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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the CREATIVITY IN SALES Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales and hosted by Fred Diamond on September 30, 2020. It featured three young sales professionals who were finalists for the Jay Nussbaum Rising Sales Professional Award to be given out on October 16 at the IES Sales Excellence Awards.]
Register for Friday’s IES 10th Annual Sales Award Event here.
EPISODE 278: Jay Nussbaum Rising Sales Star Finalists Share Their Tips and Insights for Career Success
PEER TIPS TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS:
Andrew Bailey: Attitude will drive your efforts either positively or negatively. In the world of sales it’s up and down, you’ll have some great years. A the end of the day, it’s how you respond and your outlook to it. If you have a negative attitude, you’ll be getting negative results.
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: In everything you do, just be consistent. If you feel like it’s a great idea, if you had a high return on investment just be consistent. Everything you do from X amount of calls to emails to whatever systems you use, don’t just do it a few weeks or a few days. Do it on a consistent basis and you’ll be successful.
Brandon Steele: Always try to go the extra mile whether it’s with a customer or whether it’s learning something new to try to help you out in sales. That’s the only way I think you’ll try to separate yourself from the pack and start being really successful.
Fred Diamond: On October 16th, the IES will be presenting our first-ever Jay Nussbaum Rising Sales Star award. We have three of our six finalists on the show today, we’re going to be talking to them. We have Brandon Steele with DLT, Jihad Abdur-Rahman from Learning Tree International and Andrew Bailey from SAP NS2. I want to welcome you gentlemen, I’m excited to hear what you have to say so let’s get right to it. Brandon, let’s get started with you. DLT Solutions, it’s September 25th, you guys do a lot with the Federal government, it’s your busy season. I applaud you for taking an hour and a half out of the Friday before the end of the government fiscal year. For those of you who don’t know, the US Federal government, their fiscal year ends on September 30th so a lot of activity happens typically in September with companies like DLT. Brandon, let’s get it started. How are things going for you? How are your sales efforts going right now?
Brandon Steele: I think right now it’s going pretty good. Everyone’s pretty excited, five days left until September 30th, end of the fiscal year so we’re seeing a lot of inbound traffic with RFQs, hurry-up phone calls and emails from partners and clients asking, “Where is this deal?” We’re being pretty busy right now but everything is going pretty solid, we’re all excited here at DLT and on my team as well.
Fred Diamond: For people who are listening to today’s webcast, you’re going to probably hear a bunch of TLAs – Three Letter Acronyms – thrown out across today, you just said RFQ. Brandon, what’s an RFQ?
Brandon Steele: It’s a Request For Quotation. The government puts out a bid where they’re asking vendors, partners and resellers to submit pricing or quote to the government so they can put it to the procurement team to purchase hopefully before September 30th with their end of your funds.
Fred Diamond: Jihad, you’re with Learning Tree International. How are things going with you and how’s your selling going right now?
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: Mine is going great. We’re in a fiscal year with the government as well so ours is closing shortly. Greatly I’m dealing with commercial organizations so I’m not too impacted or affected by it but it’s been going great. In the last two months business has been increasing a lot, everyone knows due to COVID a lot of organizations, specific commercial, took financial hit. It’s been going great just being able to operate around that and help clients forecasting for Q1, it’s looking on a high end here at Learning Tree specifically for our commercial clients.
Fred Diamond: Quick question for you before we get to Andrew. You’re in an industry that has been disrupted because of the pandemic, we’ll get to that in a little bit. Learning Tree has been around for a couple of decades, you’re one of the top companies in tech training and leadership training, certifications, those kinds of things. Obviously a lot of people aren’t going into places anymore or at least they haven’t been for the last six months, so how has your customer been dealing with a disruption to what you offer?
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: Lately a lot of my clients have been at home, they’ve been at home with kids and everything like that so we do offer on-demand trainings in a lot of different incremental learning and development since a lot of the clients can’t take full 4-5 days to operate. We’ve been flexible with clients and listening more, enabling sales based on what they specifically need whether it’s over a time frame of one week or breaking up courses in half-day sessions. Basically adapting to our current environment.
