INSIDE Inside Sales

Come for the Pigtails, Stay for the Opinions

September 26, 2022

INSIDE Inside Sales

Tune in to INSIDE Inside Sales with Darryl Praill for actionable strategies and tactics from top sales experts to increase your sales development success. Darryl has unscripted conversations with the leading sales experts, from veteran sales pros to the newest rising stars. If you’re looking for lively debate, spirited conversations, and proven sales know-how, you’ve come to the right podcast.

Struggling to get your personal brand established? This episode will help you figure out why.

Join sales/marketing chameleons Darryl and guest Chaniqua (Nikki) Ivey (CRO @ Inclusivv) as they chat from the crossroads. They explore how Nikki hand built her 24k personal brand following using just time, trial and error, finding your niche, why a cookie cutter approach is undermining your success, and the rewards of being vulnerable.


Find Nikki on LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram.

Connect with Darryl on LinkedIn.


Are you in sales, but you're not using a sales engagement tool? Then you're probably losing out on revenue because you are not engaging with prospects at the right time, with the right cadence, and with enough persistency. You need VanillaSoft.

INSIDE Inside Sales is now a member of the Sales IQ Network. Say goodbye to missing your quota, with our Create Pipeline Course.

Darryl Praill
Host @ INSIDE Inside Sales Podcast + CMO @ AgoraPulse
Chaniqua (Nikki) Ivey
CRO @ Inclusivv

[00:00:00] Darryl Praill: My name is Darryl Praill. I'm your host and you, my friend, well, you and I we're gonna go on a journey every single week, talking to the industry's most accomplished sales legends, as they share with us, their tips, their tricks, their techniques, and their tactics to becomes sales rockstars. You simply need to do what they're doing and you will achieve similar nirvana. If you like to laugh, you like to be entertained, if you'd like to go off on tangents and tell stories, you're going to love what you're going to hear next. Sit back, relax, it's going to get real.

It's another good day here, folks. How is everybody doing? Oh my goodness. It's. It's, it's been a good week. Interesting. I, I was in a I was in a management meeting the other day and we got into this whole conversation about, this is gonna be a bit of a marketing segue, but it applies to sales as much as it does to marketing.

We're in this conversation about demand capture versus demand creation, demand capture versus demand creation. So the man capture kind of says, Well, if you come to my site and you ask for a free trial, you know, I can capture that and a Mac energy, you know, And if I put some ads out there based on some hot buzzwords that you know, my prospects are probably researching for, and you click on those Google words, you're gonna come through.

Let's demand capture, demand creation. Like it implies is the whole process of literally they don't know about you. They don't know they have a problem. They don't need know. They need your solution. They don't know jack squat. But you've done something. You've done something that has created awareness, created introspection, created self assessment, created an evaluation, created a recognition, an understanding that perhaps, Perhaps I do have a problem and perhaps these guys can solve it, cuz I'm hearing about them all the time.

They're freaking everywhere. So not only am I hearing what they're saying and it was resonating with me. It's connecting, It's telling me about a problem I didn't know I have, but upon reflection, I think you're right. I think I do have that, or I think I want that. Then the default is, and I heard it from these guys, so.

I'll give them a kick of the can first demand creation, and you take it from a sales point of view and a sales point of view that is no, this is like what you folks do every freaking single day when you pick up the phone and you make an utterly cold call, not an inbound lead. That's a little bit of demand capture.

They've come to you already. Maybe they did a Google search and they found a piece of content that you wrote, which is why you do the content. But no, you're doing a cold call and you in that 30 seconds, if you get that much time, you have to compel them, convince them, persuade them that they might have want what you're.

Demand creation. And the reason we were on this was coming up in my management meeting was, is because it was a recognition that there are two different processes. So demand capture can happen faster, right? It's kind of a rinse and repeat. Set it and forget it, you know, tweak it, optimize it periodically, throw some love.

That's about it. Demand creation, that's a long game. You gotta work and build and make content and, and you gotta speak and you gotta be seen with the cool kids and, and you gotta be credible. And when they do the research on you, you gotta come up smelling ACEs, roses, every single wonderful scent and, and, and the adjective I can give you.

That's what you have to be. You have to pass the smell test. That's demand creation. And I look back at my moment in time. When I started to live demand creation, and I'm reminded that every single one of you are at somewhere along that same journey for me, and I've shared this before, I had to do demand creation because often I'm creating a new market or often nobody knows who the hell I am.

