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IAM1867 – Coach Helps Sales Marketers Create Repeatable Patterns of Success

Podcast Interview with Ryan Dohrn

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode of the IAMCEO Podcast, Ryan Dohrn, a 30-year global sales and marketing advisor to over 200 companies in 15 industries, shares his insights on helping sales marketers create repeatable patterns of success. With experience in the media and marketing business and a Psychology of Leadership Certification from Cornell, Ryan has trained over 30,000 salespeople and impacted more than half a billion dollars in sales.

  • CEO Story: Growing up on a farm and learning a strong work ethic, Ryan started his career in the media and marketing business. His entrepreneurial spirit was born out of necessity, with the help of his wife and partner. Ryan discovered his passion for supporting salespeople, marketers, and sales marketers to grow and retain customers.
  • Business Service: Ryan's coaching focuses on laying out a plan creating repeatable patterns of success and paying attention to details. He serves as a sales and marketing advisor for various businesses.
  • Secret Sauce: Actively selling and running businesses, Ryan provides the best advice by staying engaged with the sales process himself.
  • CEO Hack: Ryan suggests that proper timing, subject lines, and structure are essential when sending emails, ensuring the success of communications.
  • CEO Nugget: Ryan advises identifying random elements in business and deciding whether to accentuate or eliminate them. He emphasizes that goals with mini-goals are just dreams.
  • CEO Defined: In Ryan's perspective, a CEO's role is helping their team achieve things they only dreamed were possible, fostering growth and accomplishment.
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Ryan Dohrn Teaser 00:00

Because I believe the best advice, not all advice, but some of the best advice comes from people that are actively on the street selling right now. That's why as much as writing books is tough, it's hard, after 4 editors, I still find spelling errors. It makes you crazy.

But, it's important to be active and involved if you're going to give really good advice, in my opinion.

Intro 00:22

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the IAMCEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:49

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the IAMCEO podcast, and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, or what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations this month, we are focused on leadership management and coaching.

When we think of leadership, management, and coaching, we often think of doing all of the other things, but often it's a person that's able to build up their team, that's able to cultivate a creative and innovative culture, so that people can excel and actually be their own leaders. So that's why this month we're focusing on those 3 big topics, because they make a huge impact on the organizations that we're part of.

Now, you'll hear some of those topics this month, of course, some really great perspectives on how people are even defining leadership, which I think is extremely exciting. So sit back and enjoy this special episode of the IAMCEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the IAMCEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Ryan Dohrn of Ryan, super excited to have you on the show.

Ryan Dohrn 02:07

Hey, thanks for having me. Love to fulfill my mission of helping people take their entrepreneurship dreams to places, the only dream possible.

Gresham Harkless 02:15

Nice. I absolutely love that mission. I know we were talking a little bit about how much you love entrepreneurship and some of the awesome things that you're doing. So, before we jump in and do that, I want to read a little bit more about Ryan so you can hear about some of those awesome things.

Ryan is a 30-year global sales and marketing advisor to over 200 companies in 15 industries. He holds a Psychology of Leadership Certification from Cornell and has trained over 30, 000 salespeople.

Ryan has been featured in USA Today, on CNN and on He is a multiple best-selling book author, and Emmy winner, and his sales strategy ideas have impacted over half a billion dollars in sales. He's a proud military dad and has been married for 26 years. Ryan loves good coffee, 80s rock music and seeing others succeed.

Ryan, super excited to have you on the show. Are you ready to rock and roll in the IAMCEO community?

Ryan Dohrn 03:03

Yeah, absolutely. We got to send this recording to my mom. That's like the best read bio ever Gresh, so you're going to get props for that.

Gresham Harkless 03:10

Hey, it's easy. It's easier to read. It's probably a lot harder to do all the awesome things you're doing. So I definitely appreciate you for doing it and making it easy for me.

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Ryan Dohrn 03:17

You bet.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:18

Awesome. So to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock, hear a little bit more on how you got started, what I call your CEO story.

Ryan Dohrn 03:24

Yeah. So my story really began when I was an Iowa farm kid and I grew up on the farm. And so growing up, in an Iowa farm, especially where you're raising pigs and corn and soybeans and all that. I established and was able to see a good work ethic for my mother and my father for quite some time. And then interestingly enough, my dad went into the ministry and became a pastor. So I was able to see my dad not only show me hard work, but then also how to present to people and be in front of people. And so we'll pass a little virtual offering plate later to pay for the bill. Yeah, that's exactly right.

But I actually started really in the media and marketing business. That's where I won my Emmy award which I was very proud and some other awards in that regard and went from Iowa to Chicago and big Chicago guy and also a fan of blue, which I can say you're a fan of blue as well. And so where my entrepreneurial spirit really came in, my parents were always doing entrepreneurial type of things, but where my spirit of entrepreneurship really came was a lot of it out of necessity. I had a lot of bad bosses. I had some good ones. But some bad bosses along the way and someone once said to me, why are you working for somebody else?

