EPISODE 108: Kastle Systems Sales Veteran Clay Deming Shares the Main Reason Why She Teaches Her Legions to Achieve Trusted Advisor Status with Their Customers
CLAY’S TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Selling is serving. Recognize that when you are in front of people, they’re more interested in you than they are in the feature and benefit set of your particular service or product. Don’t think about your quota, don’t think about all of the reasons why not, put your head in the place that says, ‘I am here to genuinely see if this is the right fit for this organization’ and if it is, then you start putting all of that credibility and all of that reliability and all of that intimacy.”
Clay Deming is an 18-year veteran sales leader at Kastle Systems.
Prior to coming to Kastle she was at Herman Miller.
Find Clay on LinkedIn!
Fred Diamond: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you sell today? Tell us what excites you about that.
Clay Deming: Great question. There’s a lot to that. I have been here at Kastle Systems selling managed security services to a lot of different verticals for the better part of 18 years. I’ve sold to the commercial real estate market which is our main client, the corporate tenants that reside within those buildings, I’ve sold to multi-family owners and managers, schools, universities, enterprise systems where tenants want systems on one end of the country to the other end of the country that are the same on the same platform and pretty much electronic access control, security, video surveillance and visitor management systems.
What Kastle does that differentiates us from all the other players in the market – and there are so many – is that we’re providing an end to end managed service. With that, I mean Caste employees design it, we install it, we monitor it, we maintain it so we fix it when it breaks, we do all the programming, all the operations, all the integration, all the upgrades, everything that needs to happen in order to keep that system’s head above water for its infinite lifetime.
The second part of your question is very interesting because what I find interesting about this work is that for any system that I’ve ever sold or designed and implemented for any particular customer, they’ve gone from a completely different way of running their security to a managed approach and Kastle then ultimately has become their partner for as long as they want to run their systems this way. There’s something very rewarding about going into a space, big or little. You can only imagine that a commercial real estate building, a huge high rise class A office tower in the middle of New York City is a very different kind of environment than a private school that serves K through 12 students, but at the end of the day every client that I’ve ever served has decided that a managed service approach is the right way to go if they want to sure up their security and have a system that works the way they want it to work.
Fred Diamond: That makes so much sense in today’s marketplace. Again, we mentioned you worked for Herman Miller before you came to Kastle, you’ve been at Kastle for close to 18 years now. How did you first make the shift into sales as a career?
Clay Deming: It’s a great question and one that’s fun to take myself back to that point. I’ve had a lot of different sales roles. The one that really stands out as my entree to sales was in retail. At the time that I was looking for a job to keep me entertained for the last week or two of the summer before I went back to college, my friend came to me and said, “I run Britches for Women”. I don’t know if you remember the Britches chain?
Fred Diamond: Sure.
Clay Deming: They had a store that was called Britches for Women and she said, “We’re looking for some help because a lot of kids are leaving to go back to school. Why don’t you come over and help us out for a week? Have you ever sold anything?” and I said, “No, I never sold anything but I love clothes.” Off I went and day 1 I milled around the store looking at all the merchandise and familiarizing myself with where things were and all the sudden this lady walked in and instead of asking her if I could help her – a closed ended question, the yes or no or, “I’m just looking” – I said, “What brings you in today? What are you looking for, is there something specific?” and she said, “I’m actually leaving a stay at home mom role and moving into a new job and a new whole venture as a realtor and I’m looking for a wardrobe” and I thought, “Oh boy, can I help you.”
I did, and I in fact sold this lady $1,700 dollars’ worth of clothes that day which happened to be – unbeknownst to me, because I didn’t know anything about the goals of the store or anything of the like – the daily or weekly goal of that particular store. What I learned and I think you probably would be interested to know that what I did when I worked with this lady was pretty common, it felt really natural to me. I was really honest with her. If she tried something on that I didn’t think looked good, I didn’t say that it did. I genuinely said, “I think you can do better than that and I saw something over here that you might want to try. Let me bring it to you” and let her try that.
There was this very interesting, very quick rapport between the two of us. At the end of the day, it was a trusting relationship that happened very quickly and because I was able to say, “That’s just not it” she trusted me because we all know when things look good and when they don’t.
Fred Diamond: I want to fast forward this because now of course you’re working for Kastle Systems. You’re talking about managed security. You need to be based on trust, your customers are trusting you with their critical safety, their privacy, things like that. Is that what first triggered this notion of the trusted relationship for you?
