Full Transcript below. Here you can find the condensed show notes.
Intro: You’re listening to the Sales Success Stories Podcast, where we deconstruct world class sales performers to provide insight and strategies to help you improve, to learn more visit us at Top1.FM here’s your host Scott Ingram.
Today on the sales success stories podcast we’re doing something really unique I actually have to guests both from Restaurant Technologies, George Penkay was the number one sales exec for 3 years in a row before moving into his current role and regional sales manager where he led his team to number 1 last year also with us is a member of his team Mike Cochran was the rookie of the year at Restaurant Technologies and had the best first year at the company. Welcome to the show gentlemen.
So before we get going I realise I’m putting some extra strain on my post production team, I wanted to give them shout out. Please know this episode was hand assembled with care by the team at Podflight.net and like we always do here in our attempt to front load a lot of value in what I’m sure is going to be a lengthy episode. I have asked both George and Mike to prepare their list of 3 things that they believe have allowed them to get to and stay at the top of their respective leader boards.
Let me just say that this isn’t on either of their lists, one of the reasons that I can tell their the best is preparation. This guy’s put a lot of effort into preparing for today’s conversation and I know I can just hand of to them in this segment on their top 3 things because of all the work they already put in so with that I’ll let the two of you take it away.
Perfect, thanks Scott, I’m going to let Mike take the first of his top 3 keys to success because we’re going to piggy back of each other because a lot of them are very similar. I see a lot of Mike in myself and I think he sees the same way and vice versa so I’m going to let him lead this one on [00:02:00]
I think that has been very important for me and any sales rep in any role is to have an extremely keen sense of self awareness. You’ve just got to know who you are and you’ve got to able and more important, willing to look in the mirror and realise that there’s a couple things that you’re good and there’s couple of things that you’re so and then this is the hard part, there are some things you’re not so good at. The reason why it’s important to know that is because you always want to engage the prospect of an area of strength.
For me personally I would much prefer to engage a prospect in person rather than on the phone you can pick up so many things. I read something the other day that 90% of information that comes to your brain actually comes to you through your eyes, it comes to you visually and so I want to be in person, I want to be talking to someone in person. I want to see the physical ques, I want to see the facial expressions and those types of things. So for me I don’t think I’m as that good on the phone, I feel that I’m much better in person so I always going to engage a prospect in person as opposed to on the phone, I know I’m much better at that.
And secondly to add to that a great Segway to my top key lesson and I personally believe it can be echoed out to all sales people in the industry is confidence. I think you really have to have the bullet proof self confidence in yourself and your abilities in what you’re doing every day. I think in the sales world, confidence can definitely be 2 fold, so I think you can have confidence in yourself which needs to be bullet proof every single day and you also have to have confidence in the product or service that you’re representing. Once you’ve reached that point where your bullet proof in your confidence that you’re going to go out there and execute but you may have this lack in confidence [00:04:00] in product or service, reach out, pivot, find out what you need to do marry up bullet proof confidence in yourself but also that product or service. To be brutally honest about it, if you have a shred of self-doubt, you say you’re somewhat confident, it’s really just black and white its either you’re fully confident or not, you shouldn’t walk out the door, if there’s a shred of doubt you really need to find out what the root cause of your confidence it, whether it be speaking, whether it is the product or service that your representing and fix that immediately. I have been very fortunate in my career that my confidence has always been there but to be honest my confidence hasn’t always been there throughout my sales career representing the different products and services in the product and service I was representing.
Once you marry up both that bullet proof confidence in yourself and the bullet proof confidence you have in your product, that’s what’s going to drive success for you, that’s what’s going to take you to the next level. So I think a lot of your audience can sympathize one way or another, once you make that match, its unbelievable your potential is literally uncapped.
George ill add back in the second thing for me it really plays of the confidence issue, anybody in a sales role ha to have a natural curiosity n that’s the second thing for me. It just a curiosity and not only in your sales role and the prospect of things but just how things work, what makes this machine work? what makes that company profitable? are they doing this opposed to doing that? What made this person react in a certain way?
So if you are confident in yourself and in your product and the company you work for and everything else, you can walk in very open, you’re just a sponge, you don’t even have to know what you’re going to say, you know you have confidence in your product and your ability to articulate the value of it [00:06:00] so you’re really not worried, you’re just a sponge, your asking questions not only about them but their business and their background. I think that natural curiosity of being willing and open to let your guard down and take in as much information as you can be a huge help for anybody in sales. Its makes you more knowledgeable if your asking questions about the industry and your taking in information about the industry then you become more knowledgeable as far product knowledge and industry knowledge and then I think it’s just human nature, if you have a genuine interest in some one and you’re asking about them, maybe in their background and their family, where they went to school or where they grew up, it helps you learn more about them, one it’s just interesting to know and two at some point when the time is right you can hopefully use that to close the sale.
Absolutely and to go back to the confidence piece one more time, to talk about customer interaction that’s really where your confidence shines through. Confidence is no matter what you do, it’s going to be worn on your sleeve but there may be some reps out there who think they lack in confidence and they may think that they sound great but it will eventually come through in the end so having the confidence in your product or service and having interactions with your customers, you can then focus solely on what the customer or prospect is saying or doing and genuinely, authentically learn about their business and forge better partnerships and stronger partnerships when your absolutely bulletproof about what you’re talking about.
Some of that can be an education piece, learning your product and service better, fully understand the market better inside and out, do market research. One of the things I tell my reps a lot is read up on what your customers reading so it’s always good to do the podcast, social development, everything we do outside of work to make ourselves better but I think we also have to be attentive to what our customers or prospects are listening to [00:08:00] and what are they educating themselves about the market. It sounds like sales 101 but I think you’ll be surprised if we knew how many reps really do that.
Pivoting of that my second key to success is finding a passion for your role as well as your product or service your offering. Passion is a big driver I believe of communication skills, I think if someone thinks that there are lacking in communication skills one way or another whether it be public speaking, interviewing is actually a skill, whatever that piece is working with a customer in a meeting gathering research for yourself. If you don’t have a passion for what you’re doing, that’s going to show through as well, so if you really don’t have to work on communications skills, find the passion and marry that up and the communications skills will come with that. You don’t have to do much polishing up in that aspect if your truly confident because that shines through in the end.
I think all of us here sitting at this table can think of time when you’ve seen someone and that person is extremely passionate about what their talking about and then there has been plenty of times when you see people that don’t put in the effort and the passion is lacking. I have a lot of friends that are following their passion and their living in their mother’s basement, I’m not saying follow your passion, I think a lot of people that preach follow your passion what they have really done is found a passion through their work so it’s a little bit opposite. I want everybody to have a balanced work life and find a passion outside of work but if you really want to reach an elite level find the passion for what you’re doing it can be found. Have self-confidence and confidence in the product you’ll find that your happiness is there and you’ll see that passion will come from within and show through.
My third thing and ill back up a little bit here and completely agree with what George is saying here. George and I have similar backgrounds in that maybe prior positions that we were in we were doing. We were not completely passionate about the product, the service, the company what have you [00:10:00] and now working with Restaurant Technologies I think one thing George and I share is that we are completely confident and comfortable and we really appreciate the product and the company and the service so that passion is definitely there and it makes it much easier to go out and do your job.