Fred Diamond: Finally, Andrew Bailey, SAP NS2, National Security Services. Andrew, it’s great to have you on today’s Creativity in Sales. How about you? You also service the Federal government like Brandon and like Jihad. Jihad, do you do Federal as well? Is that part of your marketplace?
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: State and local.
Fred Diamond: Andrew, how about you? How are things going right now for you?
Andrew Bailey: Thank you, Fred. It’s going well as Brandon stated, we have what, five days? No one’s counting. I have one last large deal to pull in by the end of the quarter but luckily we’re on the calendar year so I still have another quarter to pull it in just in case it does slip. Everything’s good.
Fred Diamond: Andrew, I have a quick question for you. You served in the Marines before you moved into sales so first off, thanks for your service. What are some of the things that you learned from being a Marine that you’ve been able to apply into your sales career?
Andrew Bailey: That’s a great question. Actually, the Marines – for those not familiar, especially for my background, I was an infantry officer so just like if you played on a sport team and I think we’ll get into Jihad and his background, it’s really building like a sports team. The end state is a little different so you start at the basics and you build up, and I think a lot of that applies to sales, really bringing those basics home and then building upon those to get to that close of that big deal. If you don’t have that foundation, you’ll never reach that end state so I think that’s one great thing that I was able to bring from my Marine Corps background.
Fred Diamond: Jihad, Andrew just referenced you, you’re a professional football player before you moved into sales as well, I know you played some college ball as well, obviously. First off, what did you play? I’ll tell the answer, it’s football [laughs] what are some of the lessons that you learned from the grid iron that you take into sales?
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: Just like Andrew, it’s funny because my head coach went to a Marine setup college Citadel, but basically everything is a team effort and it branches over to sales. You have to work as a team to complete all your goals and a lot of the individual performance is based on – I’m sure Andrew can relate – on what position you put yourself in. That specific aspect within sports really gives me an advantage in sales.
Fred Diamond: Brandon, your root has been more traditional from some of the places where you’ve been in sales before. Tell us a little bit about your background. Now you’re selling, again DLT, you guys service the Federal government, you service SLED as well – SLED being State and Local and Education. Talk about how your career path has got you to where you are right now.
Brandon Steele: I think being from my background with a more managerial and customer service-driven workforce, it’s definitely helped me out a lot being able to talk to customers. Even though you are trying to go for a sale and they are the government, go back to your roots and make sure you’re taking care of them. As far as management goes, being in charge of stuff, you’ve got to be in charge of your own sales so you’ve got to know where everything’s at always similar to managing a store or basically anything. I think that’s really helped me out as coming from a strong customer service and managerial background to be able to really grow and expand upon my sales.
Fred Diamond: All three of you guys work for large companies, companies that have been around for a long time, very successful in their space. Let’s talk about priorities, right now what are the priorities you’re focusing on this week? Again, we mentioned that a couple of you guys sell over to the Federal government, the Federal fiscal year is ending but what are the things that you’re doing right now? Brandon, we see you, you’ve got the headphones on, you’re actually physically in the office right now doing today’s session, thanks for doing that. Let’s go through the group here. Brandon, you go first, what are the priorities that you’re physically working on right now?
Brandon Steele: Trying to track down any deals that are lingering out there, calling the procurement teams, calling any partners we’re working with, calling the end users to verify, “Is this going to be funded for this year? If not, are you going to be able to get funds for next year for this project?” I’m hitting the phones, we’re hitting emails a lot sending out as many emails as we can to any partner that may have bid on one of our quotes or one of my quotes specifically, calling them, following up, leaving voicemails. We’re doing everythig we can to try to track down every dollar left for the Federal fiscal year because the government, if they don’t spend it, they lose it. We want to make sure that if they’re spending the money, they’re spending it with us, with DLT and trying to drag as much top line revenue in as we can right now.
Fred Diamond: Jihad, how about you? It’s September 25th, what are the physical priorities that you’re getting to right now?