Clay Deming: I think it is and now today I would say that it is one of the leading foundational concepts that I have under my belt and that I work with others on as I go out to market and work with people no longer in retail but now with very complex security platforms that have a lot of intricacies associated with them, so yes.
Fred Diamond: I have another angle there, too. One of the things, Clay, that we talk about frequently in the Sales Game Changers podcast is the whole notion of adding value and providing significant value to your customer. Of course, today in Kastle that makes a whole lot of sense which we’ll talk about, but even back then when you were dealing with this particular woman, the trust that she must have had in you. She’s going back to work, she needed to redo her wardrobe, here you are.
You were pretty young at the time and she trusted you. You were providing so much value that she became the biggest customer for your store at that time. Is that something you’ve continued to think about as well? Bringing even more value to your customer than typical vendor relationship?
Clay Deming: Yes, and I think you’re really onto something here, Fred. It’s aligned with a lot of the things that we talk about here at Kastle today. Being in the security space means that you run the risk. You cannot sell and go out to market with fear, you can’t do it. Other industries might be able to sell that way and I know that a lot of psychology and a lot of research points to the fact that leading people to believe that they’re going to be left out or something bad is going to happen if they don’t do something is a tactic.
It’s not one that I recommend or that I use when I sell. I think that selling is not something that you do to someone, it’s something that you do for someone. If you genuinely believe that and you’re genuinely doing something for someone, you have to authentically be in the right place. There is in fact a formula for trust that’s a numerator and a denominator. The numerator is C for credibility, R for reliability and I for intimacy. Under the bottom of that is self-orientation, so the goal is if you want to be most trustworthy you have to be credible which means what you say, you have to know your stuff and you have to know it really well.
You have to be reliable which means you have to do what you say you’re going to do, from showing up on time to delivering a report that you promised them when you left or the proposal that you promised them when you left. It also means that you have to have some level of intimacy with your prospect and it means nothing more than rapport. You have to have some sort of connection which is something beyond your product, your feature, your benefit set and that you showed up on time. There has to be some dynamic there and if all three of those things are strong or as strong as they possibly can be and your self-orientation is as low as it possible can be then the equation is top heavy which means that you’re very high in trustworthiness. Now, you could be very credible, reliable and have an intimacy factor with any given prospect but if your self-orientation which really at the end of the day means, “Does that prospect believe that you have their best interest at heart?” or, “Does that prospect believe that you have your best interest at heart?” and if they feel that you have theirs, you’re in a much better place to start that relationship and start that conversation than otherwise.
Fred Diamond: We didn’t really discuss this during the introduction, but you’re also a coach now.
Clay Deming: I am.
Fred Diamond: You’re also playing that role with the sales organization at Kastle. How do you teach trustworthiness to sales professionals?
Clay Deming: It’s really hard. I think awareness is a big part of it. I do an entire presentation and I’ll tell you a little bit more in our interview what I do in terms of coaching and getting people up to speed that come in sometimes by the tens and twenties to our organization that have never heard of Kastle, that have never sold electronic security systems. We’re asking them to go out to some of the finest organizations in the world and implement systems, so one of the things that we start with is the trusted Advisor and it’s all under the premise of, “How do you have a conversation with your prospect that is as meaningful as it can be?” and if you are mindful of what the equation is and you actually put that at the forefront of your mindset, you have a different approach than if you’re going in again with a feature benefit set an it’s all about, “My system and how it’s going to be great for you.”
Fred Diamond: We’ve spoken about The Trusted Advisor in various times along the way in various Sales Game Changers podcast and I encourage people to reach out that book. It’s one of my favorite books in sales, The Trusted Advisor. What specifically are you an expert in? Tell us about your area of brilliance.
Clay Deming: It’s an interesting question and I have to say that I would have to answer the question, I probably would have to put myself in the shoes of someone else looking at me and wondering what is the value in Clay Deming. I didn’t come to this company 18, 19 years ago with any knowledge of electronic locks or sensors or monitoring or platforms that had to do with security although I do have to say that I grew up in Fort Knox, Kentucky so it was probably in my blood somewhere.
Fred Diamond: A little bit of irony there.