So even though they may be aware of the pain that I solve, they're not aware of me and I don't even get invited to the table. Unless they're aware of me. And that's why, candidly, you see such investment in such discussion around the topic of personal branding. Personal branding is about creating demand for you and maybe your products or your services, but you first and foremost, that's why personal branding exists on its own.

It's nothing you're about creating. And I've gone through that journey and it's been one hell of a journey. Now, for me though, I have been a little bit challenged over the years, and the reason is, as you all know, and I got a sales background and I've got a marketing background and I've done both gigs and I kinda like, you know, for a period of time I'll do sales and period of time I'll do marketing, and you kinda get bored and you flip and you flop.

So how do I describe myself? Am I a salesperson? Am I a marketer? I don't know. You tell me. But what's changed over time is that I think we can all agree as sales and market can get more aligned, that what we do share in common, no matter what your craft is, your discipl. Is that we're all about revenue.

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[00:06:06] Darryl Praill: So I thought to myself, this is a great conversation cuz there's got ton of sales reps out there right now who not only need to understand and live every single day, the whole process of, you know, demand.

Creation, but they live the journey of their own personal brand and they live that conflict of, Well, I like sales, but I kind of don't like sales. But kind of what marketing's doing is kind of interesting too. I do like revenue and I like working with the customers, and I like solving problems. I'm just not sure where I'm at.

That quote over my head. That quote is hard. I don't know if I like that quote. Stresses me out a little bit. I don't know where you might be. So I thought to myself, Who's the right person who has lived this? Breathe this, knows this is as much a marketer as they are A salesperson. Understands all about creating a dynamic person or brand, and is living proof that you can go from SDR to CRO with the proper trajectory and commitment.

Well, my friends, that is the one, the only, the amazing Nikki Ivey Nikki, welcome to the show.

[00:07:04] Nikki Ivey: Wow, thank you. What an introduction. I think that I would like you to send me clips of that that I can use as my alarm when I wake up in the morning. Just to motivate me to ge. I am that person he's talking about.

Yeah, I mean, way too long. Probably get you on this show long for me to visit you on this show. Yep. For, for context, I mean, if you may not know a few years ago I hosted a podcast called B2B Growth. I was working for a company called Sweet Fish Media, who by the way, we're way ahead of their time, way, way ahead of the time in terms of podcasts to drive demand creation, right.

And podcasts as a B2B tech content tool. I had him on the show, , and you know how, you know you're meeting a star, right? You know, like, like, okay, there's no way that this person is going to be kept secret for much longer. So yeah, so it's a full circle moment for me in a, in a lot of ways. But you know, that intersection between marketing and sales in, in a lot of ways.

For me, it just happened organically. Like it's just my personality, right? So I study broadcast journalism in college. That is what my degree is in. So I quite enjoy content. I quite enjoy you know, conversations. , but at the same time, right, there's a whole other skillset you develop when you're studying journalism, right?

And that is to get people bought into an idea, right? To help people consider things that they hadn't before. And if not, you know, change a perspective, right? At least have a reason to think more critical. About their own perspective. And so it's always been right, the content and the convincing for me, right?

The sales and the marketing for me. And you know, in a sales career, there are these opportunities to hone what I've identified as marketing skills, right? You're writing copy. Right. If you're doing it right, you are learning a little bit of something about, you know, one to many messaging versus one to one.

You're learning a little bit about what people respond to and how to grab them. The, the main I think, overlap for me as far as like the application of these two things is that when I'm selling anything at all, especially if I'm using email, my goal is, To foster a conversation within the company, right, that I'm reaching out to.

So I want to get them talking. Maybe not about my product, maybe not yet, but certainly about that idea. And so when I'm putting out content, That's what I'm trying to do with respect to whatever it is that I'm selling, right? I'm going to be talking about those ideas to try and attract people, yes, to my content, but also just priming them.

Maybe they hadn't thought about for instance, as far as what I'm doing now, Maybe they hadn't thought about the impact of candid conversations on culture, right? But now they are. And then they're getting that message right in a cohesive way across marketing and sales, and then driving those conversations, both, like I said, within the organization, but also within, because we're seeing so many communities now within the communities that they're a part of as well.

So, You know, I think of myself as, you know, I used to say a sales expatriate when I was on marketing teams. But I am, I'm a revenue leader, right? Some folks a go to market strategist. I don't think any need that many words to describe . But that's, that's what it is. I see no need. To to parse them out unless people are asking specifically.

But the industry's going that way, right? All people are increasingly using content to sell things. They're selling content. So this is just, you know, becoming who we are, Right? Table stakes for, for the profession sales that is.

