Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 208: Q & A with Lisa McLeod @LisaEarleMcLeod


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If you’re not already subscribed to Sales Pipeline Radio, or listening live every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific you can find the transcription and recording here on the blog every Monday morning.  The show is less than 30 minutes, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

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This week’s episode is entitled What’s your Noble Sales Purpose? Best Practices from Lisa McLeod”.  Lisa is the founder of McLeod & More as well as the Author of Selling with Noble Purpose.

We have vision and mission. We have objectives and sales. We know what we want to get done, sometimes we happen to think about what the prospect wants out of this as well, but that’s different than having a noble selling purpose. Noble sales purpose– what is it and why is it so important?

When you have this clarity of purpose, it gives you a sight line into your customers. It creates urgency and it also makes you a lot more resilient because if your whole self esteem and self confidence was built on hitting your number, you’re having a big problem right now.

The way you find your own unique noble sales purpose is by answering three really critical questions.

  1. How do you make a difference? (How do you improve life for customers?)

  2. What impact do you have on customers? (How do you do it differently than your competition?)

  3. On your best day, what do you love about your job?

And those three questions seem simple, but the answers to them are actually rather profound. And those become the story of your company. And it’s a much more compelling story for a sales team and for customers, than we provide superior products and services. Like no one cares about that, at least not now.

So much good stuff… Listen in now or read the full transcript below:

Paul:  Hey, welcome back everybody. It’s time to grab your board and swim out into that big sea of ideas, because I could see it, there’s a sales pipeline starting to curl up over the horizon there. And that’s what we here in California would say, taking lemons and turning them into lemonade. So if there’s a storm, we run out to do surfing because hey, the surf’s up and the man who invented this idea of lemons into lemonade, Matt Heinz.

Matt:  Is it me, Paul, or are the waves getting a little stronger? Little by little, for a couple of months, it seemed like the waves were a little tentative. Now, all of a sudden, the waves of sales, the waves of pipeline…

Paul:  I think it’s the turbulent times we live in, but the sea seem a little rougher out there, both metaphorically and physically here.

Matt:  Oh, they’re rougher for sure. Holy cow. And I think we’re definitely at a point now where, even just the news brief that we had right before we started the show here, talking about some gradual reopening of markets, gradually easing of restrictions-

Paul:  Might take longer. The headwinds might be tougher than we had envisioned, all that stuff, yeah.

Matt:  Well, I don’t think we’re going to get back to where we were in January right away. I think people hoped that this was going to be a V-shaped rebound, very quickly, very steep. Both sides is probably not a good idea to bet the farm on. But I do think that we’re definitely at that point where companies are needing to lean into their new plan to figure out what they need to do to close Q2 strong and head into Q3.

Paul:  What I was curious about when I look at today’s topic is exactly, that was the lead in from lemons to lemonade, you didn’t pick up on it here, but the whole idea was that, how do you make the most of a bad time? All right, so we’ve been handed a tough hand to play here. Is there something positive that can come out of it? Can we be nobler somehow? Will this remind us to think of others more often, your customers, your neighbors, is there some positive attributes that will come out of it and maybe we’ll rise to be a nobler people with nobler sales? Is that possible?

Matt:  This is a great time if you have not developed your noble sales purpose, this is a great time to do it. And our guest today is going to help out with a lot, quite a bit. Well, thank you everyone for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, broadcasting live from beautiful Whidbey Island, Washington, about two hours North of Seattle by ferry. And I’m going to hang out here over the long holiday weekend.

Paul:  Is that where you are, you’re on Whidbey Island? I only went there once and I thought it was a magical place, Whidbey Island. They had loganberries, everything there, when we went to Whidbey, we took a little ferry over there.

Matt:  It is a magical place up here. I got to be honest, I mean, once you have to take a ferry to somewhere, you just sort of leave the hustle bustle and yeah, it’s a special place. It’s also like, I mean, it’s not that populated, so it’s sort of natural social distancing. The house we’re in, there’s no one else for at least a mile in any direction. So we’re out here in the middle of nowhere, but hey, let’s get going.

