Our guest on this episode is a globe-trotting sales leader and experienced consultant with over 25 years of experience working with Fortune 100 companies. Bill Liebler is an ROI guru who specializes in pre-sales, value selling, and channel sales. He leads a world-wide team focused on driving recurring revenue from North America to Asia Pacific to London. He knows how to sell and he knows how to lead. And, he is sharing his wealth of knowledge with us.
Bill has worked his way up the corporate leadership ladder from a consultant for mid-market companies into the software industry and beyond. He understands that good leaders are a product of good habits. He shares some of those in this conversation, including:
How to establish credibility without knowing everything
How to lead from beside and behind
How to work through change resistance
And much, much more…
This episode takes you across the globe and back again with so much information a leader in any position or any country will find useful. Bill also leaves us with a book recommendation and a few tourist tips for anyone thinking of visiting China. Don’t miss out!
Mentioned in this episode:
Bill Liebler: If you can get your mentee to document and understand the why they want to get to wherever they want to get to, that’s the biggest gift that you can give them.
Voiceover: You’re listening to the Vibrant Leadership podcast with leadership speaker and consultant Nicole Greer.
Nicole Greer: Welcome to the Vibrant Leadership podcast. My name is Nicole Greer and I am the vibrant coach. And today I have a treasured guest. His name is Bill Liebler and he has been a colleague and a friend of mine for over 10 years. Bill, I am absolutely delighted to have you on the Vibrant Leadership podcast.
Bill: Thrilled to be here, Nicole. Looking forward to this.
Nicole: Yeah, I think it’d be great. So I’m going to tell them a little bit about you. But we’ll dive in deeper. But here’s the deal on Bill Liebler and why you should listen in. Bill has been engaged in consulting, pre sales, value selling and channel sales for 25 plus years with fortune 100 companies and has led teams globally in North America, and in Asia Pacific focused on value selling. He has led multiple channel sales teams at IBM which included direct sales to partners as well as selling with and through channel partners.
Today, he leads a global team of value sellers focused on driving reoccurring revenue for an ERP solution. And so he has a very unique vantage point in that the guy has been all over the planet. I’m incredibly jealous of Bill Liebler and that he knows all about sales. So Bill, tell us tell us even more about you. And maybe even like, let us see inside the window of like all the places you’ve been on planet Earth, because I’m telling you, I’m just green with envy, everybody.
Bill: Well, thank you, Nicole. I’ve been really fortunate to be able to travel for work, which also provide an opportunity for my family to move over to Singapore for a couple of years. So we got to go a lot of cool places with my wife and daughter. Here’s a picture of me skipping down or video accident me skipping down the Great Wall of China after my daughter had a nasty fall trying to make her laugh. 10, 15, a balloon over Queenstown, New Zealand.
We as a family swim with the whale shark in the Maldives. So we have been incredibly blast. My daughter is 17, she’s been to 26 countries. COVID is stopping her from getting a few more. And hopefully that will pick up soon and hopefully in in my role I haven’t been based in London. Hope to get over there soon. It’s one of the one of the great cities I haven’t been to. And then I have folks on in Sydney, Singapore and Tokyo. So hopefully we’ll get back to those soon and pick up the travels and adventures that have been so much fun.
Nicole: No, that’s so great. Yeah. So for those of you who have wanderlust, the sales leadership role is a great one to get into. Because, as we all know, I mean this this global thing, it’s a thing. I mean, we are selling all over the planet. And so I’d like to start off by just understanding how you got into leadership roles. You know, I’m assuming like most folks, you started out as a, you know, a beginner, and then you somehow they picked up on the fact that you think this Bill guy could teach other people how to do things and lead a team. So how did that all happen for you?
Bill: Wow. So a long time ago, I was a consultant at Deloitte Consulting focused on mid market companies. And the group the small group I was a part of, we grew we did well. And ultimately, the manager I work for left. And so I got the opportunity to move into management there and began to go through their management leadership training. I ended up going to work for a client leading IT for that organization then moved on to another one. So over about six or seven years kind of build leadership skills within companies helping not only drive the IT function, but because of my background, I was able to help drive, operational improvements, sales CRM integrations, and Nicole that experience really helped me when I ended up leaving on that and moving into the software business and making that change.
I went back to being an individual contributor for a short time and then jumped into leading consulting delivery teams as well as pre sales teams. So everywhere I’ve been including my current role, where I spent three years as an individual contributor, and then applying for in and received the global job a few months ago. I think it really just came down to one I was willing to say, hey, I want to do that. I knew early on that that I was interested in management that led into the what’s the difference between being a manager and a leader. And I guess it’s partly personality, it’s partly desire to some folks prefer to stay in the background. Others don’t mind being up front. And I guess I’m one of those. Don’t mind being up front guys.