[00:11:04] Darryl Praill: So, one of the things that Nikki and I are gonna talk about today is we're gonna talk about her.

Her journey over the last say, I don't know, three odd years, give or take how she's used content, how she's built her personal brand to achieve her, her career goals. And I think. Well, I mean, we'll, I'll ask her, but I think you'll find that, you know, career goals are always changing and we're always, you know, when we achieve a certain level, then we aspire to the next level.

So do you ever truly achieve your career goals? Well, time will tell, but when you look, some, often when you look back, you're like, you know, I have to give myself credit. You know, look what I've done in this period of time and the goals, and then the pain I had to go through to achieve those goals. So I. I wanted Nikki to talk about just the pros and the cons, but I wanna kind of set the stage cuz if you don't know Nikki, and she made reference to it a little bit.

There she goes. I wanna spark conversations, Nikki. One of the reasons I love Nikki is I, I called a, a kindred spirit. You know, my Twitter handle is opinionated. And so I have been known to opine in such a fashion that the sales bros don't always like what I'm saying. But. I quickly decided that if I was gonna have a relationship with people, I wanted to be built on trust and reality.

And this is who I am and I have some strong beliefs. And if you don't like me fair enough, then I can still respect you, you know, for your stance. But it's just not where I'm at. And you know, let's just go different paths. And, and I find a lot of wraps are really focused on trying to be all things to all people.

And what you end up being is vanilla. Not memorable. Adding no value, having no texture, that's what you end up being by not knowing who you are, what you stand for, and what you're about. And not having the courage to have an opinion. And it doesn't have to be an opinion on politics. It doesn't have to be an opinion on anything else.

You know that. But it's still, it's like, you know, there's a right way and a wrong way. There's good, and there's. All right, and if you're doing bad and I'm all about good, I should be able to respectfully call you out. Compare and contrast, spark the conversation. Nikki has been known to be bold in her, takes very much on culture, very much on her community, very much on her, her peer group that she hangs out with very much about.

Fighting for those who are less privileged. I could go on. I'm not gonna, I'm gonna let her talk about it. Nikki talked to me. What made you do that? Was it intentional? Was it not? What have been the consequences as it as she worked for you as opposed to against you? And what advice would you give somebody today who wants to go down the same path that you end on?

[00:14:02] Nikki Ivey: Okay, so three part question here. . Yes. It was intentional at a after a certain point, right? So we'll get to the, the culture aspects, which is what you just talked about that part. I just like a lot of us did, right? Well you're Canadian, so maybe not, but in the US, a lot of us. Fed up, right? Yep. And and I started to see you know, things that were happening in society.

I started to see those things reflected in, you know, who was and was not getting opportunities in this profession and whose outcomes, right were trending right equitably and who's were not. So that piece was intentional, but at first, as far as making content, I just needed an outlet In sales, so often, so often the ask is to be empathetic all day long when it comes to your customers care, care, care, but only in one direction, because if you start to acknowledge your own need for that kind of empathy, if you start to say out loud, You know what getting hung up on for the last six hours did make me a little sad.

you know, like, you're not, We, it was the time where you're not allowed to say that If you say that you're weak. Right? And so, and I at this time was still very much living in that mindset, right? I wasn't treating people according to it, but I, I was aware that I was subject to it, especially as one of the few women.

In, at the job I was at and really in the profession, and then even further as one of the few black women. So I didn't, I didn't at that point, it didn't click to just build a community or build a brand. I just, some colleagues of mine had all got let go from this job at the same time. and I had been, just before we had gotten let go, I had been doing this little like series that nobody on LinkedIn was watching but it was called Cute Commute.

So I would like record myself having a conversation in like, the parking lot of the job that I was at, probably five lit minutes late for the morning meeting. It's fine. But anyway, and so that was, that was working in terms of that, that outlet. But I understood like people don't know who I am, so this probably isn't engaging.

Anyway, so at that same job, me and a bunch of other folks got laid off, not because we were late for meetings. And I was sad. I was sad and I needed, I knew I wasn't the only one, and I knew it wasn't even just folks that at this company. So I went on LinkedIn and I made this video. I'm sitting in my car.

After having just returned from this office, picking up, you know, the rest of my things, which is an incredibly painful experience. Mm-hmm. and that song Hold on by Wilson Phillips. Mm-hmm. came on the radio and I just took my phone out and started. recording and the fir had the volume down for the first little bit.