Thanks for joining us for another episode of Sales Pipeline, Radio. More and more people listening live on the Funnel Media Radio Network. Thank you for making us part of your work from home, work day. For those of you listening to us on the podcast, thank you as always for finding us, subscribing and listening. And if you like what you hear today, I would invite you to join us every Thursday live at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern, and also every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, always available past, present, future on We’re featuring some of the best and brightest minds in the B2B sales and marketing world.

Today is absolutely no different. I am stoked, Paul, today to have our guest, I have seen her speak a couple of times. I’m literally right now staring at my somewhat irrelevant 2020 plan that I created in late Q4 of last year. And for the last two years at the very top of that plan, Lisa, is not our goals, not our focus areas, but is our noble sales purpose to ground our team on why we are doing this. And it was your book and your speaking that really kind of got me focused on that and I’ve been evangelizing that ever since. So, Lisa McLeod, thank you so much for joining us today on Sales Pipeline Radio.

Lisa McLeod:  Such a pleasure and I want to see your plan with your noble sales purpose at the top.

Matt:  Well, now I’m really worried about that, now that I brought that up, because I was like, okay, now you’re going to want to see it and hear it and I mean, I don’t know, it’s kind of like, there’s a friend of mine in Seattle, she’s a business etiquette expert and I see her on a periodic basis. She was actually quoted in the journal last week on work from home etiquette. And whenever I see her, I get very nervous and self-conscious because I’m like, am I looking at her in the eyes enough? Am I doing the right body language?

So now that I’m talking to the mastermind behind noble selling purpose, I don’t know. Before we get into mine, let’s take a step back and talk about what this is and why it’s so important, because I don’t think a lot of companies have this. We have vision and mission. We have objectives and sales. We know what we want to get done, sometimes we happen to think about what the prospect wants out of this as well, but that’s different than having a noble selling purpose. What is that, and why is it so important?

Lisa McLeod:  That’s right. Well, if you ask most salespeople, what’s your purpose? Or you ask a CEO, what’s the purpose of your sales team? The answer you will usually get is, to drive revenue, to hit the sales target. But what the research tells us is that a sales team whose purpose is bigger than money, whose purpose is to dramatically improve life for customers. They will actually outsell a sales team who’s focused on internal targets and quotas.

And one of the things that’s happened now, during the COVID crisis, is imagine you have two sales teams and one sales team the leader says, “Our purpose is to hit these targets. We’ve got to make money, revenues have declined, go out and hit it.” And imagine them selling against the team who says, “Our noble purpose is to improve life for customers. I want you to be as assertive as you possibly can to go out and find people who we can help and help them as fast as you can.” Which sales team would you rather have calling on you?

Matt:  Well, the latter, for sure.

Lisa McLeod:  Yeah, that’s the difference. And so a noble sales purpose is a declarative statement about how you improve life for customers. So for example, we have a bank that’s a client and they’re noble sales purpose is, we fuel prosperity. We have a travel company, and this is a good example of their noble purpose, is we help people discover more passion and happiness. Well, you can imagine they’re not doing a lot of traveling now, but what having that purpose enabled them to do was to say, “How can, in this environment, we still help people discover passion and happiness?”

And so they set up all these virtual trips and they’re doing all these cool things that are really shoring up their relationship with their customers. And so, when you have this clarity of purpose, it gives you a sight line into your customers. It creates urgency and it also makes you a lot more resilient because if your whole self esteem and self confidence was built on hitting your number, you’re having a big problem right now.

Matt:  Yeah, absolutely. And I think a lot of companies, as they think about what their noble purpose is, I find that sometimes when I try to get people to think about their objectives, the first answer they give tends to be more of a strategy, right? I’m like, okay look, what you said is what you’re trying to do, but why is that important, right? And sometimes it takes two or three times of asking, well, why are you doing that? Why are you motivated to do that? Why will customers gravitate towards you and be loyal to you for doing that?

It helps people peel back the onion and get to what really matters. Do you find that similar strategies work for finding a noble purpose? How you recommend people sort of think about what that is and I guess as a follow-up question is, is that just organic to their DNA? Is that part of a culture? Or can you define something and then pivot on that moving forward?

