EPISODE 030: Joy Newton Grubb Strives to Anticipate Her Customers’ Office System Needs to Better Help Solve Their Problems
Joy Newton Grubb is a sales leader, a consultant, and a sales mentor at National Office Systems, also known as NOS. She’s had a great career in the office-built environment; she’s sold office storage systems and record-management and relocation services to the government and corporate customers, in particular to law firms across the country.
Find Joy on LinkedIn!
Fred Diamond: Tell us specifically what you’re selling today and what excites you about that.
Joy Newton Grubb: I’m a sales consultant and a sales mentor here at NOS, and what I focus on is professional services, storage solutions, offsite tracking, digital storage, and scanning. So it’s something that I’ve been doing for over 30 years in various parts of my career, and I really enjoy it.
What excites me about it is I never thought that I would fall into records management or selling storage. A lot of people look at me and go, “That’s something that you can sell?” And it’s something that you can sell and it’s something that you can do very well at because you’re a consultant to your client. You’re solving their problem.
Fred Diamond: What might be some of the problems that you’re solving for the customers you’re working with today?
Joy Newton Grubb: Customers typically don’t realize that the file management world has become very technology-oriented. We’re able to scan documents in and index them and provide them online, and a lot of people still want to have their paper. It’s very important that you establish good practices so that you have a good chain of custody of that material.
Fred Diamond: Let’s talk about your sales career. How did you get into sales as a career?
Joy Newton Grubb: I grew up in sales. My dad owned his own company. He had three salespeople, and they were always on the road. And my dad was a candy salesman, so I always have wanted to be in sales.
Fred Diamond: So did you follow your dad? Did you go with him on calls? You probably had tons of candy around the house.
Joy Newton Grubb: We always had tons of candy. We always had more candy than anybody. The holidays were always great because our holidays were always six months before the holiday; at Halloween you would get Easter candy. I spent a lot of time working in my dad’s office. I never really went on sales calls with my dad, but I was used to that environment. I was used to following his career and what he did. He was very successful.
Fred Diamond: What are some of the things that you learned from that? What are some things that you remember that you’ve been able to apply to your sales career?
Joy Newton Grubb: I think it’s always important to be very genuine and to be very good about your follow-up skills. Follow-up skills, especially in today’s world, makes a big difference. There aren’t a lot of people who follow up. There are a lot of people who hide behind email and voice mail, but I think it’s important to get face time, and I think it’s important to give the customer a solution before you actually tell them maybe they have an issue.
Fred Diamond: So talk about that a little bit, follow-up skills. What are some of the things that you would recommend that sales game changers do today to continue to follow up? You mention people hide behind emails. Give us some of your best examples of what you can be doing to be sure that you’re good at that.
Joy Newton Grubb: I think it’s important that you should never give up on voice mail, number one. You should use that as a tool and learn how to use that. You need to be brief, but you also need to follow up with an email with your contact information, and you need to be short and concise so that you’re not wasting someone’s time. I have a “three times, you’re out” rule: I will call someone who I think is a potential client three times over probably a three-week period, and if I don’t get any feedback from them and I know that there’s somebody else in my industry that I’d like to get to know, I just move that to the back burner and go to the next person.
I’m always working on a target list of who I want to contact. You’ll find that if you leave three voice mails and you follow up, you might want to try calling them at five o’clock at night, and they’ll be at their desk and they’ll go, “Oh, I’ve been meaning to call you, I just haven’t had time.”
Fred Diamond: We mentioned in the introduction that you’ve been in the office-built environment over a very illustrous career. What are you specifically an expert in?
Joy Newton Grubb: The one thing that I do really well is I anticipate a customer’s needs. I think it’s important to anticipate what’s the next step for them. I’m very driven, and I have a good problem-solving set of skills. It’s something that I started in sales. I have found in my sales career that every place I have worked, when they realize that I have the skill set to take an upset customer, meet them, turn them around—I’ve actually turned a lot of those accounts where something has gone wrong; I will turn them into not only a really good account for the company and myself but also a very good friendship.
Fred Diamond: You mentioned you anticipate customer needs. Tell us a little more about the execution of that. What are some of the things that you specifically do to anticipate and understand what the customer’s needs are? Is that before they know or is it you just want to be proactive and go to them with some solutions?
Joy Newton Grubb: First of all, you need to know what it is that you’re selling so that you understand the scope of what you have to offer. But more important, you need to listen to the client, and you need to listen to what their issues are. One of the questions I always like to ask a client, especially when I meet with them the first time, is “What’s the criteria that you’re looking for in a vendor?” The answers are very interesting. They rarely are price. They are customer service. Someone will say, “Oh, service, service, service. The last person who was in here was a disaster.” And then the client will tell you 3,000 things that were wrong, and you should be jotting them down mentally or on a piece of paper, all those little points of what their pain level was. Then you take that pain level and you turn it into a solution.