Why are you not running your own company? I thought, oh, no, that's not me. I really can't do that. So I took the leap of faith and I'm fortunate Gresh to have a wonderful partner in crime. My wife of 26 years. She was always behind me saying, just go ahead, try it, give it a try, give it a try. And then it wasn't the five years ago she came to me with an entrepreneurial idea. She said, this is what I want to try. And who am I to deny that? I said, Hey, why don't you give it a try? Why don't you give it a try? So the biggest thing she and I do together is keep each other focused. Because I'm probably like you, Gresh, I got like a thousand ideas. I can barely sleep at night to hold them all in.

But where I really found my sweet spot, it's helping salespeople, helping marketers and sales marketers. That really has been my sweet spot over the course of the last 15, 20 years, 30 years in the business. But I love what I do. I'm blessed to be busy and I'm really thrilled today to be able to share with some of your folks how we can grow these customers of ours to spend more money with us, but more importantly, retain these customers for a lifetime. You can sell them all day long. But if you don't retain them for a lifetime friends out there, I'm telling you, you're missing out. Retention really is the key to success in any business.

Gresham Harkless 05:38

Yeah, absolutely. I love hearing your story. If you plant a seed, it takes the farming of it, the taking of it to actually see it blossom into the awesome things that could be.

Ryan Dohrn 05:47

Yeah, for sure. The nurturing of a client, of a prospect, of a potential mate, nurturing of your Children, all of that is really important. Now during Covid and the major flux of the pandemic or the middle of the pandemic did lead me though to a little bit of understanding, which is why I wrote my new book. That is that some things changed. And what really changed is that a lot of people became accustomed to not seeing us face to face, but yet they were still buying. The other thing, though, that I noticed is how emotional people got. It used to be that logical people were everywhere. And if you told them 2 and 2 is 4, they're like, great.

Now, you tell them 2 and 2 is 4, they're like, really prove that to me. Who else has said that it's 4. So I think there was some things that changed in the business world during the pandemic that is important to talk about because the sales business has changed a little bit. There was a time, you might be too young Gresham to remember this. There was a time before the Internet when people only had salespeople to talk to, to learn about products and services. Now people are coming to us. They're 70 percent of the way down the road.

There was a study done not that long ago. I think it was SAP 89% of people out there, buyers would rather go to the dentist than talk to a salesperson. I don't mind the dentist, but I'd rather talk to a salesperson to get my teeth drilled. I think there are some old-school sales reps that just don't want to get on board with that. They keep wanting to do it the old farmer way. We need to be a hunter by nature and have some farmer instincts as well. Otherwise, we might get left behind. And that's a little scary.

Gresham Harkless 07:28

Nice, I absolutely love that 100 by nature and with some farmer instincts. So, I wanted to drill down a little bit more, hear a little bit more about your book, but also hear a little bit more on how you work with clients.

How do you make that impact for them to help them to be a little bit more hunters with a little bit of farming mentality?

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Ryan Dohrn 07:43

Yeah, for sure. I think some of the things that we have to do together when I'm working with a client, I'm working with you, whatever the circumstances is, we have to set some things that we feel are natural aside. Based upon the facts or the field that we're playing on. A wise man once said to me, you're nobody unless you got at least 10 to 20 haters. So I think I've got 30 now so I'm good. What I try to do is challenge the status quo because I do want to nurture. I do want to be a farmer. But when I sit down with clients and we lay out their plan, what is your sales and marketing plan?

Millennials have made me not only a better salesperson but a better manager and a better leader. Why? Because they're so transparent with everything and they don't hide Ryan. Don't hide behind I'll call you in 24 hours. Give me what I want. Be transparent in my pricing. Some things you can work really hard at, but if you're doing the wrong thing, no matter how hard you work at it, It's just not going to work out for you.

So my biggest focus with clients is laying out a plan, creating repeatable patterns of success, paying attention to things, and just recognizing that what's in a book, my book or anybody's book may not apply to your business and know when to find a different coach or find a different mentor. I think that's important.

Gresham Harkless 09:04

Nice, I truly appreciate you breaking that down. I feel like you have an ability to be able to distill down these principles and these things so that people can take them and run with them.

Do you feel like that's part of your secret sauce and something that sets you apart and makes you unique?

Ryan Dohrn 09:18

I truly believe what really sets me across as I still actively sell all the time and I still actively run businesses. Now, I'm not hating on the people that I've listened to numerous of your podcast. Great by the way. I'm not hating on people that are out of the business and still give an advice. I'm not hating on them because I think they bring good things to the table. But how do I train and teach and coach people about how to survive the pandemic or our current level of economic uncertainty in the country if you actually aren't going through it right now? It's like people that teach you need to ask the 10 tall questions on every sales call.

What if the 10 tall questions don't apply now that someone has lost a loved one to COVID, lost their business to COVID, has had their business severely suffered because of COVID, people that can't find employees during this time of economic uncertainty. Can't feel their gas in their car without their wallet being empty. You got to be in it. So I feel like my differentiating factor is I'm in it every day and I'm going to stay in it until I retire. And then when I retire, I'm going to do something else because I believe the best advice, not all advice, but some of the best advice comes from people that are actively on the street selling right now.

That's why as much as writing books is tough, it's hard, after 4 editors, I still find spelling errors. It makes you crazy. But, it's important to be active and involved if you're going to give really good advice in my opinion.