And I was just talking about this experience that we all had and how, you know, yes, we can be sad for a minute, but we just gotta keep going. And so then I turned the song up and it's just me singing along to the song, right? Clearly trying to not be sad. And also in that clearly trying to give other folks space to experience all of the emotions that happen when you lose a job, especially when you lose a sales.

Because it hits at your confidence, and confidence is necessary to be successful in this profession. So anyway, it's still, not a lot of people watched it, but the people who did responded in a way that made me pay attention to the impact that just sharing your experience and speaking authentically about it can have.

And at that point, again, I was really only, I didn't, I still, I didn't tune into how it might impact my career, but I, I was, I was at this point paying attention to how it could impact community. So I just kept making little, little posts here and there, inspirational stuff, cuz I found that that's what people responded to.

And then one day there was this post about, we've seen lots of these posts, but this was the first one that I had encountered. This was a few years ago. This was this post about, you know, a sales, a science versus an. And Dar you just spoke about, right? The imperative to take a stance on something, right?

Mm-hmm. , and, you know, in a, in a post predictable revenue world, a lot of the sales leaders were asserting that it's just science. They weren't even giving this piece where it's like, eh, a little bit of art, right? They were asserting that it's just this science, and I'm thinking, do we want it to. Does that sound like, Cuz to me it sounds like we are engineering sameness.

Right? To me, it sounds like we are gonna teach everybody how to do this thing in this cookie cutter way. We'll even write the emails for them and they all have to send out the same ones. You know what I'm saying? No, Tino Shade, if that's how you run things at your, your org. But I have an opinion on that.

I think the art is what differentiates. The art is what sets you apart. The art is what I've built a brand on, and the thought of new people coming into the profession, essentially being kind of talked out. Of recognizing, loving and developing that part of themselves. I couldn't stand for it. So I took, I was Richard Harris that posted it.

He doesn't remember this interaction. I have screenshots. Anyway, . So, so, so I took this moment and in the comment section of his post, I just said pretty much everything that I said to you just now, right? Like, You can't have one without the other. And in fact, it's been the story of my life that until I learned the science, the art took a system pretty far.

You know what I'm saying? Like the art of conversation, which I know there's a science, there's psychological science and how people, what people respond to and all of that. I'm talking about instinct. I'm talking about sitting across from someone and as a superpower, no other way I can describe it feeling and then having the gut.

To acknowledge what you're picking up from what they're putting out. Maybe it's body language, maybe it's facial expression, or maybe, you know, it's the super six sense, six sense empathy that I have, right where I can tell when someone's lying to me that all the time, but in the sales interaction, pretty good.

Anyway, so these are all the art. That yes can be engineered and put science behind them. But for me, like I said, I just didn't want us to lose as a profession. And what I saw when I interacted on that post was other folks mostly you know, white dudes far, my senior in their sales careers, responding to what I said.

A lot of them would grieve with me, a lot of them didn't, but they respected, you know, my ability to have. conversation and that's when I tapped into, Oh, okay. Like I can talk about sales. and sales culture at the same time. Like those two things don't have to be mutually exclusive as the science and the art don't have to be mutually exclusive.

So then I just started having fun, right? and I'm all over the place. I'm hosting B2B growth. You know, hosting B2B growth actually is how I got my first job on a marketing team. I interviewed Latin Conant, who was a CMO at 6 cents 6 cents. Yeah, and she you know, she said at the end of the call, like, if you need anything or you know, you need some help, I, you know, I, I think you got something kid you know, reach out to me.

And I didn't know how to capitalize on that opportunity. So what I did though, Was, I wanted people to hear this conversation, this particular podcast, because I don't know if you've ever, if you've ever met Latin than, you know, she's Norwell very colorful communicator. Just vivacious. Yep. And I was like, I need this out to the, to the world.

That's right. And so I went, I used, you know, whatever app, right? Where you can clip out pieces of a podcast, just this little short video I'm sorry, little audio clip of her, you know, Latin being Latin. And I posted. and then people started tagging her in it and this post and the comments, and they were talking about 6 cents and they were talking about Latin.

They're driving all of this. Right. Traffic, all of this attention, and she gets it. So like one o'clock in the morning, Latin emails me and she's like, Hey you ever thought about being a social marketer? You know what I'm saying? And I was like, No, but let's, Anyway, so, so again, all of these things are starting to come together, right?

The willingness to put myself out there. Right. Gave way too heavily weighed in on me getting my role at Sweet Fish Media, which put me in front of people like you. I interviewed over 100 sales and marketing leaders, right. Folks like you, Max Alter, are like people who are now like way too busy to have a conversation with me.

