my foot in my mouth. and in retrospect, I was like, Ooh, there's like 10 other ways I could have done that better.

Amy:

Mm-hmm

Jonathan:

um, the other one I knew going into was gonna be very uncomfortable. This was a company I had been at where, um, I don't even, I don't wanna go like too much detail, uh, and more people, but basically the CEO of a small company. He and the head of sales weren't really getting along. Seeing eye to eye. There was some tension between the CEO and the sales team in general. I wasn't necessarily a part of. But I was certainly aware of it. And then the CEO says, Hey, we're about to start ramping things up. We're about to put you in the field to start talking to more customers. But first, I want you to come mock demo me and give me a pitch to make sure you're good to go. And this CEO. Was known to be very, very, very particular. And have a very particular style and a very particular way he liked things done. And if he didn't do it his way, then he didn't like it at all. So I knew going into this, this was gonna be tough, right? I, I had gotten some training. I'd been having some customer calls, but like being a new company, they really didn't have much training for me. I basically just like shadowed a few folks. Ticking down notes of what I heard them saying. And then I would say the same things on calls I'd heard from them. So I really wasn't very well trained. I wasn't very experienced. Now I'm going to like pitch the CEO to get, you know, certified or get a stamp for approval before they start really set me loose in the wild So I knew going into it that was gonna be very uncomfortable. Right. And it was horribly uncomfortable. So like prepping for it, of course was tough. Right. I knew I would've up against. I knew how important this was. I knew I couldn't blow it. You could for this one. Okay. Okay. So I had to like really practice with managing my own emotions. Probably more than I've had to before. When you have like a week leading up to this and you know, snapping in a week and you have to like, yeah, practice your pitch and try to anticipate any, you know, curve balls. He might throw your. and all of this, knowing that in the moment, you're probably gonna be feeling all sorts of fear and nervousness and emotions, which will cloud your thinking.

Amy:

Mm-hmm

Jonathan:

and you're like, all right, I'm thinking pretty clear right now, but how is it gonna be when I got the CEO in front of me? And I'm nervous. Will my brain still function well then?

Amy:

Mm-hmm

Jonathan:

so the prep was uncomfortable and then once we got into it, it was a fucking train wreck. So. This CEO while he did some sales for the company in its early days. And isn't totally outside the sales loop. Um, has certainly never like led a sales team or been a sales trainer. First off, he had a like role play, the whole thing, including discovery. And personally, I think in most cases you don't role play discovery. Discovery is such a unique animal. You can't recreate it in a practice, little setting or a lab setting, um, in most ways. So we had this role play discovery. He did a terrible job. I may, or maybe it was attention, but basically he role played the asshole customer, who in reality, 10 minutes into the call, you'd be like, you know what? I'm, since this isn't a fit. You seem to really not like what's going on here. Let's go our separate ways. Yeah. And in your head, you'd be thinking, I don't wanna fucking sell this to you. Yeah. You're such an asshole. Yeah. Right. Yeah. So that's who he chose to role play for this.

Amy:

Mm-hmm

Jonathan:

so that was rough. And he kept saying things that, you know, and all the calls I had watched and all the calls I had taken. I had never heard in my entire sales career, I had never heard. I was like, what are you doing? What is your goal with this? This isn't at all realistic or even similar to what a real prospect would do. And the way he would react and the questions he'd ask and the way he'd respond to my answers. It was all like intentionally just being a rude, abrasive jerk. And not a, at all, attempting to follow the real patterns of a real conversation. So I got thrown for a loop there. The discovery portion was a wreck. So I eventually just said, Hey, let's just talk about our services. Right. And I just jumped in and I kind of delivered the pitch the way I'd been taught to deliver it. And I did fine. Right. I was nervous and frazzled, so I'm sure it wasn't my best work, but I basically delivered the talking points I was supposed to. And he literally cuts me off before the conversations even done. Saying, this is just terrible. We need to stop we'll talk next week and he cuts the call.

Amy:

Okay.

Jonathan:

So that was very uncomfortable, Kirk.

Amy:

Okay. Oh man. So many things that you said there, and also I love how you brought in the word practice to your stories about uncomfortable conversations. This time that you had practiced it. Because I think that there's some wisdom in that. Let's do the first one. What did you learn from the first conversation? Right. And I think you said it, which is that you didn't prepare.