The third thing for me that really helped me is having a good understanding of the probability of closing a sale. When you engage a prospect and your talking to someone and gathering information we’ve all been there and maybe deep in the back of your mind you’re thinking this might not work, this person is just not grasping what I’m telling them and it’s just not coming together but you’ve already put so much time and effort into it that you’re afraid to back away, you want to continue to do that and on one of our team calls last week, I think it was Lee one of our very successful reps had a great year last year. Made that exact point that moving into next year he wanted to have that ability to see when things are going south, go ahead a break lose and go into something else that will be a little more productive.
I think one of the things for me is being able to see that, to see when things are just not going to work, go ahead break away and go into something that will be much more productive.
Absolutely I think that’s a big differentiator in your lower or medium performing reps and with your higher performing reps is how they value time. That’s not my 3rd key to success but I just want to touch on that a little bit because when you boil it down and strip everything away all we have is time and I think you have to work and live like time is gold. [00:12:00] its literally the most valuable asset a rep has in the field and I think your top performing reps recognise that and almost have a guilt of wasting 30 minutes or an hour and not getting a positive ROI on something that their working on so really that’s a big piece on how they think, how I think. Whether it be 15 minutes, an hour here, an hour there it all adds up because in the end we’re all trying to reach a certain goal at the end of the year, whether it be quarterly, annually but the time is gold and it has to be spent as best as possible.
A lot of that goes into preparation, I’m sure we will touch on time more as we go through this podcast but my 3rd key to success is the competitive drive. Once you’ve understand and your own self-confidence and you’re very self-aware, you understand where your strengths are and your leveraging that everyday internally and externally. You’ve found that passion for your role, the 3rd pillar is you have to have that competitive drive. You can’t be ok with being a medium performer, you can’t go into the year hoping a lot of that stuff goes away, when you have that self-confidence your potential is uncapped. I think a lot of the medium performing reps are just hoping that they will have a good year and it’s really hard wired, it’s a very black and white thing being competitive, going into the year you know you’re going to finish at the top. There’s no other alternative, it’s like that phrase ‘failure is not an option’ I didn’t really understand what that meant until I got in the mead of my sales career and you started ramping off until you found that white space that is the passion for your role and you’re just refusing to lose until you’re on the top, like I said some of that is hard wired in some people [00:14:00] who was raised in a competitive environment whether it be sports or something growing and that transitions very well into success in the sale industry but you always have to win and you always have to look at the upside.
It drives me nuts when I hear peers from the former companies that I worked for and they are always looking at the down side and the negative I almost want to ask they point blank why? Why are we even considering the down side? Us as sales people if we consider the time and move on, there should be nothing but upside and momentum to everything that we do. Yes there will be a time when we lose but you’re going to take your loses, you’re not going to win all the time. You can’t just dwell on loses, you might want to learn a bit, learn something from those loses but don’t dwell because there will always be something else that will come along.
Something that I grew up with and that’s carried over with me into sales, it may sound kind of cheesy bringing up football but I grew up playing football through college and high school. One of the biggest impacts that my coach had on me was and into my sales career here is the move important move in football is the next play so you never worry about what happened before, what happened in the first quarter, what happened in the beginning of the game, what happened last game, what happened last play forget about it, the biggest thing that you have to worry about is your next move and how you execute that next move.
I think its thinking more forward and just keep your eye on the prize and that competitive edge will just come out. Just to put it in summary, those are my 3 biggest things, its understanding your own self-confidence in both yourself and the product or service that your offering, finding that passion for the product or service that your offering that will really drive the communication skills and then having that competitive drive. You have to be at a point where you can’t stand losing [00:16:00] you always have to be looking behind you because you might feel that someone is there. As sales people we are all sized up the same, we are all sized up by our numbers so its total meritocracy which is why I love the field and industry of sales and so to summarise everything those would be my 3.
That’s awesome guys this is really great stuff and before I follow up on this list because I do have some additional questions with Mike and George and we’re obviously going to be digging a lot deeper. I hope you’ll help me thank our anagogical sponsor who literally made this show possible and that is Nudge.
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So Mike I wanted to back with you and a lot of the things that you both talked about I think do a good job of starting to encapsulate the themes that are starting to emerge from this show now that we have had a fair number of conversations. This idea of self-awareness and leveraging your strength and having that confidence or belief and passion, all of those items are really key but Mike you talked about the probability of closing and the way I would think about that is the term would be qualifying, I think there’s maybe more to it call it a deal radar or some sort of sense that you have about that. How are you tuning that ability to both spot the deals that even though you may have spent a lot of time on but you know ultimately isn’t going to close, how are you identifying that and more importantly [00:18:00] what are you then doing about it when you know I’m probably spinning my wheels here?
In terms of how do I identify it, I think that goes back to one of my points that I enjoy, to me it just works out better when I am in person and I can look at the body language and I can see everything that is going on at the restaurant George and I obviously serve a restaurant industry. If I find out about something and I call them on the phone there’s so many things that I cannot see I cannot see the physical location, there’s so much information how do I identify it if I can go in and it is a sense that you get. When you start to engage with someone, you start to pick up so many different clues not only what they are saying but their body language and everything else. It’s hard to put into words how do you identify it, it’s a lot of experience and is somebody really grasping the concepts, what questions are they asking, what’s their voice inflections. It’s a lot of things to look for. I will say this, it’s almost easier to know when you don’t have then when you do have it.
I think sometimes when I’m out talking to a client listening to what they have to say and its very obvious that this is not going to go well and it’s easy to make that call. I had a presentation the other day at a very large golf resort hotel, the body language that the client was giving me was not really the best but the questions he was asking were fantastic and I really got the sense that this was going to go, this thing is going to work, so you just have to take it into consideration and look at all the things [00:20:00] picking up from this person and then go from there.
What do you do about it at that point, it’s just a matter of where you’re going to put your time. If that 6th sense is going off, you just have to focus in on what that person is telling you both physically and through their words, what is their pain and make certain when it’s your time to go through a proposal that you address those things that you picked up from that person.
You mentioned the time and George you talked about that, I wanted to circle back with you, as you were talking about the competitive drive and just knowing that you were going to be number 1 for the year. What does your planning look like whether it be for the year, for the month or for the quarter, to help you develop that confidence and knowingness that I’m going to be number 1 and this is the plan I’m going to execute. How are you developing that?
Mike and I are both in outside sales, we actually go out and see clients every single day. The plan is to get your number, the number has never really been an issue I don’t want to plan around numbers, I just want to go out and execute every single day and a lot of that comes back having confidence in the product and understanding my strengths and my level of confidence in myself and being comfortable with that but from a day to day standing point it’s so different there’s never one plan or structure that I will go out and execute and it will last one year or one quarter it’s going to pivot almost weekly. We do market plans every single year, I’m sure as many folks listen to this and do as well but in reality after que one [00:22:00] you can look at your plan and really you can have your road plan of customers but the market changes so quickly, technology changes so quickly you just have to be able to adapt every single day.
I think that’s really what helped my success is my ability to adapt and change to what’s going on around me and also I value time as gold so I maximise every single day. The customers will build the road map for you, you just have to go execute. From a planning purpose it’s really the basics of prioritising your day, prioritising your time, realising how important your time is. One thing I do practise and I do think it’s a big contributor to my success as well as my teams and I preach this to them as well and it’s a very simple and practical tip that anybody can do tomorrow and I think what I’m about to say is going to scare a lot of people but you don’t have to be on an airplane to use your phone on airplane mode, you can disconnect a little bit and get the meat and potatoes done of what you need to get done every single day.