Lisa McLeod:  So I’ll answer the second question first. In a lot of organizations it’s implicit and what we find is if you want to be a top performing organization, you need to make it explicit. So I’ll tell you how to do that. Saying we are customer centric or we want to help customers, is not enough. It lacks the specificity. So we’ve got a chapter in the new version of Selling with Noble Purpose called specificity is sexy. And I believe it is. And the way that you find your own unique noble sales purpose is by answering three really critical questions. One is, how do you make a difference? How do you improve life for customers? And most people have the generic, boring value post, but you really got to drill down into it. What impact do you have on customers? The second question is how do you do it differently than your competition? And then the third question is, on your best day, what do you love about your job?

And those three questions seem simple, but the answers to them are actually rather profound. And those become the story of your company. And it’s a much more compelling story for a sales team and for customers, than we provide superior products and services. Like no one cares about that, at least not now. And so, one of the things that we’re seeing is with these sales teams that have this declarative, noble sales purpose, are finding that they are more relevant to customers now because we’re in a time where customers are saying, “If you can’t help me right now, I don’t have time for you.”

Matt:  All right, so I want to make sure I got these because I was scrambling for my notepad here. So number one was, how do you make a difference? Number three was, on your best day, why do you love your job and number two was-

Lisa McLeod:  What do you love about your job. Number two was how do you do it differently than your competition? So I mentioned this bank earlier that we worked through a process with them and it’s public, it’s Atlantic Capital Bank. They were an American banker of the year award winner and were best place to work. And when they started answering that question, how do we make a difference? It wasn’t just we give commercial loans, we give good service. It was really, really helping fuel prosperity for our clients and their families and their communities.

And then when they thought about how they made a difference, they realized that they did it with gratitude and empathy and humility. And then when they thought, what do you love about your job on the best day? And it’s when you make clients dreams come true. So if I think about, do I want a bank with a bank who says, as Wells Fargo did, “Our strategy is cross selling.” Or do I want to bank with someone that says, “Our purpose is to fuel prosperity and we want to do it with gratitude and humility and our best day is when you’re successful.” Well, I think I’m going with banker B.

Matt:  All right, no kidding. Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Lisa McLeod, she’s the founder of McLeod and More and the author of numerous books, including Selling with Noble Purpose and Leading with Noble Purpose. And it seems like, we started this by talking about noble sales purpose, but it seems like there’s a pretty thin line sometimes between your noble sales purpose and then leading with that, because what you just described is not something just the sales organization leads with, the entire company, I would assume, ideally should rally around this.

Lisa McLeod:  Ideally, yes. And so what I’ll tell people is, one of the, I do a lot of speaking, now I do virtual speaking, and one of the things I hear from people is, well I believe this, especially top performing sales people, we found in our studies is that purpose is innate in top performing salespeople. And they’ll often say, “Well, I believe this, but my CEO or my CFO…” And what I say is, don’t wait, this applies to the individual performer. And it applies to the organizational strategy.

The best organizations have this clear and explicit at the top and it goes all the way down to sales call behavior. But if you’re listening to this and you’re saying, well, I just run one team or I’m just one person. Once you start adopting that mindset and start thinking about the answer to those questions and thinking about your own noble sales purpose, you will dramatically improve your own performance and you will also experience a lot more happiness at work.

Matt:  So you mentioned earlier that these sales purposes tend to be sort of built, you can articulate it out of what you inherently are doing in your organization. Let’s take that down to the individual now as well. How do you translate your noble purpose into a more effective hiring strategy, not just in sales, but across all functions?

Lisa McLeod:  But across the things. So, one thing you should know is that organizations with a purpose bigger than money, outperform the market by over 350%. So if you are a purpose driven organization, you’re going, more likely, to be a top performing organization. And that translates into who you can hire because one thing we know, everyone wants purpose and meaning in their work. And one of the things that the COVID crisis did was it gave everyone sort of a hard reset. And if you’ve ever been through a situation like the loss of a parent or a health crisis, you know that those moments in time make you think, who am I and why am I here? What meaning does my life have?

And what’s unique about this current situation is everyone’s experiencing that at once. And so pre COVID, we knew that top performers looked for not just salary, but they looked for purpose of meaning, especially the younger people get the more important it actually is. But what we’re seeing now is it is no longer become a nice to have, it’s become imperative because people are saying, “I may not live forever.” Newsflash, “I want my work to matter. If I’m going to leave my family every day, who by the way, I have either just rediscovered and falling in love with, or I’ve decided they’re annoying as anything. But if I’m going to leave my family every day, if I’m going to put all this time into my work, I want it to mean something.”