Clay Deming: That’s right. I think that my ability to put myself in the shoes of someone else – be it a prospect, be it a client, be it a new member of our sales force – and understand from their perspective what it is that they’re trying to achieve, that is something that I do very naturally. I’ve practiced it a lot, I do it on a day to day basis as I work with lots of new salespeople, I’ve always done that when I’ve worked with my customers and they’ve always commented on it. A lot of people will say, “The way that you have ingratiated yourself into my shoes and into my organization and tried to understand, forget security for a minute, who we are, what we’re about, what’s important, what the politics are of this place and other things is really refreshing.”
With that, I think that also lends itself to more of that trusting relationship because there’s something genuinely interesting to me about that. I’m also uniquely able to see the opportunity that comes out very clearly when I put myself in their shoes. I’m for instance working with a particular customer, sometimes my customer’s problems are not what they think they are and it requires a little bit of time and patience and understanding before I’m able to say, “I think you might have a similar situation here as some other folks that I’ve helped that were battling with the same kinds of things” and often times it’s not the software of their current system, it’s the fact that nobody’s managing it as a single point of contact.
What’s everybody’s business soon becomes nobody’s business and they need a partner. They need a partner that is actually the throat that they’ll choke if things go wrong. Similarly with my new sales force I’m able to bring in a whole bunch of different kinds of salespeople and actually have conversations with them to the point that I recognize the part in the process that they’re particularly challenged by and hone in and help them bridge that gap.
Fred Diamond: Interesting. As you build those trusted relationships, you really need to deeply understand what challenges your customer might be facing and that comes with time, it comes with experience. How do you teach young sales professionals as a coach and as a trainer to see that? To see that the customer may not really know what their problem is.
Clay Deming: It’s a great question and it’s not an easy answer. I think that I have in the role as a strategic sales coach here at Kastle I have been able to identify by putting myself in the shoes of a newbie the fundamental core competencies in the buckets of what are our solutions and our services, what are the tools that you need to be able to be proficient at, to do your job and what are the sales skills that you need to really bone up on and really understand and be aware of in order to go out and change culture in some of these organizations and be credible.
I spend a lot of time role playing, I spend a lot of time making clear what problems we’ve solved for a whole bunch of different customers over and over again in a lot of different verticals so that there’s an awareness and it will become more obvious to that salesperson when they are having the conversation. What questions do you ask when you get these answers? This is leading you to believe that there’s problems in this area. You need to go further there, you need to investigate that. That’s the way that this works but I do believe just to your question, Fred, that that’s one of the biggest challenges that they have to overcome in their trek to become a full-fledged member of our sales force.
Fred Diamond: Clay, tell us about an impactful sales career mentor and how they impacted your career.
Clay Deming: Great question. I serve as a mentor to many right now in a very formal way, they come in here and they get me. [Laughs] there’s no finding me, I’m there for them as a resource and I think these days you hear a lot about mentors as someone that you should seek out and say, “Hi, I’d like you to be my mentor. Can we go to lunch every month and you can share your words of wisdom with me and help me get better and we can be partners in this?”
The mentors that I’ve had have been the exact opposite. I’ve never gone and asked someone to be my mentor, it’s been the function of me being aware of people that were really skilled and successful with the right attitude that got things done, that were very popular in the various organizations that I’ve been so lucky to be a part of. At Herman Miller there was one gal that came to mind and she taught me the importance of not only listening to your customers and your clients but the importance of your internal sale and how important it is to align with leadership and make sure that they recognize that you are a brand ambassador of that organization, if you are. If you really do believe it and you like where you are, and you believe in the product and the services and the way that they go to market there’s an internal dynamic there that’s available to you if you manage it properly.
Here at Kastle, I have had one of the greatest mentors, is the man that I currently report to and he has such a senior and experienced and thoughtful view of the way things get done and how to get things done. How to work with people and what’s important, I feel extremely fortunate to be on his team. At the end of the day, the two people that were my biggest mentors and that really get named are my mother and father. They were not only a very strong unit and team together because they decided that they were going to be that way. My mother married my father, my father made a career of the army as I mentioned and they both treated people with so much respect and with that got so much respect back.
