Episode NinetyNine

Why Building Personal Relationships is So Critical in Sales Today

Guest: Luke Lightening, CRO for Inside.com

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About This Episode

Luke Lightning has a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry. 

He’s also the CRO at Inside.com

So, what do chemistry and sales have in common? Well, a lot actually. 

Luke came on the latest episode of The Sales Engagement podcast to share some of the most valuable lessons he’s learned through his experiences. 

We discussed topics including: the importance of diversity inclusion, how to interview for remote work, why alignment should extend beyond sales and marketing, and why you should focus on building relationships. 

Here are our top four takeaways.

Scientists are Salespeople: 

Growing up Luke wanted to be one thing — an astronaut.

That was his #1 goal going into high school and then into college. 

Turns out, physics and math weren’t necessarily his strong suits. 

Yet one of Luke’s professors recognized something else that was a strength of his — an aptitude for chemistry. 

This was a turning point for Luke. And afterward, his chemistry career blossomed. 

He ended up getting a PhD, becoming a professor at Purdue, and working with a biotech company. Eventually, he found his way into sales and into his current position as CRO.

So, how did he make the transition?

While chemistry seems so far removed from sales, it’s really not that different.

As a scientist, you’re constantly trying to connect with people to get them engaged with your science. 

It’s all about relationships, connection, and engagement. 

Isn’t that what sales is all about, too?

Anything is Possible for Anybody:


I asked Luke, “If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?”

He responded by telling a story. 

Do you know the story of the guy who invented the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos?

Well, he was the janitor at Frito-Lay when he came up with the idea. He eventually found an opportunity to pitch his idea to the CEO. 

Today, the Flamin’ Hot flavor is one of the best selling Cheetos products ever made. 

And what about the janitor? He’s now an executive at PepsiCo.

The moral of this story is obvious:

Anything is possible for anybody. 

Addressing Alignment: 

We all know how crucial it is to achieve alignment between sales and marketing.

They need to be aligned to create a seamless experience for our clients as they progress through that hand-off. 

But we often forget about another hand-off that’s just as important. 

Often, once sales closes a deal, a client gets handed off to the customer success team. The sales rep usually loses touch with that customer until the renewal is up. 

We rarely talk about achieving alignment between the sales team and the customer success team. But maybe we need to think about it. 

Marketing and sales have spent so much time developing a personal relationship with that client. How can we ensure that relationship is continuing to grow, even as a new team takes over? 

It’s important to strive for alignment between sales and marketing — but it’s also crucial to achieve alignment between sales, customer success, and maybe even some other teams, as well.

Remember the Art of Sales:

Think about all of the data we have available today. 

We have access to all of these statistics — open rates, click rates, etc. 

But with all of the data we have available, we can’t forget about the art of selling — the relationships we create with people. 

It’s tricky to close a deal. 

And it’s even trickier to get a renewal. 

But if people like you as a person, if they think you’re doing your best to make them successful, they’ll be willing to work with you. 

Even if they’re missing their targets a little bit, they’ll trust that you’ll figure something out. 

So, at the end of the day, developing personal relationships is still the heart of selling.

Don’t forget that.

This post is based on a podcast interview with Luke Lightning from Inside.com. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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