Fred Diamond: Joy, take us back to an impactful sales career mentor and hoy they impacted your career. Tell us about that person.
Joy Newton Grubb: That person was actually my first boss in sales. I started as a GSA rep. And I was a single mom, I wanted to make money, and I had done some of the records management prior to joining this team. This person was a female. She was a great teacher. She was very fair, but she could be tough. And I know a couple of times I felt like, “Oh, wow. This is a little tough.” But I always remember that and I always refer to those skill sets. Especially when I’m mentoring someone else, I refer to her all the time.
Fred Diamond: Do you frequently get people come to you looking for mentorship?
Joy Newton Grubb: I do. I’ve led several different sales teams in several different organizations, and I’ve always taken great pride in having a monthly working session with salespeople, not necessarily to be critical but to find out what do they need to make themselves better and what do I need as a boss to make myself better. Through the years instead of micromanaging what a person’s pipeline looked like, I’ve decided to take a different approach and go through that as kind of a team effort and spend one or two hours a month just really going through everything that they were doing. That’s very beneficial.
Fred Diamond: Joy, in the introduction we mentioned that you also have a specific expertise in corporate, but specifically in law firms. Can you tell us a little bit about selling to law firms and some of the things that you’ve had to learn over the years to be successful selling to that vertical?
Joy Newton Grubb: Law firms can be very tough. I think it’s one of the tougher vertical markets that you can sell into. I was very fortunate to work with a gentleman who was able to teach me how to approach a law firm and how to handle some of the rejection in the beginning. You really have to stick with it; you have to prove yourself. We have some pretty big law firms here in D.C., and one of the things that I found was a good way for me to connect with people was to be a problem solver for them.
Fred Diamond: You also mentioned that you’ve had a career selling in the government as well. How does the government work as a customer?
Joy Newton Grubb: Government’s very different. They need to know everything, whereas with commercial you don’t really want to share a lot with them except to tell them what it is that they need to know and what their pain points are. With the government you really have to spell it out, and you have to understand what’s going on with compliance because you can spend a lot of time spinning your wheels if you don’t know what you’re up against. You need to learn how to work. GSA has really changed in the past 20 years, and it continues to evolve, and you got to be on top of that game to understand how you sell to the client.
Fred Diamond: Joy, what are two of the biggest challenges you’ve faced today as a sales leader?
Joy Newton Grubb: I think one of the biggest things is face time. People want you to send them something via email. They don’t want you to drop anything off. “Please don’t come by, please don’t bother me.” They hide behind voice mail, so it’s really tough to get face time.
And then the internet, I think, is a challenge for a lot of salespeople because a lot of people—and I do this myself: I go to the store, I look at it, I try it on, and then I go on to Amazon to order it. So people think they can do that with what I sell, but they really can’t. It really takes a custom solution.
Fred Diamond: You’ve had a career selling in the office, what we call the office-built environment, including relocation services, storage, things like that where you’re helping people in a physical location. You’re helping them in their office, typically, and you just mentioned that it’s harder and harder to get face time. What are some of the things that you’ve done to solve that, to accomplish the lack of ability these days to get face time?
Joy Newton Grubb: It’s a challenge. One of the things that I like to do is say, “Hey, I’ll only stop by for 15 minutes.” And I try to stick to my 15 minutes. One of the things that I’ve learnt through the years is to also give them some sort of a takeaway, something that they can have to help them in whatever their issue is.
You’ve got to make it worth their time, and you’ve got to be respectful if you are there and they don’t have time for you or if they’re not interested. To me, it’s a numbers game, and so you just move on to the next person. It took me a long time to figure that out.
Fred Diamond: Joy, take us back to the one specific sales success or win from your career that you’re most proud of.
Joy Newton Grubb: I had a government account; I stepped into it my very first week of sales, my first big sales job. Got a phone call, what the client had ordered was not what was there, so I’m like, Well, I’m new, I don’t really know anything. I don’t know the client, I don’t know what to do. And then I thought, “Okay, well, this is my account, so I need to figure this out.”
By the end of the week I had figured out exactly what to do for the client. The rep before me left out nine workstations, and there was no budget for them. And they’d gotten rid of the furniture, so I had to think really quickly. I assembled together a group of people to provide furniture, and I went down and I worked for the client and set them up. They became one of my biggest clients, and very good friends.
I turned a really bad situation around very quickly, and I made sure every time I got on the phone, I had a solution for what the next hurdle was, because there were several hurdles to overcome.
Fred Diamond: You know, when you deal with those types of customers there’s a lot of complexity. Sometimes there’s many people involved; sometimes you might find at the end that there is someone involved you didn’t think about. So understanding how to navigate through deals like that is something that we’ve heard time and time again from the sales game changers that we’ve interviewed.
