Episode 150: Beyond Quotas and Commission – Clancy Clark

Predictable Prospecting
Episode 150: Beyond Quotas and Commission - Clancy Clark
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Sales is more than numbers, quotas, and commissions, but it can be easy to lose sight of the value that you can bring to others through sales. Today’s guest is here to talk about going beyond the numbers and embracing service through sales. 

Clancy Clark is the author of a book called Selling by Serving: Find Fulfillment in Your Career and Sell More Than You Ever Thought Possible. He’s also the author behind a method that he uses for selling and speaking and coaching that teaches about how to have a more fulfilling sales career. Listen in to hear what Clancy has to say about the steps of his method, the role of empathy in sales, and how listeners can learn how to apply Clancy’s methods. 

Episode Highlights:

  • How intuition and being human are the precursors for Clancy’s book
  • How Clancy was able to create a series of steps for selling by serving
  • Whether the steps should be followed in a particular order
  • How empathy on the part of salespeople will factor into sales post-Covid-19
  • Looking at sales as a way of helping people
  • Sincerity in sales
  • The ways that listeners can learn about how to apply Clancy’s steps in their practice
  • Method vs. Mastery


Clancy Clark


Marylou: Hi, everyone, it’s Marylou Tyler. This week’s guest is Clancy Clark. Clancy Clark has written a book called Selling by Serving: Find Fulfillment in Your Career and Sell More Than You Ever Thought Possible. He’s also the author behind a method that he uses for speaking, coaching, and working with you. It’s the path to a fulfilling career in sales. 

He’s got the book, and then with the book, he facilitates this to start teaching us how to have a more fulfilling sales career that’s beyond the numbers. You know from the work that I do that we’re always looking at the numbers, we’re looking at the method. What Clancy is saying the method is there, but it’s more than that.

So I wanted him to come on the show today because the book is something that I think you all should get, look at, and take to heart, that selling is really being of service. It’s adding more value. We get so caught up in the end result of the numbers of the commissions, of the goals, of the actuals that sometimes we forget that there’s somebody on the other side of the table from us who was trying to serve. Clancy, welcome to the podcast. I’m so happy that you’re here today.

Clancy: Thank you so much for having me, Marylou. It’s really a pleasure.

Marylou: Really for us, this is almost like opening a window because we are very focused. You say in your book, there are millions of books out there on how to sell, but what you’re trying to do is instill in us that there’s more to selling than selling a widget. It’s about the people. It’s about adding value, of being of service, and I really love the way that you approach this because there is a little bit of method here. But intuition and being human are really the precursor for diving into your book. Would you agree with that? 

Clancy: Absolutely. I’ve been in sales for more than 30 years, and when I was in my late 20s, I took a career aptitude test because I could see that being a sheepherder probably wasn’t my long-term viable career path. I came back high in sales, and I was so upset to hear that because I didn’t want to be one of those sleazy, pushy, half-honest salespeople. Yet, just a short time later, I had my first job in sales, traveling all of Western Montana, calling on cattle ranchers, and I decided that I would make it honorable because I would make it so by bringing the values that I’ve lived by in my personal life to the work.

I have found that it has not only been extremely fulfilling but rewarding as well. So many people have come up to me at awards, ceremonies, banquets, and conferences and said what did you do to get these great results? You rose right to the top of this company or whatever. I always thought it was a funny question because it’s not about what I did. It’s about the values that I’ve embraced and worked from a certain mindset.

Marylou: Okay. You know a lot of the audiences here listening are in what we call tech sales. They’re SaaS-based companies who sell widgets, who sell add-ons to some type of (I call it) the razor and the blade. There’s the razor, which is the main system, and a lot of these folks sell the blades, the different ways of improving workflow, of making life a little bit easier. We tend to lose sight of exactly what you’re teaching us.

My first question to you is, how were you able in the book to create a series of steps? You talked about the seven steps of selling by serving. What got you to encapsulate this what seemingly is more ideological than it is systematic? How did you come up with those seven steps? Let’s first hear for the audience what they are, and then how did you decide that those are the seven to increase your selling by serving attitude?