But, but I was, I was building those things. So then by the time, by the time I was in a position where, Everything else was not working right. I mean, chips were down, we were in lockdown. All the sales people got fired from pretty much every job. And then some of the marketers too, right? And then I just started to pay attention to when we recover from this, we're gonna have a lot of new people coming into this profession.

And those people are going to start their careers as SDRs and. SDRs, if you're, if you were looking at content then, and it's actually starting to kind of rear a ugly head again. But there was a, Most of the content was like, These people keep cold calling me and I hate it. They're so bad at sending these emails.

They're so bad at this or that. Or folks were giving them tips, right? Which, oh, wasn't sure were the most effective. So I posted about. , Josh Roth. Comments on that post. Hey Nikki, I have an idea. DM me, I DM him. The idea is SDR defenders. And so then that's when, you know, we, we get together the Avengers assembled, right?

Myself, Josh Coleman, Josh Roth, Nisha Parikh, and Tom Bocard, right? And then, so here we're taking this to the next level, right? And it's where I'm putting together my love for. Sales and the imperative that I've always felt to impact culture. And so I saw those things as hand in hand and it ended up being pretty successful.

And, and a couple years ago, Pavilion, formerly Revenue Collective acquired SDR Defenders. It's one of the first community acquisitions that I'm aware of. So yeah, so I, looking at all of that, I couldn't just set it down at that point. I had to. Figure out a way to capitalize on it. And for me, that's just meant you know, continuing to carry that torch with respect to workplace culture, particularly sales culture and continue to be as vulnerable and authentic as I can in this stuff.

[00:25:30] Darryl Praill: So I made lots of notes when you were talking. She said a lot, didn't she, folks? It was like, were you like me taking notes and was like, Stop, pause. Back that up. What did she say again? Every marketer out there, when she said that she was recording and she had hold arm at Wilson Phillips playing, Were you, were you thinking, What I was thinking was, which is, wait a minute, that's a copyright infringing.

What were you thinking? So you know that, how marketers think , So she talked about art versus science, right? I, I agree. There's way too many of you who are trying to follow the science. And that's not to discount best practices, proper technique, study and develop your skills. But if your emails look and sound like everybody else's emails, cuz scientifically this has proven to be 1% higher converting than, than, you know, than the benchmarks.

That will only last for so long and that will fall to the wayside and you will never separate yourself from the pack. That is truly where the art comes in. Your ability to connect with your audience, your ability to relate with your audience, the ability to be empathetic, the ability to actually bond over shared experiences.

That is art baby. That is, that is, they don't teach that in the science. You know that sequence formula, You got that opening script, you. There is nowhere in there for art, but it was like,

[00:26:53] Nikki Ivey: I can give you, Sorry, I got excited.

[00:26:55] Darryl Praill: No, go ahead. Jump.

[00:26:56] Nikki Ivey: I can, I can give you a framework for how to tell a story. I cannot teach you to tell the story as as sales leaders a lot.

Right. I think that's another piece where people fail to just stop and recognize that there is an art at at play here, right? Because again, like we know stories sell saas we know that. We also know that it's actually someone's storytelling ability can be pretty difficult to screen for when you're interviewing folks.

It's possible though, right? But anyway, that's the piece you're, that you're talking about right now, is that understanding the difference between showing someone a framework for how to tell a story and then finding someone who has enough passion about something to tell that story convincingly.

[00:27:45] Darryl Praill: One of the things that Nikki shared in her journey. She kind of figured things out and I Did you pick up on that? She kind of made reference to that multiple times. Oh, I observed, or I saw the reaction, or This happened through just luck, you know, it just went viral and I watched what the hell was going on.

Nikki's a student, right? And but she allowed herself that opportunity by, as she talks about expressing herself, right? She was, she used the term authentic. In other words, she wasn't opposer. Too many of you are trying to project what you think is the image. Too many of you want to be sales bros cuz you think that's what gets you the slap on the ass and get you acceptance with your peers.

In fact, You're just vanilla. Again, you're just like them. You wanna stand out. You gotta only be authentic, but you should also use the term vulnerable, transparent. I just gotta let go of my job. I'm sharing this with you. A less secure person would worry about the optics. Will people think I'm not good?

Will people think I was fired? Will I never get hired again? A confident person will say, I got fired and this is a shared experience and I will overcome and I will kick ass because I am not to be, you know, messed with. I am powerful, I am focused, and you know what, I'm good at what I do. So the whole point there is you're real people connect with people who are.

