Michael Epps Utley (00:01.642)
All right, hey everybody, this is Michael Epps Uutley, CEO, founder of GoEpps, and I'm thrilled to welcome to the podcast today, Shane Tinnin of Skillway. Shane, how's it going?
Shane Tinnin (00:11.406)
Hey, it's going great. I'm excited to be here, Michael. Thanks for having me.
Michael Epps Utley (00:14.334)
Yeah, that's great. You and I know each other. We're friends through EO, Entrepreneurial Organization, and have been in a forum together. So I want everybody to kind of know that. But the reason I would have you on the show today is to talk about what you do. You have a company doing sales coaching. skillway.com is the domain. So anybody listening to this, you can pull that up while we're talking here and probably click through to LinkedIn and very easily find Shane and connect and follow Skillway, follow GoEpps.com.
And yeah, we're gonna talk about sort of the world of sales and sales training and building teams. And so let's jump right into it. Shane, I'm gonna throw you an easy one here. Question number one today, can you tell us about Skillway and your role there and just sort of the nature of what you all do?
Shane Tinnin (01:00.962)
Yeah. Skillway is a premium sales coaching company. We're based here in Nashville and, and just now Memphis, um, started the business in 2017 with my wife and, uh, we're, uh, we're very much yin and yang, you know, she's, she's our head coach we say, and I'm more COO. So we're the co-founders here and, you know, we do premium sales coaching for high-end salespeople and sales managers of any type. So that could be, you know, sales leaders, sales manager, regional manager, could be the business owner. A lot of times the business owner is the primary salesperson, right? And then when they get big enough to bring in some salespeople, maybe they haven't, you know, coached or maybe they haven't managed salespeople before. So we like to help all the way along the way there. Right. And I'm definitely, if, if your, you know, listeners are familiar with traction or EOS. We are almost prototypical visionary integrator. She's the wild-eyed dreamer with all the ideas. And that's kind of my job is strategy and operations and, you know, making the trains run on time, right.
Michael Epps Utley (02:15.798)
Mmm. And so you'll have sort of a team of coaches who do a lot of the coaching, right? So you all are actively working with people and helping them grow their businesses through ongoing coaching services, is that right?
Shane Tinnin (02:29.998)
We do, we do. So we do one-on-one coaching, is really kind of our bread and butter. Cause we feel like that is a very, uh, a premium service. It's very customized to the individual, even though we've got a whole plan and a whole, you know, a lot of content. But when you're doing one-on-one coaching, you can really get in there and just pick the topics for that specific person or help them with whatever their challenges are today. So we really love one-on-one coaching, but we do group coaching with teams as well. And then we do, you know, sort of higher level executive coaching or strategic consulting, but it's all really still around sales and trying to grow business.
Michael Epps Utley (03:08.066)
Yeah, and let's talk about this. So this is kind of building on our first question. What is sales coaching and who is it for? Could you talk a little bit about the structure of a sales coaching experience? And what's sort of the before and after of working with Skillway? What, when you all get introduced to somebody and then you work with them, what's the transformation or what sort of journey are you taking them on?
Shane Tinnin (03:33.474)
Yeah. So if you think about sales coaching, um, you know, the way you would think of a, a great coach that you've ever had in sports, right? A sales coach should be a good educator and a good motivator, right? They should be able to teach you skills, but also, you know, get you off the ledge after a big loss and pump you up and believe in you. Sometimes it'd be a cheerleader and, and believe in you more than you believe in yourself. So it's kind of mentor, cheerleader, teacher, you know, all those things wrapped up in a wand, um, as far as, you know, who it's for, I would say. You know, we feel like coaching typically just from an ROI standpoint is usually not the best fit for somebody who's just getting into sales for the very first time. Right. If you're green, you're going and do some knocking on doors or retail or something like that, you know, you're usually better off reading some books, watching some videos, maybe taking a classroom style class. It's a little more generic and it's going to get you there. What we found who it really works well for are people who are already established.
Michael Epps Utley (04:20.535)
Shane Tinnin (04:40.366)
You know, we have a lot more success taking someone from, you know, a salesperson who's making 150,000 and taking them to 250,000 or even taking someone who's at 300,000 to 500,000. So typically who we think it's the best fit for someone who's just really trying to take things to the next level. You know, so it's, we get a lot of clients who are like, I'm number five in the country and I really want to be number one, you know -
Michael Epps Utley (05:04.854)
So, Skillway is not a great fit for the young person who's 18 and wants to sell cell phone plans at T-Mobile. They're really ready for something, maybe some mentoring or, listing some Gary Vaynerchuk podcasts or something, but you all are working with organizations that have a structure and a process and need to invest in leveling up.