Clancy: I don’t know if I can remember them off the top of my head. The seven steps of selling by serving are introduction, rapport, discovery, solution presentation, agreement, objections, and I’m missing one.

Marylou: Okay, I can tell you as soon as I pull it up here.

Clancy: Okay, thank you. 

Marylou: But what you had was preparation, step one. 

Clancy: Preparation, there you go. 

Marylou: Engagement, rapport, discovery, solution, presentation, agreement, and objections.

Clancy: I think an important thing here and it’s interesting you brought up SaaS and tech people because one of the people who wrote a quote for the book, Chris Lansing, is in software tech sales, and he calls only on corporations with a billion dollars of revenue or more. He’s all over the country on an airplane or was, and he was part of the focus group when we were putting together this platform. I brought in people for feedback on the messaging and Chris is a real bright guy in his 30s, super successful at what he’s doing. 

But he said to me, “I do not need another book about how to sell more stuff. I need something to help me reconcile what I do out there with my little house in Salida, Colorado, with the white picket fence, and the family and my brand-new son, because those two things are not connected.” He wants to feel like that work has a connection to his life, and I thought that was really great feedback that he had. I’m not saying in any way that because I moniker myself the sales philosopher, not a sales trainer. But this philosophy, these values, and principles can exist within any framework. 

I’m not looking to replace any method that somebody might be already using or proficient in. I’m just saying that within that you can apply these principles to be more fulfilled in what you’re doing, have it have more meaning, and I would also suggest that ultimately you have better results than if you’re chasing the results directly. I always say you can slice and dice sales any way you want, but those are just what made sense to me.

Marylou: Interesting. Are they in a particular order or how did you present this? Do you want us to follow along? See, because here, Marylou is all about the process. […] I know this story in your book about Glen, which you can tell the audience about later, but is all about it’s seemingly haphazard and seemingly there was no process. There was a process, but it was more about intuition overlaying the process. So if I were to look at these seven steps, do I dive in at one first, is that a good course of action?

Clancy: Yeah, that’s a great question, Marylou and I would say so. I mean, to me, they are in sequential order. I think preparation is vital from my appearance to having the supporting material and knowing about my prospect. And to the rapport, I need to align, to have a human connection. 

Like you said, these are not computers. These are not associations. These are not corporations. This is somebody at the keyboard of a computer. This is someone representing an association. These are human beings. The pipeline is not an inanimate object. There are people there, and I think it’s important for us to keep in mind that there are human beings in there. Each one is unique. Each one has their imperfections and their genius areas. I think to go out there and have fun with that and really embrace that is important. 

So, yes, and then we just go on through. It’s all about them. The discovery is when I really begin to learn about this person, their business, their challenges, their needs, and what they’re really wanting to accomplish. Sometimes I help them with providing information that has nothing to do with what I’m selling. But it’s just being of service. It’s just becoming an asset. Then they’re already buying into the idea that Clancy is valuable. I want him around. This guy is working for me. He has my best interests in heart. 

The next thing you know, you get a call from that guy’s friend or that woman’s friend, and they want to talk to you as well and it just grows. The solution presentation is when you get right to it. Yes, we have something that can help you, and I feel it’s very important to put the agreement before the objections because I am not assuming that objections are going to take place.

If I’ve done a great job on the first steps, the agreement is so natural. I use a term, closing the sale. I don’t use it. I say gaining agreement because to me it’s so much more pleasant to think about, and I always want to keep this relationship open. Always open, never close. And then if there are objections, that’s a good thing. That’s something that we need to go back over and put to rest and answer those questions. But I’m not assuming that there’s always going to be objections that I have to overcome in order to close the deal.

Marylou: Right, and I really love the idea of preparation, engagement, rapport, and discovery, because I really feel today, in this selling environment, because we are lazy with all the tools we have, we’re expecting technology like artificial intelligence and deep learning to do these steps for us, which it doesn’t work that way. And a lot of what I am finding myself fighting against constantly with younger sellers or sellers who are focused more on goals versus dealing with humans is we don’t do those steps.