Nicole: Yeah, that’s for sure. Yeah. And so one really important thing that Bill just said, I don’t want you to miss because he, he gave us a lot right there. But one thing I want you to hear is he said he put his hand up. And I think this is a huge habit, that young leaders need to really understand that, you know, when you see there’s a need, you hear the other leaders saying, we got to get this done, and you think you have an idea or something you can contribute, you got to put your hand up, you got to get into volunteer mode. So really, really huge tip he gave you right there. And then I think your other comments about personality and desire, you know.
Is putting your personality to work for you and then having a desire. Well. So you know, I like to call that desire thing, Bill, a willingness. You know, it’s like I yeah, so I think I think that’s really important. Okay. So I want you to, you know, that that little space of time you were talking about what were the things you did, right, during that period? You know, like, if you were to think about the habits, you know, I have a SHINE coaching methodology. And one of the things I want all leaders to think about is their habits. So were there things that you repeatedly did, or just good ideas that you put to work in that timeframe that got you ahead?
Bill: Yes, just to clarify that timeframe. Going from me and individual contributor to a leader? Yeah, I think it’s a combination of I’ve never been afraid to work, it looked for opportunities. In consulting, you had to take risks, you had to be comfortable, really, you know, going in and leading efforts. And, quite frankly, a very young age, being able to walk in and do that, I think a couple of things that paid off for me was one I built relationships with clients, and so unsolicited, you know, many of them would communicate to the partners and the managers, I worked with that, you know, hey, we really appreciate the way this project was executed, we appreciate how I engaged with them.
And so it was about building internal and external relationships that I think highlighted the fact that I was executing a job that was oftentimes one or two or three of us on a team, it was not, you know, a massive team, because we just the clients we were focused on. So I think that and the fact that I’m, you talked about raising a hand. I, for instance, became kind of a de facto editor for the team, they realized that I could take, you know, deliverables and clean them up. And not only just fix grammar and things like that, but actually popping it in a way that just improved it. So you know, being willing to put extra time into help, the overall team established the fact that if I have those habits, as you put it, that those habits would translate into potentially being a good manager and potentially good leader.
Nicole: That’s awesome. Okay, so here’s the things that he said to build relationships internally and externally write that down everybody, and to be the de facto editor or be have like, some kind of special role that you place yourself in that makes the team successful. But I will tell you grammar is a thing. I have seen so many PowerPoints where you’re doing there like, there’s t h e r e there’s t h e i r, there’s ta you know, I mean, there’s a contraction. So like, you know, knowing your grammar. And then another thing he said maybe a couple paragraphs back, everybody, I don’t want you to miss is he said that I helped them do operations.
So there’s a big piece of business acumen. You just can’t be the sales person. You have to actually have well rounded business acumen. How do you pick up your business acumen along the way? How did you learn how a company really runs? Because at the end of the day, the sales person needs to understand how this cost of this product is going to fit into the bottom line. Right. And so this has to do everything with operations once we put the software and so how did you figure out business acumen? How’d that happen? I know you went to Appalachian State.
Bill: I did. An MBA certainly helped. This is a this is a great question. It’s a conundrum we face today with so many younger folks, particularly where I am now we have an entire team of people who were one or two years out of college that we’re trying to help them. I got really fortunate. I, my first job out of grad school, was actually selling computers. And I was focused on selling to manufacturing companies. And a point there was a gentleman there with years and years of experience. And he was willing to teach a class. So every Tuesday, or every other Tuesday, whatever it was, I had to drive an hour. Sit down from four to seven o’clock, and go through the training for the American production inventory control society, Apics as it’s known today. And at the end of that we had to get certified, we had to be able to pass the class.
So it was a ton of work. But it was really interesting. So I got that Apics certification, certified in production, inventory management. I then followed that up on my own and dug into what they called Certified Integrated Resource Management. So worked through that curriculum as well past the test. And I was fortunate in that I got to go spend a lot of time with customers or prospects walking around their plants. Walking around their businesses, when, when I moved over to Deloitte got into consulting. It was the same thing. I I’m curious, I’m not afraid to ask questions. I, I don’t ever believe that you have to. You have to establish your credibility. But you can do that through asking good questions and listening versus having to come in thinking you know, everything.