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: Right now I’d say we’re wrapping up FY20, I’m forecasting for my Q1 and setting out specific prospects, I’m also setting up my data automation system which I use to prospect on a high level for clients so I’m really focusing on new logos. I’m always focusing on new logos. I read a lot of Grant Cardone books and I do believe in the farming method, but if you can obtain a numerous amount of new logos on a consistent basis, your revenue is going to continue to drive so that’s what I’m primarily focusing on. My specific realm is fairly large commercial so it’s basically unlimited opportunities. I’m just focusing on grabbing new logos in the interest of myself being a servant to new clients out there.
Fred Diamond: Andrew, I’m going to ask you that question in a second. We have questions coming in from the audience. The question that just came in is what type of tech do you guys use? Andrew, after I as you about your priorities we’re going to ask you guys what are some of the technologies that you use, how often, what are some of the sites that you go to, what are some of the apps that you have found critical for you sales success? Andrew, how about you? It’s also the end of your fiscal although your company’s quarter ends next quarter, but what are the physical priorities you’re working on right now?
Andrew Bailey: I think Jihad put it nice earlier, this is a team effort so right now with my last large enterprise deal coming in, I need to make sure all my ducks are in a row. Contracts, finance, the whole team’s on board to make sure we get this thing closed by the 30th and then to Jihad’s point, start reaching out to 2021. After probably next Wednesday, breathe, Thursday start planning for 2021 and getting that pipeline all in order making sure we’re deliberate in our actions for next year.
Fred Diamond: Before I ask you about the tech question that just came in from the audience – by the way, the tech question came in from Elizabeth and Elizabeth is in Atlanta, so thank you, Elizabeth – you mentioned finance and other parts of the organization. I just want to go around the group, what is the most critical inside-your-company organization that you’ve made a commitment to understanding, to working with? What is the most important other inside organization for your success? Andrew, since you brought it up, what is the #1 organization within SAP NS2 that you made it a point to connect with, to get to know, to learn and to understand so that you can be a more successful sales professional?
Andrew Bailey: I think finance for me, that’s where I have things that I’ve not thought of, especially in the Federal government with all the FARs and PARs, there’s a lot of things that you have to consider that especially on the sales side you don’t always. You have this P.O. and you’re like, “Let’s book it” and they’re like, “This doesn’t look right” so you’re sitting there with finance, so I have a very close relationship with our finance team and they’re awesome, they always find a way to make it happen. Got to keep them happy for sure.
Fred Diamond: Back to the acronym thing we talked about before, you just said FARs and PARs, explain to our non-Federal people what is a FAR and what is a PAR?
Andrew Bailey: Pretty much it’s what they are constraint to, the Federal government has very set regulations that they have to stay in these guidelines. Obviously in the past they’ve either been burned or something happened so they stay within these wickets and they expect that any other commercial providers to also stay within those wickets. It’s very unlike the commercial side where they can get away with things, they’re not regulated, not audited like the Federal government.
Fred Diamond: Jihad, how about you? What’s the internal organization that you’ve made it a point to become friends with, get to know so that you can become more successful?
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: Product management team, they’re always pushing out content and sometimes they push out so much content I have to scan through the website myself to see what’s new because clients always ask for new things. They’re consistently continuing to adapt to what’s going on whether it’s stake hold or management, cyber-security, everything. I like to be in touch with our marketing team too because a huge part of marketing is ginormous in sales, I would say marketing and product management.
Fred Diamond: Brandon, how about you? What’s the internal organization that you’ve made it a point to get to know, to understand and to develop relations with?
Brandon Steele: I would say similar to Andrew, contracts and legal. There’s a lot of purchase orders that come over with certain languages that you see and you immediately throw a red flag up or they try to red line something out of your contract. Our contracts and legal team is very vocal and tries to set up meetings with us once a quarter at least to try to make sure that when we see a P.O. we don’t just try to book it, we make sure it gets reviewed, we look for certain indications. I think that’s helped us out a lot, it helps us book orders faster, it helps get the product to the end user or the client faster as well when you’re not messing around with back and forth legal stuff if you can spot it out immediately.