Shane Tinnin (05:27.486)
Right. Yeah. Our, I would say our business right now is about, about 70% of it is we're dealing with organizations and about 30% of it, because there are sales people out there who make a lot of money and it's commission based, so that 30% are, you know, very high end salespeople who are just coming in and paying right out of their pocket because they know an extra sale a month, you know, will more than pay for it, right. But, but yeah, typically we're going into organizations, we're working with the management there.
And then it's like, how do we level up this team? And it could be certain people on the team need one-on-one coaching. It could be, we're kind of coming at it like classroom training, right? But we call that team coaching because it's a coach that's working with you. It's not, I think we've all been in a classroom where the person is a great presenter, but they're teaching because they couldn't do it in the field, right? And so you may get the content, but when you have a coach up there, it should be much more interactive. They can, you can ask questions about things you're dealing with right now or problems you've had or specific scenarios, and that coach should be able to engage and help you through that, even in a group setting.
Michael Epps Utley (06:37.866)
So that's really great. So what you all are doing, it's not just a, you're not offering a content program. We can get content anywhere. You're offering coaching, mentoring, walking with, being up to speed with where someone is and where their strengths and their weaknesses are and adjusting what they're doing, adjusting their behaviors to get different results.
Shane Tinnin (06:59.586)
Exactly. And, and, you know, don't get me wrong. We've got amazing content. It's all proprietary. We have that stuff, but it's knowing which content to go with where, you know, it's, if you think about, you know, a good golf swing coach, like if I stand over here and watch you swing, I can see the hitch that you can't see yourself. And then, you know, we can basically break down and analyze your game.
And then go in and say, like, here's, here's some strengths you can lean on. Here's an opportunity to get a little better here and work through that. And, you know, one of our mantras around here is like, we're changing lives forever, but that's just kind of a reminder that, you know, there's no real learning unless there's behavior change, right? Unless you actually take it and implement it. So having, especially with one-on-one coaching, you know, it's like,
You talk about something, you go through some coaching and then you go do it. And then we sort of see immediate feedback from that, that we can adjust. We can go back with. And, um, and, and that's, that's our favorite thing. One of my favorite things is when, you know, someone who coached with us three years ago, they reach out to their coach and they say like, hey, I find I'm finally number one, I'm, or I made president's club, I won the trip or whatever, and like, we haven't coached them for years, but like the first person they wanted to tell was their coach because they had these big lasting growth. And that's what we really wanna see. We're looking for those opportunities to make fundamental changes with someone.
Michael Epps Utley (08:19.576)
Mmm. Yeah, that's great. Yeah, as founders, I think, we're often on the hook for doing a lot of sales. You have a sales program, we're a digital marketing agency, we've got a sales program, but it can still be very lonely. So I think having that network of people, and even if you have a team, it can just be a very isolated existence. And you end up in kind of this tunnel vision. The sales pipeline feels like a tunnel you're stuck in sometimes, so I think having perspective that's coming in from outside can really change the happiness, the joy, the satisfaction, everything about doing this kind of work. Yeah.
Shane Tinnin (09:06.67)
It really can. And, you know, part of our role sometimes is even if the, the business owner or the manager is paying for the coaching. Like what we talk about is confidential, you know, like we really have to build some trust, like what happens in coaching stays in coaching and that way you can come in and you can go like, man, I'm, I'm having some serious, you know, call reluctance or my -
Michael Epps Utley (09:19.643)
Shane Tinnin (09:31.754)
Attitude, I'm in a bad place. Well, even if you've got a, an amazing manager who really does sort of mentor and coach, you might not feel comfortable saying that to your boss, you know, you may think that's going to put your job in danger, but having an outside person that you can talk through these things with a little bit, and we can pump you up and get you going. It, it can.
Michael Epps Utley (09:50.602)
Yeah, that's really good. Yeah, I could see someone who, even if they're not working with Skillway, but just in general, that's such a great little nugget, such a mindset is you need to have people around you who you can connect with and be honest with and say, hey, here's where I'm feeling good. Here's where I'm not feeling so good and be able to say those things. So being able to be in a place where you can talk about your strengths, your weaknesses with someone who understands what you're talking about. And, you know, not always a spouse or a family member, but people who are in the industry, that can really change someone's mindset and their ability to do well. That's good.