And so, to me, the business, the business act, human grew through that willingness to engage to ask questions. I remember the first time I went through a furniture, upholstered furniture plant, like, why do they do this? Why do they do that? And just learning about it. And the thing I have found over 40 plus years of doing this is if you can get a customer or prospect, the thing they liked to talk about the most is their business, their company. Obviously, their families, maybe their hobbies are a good way for a little personal connection. But if you can get them talking about their business, you will learn if you listen, I was telling someone the other day, the old line, your mother grandmother told you have two ears and one mouth use them in that ratio.
I’m a firm believer, you actually have two ears and two eyes, and one mouth. Use them in that ratio. So you can ask questions and be quiet and listen. And you’re curious, and we’ll work outside, you know, normal requirements to build the business acumen and wherever you are, whether that’s how to be a better seller, whether it’s how to understand business better, whether it’s, you know, figuring out, you talked earlier about you got to understand cost versus value of the product. Understanding what makes your target market audience tick. That’s what my team and I do. All day, we ask questions, we listen, we are looking for, where can we help link what our product does to new business to improve gross margins or improve revenue or take cost out or make them more efficient? So I said a lot there and I’ll let you summarize.
Nicole: Yeah, because I and that’s, that’s kind of my style is I want people to you know, really take away the nuggets, because sometimes my guests like you Bill have just so much genius to share. It’s crazy. Yeah. So this is what this is what he just said, first of all, he was throwing out lots of business acumen lingo just now. Okay, so if you don’t know what those phrases mean, then that is a total like wake up that you have to understand how the p&l works. The profit and loss statement works. You got to understand the ins and outs of that. And you may think that your client customer isn’t going to share that with you.
But if you’ve been quiet and listening and asking very good questions, there’ll be like, okay, this person is not a dummy I’m dealing with. And so now I can start to open up the veil and share some of what’s really going on. And that’s when you can take your product that you’re selling and match it with his pain point. Right. So really, really good stuff. And then I love what you said that you’ll get way more credibility, if you will just ask the questions and be curious and do great listening instead of going in thinking you know everything. Yeah, so that’s one of the biggest mistakes salespeople can make. Would you agree, Bill?
Bill: Yeah, absolutely. I think I I see a lot in, in the younger sellers I work with, they feel like they have to come in and really prove something. And it’s enough to have a short opening, give them a chance to at least listen to you. But I’m a firm believer that particularly in selling, the more that you can build your credibility through asking questions and listening. And then when you hear an answer, peel it back some more, dig in. I actually teach our first year folks that go through our day, their business development reps, so they’re on the phone, they’re prospecting, they’re taking inbound calls. I have a slide and there’s a little dog who’s digging a hole. And the next picture is, is a guy standing in a hole about 10 feet deep. And I’m like, this is one time where you absolutely don’t stop digging. And you you do it professionally, you do it politely. You don’t interrupt.
But when somebody says something, like, you know, one of my favorite is our reporting isn’t very good. And I hear all the time the feedback from from the young rep. So they need new system, because the reporting isn’t very good. So what, what does that mean? And it’s just one is one or two more questions. Well, how does that impact you? Is it does it impact you and the time it takes to get the information? Or are you? What do you have to do to try to make this is a week we have a whole bunch of Excel spreadsheets? Do you think you’re missing something? Well, yeah. And there, you can just then plant the seeds of well, if you had that information, do you think you could improve gross profit a point or two? Or do you think you could reduce Inventory? Do you think you could drive more ecommerce business, whatever their business is? to then be able to address that? I think is is so key.
Nicole: Yeah. And you know, as I’m listening to you, you’re giving us this great sales advice. But then I’m also thinking, in my mind, is that this relates totally to being a leader. And so you have many people that report to you, you know, and when you’re talking with your employees, or your associates about what’s going on, you know, trying to get a report out of them, and they’re like, everything’s fine. You know, I’m thinking that these same skills that you’re talking about, you know, digging, digging, digging, are skills of a leader. Is that how. Well tell us a little bit about how you handle your team.
You know, I think all leaders kind of handle their teams differently. And when I say handle, I don’t mean like a dog trainer. I mean, like, you know, how do you work it into your day? You know, like, how do you handle it for yourself, because many of the leaders out there are actually doing a day job. And then they’re also responsible for other people. I mean, it’s a it’s a very heavy lifting thing we all know to be a leader. So how do you kind of juggle all that? What is your what is your process or procedure that you put in place to kind of handle all that
Bill: It is a challenge. And for the last three months moving into this new leadership role here I have been doing my old day job and the new one.
Nicole: Right, right. I know.
Bill: But I think part of it is I kind of have this thought process of you lead from behind, beside and in front. Some people or some people are kind of like, huh? But the front part is how can we get a mutually agreed upon vision and mission? And not one that I just write in hand to people, but how do we have an agreement of where are we going? What are we trying to do? And I know you’re big on mission statements and having a mission. So that’s the in front part. The beside part is scheduling the time to, you know, do one on one calls to and not have those just focused on the numbers and the execution. I had one this morning with with our team lead in London.