Fred Diamond: We’ve got some questions flying in from the audience here. A question came in from Elizabeth down in Atlanta, she wants to know what tech you guys are using. Jihad, let’s start with you. You can talk about what apps you’re using, what sites you live on, where do you spend most of your tech time? Or devices and things like that.
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: My tech, I use a lot of data automation from our prospecting, I use a website called Woodpecker. I like to touch between 5-700 prospects a day and it’s automated and it integrates with your own company email address so when you receive feedback, it comes directly to your Outlook or whatever platform you use. Also, it sends out as if you’re sending it through your company’s address. I use that from an automation, I reach out between 5-700 people a day. I also use ringless voicemail, I’m not sure if a lot of people are familiar with that, there are numerous amount of websites for that, it’s RVMs. Basically I still manually call people and send emails out but I have ringless voicemail to reach out to 2-300 people that basically calls them, when it rings one time and they don’t answer it sends them a voicemail and then they call me back. My hit rate on ringless voicemail and data automation emails are over 60%, so I get a higher return. I pay personally out of my pocket but I invest in it and I’ll spend $40 dollars to sell a large amount of training to obtain new clients.
Fred Diamond: I’m going to ask that question in a little bit as well. I like what you just said, Jihad where you said that you’re doing this out of your own pocket. We interview sales leaders all the time on the Sales Game Changers podcast, your companies – obviously they’re great companies – are providing a lot of training and support, world-class back office. But how committed are you to doing the right things for you to be successful? Andrew Bailey, SAP NS2, how about you? What are some of the technology things that you rely on? Thanks again, Jihad for that great answer.
Andrew Bailey: Thanks, Fred. I think with my background, I support the intelligence community, they’re not obviously out there on the large mailing list and they try to keep who they are to themselves so for me, the tools I use is joining different organizations that those folks subscribe to and are a part of. Then I’ll join the webcasts and they’ll do panels like this and that’s where I get a lot of my intel, that helps me see. I can’t really cold call them or that’s not going to be a good day [laughs], they don’t want the average folk so I have to be very deliberate when I do call them if I am prospecting so I like to gather as much information. Another is LinkedIn and Sales Navigator, a lot of the directors high levels do have those social media. Lower levels don’t but using that gathering where they’re from, what schools they went to, trying to figure out where they’ve worked in the past to try to put that altogether so that when I am prospecting and I’m making a call to them, I do have some background and it’s more of a personal message rather than a transactional message. I’m more quality over quantity because if not, I’m out and they’ll catch on real quick.\
Fred Diamond: Brandon, how about you? What are some of the technologies that you rely upon and that you use all the time?
Brandon Steele: One of the things we use all the time is the cellphone, got the headset, outbound making calls whether it’s a prospect or a cold call. I like using LinkedIn to try to find the higher level people within the organization, you might be talking to somebody who’s just a DVA but you need to find who their project manager is or their CIO is. I also like to use GovWin a lot because the government will put out RFIs, RFPs, RFQs which is Request For Information or Request For Proposal or as I stated earlier, Request For Quote. I like using that to keep an eye out on what agencies are doing certain things or certain products, you’re able to find buzzwords in there so you can picture in your mind what’s going on in their IT environment by some of the stuff they’re trying to get information on or trying to do proposals for. That can definitely help you grow and understand what your agency is trying to do in the long run and where your company or software might fit in.
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: Like Andrew and Brandon said, I do a lot of commercial. Government and Federal is restricted and they have different bar laws and stuff like that so a lot of the stuff I do is primarily focused on commercial. Thanks, Andrew and Brandon for that, I agree.
Fred Diamond: I want to talk about your goals. Again, you three are finalist for the Institute for Excellence in Sales Jay Nussbaum Rising Sales Star award, we’re going to be announcing that on October 16th at the 10th Annual IES Virtual Sales Award event. One of the reasons why you guys became finalists was because you spoke about your aspirations for your sales career. Jay Nussbaum was a leader who led Oracle, Xerox, a company that was purchased by Accenture. Talk about your goals and how they apply to your company. Andrew, let’s start with you. What are some of the goals that you’re striving for as a sales professional and how may they impact your company’s success?
