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EPISODE 205: Quicken Loans Sales Veteran Adam Stalmack Says You Can Develop a More Powerful Sales Mindset if You Focus on This Key Habit
ADAM’S FINAL TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Don’t ever quit. The other part of that is don’t stop learning. Don’t stop honing in on your craft and sharpening your skills, getting better. Keep finding out what makes it work and then tailoring it to what you do.”
We’re doing another show from Downtown Detroit, Michigan.
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Fred Diamond: Tell us about you.
Adam Stalmack: I was born and raised in a small town, growing up outside, outdoors all the time so I enjoy being in the outdoors. Something recently now that I’m into is ju-jitsu, it’s been an absolutely life changing experience and I can’t imagine life without it. Recently married going over a year and a half here, so things are going pretty well.
Fred Diamond: I’ve got to ask you. How has ju-jitsu changed your life? You said it’s a life changing experience.
Adam Stalmack: It’s incredible how much ju-jitsu relates to everyday life, how much it relates to sales, leadership, it’s been a game changer because the different trials and things that you go through is eerily similar to sales and how you start out in a new career in sales or in a sales position or something like that. Being on the mats rolling for the first time and learning moves, that whole cycle of performance and learning curve is almost identical.
Fred Diamond: We’ll probably mix a little bit of that as we get deep into the podcast, but why don’t you tell us a little more about what you sell today? Again, you’ve been with Quicken Loans for 15 years, tell us what excites you about that.
Adam Stalmack: Our selling is unique here with Rock Connections now and to just give you a little insight, I started with Quicken Loans back in 2004 as a mortgage banker. I spent 8 years in the mortgage industry and then when the mortgage industry melted down we changed the way we did business. The whole mortgage industry had to and people had to get licensed up.
One thing that’s done for our business here at Quicken Loans and Rock Connections is the way we prospect. Bankers have to be licensed now so it takes time to do all that. We did a lot of things in house to where we were prospecting for the sales folks and it worked so well that in 2012 we started a company called Rock Connections that does a ton of prospecting for salespeople. If there’s one thing that salespeople hate the most, at least in my opinion, is prospecting, going out and finding the business. Salespeople want to do one thing, they want to sell and they enjoy selling and they love doing it and I think that’s what keeps a lot of us going. What I sell is that prospecting experience, we do all the heavy lifting and we can push clients to our sales folks and then we get back on the phone and prospect some more.
Fred Diamond: Let’s go back to the beginning of your career. Tell us how you first got into sales as a career.
Adam Stalmack: It probably started with my father because he was in sales, he used to sell brick and cement in that industry. Being around him, I absorbed it and didn’t even know it and it wasn’t till I was older to where I was just more of a people person and I had gotten started in… This had to have been in the early 90’s and it was selling boats. Here in Michigan we’ve got a lot of little inland lakes, there was pontoon boats and people call them speed boats, but it goes in the whole genre.
I was absolutely terrible at it and I was doing a lot of things, I worked in the parts department, I’d fill in for sales and one thing that is one of my strengths is my work ethic, I was there all the time so I could be counted on and relied upon. Then they just kept moving me into the sales piece and moving me into the sales piece and next thing I knew, I’m selling boats and that’s how I got into that industry. From there it stumbled into the mortgage industry and here I am today.
Fred Diamond: What are some of the things that you learned in some of those first few sales jobs that have stuck with you till today?
Adam Stalmack: I reflect on this every now and then. Things that stuck with me? How much I wish I would have asked better questions and built a relationship with people. I was unconsciously incompetent, I didn’t know what I didn’t know and even then in that game I still didn’t know for a long time and I thought I was doing good. I didn’t have any training, I got thrown to the wolves, I learned the hard way, had a guy that at the time – his name was Buck, I don’t remember his last name – he was a pilot for Delta at the time and he did this on the side and he was really good at it. He was in his 40’s and I was in my 20’s and that maturity had a big part to play in it, too. Things that stuck out to me were those things, just not asking the right questions and not building relationships to get people to buy into you.
Fred Diamond: Again, you’re an RVP here at Rock Connections so you have a lot of people reporting up through you. Do you encourage them to ask better questions now that you’re mentoring them and taking them along? Do you also encourage them to build relationships as well? A lot of what you guys do is on the phone, right?
Adam Stalmack: A hundred percent.
Fred Diamond: Do you have time to build relationships or how does that play into what you do today?
Adam Stalmack: In our business the game moves so fast with the call, it’s a very short call because we’re getting the client on the phone and we’re connecting it to a salesperson. Depending on the campaigns we’re working on, yes, you do have time to talk to people and build rapport and those questions are important. You have to be able to control a call, you have to be able to gauge that person in a short amount of time otherwise, they’re gone. Good open-ended questions to get the person to create dialogue helps.