I was looking forward for this. In fact, Nikki and I were trying to schedule this one, and I, I think she scheduled it and then I had to cancel it, and then it got dropped and then I'm like, Nikki, we gotta schedule this because I've been wanting on her, on the show for so long because this is what I love.

Now let's talk about this. She talked about content. Content is a marketing thing. Nikki, I don't know what you're talking. Salespeople don't do content. I don't do content. I'll share it. I don't do content. Talk to me, talk to me about content.

[00:30:03] Nikki Ivey: Well if you don't, you're gonna get left behind. But I, here's here, I do understand the dilemma, and it kind of goes hand in hand with what we're talking about in terms of authenticity, right?

Authenticity. When you see. Sales tips, right? Email frameworks you know, cold call scripts and things like that. When you see those getting lots and lots of engagement and you heard Nikki Ivey one time when a podcast say you gotta build a brand then you try and put those two things together and you start as you're calling out to make the same kind of content that you see performing well, but then it doesn't get engagement.

And, and it ring, it's because it rings hollow, right? It isn't just because that's a crowded space in which to be having a conversation, right? It's, it's more than that. And so my advice, hear me out to, to anyone who's really trying to figure that out, is unfollow your top three. Favorite sales gurus or influencers, even if it's me for just one week.

For just one week. Quiet all of the content that has been making you feel like you have to keep up with it. , Right? Give yourself space to evaluate, are these my thoughts and feelings, or have I just been chasing what I think is performing the best? So that's, that's step one, right? Also, you don't have to talk about sales, right?

That's the hard part. So when I was first, again, coming into this, this brand thing the examples out there were Sarah Brazier. Yep. Becc Holland and Morgan Jay Ingram, right? Becc and and Morgan were doing a lot similar thing, right? So they had like these YouTube channels and they were just Becc giving lessons and Morgan is just saying, Hey, here's a thing.

I tried to, as an sdr, didn't work . But anyway so there was that kind of kind of content and it was exploding, but. They were doing a parallel path, right? That is to say, if I'm a salesperson and I sell a sales tool, it's gonna be a lot easier for me to build a brand, right? Because there's just a, it's the same audience.

I don't have to find two different audiences for this content. I don't have to try and reconcile what I'm selling with what I'm doing, right? Am I an expert at, you know, the sales profession, right? Or am I an expert at this piece of the industry that I work in? That was the hardest. because I just, I didn't see the parallel path, right?

Meaning I didn't know if people who followed me for sales, you know, insights, were going to want to listen to me talk about workplace culture. Yeah. Diversity, equity, inclusion and, and vice versa. So, and then what happened, unfortunately is that in the, the wake of the death of George Floyd? Yep. Everybody started to care more about culture and as I mentioned at the top, I have always been concerned with, you know, how are we socializing people into this profession?

We can teach them the skills and the emails, subject lines and all of that, but how are we socializing people into this profession? So again, so that led to SDR Defenders and this was just, I felt an imperative to. Further. And so I zeroed in on sales culture. And so that was like a, an epiphany for me.

And what I would encourage people to do is get really intentional about finding that overlap. Now, don't force it. It, it may not exist for the space that you work in, but for me talking. Sales culture lends itself right to, you know, engaging with the folks that I actually sell to, right? I sell to d and i and HR leaders.

So, you know, that's, I think the balance that you have to strike like I said, is making sure that, you know, you're tuning out stuff that is just influencing you, but maybe. Inspiring you, right? Helping you find whatever it is in yourself. And then again, yeah, you do have to be intentional about what is, who is the audience here, right?

With what community do I want right to, to become an, an influencer or an expert. Right. And, and let yourself off the hook, right? It's okay if it's not sales. It's okay if it's not the thing that you sell even, right? Just make that decision. Who do I wanna help? Who do I wanna build community with? And, you know, start talking about it.

So what that looked like at first was I , I had this thing, it was called Sunshine 6,000. It's corny, but I. was wanting to build a different kind of community, again, around culture, around how we behave. And so at that time, I only had 6,000 LinkedIn followers and I thought, what if I bring a little sunshine to each of those folks?

And I did the math, right? I was like, Okay, if I do a hundred sunshine videos in a week, I'll be able to reach my entire network. And x amount of times it was big undertaking, but what I found was, I only got like a couple weeks into that and I had those same sales influencers right in my inbox. They were responding to this message, was me on video saying, You know what?

