ep. 83 - Kelly McDonald


Kelly McDonald is a marketing and advertising specialist and considered one of the nation’s top experts in consumer trends, generational differences and leveraging the customer experience.  She is the founder of McDonald Marketing, which has twice been named one of the “Top Ad Agencies in the U.S.” by Advertising Age magazine and ranked as one of the fastest-growing independently-owned companies in the U.S. by Inc. Magazine.

Her style is a mix of high content and high humor.  Kelly’s energy and humor keep audiences riveted and engaged.  She employs audience interaction to foster learning and engagement, giving audiences a means of discussing the content and how it applies to their roles, their challenges and their opportunities.


ep. 83 - Kelly McDonald

Kyle Davis: Okay, with us today on GDA podcast is Kelly McDonald. Her whole brand is built around people not like you, and I quite like that because I don't think there's a lot of people like me. So, Kelly, explain [00:01:00] to me your brand and philosophy and what's going on with you.

Kelly McDonald: Sure, thanks for having me. The whole ... What you just said, the whole people not like me, I think everybody feels that way but nobody's really like us. What happens in business is we gravitate to people who are like us. The customers we understand, the associates that we connect with and understand, it's actually human nature. It's truly tribal. It's what people do. Birds of a feather kind of thing. [00:01:30] And so, from a business standpoint, it started to intrigue me several years ago when I started thinking about like, how much ... If a business is successful, they're already successful doing whatever it is that they do.

How much more successful could they be if they could tap into the customers that they're not getting, but they could be, or increasing the customer service and the customer service with people that are not their core customers, and hiring people who [00:02:00] are not like them. How much more could they grow their business? It is in fact the formula for business growth because you could be successful working with selling to and servicing people who are like you, but you could be even more successful if you expand your pool of people to include those who are not like you. So, people understand this intellectually, but applying it is more difficult.

They're like, well, I don't know what it's like. For me, I don't know what it's like to be 80 years old. [00:02:30] If I was trying to reach senior citizens who are in their 70s and 80s and not retired, I'm not retired, I'm not 80. How do I know what's important to them? How do I know how to connect with them? If I'm a woman, but I'm not a mom, I don't have children, then how do I understand what it's like to have the pressures and priorities that a mom does? If you're 20, you don't know what it's like to be 60, and vice versa. If you're black, [00:03:00] you don't know what it's like to be white and vice versa. If you're an introvert, you don't know what it's like to be an extrovert.

There's a million ways that we can be different from each other and my entire premise is that from a business standpoint, the real opportunity and the low hanging fruit, is to get the people that you're not getting, whether it's internally as associates or externally as customers and that's what I teach in my speaking sessions, is how to work with people not like you.

Kyle Davis: [00:03:30] I like the fact that you mentioned that in concept, people understand it, but maybe in practice or past that, it's hard to-

Kelly McDonald: Apply it.

Kyle Davis: To apply it. I'm just looking at it right here. Hiring people not like you. I look at some companies, for instance, and it's like they pulled the rubber stamp out and it's just they hire everybody the same. These are some great companies, but you know they're leaving a little bit on the table. [00:04:00] By a little bit, I mean a lot.

Kelly McDonald: Right. I agree with you.

Kyle Davis: What's the attraction to ... I mean, I get it in like the nascent stages of a company, but in the long run, what compels companies to do that and what can companies do to hire better people?

Kelly McDonald: Sure. Great question. So, again, it comes naturally to us to gravitate to other people who are like us. I mean, literally that is part of being human. When humans form communities, whether it's tribes [00:04:30] or small villages, it is people who are alike who live together and share values, religions, customs and all that stuff. So, no one should ever feel bad about the fact that we sort of naturally gravitate to this. But what happens in business, Kyle, is that people ... It's actually easier to do business with people who are like you. There's no doubt about it because you get them and they get you, and you share the same outlook and perhaps you share the same backgrounds [00:05:00] and you see the world the same way.

So, business is hard enough just working and creating revenue and growing business. Why would anyone gravitate to something that inherently makes it harder? At the same time, there's been study after study after study that shows that when companies actually diversify, whether it's with diverse talent internally or they create different revenue streams and things, that their business grows exponentially [00:05:30] and so it is actually more difficult and it feels more difficult because it's hard. It's not what comes naturally, but it does lead to growth. So, that's another thing that I want to teach audiences is that if you're working with people who are not like you and it feels harder, it's because it is harder. You're not being crazy, you're not being difficult. It's really harder.