Fred Diamond: Tell us a little more about you. Tell us what you’re an expert in, tell us a little about your specific area of brilliance.
Adam Stalmack: Area of brilliance? [Laughs] How do you put that? I have an ability to be able to teach people things and get them to learn quickly, whether it’s through analogies or it’s just me being able to pick up on their learning styles and their personality styles, I can zero in on that. I didn’t understand how I did it, I just had that. Early on in my sales career, that was there but it was so deep under the service, I hadn’t unearthed that quality or that trait yet. Over time it was developed and I found I was going to be able to hone it in. I’m good at putting things into perspective for people and in turn with sales, I can put it in a perspective to where they see the benefits and the value.
Fred Diamond: You must have had some great mentors along the way, why don’t you tell us about a sales mentor or two that has helped you take your career to this point?
Adam Stalmack: Good question. I didn’t really bounce around a lot, but early on there’s no one real specific except for the leaders that I worked with at those times, especially in the Quicken Loans family, extraordinary salespeople and leaders that could sell. No one really sticks out to me that taught me stuff, over the years it’s things that happened but it was those leaders at those times. We’d have one sales team move to a different area and different teams because there was a time where I was in sales and I moved to training and development and learned a ton there, and then went back to sales and led a sales team.
A person that does stick out is Tim Birkmeier who heads up all of QL right now, he’s the CFO. I was able to work with him closely early on, not early on in his career but mine for sure, that taught me a lot.
Fred Diamond: I have a question for you. Before the interview we took a walk around one of the floors where there’s definitely hundreds of people, there were stand up desks, two screens, a good environment. Quicken Loans is one of the most well-known brands definitely in the country, obviously you do a lot of marketing, the golfer Rickie Fowler, the guy from Key and Peele. Describe the sales culture here, it’s got to be a big part of what you guys do.
Adam Stalmack: It’s huge. Aside from the culture, that’s a huge component to it. It’s sales-driven, it’s production focused, it’s all the sales things that you have but you put in our culture and taking care of our clients which is what really brings it all together.
Fred Diamond: You mentioned you manage a whole bunch of people, what are the two biggest challenges you face today as a sales leader?
Adam Stalmack: Two biggest challenges? I’d say mindset. That’s part of it, but mindset and just the desire to sell. A lot of people want to make a quick buck and I don’t care what you do, who you are, if you’re in a sales role you can make a quick buck but it’s not going to last and it’s not going to be sustainable. It’s just having that mindset and that focus but the desire to want to sell or want to get better at your craft, those are two things that are hard to find. It’s forged and developed over time but those are two hard things, tough to find.
Fred Diamond: I agree with you, we talk about assessment of sales professionals. You can learn the skills and you can learn the sales process, but you’ve got to start off with the mindset. Can you teach mindset or is it pretty much you’ve got to see it upfront, you’ve got to have it to be successful? Especially at a place like this where there’s a lot of phone calls, a lot of numbers, obviously driven, what are your thoughts?
Adam Stalmack: You can teach mindset to the mind that’s open to it. There’s definitely people that have it, but I don’t think everybody’s got it, it’s developed over time. Some people will get it early on in life, later in life but where you’re focused determines your reality. If you put a focus on that mindset, it can absolutely be developed and it can be taught over time.
Fred Diamond: Take us back to the #1 specific sales success or win from your career you’re most proud of. Again, you’ve been with Quicken Loans for 15 years now. Take us back to the #1, the one that you’re most proud of.
Adam Stalmack: There’s not one that sticks out as a salesperson but when I was a director leading sales team, it was always getting the salesperson to have that aha moment. Not so much their first sale, that’s good but when they start to get it and create more sales, closing deals and things like that, those were the moments. There’s not one that specifically stands out where I can remember the person’s name and time, but it was those moments that when you saw a salesperson on the phone helping a client, it clicked with the client, it clicked with the salesperson, the salesperson did everything right on the phone and the client bought into it, saw the value. The client wasn’t being sold, they just saw the value in everything and made the decision to buy. It’s those moments and it was a chain of those things over time, at least for me.
Fred Diamond: Did you ever question yourself being in sales? Did you ever say to yourself, “You know what? It’s too hard, it’s really just not for me”?
Adam Stalmack: Every single day. I’ll tell you, early in my career you have good days and bad, and maybe it’s just the way I’m wired but every day it’s, “Man, can I do this? Am I going to get another sale today? Am I going to be able to stay ahead of pace? Am I going to be able to get back on pace?” That’s where the mindset piece comes in, you’ve got to really be diligent and make sure you have a strong mindset going into it, so when those times of doubt creep in you’ve got to be able to handle them. I don’t know if there’s a salesperson out there that can confidently say, “I never doubted myself or never thought about ‘can I do this.”