There was one in particular sent it to like Colin CADs or something, and the. Headline was like, You're doing it right, Colin, right in this, in this little message. And then the video was like, Hey, I saw this thing that you, you know, talked about or whatever, and I completely agree you're doing it right, Blah, blah, blah.

He then screenshots it. Posted on his page as an example of, Right, this is how you do sales. The irony, right? I wasn't even trying to sell the man anything. I was just seeking to build community. And what he said was right. I went to look at our profile. I saw 6 cents I that 6 cents at the time. I saw 6 cents.

And then they pushed me to Six Senses website, which maybe look at Six Senses content, right? So, Reinforcing the overlap between, between the two. But anyway, so it started with that community piece. I then felt an imperative to be talking about what was happening in the world in a, in a meaningful way.

And what I knew was sales as a culture actually is at a higher risk, right? In my opinion. Is it a higher risk of, you know, people experiencing those sort of social ills than many other profess. The number one reason is because we've convinced ourselves that sales is a true meritocracy, and if sales is a true meritocracy, then it doesn't matter what color you are, doesn't matter what you're gender, and I don't matter, you're gay.

So I said I had an opinion, but so

[00:37:08] Darryl Praill: I just love voice carry on.

[00:37:10] Nikki Ivey: We were bumping up against that. Right? I know. You know what I'm talking about. We were bumping up against that I couldn't talk about, about diversity, equity, and inclusion in sales culture without someone coming to me and saying, As long as you're hitting quota, it doesn't matter.

And I'm like, I am standing here in front of you, a black woman who is telling you that what all of that comes. Right. It doesn't necessarily put me at a disadvantage, right? I got sales skills or I don't, But it can impact outcomes in that, you know, person A, who is not a member of any of the groups that is historically excluded economically or otherwise.

Their baseline is here. I don't if you guys can see me doing a gesture, right. It's just like my hand in a straight line. Their baseline is at one point. Right. But then you have person B, right. A person who is black. Right. Which comes with a lot of barriers to even get at the same table. Yep. And then a person who is a woman who is well documented, right?

That there is a lack of equity, pay equity and all these other things. Right. I have to. Emotionally and mentally fight through so many layers of stuff just to get at an equal emotional mental preparedness footing with the other folks, and then, George Floyd happens, and nobody at my job is talking about it, right?

In theory, right? This person B and nobody else is talking about it. And so now I'm, I'm even shouldering this other thing, and then I do hear people talking about it and the things they're saying are hurtful. Yep. The expectation that person B right is going to always have the same outcomes as person A without anybody.

Supporting that person, acknowledging even what's going on. It is just an unrealistic expectation all day long as an unrealistic expectation. And so there was. This overlap, this imperative because again, sales culture was experiencing these things. I also was on the board of an organization called Un Crushed, right?

It's another aspect we're concerned with the mental health of sales people. There's this other aspect, right? Where as this profession we're like just ignoring the humanity of people. So yeah. So maybe this is the advice, right? Maybe find. And something that you're interested in, right? If, if you do want to still remain in this sort of sales space, cuz y'all are my homies, I never wanna leave.

But if you do wanna remain in this, in this sales space, but that doesn't fit like your icp, right? Your target market, the folks who you also wanna create demand from, just find some aspect of sales. That might resonate. Culture, sales, or otherwise resonates with my icp. So, and that's if you, if you feel the need to be doing both of those things at the same time, Right.

Which is not necessarily the way that you have to go. But anyway, that is just how all of these things exist inside me anyway. So to a large extent, it is just, again, just me like talking about the things that exist inside of me in a way. That is less afraid than the girl singing Wilson Phillips in her car because that person you know, would hear people say things, right?

So, like I worked in on a sales floor and I would hear like it was a very bro. sales floor, meaning like every training class that was hired before my training class was like all white dudes outta college. I wish I were joking. No, wait, there were two white ladies. But anyway, so straight says hit white dudes, right?

So I would hear on a regular basis this locker room talk. But not necessarily geared at like women in a, in a harassment kind of way. All of that happened to, but what bothered me the most was the way they threw around language that is outright offensive, outright aggressive when it comes to the LGBTQ plus community.

And that's when I started to ask myself questions if I'm sitting here cringing, but don't feel like it's safe. For me to speak up about this, How would I feel if I was a member of that community? And then I started to look around and I was like, Maybe that's why there's no members of that community on this sales floor.

