EPISODE 033
Pipeline is great, but are you closing?
Katrina Keyes is a gifted salesperson, problem-solver, and inspiring communicator specializing in the field of SaaS sales and sales psychology. 
In this episode, we explore the underlying motivations that led to her career in sales and why discovering your true self outside your career is essential to success in today’s ever-evolving business landscape.

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Host - Monique Mills: 

So the first question I usually ask is, are you an entrepreneur or a corporate employee? 

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

I wouldn't say I'm a corporate employee. I'm a corporate employee. I'm not an entrepreneur, but I have been in SaaS sales for the last seven years. So definitely an employee. 

Host - Monique Mills: 

Okay. MBA or no MBA?

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

No MBA. Lots of reasons for that.

Host - Monique Mills: 

Can you tell us the first one? I love this question. 

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

Sure, so do I. So I grew up, I went to an all-girls high school, which was fantastic. Loved it, but very much so kind of, for sure a degree was always on our minds, but even that next step of getting an MBA was as well. And so my degree is actually in health administration and public policy, but yeah, so long story from that for another day, for sure. But I got into sales and it was after graduating. I just didn't really have an interest in, um, doing a lot in healthcare. So I knew why I had started, but it really wasn't the reason that I wanted to like what I wanted to do with my life or career. So I did work in the healthcare field for a little while and then got introduced to sales. And I was like, this is exactly where I need to be. I was like, yeah, it's particularly SaaS sales because you're solving a problem. Yeah, like you're solving a problem. You're actually making a business better. And so for me, that was really the hook line sinker for me is when I figured out we're actually making things better. That's when I was sold. I was sold to sell. 

Host - Monique Mills: 

So here's the thing. I'm in the tech startup world. And I know that it's pretty difficult for health tech companies, startup companies to really get their foot in the door. A lot of them depend upon those who have done like pharmaceutical sales and different other types of sales, doorways into these organizations, and they really need someone like you. How do you feel about helping out those kinds of organizations? 

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

What's interesting is I have only spent time with one type of healthcare organization. Well, SaaS product, I guess you could say at Pathfinder Health Innovations, it was an Autism and Behavioral Health clinical product as well as insurance billing, but I'm more so focused about what am I solving the problems of, like, what market do I need to know about and what are the problems that they have today so that I can deliver value with the product that I'm selling. So I actually, haven't really been in the healthcare market in a really long time. And yeah, I'm totally fine with that. Um, because I, sometimes I think it's a little bit more fun kind of outside of kind of where you were trained in. So then, like you're just learning a whole lot of stuff from a whole lot of people and a whole lot of spaces. 

Host - Monique Mills: 

Yeah, it's interesting. I just want to give you a heads up because tech startups from all industries, listen to this, they might reach out to you for help.

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

It's totally fine. Totally fine. I've actually, so I have sold four premium product companies, so where there's a free version to download and interact with two long sales cycles of like 90, 90 days to six months. Um, so I do think that I’ve got a really. Kind of well-rounded perspective of SaaS sales as well as the psychology, right? Uh, particularly of SaaS of groups. Like I know it feels like sales, except I don't think it really is.

Host - Monique Mills: 

Yeah. Like there are certain things that are, you know, uh, and it depends on what type, and I know you call yourself a consultative salesperson, which I would as well. Right. Um, but yeah, there's some basic to sales, but no, it's not all.

Guest - Katrina Keyes

And that's, that's why I always say SaaS sales. I'm always making sure it's not just sales in general, but SaaS sales, and even within SaaS sales, you have different types of methodologies and things of that nature too. 

Host - Monique Mills: 

So let's just talk about that though, for a moment, because you know, most people that listened to this are familiar with technology and the acronym SaaS, you know, they know Software as a Service. So when you say that SaaS is different than other types of sales, right. As a salesperson, in what way? 

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

That's a great question that I might not fully know the answer to-

Host - Monique Mills:

 No just for you.

Guest - Katrina Keyes:

Because I've only sold. Yeah, but I think even like B to C products for sales, to be honest with you Monique, I don't care about what car you want. I don't care about what wine you want, what you need. And so the crux of SAS. Problem-focused and problem-solving focus. I think that's really the biggest differentiator. Like, I guess you could say, even if you're selling a car like it could be a pain to not have a car, or maybe you want a new car, but like we're actually, there are real problems that real SAS products solve for a business again, to just make it exponentially better. And for that business to even sell more of their product, potentially. 