If you'll allow me one quick story that illustrates this. [00:06:00] I read a fascinating study that showed ... There was a study with sorority and fraternity sisters and brothers. Sororities and fraternities have a ... People who are members of a sorority or a fraternity have a very strong allegiance and alliance to their fraternity and sorority brothers and sisters. They have that connection. They are truly a brotherhood or a sisterhood. So, this particular study was done using a group of three sorority sisters or a group of three fraternity brothers [00:06:30] and they were all given 20 minutes to solve a murder mystery. They were given clues. They had 20 minutes to solve the murder mystery.

Now, here's the catch. Five minutes into the 20 minutes, they were joined by a fourth member and the fourth member was either another member of their sorority or fraternity, or a member of a different fraternity or sorority. What happened was the ones who had a person who was different from them solved the murder mysteries [00:07:00] faster and more accurately than the ones who were all the same. And yet the irony is that when they were talked to afterwards and debriefed if you will, all of the ones who were in the groups where someone was different, despite the fact that they had more success, they reported that it was harder to work that way.

So, it is harder, but it creates better results. Does that make sense?

Kyle Davis: Yeah, I can give you another kind of anecdotal [00:07:30] kind of story to that point. A really good friend of mine is a professional poker player, arguably at least top 10 in the world, depending on who you talk to, and he had a friend of his who was in town who was another professional poker player and we wanted to do one of these escape the room things. I'm not a professional poker player. I have no quantitative skills at all. But I do think in a different way that they don't necessarily think. When we went to go do [00:08:00] the escape the room things here, you had two very analytical people who follow logic rules, and then you had me who throws all that out the window and does something completely different.

We broke two records as far as time goes that were held by other people for over a year. Not saying that we were better than everybody else, but we were. So, it was an interesting kind of thing to throw in there, especially since I didn't know one of the people at all.

Kelly McDonald: Well, that's, I mean ... Have you ever seen [00:08:30] those videos of children trying to solve engineering problems like they're given blocks, you know, and they have to build a bridge and then they show the engineers, actual engineers in their 40s, 50s and 60 year old, and they can't do it but the kids can do it. The kids can do it because they literally don't think like engineers. They think like kids. There's a skill set there, and how do you ever tap into that if you don't tap into that? So, from a business standpoint, getting back to your [00:09:00] question why do companies do this, it is, I think, because number one we naturally gravitate to the people who are like us. It's unconscious. They call it unconscious bias and we all have it. You don't know that you're doing it, but you relate to someone who looks like you, laughs like you, finds the same things funny, looks at your life with the same outlook, has the same priorities, maybe came from the same part of the country. Whatever it might be.

There's that, and then secondly we find that when we do work with people who are like us, it's easy. [00:09:30] We don't have to explain. We get it. So, it literally requires more effort and more if you will grit to consciously say, "I'm going to do this because I know it's the right thing to do, even though it's going to be harder."

Kyle Davis: Yeah, I think one of the great slogans that I loved when I was working out in Silicon Valley is being comfortable with being uncomfortable, and once you kind of embrace that, and for the companies that I worked with, we had a very diverse population. We had Ivy Leaguers like myself, and then we had state school kids. [00:10:00] We had people who never went to high school but they're like computer programming geniuses and we had people with PhDs in theoretical machine learning, something like that. But this melting pot of the company that we were allowed all of us to tap into different experiences or different viewpoints or how we see certain things to make a better product, a better experience, better sales onboarding, different things like that rather than having kind of a very [00:10:30] homogenous kind of culture that would have meant onboarding more people like us.

Kelly McDonald: Right, and there's a great story ... Are you familiar with Skinny Girl? The brand Skinny Girl. Skinny Girl Margaritas [crosstalk 00:10:45]

Kyle Davis: Oh, of course. Every weekend.

Kelly McDonald: Yeah, they're everywhere at the grocery stores. Well, it's funny because Stephanie Frankel, who was one of the original housewives, housewives of New York City or something like that, she had this idea to create a low calorie, low carb cocktail [00:11:00] and she thought, "My friends and I were always watching our weight and yet we like to have a drink. There ought to be a way to do this." She approached every single major American distillery and liquor maker in the country with her idea. All of them were headed by me and every one of them rejected her idea. She went ahead and forged ahead, got her own financing and forged ahead with her brand, and two years later, Beam, as in Jim Beam, [00:11:30] bought her brand from her for over $100 million.