When you do those steps, it allows you—at a deep and meaningful level—to understand the day in the life of the person with whom you’re trying to gain agreement, which is further on down. I think that is something that I really love about the book is you take the time to go through that, and it’s four steps before you actually start presenting a potential solution.

Clancy: Yes. You said that beautifully, Marylou. Ditto on what you said. It’s what Clancy is all about and has always been about. I really believe that as we emerge from this COVID situation, whatever that looks like, whether we all get vaccinated and we can just go back to doing life as normal or whatever it is. But as things begin to return to some normalcy, and we can actually be more face to face with prospects and customers, I believe that there will be a much higher demand in the marketplace expressed through buying decisions of empathy on the part of salespeople and understanding what these clients have been through. 

Because we’re all going through this together—this COVID thing—all over the world. I believe that the people that I would call on and serve, or that you or anyone would call on and serve are going to quietly demand much more empathy, and they will need to know that you’re there on their behalf and acting in their best interest, not just there to earn a snappy dollar.

Marylou: Yeah, and I think, too, to your point, this has given us pause as a community to really reflect on what’s really important for us, and I think that no matter what industry—I know you come from the agriculture business, perhaps, but you’ve done other things. I’m in finances right now where we’re saving lives through digitizing a tissue, and then there’s the tech side where it may seem like it’s […] and all driven by leading and lagging indicators. 

But as to your point, somebody is still at the other end of this that is worried about the future, that’s worried about the future of the company, that wants to make sure that they can do their workflow properly, that they’re able to overcome obstacles, that they mitigate the risk, and all these are all of these are indicators for you from an empathetic point of view of how you can serve these clients and prospect.

Clancy: Yes, absolutely. One of the key messages of the whole beyond the method thing, and you talked about as we emerge from the COVID thing, we’re learning a lot. There’s a lot of great lessons that we can take forward from this if we so choose. I feel like what I really want to do with this is help the individual sales professional be fulfilled and happy in their work and that, of course, then bleeds over onto their life because when it’s all said and done, we’re not going to look back at our life and go, man, if I did just earn that one more trip to Cabo, that would have really been awesome. Or if I had just had that extra $100,000 in the bank, that’s really… Boy, I’m just sorry I didn’t get that.

But at the end of it all, if we look back and say, I didn’t really do what I came here to do. I didn’t help people. I didn’t have the focus on where it should have been. I wasn’t feeling on purpose and fulfilled. And that’s a terrible place to get to. I see a lot of people in sales burned out like you said, young people become overwhelmed, trying to “learn how to sell” as if there’s anything unnatural about helping people. That’s pretty natural and yet young people get all hung up in, oh, where am I? What step am I on here?

They get all nervous rather than just waking up every day to go help people. But my primary thing is to help people be more fulfilled. The opening line of my book says, “Making a sale is never a cause. It’s a result.” And the reason I put that there and it’s so important to me is if making sales a cause, then it is all about the numbers, the quotas, the commissions, the getting through the process and getting on to the next one, or whatever. 

The problem with that is it’s not possible to be fulfilled by doing that. But if it’s as the result, if a sale happens, agreement happens after preparation, rapport, discovery, engagement, and then the agreement happens, then you can feel good about a mutually beneficial business relationship and be fulfilled. 

The beautiful irony that I talk about in the book is that by being fulfilled, bringing that to everything you do and being adaptive like Glen Jones, not applying the same method to everybody, but learning what I need to do differently with this prospect than anything I’ve ever done before to get the most out of this relationship. More sales, more trips to Cabo, more awards and plaques, and money flow into your life than if you’re pursuing it as an end to itself. 

That’s absolutely been my truth over 30 years. I just want to share this with people. I’ve got pulled up right here, and I’d love to share the definition of fulfillment, and it’s my favorite one that I’ve found. It says, “Satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s abilities or character.” This is a big question, Marylou, about what are we really doing out there? We spend a big chunk of our life working and what are we really doing with that? 

