In today’s episode, Mike chats with Kevin Juza, an expert in sales and leadership. Kevin shares valuable insights on how curiosity and serving others are the keys to sales success.
He emphasizes the importance of setting ambitious goals, being tenacious, and empowering your team. Tune in to gain practical strategies and a fresh perspective on sales leadership.
Kevin Juza’s Bio
My name is Kevin Juza. I started my career in operations and management in the financial services industry. In 2008, my professional career hit a tornado and I had to start over. I worked in a call center like a sweatshop dialing 250-300 phone numbers daily. I learned much about connecting, being authentic, and building a pipeline to reach every quota.
Over the next 5 years, I had two other jobs managing and leading SaaS, Manufacturing, and technology companies inside sales departments. When COVID happened I started consulting and helping startups implement inside sales teams to provide meetings for their sales teams and proper follow-up on their marketing efforts.
I found my niche, in how to help young companies build and create sustainable inside sales teams. We help startup executive leaders reach goals by putting things in motion to have at least 3x plans to succeed.
Working with my clients I talk about the daily rigor, tenacious process, and building a connection pipeline to fuel a 4x pipeline.
In This Episode…
- Discover the importance of genuine curiosity in sales and how it can lead to better customer relationships.
- Learn how serving customers and solving their problems is the key to sales success.
- Understand the significance of tenacity, self-belief, and setting ambitious goals in achieving personal and team objectives.
- Gain insights into effective leadership in sales, including active listening and empowering your team.
- Explore the advantages of working with startups and their resilient, adaptable mindset.
Links & Resources Mentioned…
Mike O'Neill: Welcome back to the Get Unstuck and On Target podcast. I'm Mike O'Neill, and as a coach I have found that people are either stuck in the past or worried about the future. On this podcast, I invite guests to share their insights about how to get unstuck and back on target so they can look forward to what lies ahead.
Joining me today, it's Kevin Juza. Kevin is known as the tenacious leader. His firm helps startups and SaaS companies implement a business development strategy that's guaranteed to grow their lead pipeline three X within 90 days. So you can see why I wanted to talk to Kevin, but before I do, I wanna also thank my coach, Suzanne Taylor King, for introducing me to Kevin.
Kevin Juza: Welcome. Good to meet you. Good to see you today. I'm sorry.
Mike O'Neill: Yeah, well, it is, it's good to see you as well as people are gonna see and or hear, they're gonna see how, how lively you are. I've really have enjoyed our prior conversations. I was drawn to you for a, for variety of reasons, one of which is that you work in the sales arena primarily, but maybe not exclusively, but.
You're in the San Diego, California area, is that right?
Kevin Juza: Correct. Yep.
Mike O'Neill: Does that have some bearing on the type of companies that you are choosing to work with?
Kevin Juza: Not really. No. Cause the way the technology kind of makes it easy, zoom and all that, it makes it really easy to connect with people. And when I typically work with the sales group they could be remote themselves.
Nowadays with Covid, the way people start hiring people, they're not really stuck by the talents in their neighborhood, but they're able to reach out to people all across the United States and the world. So it becomes very flexible. A lot of my clients, I think SaaS was what made me. Go towards SaaS because San Diego has a very strong SaaS environment and startup environment.
That's kind of where I, I got lot of the local experience. But other than that, no. I'm, I'm pretty stretched across the United States.
Mike O'Neill: Yeah, I was just thought there, another reason I was interested in speaking with you originally is my most recent two clients are SaaS organizations. And, and they're fast growing.
As you know, I do not do work in the sales side, but I have grown to understand and appreciate a bit more of the challenges of startups, and just the sheer intellect of the people that SaaS organizations have to attract. You have an interesting story that led to you doing what you're doing.
Would you mind sharing a little bit about what got you to this point?
Kevin Juza: I don't know how far, how far do you wanna go back?
Mike O'Neill: But I'll tell you what, maybe after you were wearing diapers, maybe after let's say after high school or college graduation.
Kevin Juza: Okay. Well, I was with HR Block for over 15 years. I was, I dreamed that that's where I would be having my whole career in because my parents and my mom both went through HR block and they retired plus 45 plus years.