We’re talking with Joy Newton Grubb today. Joy, you’ve had a great career in sales. You’ve sold to some great companies, you’ve sold to some big customers. Did you ever question being in sales? Was there ever a moment where you thought to yourself, “It’s just too hard” or “It’s just not for me”?
Joy Newton Grubb: No. I’ve never had any regrets. Never. You’ll hit some tough roads, and when I’ve hit those tough roads, I just work a little harder. It makes the difference. I ask a question, or I go seek and get the help.
Fred Diamond: Joy, what is the most important thing you want to get across to the selling professionals listening to today’s podcast to help them take their career to the next level?
Joy Newton Grubb: Take pride in being professional, and get the training that you need. A good sales training course will help a lot, and so will a good mentor who will take the time to walk you through it. But the other thing too is not to give up too soon. I have worked with reps through the years, and I’ve had really good reps who’ve gotten to 18 months and they really haven’t brought home what I think they thought they should, and I would say, “You need to be patient. You have to build your book of business, you have to build your brand, your style, and your integrity in the marketplace, and it takes a while.” And you have to earn your spot with your competitors.
Fred Diamond: Do you think that everyone can make it in sales? You just mentioned that sometimes people might give up a little bit too soon. Do you think that everyone with the right training and mentorship can have a successful career in sales?
Joy Newton Grubb: I think some salespeople aren’t meant to be salespeople. I’ve seen that. I can pretty much tell that pretty quickly. They’re thinking it’s kind of glamorous. It’s a lot of hard work, and it’s a lot of sleepless nights saying, “Oh, my God, did I put this in? Did I say this? Was I professional enough? Did I speak, have a good presence?” But I have seen introverts do very well in sales.
I think it depends on what it is that they’re selling, and it depends on whether they’re driven and they’re really focused. One of the things that people always tell me is I’m very driven and I’m very passionate. Right now I’m into that driving phase, I want to drive into the next step. If you take it personally, it’s really going to hurt, but if you can hang in there and be tough and drive yourself to help you drive the client, you’ll be fine.
Fred Diamond: What are some of the things that you do to sharpen your saw and stay fresh?
Joy Newton Grubb: I do a lot of networking after hours. I do some lead groups, I also really watch what other people’s selling styles are or how they handled a certain situation, because everybody has a different style, everybody brings something different to the table. So I think that’s really important.
I do a lot of reading. I have attended several sales classes and schools along the way. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve taken almost every sales course, and not a lot of people have had that opportunity, so I know that’s really a bit of bonus for me.
Fred Diamond: What’s a major initiative, Joy Newton Grubb, you’re working on today to ensure your continued success?
Joy Newton Grubb: This is the first time in four years that I’ve been back full-time in sales. Prior to that I’ve been in business development, and prior to business development I had always been in sales and management, and I found that my passion really is for sales. Business development is a little bit different; it’s looking for the client.
But what I found is when I found the opportunity, the client that I would pass it off to, maybe the connection wouldn’t be there, they wouldn’t follow up, they didn’t see the same opportunity that I saw. I many times felt very disappointed—not necessarily in what I was doing but in how it was carried across. So I’m glad to be doing my own telemarketing and networking. I can control what I do.
Fred Diamond: Can you define the difference between sales and business development for our audience?
Joy Newton Grubb: With business development you’re way ahead of the sale and you’re looking to make a lot of important relationships. You develop those relationships, and you develop your integrity, but at some point you’re going to probably pass it off into a true sales position. When you do that, pass off, sometimes a client would prefer to work with you than the person you’re passing off to. Business development requires a lot of patience. It’s actually a longer sales cycle than the actual physical sales cycle itself from when you start a project. You’re really developing very cold leads, and you’re making introductions, and you’re doing presentations. It’s very important to educate the community that you sell to about what it is that your company does and what you’re known for.
Fred Diamond: Thanks for clarifying that for us. Joy, sales is hard. People don’t return your calls or your emails. You even mentioned before that one of the biggest challenges is getting face time with the customer. Why have you continued? What is it about sales as a career that keeps you going?
Joy Newton Grubb: I once got an award for being the most persistent sales rep, and it’s because I think of two things. And it took me a long time to learn this, but what’s the worst thing a customer’s going to say? No? So what? So what if they say no? You just kind of go on to the next thing.
I also have that “three times, you’re out” rule, and that helps me manage the targets that I need. It’s a reality check for me. I track that for myself so I know where I’m at, and I think that that’s really helped a lot.
Fred Diamond: Please give us one final thought that you can share with our sales game changers listening to this podcast to help them take their career to the next level.
Joy Newton Grubb: Don’t be afraid to be a true sales professional. Dress like a professional, act like a professional in your personal and your business life. Make sure that you have your integrity and your professionalism in check, and you will develop your own style and you will be a great success.