Now, this is the same brand that rejected her two years before, and two years later they bought this whole thing for $100 million. One of the things I think is important about that story is that these companies that were headed by men, it's not that they did anything wrong in discriminating against her. I think they truly didn't see the opportunity because they're not women. They didn't [00:12:00] know what they were looking at, and I think if there had been a woman in the room and these guys are going, "Eh, I don't know. Low calorie cocktail? Who cares." And a woman would have been like, "Are you kidding? This will be fantastic. I get to have my cocktails and not have it blow 20% of my daily calories?" It was a failure of perspective, and I think that's exactly what you were just talking about. Different ways of thinking and stuff.

It's not always about demography or age. It's literally about I'm looking at the same thing that you're looking at, and I'm seeing something different, and [00:12:30] ironically Beam bought it back from her for $100 million because it was wildly successful and still is. But I think there's a failure of perspective.

Kyle Davis: Yeah, I think people need to ... It's the known unknowns or unknown knowns and unknown unknowns or whatever that whole thing is. You just kind of have these inherent blind spots, so if you're not really thinking outside the box and the best way to force outside the box thinking is to hire people from outside the box.

Kelly McDonald: Right, because you only know how to [00:13:00] think the way that you know how to think. You don't know how to think like a calorie conscious woman and so it would never occur to you that this might be a viable product. And that's not a failure of you as a person. Like I said, it's a failure of perspective. The only thing that you know is what you know. Your perspective, your lens, your frame of reference. That is why when we start working with people who are not like us, that's why business grows is because suddenly people see possibilities that they never saw [00:13:30] before and they start to see things different ways.

Kyle Davis: So, we've talked about obviously the inherent benefits of working with people not like you. The next logical things are what are some of the challenges when it comes to leading people like you? I know that if I got a bunch of people like myself who played sports and kind of have a tell me what I did wrong mentality, I know how I would run my company and be very authoritarian and they would love it. So, [00:14:00] how do we work with people who necessarily aren't like a six foot three, two hundred fifty pound guy?

Kelly McDonald: No, that's a good question, and what it always starts with, and I think all management does, but especially it's important when you're working with people who are not like you. It starts with building trust. You can't manufacture trust. It's something that is grown over time and it's earned, and you can't force it. You can't say, "Trust me," and then I trust you. It's through [00:14:30] your behaviors and your habits and your actions that trust is formed, but it's like being in any other relationship where if a team of people, of diverse people, trust their leader and the leader is letting them and fostering ... Letting them be who they are and fostering that trust and that communication, even the difficult, awful conversations that often result in conflict ...

I mean, a lot of people think you got to suppress conflict because we got to have [00:15:00] harmony. Conflict can be constructive. If it's constructive conflict, it can be healthy. I was talking to a woman who's a CEO of a global electrical distribution company. So, she's in a very male dominated field and it's global and she said, "When we are sitting around our conference table talking about issues, not everyone agrees." And she said, "I foster the disagreement. I can tell by looking at someone's face that this guy is not on board." [00:15:30] And she said, "And we talk about these things even if it gets uncomfortable because that's how people learn, that's how they come to consensus, and that's how they actually build bridges among them."

It just starts with building trust and I think one of the things that has to be at the core of trust is as a leader, your people have to know that you truly care about them, that you're not just cracking the whip because it's the right thing to do for business, but [00:16:00] that if you're giving constructive criticism, it's because you care. If you're giving praise, it's because you care. That you actually have to care. An example that I have is I was doing a speaking engagement for the department of defense last year. I mean, this is the department of defense. This is the smartest people that are on the planet. Like, take the smartest people that you've ever known in your life and multiply that times a million and you got the people who are cracking codes trying to keep this country safe. [00:16:30] And they work in isolation, they work quietly and secretly and privately. They can't discuss what they're working on with others. It's a very, very unusual world that they work in.

And consequently, because they're so smart and because these guys are sitting around cracking codes and things like that, many of them are high functioning Asperger's. They're like total brainiacs, but they actually have Asperger's. So, they can apply themselves to a task at work [00:17:00] with unbelievable focus. To the point where it can go on for days, and my client there, who is not someone who has Asperger's, she's someone like you or me or whatever, she told me, she said, "Sometimes, these guys get so into their work that they don't go home for three days. They don't sleep, they don't eat, they don't shower, they don't change clothes."

She said, "I am the one who has to tell them, 'Hey, Tim, I know you're really into this, but you've been here for three days. [00:17:30] You're wearing the same shirt that you were wearing three days ago and I know you haven't slept. You need to go home. You need to take a shower, get some rest, eat something, and come back tomorrow.'"