And so me, then I was like, okay, I'm gonna do the same thing, but. Our, our economy's different than it was for my parents, you know? Being with a company that long, you're, you become you know, rhino and not really connected to the organization, so the future, the leaders think but I really believe that buy-in of, of culture and connection is key and it's kind of coming back around, I think in the next couple of decade, I think will be going back towards that because more and more employees feel disconnected, their companies.
And they'll go to the next place, the next place, the next place trying to find something which is basically connection to a boss, a product, a leader, a pro, you know, and being there for myself, the economy kind of took a big turn when I kind of came to San Diego. So, I moved down here for a, for a career and it was more of a project.
So I found myself after we bought in a home. I had two babies in my hand. My wife was a teacher. She, she was able to find a teaching job and I was unemployed. So I started my own business. I started a Fran, I bought in a franchise. It started kind of. Doing that for, for, did that about, for a couple more years.
Then my wife got laid off just like being all this turmoil in, in, in, in work environment. I think we have to always adjust and keep going. And so then I started finding work in inside sales and, and doing working with operations, sales, leadership, and managing teams and. And then when I was right before Covid I was let go due to the, the impact of that.
And I connected with an old, old colleague of mine that needed help consulting. So then I, I tried then for the last, next two years, I was working with him do learning how to be a consultant. And I, I really enjoyed, basically loved going in and solving problems. And then I, and I found myself being attracted to staff startups where the founders are the number one salesperson.
And then I learned that they basically are told at one point, it's time for you to build a sales team and you need to go out there and, and, and do it. So what they do is they go out and fire, hire a senior executive vice president of sales or chief revenue officer, $300,000 plus equity. Plus plus plus.
And then it doesn't work. It, it takes, because they're not bought into the startup, they're not bought into the brand, the culture, the connection. So I said, I, I go in and say, okay, why don't you give me access to $300,000? Yeah. And let's bring in three people and start building a sales team for you. And in six months you'll have a, you'll have a junior salesperson that you can mold and craft to become a junior.
You, so then you can step away from sales. Then when you have a sales team, then you bring in a vice president of sales or somebody else that can from the industry that can help you close, you know? But there's a place and a time. But I think as a startup, you kind of sit in a startup and you build your team from within.
You'll have people bought in and part of the whole success of the organization, and that's where I find myself now today.
Mike O'Neill: Well, listeners know these are unscripted conversations you did not know that was coming, but I think it kind of tells a more of a compelling story about Kevin, and that is one, your willingness to be so open about the setbacks that you experience and how you had to basically go reinvent yourself.
I'm intrigued by this concept, the tenacious leader. I don't see that term very often. So when I saw that as your kind of, your, your, your moniker, your name, that what you kind of tell us a little more about. What does that mean to you, the tenacious leader?
I found myself always being in, in situations that I get stuck and I don't give up.
Kevin Juza: You know, and so I, I, I thought I used the word tenacity as not as a verb instead of an adjective. People sit back and they see an athlete, they do stuff. Man, he's so tenacious to never give up. His story is so, and I'm like, well, why don't we bring that before the activity and drive around tenacity and tenaciousness to retrieve your goal.
My daughter's cross country around her in high school, and she's like, Hasn't broken in 20 minutes for three miles yet. You know, she's like so close and, and, but she's not giving up. She's still practicing every day. She's trying to get stronger. She's never giving up. She's goal to get there, you know, and that kind of fuel I've passed on to her.
I had in myself, you know, I never was the best athlete on the football team, but what I was, I was the team player. I was the motivator, I was the, I was the team, you know. Captain of personality and, and perseverance. And so I just found myself to always be never giving up. My wife and I, it took us years to get pregnant and, and you, we had to use science.
Three times. The first two, they, they weren't successful. And this is a hard topic to talk or for some people to listen to, but I just realized that last time, we have to just let go and let, let, let the energy happen. Whatever's gonna happen, and we can't give up, honey. We're, we're, we're meant to have a family.
If it's this way, it's gonna be somewhere else. And so I just kind of found myself tied to that word, tenacity and tenaciousness.
Mike O'Neill: I love the concept. When you said that your daughter runs cross country, I immediately started smiling. Our son Andrew ran cross country in high school and he was not the fastest, but he was by far the most tenacious and I was so proud of how he just doubled down and worked hard.