So as an employer, we’ve had several of our clients win best place to work awards because they lead with purpose and they don’t say, “Hey, we’re hiring a data analyst.” You can go look on some of their websites. Like Blackbaud is a good example of a company that really embraced selling with noble purpose. And you look on their website and when they start advertising for things, they say, “We’re changing the world, do you want to join us?” And that gets you the right people who are really bought into it.

Matt:  Love it. Well, we’re going to take a quick break, pay some bills. I could, Paul, I can talk about this all day long. I’m excited about this topic. We’ll be back with more of Lisa McLeod talking more about selling with purpose, leading with purpose. We’ll be right back

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Paul:  Okay, let’s pick it back up with Matt and his guest. And just a quick note, Matt may not know this, I did a quick Google search on your guest here today and I find out she’s actually descended from real nobility here. She traces her lineage back to a long line of Kings and Queens here. So I understand why she’s talking noble passion and purpose here.

Matt:  I was going to say, the noble has a whole new meaning now, that’s amazing. I did not know that.

Lisa McLeod:  You know what, I’m just from a long line of mid level performers.

Matt:  Well, we got a few more minutes here before I have to wrap up with Lisa McLeod. She is the author of the books, Leading with Noble Purpose, Selling with Noble Purpose. I would highly encourage everyone to check her books out, her work, you can find her at We will put a link to that in the show notes, and you can get just a ton of great stuff up there, including access to her book, her blogs, to a bunch of other resources.

And I want to ask you a question, Lisa, about validation, because it seems like anyone can define what they want their noble purpose to be or what they think that it is, but it doesn’t matter what you say unless the market believes that. How do companies validate or get feedback on that purpose from the market? And then once they have that, how do you sort of refine that purpose over time?

Lisa McLeod:  Well, you bring up an important point because we are in a defining moment. Purpose has become a hot topic and there’s a lot of data about it, but what’s happening in this moment is the disconnect between what organizations say they believe and what they actually do, has never been more apparent. And so, when you are creating your noble purpose, the first thing you do is you make sure you’re not just looking around a table at your own people. It comes from the impact you were already having on your customers.

And then what you want to do is, after you have clarity about your noble purpose, and you’re going to market with it, the litmus test is, can it be activated in your sales team? Can your sales team bring this to life in every customer interaction, which is beyond showing your little PowerPoint and showing your commercial, but can your sales team actually fuel your customer’s prosperity? Can your sales team actually help people discover more passion and happiness? And how are they approaching your customers in a way that makes that real? Because if it becomes a marketing slogan and your sales team is still transactional, you’ve actually done yourself more harm than good.

Matt:  I mentioned at the top of the show that I’ve seen you speak a couple of times and this topic just really hit home for me. And we’ve spent some time internally working on our noble sales purpose and trying to help clients think about this as well. I love on your website, you talk about sort of the years of research, the organization to transform, and also the number of 6:00 AM flights you have taken, which is a terrifying number. But I want to ask you about making that shift from doing in person speaking to now virtual presentations, because I know we will continue to do both, but obviously right now, we’re probably doing a lot more virtual.

What are some best practices in events that you’ve seen and participated in that you think are things that might continue moving forward? I know this is sort of a shift for our conversation, but I’m curious, given the importance of the message, how do you sort of keep that energy and keep that sort of enthusiasm in that topic in a virtual format when some of those in-person benefits aren’t available to you?

Lisa McLeod:  Aren’t there. Well, one of the things that we’re seeing with virtual events, our own and others that I’ve attended, is you’ve got to lean in to human emotion and storytelling, because anything that was slightly boring in an in person situation, like a bunch of PowerPoints, it’s intolerable in a virtual setting. And so, the two secrets of a great virtual presentation are, you’ve got to lean into the storytelling and the delight of the presenter. And if you think about how many of us have watched Ted Talks and been mesmerized by them, that’s what was there. Was the storytelling and the marvel and delight of the presenter with their topic.

And then the second thing which applies to a longer program, because you’ve got to have a level of interaction. And one of the things that we’ve been doing is creating some very specific questions for people, having a producer backstage, answering them and filtering them on the chat, so that it’s not everyone talk at once on a Zoom call. So that it’s not, what do you guys think? And then whoever’s the loudest voice comes forward. And we’ve all been on that one. But I think the thing that happens in virtual, is people tend to go more factual and more data and actually you want to be doing the opposite.