Andrew Bailey: Great question, Fred. I think there’s a couple things, I’d love to become a vice president and run a sales team and really be able to help young sales professionals grow, put myself in that point friction to help them. I look at sales manager as more of a problem solver and is there for their team. Another aspect that I’m getting into is the culture of organizations improving that especially in light with everything going on of just bringing ERGs – Employee Resources Groups. I’m trying to head up our emerging talent group, I had some great training in the beginning of my career as I transitioned out of the Marine Corp and try to bring some of that into NS2.
Fred Diamond: Brandon, how about you? What are some of the goals that you have an how’s that impacting your company?
Brandon Steele: I think everyone will agree with Andrew, we all want to be up at that VP level of sales, a sales manager of some sort down the line. We’re trying every day just to align with the goals that DLT has and my vendor has to make sure that not only me but my team can be successful. There’s a lot of collaboration that needs to happen for that and we want to keep doing that, keep working together, keep making sure we’re growing our business constantly.
Fred Diamond: Jihad, how about you? What are some of your goals to grow your sales career?
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: For me, I just want to lead by example. I want to do things and create different leeways to open up that I can share within our sales team. I know over the years movement just happens based on success and how you put yourself out there but my goal is to create different leeways and help people that are on my team right now, be a resource to help them grow as well as help me grow to move up that ladder.
Fred Diamond: Another question comes in here from Lisa and Lisa wants to know, “How do you guys prefer to communicate?” It’s an interesting question, one thing that we talk about all the time on the Sales Game Changers and at the Institute for Excellence in Sales is that the #1 tool is the phone, pick it up and make a phone call, so to speak. Let’s talk about how you like to communicate first off to your customers and second of all, internally to sales managers and to other people in the organization. What’s your go-to, your preferred way to communicate? Brandon, let’s start with you. How do you like to communicate first to customers and how do you like secondly to communicate to peers and other people in the organization?
Brandon Steele: The best way to communicate I still think is phone and having that verbal interaction with each other, but a lot has changed obviously since COVID. What has been working for me really well is finding the people I need to talk to and sending an email asking if they’ll get on the phone with me. There’s a lot of people right now who just aren’t picking up the phone especially with the government, they might not be set up with softphones or their cellphones might not be available to them or it might not be something I’ve ever spoken with them on before. I still think phone is the way to go but we have to try to work around that and I think one of the best ways is to just ask if they’ll get on a call with you via email and that’s been very successful – or Webex or GoToMeeting, something along those lines to get that interaction because obviously we can’t have our reps go on site anymore and have that face-to-face communication.
Fred Diamond: Do you ever text your customers or prospects?
Brandon Steele: No, I normally don’t. Like I said, it’s hard to get some of these phone numbers nowadays anyways, we’re trying to do our best, we’re scratching to get the cellphone numbers from a lot of these customers as it is [laughs].
Fred Diamond: Andrew, how about you? Do you call people’s cellphones? If you have their cellphone number, have they given you the cellphone? Again, you’re working with a lot of people who are in very interesting organizations. How do you like to communicate to your customers and then how do you like to communicate internally as well?
Andrew Bailey: Great question. Again, my customer and the intelligence community, when they walk into work they have to leave all their electronics in their cars so they do not have cellphones usually, but now in the pandemic and this new world, they do. Now I’ve found that if I do have a very good relationship and I’ve built that trust, they’ll give me their cellphones and they’ll call me and text me but that takes a while so that’s definitely not the go-to. It’s been more I can call the on their low side phone which is their unclassified phone, that’s probably first. Second is email and then third would be getting them on a virtual, I think down this is getting them on video. A lot of the organizations invested in Zoom or Teams and a lot of the other platforms. Then internally, I think the phone is the go-to and now we’re doing a ton of virtual calls which I think is great to still see everyone, get the team on the line so we can see each other’s faces especially as we can’t be in person. I think it’s become a lot more virtually personal because in the past everyone used to just dial into the dial-in numbers and now we’re able to use these platforms.