One of the things that drives me nuts is that you wake up I the morning and I asked a lot of reps is what do you do when you get up in the morning and I meet a lot of reps from different industries but they just say well I just check my email and I say why and they say well I just do, I want to see what’s there, I want to see what came in overnight. I look at them and say if you just prioritise what you need to do every single day top to bottom, soup to nuts, you have to execute so many different things, you have to say what’s that one important goal that I have to execute on, how high is checking your email and that’s going to fall really low and then I question why people do it.
So what I recommend doing is cut that phone off airplane mode and get that meat and potatoes done of what you need to get done and then you can always reopen your email at 11am. The million-dollar contract is rarely ever there at 7:30 in the morning [00:24:00] when you wake up, its ok to disconnect and go execute and if that million-dollar contract is there then great you’ll get it at 10:30 or you’ll have a really good lunch.
Another thing about that is there’s a little paranoia about shutting your email down and disconnecting a little bit, what if I miss a call from a customer or what if I miss an email that I have been waiting for. If you miss an email or you miss a call and you lose a deal because of that, you weren’t in a strong enough position with that customer to deal with in the first place to actually get that deal, that’s just not true so if you’re waiting for a call or email to come through there’s 2 things you’ve lost control of the sales cycle, you’re waiting for a call, you’ve lost the time table the ball is in their court, that’s something I never recommend doing. Secondly if you’re going to lose a deal over that then you were never in a strong enough position in it.
So get done what you need to do, prioritise and then go execute, believe in your training, lean on your manager, lean on your sales senior they will point you in the right direction so its ok put on your airplane mode while you’re on the ground and on a 4 our flight, I don’t know about you Mike but I feel like I can cure cancer with all the work I can get done. Just shut it down and find the best way to get done what you need to get done and if someone emails you it’s for a reason and it’s there you can respond later but it’s really prioritising and executing. That’s longer term the 2 pillars that I live by when I go about day to day.
That’s great and we will come back to that later, I want to dig a little deeper into how your structuring and planning for the day we’ll definitely get some more insights from the both of you. I know you guys have more, we already covered the 6 keys to success between the 2 of you but I think you have 4 more to give so what are those 4 more keys that are critically important. [00:26:00]
This might sound a little bit cliché but is very important, George and I serve the restaurant industry. One of the things that we see within the restaurant industry and is probably true in most industries but the executive chef at this location may very well end up being an executive chef at another location 2 months down the road or a director of operations for this regional chain may switch over and go to that regional chain so at the end of the day as you work with these different organisations you have got to do what’s right for the customer. That’s one of the things that just crucial, yes you want to close deals, yes you want to get things done obviously I got numbers to hit that’s how I get paid but I always want to keep the customer in mind, I want to put myself in their shoes.
So if I go through my work day and I’m thinking only of myself thinking very short term in nature and I’m just trying to close deals, this person that I work with at this restaurant today, 2 months from now when I’m over at another location they might be there also or they may be very good friends with the executive chef at that location, if they talk word gets out, this is just too small of a world. You always want to do what’s right for the customer and in that way a lot of the times your reputation precedes you or you’ll be driving down the road and you get a call from somebody that you never worked with but they talked to their buddy whom you worked with 2 months ago and now they want you to come talk to them.
Absolutely, you really want to get to know the customer’s needs and I think we all had deals where you look at it and sometimes think I could find a better fit for this [00:28:00] you know what I mean? I think we all had those deals and you have to remember, I think this goes for every industry, the people you’re talking to are going to move roles. Time has changed where it’s rare that you find people stay within a company 30-40 years and the retire. They move around so much now days, I heard something the other day, the average professional before their 40, has 5 or 6 different companies that they work for and that’s an alarming number so I think recognising that and if it’s not a fit, its ok to walk away to and ROI that’s more positive in your time but also leave that door open.
One of the tactics that we deploy is leaving the door open after you lose, don’t be bitter if you have a loss don’t take it personal just leave that door open and that goes back to where these people go, people move in and out different companies, different industries and just stay in contact there’s so many easy ways to stay in contact with individuals especially those that we didn’t get deals from. It happens more so to our group more than others but we get calls 1 year down the road from individuals that we lost a deal from and they say hey I’m at a different location, I still love your product or service and it didn’t work out for x, y and z there but come on down I would like to talk you.
That’s how you return the sales cycle, you manage you loses and getting that positive on your time always. Another one of our keys to success after we’ve done our top 3 here and this is something that I’m a big believer in and I think it can transition from industry to industry, is creating a win-win for the customer. The best way to do that is to be as clear as day about your process, almost to the point where you don’t actually tell them how much money you make but you share how you guys stay in business [00:30:00] I think if you create enough clarity for the customer they are going to feel a lot more comfortable with your process and what you’re doing and then you’re going to find your win wins quicker.
A lot of us have those deals where we go holy smokes that closed very quickly, why can’t all closes be that easy and I think the similarities there that’s when you get the quick closes. It’s different for every industry and there’s propriety things that you cannot share, margins and such but if you can work with your sales leaders come up with a way that you can be crystal clear about the process. I think if you do that 2 things can happen, you learn more about your customer’s process because they are going to feel more comfortable sharing more insight into their business and they are going to have a better insight into what you’re doing therefore you’re able to position that win-win much easier.
I know clarity is going to be different for every single industry and every single company but try to crank up and be as crystal clear as possible on your process and their process as well, that’s how you’re going to align that win-win and leverage it.
Yes, George I like that a lot and I think that one of the things I always think about is experience is a function of expectation. If you have 2 clients with exactly the same experience but one had a very high expectation and one had a low expectation, even thou they had the same experience, one is dissatisfied and one is very happy. So I think that’s how you build into that process and say this is how it’s going to work and here’s how you under promise and over deliver and really go out to the customer. I think your other points are spot on, we can spend an hour talking about doing the right thing and the world being a very small place.
One of my assumptions coming into this and I don’t know if it’s been proven right or wrong because it still very early into this but what I seen across the most successful [00:32:00] sales people is there’s just a significance element of time in the saddle and the longer they’ve been ideally the same company and the same industry, the same territory they have all the confidence and product knowledge but then they start to benefit from the network and referrals and all of those relationships and references because they have always done the right thing and you really start to benefit from that and in fact Brian Byrnes who runs the brutal tooth about selling the podcast, he working on this idea called compound selling and I think this kind of fits into that just like investing. Its making these small investments over time that really starts to compound and turn into something really significant.
Mike I think you had one more and then we will dig into some of the more traditional questions here.
By the way I listened to that podcast the compound aspect I know exactly what you’re talking about there. The last thing I would say and we talked about sales and having a very good idea of when sales are going to close and that becomes an art with experience and its kind of an art when you know that and how you know that but there’s also something that’s very important to me and its more of a science to sales. My mornings are never the same, I cover a very large territory. I may leave my house one morning at 5:15, they’ll be other mornings when I leave at 8, there may be some days when I may not leave at all and its very rare for me to have 2 mornings that are alike but my evening are critical and what I’m talking about and how it’s a science is that in my planning I’ve got to know exactly what I’m doing tomorrow, [00:34:00] I want to wake up in the morning and not have to think about it. I want to get in the shower, get ready and go start my day, know exactly what I’m going to do.