And so, while that's an awkward conversation to have with someone because essentially she finds out that these guys have been like this because they start to smell and they're wearing the same clothes, her comments are rooted in care. She actually cares about them. She's worried about them and she wants them to do well. That's a classic example [00:18:00] of working with someone not like you and fostering a team environment with people who are completely different from you, but they respond to you because they trust you. And they trust you because you've shown that you care.

Kyle Davis: I think that's a brilliant point to kind of get through. We can have a much longer conversation on that specific example actually, but I think it would be best if we move on but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that everything that we just talked about for like the first, I don't know, 17 minutes or so of this podcast has come from [00:18:30] your new book that's coming out, which is How to Work With and Lead People Not Like You. I think the release date for that is what, August ...

Kelly McDonald: August 21st.

Kyle Davis: There you go, so go buy a copy of it and we'll make it available.

Kelly McDonald: Actually, it's available for pre-order right now on all the book websites, Amazon and Books A Million.

Kyle Davis: Well, we will put the link up on the website, so there you go.

Kelly McDonald: Thank you.

Kyle Davis: So, I like personally how we can change dynamics in a work place, but I think pivoting [00:19:00] towards the long tail, the revenue, how to get more business from people who aren't like you. How do we market to people? You mentioned a great use case. If you're a 20 year old junior level marketer, how do you market to somebody who's 60 plus and they need their daily vitamins?

Kelly McDonald: Right.

Kyle Davis: How do we tap into this kind of long tail that businesses typically market to individuals like themselves? How do they get out of that and then go to market towards businesses that [00:19:30] are a little bit different?

Kelly McDonald: Yeah, it's obviously not always easy, but what I think it starts with is values. If I can figure out what you value, I can figure out how to sell you and if I can figure out what you value, I can promise you that I can get into your heart, your mind, and your wallet, because people spend money on what they value. That's a true ... I mean, it's universally true. All you have to do is look at let's say a modest income family [00:20:00] that wants to send their kid to college and they will scrape and save and eat beans and rice three nights a week or whatever, but by gosh, they're going to put that kid in college, and they find a way.

The world is full of examples like that where people spend money and spend time with things that they value. It starts by understanding that your demographic isn't like you just said in that example, somebody who's 60 or somebody who's 80. It might start with something that simple, but it's about getting down to what does that person care [00:20:30] about? What are their fears, what are their hopes, what's on their mind, what do they lose sleep over, what problem can we solve for them? As opposed to saying, "Here's our demographic. They make this much money, they live in this zip code, and they're this age and they're this race." That tells you a lot about a person, but it doesn't tell you the most important thing, and the most important thing is values.

So, for example, if you're drinking a bottle of water right now out of a plastic bottle and when you're finished with that, [00:21:00] you toss that bottle into the recycling bin versus the trash. That is the smallest little action that you're taking, but it tells me something about you. It tells me, "All right, here's this guy and you know what, he's just trying to do his part. He's just trying to leave a smaller footprint. He's going to recycle this rather than just trash it." It tells me something about your values, and those small indicators give us a much more robust and better picture of what a person cares about [00:21:30] and how to market to them than just, "Oh, he's a white guy and he's this old and he lives in this zip code and he makes this kind of money and he has this kind of job and he has this kind of education," those things are helpful, but if I can find out what you care about and what the problems are that I can solve for you, then that's where the real opportunity lies.

Kyle Davis: Do you think that comes from ... Like sharing the values that someone has, you see a lot of these companies ... [00:22:00] They do these ad campaigns where they go, "Here's who we are, here's what we're about, et cetera, et cetera," versus having something that ... Then you see other companies-

Kelly McDonald: Here's what you're about.

Kyle Davis: Yeah, here's what you're about. How do you play with that, if you will?

Kelly McDonald: Well, and again, I think a lot of companies do a good job of talking about who they are, but the missing link part is you have to make a connection to the consumer. I often use the analogy, if I went on a [00:22:30] blind date with you and you spent the entire time talking about how great you are, I would lose interest pretty fast because I mean, it's great that you're great, but doesn't it mostly matter what I think of you and whether we have a connection and a spark and things like that. To me, it's not that different.

If a company is great, they're doing great things. They should absolutely market those things. They should merchandise that they should say here's our community involvement and here's what we're doing to be innovative and all that. There's a place for that. But if you really [00:23:00] want to grow your business, you got to actually turn the lens the other way and focus more on what does the consumer care about? What do they think about? And then do we fit in that scope? So, you know, I think the best companies actually marry the two of these. I live in Denver here and we have REI and REI is a major outdoor equipment company.