Fred Diamond: Jihad, you mentioned a couple of websites before that probably a number of people listening had not heard of like Woodpecker and things like that. Talk about how you like to communicate, are you a text guy? Do you ever text your customers? You talked about the RVM which is a great tool, I agree with you 1000%, and 60% response to the voicemails that you leave is quite remarkable. How do you like to communicate to your customers? Then how do you like to be communicating internally?
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: Like Brandon and Andrew said, I like talking on the phone. I’m a direct person, I like to talk to people. Same internally, internally I like to call people and do a burst of those meeting like Andrew said. I love to call clients but I had to get around due to COVID so my preferred method is emails and RVMs but mostly emails like Brandon said. You might call somebody and you might go straight to voicemail, and then you shoot them an email like, “Hey, are you available today for a quick call, max 15 minutes?” “Yeah, we can talk.” I just feel like directly calling someone you get a lot of feedback back in a faster amount of time than just emailing for two or three hours. Email has worked out for me a lot better than calling over the last few months.
Fred Diamond: We have a question here from Alice in Northern California, Alice wants to know what voicemail message you leave. I’m curious for all you guys, let’s talk about voicemail for a second. Jihad, you said you go to RVM, you make a lot of use of it. Talk a little bit about specifically what type of a voicemail you leave, how do you talk, how do you engage?
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: If it’s a cold client or someone that I’m specifically prospecting, I’ll just give them a call like, “Hey, my name is Jihad, I’m calling from Learning Tree.” Just an introduction and a soft sale, “I service this specific area in this industry, I just wanted to touch base and connect with you.” Something friendly, not something over the top salesy. For current clients I just give them a call like, “Hey, I’ve been working with your organization for X amount of years, we have a huge history with your team, I just wanted to touch bases and wanted to know if I could be of service.” Just doing that, I typically get a lot of feedback.
Fred Diamond: Quick clarification, Alice is actually in Reno, Nevada. Andrew, how about you? How do you leave voicemails?
Andrew Bailey: That’s a great question, I had another point to what we were talking about of connecting. Sometimes I leave voicemails but I just wanted to put out that especially the commercial folks that are out there that sell in the commercial world, social selling is huge. We talked about different platforms, you have LinkedIn, you have Instagram, Facebook, you can really become a thought leader in your area and really start driving some conversations and reach out and touch folks especially in the traditional way of calling in. Then you get the gatekeeper, their EA – their Executive Assistant – that deflects you off. Now these folks have these platforms, especially CEOs love being thought leaders and putting out what everyone’s doing. You can reply to them, you can DM them which in the pas you haven’t had. Doesn’t really work as much on the Federal side but for our commercial folks out there, social selling is definitely a huge game changer.
Fred Diamond: I want to follow up on social selling in a second, social media presence but we have a follow-up question here about email, we talked about how you leave voicemail. Brandon, why don’t you go first? All you guys have said that you use email and you have a cadence for how you send email and then phone calls and the RVMs, those kind of things. We get so many bad emails – let’s just use the word bad to describe it – from people who don’t listen, they don’t do the research, they’re poorly written, they’re obviously sent from HubSpot or a mass system or something on those lines. Brandon, talk about a good quality email, how has your company helped you develop good quality emails? Then all you guys, too, let’s talk about for a minute or two, emails. One of the reasons I’m asking this question as well is communication skills are so critical, a lot of times people will see poorly written, grammatically incorrect, especially if you’re selling to someone who maybe is a little more senior. Someone at the highest level, VP level, C-level and if it comes in poorly punctuated and poor grammar, spelling mistakes, obviously you haven’t researched the person, immediate delete or even worse, right into spam. Brandon, let’s talk about emails, they are such a critical part still of the sales process. Talk about your process with email and then Jihad, and then Andrew as well.
Brandon Steele: I think one of the most critical things about sending emails is knowing who you’re emailing first. I don’t think that the huge mail merges and things like that necessarily always work, you have to do your research whether that’s from previous work or checking on LinkedIn or getting a name from somebody else in the organization that you work with, “This is the person responsible for X environment.” The next thing I think is just a very to-the-point title of your email, I think that’s underrated how many people got emails during COVID, “The 10 ways that we can help you during this COVID pandemic” and you’re like, “That’s spam, delete.”