And yeah, we talked about because we just finished our year. So we talked about, you know, how did the year end? Let’s talk about goals for next year. But we also talked about, hey, what’s going on in the UK with COVID going on? You know, how’s the wife? How’re the kids? Are able to get out ride your bike again? Are you able to go to the pub with friends? So it’s it’s about leading, but also scheduling enough time so it’s not just curt perfunctory checkboxes on hey, here are your KPIs. You’re doing good here. You’re not doing good there. What are you going to do to fix them. If you don’t, at least for me if I don’t have some of that connection, and I’m purposeful about when we have those conversations you make time for.
And it’s the same thing. If I get a call or or slack message from someone, I do my best to respond quickly. And I’m a firm believer, as is the person I work for now that people are the most important aspect. So you can park, a spreadsheet or something you’re doing and engaged in that conversation. And then what the behind part is really working say that your teammates, you have their back. And it’s not that you’re back there shoving them from behind, but that they know whether it’s we recently had had someone whose daughter reached into a book bag and a spiral thing from a spiral notebook and somehow come loose and it went so far into her thumb. She had to go to the hospital and literally have it removed.
And so when when Andy, let me know, I’m like, okay, dude, you know, do you need to go to the hospital? Do I need to pick up whatever customer calls you? What do I need to do? In that case? We didn’t. But he knew that, that was an option. If you know recently, you know, a couple months ago, my mother passed away. I had a person I worked for, and my team was behind me. I mean, and it’s, it becomes a reciprocal thing where when folks trust you, that you’re sheltering them from corporate, the corporate storm, I’ll say instead of something less appropriate, when you’re doing that, and you’re walking beside them, and they know that you have your back. I think it sets the right tone, and it empowers people to go execute, but also gives them the comfort that they can reach out and say, I need help, and that you aren’t going to be like judgmental about the fact that they are reaching out for help.
Nicole: Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah. And so I love a lot of what you just said, but the thing I think is is so important is that you said lead from the front, from the side, from beside, and from behind. I think that that is huge. That leaders need to get their head wrapped around that. So I love what you said there. And then hey, did y’all hear that vocabulary word of the day that Bill Liebler threw out there, because I want to tell you about Bill Liebler is he is a big word person. We didn’t talk you didn’t mention this in your habits. But what is one of your greatest habits Bill? What do you do almost every day?
Bill: I read things and I looked at the word of the day.
Nicole: He is a huge reader. Okay. And so we all know if you’re going to lead you better read. And so I think that’s so important. So Bill reads everything. From stuff that spiritual to economics to whatever. So what’s your latest sales book? What’s the most interesting sales book you’ve been reading lately? You could throw it out for everybody, maybe a recommend or not recommend? We’ll see what it is.
Bill: Yeah. And I’m not sure how widely available it is. It’s a book called Evolved Selling. And it’s by a gentleman named Tom Pisello, p i s e l l o. I named Tom since 2004. In fact, I recently did a podcast with Tom. And it’s all about he has spent his career focused on value based selling. In fact, he has trademarked himself as the ROI guy. So we have a running joke that when people call me that at work, I tell him, hey, you’re violating this guy who I know’s trademark. I should be the ROI dude. I don’t think I want to run with that.
But Evolved Selling is it’s really about what’s different today. In the sense that the sale cycles are different consumers are so much more educated by the time somebody reaches out to a company to learn more about their product, generally, they’ve researched it. They know where you stand in the industry, they dug in to so much about it, that sellers have to be more comfortable picking it up with a buyer that is educated. But he also points out consistently that, particularly in technology sales, but I think it’s true across a wide spectrum of products and solutions is that they don’t have time, or they don’t necessarily know how to map their business needs to a product and create a business case.
And so it’s all about, you know, how do you reach the audience, but then how do you engage with them and how do you deliver value You may say messaging, how do you sell with value? How do you get out of the feature function? You know, in the IT world, we call it the speeds and feeds and get more into what’s the impact on the business? And really understanding how you do that. And then Tom branches out into more of how do you go about it digitally and some other things. He sold his company to or merged with with another larger organization, and man is just doing some really cool stuff. So I’m just not sure I happen to get a copy directly from him. I believe it’s available on Amazon. I’m not 100% sure.
Nicole: Okay. Well, we will check it out, put in the show notes for sure for everybody. We’ll see what’s going on there. But I don’t want you to miss what Bill just said he he said, you know, instead of the way I grew up in sales was features and benefits. What do they call it in the IT world? Say it again?