The fulfillment part. The best way I can do it is an analogy that I use. I’m in Florida and I’m on vacation down there. I’m at the beach and somebody says, oh, you’re from Colorado. How are you enjoying Florida? And I’m like, oh, yeah, it’s great. We’ve really had a fun time at the beaches and everything else, and I can’t wait to see the Grand Canyon while I’m here.” They’re thinking of me like I’m some sort of a nut case. 

You won’t find the Grand Canyon in Florida because that’s not where it is, and the analogy is you will not find fulfillment in pursuing sales, commissions, quotas, and numbers because that’s not where it is. It’s in being of service to other people, forgetting about your commissions and quotas, helping people, immersing yourself in that, and then everything gets taken care of so nicely and so naturally.

Marylou: Like you say in the chapter of your book, “I looked at myself both as a salesman and a person. Instead of simply being a representative of a company, someone whose job it is to move product on behalf of my employer, I began to think of myself as something much more—a partner, a guide, a leader, a problem solver.”

Clancy: Yeah, absolutely and that is my truth. That’s all I can tell you. I have found that has brought me great satisfaction. When I get up and I’m still doing that. I’m still down in the trenches in sales, and I’ve been doing that for many, many years. And as you said, I’ve been in agriculture, which I love the industry. I’ve also worked in the energy industry and some others that are a little more dog-eat-dog and not as idealistic as American agriculture. 

However, whatever it is, when I wake up, I’m excited to go out. I look at it as I’m going to go make new friends, I’m going to go help people, and how can that be wrong? If I look in the mirror and say, I know I’m going out there to try to help people today. I’m not going out there to try and move the product, close a deal, get on to the next one, or any of that.” 

I’m just saying that I’m going out to help human beings and be a good person, and it’s just amazing, the network that gets built around that and the flow of referrals and how much abundance has flowed into my life in every area. From financial, to the quality of relationships, to the lifestyle I’ve been able to achieve. And I’ve seen that for other people, too, that have embraced the same principles such as sincerity, humility, and enthusiasm. These things are contagious.

Marylou: Yes, and a part of this is you mentioned early on in the call, you have a large referral network of people with whom they want to share their friends, their colleagues, their family members with you because they know that you’re going to be looking out for them uniquely as a person and not trying to sell them something that they don’t need, they don’t want, and they can’t use. It’s a meaningful transaction, a value-added transaction, and they trust that you’re going to do for them what you did for that person, and that’s what it’s all about.

Clancy: Yes, absolutely. I can’t tell you how many examples, and even if I don’t sell somebody something—sincerity to me means truth. It means when I sit down with a prospect, Marylou and I say, I am here to help you, to learn about your business and see if I can help you. They know it. You can’t fake that. You can’t manufacture it, and customers and prospects are sharp. 

They know if you’re faking it, they know if you’re really sincere and when I sit down and I say I’m here to learn. I’m here to help. I’m willing to admit what I don’t know. I’m willing to show you my weaknesses. They respond to that in a very powerful way, rather than trying to act like they know it all and assuming that my product’s going to just—if you don’t use it, you’re just missing the boat or whatever and it’s true. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been with a prospect and said, look, you’re doing very well right now, and these markets are depressed, and we’re in a challenging time, and I believe that the risk for you to change over to our product is greater than the benefit you could receive from it. I think we could help you, but there’s a lot of risk in any change. I recommend that you just stay doing what you’re doing, and if it’s okay, I’d like to stay in touch with you,

Darn, if the phone doesn’t ring a week later and says, my name is Bob and Wayne told me that he was visiting with you and he’s not going to use your product because he’s doing really well. But he said you were a real straight shooter, and I’m having all kinds of problems, and I’d like you to come talk to me because I think I could really benefit from your product. 