We want to be more punctual, quick, one, two, three words to grab their attention and then something that I do personally is I make every single email unique. If I’m sending 60 or 70 emails a day I’m typing every single one out, I am not copy and pasting. I’m calling out their name, their agency, I’m trying to call out what they do and how I can help them in that area. When it seems like you’re coming from a caring email that you took time and effort to write, it seems like you get more responses than rather the mail merge email blasts which I’ve tried in the past. You do get success there but I’ve had a lot more success when I’ve tried to make it personalized and catered to our customer.
Fred Diamond: I want to follow up on something that Andrew mentioned before about social media presence. One thing that we see sometimes is someone who presents themselves but then you go to their Facebook or Instagram and you just see inappropriate ways of representing themselves. You guys work for really well-respected companies, you sell in the enterprise space, you’re selling to most likely people who are older than you who’ve been in business for, in some cases if you’re selling to the government or large corporations, these are people who’ve had the same jobs for 15, 20, 30 years. Talk about not just how you present yourselves but how you think your peers should present themselves to keep growing their sales career on social media in places like Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, things like that. Jihad, why don’t we start with you? I know you make use of social media as well, so what are some of your recommendations for yourself and for the people listening to the podcast?
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: Brandon, I’ve got a follow-up for your answer too, but I’ll talk about that later. For me, social media, like my mentor told me, “Don’t post anything that your mom wouldn’t like or wouldn’t approve of.” For me, a lot of my content is relevant and on LinkedIn, DMs work, DMs help but if I post content that is relevant to specific organizations like how large deficit is within the cyber-security community in regards to job security and talent, if a CFO sees that or a CIO sees that, they interact immediately. “What can we do to enable that?” With me, content is everything and it’s just having the right image even from your profile picture. If you’ve got a profile picture where you look like you’re at the bar or something, you send somebody an email and they look you up and they view it, it pops up in a notification and they see that, a lot of the times they won’t respond to you and you won’t get any good feedback because they’ll take your perception based off of you image or something like that. I think picture imaging is everything and then content, then separating personal from business. There’s a lot of things going on in this world but you can’t integrate personal with business all the time because some people will be afraid to work with you if you do that.
Fred Diamond: We actually have a bunch more questions that are flying in here and we have a limited amount of time, so I’m going to try to get to these relatively quickly. A big topic over the last couple years for sales leaders was how to manage millennials and I don’t even know if you guys are technically millennials or Gen Y, whatever you are, it doesn’t really matter. I’m going to ask each of you, nice, succinct answers here, what would be your advice for senior leaders, what should they need to know about successful young professionals to better manage, coach and help them with their careers? We’re going to ask all three of you this question. Andrew, why don’t you go first? People who are more senior in your companies or companies like yours, what should they know about young professionals today to make them more successful?
Andrew Bailey: First, that’s a great question. I think it’s a two-way street, I think it goes both ways. I think we have to be able to manage up as well as our managers managing down so I think the first step is sitting down and just laying that out, what you expect in this job and then also your boss letting you know what they expect from you in that position to see where the differences are. If you set expectations up front, that usually goes a lot farther and just for sales folks out there, having that conversation is tough but you definitely should. “This is my background, this is what I’m thinking, this is what I’m reading from this job description”, it might be different than what your boss is pulling out from that job description or what they’re expecting from you. If you have that deliberate conversation, it does go a long way up front.
Fred Diamond: A lot of companies are still not going back to the office, I know, Brandon, you went in today but all three of your companies, the offices are closed so a lot of your interaction right now is via Zoom, phone or some type of Webex technology. Andrew, how would you like to have those types of conversations knowing that for the foreseeable future we’re not going to physically go back to an office, be it in your leader’s office or in a conference room? How should those conversations be happening virtually?