It's been some time since he's been in high school. I'm very happy to report he qualified and ran the Boston Marathon this year.
Kevin Juza: Wow, that's awesome.
Mike O'Neill: Yeah. I attribute that to nothing other than tenacity. Now admittedly, he's gotten faster, he's gotten stronger, but I don't know if Andrew will be listening to this episode, but Good cause you're, well, I hope he does.
I love what, when you describe working with startups and what really caught my attention is the company founder, it, they have a dream, they have an idea. Right, and they begin to surround themselves with people to kind of go carry out that idea. Let's use SaaS as an an example. When you said that the tendency, particularly if they have private backing, but the tendency is to pony up big bucks and go hire a high powered, well-paid sales executive, your guidance to them is that may be the right decision at the right time.
And your guidance is, let's go build more from scratch. And what really caught my attention was not just the sales piece, but bring people in who are willing to invest and buy into the culture.
Kevin Juza: Right. And when they come in as new hires, they're in, the word invest is key there. They're the ones, they're building the culture.
They're, they're coming in instead of being at the top where you're leading the culture, you're, you're, you're, you make more impact when you start at the ground up when it comes to culture. And so, and you have to let the freedom of the, of the, the. The masses really justify where the culture's going. As a leader, you can only create the playground, but you don't know what games they're gonna play when they go there.
And so it's how you create all that together. And so, and when I, when I find myself working in sales, that word tenacity comes in a lot of place because they have to just keep going. They have to, they get a lot of rejection, they get a lot going and, and the owners get so frustrated they go, I got to find somebody to duck to come in here and take this care of me for me.
If they find somebody who's outta work and they're gonna get them a, you know, low, low risk executive to come in, well they're not gonna be there that long cause they're gonna find something somewhere else. So it's, it's that balancing act.
Mike O'Neill: You know, you described bringing people in where they could be helped build the organization and kind of build the culture, you know, all the surveys.
Indicate we all, if you're employed, you want to believe in the company that you work for and what they are about. And if you could be part of kind of articulating what these beliefs are and be kind of on the ground floor I could see why that would be exciting. The, the nature of sales, however, is one of you hear a lot of no.
You've demonstrated in your personal life that tenacity has had benefit, and you're trying to instill that same mindset with your clients. Is there a temperament that you find that works best for those going into sales?
Kevin Juza: When I'm interviewing and helping them find the team, the temperaments curiosity.
You know, is the person curious about the other person or just selfish and wanna sell something? So when they turn that around and then make it more curious about the customer and knowing what they're looking for and knowing why they're gonna need a product, why they, or are you just, you know, reflecting what you want onto them and hopefully they pair it back to you.
I mean, there's so many sales strategies out there and talking strategies and getting people to, to say yes three times and all those kind of monocles to get people in the sales process. But if you're curious and you find the best offering, if it's yours or somebody else's, and you provide that, Sometimes I've given offers to say, you think you should go to this customer over here?
It's not us, but I think there's a better fit for you. They end up coming back saying, well, how can I be a fit for you? What, what do I need to, you know, what answers do you need to hear from me to be a fit for you? Then now they're a customer that really wants to work with you instead of being, you know, tricked into working for you.
And so that's where kind of the word curiosity is a big key to me when it comes to, to bringing people in.
Mike O'Neill: I love that notion of curiosity. You also include on your LinkedIn profile or website. I'm not sure where, but it reads, selling is serving when you focus on your ability to solve your customer's problems.
Results are organic.
Kevin Juza: Yeah. It's, it's the. The true tr I call it rigor. When you're working with salespeople, it's like the rigor. It's like you're not gonna get a yes every time. You're got to, you got to build something. And I call it, I call it the fact of when you start that, that conversation with about you got a no and lot of it's like a boxing match, you know?
And the best way to win it to stop a boxing match is the hug the person. You know, it's like hug them, so then they can't hit you no more, you know, and then you get in close and you get to talk with them, you know, so it's, and in sales it's the same way. When you really care about what you're doing, and you know, you're gonna have to call 40 people every day, you're gonna get five connections.
But if those five connections you follow up and talk to for the next three weeks, three of them are gonna get to the next step. You know, so it's like every day you're adding five, which will be three down the road, you know, and you just keep adding and building. And then you have this, this true sales pipeline where your job becomes really fun, all you're doing is connecting to people you care about.