Not only that, I do business with that guy and then six months later, something comes up with Wayne where he really does have a need for something that I can offer and it’s a true fit. I ended up gaining his business, even though I told him on the front end I didn’t think he should buy my product because if I was him, I wouldn’t have wanted to buy it at that time. I just think these things are so powerful, and they make the whole experience fulfilling.

Marylou: Yeah. So I’m listening to this. I’m in the audience thinking, I would really like to explore this. What is the very next step? Besides buying your book and reading through it, are there additional ways that we can learn from you and get some ideas on how to apply this in our practice? Because a lot of times people need to have some type of guidance and I go back to that story now of Glen where you drove 1000 miles, go to […] class. When you were expecting a method and system, a process, and your first experience with it was less than what you thought, correct?

Clancy: Yeah, I went up there and after having attended this Jack Knox dog training clinic, who was a harsh Scotsman with a very much of a drill method. Every dog was put through the same paces and every dog did well and that’s good.

Then I go up for this sheepdog training clinic with Glen Jones, whose credentials far exceed Jack Knox’s and I think it’s a farce. The sheep running around and this out of control dog is chasing it. And instead of jumping in there,  taking control, and showing us his method, he starts telling stories and just jokes. 

I thought this guy’s a scam artist or something. And then right at the exact moment, he turns to the dog and says some things and the dog responds like the best dog I’ve ever seen and I’m like, what did I miss? What I had witnessed was what I call mastery. When I say method versus mastery, Marylou, I’m not talking about mastering some technique or method. I’m talking about self-mastery. 

So that what I learned from Glen over those days—and you’re right, it’s hard to put a statistical mark on it. You really can’t, but what I learned from him over watching him and talking to him over the next few days was his whole approach was, yes, there is a framework that you work within, which is the seven steps of selling by serving or whatever method a person chooses. But within that, the big question is, what do I need to do differently than I’ve ever done before to get the most out of the potential of this one unique animal—this sheepdog?

I took that to sales, so rather than meeting with Michelle, who’s my prospect and saying, well, I’ve got this box here and I’m going to put Michelle in it. Well, that might not be very comfortable for her to be in that box. But instead, I need to ask myself the question, what do I need to do differently with Michelle than with anyone I’ve ever dealt with before to get the most out of my relationship with Michelle? What’s the box going to look like that me and Michelle are going to build together? And that’s a big difference there. 

Back to your question about what’s the next step is I do a lot of one-on-one coaching, which is really great for salespeople trying to embrace this because it’s all situational, right? We’re going to talk about all these situations. The other thing I forgot about saying is when I talked to Michelle today, that’s a different Michelle than I was talking to six months ago. 

It’s constantly evolving. No two people are alike. No two situations are alike. What if Michelle’s husband was diagnosed with cancer? Or what if her children are out of the nest now and that’s an issue going on in her personal life? Or what if her business has taken a turn? Things change. It’s ongoing, and so it’s all situational. 

I do speaking and team coaching, and I do one-on-one coaching, and those things are all available. And the beauty of this being a new platform that I just launched in June is I’m doing a lot of exploring co-creation. If somebody was interested and said, yeah, I’d really like to talk to you about working with our team. Well, then we could just, again, build whatever box is going to have the most value for that team. I’m open to all kinds of different scenarios. I just want to help people.

Marylou: Very good. Again, the book is Selling by Serving: Find Fulfillment in Your Career and Sell More Than You Ever Thought Possible. Clancy Clarke, I’ll put all of your contact information on your webpage when we render this in digital format. We transcribe everything so people can take the notes, and I’ll be sure to put all those links in there for everybody. 

The process is beyond the method. It’s a platform that Clancy has developed. If you’re really thinking to take this to the next level and you’re at the point where you’re recognizing that adding more value. When you wake up in the morning, if you ask yourself like I do, how can I add more value? Then you’re ready for something like Clancy’s offering. Thanks so much for your time. I very much enjoyed this and best of luck with the book and with your platform.

Clancy: Thank you for having me. It’s been just truly a joy, and thank you again.