Shane Tinnin (10:24.202)
Yeah. And we're, we're very aware of, you know, all of our coaches are people who've been in the field, they've had success, they've - half of them coach and sell right now - so they're still selling, but you know, someone who really understands the challenges of working, maybe a very long sales cycle or maybe working a very high pressure, you know, like they know where you're at and they've kind of got that camaraderie. And they can just think of them. It was like, this is my personal business partner. This is my personal sales consultant over here, you know that I can lean on.
Michael Epps Utley (10:57.77)
Yeah. That's cool. Well, I want to ask you about that. So I feel like the landscape of selling has changed a lot. So what have you all seen in, I mean, I feel like the last three years in America, you know, we're sitting here in, you know, October 19th, 2023, recording this. The last three years have been so crazy and at every level in Nashville locally, but also just nationally and internationally. But how have you seen that change the landscape of sales? Like, what are you feeling with kind of where we are and just where our skill set and our kind of work area is?
Shane Tinnin (11:33.582)
Yeah, you know, I mean, the, the industry, the, the economy, the, you know, everything's changing all the time, but what I almost, I almost hate to say this because one of our core values is positivity. We really like would have drive the positivity, but to be frankly, honest, I think kind of the combination of, you know, the pandemic plus the sort of tech boom that happened around that - in general, I think salespeople have gotten really lazy. Um, if you're any sort of decision maker, uh, like me, I'm sure your inbox is just jammed with the cold emails and, and your, you know, your email inbox, your LinkedIn inbox, all of these things, and those things can be, you know, great tools for prospecting. But, but hopefully you're, you're calling, you're sending, you know, maybe even some notes, you're like reaching out in person, you're, you're going out and meeting people where there are. And I think everybody sort of fell back on that to the point where I'm amazed how I can get 10 emails from somebody where they just keep coming back, keep coming back, I saw you on LinkedIn and I can tell it's not a bot, you know, they're, they're really working it and they're trying to, and I'm like, man, you know, my phone number is not hard to find. Like, these, the great thing about iPhones, they have this app on there. It's called the phone. You can push it. And so I just feel like in general, we've gotten a little bit lazy. We're trying to let tech - I see that I see it further on the back end too - I see a lot of people where they'll just, they'll just, they'll do all this work, uh, in the discovery phase to figure out what the client needs and we'll do all this and then we'll put together this really thought out proposal and I'll just email it to them, you know, it's like, no, man, like -
Michael Epps Utley (13:15.788)
Shane Tinnin (13:17.318)
Connect with them, even if you're remote, like bring them up on Zoom and walk them through it and be consultative and, and build that thing together. Right. Um, so I feel like that's, that's the biggest thing is we just got a little bit lazy. We're like, you know, relying on these tools a little bit more and we're relying on sales is always a numbers game. And I know that, but I feel like we've kind of, we've kind of gone a little too far. We need to swing back around.
Michael Epps Utley (13:43.191)
Wow. Okay. So that's kind of a headline statement for the day. Salespeople have gotten lazy. I think that's a really strong call out. I don't disagree. I think my Halloween costume this year is going to be a name tag. It just says FNAME. I've gotten so many emails for this FNAME guy. I don't know who he is. I don't know if GoHighLevel is trying to reach this person or what, but so many emails coming in for FNAME.
Shane Tinnin (13:47.824)
Hahaha. I'm out. That's great.
Michael Epps Utley (14:10.102)
But yeah, it's true. We're all in a glut of depersonalized stuff. And you mentioned something. You said, go out to where people are. What does that look like these days in the landscape now? I mean, COVID's kind of over, but threatening to come back. What does that look like? How do you kind of think about that?
Shane Tinnin (14:29))
Mm-hmm. It's, you know, and I, and I realized in the sales world, there's certainly people who are selling across the country and they aren't going to be able to meet people face to face, but I feel like it's a big element of it, especially if you're selling something that's, that's a, that's a bigger thing, that's more high touch, um, so, you know, we're really big here on being members of a lot of associations, getting out there. Um, you know, if you're, if you're a natural speaker, you know, be a speaker. Speak to things, give tips, show that you're, show that you've got knowledge in this, not just through your blogging and your social media, but get out in the world, meet people. I mean, if you've got a big prospect, go look and see what associations they're in. Go and see what kind of meetings they're in. They've probably got all that stuff on their social. And join those things and get out there and talk to people. I mean, it's still the basics of know, like, and trust. Right? We buy things from people we know, like, and trust, but to get out there and meet people, I mean, you know, write a handwritten note for gosh sakes. Like it's not, it's not that hard, but nobody does it. And it really cuts through the clutter.
Michael Epps Utley (15:41.966)
That's good. So that kind of takes me to my next question. I wanted to kind of frame this up as sort of what is Shane seeing from his seat at Skillway about what's going on in the world? So here's my question. How does sales team set themselves apart when the competition's hot?