Kyle Davis: I'm literally going there right after this.

Kelly McDonald: Yeah, and [00:23:30] they're fantastic and they've always been fantastic, but I think that they took their fantastic-ness to a whole new level last year on Black Friday when every other major retailer is having their biggest sale of the year, it's literally Black Friday because that's the day of the year when retail stores go into the black and they become profitable and it's huge from a sales standpoint. I mean, it's folklore in this country. And REI literally kind of stepped [00:24:00] back and went, "Wait a minute, why are we encouraging people who love the outdoors to come into the indoors and shop on a day that everybody has off and that's probably a beautiful day in most parts of the country?"

So, they turned it on its head and they decided that they were going to close their doors and let all 2,200 of their employees have the day off and encouraged people to go outside and their entire campaign for Black Friday was go outside, and they were like, " [00:24:30] If you don't know a trail to hike, well then here. Here's a link on our website where you could put in your zip code and we'll find trails for your area then you can go hike or bike or walk on." And it was brilliant, because it was about who they are, but it was also about who their customers are and their customers are outdoor lovers. If I'm an outdoor lover, yes. I want a good deal on my merchandise, I want a good value for the things that I pay, but it doesn't have to happen on the day after Thanksgiving. [00:25:00] It was just brilliant, and I thought that was great marriage of who they were also tapping into the values of their customers, and they stood out from every other retailer on the planet because of it.

Kyle Davis: Yeah, I liked what they did there, too, and I think what's kind of brilliant about it is a lot of these companies, especially the big box retailers, it just turns into like a cattle call on Black Friday.

Kelly McDonald: Oh, it's a frenzy.

Kyle Davis: It's an absolutely frenzy. There's nothing enjoyable about it and it's really just a race to the bottom anyways, so if big box store A has one price, big box store [00:25:30] B is going to have their competing sales price. Maybe lower.

Kelly McDonald: Absolutely.

Kyle Davis: It's just going to be putting people in a panic and a frenzy and it's going to be like a swarm of piranas to a jaguar in the Amazon.

Kelly McDonald: I think what they tap into the values of someone is someone saying I have the day after Thanksgiving off, oh my gosh, I really should go outside. Why in the world would I want to be part of that madness? I'm going to go outside. I'm going to go out in nature and they're all about teaching people not only to enjoy nature, [00:26:00] but respect nature, and the idea of like and if you don't know where to go, clear your zip code and we'll find a hike for you on a trail near you. It's just brilliant, and it was so true to who they are but it was so much more valuable than saying, "40% off camping gear. This weekend only." I mean, who's going to remember that? Nobody. Who's going to care about that? Nobody. The sales are ubiquitous and so they stood their ground, and I think that's important and I think [00:26:30] more companies should do that.

Ultimately it's more about what the customer cares about than what you say yourself. It's basic sales. In sales, they teach you to do consultative selling, so if I talk to you for 20 minutes and I find out what your problems are, then I can tailor my sales pitch to meet your needs. But if I just start talking about my ... There's a joke in marketing that says you can have the greatest dog food in the world. It could be literally the greatest dog food ever created. It [00:27:00] makes dogs fly, and because of that it's very expensive dog food. So, once a year this dog food goes on sale and it's at a price that is unbeatable and so you have the best dog food in the world at the best price it's ever going to be and none of that matters at all if I don't have a dog.

So, that's I think the analogy that I would provide is that it's great to talk about your product, it's great to talk about your services, it's great to talk about your value, but unless it has context for the [00:27:30] customer, unless they care, they're the ones who decide if it's relevant.

Kyle Davis: Yeah, I think that's kind of really what's important about them, if it's relevant to me or if it's not.

Kelly McDonald: Right. Because if I don't have a dog, then you could tell me all day long about how great your dog food is but I just don't care because it doesn't matter to me, it's not relevant to my life.

Kyle Davis: One of the things that we talked about prior to going to record was how to communicate on different channels and I think I kind of know what you're talking about, but [00:28:00] what are your philosophies on that and how we're in the new digital age of being able to reach out and even target specific individuals and specific places and do different kind of quote weird things end quote. What is this new marketing age like especially when we're trying to get people how aren't like us?