I remember being a little girl and going to places in Fort Knox, Kentucky as well as to the Pentagon with my father on many occasions and just being struck by the way my father talked to the secretaries at the time, and back then they really were secretaries [laughs]. Now we don’t have secretaries as much anymore but the way that he had a rapport and a good word and a respect for everybody in the organization from the lowest levels to the highest levels. My mother similarly, she was always a leader whether it was formally or informally, she was the president of the Officer’s Wives Club and I remember being a little girl and watching her behind a podium at the general’s quarters giving speeches to many ladies. I think that the values that I’ve been raised with which have a lot to do with respect, protocol, duty, regiment, hierarchy. My mother and dad made us say, “Yes ma’am” and, “No, sir.” If you said yes, like pass the butter, yes, no. It was, “Yes, what?” I got that from both sides very formally. I think that a lot of what I do today and the judgement that I have really points back to growing up in their household.
Fred Diamond: Clay, you’re working with a lot of young sales professionals, the market’s changing. What do you think the two biggest challenges are that you face as a sales leader today? What are the biggest challenges you face as a sales leader?
Clay Deming: Fred, I think on a macro level I would say opening new markets. Kastle is growing. We desire to double our sales force in the next 12 to 15 months. We are opening up new markets all over the country, right now we’re in about 11 different locations, major markets and we’re looking to grow even beyond those. We have such a brand loyalty and recognition here in the Washington DC area where we were founded back in 1972 that I think going into new markets and dropping that expectation, finding, getting the word out, getting the awareness out, finding the right customers to start with at the right price point is probably a really big lift. It’s something that we’re prepared for but it’s certainly not easy.
On a micro level I would say one of the biggest challenges that we face is qualifying. There’s nobody out there in the world that we serve or don’t serve that doesn’t need security and this approach is not for everyone but you come here as a new salesperson, or even as a tenured salesperson and we have many, and there is the notion that everybody should have this. That everybody should want to buy a Kastle System. My approach to our new sales group is to make sure that they’re not being overly optimistic because there’s a lot of people out there that you can spend time with that are ultimately going to look at your proposal and say, “This is not the right fit for my organization” and your job is to qualify and find the ones that do want to do business with you in this fashion.
The better that you can get it qualifying, the better your time is spent. If you’re going to spend 50, 60 hours a week on your sales role, why not spend most of that time with people that want to partner with you, that recognize the value of this and that are looking for this level of service?
Fred Diamond: That is so critical. A lot of people think – especially young sales professionals – that prospecting is the most important thing. Getting that appointment is home run. There’s tons of easy ways to get first meetings but you want to get the right companies into the funnel, you want to get the ones that truly will be able to afford your service, that truly fit the persona, the demography of the customer that you’re trying to serve and taking the deal from first call all the way down through the end., especially when a lot of people are involved. Are a lot of people involved in the decision to purchase managed security services?
Clay Deming: More and more all the time. It’s interesting that you say that, because a lot of times the new salespeople will come back from that meeting that they got very excited because getting the meeting is not the easiest thing and I’ll say, “Tell me, how did the call go?” and they’ll say, “It went great” and I’ll say, “What do you think? Do you have next steps?” and they’ll say, “Yeah, I’m going to walk it next week. I’m going to walk the property, we’re going to mark up the floor plans, I’m going to put a proposal together” and I’ll say, “Do you think they’re going to be one of our new customers?” and they say, “Yeah, I do.” I say, “You need to change your thinking.
You need to turn the question around and start contemplating the reasons why they might not, and spend some time there because there are a lot more people involved in that decision making process and with the internet and the way that everybody uses it most of our customers are 60% their way through the decision making process before they even invite us in the door.”
Fred Diamond: We’ve learned that from The Challenger Sale and we’ve talked about that all the time. Let’s go back to your #1 specific sale success or win from your career that you’re most proud of. Again, you’ve been with Kastle Systems now for 18 years, various sales leadership roles, you truly understand the business and you’ve seen the company grow. Of course, now you’re growing into new markets. Take us back to the #1 specific sale success or win from your career that you’re most proud of.
Clay Deming: I know what it is and it’s nostalgic to think about because it was in fact 18 years ago. I was recruited by the man that founded Kastle Systems and he hired me in 1999 not because I knew anything about security but because he knew me. I had been a childhood friend of his daughter and he had watched me grow up on the side eye. He trusted me, he had watched me graduate from high school, go through college, be a good friend to his daughter and he just trusted me. He said to me when he hired me, “Clay, I’m looking for somebody that will help me get the word out about Kastle on a national basis. We have a phenomenal brand here in Washington but I want you to identify the law firms that we serve throughout the Washington DC area and there are many of them that are in Kastle buildings that we serve here in Washington. I want you to take a look at where their offices are across the United States and I want you to go to the highest level in those organizations and see if any of them are interested in national contracts so that they have one system, one service, one platform from Washington DC to San Francisco.”