Andrew Bailey: I think they still should be happening face-to-face virtually, I think you can get a lot more out of that when you can see each other and I think we’re getting to a time where if you do live in the same area as your superior, I think you can start coming together and go to an outdoor space, go to coffee. I think we’re getting to that point where it’s okay to start connecting in person especially if you’re new to a sales team and you have not met your manager in person, I think it’s always great to get that initial connection in person. I think we’re getting to a point now where you have that ability so if your boss has not put that out there, I would definitely put that out there as a possible mention point.
Fred Diamond: Jihad, what about you? What is your advice for the people that are leading your organizations and for sales VPs out there who manage young professionals such as yourself?
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: I agree with Andrew 100% on everything he said. I think just realizing that we’re a microwave generation so we want everything now, we want to be successful now, we want to buy the house now, we want to do everything now. Our director that manages me, she does a great job, she basically lets you run your own business the way you want to, she checks in to see if you need any specific help. “Can I help you out?” She’s more of a person that likes to aid and help you out and also guide you in the same direction. Like Andrew was saying, we have to tailor our game plan to what they expect as well, at the end of the day they’ve been doing this for X amount of years so they know how to be successful within the game. I think it’s just patience on both parts, patience is key to everything when growing something.
Fred Diamond: Brandon, how about you? What is your advice for the senior leaders across the globe who manage young professionals?
Brandon Steele: I would say be more open-minded towards what your young professional employees have to say. There’s a lot of good ideas out there and I know these guys have been doing it for years and years and they have the most experience, but sometimes there’s something that might be better out there. I think a lot of especially people new to an organization might be intimidated or afraid to speak up towards their leaders and say, “I want to try something this way.” I think being open-minded and letting some of your younger employees try something out different or going around and maybe asking, “Is there anything that you think we could be doing better?” or, “How can we do this better?” giving people a shot to try that. I think that can go a long way and you can really grow as a business.
Fred Diamond: Gentlemen, I want to thank you and congratulate you all again for being finalists for the Jay Nussbaum IES Rising Sales Star award, again we’re going to be giving that out on October 16th. We just have one final question and let’s combine this with your final thought. I want to thank everybody who’s watching today’s webinar or listening on it as a Sales Game Changers podcast. The last question is this, what would you advise your peers? Just something that you would advise your peers to help them go to the next level. By the way, gentlemen we’re getting a whole bunch of notes here. “Great show, guys”, “Thanks for the insights”, “Loved it.” Thank you all for being here, I know Brandon and Andrew, it’s the last week of the Federal fiscal so give us your final thought. What would be your one piece of advice for your peers to help them be more successful and to take their career to the next level? Andrew, why don’t you go first? Nice short, crisp, concise answer.
Andrew Bailey: I’ll keep it simple, I think attitude will drive your efforts either positively or negatively. In the world of sales it’s up and down, you’ll have some great years, you’ll have some low years and at the end of the day it’s how you respond and your outlook to it. If you have a negative attitude, you’ll be getting negative results
Fred Diamond: Jihad, how about you? Final thought for your peers out there to help them take their career to the next level.
Jihad Abdur-Rahman: Consistency. Everything you do, just be consistent. If you feel like it’s a great idea, if you had a high return on investment just be consistent. Everything you do from X amount of calls to emails to whatever systems you use, don’t just do it a few weeks or a few days, just do it consistently on a consistent basis and you’ll be successful.
Fred Diamond: Jihad, I just want to throw a nice note to you. Prior to the pandemic, the IES was doing 50 live events per year, we have our Big Stage program every Friday, you came every month. You were always one of the first people there as well, you always offered to help out so I want to let you know I appreciate that. Brandon, bring us home. What’s your last bit of advice for your peers out there to help them take their careers to the next level?
Brandon Steele: I would say always try to go that one extra step or the extra mile whether it’s with a customer or whether it’s learning something new to try to help you out in sales. That’s the only way I think you’ll try to separate yourself from the pack and start being really successful, take that one extra step.
Fred Diamond: Gentlemen, I want to thank you all for being on today’s Sales Game Changers Creativity in Sales webcast. Thank you so much, have a great end of your close. For all our listeners, thank you so much as well.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo