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Dan Horwich
Camp IT Conferences
Relationships First; Selling Second
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An executive who has a passion and a purpose for moving the needle forward for others.

Conferences that provide leadership education for IT executives and business development opportunities for IT suppliers.

In this episode

The more you give to others, the more you help them scale their relationships. And when people feel good that someone's out there to help them, they're going to want to help back. ... They're going to want to hear your story. Dan Horwich or Camp IT Conferences shares his wisdom on the better way to sell.

The focus really has to be on the relationship if a salesperson wants to elevate their game. Salespeople are trained to think inwardly on quotas and closing so need to learn how to think outwardly to embrace their clients' world, both professionally and personally. Dan shares the 5 things that people care about, 4 of which deal with upward mobility which a good salesperson can speak to. Dan's shares his thoughts on how to use networking to build and create relationships.

Relationships First; Selling SecondDan Horwich
00:00 / 28:00

A glimpse of what you'll hear

01:25 Too many view sales as transactional - you have to do more than focus on putting numbers on the board.

05:30 Transitioning between focusing on your relationships with clients and prospects from pushing for the sale.

08:22 Great salespeople are made not born.

10:07 The benefits from taking a relationship-based sales approach.

15:56 How to transition from a transactional to relationship driven sales culture.

20:04 Learn about Dan. Email Dan at

Episode Transcript
(Note: this was transcribed using transcription software and may not reflect the exact words used in the podcast.)

Centricity Introduction 0:04

Welcome to the Best Kept Secret videocast and podcast from Centricity. If you're a B2B service professional, use our five step process to go from the grind of chasing every sale. to keeping your pipeline full with prospects knocking on your door to buy from you. We give you the freedom of time and a life outside of your business. Each episode features an executive from a B2B services company sharing their provocative perspective on an opportunity that many of their clients are missing out on. It's how we teach our clients to get executive decision makers to buy without being salesy or spammy. Here's our host, the co founder and CEO of Centricity, Jay Kingley.

Jay Kingley 0:43

I'm Jay Kingley, co founder and CEO of Centricity. Welcome to our show where our guests share their provocative perspective and what their target market is missing out on. I'm happy to welcome to the show Dan Horwich, owner of Camp IT Conferences. Dan runs conferences that provide leadership education, for IT executives, and business development opportunities for IT suppliers. Dan is based in Skokie, Illinois. Welcome to the show, Dan.

Dan Horwich 1:13

Thank you Jay I'm thrilled to be here.

Jay Kingley 1:15

I have been in sales for far too long in my career, I have worked with organizations that big sales departments worked with companies where the owner is also the lead salesperson for their business. And one of the things that I think all sales people feel the pressure is to produce the results. You know, like Alec Baldwin said in that great movie from 92, Glengarry Glen Ross, ABC, Always Be Closing. And that's our view of sales. It's that used car salesman, who says to you, Dan, what's it gonna take for you to drive this car off the lot, it is all about the transaction. It's all about putting numbers on the board. That's the incentive system that so many organizations use for their sales, all your incentive compensation. In fact, even being able to hold on to your job is based on the numbers that you put on the books. So with this focus on such speed, so transactionally oriented, when we now take off our sales hat, put on our customer hat don't we just hate it? Don't we just hate always being pitched and peddled and sold to? Where is the understanding and the empathy of who I am? And what is it that I really need? And I thought salespeople were supposed to be helpful. I thought salespeople were supposed to try to help me get what it is that I needed. And yet, it seems so often, there's this big disconnect. Dan, you're somebody who has spent a lot of time spends a lot of time in your business, working with people in the sales function. And you've seen what works and what doesn't work. Give us your take, on the right way to be thinking about sales, transaction focused, or is there something else?

Dan Horwich 3:23

Wow, I mean, there's a lot to unpack there, Jay. And first, thank you for having me on this because I'm, first of all thrilled to be here. But But secondly, there's there are so many things we can do to help sales professionals, executives elevate their game. And I want to cross given what we do in the conference business, we run across sales reps all the time, 20 times a year where there may be 15 to 30 salespeople in the room, and I watch them and I connect with them and I network with them. The focus really has to be on the relationship. And a lot of people talk about that. But what does that really mean? It's a point you made earlier, about empathy, about kindness about understanding where they are, too many salespeople are formally trained up to your point, Alec Baldwin's ABC Always Be Closing the Cadillac Eldorado as the as the number one prize and set of steak knives etc. But what they're missing is thinking outwardly, salespeople are trained to think inwardly, we need to close this to move the needle forward, we need to get this so we keep our job, what they miss. And that is putting their stuff in the customer shoes and what the customers are actually thinking about. And I coach a lot of my sponsors to say the five things that individuals are thinking about on a regular basis, that disagreement, they have their spouse or their partner from the night before, how they're doing, get their kids into college and pay for when they're going on vacation when they can retire, and sadly, no relative. And a salesperson recently said to me, Well, what does that mean to us? I said, Well, for those things about upward mobility. So if you show your prospects, what better looks like in their own career path, what's in it for them? How they can put their stake in the and show the enterprise's what they have accomplished, not just by buying for me, but just in general because you as a salesperson coach them to a better place. That's really what it's all about. It's about thinking, outwardly, not inwardly. But by doing that, by taking that. And putting that into practice. Now you're creating raving fans that want to do business with you.

Jay Kingley 5:20

Dan, how do you transition, if you will, from Okay, Dan, I want to spend time I want to understand you, your issues, what's going on in your life, I, of course, have this perspective of wanting to be helpful to you, that's a great way to build relationship, you don't make it about your customer, not about you, with the need for me to put numbers on the board. So how do I balance that? How do I transition between those those two phases?

Dan Horwich 5:52

That's a great question. Because it's overwhelming, right? You've got these numbers. And you're thinking, Well, how do I get to know these people and focus on the soft skills? Is that going to lead to a transaction because I've got numbers, I've got my I got my micromanager with sales forecast calls on Monday morning and Friday afternoon, and what am I going to close I've got all the stuff I've got to do, and it doesn't make sense. You have to take the surfer take a deep breath and take a step back and figure out what is the long ledge what is the optimal outcome for both the customer and for the organization for the organization's to stay in business and grow and build a revenues, build a customer loyalty and create raving fans and you obviously want to keep your job. But I think often just the other piece of it is it's not just incumbent upon the sales professionals, it's incumbent upon the executives to create that culture of support that because you could have a sales manager sales rep that says no, it's just like numbers, numbers, numbers, and that really appreciate it's about the relationship. And some industries are better at absorbing their thought process than others. But the reality of it is, you have to have the support of the executives to do that. And some of it is really sort of expanding your professional network. Giving before ask the more you give to others, the more you have scale those relationships. And when people feel good that someone's out there to help them, they're going to want to help back there. reticences is going to go down and they're going to hear your story. That is really what works. I think the days of you know the there are a lot of comments about you can see on LinkedIn about cold calling still works, cold calling doesn't work. And I'm not necessarily going to get into that war or feed that. But what I'm going to say is people all will always buy from people, they trust the people they really think care about them. And in this day and age after the past two years of what we've all gone through, people want to surround themselves with positive people that aren't necessarily looking to take but are looking to give in return people are going to get back. That's really the mindset shift that needs to happen. And the best sales executives that I know get that it's not a smile and dial. It's not where they smile at you. And then afterwards, you know, they're they're not being consistent. And I follow through it's relationships selling second.

Jay Kingley 8:00

Dave, it reminds me of that age old question, are great salespeople born? Or are they made? Can you take what you're advocating? Is it possible to turn that into a process that we can teach? We can train that repeatable, reasonably easy to deliver on that will generate predictable results? Or is this come on guys? This is what makes a great salesperson from someone who's not you either have it or you don't? And, you know, I'm sure we can get to specifics a little bit later. But at that level, can I teach people? Or do I have to just select people for a sales role who would intuitively understand this?

Dan Horwich 8:49

25 years ago when I got into sales for some high tech vendors, one of the things one of the comments of one of executives made was salespeople are born, you can't teach it. I disagree. Because the traits of being a good professional salesperson in this day and age, empathy, kindness, decency, those things can be instilled early on, those will lead people to want to meet with you by showing those qualities. And it's really about connecting if people have the ability to connect with others. Sure, if people don't have the ability to connect with others, if it's not in their DNA, then they're not going to be a good salesperson or they might be a short term, but it depends on what you're selling. Right? If you're selling cars a lot different than professional sales, well, maybe it's a one time transaction versus a longer term relationship transaction. And to that end, I would say that there are two brands, you have the corporate brand, and you have your own personal brand of the two which needs to be stronger your personal brand does because most salespeople will stay in every company want both brands ideally to be strong. But the strength of a personal individual's brand comes down to how well they're able to connect with others how they're able to walk them down a path together where they're not manipulated. They're just helping, supporting, guiding and showing them Looks like so I think folks can be coached to be great salespeople, if they have those specific qualities that we just mentioned.

Jay Kingley 10:09

This all sounds great. But let me put on my business executive hat and say, it's got to do more than sound great. It has to actually contribute to our bottom line, you know, based on your experience, when you see a company adopt this approach, as opposed to the transactional approach or make that transition from transactional, to relationship driven how have you seen the business results get better?

Dan Horwich 10:40

Oh, that's, that's a great question significantly, and why? Because once you have that approach, customers are more likely to recommend because customers, especially in our industry, in the technology industry, it's a big role. But it's a small group, right of people that sort of connect with each other. So customers talk, and they talk about reps that they like, they talk about reps that they don't like, even if you don't have a solution that meets that buyers needs, that buyer may say to you, well, you've been so helpful to me, I want to introduce you to other folks in my network, taking that approach expands your pool of buyers. Because as we've seen, and as we sort of discussed earlier, he want to do business with individuals, they like a trust that's become more important in the last two years than ever, and what I've seen, even with colleagues or myself, whomever, when you adopt that approach, people are more willing to introduce you to other people, other prospects, other buyers, if you give first, you're going to, you're going to reap the fruits of that labor in a good amount of time, because then you have people recommending you to other people versus Oh, that guy just try and close. So we've got this deal we never heard from again, yeah, he wasn't he really didn't care when we weren't buying, he was only there when we bought, you want people to carry the flag for you. That's how you scale.

Jay Kingley 11:55

It reminds me that the challenge of any business is not just to put numbers on the board today. But it's to have some predictability for your future. And you know, one of my experiences in professional services where I 100% had adopted this relationship driven approach is, I was supremely confident that my revenues would be exactly where I needed to be over the next year, or two or three, even though I had no idea what specific client was going to call me asking for help. I knew that enough of them always would, because of that solid relationship. But let me let me go one step further. Because I think when you talk about the results for your business, that's what drives importance. And importance means people are going to talk to you about exactly what you're going to want to what you're saying, they're going to want to engage with you. But that doesn't always drive them to act, action tends to be driven by urgency. And a lot of times that relates to emotion. So imagine that I am the either the owner or the head of sales, I'm buying into what it is that you are suggesting about moving towards a relationship driven sales approach, share some insights about how that impacts me emotionally, and how that really gives me an awful lot of benefit than I'm going to be interested in capturing. It goes to

Dan Horwich 13:35

Different sides of the brain, the emotional and the logical, right, the logical is, we need to get to certain numbers, we need to accomplish certain things, we need to move the business forward. The emotional piece of it is because we as human beings were wired emotionally first and logically second. See how people generally make decisions that a lot of decisions are made based, emotionally. I think from an executive leadership perspective, there's a lot of pride if people are if you're in an organization that has empathy and you care about succeeding, you're going to want to care about the welfare of your employees. If you care about the welfare employees, you're sharing their success, you can be the leader that can demonstrate Hey, I'm the Chief Revenue Officer. I'm the VP of sales. Look at what we accomplished. By coaching folks that take that position on how to build relationships. Your numbers are going to scare but you're also going to be the proud parent, the proud leader that said, Hey, we reshaped things now I'm seeing the joy I'm seeing my reps are able to get a new house put their kids through college, I'm able to see them save more for retirement, I'm able to see them help out family members who were you know in a trying situations I mentioned before about the the customers what they're thinking about, if you're leading that way, you also have your internal customers to buy it. So the whole methodology we're talking about about your external customers by your internal sales people off they also have to buy into what you're selling with this sort of new relationship paradigm. So by doing that, this is when salespeople realize what they can achieve and how they can make the put their families in a better place. And you can show them this, they're going to buy into it, because that's what they want to achieve. But it has to be articulated from top down. Now, when that happens, when those numbers are achieved when you can see the smiles on the faces, when you have the spouse of a salesperson, say thank you for giving my husband, my wife, my partner this opportunity, it's done so much for us, you then end up creating loyalty with the salespeople, the team, because they've achieved their numbers, they created a good existence for their families. But it was done with that emotional support. And then you can hang your hat on at the end of the day, we created us, but we created the right way and a healthy environment, healthy atmosphere to help the company scale.

Jay Kingley 15:45

You've articulated I think, a very compelling case, to move away from this transactional driven approach and think about relationships first, business will almost certainly follow. So I'm in give me a bit of a sense of what do I need to do tactically, to make this transition?

Dan Horwich 16:06

Now that's great. So what I always tell folks that I coach a lot of people on LinkedIn, because the passion of my network. So I think the key is meet as many people as you can that are like minded about network, you have to the first thing is you have to build your professional network. If you think you're just gonna build relationships by calling people on the phone that you've never met before, they've got 100 people calling them every day. So it doesn't separate you out. So whether it's a chamber of commerce, whether it's search industry associations, get to know people, but have it with a servant leadership mentality first, because the more people see that you're there to help, the more receptive they are to help back or help others. If you have someone that may help someone else, generally, it's going to come back now I always say you don't do it, because it's gonna come in, because then that's too transactional, to execute with networking, you don't meet with someone to give them something, say they're going to give me something because that's sort of a dead end, what you do is you help someone with no expectation in return, they then spread the word. And the byproduct is, more people are going to want to meet with you. But they're also going to say, hey, this has to be a two way street, you've helped me and I want to help you. That's how you scale, I would say that the people are the best networkers, the ones that are always meeting with others, get that they don't just meet with people in their industry, they don't just do it with buyers, I'm a big fan of networking with folks that are outside of the industry. Just to give you a case in point, since January 2021, probably had 1200, virtual networking calls, sometimes 40-50 a week, sometimes eight to 10 a day. 90% of them have nothing to do with my industry. And people would sort of scratch their head and say why? Because they know the people I'm networking with end up knowing people back in my industry. So if I'm offering them value to let's say, a credit card merchant to a to a recruiter to an account to an attorney, to a dentist, introducing them to people, physicians, whatever it may be introduced them that people, they generally know people, and they'll come back and say, hey, I want to choose just someone else that would have been in my industry that I never would have met. So you end up becoming a sphere of influence, right? You're creating this whole thing, by creating their sphere of influence. And people, people start seeking you out and you end up building your funnel. That's really hard to do. Now, the the what some executives may say, Well, I just want my folks pounding the phones, I don't want them out networking. That's a short term approach. Because that's transactional. The key is to be the center of influence where people come and seek you out, they're then going to say that I have someone to introduce you to that's how you build it. What I would say at any executive VP of sales, as you should have your team out, met with them, they should spend a few hours every week just networking going to whether it's a Chamber of Commerce Industry Association, volunteering at the school, I've met attendees from my conferences by volunteering at the school, I've met salespeople and I'm all there. It's just I struck up a conversation. So it's not just about just networking in all these groups. It's always been approachable wherever you are, because you never know when you're going to meet somebody, we stand in line in a movie theater chat with someone, hey, I've got someone introduce you to f we have a few minutes of conversation.