A perfect example of this was yesterday, I was in Virginia seeing a university we were originally going to meet at 09:30 and then things transpired and we didn’t get to meet until noon so here we are I’ve got 2 and a half hours, how did I use that 2 and half hours if I am organized and I got my prospect list and so on and so forth, I can take that 2 and half hours and make a few sales calls that I didn’t realise that I wasn’t going to be able to make and so I want to have everything planned out and have all of my customers and prospects at hand so if you are thrown a curve ball like that you can go out and make good use of your time until you can get back on your original plan. One of my biggest tips each day before you shut down for the day, list out exactly where you’re going and exactly what you’re going to do and then have a few prospects out there in case something falls apart and you have some extra time so you can make good use of that time.
Mike would you consider yourself a morning person or a night owl.
I probably more of a night owl. I cover basically the entire state of North Carolina, parts of Virginia, parts of West Virginia and parts of Tennessee with that large territory and serving the restaurant industry, there a literally thousands of prospects out there that I can see so my mornings are never the same. I can’t get into a routine of waking up at 6 or whatever so my mornings tend to be all over the place but my evenings are much more structured [00:36:00] so I would probably say I’m more of a night owl.
The reason I asked that because that would be my assumption. I think what you’re doing is your using that natural strength and know yourself that you have a productive spurt in the evening and your taking advantage of that to plan for the next day. I had a lot of other guests who are super early risers, who get up at 4:30 or 5 so obviously they can work in the morning. For those listening it’s something to consider, I think that is an important aspect to how you prepare and plan and we will talk more about that but just understanding yourself and where that fits in.
It’s probably pretty natural if you’re a morning person then it will go in the morning and if you’re a night owl then do it at night. If your listening to this and you haven’t already looked at the file size of this episode, I’m going to warn you, this is probably going to go pretty long. I definitely going to talk to Mike and George about all the typical things I ask about and some additional perspective but I also want you to know that as we get into this, I’m also going to ask George some questions in particular about the sales exec to sales manager transition and how that’s changed his life probably.
Before we get there, let’s take a step back and hear a little bit of the back story. Let’s start with George, tell us about your role now and how you got the number 1 team.
So I’m the regional sales manager for essentially the Southern Atlantic coast if you’re looking at the nation as a whole but I work with 5 sales executives one of them is a senior. My territory stretches from the tip of Virginia all the way down to Jacksonville and all of the cities down the coast, always a very good performer on the sales side, always able to execute very well [00:38:00] and now I’ve completed my first year in the regional sales manager role and we had to restructure where there were a couple of new teams added on.
I came in with that same mind-set, competitive drive and just always wanting to win because regional sales managers are sized up just like regional sales executives are and you have to have the same motivation and drive that you had as an SE that made you a sales executive and transition that right over. The trickiest part of the transition is shifting that mind-set from selling to coaching a development and that was probably the biggest transition for me and that is something I knew I had to make quickly. Fortunately for a company like Restaurant Technologies is a great job and our training programme really helped me shift my mind-set quickly. There’s nothing that brings me more joy now then seeing my team win and I let all the other regional sales manage know it.
I want them to know that I’m competitive and I want to push them to, so essentially if the company wins then we all win, if I can take that competitive spirit that made me so successful as an SE and transition that into regional level then I’m creating a win-win for the company, my team is going to win and my company is going to win, I think its ok to talk a little bit of smack. There’s a misconception out there that I think people that lack confidence see confidence in others and mistake that for arrogance.
You have to have that confidence and competitive drive to carry it over but that was a big transition for me. I completed my first year I was the top crissum and I’m very proud of that in the new structure that was not an easy task considering all of the moving parts you had in your sales structure and just to give you a little background on myself.
Prior to working at Restaurant Technologies, I worked in advertising for some years, I sold real estate [00:40:00], I even interned at a car dealership one summer when I was in college, they threw me on the sales floor so I was selling cars one summer and then I’ll take it all the way back and it loops back in knowing your strengths and knowing yourself. My sales career really started in my very first job that I had in a theme park in North Carolina known as Caro wince and my parents said if you’re going to have a car then you’re going to work so I worked every summer since then and I didn’t know that was my first job, I just filled out the application and they said well maybe your fit for working the games.
If you walk through any theme parks you see a lot of game and so the game where you squirt the gun and the thing goes up in the air and you win a stuffed animal, I ran those game. I was a very glorified carni, a very classy carni. I remember when I was interviewed I said that’s fine I’ll do games I taught I was petrified of micro phones. I been to Caro wince and I’ve seen the guys with the mic and they are yelling and screaming for everyone to play their games, that’s not me I’m not doing that. They said ok we’ll put in a game where you just stand there and you collect money and people play the game its very simple.
So they stuck me out about 300 yards away from everybody else, for those who have been in Carolina for the summer its brutal and I’m standing on black concreate and miles of it and the water cooler is like 300 yards away from me, I’m dying of heat its awful out there but that lasted about half a day and then I called my manager over and I said I don’t care what I have to do to get to the water cooler, I’ll play any game, I’ll do whatever you want me to do so he said you have to get miced up on one of these games I think it was called guess your age and weight, it was very dangerous by the way especially when your guessing adults ages and weights [00:42:00]
They out me on that game and something about that microphone came so naturally and I remember within 15 minutes I was having a blast. Meeting new people, talking, striking up new conversations, I would see couples my age dating, high school sweets hearts walking pass and I would call the guy and say hey come win your girl a prize, I think that first day made me realise that I had a different skill set that I needed to leverage it down the road and I never fully leveraged it until probably the last 4 years of my career.
Finding my white space and just executing every single day on it but that’s really where the roots of everything started. I’ve done B to C but I’m on B to B now that’s where my passion is, I sold houses, I sold cars, advertising and everything in between and that’s my background and how I found myself here. I really excited to be a leader and get to where I’m going. Leading people is a non-negotiable and that’s table stakes. This is the career path I need to take and I love selling and being a contributor but I get more excitement now when my team is successful and letting them take all and me just provide the value and letting them run with it.
Mike did you know about George’s history as a high class carni?
No I was listening to all of that and I was thinking to myself, I have never been a carni and I do not have a story to compare to that.
It’s not on my resume.
I can appreciate that and understand that [00:44:00] in terms of the back story, I have a story that is similar to a lot of people in sales now, my college degree was in finance and I was all numbers and it was a very black and white kind of thing. Got out of college went to work for an insurance company did that for a couple of years and just did not enjoy that. You’re sitting there with numbers all day long and even thou it came easy to me it just wasn’t something that I enjoyed. I had an opportunity years ago to start at a very entry level in sales and it stuck with me, it was something I enjoyed to go out and meet people and it was a much better fit for me.
As it is now I’m in direct sales, I call on food services virtually the entire state of Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, everything from the QRI’s the quick serve chains that everybody has heard about to regional chains to the non-commercial chains like hotels, colleges, universities, golf resorts, I get to interact with carnie’s, traditional restaurants basically any place that uses cooking oil, either as a raw material or either in their kitchen. Who am I talking to? Typically, is a chef, executive chef, kitchen manager, a store or location operator. It’s a wide verity of people it’s a lot about what we do as a company but the conversations that we having could be any number of things.
We could be talking about kitchen safety maybe talking about cleanliness [00:46:00] or food safety in this area, efficiency and who knows what else. You never know who you’re going to be talking to and you never know where that conversation is going to go. Its one thing to be in a 5-star golf resort one day, you’re at a college the next day and then you’re at a basic fast serve fast food place the next day and just seeing how people value things to me is very enjoyable and just keeps you fresh.