Mike O'Neill: You know, we both coach as part of what we do for clients. Steve Chandler has written a bunch of books. I just finished one of his books last night and he characterized, no, when you're in sales, it's just, It's just a fact. And what his encouragement is, you know, it's a no, but we think that as it's not a no, but more of a not yet that if you do pour yourself into building a relationship, genuinely be cured about them and their needs.
It may be they don't say yes now, but odds are. In your favor that they may say yes later. Would you agree with steve?
Kevin Juza: Oh yeah. It's, it means not yet. It means you ask the wrong question, you know? Because if you're, if you sell a SaaS product and, you know, industry specific results are there, when people are buying and implemented properly, they get, they, they solve their problem.
If you ask the question and the customer has that problem, Well, then you have a solution for them. But if they say no, because of budget restrictions or because my da da da, whatever their excuses are, it's because they don't trust you enough. They don't believe you enough. They don't know. They don't know if you're just a you know, selling me, what's that old?
Mike O'Neill: Snake oil.
Kevin Juza: Snake oil, thank you. Selling me a snake oil that's supposed to solve something, but really doesn't, you know, it's, so, it's, it's, it's interesting how. People have to take that no to say, okay, ask the wrong question. How about this? And you get to be more curious or truly understand their problem.
Mike O'Neill: You also write, I love quoting. As a sales leader, you most likely have goals for yourself and your team. These goals just don't happen. They take real work and grit. Accomplishing these goals takes courage. Tenacious leadership is a blend of intuition, self-awareness, teamwork, and personal drive. And regardless of your current situation, you write, we believe in your ability to set and achieve goals for yourself and to empower your team to maximize their potential.
Kevin Juza: Good stuff. I'd hire that person. Yeah. Is that snake oil or is that real?
Mike O'Neill: That, well, it's real. At least it's, it's, it's real right off, right off your website. But in sales, it takes real work and grit. Some people have the impression that if you're just outgoing, you're naturally going to be gravitating towards sales.
Do you have to be an expert to be successful in sales?
Kevin Juza: No, no. I see. In my career, I've always, sticking back to your unstuck ness, I usually get the teams that are stuck. I get the employees that are stuck and, and as a, as an, as a coach, executives, I love working with stuck executives, you know, and so because they, they, they've lost a belief in where they want to go.
You know, there's a guy named Mike Dooley talks about thoughts become things and when their thoughts are always negative or always, I can't, I can't, I can't, or it just doesn't work that way. It just doesn't work that way. It just doesn't work that way. I turn around saying, it can be that way, it can be that way.
How do we make it that way? And you get them to start getting unstuck about all the negative thoughts or boxes they've created for themselves that they just can't fight, fight their way out of it. And so it's like, these are boxes you've created that's, that's undo them. You know, you can have what you want.
If you believe you can get this sales number, then let's get it. And that's where the ethnic ethnicity, the, the being a honest leader and knowing if you're picking a number, just because statistically that's what we need. Or is it you believe you can get that number? If you don't believe you team can get that number, don't give that number because you're just setting them up to failure because you don't believe in them.
If you set a number that you believe they can hit, then they can feel that and they will rise up to that number. They will get there. Or far start fa or pass it.
Mike O'Neill: You know, you mentioned that you prefer working with startups. Startups are a different animal in of themselves. We talked about that a little bit. What is it about startups that just draws you to them?
Kevin Juza: Because. They have a golden reach and they're committed to that goal. They're, they're gonna fall and they're gonna say, how can we learn from that? Let's keep going. You know, they're not one to say, okay, we fell. Let's assess. Where are we at? What's going on?
What's the PowerPoint slide? What's the Excel spreadsheet? How do we make this never happen again? Takes you three months to stop that process. Startup world. It's like, Shoot, this didn't work. Okay. What didn't work in it? Well, look at the numbers. I think it's this. Okay, let's try a different program.
Let's do it this way. And they, they just, they move, they keep going because they have a goal. They need to get to the next million, they need to get to the next 10 million. It's, it's, they're reachable targets that they all know. Cause the markets are so huge where you live in that when they're small and you get some momentum, you just got to follow that momentum and they're, they can go, but they're not afraid to make mistakes.