I think that a salesperson has that in their head a lot, they might not show it on the outside but for me, I doubted myself a lot. Then once I had the confidence and I generated more confidence, you get a sale, you start to build momentum, then that doubt isn’t there all the time but every now and then it always tries to find that chink in the armor and slowly work its way in. A strong mindset helps prevent that, but for me there were a lot of times.
Fred Diamond: Adam, what’s the most important thing you want to get across to the sales professionals listening around the globe to help them take their career to the next level?
Adam Stalmack: What a great question. Don’t quit. Do not quit. What’s the phrase, “The hour before dawn is always the darkest”? I can’t tell you how many times in my head you want to give up or you just make that one more call or you make that one more presentation or you make the one more drive out to wherever you’re going and boom, it clicks. Don’t ever quit and the other part of that, too is don’t stop learning. Don’t stop honing in on your craft and sharpening your skills, getting better, best practicing top people in your area, your business or your team and just finding out what makes it work tailoring it to what you do. You can’t stop doing any of that, the moment you stop things start to slow down and the momentum unravels.
Fred Diamond: Speaking of that, tell us about a selling habit that you have that has contributed to your continued success.
Adam Stalmack: I’m a big fan of the open-ended questions and just getting people to talk. The more you do that and actively listen to what they’re telling you and then being able to translate that into more open-ended questions. Building that relationship with a client and understanding what they want is paramount in sales because a lot of people will just, “This is what you’re going to get, this is what you’re going to do, this is how we’re going to do it” and then people either feel forced into the deal or you wonder why they don’t call you back.
Fred Diamond: Tell us about a major initiative you’re working on today to ensure your continued success.
Adam Stalmack: Right now, for me I’m in a leadership position so I’m trying to get my leaders to all be aligned in the same way. I can’t be in every place at once, so if I can get our leaders to work together and be aligned – we have things here called the ‘isms’ and it’s the lifeblood of our culture – keeping those isms in mind, using it to make decisions in their business or what they’re doing, then it’ll allow me to focus on other things and just detach a little bit and make sure that we’re moving forward in our goals or we’re innovating in different ways.
When it comes to the sales training we’re developing our team members that are on the floor to where they can elevate their game. That’s really what I’m working on right now, just making sure that they’re all aligned that way and doing those things, and when they’re doing that it definitely frees up a lot more time to where we can focus on other things like that.
Fred Diamond: Once again I want to thank Adam Stalmack for being on the Sales Game Changers podcast. Again, it’s a special show, we’re broadcasting from Detroit, Michigan, we’re broadcasting in November 2019, we had about 6 inches of snow the other day so we’re looking out at all this beautiful white powder here in Detroit. I’ve got to ask you a quick question again. How would you say Detroit’s doing? Again, we have listeners around the globe, you guys are right smack in the middle of things here, it looks like things are booming. What would you say about Detroit?
Adam Stalmack: It is absolutely incredible. When you hear the city Detroit, I don’t know if everybody in the country thinks of an awesome place but there is so much building going on, there’s so much innovation, companies have come down back to the city. This is all because of Dan Gilbert and other people like the Ilitch family, they’ve brought businesses back and it really is those guys that have done it. You wouldn’t even think that this is Detroit, when you are here there is a vibe and an excitement because of all of the new things that are coming here. If you were to look at maybe pictures from 10 years ago, it’s nothing like what it is today. The whole river front has been developed, there’s new buildings going up, there’s apartments and condo’s being built and hundreds of businesses coming down, it’s an exciting time. If you want to go to a place that is exciting and all kinds of opportunity present, it’s Detroit.
Fred Diamond: Why don’t you give us a final thought to inspire our listeners today?
Adam Stalmack: It goes back to the ‘don’t quit’ mentality, but if you’re selling right now, if you’re in a sales role, sales position, continue to work on your craft. Don’t stop, don’t be afraid to do the hard stuff because it’s in the hard stuff where you learn the most. You cannot be afraid to fail but the more failures you have, the faster you can grow and learn from it.
If you have an ability to apply that back or if you have a really good mentor or a sales leader that you work with that can help you with all of that stuff, you’re just going to grow that much more exponentially. Don’t ever stop, I think sales is an excellent profession, there’s so many benefits and joys that can come from it, it’s a double edge sword. You can hate it one day and then the next day love it to death, so don’t quit and keep building your skills until you get it right.