How did I get to the position that I am in and how did I get to number 1 last year, it’s funny because I was asked that same question, we get together one quarterly, our company brings everybody together once a quarter and I was asked that question at our September quarterly meeting, so I was asked to go on stage and address the whole sales team on how I had a successful year and I didn’t know I was going to asked that until the very last minute, thanks George!
But I was asked to go on stage and address the entire group and what I asked them that day and is very true. The thing that has helped me and that I really appreciate now and this is a gift, it goes back to confidence, I can go in with our product and be able to know without a shadow of a doubt that we will be able to help you as much as anything else, that’s what has enabled me to get to number 1. We’re going to help people and I know if we were to trade places, I would sign on and use our company and product or service.
So that has been a tremendous gift [00:48:00] when you can walk into a place and its true whether your selling restaurant services or computer hardware or whatever it maybe. If you can walk into somewhere and you know, there’s no question about it and you know you’re going to be a benefit to them. You may talk but price but you know that it’s a good fit and you know that it’s going to be helpful to them. It makes the entire job much easier and much more satisfying.
You guys obviously took very different paths to get to where you are now. Mike I’m curious knowing what you know now, is there anything that you would have done differently coming into sales to perhaps lay an even better foundation of success?
Il answer your question in this way, one of the things when I first got into sales as the natural thing of getting older and getting more experienced but one of the things that was difficult for me is feeling like I was not going to be as knowledgeable as the people who are calling me. When I was younger I really struggled for a while because I didn’t feel like I was as aware, capable, knowledgeable as the people I was going in to call on.
So how would I do that differently now, I think I would realise and you do realise this over time, sometimes its ok to tell people you don’t know the answer to the question but I can get you that answer and that’s the absolute correct thing to do because it builds credibility. So what would I do differently I think I would just try to realise that I don’t know everything and allow myself that freedom to say I don’t know but I will find out the answer and come back to you. [00:50:00]
George how about you? Sounds like you went down this path much earlier, is there anything you would have done differently?
I don’t want to call this a regret but the one thing that I would change earlier is really transition and leverage my strengths earlier on in my career, it really occurred to me 4/5 years ago when I really got into advertising and if I really stuck to what I know, go with what I know every single time, it will lead quicker to success. To piggy back of Mikes last commitment, its ok to tell people that you don’t know and I fully believe that also. I think that goes back to having that confidence and its ok with having that answer sometimes especially as a new rep in any field, you’re going to have greater success because the customer is going to feel that.
Your confidence is worn on your sleeve one way or another, it’s going to show through eventually so it’s best not to fake it. Own it and figure it out and change it, if there’s a shred of doubt it will act as an anchor and it will drag you in the wrong direction. If you’re ok with saying I don’t know an ill figure it out with confidence, then that will resonate with the customer. Really my career path was finding out my strength at such a young age, to be brutally honest I was really put in a position when I was in college when I had to really leverage those strengths and figure out my career path in life after the carnival I guess.
I had a life altering situation that happened in college when I was put in a position where I was completely independent and I was half way through my college education and I had to figure out how to pay for college myself as a 20-year-old kid essentially [00:52:00]. So I rattled my brain, I refocused and I realised if I could do something in sales, I could at least make enough money to keep my college going, pay for the rest of my schooling and finish my degree. That’s what lead me to real estate, I think the pressure of failure not being an option changed the way I approach business and shook me at a very young age of 20 years old. Most of my peers where going out doing god know what on the weekends and I was showing houses. I would show up for psychology 201 and I was wearing a suit and a tie but I don’t regret any bit of it.
It made me realise what it took to be successful in the real world it took me out of college but nothing in college translate into the real world and so having that experience, forced to be in a place where I had to go make money now, 20-30 grand a year as a college student back in the early 2000’s that wasn’t easy to do so I had to leverage those strengths, I had to find my fit as a real estate agent and I really had to learn to continue to piggy back of the foundation that I had from learning how to talk to people.
From there I graduated from college, I did pretty well in real estate, I got a rising star award, my first full year with the real estate company it was a local company in Columbia, South Carolina. I did over a million dollars every single year so I was having a lot of success, once I graduated the real estate market really tanked and I needed something with insurance and stability and 401K so from there I pivoted to advertising sales. [00:54:00]
That’s where I really learned to master the cold call, that’s where my time management skills. I hit the streets I mean it was a grind, I was selling print ads in 2010 and the newspaper too that gave me the grit and hustle I needed elsewhere and once you come from a field of advertising success because you’re selling an idea not a product you can’t really guarantee an ROI when you’re working in the advertising and marketing world. You just have to be able to sell and idea and really learn to articulate a process that’s going to lead to success for your client.
So advertising really taught me 2 things the grind of the cold call and the hustle and what it took to be successful and how valuable time was but also how to shape and idea for a client, customer or prospect so they can be successful. You can’t really promise anything you pitching and forging and idea and building relationships that’s what really fine-tuned my sale skills and then from there I was fortunate enough to get on with Restaurant Technologies and sell a product that was very tangible. We have 24 000 customers nationwide, we can provide some great material and data for our prospects so that you can ensure a positive ROI and once you learn the grind of selling ideas and having success there, going to a tangible product oh my goodness and I’m looking at them and saying I have to sell them this, are you sure I can tell them this?
That’s the road map that took we to where I am today but the competitiveness has always been there [00:56:00] I’m not big into quotes and sayings because I’m very practical but there’s one thing that I showed my team at our last quarterly meeting and I think it resonated with all of them. This is had wired into your brain and how you think, if you’re a medium performer and you want to get to that elite level. This is where it starts ‘if you the hard things in life then life becomes easy, if you do the easy things in life then life becomes very hard’.
I think when you realise that and you embrace the grind of the hard things and then when you feel that dopamine rush you get after you had a great day at work and you worked hard and your successful and you taste that, that’s when you really start shifting how your hard wired. That’s when everything falls into place and you find your confidence in your product and as long as you have a little passion and drive, you can really accelerate and your potential is uncapped so just to give you guys a little frame work and where I came from and kind of the route I have been and I hope that I can transition a positive and upside mentality into my sales force.
That’s one thing my senior SE pulled me aside after our last annual meeting which was in December and we did a nice awards banquet and he said you know the positivity that lead with really does change me. This is something that he has never done before, he has trained me since I was boarded since my senior sales executive and he said leading through positivity and never looking at the down side truly changes the way you work and once you do that, your actions take shape around that, you don’t have to think about your actions. You’re always looking at the upside and has had the best year that he has ever had under me and [00:58:00] I’m very proud of that and I think a lot of our team members had their best years and its really moved me. Getting knocked down so much in college and having to grind your way out knowing if you can go through that and make it out, there’s positive sides to everything.
George you talked about your early successes, let’s put you results into perspective both in your risen role and also how you did in the SE role and quantify that for us a bit.
My very first year with Restaurant Technologies, I started in April I completed my training, I got everything done, I hit 100% of my plan in my first year it was very low because it was a training quota essentially. My first full calendar year with the company I finished 215% to goal, over double my goal, highest percentage goal company wide. It wasn’t one big sale, you see that a lot when one rep brings in 1 huge account and boom that’s his year. This was more those small to mid-year accounts and I brought in a number of that, those partnerships I was able to forge in year one, I really leveraged for the rest of my career even here at Restaurant Technologies.