I said, “OK” and he said, “I will give you a signing bonus” – and I remember it was a $20.000 dollar signing bonus – “If you can do this with two law firms. If you can get their executive director to sign off on a piece of paper that says we will do business with Kastle in every one of our locations in some term.” I looked at him when he told me this and I said, “Gene, do you think that this is possible? Has this been done?” and we hadn’t any national agreements at the time. He said, “No. I know it’s possible and I know you can do this.” And by George, I did.
That very first sale was not only an extremely long process – and I went to every one of those locations before I met with that executive director, I knew the people, I knew the regions, I had vetted out what their systems were, what problems they were having with it and I came back then and met with the head of state of the firm here in Washington and explained where I had been, what I had done, what I had learned and she said, “I didn’t know any of this. Thank you so much for doing it. This is the direction we want to go.”
Fred Diamond: That’s a great story. I have one quick question for you. How did he, the founder of Kastle – you said you were a friend of his daughter’s – know that you were the right person? Of course he saw you and a couple words have continued to come through the podcast, but were you looking? Did you apply or did he say, “Clay’s got something going on here, I want her in my company”? Take us back to that, if you don’t mind. How did that happen?
Clay Deming: It was a surprise birthday party at his home that he was having for his daughter who was turning 30 years old. When he saw me there, he said, “Clay, where are you working these days?” and I said I’m working for Herman Miller and I’ve been there for the better part of 9 years, phenomenal organization and I thought, “Oh, boy. Gene wants me to get him a free Aeron Chair” which was the really hot, cool ergonomic chair that they were debuting. He said, “I want you to send me your resume. I am looking for someone I can trust” that’s what he said to me, and he said, “I’m looking for someone that can sell nationally and you are that person.” Interestingly enough, he said that he was very much a salesperson in his own right, big entrepreneur and a phenomenal engineer and business man.
He said that he had asked around his daughter and her friends and said, “Who is the person that is most likely to be able to convince you to do something?” and they all said, “Clay.” He decided that I was somebody that had a sales bent at the time I was representing the Herman Miller to the architect and design community in Washington. He said, “I believe that you can do this and that you would be the right fit for Kastle so come over, send me you resume, come and interview with some of the leadership here” and the rest is history. I joined the firm two weeks later.
Fred Diamond: Good for you. That’s a great story about how you were able to come here and of course as we’ve mentioned a couple of times in the podcast, you’ve been with Kastle Systems now for 18 years. Clay, you made the shift into sales. Of course, you told us that great story about working in a women’s clothing store and how you helped this particular woman moved back into the corporate world, but did you ever question being in sales? Again, you have a lot of responsibility here. You’ve been in sales for 18 years now at Kastle Systems, with Herman Miller before that. Was there ever a moment where you thought to yourself, “It’s too hard, it’s just not for me”?
Clay Deming: I have to say emphatically no. The reason I say that is that I have never perceived what I do as selling someone something. I don’t go into a particular building or a corporate organization and decide that I want to sell someone cameras. I go in and I listen and I learn very consultatively and I am quite comfortable walking away. I’m not there with every meeting that I get and I find it extremely easy to get in the door and get meetings because in Washington it’s a very small place. Kastle had a very strong brand and even if I were trying to do business with somebody across the country where we had less of a brand recognition, they knew someone that I knew somewhere and that path was something that I found very intriguing to go down and figure out.
I do believe it’s hard, I’m not suggesting it’s not hard. It’s the hardest thing that I have ever done in my career is sell Kastle Systems and I tell people that interviewing, and I tell people that when they get here. “Don’t expect this to be easy, it’s a phenomenal backdrop but this is going to be hard.” Earning trust doesn’t mean it’s simple, it doesn’t mean that you have a smile and a wink and a story, it means you have to do things to earn it, it’s work.
One of my favorite things that my dad always says is, “A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” My feeling about sales and salespeople is that it is completely mental and that if you get your head in the right place and you focus on the right thing and you do it with a level of authenticity and integrity, you can blow it out of the water.
Fred Diamond: Clay, what’s the most important thing you want to get across to junior selling professionals to help them improve their career?
