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EPISODE 181: MOSAIC Exec Patti Dumas Posits Why Marketing Leaders Won’t Have Success Unless They Understand Sales
PATTI’S FINAL TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Embrace learning, make mistakes, stay focused and find those friends and people that are going to inspire you and keep you motivated.”
Patti Dumas is the Senior VP of Sales at MOSAIC.
Prior to MOSAIC, she held sales and marketing leadership positions at HBP and Balmar.
Find Patti on LinkedIn!
Fred Diamond: Why don’t you tell us a little more about you that we need to know?
Patti Dumas: It’s fun to talk about my history because I really am a hybrid in terms of my experience. I came with an MBA in marketing and we’ll chat a little bit about that, but that’s what led me to my sales career. Throughout my career I’ve worn both of those hats which I think is integral, because from a marketing perspective if you really don’t understand sales then you shouldn’t be doing your job. I’ve always had a very strong handle on both the sales and marketing side of what I do.
Fred Diamond: Has most of your career been in the printing side of the business?
Patti Dumas: Yes it has, but I started at Xerox. After I finished my MBA at George Washington University, how I got into sales is fascinating. I had a phenomenal professor named doctor Sal Divita. Doctor Sal Divita was the most amazing marketing professor I ever could have had, but the one thing he always taught me is I had no right to go into marketing if I didn’t understand sales. He told me I clearly had to go and figure out sales, so I got a job at Xerox, I was hired and I sold with them for about a year, year and a half.
What I realized, I had a friend that had gone on the print side of the business at the time who was suggesting to me that although I was at Xerox and loving it, I was a little fish in a very big pond and would I not want to consider taking my talents and learning how to be a big fish in a smaller pond. She introduced me into the print industry so I went from my first job at Xerox where I had Spin Selling training and great training background to move into the print world.
Fred Diamond: For a lot of the Sales Game Changers listening around the globe, Xerox was the gold standard for sales. You mentioned Spin Selling, Neil Rackham’s name has come up not infrequently over the course of the 200 somewhat interviews that we’ve done. I didn’t realize that about your background, that obviously gives a little more color into how your career came about and I’m excited to talk about that. Tell us about MOSAIC, tell us a little more about what you sell today, tell us what excites you about that.
Patti Dumas: MOSAIC is such an interesting organization and I love it just by our name, that gives you some insight into the organization. The legacy side of the business was the print side, but what we morphed to over the last 4 to 5 years is truly the marketing services side where we holistically have brought on experts that can go to clients and drive strategy, drive the narrative, help with the web development and really take a multi-channel and a strategic approach to help them drive their business to their clients.
Fred Diamond: How has that been with a company that’s historically been in the print side and has now moved into marketing and marketing services?
Patti Dumas: It is so much fun and every day to me is something new. What makes it so fascinating is the owners strongly believe in hiring the best and the brightest. We’ve brought on people from Discovery Communications, from USA Today, we’ve brought on people from Street Sense on the creative side, so they’re really looking to hire people from outside the industry to really help us reach our clients.
Fred Diamond: Marketing is a broad term, what are some of the things that you guys excel at?
Patti Dumas: Specifically what we’re fantastic at is going in and helping clients. We almost like to say we like to augment where they need services. What we see in many organizations that we’re working with whether it’s education, whether it’s corporations, whether it’s associations is they’re very limited in their marketing staff and quite often they might be wanting to drive home a new program, a campaign strategy. Sometimes they don’t have what it takes internally to get that messaging right and then to take it to market whether it’s through whatever channels that they’re using. That’s where we can help.
Fred Diamond: Tell us a little more about how you first got into sales as a career and how that transition took place.
Patti Dumas: It was interesting, I came out of college working for an organization called COMSAT who paid 100% for me to get my MBA at GW. I went to school three and a half years’ nights and during that time it really became apparent through my professor and through others I met in the program that sales was something I should consider. From the day I started it I’ve always loved it so even over the years while I’ve been able to have a hybrid role where I’ve also been in charge of marketing, the core of me is sales. The core of what I do for our clients is really always that driven of, “How can we help a client?” and I’ve been very fortunate to always have that sales hat on. That’s never come off my head, even when I was doing marketing.
Fred Diamond: I have two quick questions for you. You have an MBA, do you believe that salespeople should get MBA’s? Would there be value to a sales professional getting an MBA?
Patti Dumas: Absolutely, I do. Here’s why, it forces you to really study and understand more about it, just like I’m always constantly reading whether it’s what I learned from Spin Selling, Challenger Sales, reading Forbes Magazine, all these different avenues we have to find information daily. An MBA gives you that much broader perspective holistically on how organizations work, so no matter what company you’re going to focus on you’re going to have a much better understanding of how to research that organization, how to be prepared for that organization, how to think like a business person, not like a salesperson. I think an MBA is a fantastic way to really further your career and have another way of looking at what you do for a living.