My second year I reached my 153% to plan and I was promoted to regional sales manager at the end of the 3rd quarter so really that was only 3 quarters. I really shifted my mind and que for that year to developing and training more so then selling. I felt like I could have done a lot more, I still had a full quarter on the table but I knew long term if I wanted to [01:00:00] get where I wanted to be I needed to shift now because when you’re in que 4, great reps are already planning for the next year if you got que 4 already planned, you’re done, you knocked it out. You’re going to finish strong and now you’re already thinking ahead.
That’s where my mind-set transitioned, right out of the gate my regional sales manager role is for my team, create a leadership style that they can buy into and feel and then go out and execute, it hasn’t been all peaches and cream, there has been challenges. I the youngest on my team and I got over that quickly. One of my strategies going into my regional sales manager role and I did this at our 2015 national business meeting, we had an awards banquet and I had pretty much one quarter under my sales belt. I was still very fresh, very new, the was something I learned through training at Restaurant Technologies so I sat my guys down and I said I’m just going to tell you guys about me and I told them a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t tell my closet friends. I try to be completely vulnerable with them so they can see how I’ve gotten to where I’ve gotten.
And I’ve gone around the table and I said if your uncomfortable with this then don’t do it, I totally understand but I want you to share a story here and be a little vulnerable here and just share something about yourself on how you got here, something that you might not want to share with your peers or co-workers. We all went around the table and did that and it was amazing [01:02:00] how much a like we all where and we didn’t know that unless I dragged it out or just positioned it and put it out there. When I started with that they felt really comfortable sharing things and it was amazing. At the end of the conversation we were just sitting there and Mike will add to this because he was there and it was just Oh my gosh!
Its incredible how close you can get just being vulnerable, no one is perfect, no one is a hero here, let’s just talk about ourselves in light that you’re not comfortable doing. This has helped and I think it’s for any sales manager out there, once I created that safe environment and once we got to know each other at that level, I think I created a safe environment where we can get the truth out of my reps and what that allows me to do when I have created the safe zone and get the truth, I can coach so much better.
I think everyone listening here has been to a point in their area where you don’t want to tell your sales manager x, y, z because it will make you look bad but I think if you create that safety net this is on the sales manager, don’t expect it from your team, you have to drive this thing. Create that safety net you’re going to get the truth out of your team and if you can get the truth out of your team every single time crystal clear, you can coach to that and make them better reps and better people in the long run.
I think that’s the frame work that my team lives by and with the over lying theme of always being positive, never look at the negative, any time a negative or downside gets brought to me I just ask why are we considering this.
Mike 2 questions for you based on that, first putting your own results in based on your first year and then talk a little about being part of George’s team and [01:04:00] George’s impact on you and getting to that point.
From a results stand and point Scott, I started November 2015, my first day of employment was George’s first day as regional manager. I was stepping in from outside the company and he was being promoted from being promoted into a brand new role so I went through training basically a 3 month sales training programme so I was out in the field on my own doing my thing probably mid-January 2016 had a full year’s quota in front of me and finished the year about 140% to plan then made presidents club, was the first rookie to make presidents club and ultimately won the rookie of the year award 2016.
It was a really good year, sometimes you think about your career and when you hit a job, you hit a career, hit a company that you really feel passionate about. when you really hit something and you say this is what I’m made to do. I very strongly got that feeling this year. Looking at this coming year, my number goes up a few but my goal this year for 2017 is to be up that number by mid-summer by the latest. That’s where I’m going and I got some things I’m working on I think I’m going to get there but that’s what I’m really working on from a results stand point.
Part of being in Georges team, I remember very well that meeting at our annual business meeting where George was asking us to reveal something bout [01:06:00] ourselves after we went around the room and talked that we all felt like we were from the land of misfit children a little bit but we all did have some very common stories and I think it was a very good thing that he did there and it was very smart because it did bind us all together. We let our defences down and we all told something about ourselves that we would normally not tell and I think it brought us all together very quickly in George’s tender and a risen. I not in the other regions meeting but I would say that our group, the 5 of us and George are probably closer than any other group in the company.
We were the number one team but in the sense of calling each other and just helping each other, I would be confident in saying that our team is closer than any other team in the company. Also George has a tough situation if you look at the makeup of our team, there’s 5 of us 1 in Virginia, 1 in North Carolina, 1 in South Carolina, 1 in Georgia, 1 in South Georgia and then one in Florida.
2 of the people within our team are very senior, 1 is 10 years and 1 is 5 years both have been very successful their entire 10 years at Restaurant Technologies, the other 3 all of us where in our first year this year so George was put in tough situation. He had 2 guys who had a longer service then he did and then he had to turn and deal with 3 rookies basically so he was in a tough spot. [01:08:00]
It’s very infectious, I know with me as I went through 2016 there were a hand full of things if not more than I did that George probably to himself thought I wish you would not have done that, wish you would have never gone that direction but he never approached me like that. He would say nice job good work on that but next time you may want to think about doing it this way so he would he would present it to me in a teaching moment but he does it in a way that would me feel good and positive when I walked away. That was one thing that I felt George did very well, has very authentic and very genuine about how he feels about his people, our well fair, how we are doing and how’s our families doing.
Il take a minute to tell a story that illustrated that, my son finished high school this past year and he was accepted and started attending Georgia tech. Georgia tech is an extremely difficult engineering school it’s one of the top schools in the country so my son went done there. My wife and I can go online and look at his grades and he was doing very well there as far as his grades go but I had a conversation with him on the phone 4/5 weeks into school and listening to his voice I could sense a stress, he was stressing a little bit, his grades were fine but as a father I knew that I needed to go down and spend some time with him. [01:10:00]
I called George and told him what was going on and he didn’t hesitate, he said go do it, keep your phone with you, be available but go take care of it. I drove down, it was probably a fathers over reaction but when he got into the car he said hey dad guess what I got a 95 in mu calculus test and maybe I over reacted but we had lunch, we spent 45 minutes together we had a very heart felt conversation, I hugged him and sent him back to his dorm but as I was driving back that evening I thought about how George handled that. It’s not aa short term situation, he looked at it as a long term situation and knew that I needed to go handle that at least in my own mind. It really made me value what he does and how he interacts with his team so those are the kind of things really worked out well and that’s why I liked working for George and if you asked the others on the team they probably would have had the same experience.
What a great story so let’s pivot a little bit and dig deeper into the weeds, I always like to talk about habits and routines and Mike ordinarily I would ask what time do you get up in the morning and how does your say start but maybe for you, you want to start with the night before, how are you setting up for that and obviously you don’t have a lot of consistency, what are the consistent things that you are doing that life is going to get thrown at you fast and furious and be pretty unpredictable.
My morning routines are non-existent; they can be all over the place. Evening routines are much more concrete. One of those that I learnt as I went through 2016, again I cover a very large territory, [01:12:00] there maybe people out there listening to this podcast that cover larger territories then I do however if you look at the earth, there is probably 75/80 000 square miles but we serve the restaurant industry, there’s literally thousands of restaurants within the 80 000 square miles of prospect out there and it can be very easy to drive all over the place and just extended yourself out to too many areas and your just not very efficient.