Mike O'Neill: Kevin, as you reflect on what you do, And how you have done those. What are the kinds of things that have stuck with you you've already shared with before you hit record button one. You just raised your, your mug, you already referenced this quote a moment ago. Can you pull your mug back up on camera?
Yeah. For those who are watching it reads, what thoughts become things? You just made reference to that, but can you elaborate it? What does that mean to you? Thoughts become things.
Kevin Juza: It's so, it's how we, there's so much things happening in our head these days. What do you actually, what's the self-talk?
What is your, what do you hear or listen to your friends and family, neighbors. You can't, you can't, you can't, a lot of times, especially in uncertainty and, and that just programs us to start thinking that way. So I try myself every morning to start with new thoughts or thoughts with positive outcomes of where I'm gonna be at the end of the day.
How great this podcast was gonna be, and, and just that thoughts kind of drive your intentions. You know, you have this subconscious inside of you that drives you. How are you feeding that subconscious? What, what are you giving that subconscious to think about and, and go for and chew on? If you give it a bunch of negatives, it's gonna prove you right?
Darwinism inside of us, our job, our, our Darwin inside of us is to make us survive. And you're telling it what to do to survive. If you tell them you're no good, you're conscious is gonna make you no good. If you tell yourself you're awesome, your consciousness is gonna make you awesome.
Mike O'Neill: I have invited a number of people who work in the sales area on as, as podcast guests in large part, because what I keep hearing is what you just said, and that it's more often than not, the barrier to success has nothing to do with anything other than limiting beliefs on, on individuals, and sometimes organizations aren't.
Kevin Juza: Yeah. When you, all these layoffs we're doing right now, Okay, the company's out, not me, or just organizations out there. They think that's the solution to solve the problem at hand. But nine months ago, two years ago, they had a strategy and now they're giving up on it. That's not tenacity, that's giving up, you know, that's pointing fingers somewhere else and trying to a adjust.
I believe companies do need to breathe, so sometimes layoffs are appropriate, but in in general, I. When you have a layoff, you lost, you know, you, you didn't hit your numbers. Why didn't your company hit your up? Oh, it's economy-wise. No, it's not. It's, it's each and as a greater economy. Yeah, maybe those hubs vote, but when you come down to one organization, no matter if it's 20,000 employees or a hundred employees, when you layoff you, your strategy screwed up.
You, you, you, you've lo you gave up. On your core belief of where you're going is my opinion. And so companies need a lead by not, these employees come in and they believe their family, their future's with you and your organization. If you don't have a plan that works, then you need to bring them in and, and they'll listen to them.
They'll tell you what's broken. Typically, companies that are, that are. That are letting people go and they got to readjust. So they're not listening to the people that are doing the work. They're listening to consultants that come in that come like, I'm sorry, I'm a consultant so I come in. But I do my best to listen to the ground people of the organization that really make the heartbeat of the organization move.
Cause you'll find out what's really happening.
Mike O'Neill: Do you find that is true even in a sales organization? Listen to the people who are having the most day-to-day contact with prospects and or customers.
Kevin Juza: Vice president of salespeople don't listen to phone calls. Before they make decision decisions. Why aren't they listening to the combat?
You know, it's like the king making rulings when they're five, a hundred miles away from a horse drawn calvary, and you get updates every, you know, weak how we're doing. You know, it, it, nowadays you can actually jump in the fight and listen and learn. You know, wow. The over, they're, they're talking about this competitor who's got this, they got this, how they actually can adjust and know what's going on.
If they're in the, and well working with them. Sometimes leaders jump in and they start closing for people. You're, you're, you're giving the ability of the people to have a success. You're taking the win away from your employees. Go back to the, to the first phone call and help them there. You know, help them there to get to that second phone call.
But when they get to that finish line, let them finish. Let them win. Let them get the, the, the, the blood success there. So they just want another one. You know, it, it's interesting how sales leaders are, are just focused on the wrong direction of the organ, of the, of their pipeline.
Mike O'Neill: My wife refers it to, as swooping in, they swoop in to do the fun stuff.
The, the close is the fun stuff and robbing the person who works so hard is robbing them of just the satisfaction of, of closing. Along those lines, there's something about sales, whereas if you've just had a successful day, some might say, reward yourself, call a day. Do you find yourself challenging that notion?