Fred Diamond: One thing you just talked about which comes out often on the Sales Game Changers podcast which I know was going to come up today is you need to treat it as a sales professional. You need to treat your business as a business and you need to continue to bring value to your customers which isn’t just giving them a good deal or a good strategy on how to implement your technology or your products or your offering. It’s really about how they grow their business, so aligned with that for people who have listened to the Sales Game Changers podcast – again I mentioned Xerox was the gold standard, if you will – why don’t you tell us some of the key lessons you learned from some of your first few sales jobs?
Patti Dumas: That’s such a great question. I’ve learned a lot of things, I’ve learned how to make mistakes and I’ve learned how to grow from those. Whenever I hire people it’s really important that they understand I expect them to make mistakes because that’s how we get better at what we do. I’m big on critiquing and I’ve always critiqued myself, and I learned that in graduate school. We used to do a lot of role playing, so that was a big focus in the program. That role playing really taught me even on my presentation and how you prepare for it, how you look to others.
Preparation is key, the other part is really planning out what it is you want to say, what you want to accomplish and what does that mean then? That means you’ve done all you research, so always be prepared. As I’ve told salespeople over the years, you are the ones that keep the company going, you’re the ones that help drive the revenue, you’re the ones that are helping to keep people employed. If you’re not prepared for that sales call, if you’re not ready to go out there and do the best for the company then you have no right to be part of it. I’m all about preparation, dry runs, people here will laugh but I really believe in dry runs to make sure we’ve got our game together and always be focused on the next opportunity.
Fred Diamond: What does that mean, what is a “dry run”?
Patti Dumas: A dry run is to get the team together that’s going to present, because we’re in such a multi-level world of how we present now. It used to be reps would be out in the field, that’s no longer the case. We’ve got technology people, we’ve got creative people, we’ve got marketing strategists so there’s a number of people that could be on any sales call. On the same side, because you’ve got 5 people on the other side of the desk that are in different roles and quite often when you’re going in those organizations you don’t know what each silo is going to ask and need from you. It’s very critical to really be part of a team that sits and presents and works through all the different things that we could present it with, that dry run is what really helps us focus on that. I believe strongly in them, let me put it that way.
Fred Diamond: Again, we’ve done over 200 Sales Game Changers podcast interviews. I don’t believe we’ve interviewed anybody from the printing space, if you will and I know that MOSAIC is now also in marketing services. For our listeners around the globe, can you tell us a little bit about selling printing services and what that looks like and who do you sell to and what some of the things that might be related to it are?
Patti Dumas: Such a great question because printing over the years has evolved and changed. As printing has migrated to maybe shorter runs, it’s much more dynamic, it’s much more personalized. Our printing presses, our pre-pressed department that prepares everything for print, we’re much more versatile in our ability to provide a message that’s much more targeted to people. One on one we have a variable data department that can really help drive that and then on the back end we have all types of support whether it’s fulfillment or mailing services or sending out specialized kits or packages for membership, it could be new member campaigns.
There’s such a variety of things we can provide clients. The beauty of it is I can tell you in the last 3 years there’s been an upswing in print, people are realizing that web-based marketing isn’t the only way people want to communicate. I was reading an interesting article this morning talking about decision making on the direct mail side and 70% their finding of consumer decisions are now being made through some type of direct mail piece they received at home. We’re getting mail again at our mailboxes, if you haven’t noticed, catalogues are back, a lot of web-based organizations like the Amazons of the world setting up stores. You’re seeing more and more print being driven and print helps drive you to the web. The beauty of print is it also helps get you to the web to look at making purchasing decisions.
Fred Diamond: That makes sense, how can you integrate those strategies. It’s an interesting thing you just said – print is on the upswing.
Patti Dumas: Absolutely, especially in the retail world. They have found that they cannot just rely on web alone to get their message across and print is quite often getting people to go make buying decisions.
Fred Diamond: Why don’t you tell us a little more about your specific area of brilliance? Tell us what you’re an expert in.
Patti Dumas: I like to say that I’m an expert in making sure I have experts around me, because I have found in our industry that you really need to rely on that team to be brilliant and that we all have our own strengths and our own weaknesses. Finding the right people around you and being part of that team is what I’ve always excelled at, being able to hire and recruit fantastic people. Also in the decisions I’ve made in my career is to go to people that are going to challenge me and make me learn every day. Never stop learning, I’m big into reading and Ted Talks and podcasts and all sorts of ways to get information. My area of brilliance I really feel is by having the best people I possibly can around me.
Fred Diamond: For the Sales Game Changers listening to today’s podcast, as you know, we do the interviews typically at the guest’s office. We’re doing today’s interview at the offices of MOSAIC, you gave me a beautiful tour of the print facility in the back but one of the first things that you said when we walked in the door is, “We have this great team. We have this great, new marketing leadership team and they’ve really helped us transform the business.” Again, you worked at Xerox so you’ve worked at some great companies, you’ve held sales leadership positions, you have an MBA, you must have had some great sales mentors along the way. Why don’t you tell us about an impactful sales career mentor or two and how they impacted your career?
Patti Dumas: I love talking about that because my first mentor was doctor Sal Divita I mentioned earlier in this podcast, from George Washington University. He and I stayed friends for years and I would have lunch with him every year for many years and talk about our successes and where I was going and he’d always give me great advice. Along the way, my best mentors are now my four best friends. They’re all females in printing at the time and what we found is we worked hard, we played hard, we knew that we were going to be successful but we always drove each other to be better so we were always competitive.