Bill: Feeds and speeds. Speeds and feeds.
Nicole: Okay. All right. I just learned something again. All right. So. So we got to figure out how the product ends up being a something that we can turn into a business case for the organization. Did I get that right? Yeah. Okay. So you know, it’s got to make sense to the bottom line, again, understanding how that P&L works, and how much time money and energy we’re gonna save. The organization is absolutely huge. And I thought, maybe not ROI dude. But ROI guru. I think you’re more of a guru, dude. I think it right now. I think you’re a guru. Okay.
All right, well, so we’ve talked a lot about, you know, sales, and you know, in the sales operation, and I know for a fact that you have tons of one on ones, and I’m going to call that coaching, I’m going to put this word on top of that one on one. So while Bill is building rapport internally, which he said earlier, I know he’s also coaching when he’s on this call, you know, so asking those powerful questions using his two ears his two eyes in his one mouth. So I know that that’s going on. So how would you define leadership, Bill? You’ve, you’ve gone through the journey, you know, you understand the difference between managing people, which is let’s get the tasks done. But what is what is leadership in your mind? What’s your definition?
Bill: It really goes back to kind of that hate to go back, but it’s the front, beside, behind is, is how the structure but I think, you know, if you want to define that more clearly, maybe it’s just that the ability to inspire a group of people to engage on the journey with you. And you know, the metaphor may be it’s kind of like if you if you hire a guide, I was thinking about this, Nicole, when we went to Beijing. I’d been there a bunch, family hadn’t been and we hired a guide. She was the expert, she took us around, we trusted her, we trusted her vision, you know, we listened, we asked a lot of questions.
When she suggested we go to the Ming tombs in the morning, and the Great wall on the afternoon, we didn’t argue. There was nobody at either site, for place that’s usually like, you know, Chinese Disneyland. So I think that’s part of it is that, that you establish the credibility with your team that they trust, and believe in the vision, they have enough trust in you to raise questions. I’m a big believer in something that’s disappearing from corporate America. And that is that a little bit of professional conflict is a really good thing. Unfortunately, we’re getting a little touchy feely and in corporate America on some of those. Now, it can also go to an extreme, so you have to know when to stop it.
But being open to listening to other people’s ideas, being willing to adjust your plan, the folks who are down doing the day to day jobs, know, a lot. And so the other thing as a leader is you have to be able to lead without, you know, being so far down in the day to day that you miss out on all the other things you have to do. But you also have to know, okay, who in the organization can I trust to bring me good feedback to tell me what’s going on? what’s working well, what’s not, and being willing to take that, consume it, think about it and make changes. Sometimes you have to make changes on the fly.
Sometimes you’ve thought it out really well. And let’s go to the Ming tombs in the morning. It’s empty, Great Wall of China’s empty in the afternoon. If not, we’re going to be in the hordes of people. You know, that’s a thought out plan that you’re executing, but you also have to adjust on the fly. And so it’s a tough thing though, you know, right. The one sentence leadership is is probably why you know, John Maxwell and others were able to write books.
Nicole: Well John says one thing: influence. You know, Nicole Greer adds one word, right. I think it’s positive influence.
Bill: And that’s a lot of what I’m saying is you influence people into agreeing with where you’re trying to go. You do it positively. And certainly that’s, that’s leadership. How do you manifest that? How do you create an environment where you are creating positive influence, and you’re getting real feedback. So one of the greatest examples I can give you is I had an employee comfortable enough to call me years ago and tell me at the end of a call about their forecast and everything, that I wasn’t myself, and I knew something was wrong. And I, it was a wake up call, and wow, I had to do some changing, I had just, you know, that whatever was gnawing at me was was coming through and, and she was good enough person and had enough courage and trusted me that she can say that. So I think it’s also because you know, what, you can do a lot of negative influence as a leader as well.
Nicole: 100%. Yeah, and, you know, Bill, I think that boils down to the quality of your character. And, you know, I talk about character a lot. And the problem with character or integrity is everybody thinks they have it. And the reality is, is like, integrity is not like a permanent state it like a comes and goes, like, I have good days, and I have bad days, you know, if you’re around me, on my bad day, I’m probably a negative influence. Because you might get a little, you know, gripe come out of my mouth. And then now you all have heard it, you know, so so I think it’s really being able to stay in character, or know when you’re not in the best state. And like, you know, pull yourself back. Now what I heard what I heard you saying your story, is that this this gal practiced, like, radical candor with you?