Clay Deming: It’s interesting that you ask that, Fred, because this is what I do now with about 95% of my time. I am a strategic sales coach which means that my sales force that I work with, the new sales force at Kastle which means you’ve been here a year or less, none of these folks report directly to me. They all either report to a general manager in their relevant regions or to a sales manager that runs that region, so they don’t have the dynamic with me that has to do with me asking them their pipeline and me critiquing them in terms of their business or their forecast which really takes the edge off for me and lets things get a lot more honest. I work with folks that come from a lot of different backgrounds and all of them professional salespeople, none of them are newbies to the sales environment, but they are all new to Kastle so there is an element of new and learning that they’re going through because no sale is the same and no company is the same.
The biggest thing that I impart upon them is to take control of the sale. #1 their prospect is expecting them to do that. That doesn’t mean bully your way in, that doesn’t mean be obnoxious, that doesn’t mean take over the conversation per se but it does mean you’re there to figure out whether or not this is the right match for Kastle and this particular customer. If you keep that in mind and you’re not afraid that you’re going to leave without a follow up item, it might just be the wrong timing for said organization. It might be a, “We’re not going to do business yet” but in a year, in two years that person’s going to remember you and they’re going to remember the approach that we take in helping all of our customers and they’re going to call you back in. Taking control of the sales and the sales conversation. Objections are something that we talk about a lot, we talk about competition a lot, we talk about ways that you can make sure that you’re not getting bogged down with a bunch of stuff that doesn’t matter in your way.
If you can focus on your customer, your prospect, their needs, what they’re trying to achieve and what their politics and what their side of the equation is, you’re probably going to be a lot better for it.
Fred Diamond: Very good. What are some of the things you do to sharpen your saw and stay fresh?
Clay Deming: The biggest thing I can say is that I never leave the sales field. I’m talking to somewhere between 18 and 20 sales representatives every week, so I have a one hour meeting with every one of my reps every week and we talk about different challenges and fundamental learning opportunities that we’ve identified here at Kastle – there’s about 25 of them and we go through them. Some people are better at certain things than others but in doing that I have the insight to the mentality of the sales force and what their customers are asking them and what the challenges are that they’re seeing, the way that they’re responding.
This morning I went on a sales call with one of our more senior reps that’s been here for 5, 6 years. I’m in front of the client, I’m in front of the sales rep and I’m taking a look at our sales force across the country. I’m a person who’s a bird’s eye view down without any P&L per se at my back looking at the processes and the way things are getting done, the conversations we’re having, the customer base that we’re trying to serve. I also read everything. My nightstand is filled with every book that you can imagine. I’d rather read about sales excellence, sales leadership, motivation, these kinds of topics than I would any novel.
Fred Diamond: Can you recommend one that you’ve read recently? Like how we talked about The Trusted Advisor before, we referred to The Challenger Sales or any of that particularly have struck you?
Clay Deming: I also scour the internet for a lot of these things. I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek. Interestingly enough, I’ve gotten into the habit of taking a look at the books that those people read so I know they write their books and Find Your Why and things like that, and I’m a big proponent of your why. I think at the end of the day for organizations and for people it gets down to really what you’re doing there, and that helps you clear the cobwebs a little bit and get to the point and the matter at hand. Interestingly enough, Simon Sinek recommended a book and it’s called Man’s Search for Meaning.
Fred Diamond: Viktor Frankl.
Clay Deming: Viktor, and I just finished that. I would suggest although that’s not the easiest read, it is really pitted in psychology and in some very serious topics. That’s something that I just finished.
Fred Diamond: That’s a great book, I read that when I was 14.
Clay Deming: Did you? I’m late to the game. It’s interesting, because it does give you a little insight about human beings and hope, and what it is that is really a driving motivator in us all.
Fred Diamond: That’s interesting as well because you bring up Simon Sinek and of course the most popular Ted talk of all time on Knowing your Why. A couple of the other people that we’ve spoken to on the Sales Game Changers podcast have said that they also spend time thinking about their customer’s why. Why is their customer trying to achieve what they’re trying to achieve? That will help you take your sales game to the next level. Briefly, on the Man’s Search for Meaning there’s a podcast I’m a big fan of. It’s called EO Fire, entrepreneurs on fire, John Lee Dumas. He interviewed 2000 entrepreneurs about their career and he always asks, “Give us a book that you recommend” and more and more of them started saying Man’s Search for Meaning. For the Sales Game Changers out there, Viktor Frankl, F-R-A-N-K-L, it’s a classic book, you need to read about it. What’s a major initiative you’re working on today to ensure your continued success?