If you're on a roll, keep rolling.
Kevin Juza: Keep going. The best, the best energy you have is when you just close something. You know, I'd rather you go drink after, after you have a bad day. Forget about it. You know, when you have a good day, keep it going. You know, I don't want, when I have, when I have three good co co consulting conversations or whatever, I want another one.
I just want another one. Just kind of keep it going because the, the day's gonna end when you got to start over tomorrow and then you got to say, okay, what's tomorrow gonna bring me? And if you have the right mindset, you have the right energy, you'll pick up where you left off. But, In general, it takes a while to get that confidence to that level of getting yeses.
So I'm more to the fact of, yeah, you should celebrate. Definitely celebrate. But about 10 seconds is all you need to get, then get going on the next one. You know, and finish your day. Finish your day strong, and then, you know, have a nice dinner.
Mike O'Neill: Alright, that's good guidance. You know, as you kind of reflect on this conversation we've had thus far, what are the kinds of things you want our listeners to have as takeaways, Kevin?
Kevin Juza: Well, when you step back to see your, so we're almost halfway through the year, right? When you look at your personal goals, where are you at? What did you wanna accomplish this year? What are you stuck at? How do you get to where you want to get to? Was it a job situation? Was it personal goals? Was it, was it, what?
What is it? And but if you're accelerating, also be the tenacious to get to the next. Change your goals, make them better. Make them bigger. Don't be afraid. You know, be curious about where you're at and where you're going. I believe, I believe each, each event of us can get to where we want to go. There's enough opportunities, there's abundance all around us.
We just have to be open to it and be willing to go after it. And my family and I, we just took a great trip in Europe. And taking my daughters who are 16 to see, you know, the Empire State Building Live, not Empire, sorry. Paris, the Eiffel Tower Live. You know, like, wow. It's right there. Oh gosh. It's, it's like they seen on TV all the time on books, or they just had, you know, European history and, and it's like, ugh, this is real, you know, it's like life is real.
The world is real. The opportunities are real. Be tenacious. Don't give up. Go after it. Even if you have to dig yourself a little bit of a hole to embrace it, to, to invest in it, it'll reward yourself and you'll, you'll get to where you want to go and everything will work out, promise. And so, but I, I just think this is a great conversation, Mike.
I really appreciate your, your, your kind conversation here.
Mike O'Neill: Well, you make it very, very easy, Kevin. I'm confident folks who are listening will say, I wanna know more about Kevin. What's the best way for them to connect with you?
Kevin Juza: Well, the tenaciousleader.com, it has a lot of the things I do there.
It's a great way to also, you can send me an email through that process or even jump on my calendar there. But, or you just email me email@example.com is a great way also just to email me and we can connect. Love to talk to anybody.
Mike O'Neill: We will include that and your LinkedIn profile in the show notes, so be assured of it.
You know, you said two things that stuck with me amongst others. One, you used the word curious several times the importance of curiosity in sales, and that's genuine curiosity. And then you. Made reference to the importance of serving. If you can serve others and have kind of a curious approach to it, it sounds as if what you are advising us to do that, that gets us pretty much on track to get unstuck if you are stuck in some form of passion.
Kevin Juza: Yeah, if you're, you know, they say that curiosity kills the cat. But that's when you get stuck when you're just in that circle that you're just keep finding another question, another, another excuse to kind of keep going in that circle. And I'm saying being curious to say what's the true future gonna be?
How do you truly connect with the other person and really draw in and be able to serve their needs and their company to find the best way? Totally those two points are very key to my approach when I do sales and my point actually working with clients.
Mike O'Neill: Kevin, you've allowed me to pursue my curiosity and you have served our listeners well as a guest. Thank you.
Kevin Juza: You're welcome. Thank you.
Mike O'Neill: I also wanna thank our listeners for joining us today. If you'd like to subscribe to this podcast, you can just go to your browser and type in Unstuck Show. And if you want, while you're there, you also can subscribe to our management blog called The Bottom Line. So if you're trying to grow your business, but those people problems have slowed you down, let's talk head over to bench-builders.com to schedule a call.
So I want to thank you for joining us, and I hope you have picked up on some tips from Kevin that will help you get unstuck and on target. Until next time.