Jay Kingley 19:06

One of the things that I think is key to really understanding what you're saying is just put your customer hat on, put your client hat on, how is it that you want to be treated? How do you want those interactions to be? And I think for anyone who is on the customer buying side of any type of professional service, any type of thing where service in, you really need to speak to someone on the seller side to guide you once to do that not transactionally but through a relationship. So Dan, on behalf of all the clients and buyers out there, we thank you. And let's continue to get this message out about how important relationships are. We're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, we're going to learn a bit more about Dan.

Centricity Introduction 20:00

Wondering how much longer you have to grind and chase after every lead conversation and client, would you like clients to knock on your door so you no longer have to pitch follow up and spam decision makers. Well Centricity's The Tipping Point program uses a proven five step process that will help you get in front of the decision makers you need by spending less time on doing all of the things you hate. It's not cold, calling cold email, cold outreach on LinkedIn or any other social media platform, or spending money on ads. But it has a 35 times higher ROI than any of those things, leveraging your expertise and insights that your prospects and network value. The best part even though you'll see results in 90 days, you get to work with the Centricity team for an entire year to make sure you have all the pieces in place and working. So you can start having freedom of time and a life outside of your business. So email to schedule an 18 minute call to learn more.

Jay Kingley 20:58

Welcome back. We're talking to Dan Horwich of Camp IT Conferences. Let's find out a bit more about Dan. Dan, let me start by asking you for your business Camp IT Conferences. What are the pain points that you're solving for your target market? And why do they need you to get rid of that pain?

Dan Horwich 21:19

I appreciate the question, Jay. So as we talked earlier, it's about relationships. And we've created a community of IT professionals. We've been doing it for 38 years, second generation family business, but it's always been about relationships. So what do I mean by that? Well, we have sponsors get in front of a targeted audience of enterprise IT decision makers, both on site and virtually. And if I take a step further, I was thinking about it as to help the sponsors, I have to have the right attendees there. To have the right attendees, it has to be about concepts, it's got to be thought leadership content. We also feature speakers from IT departments that sit in the roles of the attendees there. At the same time, if I find that the salesperson is in a bit of a pinch, they need to take on a new role. I'll introduce them to recruiters on the side. Same thing with the attendees. It's about the fabric of a community when you have a strong favorite people come back because it's like a second home. And that's what a lot of attendees and sponsors have told us. The attendees have told us that it's helped them in so many cases get promoted, find new ideas that they never would have found before by collaborating with other attendees. And for a lot of sponsors, the sponsors have closed millions of millions of dollars for businesses, we have so many testimonies on the website that articulate that fact. But it's all done through the lens of building relationships of connecting buyers and sellers. And one of the unique things that we do is if there's certain sponsors that haven't sorted attendees, and haven't stopped by sponsors table, I'll act as an advocate and find some of those attendees and walk them over to a sponsor stable in a very professional way. At the same time, if an attendee is looking to hire someone, or if they need some help, or they need some guidance, I'm really happy to approach the business side, I'll always provide that guidance. So it's really about a community of both sides helping each other achieve their respective goals.

Jay Kingley 23:01

You've heard that all truism that you are the company you keep. And I don't know many people on the customer side who look to work with other companies who are average, and mediocre. The thing that everyone wants to say once they make that purchase decision, is the reason I'm working with Dan and Camp IT Conferences, because they are the best at what they do. So Dan, let me ask you pretty directly, what is it about you in your business that you would say makes you great at what you do.