Kelly McDonald: Well, again, I think it goes back to what does the person that you're trying to reach, what do they want? There's a million ways to talk to someone these days. I can email you, I can text you, I can call [00:28:30] you on the phone, I can tweet at you, I can Facebook you, I can SnapChat you. All of these things. So, there are a million ways to reach each other and connect. What I find is that people gravitate towards the platform or platforms that they are most comfortable with. In other words, if I email you, it would probably be best if you email me back rather than texting me. If I text you, you probably would text me back. If I call you, then that's someone who actually wants to talk through things. [00:29:00] I literally hear the sound of your voice and maybe hash things out on the phone.

So, it's not about what you like to do and how you prefer to communicate. It's about what your customer's doing. In business, I find this to be [inaudible 00:29:14] often with younger workers who have grown up with texting and email and they're very, very, very comfortable with that, and they're much less comfortable with picking up the phone and calling a customer or calling a client. In fact, they hate that. I've talked to people [00:29:30] in their 20s and I'll say, "Why do you hate talking on the phone so much?" If there's a problem, if you have to do relationship repair, or you have to fix something that you screwed up, believe me, the best way to do it is to pick up the phone and talk to your client and say, "I'm sorry, this shouldn't have happened and here's what I'm doing to make sure it never happens again."

That kind of thing can't be communicated as well in text or an email. I don't care what you say, you just don't have the context and I'll say, "Why don't you like talking to people on the phone?" What they'll say is, " [00:30:00] Because somebody might ask me a question and I don't know the answer." They're on the spot, or they feel that they're on the spot. Whether they are or not, that's how they feel, and I believe it's a product of growing up in an information age where every answer to every question is right there with Google, et cetera. So, when confronted with a question that they may not know, they literally feel stupid.

I've talked to them, and I've been like, "You don't have to know everything. Nobody can know everything." [00:30:30] They're like, "IF I'm on the phone with you and you ask me a question and I don't know I feel stupid." I'll talk to them and try to do some coaching and say, "It's okay to say, 'Kyle, that's a great question. I actually need to check into the answer on that. Can I get back to you by the end of the day?' Nobody's going to think less of you," but they don't know that. Again, that's a failure of perspective or a failure frankly of work experience.

But I believe that these days the very best way to work is to work the way your customers want [00:31:00] to work, and one quick story that supports this is I was talking to a State Farm agent one time, and I've done a lot of work with State Farm, the insurance company, and they put a lot of priority on getting young people in their 20s in on auto insurance, because if I can sell somebody State Farm insurance on auto insurance in their 20s, then sure later you might need renters insurance, and then sooner or later you might need homeowners insurance, and then sooner or later when you start a family you might [00:31:30] need life insurance. And so it becomes an entire path for decades of revenue for State Farm if they can get the 20 year old in on auto insurance.

I was talking with this agent one time and she was in her 50s and she said, "You know, I have no idea what it's like to be 20. I don't know how to target 20 year olds. I'm 55." And she said, "That's what our company is telling us to do, is target 20 year olds." So, what she did was she hired a 24 year old and she said, "I've never done that before because [00:32:00] I've always been looking for people that have five to eight years of experience." If you have five to eight years of experience, chances are you're about 30. So, here was somebody who was considerably younger than what she's normally hired and she said, "At first I didn't think she was very productive because she wasn't making very much noise in the office," and I said, "Noise? What do you mean making noise?" She said, "Well, Kelly, in an insurance office we're making calls all day long. We're calling prospects and it's all about appointment setting, and if you set 10 appointments you're going to make one sale and it's a numbers game."

She said, " [00:32:30] We're smiling and dialing all day long. We're on the phone all day long, and if you got eight agents in an office and they're all on the phone all day long, there's a noise level. It's a noise level of productivity." She said, "This woman never made a peep." What she was doing was using social media and texting and social media platforms to reach all of her contacts, and all of her prospects because they were in their 20s and they don't answer their phone. They don't talk on their phone." So, she was reaching them in a way that they like to be reached, and I said, " [00:33:00] Well, what was her productivity like?" And she said, "She was my number one sales person that year."

Kyle Davis: Yeah, I mean, I have ... I don't want to give away the keys to the castle here on my philosophy, but I try to stay away from cold calls, just like random cold calls, because it's an efficiency thing. I am masterful when it comes to being able to set email campaigns, direct messaging and LinkedIn or Twitter [00:33:30] or replying, I've really kind of honed by craft in that space where I feel like my time and efficiency are like optimized, versus dialing a number, waiting for it to ring, getting a voicemail.

Kelly McDonald: Leaving a message.