What I realised as I went throughout the year, I try to plan 2 weeks out, the week ahead and the following week I will look at where I’m going to be. I will look at each day, am I going to be in Rally or Ashville, am I going to be in Rowinoak Virginia. I would have a city but if I had a meeting then I would fit that in as well. But my upcoming week then I would take the week I did before so I know which city I’m going to be in, I will look at each specific day and I would make certain my appointments are scheduled, I know who I’m going to see but also I have my list of prospects in every single city with in my territory so as I’m going to Winston or Sales burgh for the day, I may have an appointment in the morning or during the day or whatever. If something falls apart If I end up at 1:30 in the afternoon, I don’t want to question now what do I do?
So every evening I make certain for the upcoming day I know not only who I’m going to see but also in a worst case scenario I can reach into my book, pull out the Ashville [01:14:00] page or the Charlotte page or whatever and here I have a long list of people I can see. So its juts a matter of where you’re going and then if something goes wrong, what do you do. Yu don’t have to sit there and think about it, you just go out there and do it.
Mike how much of that are you in the air versus in the car?
That’s a great question, typically it’s all driving, yes it is a big territory from the far western point of Virginia down to North Carolina coast is probably 8 hours but its typically all driving but I am getting better at trying to efficient. If I am going out to the eastern part of the state, the Wilmington area down near the coast then obviously be as efficient as I can but its 99% driving.
What do you do with all of that windshield time?
That’s another good question. One of the things that I’m getting more and more involved in is what we doing here today, a podcast you mentioned the brutal truth sales podcast and I started listening to that so I’m just trying to be as productive as I can. Talk radio is something you listen to but that gets old after a while. At this point I’m just exploring, I can’t say that I have a couple fall back podcast that I always listen to but I exploring some of the podcasts out there. I was listening to the brutal truth the other day and he was talking about social media and some of the ways to reach out to people on social media it’s something a lot of people in sale over look now so George and I talked about it and I doing a little bit of that [01:16:00] but podcasts are something that I’m spending a lot of time on now listening to, learning from and trying to benefit from it.
Cool so actually just finish building a resource for you and everybody else who’s listening, it took me a whole day to build list of all the sales focused podcasts I could find and I came up with 70 so if you go to top1sales.wpengine.com/sales. Podcasts that will lead you directly to the page, everything under the sum that I could possibly find but if I missed anything and your listening then just leave me a comment and we will be sure to add it. Before we finish with you Mike, any apps that you are using a lot and getting a lot of value from or any other tools that you use throughout the day that are your go to’s.
I don’t use as many as I would like but I have experimented with Sign now, it’s an app that lets you go out and get signatures on your phone, I don’t have that down pet but I can certainly see how that will help. I using Cam Card, it allows me to snap a picture of a business card and it goes right into my contacts those are really the 2 that I’m using now but a lot of it is old school, I don’t use as many apps as I could or should be using.
You mentioned Cam Card another one if you are not use some type of automated expense we use Expensivor it has this type of feature but for expense receipt capture we used to use an app called Cam Scanner. I would basically create a folder and take a picture of all my receipts and when I was done and ready to submit that it would turn into a PDF and I would send the file and I was done [01:18:00] I literally take a picture of the receipt, throw it away and never have to worry about it again so that might be helpful.
George how about you? Let’s start with morning or night owl?
I definite more productive in the morning but it really depends on my travel schedule, covering the region I’m covering, I’m driving allot, I’m flying a lot I’m all over the place and then I’ll go to a lot of national events. It really depends, I have to be able to pivot and shift but I do my planning if its around working with my team, a lot of it is similar to what Mike said. A lot of planning the day before and really planning the week out before and I always let my team know I always send out a weekly recap note on Friday and I let them know, hey here’s what everybody is working on, here’s the wins we are having, here’s our successes and I let them know what my travel plans are for the next week so plan week by week and I try my best to stick to that. There’ll be certain regional or national customers that I can add value to meeting then I would definitely prioritise that and be there and it’s also about the value of time and who can I get in front of and how often or frequent. On a daily level it’s the evening before I shut it all down, I know what’s the execution plan is for tomorrow, what needs to be done, what those prioritise are and then it’s just doing the micro things after that, you email when to shut it down and when to ramp it back up.
I try to be as transparent as possible with my team, tell them exactly what I’m doing, where I am because I want to be very visible to them, I don’t want them sitting behind a desk and managing numbers [01:20:00] I fear there are some salesmen out there that do that, they get caught in the numbers, it a quarterly game when really it’s a developmental thing and the numbers take care of themselves so I do plan a lot of the short term weekly and daily items the day before or the Sunday night before if I’m planning a week. What needs to be done and planning out for it, reaching out to some of our directors, creating alignment for our customers. I would say the night before but I’m more productive in the morning I just know myself like that so I’ll play a little bit the night before and then Il get the heart of the things that need to get done so from 8:30-11:00 is prime time there.
It changes so much having 5 great reps Mike will attest to this, he’ll be in a big meeting and he’ll call and ill drop it all and shift so it’s going where you provide the most value and developmental tools for my team.
Are there any tools that you’re using to manage it all, you are the ultimate, it sounds like your being proactive where you can be in the planning but after that it’s a lot of reaction and sometimes you have to drive a lot of stuff out, how do you manage all that and what are the tools that help in that process.
Emails and calendars are powerful and it does sound a little like controlled chaos but I don’t use many apps, we have Concur for stuff like that to make office work easy but I try to automate as much as possible and I try to leverage anybody else or any organisation to help me automate certain processes. For instance, if I want to automate something [01:22:00] to save a little time and be a little practical here and there’s an excel spread sheet and I want I get something where I can automate a graph a populate a space and put that on a spread sheet, I can send that up to corporate and they will get that done for me so I’m able to know my resources and leverage those. As far as apps, I’m just like Mike, I don’t use apps day to day to manage my time, I just tend to old school plan it the night before or the week before and you just really have to know what you have to do.
It goes back to knowing how valuable that time is and don’t be scared t pivot on it and that’s why I think it’s hard for me to come up with an answer here, I’m going to go where there’s a positive ROI every time 100%, 365. Its challenging for me to stick to an app or have something to help me plan y day because I’ll do the best I can. A positive ROI for me is different than a positive ROI for Mike, I guess a good thing to say is making sure I can adapt and plan for things to change and have that ability to change because the last thing I want to happen is, we are all on customers time, we can dictate a meeting time and try the best that we can but really now days with technology everybody has a cell phone in their pocket, getting 2 people to sit down when one is trying to run a business and one is operating market, that’s challenging to do.
Once I can make that happen, I have to be able to adapt and drop certain things and rely on my back team to fill in. [01:24:00] I wish I could give you a more detailed answer. There’s structure to it, there’s planning, there’s excel spreadsheets, who’s around there like Mike said piggy back off that, just knowing your market like the back of your hand, where are your key customers, for struggling reps and regional sales managers one thing I have always done as a rep is you can always go back to a current customer, if you ever feel like you’re in a rut or even if you see the wheels start to slow a little bit, go back to a current customer.
Talk to them, leverage their network, genuinely see how they are doing and that goes back to maintaining that relationship with your wins and us loses. I try to do that on a regional level, anything I can do to clear a path for Mike to execute on his job, I’ll do it. I just here to make sure that prioritising that wildly main goal and getting it done every single day but now I’m on the developmental side and coaching side I want to make sure that I’m clearing the way for them so they have less on their plate to go execute that wildly important goal and then the results come after that.