Host - Monique Mills: 

Yeah. When you said when you left college and you were kind of like, oh, this is what I should be doing. When you were introduced to sales, what was it about sales that like, turn on that signal for you? 

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

So initially I will say a funny thing initially was when I got our cold call script and when you're on the phone, right. Nobody knows that you're reading from a script unless they can tell. Yeah, unless they can tell. So it was like the first or second time like I got on the phone, I got the script and I just read it. And then people were telling me their problems. I was like this, I could do this for the rest of my life. So it was at that moment that I was like, this is amazing. If I could just do this and talk about solving people's problems. Sign me up. So it was actually in that moment, reading the script that I realized, man, I'm going to be really good at this potentially. Great. Yeah. 

Host - Monique Mills: 

That's pretty neat. Especially... would you consider yourself an extrovert or introvert? 

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

I would say for sure extrovert when i was younger. So I'm 37 Now. when I was younger, I was far more extroverted than introverted. I think I was like 90 or 10 when I was younger when I took a test. But now I feel like I'm about like 70, 30, which doesn't seem like much, but like that 20% is a lot different. 

Host - Monique Mills:

Yeah it makes a big difference

Guest - Katrina Keyes:

Yeah it does 

Host - Monique Mills: 

Yeah, absolutely. And I asked that because I think it's a fallacy for people to think that extroverted people make better salespeople than introverted people. I really don't believe that. I just, I know that that basis of introvert and extrovert, it is based upon like how you receive energy, right. And how the energy, you know, so I'm on the introverted side of things. So, but I love the sales part of things, and engaging with people but it's just exhausting. So I may take a nap.

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

Yeah, and that's fine... you can take a nap. I think the best way to really judge if someone is going to be good at sales or just a couple of things is again, how they can build rapport. That's of course, number one, but number two, can they ask the right questions to the right person at the right time and earn business is really it.

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

So I think if you have a will to succeed and you have the type of personality, sometimes we say more of like towards an athletic team. We're like, it's a team sport. I want to win, which I completely agree with as well. You don't have to be that, but I do find that mindset valuable, but really it's, it's being trained as well. So it's not 100%, it's not 100%. The likability is a really good thing, but that doesn't close your deals being personable and building rapport is a really good thing, but that also doesn't close deals. Right. And so solving a problem, understanding those issues, and then being able to ask the right question again at the right time to the right person, that's actually, what's really-

Host - Monique Mills: 

Absolutely. It's it's funny you say that because I always went out when I work with clients and stuff, I always remind them to ask for the sale at that part is the forgotten and you have all these great conversation. I'm like you’ve had all these great conversations, but you're not closing anything. Are you asking for the sale?

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

You got it. And currently, I would say maybe not necessarily in the past, at least in my experience, but I've heard of a number of companies really pushing pipeline pipeline great. Are you closing? And so, um, I don't say, are you closing that direct to be judgmental, but that's really the question. If you're not, how do we get you there? Because sales is a stage process, particularly in SaaS where we're saying, where are the gaps that you need to fill? Sometimes it's in the discovery process because I also believe that closed deals in the discovery process, right? Maybe the signature is not done in the discovery process, but we're closing there as well. And so where in your process, do you have some gaps to make sure you're actually closing the deal? So, yeah, so for a lot of great things about pipeline, pipeline, pipeline, yeah. A pipeline is great. If you have $4 million in pipeline, but you're closing 10% of that. Is that what you mean? Right to reach your goals. And is that what you need to be the best version of yourself? You got to really ask yourself that question. And that's another reason why I love sales too, is every single day I wake up and I get to find out who I am every day.

Host - Monique Mills: 

I love the way you say that. 

Guest - Katrina Keyes:

But I think that does come with a level of confidence. So I think sales requires confidence as well. If a salesperson really enjoys themselves and who they are, then they can wake up every day and continue to learn about who they are so that they can improve. Get better, become great. Because again, SaaS sales, you can do so much with your career and you can go so many places make X amount of money, if you will, and do a lot of things with your life. But starting with that confidence internally, man, it's a really big thing because performance is real detaching your identity from that performance. If you can't do that, you can make a lot of money. Sure. But how will you be living internally? 

Host - Monique Mills:

It's an amazing career for some but hard for people who don't know how to deal with rejection. I mean, it's just, it is what it is the term. So you, you have a, a lot to say on psychology of sales, So I really kind of want to go there, you know, and talk about salespeople, tying their identity to their job and how much money they make. And you know, how many deals they close being a representation of whether or not they're a winner or a loser. So what have you seen really be the driver for that? Is it past trauma? Is it that they don't know who they are before they get started?