Gresham Harkless 10:37

Yeah, I absolutely love that. Would you consider that to be what I like to call a CEO nugget, which is a little bit more of a word of wisdom or a little bit more of a hack or nugget or something that you feel like makes you more effective and efficient?

Do you think it's going back to that core and being able to figure out where that is and kind of lean more into that?

Ryan Dohrn 10:53

It is, but it's also recognizing patterns that work and repeat them, but then also be looking and recognizing patterns that don't work and stop people from repeating them. The nature of the human because we've been taught since birth 2 big things, work hard, you can achieve anything and don't talk to strangers. So I hope you were taught that list is that a little CEO nugget would be identify those things that are absolutely random and figure out what you can do to either accentuate them or eliminate those things.

But we do not do a good job of repeating things that work and we've got to identify those things. Email subject lines that work, rinse repeat. Things said on a sales call, rinse and repeat. Success stories that make a client go wow, rinse and repeat. But when you tell a success story, and nothing happens, like, when you tell the joke, and you have to end the joke by saying, you had to be there. Okay, then that's a bad joke. You shouldn't say that, right? So, for me, a real CEO nugget is just keep your eyes open and look for things you can repeat, look for things that are not working and get rid or make a plan to get rid of those things.

But the other thing is goals without many goals are just dreams and every CEO needs to need goals in place for themselves, their employees, but you've got to have 8, 10, many goals below that big goal. Because big goals quite honestly, without a plan, without many goals, they're just dreams and we're in the business of turning dreams into realities. So we've got to always be thinking about that.

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Gresham Harkless 12:22

Absolutely. I love that. I wanted to ask you now one of my favorite questions, which actually is around what we touched on the CEO hack, but I actually wanted to hear if there was something maybe potentially from your book that you feel like might be something that is a really good walk away.

Something that we can all take into account to leave us more effective and efficient.

Ryan Dohrn 12:41

Yeah, timing and emails is everything. Emails without proper timing, without proper subject lines and structure are going to fail. I call it the rule of 3 and 3. Maybe we could call it uncle Ryan's rule of 3 and 3. 3 words in the subject line, 3 sentences max in that email and then send it at the perfect time.

If you're a 5 am person, don't be sending emails to people at 5 am. You send later and send it at the most appropriate time. I have found 11:15 a. m. and 3:15 p. m. typically get me a better result Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, not a lot of selling on Mondays and Fridays.

So, for me, I try to focus in on the 3 and 3 format and then sending those emails at the perfect time. Knowing your email technology is super important. It's something that there are a lot of plugins and tools that you can attach to it that can help you be a lot more efficient.

Gresham Harkless 13:32

Nice. I absolutely love that. And so I want to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on this show.

So, Ryan, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Ryan Dohrn 13:43

To me, it is all about helping your team get to places personally and professionally that they only dreamed were possible. You can be a visionary and that's one of the most strongest leadership types is being a visionary. If you actually know what it is, you can't be a visionary and then be worried about how it is that somebody paints that wall, when you say, I just need that wall painted. Visionaries are people that have the guts to say, I need that wall painted and trusting their team to get it done correctly. People that I partner with, or that I've led over the years, they'd at least go to the ledge with me and say, okay, Ryan, now, why are we here?

I truly believe if I jumped, there are many that would say he jumps so that must be okay and they would go too, but at least I got him to walk to the edge with me. I'll briefly share this with you. I used to take a post it note and I'd write little nice things to people after a long day. Great job on that proposal. Thanks for being there for me on this and that. And I would leave those post notes on people's desks or monitors. And a woman that unfortunately she had to retire from some medical issues, she came to me on her last day in her exit interview, and she opened up a folder that had all those post it notes.

I can't talk about it too much detail because I'll get real emotional about it. She still calls me boss to this day. When I see her, she stills, Hey, boss, how you doing? I think that's a real ultimate sign of respect in a professional relationship. When someone, even after they were gone, I never asked her to call me boss. She just calls me boss because that's the level of respect that she had for me and how I impacted her life.

Gresham Harkless 15:16

Ryan, truly appreciate that definition and of course, I appreciate your time even more. So what I want to do now is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know and of course, how best people can get ahold of you, get a copy of your book, find about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Ryan Dohrn 15:32

So, if you're buying the book on Amazon or Audible or Barnes and Noble or whatever, just know that it's not going into my pocket. It's going to feed and feed those other families. The one that I really love to do is speak at sales meetings and sales conferences. I love that management conferences, and leadership conferences. Reach out to me

I love that kind of thing because when I can motivate a group and get up there the way that my daddy did and really motivate a group to do great things, I feel like I'm accomplishing sharing the mission of why I was put here on this great earth. I really thank you Gresh for what you're doing. The content's amazing. The nation you're building is amazing and if we all stick in it together, I think we'll get through it together.

Gresham Harkless 16:09

Yes, absolutely. And I love that. Of course, we'll have your links and information in the show notes and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 16:15

Thank you for listening to the IAMCEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at IAMCEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on Apple podcast, Spotify, Google podcasts, and everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. This has been the IAMCEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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