Dan Horwich 23:33

So it's having that part of the white glove service we provide. But it's also networking with salespeople after the event and introduce them to other folks. So when I was talking before about networking, Jay, it's not about a camp, it's not about the transaction. It's about a community of like minded folks building relationships. So I'll meet with a sponsor after the event, and sit down and introduce them to chin up partners to manage service providers in my network, to decision makers where I have a warm relationship. On the same side, I'll introduce attendees to each other I got their requests that are event last week, when attendee wanted to look to build their network of PMO executives and I made a request, I made eight introductions over the weekend via LinkedIn. So the best of what we do, it's putting yourself in the minds of our sponsors by helping them get right in front of the right folks and having me become an extension of that. I make those introductions. And same thing with the attendees. I understand what they're going through, they share it with me, and I'll connect them with other folks. So it's constantly connecting people. It's constantly understanding what these individuals have going through, and really listening to our customers. If we need to refine if we need to change. It's keeping an open mind to the changes in the marketplace. That's really what makes us very formidable in the market.

Jay Kingley 24:45

You've mentioned LinkedIn on a number of occasions. I would encourage all of our listeners to look them up on LinkedIn and get a sense for his background and his accomplishments. And please connect with him there and take that very first first step in order to build a relationship, but Dan, I'm going to go down a slightly different path. I'd like to understand from you what happened in your life that would most explain why you do what you do today.

Dan Horwich 25:15

Some folks who may know me know, I'm a pretty prolific networker, and I'm always wanting to help. And it comes from a personal side. So five years ago, we came across the archives of my grandfather's escape from the Holocaust we hadn't we knew the story. But it wasn't until five years ago, we located the suitcase in the crawlspace of my parents basement, all the original letters that he wrote to escape the holocaust of documents, passports of swastikas on, and it was the kindness of a stranger in Chicago that received a letter from my grandfather, and rescued him in December of 1938. Brought him to Chicago introduced him to my grandmother. And now there are three generations that are present, do the kinds of strangers so that's not lost on me, especially in this day and age with all the different things that are going on in the world. Kindness matters, decency matters, connections matter. Being there for people matters, separating that out from the business, the business, by having that mindset that enables us to scale the business because people matter, connections matter. Decency matters. And people feel that when they work with us, and so I always have to be on the forefront of thinking about how I can make a connection that can help someone sometimes they'll change their lives than the last year four people called me out, called me directly and said that those introductions you made helped me get into jobs as CIOs chief revenue officer and a couple different IT directors. It was because of that introduction, I made sure recruiters same thing with salespeople, enabling them to get meetings with certain clients, leveraging my network outside of the events, if you're always looking out for other people, there's joy in this whole game we call life because I always say the more you help others, the more your own personal joy is going to scale. And I'm the happiest I've ever been because of that, but people take to that they want to be around positivity. And that whole family history has had such an impact. I mean, it's something I think about on a daily basis, just connecting folks, because if it wasn't to the kindness of a strange in 1938, I wouldn't exist.

Jay Kingley 27:10

It's such a emotional and impactful story. And as you say, there's a lot of joy in it. And, you know, unfortunately, you look at our world, and history continues to seemingly repeat itself time and time again. And those acts of kindness to others, less fortunate, have as much meaning and purpose today, as they did back in the 1930s with your grandfather. So just tremendous Dan. And I am sure that we have got a lot of our listeners that want to reach out to you either, because of your general points of view and insight on the sales and relationship process and networking, if not specifically around your business in the IT space. So what is the best way for people to reach out to you?

Dan Horwich 28:04

Sure. Thank you. So you can find me on LinkedIn. Or you can reach me, via email or via phone, I believe you have all of that information Jay.

Jay Kingley 28:15

You know, we're gonna put all of Dan's contact information, both in the show notes for the podcast, and as an insert into the video casts make it easy for you to reach out to Dan and I have to tell you, this is somebody that you absolutely not just want to have in your network, I'm going to tell you, you need to have them in your network because even just sitting back and observing how he interacts with people, how he treats with people and how he conducts his business. Even at that passive level, you will learn so much and if Dan can help you out on a proactive basis. 100% encourage you to do that reach out and begin that relationship and dialogue with Dan. So thank you. Thank you, Dan, for coming on to our show to our audience. Let's continue to crush it. Until next time

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