Bill: Oh, it was I mean, but she and she asked permission to do it. Oh, can you tell me anything? Yeah, you can tell me anything. I knew she would do it in, in a very caring way. And so yeah, I do think there are times and people that you have to gently massage, to get them to change and to not put them on, you know, kind of on the defensive variety. Don’t feel like they’re back in the corner. There’s other people that kind of need the deep tissue massage, right? They need to be a little bit of a squeeze to say, hey, wait a minute. Wow, I, I needed to know that. And I think, hard to do that, without knowing the person and then knowing a little bit about them. And knowing what makes them tick, nobody, but if you can’t, can you pledge everyone exactly the same? It’s gonna resonate with some it’s gonna be just a disaster with others.
Nicole: Yeah, yeah. And so I’m kind of also hearing that, like, you’ve got to read their personality, back to the two eyes and the two years, you know, observe how this person is and then try to figure out the right approach, which of course, is sales? What do you say that leading and sales are very close? What’s the similarity in your mind between leadership and sales? I think they’re very close actually.
Bill: Well, it’s, no, that’s an interesting point. And you look at a lot of the best sellers never want to leave and go into management or leadership, right? But the best ones do lead and lead very well. They organize a team around them to work and opportunity. In our world, there can be two of them, there can be 20 of them. All playing different roles, all having to be orchestrated. All needing leadership on where do you want this to go? Because if the salesperson isn’t leading it, someone else who’s going to step up and try to. So I think there are a ton of similarities and particularly around one knowing should they engage in the sale or not? I think it’s one of the hardest things to teach new sellers is not the fall in love with everyday opens. There’s bad deals out there.
So you know what, don’t spin your wheels on this when there’s three over here that that you could do somewhere so so having that ability to recognize it and the courage to walk away is one aspect of it. But then the other is just really, you know, the organizational aspects, the ability to get the team behind working with you, but then they also subtly lead the customer. Customers by certain things every day, right. They buy pens and papers and whatever every day, they don’t buy new enterprise resource planning systems is going to run their whole business, they don’t buy a million dollar pieces of equipment.
They don’t find the expensive trucks or specialty equipment or MRI machines or whatever it is that you’re selling. Or big consulting projects or small consulting projects or coaching engagements, right? So, being able to work with a customer and figure out how do I lead them through this process, without crossing the line of them, saying, Hey, wait a second, you know, you got the ring through my nose, and you’re dragging me down the path, I don’t want to go down. But it’s, it’s that subtlety again, building the rapport so that when you suggest a next step, they’re comfortable with it, and it feels comfortable, I tell my team in value selling our job is to, by the end of presenting a business case to a customer, that it’s theirs.
If we do that we’ve done our job. If they haven’t agreed with it, and they haven’t bought into it, we fail. It’s got to become theirs. And that’s the same thing. You’re leading them through, hey, here’s my logic, here’s the impacts, you agree with us? What can we do differently? Do we need to tweak something, and those those skills really, really are key. And I will tell you Nicole, the best sellers I’ve worked with, are absolutely leading that sales process and the team around them and their customers.
Nicole: Yeah. And if I just take everything you just said, what you should probably rewind and listen to everybody. Because even if you’re not in sales, he’s talking about like, let’s say you have a change you want to bring into your organization, like for example, you’re talking about computers and software, because that’s all that’s, that’s Bill’s major expertise. But I’m working on a project right now where there’s resistance to the new software, because like, that’s phase two of this whole thing is like Bill sells you the software.
And now you as the leader have to get everybody happy about this new process. But what he said was, you know, you’ve got to build the rapport. And you’ve got to take people through what you were thinking when he went through the process, what your logic was, I think you said, you know, and that it becomes the their project, not the leaders project. This isn’t the organization’s software change. This is my software change. Right. So I think everything you’re saying just beautifully relates right over to any really any kind of role as a leader. Well, you know, you have been all over the world.
Bill: I was just going to say change management is one of the hardest things to lead. You’re spot on.
Nicole: Yeah. 100%. And so if you don’t have rapport with your people, because there’s two things required for change is engagement and commitment. Right? If you guys, a lot of people be like, I’m just gonna sit back, wait, see how this change happens? We’ll see what goes on. I’m just gonna keep doing my job, you know, but like, if you can sell your people on the value of the change, then you know, then you’ve got magic starting to happen. Okay, so I have serious wanderlust. Bill knows this. He’s painfully aware. But if you notice, right behind his head is a large map. Okay. He’s been how many countries? Have you been to Bill?
Bill: Somewhere between 35 and 40.