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

I would definitely start with the, they don't know who they are when they get started. 

Host - Monique Mills:

Okay. 

Guest - Katrina Keyes:

Number one, because I started sales when I was 30. So I had a head-start in knowing who I was. That doesn't mean I am a brick wall. And like, you can't like, I don't have emotions or sometimes, you know, I don't get attached, but when young adults start in sales, they're really still figuring out who they are. And so. I really am for our younger sales folks who are really wanting to have a career be great. They found sales somehow. Right? Cause you don't get a degree in it. And so they really want to latch on to this seems like I can do this for a really long time. I always just talk about identity. Who are you? What's your personality? How do you enjoy yourself? And where do you want to go? Like those things separating that from, I kind of call it, like separating your who from your do. Who are you separated from? Then, what you do, even though who you are fuels, what you do, but just because you're not successful potentially in this space, doesn't impact who you are. It may mean that there's a lack of training or it's just not a good fit or lots of other things outside of like your personhood, because even with me, so like, again, I'm seven years in. So at the beginning of 2021, I had this mantra. I still have it because it's still 2021, but it was, show up, pay attention, tell the truth. Don't get attached to the results and enjoy who you're becoming.  

Host - Monique Mills:

Wow. That's powerful. 

Guest - Katrina Keyes:

Yes. I have been challenged with don't get attached to the results this year and that's fine. And I am really like, wow. Okay. I thought I was going to be really good at that because again, I know who I am. I'm really confident in who I am. But at the same time, just when you're put in positions with your career, man, the only question that I have out of all five of those is don't get attached to the results and really looking at my mental status of what a result turns out to be like, how am I responding internally to that? Do I take that home? What do I do with that information? Right. But again, If you have self-hatred if you are only performance-oriented if you have negative, self-talk getting attached to the result is going to be your life. And so until you really understand who you are, what you love, what you don't love, how you operate, getting attached to the results will probably be something that's really difficult to break.

Host - Monique Mills:

So getting attached to results with most of the sales folks I know is like, Hey, I was counting on that check for this vacation or for this bill or for this. And so. You know, they look at okay... And I actually tend to agree with this part where it's like, they don't get as overwhelmed with losing deals that they thought they were going to close when the pipeline is full because they feel like there's still a chance. There's still a chance, you know? Either way. I think you feel a sense of loss. It just depends on how long. 

Guest - Katrina Keyes:

Sure, sure. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I'm not immune to that.

Guest - Katrina Keyes:

In business overall, you know, even myself as an entrepreneur, you know, it's just like some things close or, you know, or I really think I can be helpful to someone and you know, you don't know everything, right. You can do a little discovery, but I know that not everyone is forthcoming with everything. So I wanted to ask you about basically what we see a lot of people tying their identity to literally how much money now. I can't say that it's new. Right. Um, I just feel like I'm seeing it be spoke about more because we have social media, right?

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

So we're all seeing, yeah. Social media is an exposer. It's not making new, its just exposing reality.

Host - Monique Mills:

Well, is it possible to separate? Let's say you're in sales and you're, you know, you're 40 years old or does it have anything to do with the age, right. Where you like, "Hey, I've been, this is the way I've looked at it my whole life. So I can't change that."

Guest - Katrina Keyes:

So an interesting question from my life, and this is how I'll, obviously I can only answer for myself. 

Host - Monique Mills: 

Of course, and that's why I have you here. I love to hear about your experience. 