Shane Tinnin (15:58.234)
Yeah. It is, it is sometimes it's just as simple as doing the things that others are not. You know? And so, you know, I mentioned handwritten notes. That sounds like really easy, but we're really big on like build a system around that, you know, have a, have a spot on your desk where like, here's your note cards and your stamps and your whatever. Get yourself into that habit. When you have a good meeting with somebody, whether it's on the phone or it's whatever, like drop them a note. It stands out. Um, you know, we're all about, we only teach relationship by sales. So, you know, we don't work with, you know, we don't work with big call centers or if somebody's doing like a one-off hard sale transaction, time shares or something, you know. So we're all about building relationships and just being there. And so it's meeting them where they are. It's just thinking about everything as a consultation. It's like, I've got some services. Maybe you need them. If you don't, that's fine too. And, and talking through those things and saying, like, let me just educate you on what I have, let me learn and be curious about what you have. Maybe there's a fit here. If not, maybe you know someone and you can be the hero telling them about, you know, me because they've got a need. That's great too. Um, just, just sort of consistently showing up and being there and thinking a little bit extra. And if you're having a hard time meeting someone, who do you know that knows them who can make an actual real, you know, connection and introduction. So we do a lot. We do a lot around teaching salespeople to build their own referral networks to, you know, who were those folks.
Michael Epps Utley (17:41.719)
Shane Tinnin (17:44.294)
Who else works with my ideal client different kind of vendors maybe different kind of industries that I can build a relationship with and we can sort of help each other and I can feed you some leads people that I work with that might need your services. You can lean back over here to me we work with marketing and agencies a lot and I'm sure you know, I know you're in that world and it's if you're in that world you've had the scenario where you're like, you got a client and they're like, ah, man, we're going to cut back. I'm not sure if I'm seeing the ROI and you're over here looking at the data going like, I'm sending you all this amazing leads, like, what are you doing? You're not calling them. You're not following up. You're not doing whatever. And so that's one of those, it's like, hey, you get to that spot. Then then we've got the marketing thing set. Now it's really back on the sales is where the ball's getting dropped. And how do you find these like, you know -
Michael Epps Utley (18:22.122)
Shane Tinnin (18:39.762)
Symbiotic relationships with, with people outside your company that can bring these things in.
Michael Epps Utley (18:44.278)
That's really great. Yeah, what I'm hearing is a focus on two things, process and relationships. And so that seems to be sort of a yin and yang of the human factor, but also the consistency, the discipline, and you're talking about not just getting a yes or no out of people, but establishing a relationship and saying, hey, this doesn't look like, even, I know for us sometimes we'll say, hey, I don't think this is a good, I don't think we're a good fit for you. We had one this week, young man, you know, he's a musician and he's ready to go. But it's not a good fit for what GoEpps does. We're, you know, we're working in healthcare, commercial and residential trades, technology services, you know, companies that are established and have a marketing budget. This is somebody who's, you know, new to Nashville, figuring it out. But we were able to point him over to our friends at home, the artist startup group in Nashville and make a personal intro so that was just like a way to add value. So I like what you said because it resonates with our philosophy and we kind of sum it up under add value with every interaction, whether it's to us or to somebody else. And that really falls back on just what's the process that's very stable and consistent. And then what's the relationship engine and how are you capturing and creating value for people? So yeah, even just looking for things that we can do for people every time we get on the phone, that's kind of our MO. And so, that kind of matches up with how you answered that. I think that was really great.
Shane Tinnin (20:16.178)
Yeah, I think that's what we strive for here. Like I want people to think, hey, you know, even if it's completely outside of the box and they're like, you know, I bet I need a guy who does whatever. I bet Shane knows somebody, you know, like, and if you can be that person for somebody, that's just building up that trust, you know, the know and the like, and the trust and, and whatever. And it'll all come, it'll all come around. If you, if you focus on just trying to serve people and help people, like, the business will come, you know.
Michael Epps Utley (20:47.662)
That's great. So I want to dig deeper on that. You said something interesting there. You said the word trust. So here's my next question. This is our last question for this episode. And I'm going to read this. It's a two-part question, but I want to kind of dive into what you just said. What is key in earning the trust of prospects during the sales process? What is key in earning the... It's actually the same question's in here twice, but I'm going to read it twice because I think it's so good. What is key in earning the trust of prospects during the sales process?
Shane Tinnin (21:10.162)
Michael Epps Utley (21:17.386)
So there are really two sides to that, the prospect and then your process, but where do those two come together to create a shared vision?