Clay Deming: Coaching. Coaching is it, this is the initiative that I’m now spending 95% of my time doing here at Kastle and it is really important. It’s important and it’s been a real eye opener for our sales leadership, the leadership at the highest levels of Kastle just as it pertains to the experience that someone goes through. They sign off on an offer letter at Kastle and we have a fabulous human resources group and recruiting team that gets some of the best and brightest salespeople that I’ve seen in years here. They come in and we put this through this very intensive course. It’s an on boarding course, everything’s very friendly, there’s a lot of content, all of our solutions, all of our services, the tools, the selling skills and then at the end of that week – and it’s a very rich week filled with a lot of content – we bring in our entire leadership committee, our entire team and all of their colleagues and they under videotape present the corporate deck to the audience.
There’s a lot of nerves associated with that, it’s a pretty intensive situation. A lot of people are not used to doing a formal presentation, it’s about a 15 to 20 slide PowerPoint and then they get critiqued. They also get to witness their video so that they can then go back and look at this, maybe for the first time ever seeing themselves in action and recognize something about how hard this is going to be and what they need to do to improve. We are then working with them after that on a weekly basis to identify the places where they and we feel that they need the most assistance. There’s a ton of support, and interestingly enough after 9 months of doing this now we’re watching the time it takes to close your first deal shrink and shrink because people are feeling more engaged, people are feeling a lot more knowledgeable and there’s a little bit of a process and a regimen to this that people feel a lot better about than, “Here you are, here’s your book of business, here’s what we do, go do it.”
Fred Diamond: Clay, sales is hard. You mentioned that a couple times in today’s podcast. People don’t return your calls, they don’t return your emails, maybe they’re not aware of your company, maybe they don’t even know that they need your offering. Why have you continued? What is it about sales as a career that has kept you going?
Clay Deming: I think it has to do with the fact that I am an eternal optimist, no matter what I think that things are possible. Maybe not in the shortest amount of time, but I have a belief system and I do a lot to cater to that by reading some of these books and studying some of these folks and surrounding myself with very positive people. This is something bigger than a sale, so I don’t perceive it. When I get a no – and I’ve made cold calls, too. I try not to, I believe that cold calls are dead and you can warm up a call pretty much with very little effort just by nature of the fact that we’re all connected to each other as we are on all of the social media and other tools. I think that it has a lot to do with my personal belief system.
My mom had this little thing that hung in our kitchen in every one of the many quarters and houses that I lived in and it said, “It’s easy enough to be pleasant when life goes along like a song, but the man worthwhile is the one with a smile when everything goes dead wrong” and that is a part of my DNA. I think that is really a reason, it’s my outlook, it’s my mindset, it’s not always 100% positive but when it’s not I go through the effort and I recognize it to get myself positive again. When I do, I’m ready for the challenge. I believe that if you want to do things that you’ve never done before or if you want to go places you’ve never been, you have to do things you’ve never done. I don’t go to events without charting out precisely who it is there that I want to have a conversation with, so nothing is really random.
There’s a lot of strategy behind what I do and what I help my new sales force do so that nothing is just lollygagging and random. You know your market, you know the people, you know things about them, you know what they look like and you make that process very personal so that when you do meet them you can stick out your hand and say, “It is such a pleasure to finally meet you” and you can mean it. I think that conveys, I think that something authentic conveys when you genuinely are in it because you’re excited about it and it transfers well.
Fred Diamond: Why don’t you give us one final thought to inspire our listeners?
Clay Deming: I think at the end of the day, the notion that selling is serving is probably the biggest thing that I would impart. Get yourself away in your head from all of the problems that might be going on in your organization. Sometimes we hear a lot of gripes and complaints when you’re sitting right in the middle of the cubicle or in the office. Get out of that, recognize that when you are in front of people, they’re more interested in you than they are in the feature and benefit set of your particular service or product. Don’t think about your quota, don’t think about all of the reasons why not, put your head in the place that says, “I am here to genuinely see if this is the right fit for this organization” and if it is, then you start putting all of that credibility and all of that reliability and all of that intimacy. Put yourself away, turn the perspective to their shoes and guard your time jealously. Don’t spend time on things that are not a part of your own personal mission because there’s a lot of distractions and there’s a lot of things that pull us away these days.