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

Grew up, um, went to private school, my whole life, which is fantastic. I would not change that. I loved the schools that I went to. They were very formative, fantastic. Went to an all-girls high school as well, and then went to college at a private university. Also moved out to California after college to go to a leadership school. With my car during that time I left when I was 24. During that time between 24 and 30, I was making about $25,000 a year, and I say like, I grew up knowing that I'm being told I'm going to be successful. Right. Having plans, like writing my career out and doing all of these things. Also, I have a hole in the side of my car. And so, which was fantastic for me. So I say that because I needed to be put in a scenario that completely broke apart. My thoughts of success. And sometimes I am not saying something bad has to happen to you. Nothing bad happened to me. I was completely fine making $25,000 a year because I knew I why I was doing what I was doing. Was it uncomfortable? 100% when I was 28, I was like, okay, this has got to end. I'm done. This was good. I learned what I needed to learn, but it was definitely not a hardship by any means. But what it did was it absolutely broke so many things about my identity with money. And so building a wealth mindset without quote-unquote riches. So I'm not saying go make $25,000 a year and have a hole in your car, but how can people challenge themselves enough to break off identifying their personhood, like with how much money they make. And it does have to be uncomfortable. I drove that car to Kansas City. Like I am from Johnson County, Kansas City. If you look it up, it's one of the top 10 wealthiest counties in the country. I drove that. And even... even then in my mind, I was like, what are people going to think of me? It didn't matter. It didn't matter. And so really challenging yourself to be in scenarios. That reveal what your identity is attached to. And again, if you can't be silent with yourself, you don't like yourself. You're less likely to challenge yourself in that way. Right. But it's really all about your internal world and your mentality, you can absolutely make a million dollars a year and not care about any of this. You can do that and that's fine. But if you are in turmoil internally and you are frustrated by like, I have all this money and I'm still unhappy, man, it's time to challenge yourself. 

Host - Monique Mills: 

Wow. You know what? I totally agree with that. And I also think is kind of a generational thing too. You know, I was, I call myself an old millennial I was doing millennial stuff before it was popular,  that was my mindset and people thought I was crazy. You know, I know after two years I'm moving all into another job. Like this is boring. I got this down. Like, you know, so changing jobs every two years to make more money to do, you know, or experience new things. I'm like, what are you doing? You have benefits. You stay still, you retire. Like what are you doing? 

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

It's a very logical thing right? 

Host - Monique Mills: 

Yeah, but that's... that's not there. The world is so much bigger than that. And I think our generation got it. And I tell some of the older folks that I know that are trying to hire, you know, younger people and I'm like listen... what I see and what I know for sure. Cause I'm in the communities with the universities and all this other stuff. I'm like this generation and the younger generation, they're willing to room with three other people. 

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

Oh, yeah. 

Host - Monique Mills: 

They love to enjoy life like your, your, uh, your views on what success is and what making money looks like. That's outdated right now. Perhaps it may change as they grow older, but I don't know. 

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

Well, and that's, I would say is the freedom of the open market. Like it's the freedom of the market is I get to determine what I decide is success and. I have the power to make my own decisions and figure out how to get to success also by YouTube now, like books, right? Maybe you don't know where to start. Somewhere just somewhere is just where you need to start somewhere. And you know, like the iPhone, any type of cellular device that you use or any device that you use connect to the internet, like, it just changed everything as we know. And so it's like, everything is at our fingertips in order to access what we determine as success and relationships and building ourselves as people, uh, will come along the way. But yeah, it's at 23. Yeah. I would have loved at 23 to have said, I mean, I did live with friends, but to just live with friends and figure out what I'm going to do. Right. I did a little bit of that, but not in the capacity that we're talking about, just as a whole different conversation, But even not going to college and really figuring yourself out, saving some money, understanding what you want to do in your early twenties. It was a really big deal. Knowing who you are in my opinion is far superior to what degree that you have when you leave college at 25. 

Host - Monique Mills: 

You're preaching right now, Katrina. That's the number one rule in my household. And I have to say that at least once a week is like, you need to know who you are. Everything else it's really not important. 

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

Yep. Because if you don't know that, then what are you going to do? Right?

Host - Monique Mills:

Right, right.

 Guest - Katrina Keyes:

And I think big decisions, uh, for young, early adults of that magnitude, I think in regards to like college debt, things of that nature, knowing who you are is a far greater ROI. 

Host - Monique Mills: 

Oh, man. That is for sure. Yeah, that is for sure. This conversation has been inspiring. It is freeing. It reignited my faith in... really the changes that I see occurring and the upcoming generations and how things are being done. Um, so that people could be freer, you know, as you mentioned the whole, the whole freedom thing.
So I just want to thank you for being on the unpolished MBA. 

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

Absolutely. Thank you for having me. 

Host - Monique Mills: 

And I just want to say that literally the way you speak it's no surprise to me that you're a great salesperson because you have an energy that connects. And so I just really want to tell you that and let you know that I appreciate you sharing that energy virtually with me. Thank you so much. 

Guest - Katrina Keyes: 

Yeah, you're welcome. And hopefully, this is just part one. Hopefully, more parts to come... would love to have a good conversation with you again. 

Host - Monique Mills: 

Yeah. I look forward to it.

The Unpolished MBA conversation continues, and you can be a part of it by going to unpolishedmba.com. Thank you for listening.
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