And these people don't have to even consider that. What a privilege that is. How can I help? I just could not, I cannot. Right. Not act. I had to do something. And then when I started to learn more about this, and I learned that at least in the US right, 46%, that's nearly half of folks who identify as LGBTQ plus are in the closet at work.

Mm-hmm. , no one should have to live like that, and alarms are going, I'm like, Why isn't anyone paying attention to this? Especially, especially in a time where we're talking about. Diversity, equity and inclusion, especially when we're making these statements, right? We stand with black lives, we've got this rainbow flag.

Yeah. Yeah. And it's like imagine working at a place, like if I was gay and I'm working at a place like this and I see the rainbow flag on our logo, but I know I'm also hearing, you know, that's so gay. Or the F word being thrown around this sales floor. I don't believe you, you need more people. Such az quote.

But like what? So those folks are either going to continue to just fight, suffer through this, you know, profession until they, you know, sort of make their way as I have as many other, have others have. Or they'll justifiably find their way outta this. , Right. I found that we were, or at least at risk of running, you know, smart, thoughtful people out of this profession because we were refusing to look at this culture piece.

And then I don't care if I'm the only one right. I there, I feel like I got, you know what I'm saying, an army with me. I feel like other folks have taken up this this mantle, but at this point it's all I can do. Right. I'm either working as a salesperson, selling something that is advancing these cultural ideas or I'm just a person who is advancing those cultural ideas.

It's, it's never going to be anything else, right? I can't look back. So join me if you want .

[00:43:44] Darryl Praill: That's, that's the beauty. So let's, let's put a bow on this. I open telling you Nikki is bold. She's courageous. She. I have much respect for Nikki Ivey. She has taken stances. She has stood for people. She has followed her heart, but through the whole process, what does she do?

She was authentic. She was vulnerable. She built a platform through trial and error. She learned constantly. She assessed. She adapted, sh it, she had an incredible willingness to put herself out there. Do you, That's the hard question. Building on what Nikki just said, you may not know this folks. Not too long ago I issued an article that I shared on LinkedIn, and it ties in on a related note to what Nikki was just saying, where.

In this article, I talk about how I am that older white dude that Nikki talks about who not necessarily that I went seeking it, but I will be, I will be the first to acknowledge it that I have privilege that many others in this world do not have. And what I wrote in the article wa wasn't that I am this white old dude who's got privilege.

What I wrote is I'm this white old dude who's got privilege, who's got a daughter, a trans daughter. And let me tell you about the journey we went through to come to that authentic self of being a trans woman and the implications it has on her for her life, for her career. She's in Texas and the risk it puts her at every single day from a safety point of view and the impact it has on her being hired or not being hired.

Now, what I don't wanna do is I don't wanna leverage my daughter to grow my brand. What I do wanna do is I want to use my brand to advocate for my daughter. And what I do want to do is want to tell you that that was a piece of content that I created and put out. And I want, What I want you to know was not that this was my objective, but the feedback that I got on that was overwhelming.

When you are authentic, when you are vulnerable, when you speak from passions you have, but you tie it back as well to your goal. If you're in sales, it's about sales. You will have success. Stop following everybody else. Look at Nikki. She's the rock star here. Nikki, what's the best place for people to reach you?

[00:46:42] Nikki Ivey: If you would like to try her hand at the dumpster fire, that is my LinkedIn inbox. I welcome you. I'm there. All I live there. So at some point I'll see it, but the quicker turnaround time is probably other platforms. Right. On Twitter and Instagram, the handle is the same for both. It's at known Nikki Ivey.

Not know as in rejection, but as in get to know Nikki Ivey, so @knownikkiivey on Twitter and Instagram. I am just trying to make as many frame as I can on those platforms right now. and if you thought you heard something here you ain't heard nothing yet. I'm, I'm even more candid and pointed in my challenges of this culture on those platforms, but also, you know, fun little whimsical pictures of me and pigtails on the weekend.

So, anyway. Come for the pigtails, stay for the social justice or the other way around. Whatever you want. Whatever you want. ,

[00:47:35] Darryl Praill: Like I said, come for the pigtails. Stay for the social justice. That may be the the best line of the show. Come for the pigtails. Stay for the social justice friends. I got nothing more to say.

We went overtime, but it was worth it. I love Nikki. Didn't, don't. Anyway, that's another can, another week in the can. Is that the word item? Sucking on my expressions today, but you know what I'm saying. We're wrapping it up. We'll do it again next week. I'm Dar, that's Nikki. And this my friends, is the Inside, Inside Sales show.

You take care. We'll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.

This episode was digitally transcribed.

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