Nicole: Okay. All right. So I think the way of the world is, well, you know, we’ve been, we’ve been, we’ve been virtual for a lot, a lot of months now. But I do think that if you really want to help somebody, and you want to sell something to somebody, you have to understand their environment. So I think salespeople will still be getting on planes. That’s, that’s what my imagination tells me. But when they go off to these other countries, and let’s say I’m like, I’m a sales leader. And I’m going to be taking on a global position where I’m going to manage people like you in London and all these different places.
You know, you’ve learned a lot about culture. So what what would it, what would you tell a brand new leader who’s going to have people in different countries? I mean, I have I have a brother in law, who managed people in India for the first time and like, he’s, he’s a great guy from Wilkes County, North Carolina. I mean, and now he’s managing people in India. So like, this is a thing. What would you say about the global leadership piece?
Bill: It’s a unique challenge in the sense that it’s hard to really be able to dig in from afar and understand you know, what’s different between the Indian culture compared to the German culture or compared to the Brazilian culture if you will. So part of it is, again, trying to engage them in a way where they they do see the vision, and they do understand what you were just talking about that, okay, I need to be committed. I need to, to do these things. But you also, you know, I mean, to me your point about getting on airplanes. That is by far when when I lived in Singapore, I had, I had a team in Eastern Europe, I had two folks in India, I had five people in China, I had somebody in Australia, I had somebody in Korea, somebody in Brazil, I got out there with them.
And not only went to their offices and sat down internally, but I went out to customers with them, I went out to understand what is the difference between and I was learning value selling again, so so sales support role, but what’s the difference between how people in Jakarta look at value versus how to somebody in Sydney? And you can default to some things, okay, Sydney is much more like us, then Jakarta is that I find that, that that is so important. And it’s so hard, particularly now, so many of the teams are global. I, I have a friend with a large technology company responsible for basically customer deployments and major corporations. He’s got folks in and he’s got folks in the US, he’s got folks in European stout folks in, you know, Eastern Europe, and you’re trying to make it a cohesive team is about setting some standards and some expectations and doing it in a manner that can be acceptable.
The other part is, to me, I mean, I, I, when when I luckily, my, the person on my team and Sydney, I’ve known her forever. And so it was really easy to talk with him. But I mean, when he says, well, it may be 2024, before you can see me here, I’m like, excuse me? You know, and I don’t need to go off and Australia. But I do want to go back this because I love the country. But you know, I do want to get to Tokyo and sit down with the person there because the Japanese culture is so unique and and the way that they engage internally and externally, it’s so different. I want to understand what’s working, what’s not. And maybe I can help, sometimes being the outsider. And and viewed with, you know, a certain different perception can really help a leader go in, and you can get meetings that your team can’t, and you can have conversations they can’t.
And it’s a chance to listen, it’s a chance to get perspective. You know, one of the best stories ever heard with a high school principal is on an elevator in Korea. And he was wearing a jacket that said he was a high school principal, and he didn’t think twice about it. Everybody he interacted with on that elevator getting off was so deferential to him and he finally asked somebody what what’s going on? Oh, you’re a high school principal. In Korea, you are revered you you are, there’s so much respect for what you do. They will treat you very, very special. And he was like, oh, wow. Very different. Sometimes I was treated in the US. So you know, part of it is understanding.
Nicole: Oh my gosh.
Bill: I know. But it but it was a cool story to hear. But it also gave me a perspective of you know, you have to go in respecting their culture, you can’t go in and you will do it our way you will do it the way we do it here. So it takes patience. It takes working through it takes again asking questions, that understanding but it also at the end of the day, you’ve got to have you know something for them that motivates them to perform. And you know, ultimately leadership is about influence but you want that influence to get an outcome.
So what can you do if you can’t go be there? No, at least whom you can meet face to face, you can talk you can try to understand and you will find there are some cultures that you know in German. No doesn’t no me no and yes doesn’t mean yes, necessarily. My other my big tip on cultures where you don’t speak the language is absolutely have someone with you that speaks the language can understand the subtleties. Because they need to be your code so you can learn and be better because if not, you’re very exposed and and forcing someone to speak English will probably not lead to a great outcome if they aren’t comfortable with it. So that was a lot again!
Nicole: No, I think I think I think there are people that are, you know, going into these positions that are like, you know, excited, you know, because they have the wanderlust, or they’re curious about other countries, they want to go places do things, but then it’s like, okay, how do I learn the difference between China and you said, Brazil and you know, Germany, etc. I mean, and one time I, Bill and I had a call together, and I’m like, where are you? Where do you remember where you were you were eating like a sausage somewhere outside on a patio? What, like Croatia?
Bill: Might have been Lithuania, although it was really cold when I was there. So I wouldn’t have been outside. Could have been Germany could have been Australia.