Shane Tinnin (21:27.73)
Yeah. Well, if I, you know, I put my coaching hat on and I think, you know, you mentioned this earlier, this word, and I tried to tell people all the time, you must be consistent before you can be great, right? Like, you know, you can get okay at something and then try to like do all these other things. It's like, just be consistent with that. And I think that that comes back again with trust, right? Do what you say you're going to do. Follow up when you say you're going to follow up. You know, um, be vulnerable, let people know here's, we're great at this. We're not so good at that. Maybe, you know, like you said, here's, here's somebody else who could help you with that. We just had one of those last week, you know, lead come in off the website and it was, but they were looking for help doing door to door sales. Like we can help you, but to be honest, I know somebody, they're my competition, who are really good at that.
And there's no reason for us to have this awkward half-fit. You know, that builds trust when you tell people that you're not good at this thing or you're great at this thing. You know, it, it helps. So I think it's being consistent, being authentic, you know, people can tell. Don't try to, don't try to sell like, you know, if you're, if you're a low key analytical detailed kind of person, you can still be a fantastic salesperson, but don't go try to act like somebody you see on Instagram who's saying hustle, hustle, go, go, go, whatever. Right? You know, be authentic to you, build a real relationship, ask lots of questions where you actually care about the answer, you know, don't be afraid to, to, to ask about personal things and their family and these sorts of things too, and talk about your own and bring that in, but more than anything, you know, be consistent, deliver what you say you're going to deliver. If you say, you know, you're going to check back in next Wednesday, check back in next Wednesday. If you say, I'm going to give you these numbers by Tuesday, you know, give them the numbers by Tuesday. And I think that's a lot of it. But then if you can just find little things, just like any sort of hospitality, you know, find little things to go above and beyond.
You know, listen for those little nuggets and let them know that you remembered them and that you cared. And I think those can really go a long way to building that trust, which could lead to referrals or it could lead to business, even if it's two years down the road, you know, they may not have a need for that now, but if, if you've described yourself and they understand and they've got that no like and trust level and you stay around and top of mind -
Michael Epps Utley (23:40.512)
Shane Tinnin (24:09.682)
You know, it'll come back to you in a couple years when they do have that need.
Michael Epps Utley (24:14.21)
That's great. Yeah, what I'm hearing in that is that trust is this very delicate human connection that depends on some things that can be systematized. So you have something that's very human that rests on something that can sometimes feel very rote. So you have to do that carefully. But I think that's where the two sides come together. Process and consistency delivers a more present person who is there and able to participate and engage on a human level. Yeah.
Shane Tinnin (24:45.33)
Mm hmm. Yeah. And you, you know, we were just talking about that when I said, you know, uh, writing handwritten notes. If that's not cool, you like put a system in place. That's what we do with our clients. We send them some really high end stationary, like have that sitting there with some stamps and some envelopes and a pen so that it's not this big deal. You get back from a meeting, you write the note, you drop it in the mailbox. The same thing. We do a lot of gifting around here, you know, but they're very specific to customize and we have a process around it. We, we have a monthly meeting. We sit down and it's like, here's everyone whose birthday is next month. What are we going to do for these people? And we have fun with it, but really it's, it's the process of somebody pulled the report, they put it together. It's on our calendar. We go through it and we do that, you know, so you can make these high touch things. You know, not so tough. If you do build some process around it, make sure you're consistent. Just like any other thing, like build some self accountability into that. And then the trust will come on first trust in the person, the salesperson, then the company -
Michael Epps Utley (25:43.926)
Shane Tinnin (25:50.45)
Than the products and services you know.
Michael Epps Utley (25:52.11)
That's tremendous. Yeah, Shane, this was awesome. A lot of really good nuggets in here. I think for anybody who's trying to figure out sort of how to grow in any economy and in any kind of, you know, world situation, keep these businesses thriving that we're building, this is critical information. And anybody who's not doing it this way, this is an opportunity for them to kind of level up. So yeah, and of course, for everybody listening, skillway.com, Shane Tinnin.
Shane any other kind of shout out, anything else to mention here today?
Shane Tinnin (26:28.37)
Well, I think that's it. If anyone needs some help, please reach out to us. I know the coach on my team would love to talk to you. We're always looking to meet salespeople. So just like I said earlier, if it's not a fit, that's great. That's fine too. But let's have a conversation.
Michael Epps Utley (26:46.374)
That's great. Thanks everybody from GoEpps and The Narwhal Pod and Kailyn, our producer. Thank you. And yeah, we'll see everybody on the next one. Thank you
Shane Tinnin (26:55.954)