Jonathan:

Well, I don't, I don't think I prepared in the right way. I prepared my talking points of like, here's why this is a dumb idea. Here's why I won't do it. Like that logical side. Yeah. I didn't prepare the people side of like, mm, what mindset my manager be in.

Amy:

Mm.

Jonathan:

How will he respond to this communication? What's the way I can share my vision with him that won't trigger defenses on his end?

Amy:

Mm-hmm

Jonathan:

maybe wasn't thinking those contexts. I was just like, here, let me just lay out an iron clad, logical, explanation as to why I'm not gonna do this thing.

Amy:

Mm-hmm

Jonathan:

And surely he'll recognize the, the soundness of it he'll be on board logic. yeah. So, so I didn't prep for that part of it. Okay. And I ended up, raising a lot of his defenses and of course, um, causing problems that way.

Amy:

You know, One of the best pieces of advice that I was given while selling. Specifically replacing another piece of technology, is that someone somewhere, probably a bunch of people inside the organization made the decision to buy that tool. And they're invested in that decision. And no matter how long ago it was like, it may not be logical or whatever, but. Figuring out early on in the motion who those people were so that you could be very delicate in how you communicate with them in particular. Because nobody likes to hear that their baby is ugly, as they say. Now Jonathan, this was an expensive lesson though, because it, we missed out on the promotion, but I got, I think the question that everyone is dying to know is, was the, did the idea work. Or were you right?

Jonathan:

It was a catastrophic failure for exactly the reasons I laid out. It was like, I was a script writer writing the script. And then they played out the movie with the script I had written.

Amy:

Mm-hmm

Jonathan:

yeah. So I was entirely right about everything. I never got an apology and I told you so. Or I never gave the, I told you so, and they never gave the apology for it. They just ignored it and moved on.

Amy:

Oh my gosh.

Jonathan:

So yes, again, I was, I was logically right about what I was saying, but the presentation was, was all wrong. Right? I'm sure I triggered a lot of defensive defensiveness to my manager by attacking their idea. Now I realize human beings tend to be our most cooperative and bring our best selves when we feel like we're in control. When we feel like we're starting to lose control is when we start acting ugly sometimes. I noticed this as a parent, right?

Amy:

Mm-hmm

Jonathan:

like, I can be a really calm parent when I feel like I got things outta control. But when I suddenly realize my kid has some type of leverage over me and I don't actually have control over the situation,

Amy:

mm-hmm

Jonathan:

I start freaking out. Right. So a lot of times when it comes to a leadership dynamic, too leaders. Worried about whether or not they have control over their team.

Amy:

Mm-hmm

Jonathan:

And when you come as a team member and say, Hey, you know that thing you told us and stand up, we're gonna be doing? Yeah, I'm not doing it. Suddenly the leader feels a loss of control and that really gets under their skin. So in retrospect, I should have found a way to present it in a way that wouldn't trigger defensiveness. Wouldn't make him feel like he was losing control. Right. That would still get my message across. Um, but like I said, I didn't even really think on those levels. I literally just thought about the logical argument for why this was wrong. And I didn't think about the delivery and the human component of how my message would be received.

Amy:

That wraps another installment of the revenue, real hotline I'd like to thank my. For being so damn real and for sharing their insights and for, of course being so much fun. And I'd like to thank you two listeners, it means the world. And I appreciate you. If you have any thoughts or comments or experiences, you feel inclined to share head straight over to revenue, real.com. There's a new join. The conversation feature on the right side of the page. I am old damn ears. Final thought. We are introducing a coaching aspect to the show. So anyone who's brave enough to dig into an account strategy or outbound strategy session. That's where we kick things off. Please do follow the show wherever you listen to your podcasts. So you'll always have the latest episode downloaded. If you want to contact me, I'm at Amy at revenue, rail.com. If you wanna follow me on social Twitter is Amy underscore UFF check, and LinkedIn is linkedin.com/amy UFF. Check. This episode was produced by the fabulous Neen Feedler rock, man. And I appreciate you too friend. And of course, whatever you do, don't tell anybody about the show. Let's keep it our little secret until next time. All I Amy AUB check. This is the revenue real hotline, happy selling.

Jonathan Mahan Profile Photo

Jonathan Mahan

Co Founder @ The Practice Lab