Kyle Davis: Right. This kind of [inaudible 00:33:46]. But, segue into the next part, I think what you said is kind of brilliant like ... I kind of came into my tech career in tech sales being somebody who had work experience [00:34:00] in sales doing direct face to face sales and old school smile and dial to book kind of appointments, whereas a lot of my coworkers came into that either fresh out of college or they had other sales experience in the software space where the lead came into them and they just had to call on the lead. So, there's really kind of no outbound it component to it or you're not really getting caught off guard so much. It was interesting [00:34:30] to see people who have never been able to handle objections or be able to answer questions that they didn't know.

And I'm like, "Why didn't you just have another tab for ... On the support page and be able to search it?" I'm like, "Oh man, I never thought about that." It was crazy. It was brilliant because I learned a lot from them as well, but it was just interesting to see what the dynamic was. I'm literally talking like there was maybe a five year age difference between me and them. They being younger of course. So, it was fascinating.

Kelly McDonald: Well, what I like about that State Farm [00:35:00] story is that the woman who hired this younger woman, number one she was smart enough to hire someone not like her. So, that was the first thing that she did, and then the second thing that she did was she allowed this person to have a different approach to work. In other words, she didn't sit down and put her in front of a desk with a phone and say, "Okay, here's where you have to pick up the phone and call," because ... I mean, she was approaching it entirely different, and I think one of the ways that we can be not like each other is in our approach [00:35:30] to work. It may not be demographics, it may not be our age, our race, our sex, our income or something like that, it can be, "I have a different approach to work but that doesn't mean it's not effective." In this case, it was highly effective. Exactly the customer that she wanted to get. And that was something she didn't understand that this woman did.

Kyle Davis: Yeah. I like that. That's good. I guess to kind of wrap a pretty little bow on this because you mentioned at the beginning of us recording but just improving [00:36:00] the customer experience, and I think you mentioned it here by finding the channel through which an individual wants to communicate, whether it be email, phone, something like that, but what are some other things people can do to think about improving just the overall experience because I think too often people think it's good enough now and they don't think about how they can improve it and why they should improve it.

Kelly McDonald: That's a great question. The number one thing that I can recommend that people do is talk to their customers or their prospects, because all research, all consumer [00:36:30] research, is literally ... It boils down to talking to people. It doesn't matter whether it was a survey or a focus group or a massive study. All research is just actually talking to people and saying, "Oh, do you like to cook with chicken? How many times a week do you like to cook with chicken? What's your biggest frustration with chicken?" Whatever it might be. The only way you can find out where someone's pain point is is to ask them and do a lot of active listening. Whenever someone says the words "I hope" [00:37:00] or "I wish," those two words are gold. When somebody says, "I wish we could just have in this hotel, I wish we could have windows that open." Whatever it might be. "I wish this company opened its doors earlier in the day for people who work super early shifts like I do."

Anytime you hear the words, "I hope" or "I wish," someone is expressing a need and they may not be conscious of that need, they're just talking from the heart. [00:37:30] But if you're a business and you're truly listening to your customers and you're asking them, "What's the thing that you need from us? The thing that you could do better? The thing you wish that you would stop doing? The problem you wish you could solve?" People will tell you. If you ask people what their opinions are, believe me, they're happy to tell you. It's just that most people don't ask, so they don't tell. They do actively engage customers and [00:38:00] or prospects and even what we call in the marketing business rejectors, there's rejectors, there's defectors, and then there's prospects. So, rejectors are people who have actually looked at your business or looked at your product or service and then they didn't buy it. They just rejected it. They went somewhere else.

Defectors are people who actually used to use your product or service, but at some point they defected. And then there's the core customer who ... You should talk to all of those people. With defectors, I would say you used to ... [00:38:30] I'm going to use a banking example. "You used to bank with us. You no longer bank with us. I'm not trying to do a sales pitch here. What made you change? We want to know." And with a rejector, when you looked at our company or our product, what did we have or not have that made you look elsewhere? People will tell you the truth if you are sincerely asking and not trying to do a sales pitch. If you're sincerely coming from a place of, "I want to know." They'll tell you because very rarely do people actually ask for their opinions.

[00:39:00] I think coming down to the research part of it which is just talking to people is something that is free, and it doesn't take a lot of time. It's about actively engaging your entire team to talk to customers in a more effective way to find out what's really going on.

Kyle Davis: Yeah. I think people don't ask enough. One of the things that you mentioned earlier is like consultative selling. Right? I'm a huge fan of it and I think people should be doing more of it. [00:39:30] If you look at traditional sales, it's, "Hey, let's get in there, let's do the pitch," and I'm just going to like data dump and you're going to drink from a fire hose real quick versus consultative selling requires you to actively listen. Pick up on these little cues. Pick up on I wish or I hope or the head nod or whatever. Also in consultative selling, it requires you just to ask the question and know that people aren't going to be offended. We just don't [00:40:00] do that enough.