Nicole: It was it was really cool. So I mean, I think that I think Bill’s life story and his his sales careers really want to take a look at you can do all these exciting things. Okay, last question. I’ve had you on here a long time. But I think we’re learning a lot today. So I want to ask you the single question, this last question. If you were mentoring a single special listener, who’s listening right now, and you said, okay, here’s my final piece of advice. What piece of advice would you give them?
Bill: I think that it would be, and I’m assuming the question is from the perspective of the mentor.
Bill: Is to is to work with that person to get them to articulate, where do they want to go? Why do they want to go there? What does it mean to them? I’ve got someone on my team right now, who can answer that question. And multiple of us have worked, tried to work with him, he’s exceptionally bright, has really good ideas. But it’s kind of like, Well, yeah, I kind of think I want to, you know, maybe go into management. Okay, why? And if they can’t answer that, then I think as a mentor, you got to go challenge them. Don’t they want to answer the why. You know, the how is on a scale of one to 10? How is the three? Why is the nine or the 10? Right? Why do you, I got to ask that question, Nicole, after being here three years, in a happy individual contributor, putting in way less hours, way less headaches, out on calls at seven o’clock at night with Asia Pacific?
And I can answer that why, you know, I, I missed leadership. I missed having a global perspective and missed understanding business and a bigger point of view. So I could I can articulate the why when I went through the series of interviews and had a panel with poor people. I think that when I thought about that question, it really came down to if you can get your mentee to document and understand the why they want to get to wherever they want to get to. That’s the biggest gift that you can give them. But it has to come from them. Right? It’s just like what you do with coaching. Work through Why do you want to go there? And if and if you can do that, you both win?
Because the mentee is going to always be like, wow, they really helped me get clarity, which I know is another one of your big, big hot button words, which is awesome. But it also helps them understand the why not. And that that may be equally as important is why why wouldn’t you want to do that. And be able to do that you have a plus minus I, when I decided to apply for the role I have now I had a plus minus sheet and I just sat there and took an hour wrote down and the pluses far outweigh the minuses. And I went and talked to my wife about some of the minuses and got her mind but you know, I knew then. Yes, I want to pursue this. Is that why not list had been really long, I would have just comfortably kept on keeping up.
Nicole: Yeah, that’s awesome. Awesome. So you know, I have this little TED Talk that’s about six years old now. I got to get another one cooking now that we can take our masks off and all get together. And, and one of the things that I asked people all the time is you know their why. And they are you know, why are you doing this? Or what do you really want is my question and they go I don’t know. Like that’s the default answer. It’s almost like we shouldn’t go after what we want. But here’s here’s here’s the most important thing that tie this all in a little bow here. As Bill was saying, if you can help as a leader if you can help your your followers your mentee, as you said figure out their why. And it’s their why then they don’t say I don’t know.
They know that they know that they know that they know that they’re doing the right thing and it’s an intrinsic motivation and Have an extrinsic motivation that comes from within their body. That sounds weird. But that’s exactly how it is. When you said earlier, I have a desire, and I called it willingness. When that why is answered, the willingness button gets pushed. And so I just, I just love what you said. So Bill, it has been absolutely delightful to be with you today, I enjoyed chatting with you so much. If we have, we might do another like sales series in the future. And I’d like to dive a little bit deeper into value selling, would you come back and hang out with me for another 40 minutes or so? Would you do that? Do you have time in your busy schedule?
Bill: We made time to be on the phone from all corners of the world. So I’ll always make time for you Nicole.
Nicole: That’s fantastic. If somebody wanted to get ahold of you, Bill and find out more about you or, you know, tap you for something. Would there be a way that you would like for them to get a hold of you?
Bill: Yeah. You know, on LinkedIn, it’s Bill Liebler. L i e b l e r, that’s probably the best way. Too much email in my world. So. Yeah, so that would probably be the absolute best way.
Nicole: Yeah. So go on there. When you go into connect, it says, do you want to write a message? Say yes. And so say, Dear Bill, I heard you on the Vibrant Leadership podcast. I’d like to pick your brain for 10 minutes. Can I do that? And Bill’s the kind of guy that will let you do it. All right. It’s been great to be with all you fine people. Thank you so much Bill Liebler for being with me today on the Vibrant Leadership podcast.
Bill: You’re welcome, Nicole. It was fun.
Voiceover: Ready to up your leadership game? Bring Nicole Greer to speak to your leadership team, conference or organization to help them with her unique SHINE method to increase clarity, accountability, energy and results. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to check out Nicole’s TEDx talk at vibrantculture.com/TEDTalk.