Matt:  I’m curious, relative to your note on your website about those 6:00 AM flights. Obviously those have become a little part of the past for quite a period of time, but you continue to speak, you continue to write, continue to consult. What’s something that you miss from early Q1 that you’re looking forward to getting back to. And what’s something that has shifted, that you don’t miss that might actually change your new normal for the better for you moving forward?

Lisa McLeod:  So, one thing that I do miss is I have noticed that when I give a virtual presentation, I need to do more work before to get myself amped up and I’m more tired afterwards. I think the opposite would be true, because I just stand here in my dining room, we got cameras and lights and stuff, but what I realize is, how much I get energy off other people. And so I really do miss that. I really do miss being in a room full of people where the energy is up. And so when I’m doing virtual, I’m like having to play my dancing queen beforehand, get my husband to act like he’s 20 people. Well, I really do miss that a lot. I’ll tell you one transformation for me that happened as someone who traveled a lot is I always said that if I was home more, I’d be healthier and I would have my house more organized and it turns out I was half right.

I’m a lot healthier. I lost weight, I go walking every day and I have more time to think. And so it’s really given me pause and it’s been really good for me personally and for our business, because I’ve thought, the small consulting firm, how do we scale this message? And now because we’re in a virtual setting, we’re looking at developing some apps and some other things that enable companies to scale this on their own, where they can do thousands and thousands of people and quite candidly, I don’t know if I would’ve gotten there this fast otherwise, if we hadn’t had this.

Matt:  Yeah, no, I hesitate to call this time and this period, this moment a gift, because people are dying and there’s people that are in pretty rough economic shape. But I think that the forced downshift in our lives, has given us an opportunity to sort of rethink what’s important. And I think for a lot of companies that are having to pivot what they do, what they provide to the market, that are having to rethink sort of how they go to market, it seems like that’s a good time to also reset or establish, or as you said earlier, be explicit about what that purpose is because not only could that be a guiding light for companies moving forward, it could be a guiding light towards what that new strategy should be. If you use that as a starting point and rally your organization, your board, your leadership team around that purpose, that may inspire some of the ideas, tactically, strategically, et cetera, that can lead you out of this.

Lisa McLeod:  It should. And we’ve seen it with our clients. You don’t come up with the great ideas sitting around in a room saying, how can we make more money? Great ideas are born when you sit around a room and say, how can we improve life for our customers in bigger, bolder ways than anyone ever has before. That’s where the great ideas are born. And that’s what noble purpose is about.

I think one thing that we’re seeing in this crisis, for a host of personal reasons and business reasons, this is the true death of transactional sales. It was lingering for a while and people were trying to move beyond it. But if you have a transactional sales force that is thinking I’m here to close business, you are going to be very quickly irrelevant.

Matt:  Love it. Well, we are out of time. I’m going to wrap things up. Where would you recommend, Lisa, I obviously we’ll put the link to McLeod and More up on the website and in addition to getting the books, what else would you recommend people do to learn more about you and more about your work?

Lisa McLeod:  Follow me on LinkedIn. We have a new newsletter and I do a LinkedIn live every Friday and I post videos all the time. And if you’re interested, I’m easy to find on LinkedIn. I’m also, if you just Google noble purpose, you’ll find us. We are doing virtual programs for companies and we are also doing some backstage consulting with boards and senior executive teams around how to find this noble purpose and use it to lead your team out of this.

Matt:  Love it. Lisa McLeod, McLeod and More, author of Leading with Noble Purpose and Selling with Noble Purpose. Thank you so much for being our guest today on Sales Pipeline Radio. These always go so quickly, Paul, we just feel like we could talk about this for quite a long time, but if you like this episode, if you’d like to share this with other people in your organization or some of the others in your peer group, we’ll have it up on on demand in just a couple of days, and look forward to seeing you again, next week, last Thursday in May, as we head into June and head into the official summer months. It’s warming up days are getting longer, still got to close deals. On behalf of my great producer, Paul, this is Matt Heinz, joining us for another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.

Paul:  And with that, we wrap up another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio right here on the Funnel Radio Channel for network listeners, like you.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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