Kelly McDonald: We don't, and [inaudible 00:40:00] like customer service, I think part of it is ... Not intuition, but really paying attention to how your customers are behaving and giving them what you want even if it's not what you want. I'll use my 80 year old mother. My 80 year old mother, if she was going to plan a trip, she would want to actually go to a travel agent's office. I know there's not that many travel agents around anymore, but they still exist, and she would literally want to go to their office [00:40:30] and sit down and have a meeting with them face to face and preferably all afternoon. Someone like you or me would see no value I that. We'd be like why do I have to go to their office? Why can it just research this online? If I have a question, why can't I just live chat with somebody in the corner of my screen?

In the end, we're maybe buying the same thing, we're buying a vacation a trip or something like that, but the way that my mom wants to access that is very different than the way I want to access that. [00:41:00] It doesn't make her right or wrong and it doesn't make me right or wrong, but the right kind of employee or the right kind of customer is going to see that you don't sell to everyone the same way.

Kyle Davis: Yeah. I agree. I 100% agree. Well, I think that's probably a good place for us to wrap unless you have anything else you want to say. You hope or you wish to.

Kelly McDonald: I hope or I wish? [00:41:30] The one thing I guess I would leave listeners with is just a quick story I want to tell that's very recent, that's very fresh in my mind, and it's about not judging the people who are not like you in ways that seem automatic. My quick story is I have a friend and he used to work at Home Depot and that's a very male dominated business. It's lumber, it's hardware. I'm not trying to be sexist. It just is. Most people who work there are men. So, he worked with all these guys [00:42:00] for years and years and years, and then he changed jobs and he went to work for a large national, multi-unit beauty retailer. So, he's a retail professional, he's been a district manager for Home Depot, then he goes and becomes a district manager for a beauty supply company.

And all the sudden he's working with all women, and he's like the only guy on the management team and he's having a district meeting with all his district managers for one of the first times, and he starts [00:42:30] talking to me about they had a difficult conversation. Sales went down, they're looking at the PowerPoint graph going straight down, and he starts talking to this district manager responsible for that store and asking what's wrong with your sales, and sh started crying. When he told me this story, I was like, "No, she didn't start crying. You don't mean crying. You mean like whining, right?" And he goes, "No, I mean actual tears, Kelly. Like, she was crying."

And [00:43:00] at first I was mortified because I was like, "Oh wow, there goes the sisterhood," right? But secondly I was like, "Why are you crying?" And he said, "Well, that's what I had to figure out." He goes, "Nothing in my background prepared me for this, Kelly. I have never seen a man cry at a meeting." And he said, "I asked her, 'Tell me what's going on.'" In other words, he didn't say, "What's wrong with you?" Which is a very harsh thing to say and make somebody defensive, and [inaudible 00:43:24] and he said, "Tell me what's going on and how I can help?" What he found [00:43:30] was that the reason that she was crying is not because her sales were down. She was crying, or I should say getting emotional, she got a little weepy, because she felt like she let him down.

That's a very big difference than I'm whining and crying because I'm on the hot seat because of sales. She felt like she let him down. Once she told him that, he was able to say, "All right, so let's work together to fix this and what do you need from me?" So, months later, I asked him, " [00:44:00] When you have your meetings, do your people still cry?" And I was being facetious, and he goes, "Oh, it happens all the time." He said, "They take this business so seriously and they want to perform for me and our division?" And he said, "And they truly feel like they let me down." He said, "Every time it happens, it lead to a constructive conversation where I learn what I can do to help them." And it actually moved the business forward.

I thought, this guy, without even knowing it, he was handling it brilliantly rather then saying, "Why [00:44:30] are you crying?" He saw it for what it was, which was tell me what's going on, something is going on. And it was. The lack of judgment fostered a good team.

Kyle Davis: Don't judge people. Entrust.

Kelly McDonald: Yeah.

Kyle Davis: There you go. I like it. Cool, well, look, if you hope or wish to have Kelly McDonald come and speak for you and your event, you can do so by contacting GDA speakers. The number is 214-420- [00:45:00] 1999, or you could go to GDAspeakers.com. For the transcript, the books and everything else, you can go to GDApodcast.com. Thanks, Kelly.

Kelly McDonald: Thank you.