One quick thing I really want to get into the conversation about the transition and how you’re feeling about that role because I think it’s a fork in the path and I want to get your perspective but before we do that, I’m totally going to forget, I got a bonus for our listeners my friend Craig Rosenberg also known as the funoholic, is getting ready to host the 2nd annual topo summit on April 12 [01:26:00] and 13 so what makes that event very unique is that nearly all of the presenters are practitioners so kind of similar philosophy to this podcast, I’m going to be there and would love to see some of you folks there. Find out more about it on top1sales.wpengine.com/topo and we also have a ticket to the event that we are going to give away in our sales success community on February 24th. So if you’re not already in the community you can head over to top1fm get on the mailing list which automatically prompts an invite to the community and then you can find the topo challenge from there.
So George let’s talk about your move from the individual contributor role you were obviously doing very well, I’ll share my bias being in the field and that is that I always felt like that sales management role meant a lot more work, you just talked about it, it’s very reactive and I felt like it’s not much more reward and in a lot of cases if you’re at the top of the leader board, it’s probably less reward at least from a W2 perspective. What was your thought process in making that transition and how do you feel now that your there?
My thought in the transition, I had those same things that occurred to me while I made the transition, I remember when my director, he was my regional sale manager at the time, he told me to replace his role and fill in his shoes and at first I was flattered, I didn’t know it would happen this quickly but deep down just knowing myself, I knew if I want to get to the CEO level [01:28:00] or even owing my own company one day, leading people is something that’s a bridge I have to cross so I’m very excited that I got the opportunity and really took it without hesitation.
But there’s definitely transition to understanding that you were the rock star from crushing it every day getting recognition on a daily basis and really what drove all those successes kind of shifts away and you have to give that back and provide that back so you team and I think that’s why it drives the regional spirit, I try to drive my other risen and talk a little smack and let them know where my numbers are compared to their teams. I always trying to hype my team on, we’re the leaders right now and we have a target on our back so we have to continue to execute and I’m not going to let us slip behind and I think that’s helped a lot bringing that competitive spirit that could get lost into the shuffle going into the development role maybe not losing deals left and right and getting the ink yourself, I felt that a little bit but instantly when I started seeing some of the success coming from my team that really got me excited.
Things are still in the transition phase and this is one for us, as we win I’m going to continue and keep this up year after year and I want to be able to keep tat competitive spirit going. I keep a little of that fun stuff that I had as an individual contributor and bring that straight into the regional role. It’s been a fun transition I learnt a ton, I drank from a wire house for the last 14-16 months, I hope I been able to provide value for my team and my company in being able to adapt and have an open mind [01:30:00]
I have to give a shout out to the training programme at the company I am at right now, they have a phenomenal leadership training programme that’s really helped me polish those sales tools. I do want to mention one story also, as a leader I knew going into this role if I’m going to continue to meet people depending on how my path is going to go, I don’t know if I’ll ever be an individual contributor ever again with that being said I never want to let that skill set of cold calling, prospecting, that pencil go dull. I a big believer in what I do and my team has done.
Mike and I had a meeting and we had a couple of hours to kill and we walked in the door and I said to Mike, let me lead this one, let me ask all the questions, just let me drive it, Mike knows that has our rock star but I do that because I want to keep that pencil sharp at all times. If I let my pencil dull in having those cold call conversations and doing the day to day things my guys are doing, now can I even coach or guide them? I going to slip into that role of a regional sales manager that managing the numbers and not the strengths of our team and so being a practioner and never getting away from that really helped me stay close to the action and give me the rush I get from being an individual contributor but letting them take the success and letting them get the wins and helping them along the way.
I know we running a little bit tight o time here but I would like to dig a bit more if we have a follow up conversation at some point. Let’s wrap up where we always do, we talked for nearly an hour and a half, we have tons of great ideas and content, we started with top 3 from each of you plus additional bullets so there’s a ton to take away here but I like to end with something truly actionable, what’s the challenge, what’s the thing that the person who invested the time to listen to this and is feeling hopefully feeling inspired and motivated, what can they do to translate this into results for themselves?
Something very practical and it’s not going to sound practical but you have to realise your position and where you are today and this is specifically for the medium performers who may have been there a while, find out what you need to do to get to that next level and just do it. Everyone thinks about it and it feels really good to think about being a top performer and its around new year’s so it’s a great topic t lead with but actually do it, execute. If there’s one thing that I can leave you with is always look at the upside to everything when you do feel yourself creeping on the downside you already lost, you need to shift yourself to be optimistic, reheard wire the way you think and that’s a really hard thing to do. To become a top performer from a medium performer, you really have to think like a top performer and I highly recommend finding a mentor right now. Go out tomorrow, call your regional sales manager, leverage them, network, find yourself a very good mentor and lean on them. [01:34;00]
I think a lot of sales people ay hesitate to find a mentor because it’s a sign of weakness but in reality your recognising your own strengths and your helping out where you can over all strengthen your performance. Find a mentor, have those tough conversations and get to that point where you know you can be a top performer and once you believe it your actions will take shape around them because your mind and body are connected like that and you truly have to believe that it’s not pie in the sky you just have to execute. So if there’s one tips I can leave everybody with is know your strengths, know your weaknesses, find a mentor and then upside, upside, upside and then get it.
Mike how about you?
Mine is going to be similar to what George said, I cannot stress enough how important it is to know the value of self-awareness, you just have to know what you’re good at, it’s not something that you’re going to do every day for 7 days but I would recommend to anybody who’s out there in a sales role to spend some time and be very objective and very honest with yourself, it’s not always an easy thing to do but you have to look in the mirror and truly realise what you enjoy and what you’re good at and also what you’re not good at. Then do everything you can to restructure that going about your job so you can engage customer at that area of strength, that can be a very revealing exercise. That can be tough to deal with, you may think you’re good at one thing but when you really look in the mirror, you’ll see maybe I’m not so good at that. [01:36:00]
There might be a situation where you go to a colleague and ask them, say hey you and I have work together for a bit, tell me the truth, what do you see me being effective at, how am I most effective and sometimes if they are really truthful with you, their answers are going to be really helpful. So truly understand where you are effective and make sure that’s the area that your using when you’re trying to engage customers or prospects.
Scott can I close with one more thing? He triggered something that I want to share really quick. That is if you reflect and you reach out to a mentor or a colleague and you find that your lacking confidence in your product, there’s something there and that can be anything from operationally to improve operations, to improve this or improve that, and if your reflecting and there’s a sherd that your bullet proofing yourself in the doubt in the product or service, that will eventually come through. The practical thing is to find something else and now, don’t waste time because that is all we have.
Don’t waste a week of mailing it in to any sort of company or product that your representing, ultimately your happiness will suffer, your pocket will suffer because your results are going to suffer. You can go out and find a new product to represent, some of the best sales people have the ability at adapt, be creative and smart people within the company shift, don’t be scared to leap to another industry. Once you marry up that confidence with in yourself and you know you can execute that phenomenal product your backing then your potential is uncapped so don’t be scared to learn a new industry and find a new sales role because you’ll be surprised how you can adapt. Your pockets will be happier and over all yourself and your families and you’ll find that white space [01:38:00] year in and year out and I think the top performers ever single year, that’s what they found.
George Penkey and Mike Cochran, this has been incredible thank you guys so much.
Thank you so much
Thank you we really appreciate it.
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