We rose up the ranks into vice president positions, all of us so it was really fun to see these women in my life become better at what they were but it was because we challenge each other. I would challenge any new rep in the field to find those mentors, not just people that are above you but your peers that are going to push you to be better. It’s not just people above you that do that, it’s what you find in yourself and how others do it and they are now my best friends. We travel and do vacations together and it’s just a lot of fun to know how we started.
Fred Diamond: I want to pursue that for a second, it reminds me of the great Jim Rohn quote that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Talk more for the Sales Game Changers listening about that process. You found four women, so tell us a little more about that, how frequent did you meet? Where did you meet, what the relationships have been like, did you compete with some of these women as well?
Patti Dumas: Absolutely, we all were in sales together at Balmar at the time and we were very successful salespeople. We were working very hard but we all wanted to further our careers and we would all kid each other and drive each other about sales numbers. We’d always be telling each other what we did for the month, what our next opportunity was and we’d have a lot of fun but we also were competitive, let me make that real clear. One of them got promoted to vice president and then a year later I was promoted to vice president, then my other friend was promoted to vice president so we were all moving up the ranks and working for different divisions of the company but we had a lot of fun along the way.
There was such a competitiveness but a wanting of each other to be successful and really promoting each other and always being there for each other which is what really led to the friendship that grew out of it. As competitive as it was, it was also a very comfortable, friendly way but it made us work hard, I’ll tell you that.
Fred Diamond: I want to follow up on that real briefly. Again, one of our sponsors, the Institute for Excellence in Sales has a Women in Sales program and you were involved with that when we first created the program and you were very active in some of the mentoring that we did in the program. If you don’t mind my asking the question about Women in Sales, you talked about how you wanted each other to be successful. Again, you’re a very successful woman in sales and marketing leadership, can you talk about some of the results of that and how you view yourself being a woman in sales?
Patti Dumas: It’s very interesting especially in the printing industry because it was not years ago very well known for having women in sales, let alone in management positions. It’s been very fun to work my way up the ranks but it’s because I believe in just being a part of a team and sales is the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s what you do and how you produce and I think for any female that was coming up the ranks you could quickly see it doesn’t matter. That’s something I’ve always been very fortunate to do and that’s what I believe has helped me in my career. I’ve had so many successes along the way but all of those were driven by people around me as being part of it.
Fred Diamond: Before we talk about one of your biggest successes, why don’t you talk about the two biggest challenges you face today as a sales leader?
Patti Dumas: One of the biggest challenges we always face and I’m always thinking about is what is it our clients are going to need next, because so much of what they’re driven by is what their own clients need. We’re really studying what is the future of what’s driving our clients, what is their stress levels and then aside of that is how do I recruit and hire for that for the future? So I spent a lot of time in the last 6 months re-examining the future of the sales force, what does that look like, reading books, talking to experts and getting a feel for how they believe the future of sales is going to look from a team perspective.
You can’t just go out anymore and hire field reps and hope that you’ll just hire a bunch of them and they’ll sell, you really have to look inward in the organization and look at inward sale support making sure that the people you’re hiring are going to be prepared to help the customers we have. It’s a much more strategic view and they have to be able to think differently and think much more thoughtfully and intelligently. There’s another word for that, to be empathetic to our clients and really be studying what it is they need and listening really well, but the ability to be strategic is going to be key.
Fred Diamond: Empathy has come up not infrequently on the Sales Game Changers podcast as well and I like your concept. You have to understand how you can provide value for the customer and I liked the way you answered the #1 challenge being thinking about where your customer’s going and how you can continue to bring value to them. That comes up time and time again on the Sales Game Changers podcast, is the sales professionals who will be successful in the future are truly bringing value to customers. You’ve mentioned Spin Selling before and you mentioned Xerox, that’s something that Neil Rackham has taught for years. It came out of Xerox but it’s much more imperative now, don’t you think?
Patti Dumas: Absolutely, in fact I’m a strong advocate of the Challenger Sales and that’s helped drive my way of thinking because sales has evolved. How we go to market and how we talk to clients and everything we’re talking about today has evolved dramatically since Spin Selling. It’s much more methodical and much more research-based because we all know by the time we get to sit in front of that group of people, 70% of their decision making has been done for them. It’s being prepared to help address that 30% to really show where your differentiator is, it’s one of the main challenges that we have and why we have to think and hire differently for the future.
Fred Diamond: Briefly, Challenger Sale has also come up not infrequently on the Sales Game Changers podcast. What are some of the things that you’ve implemented from that Challenger strategy to be successful?
Patti Dumas: I make my new reps read the book, we have discussions about it but I believe strongly in them understanding what that really means. I’m fortunate to be friends with Matt Dixon who was one of the authors of the book, I’ve shared lots of conversations with Matt over the years. What I really drive home for people is that to have a right to have a seat at the table you need to understand who it is you’re talking to and understand their challenges and not be afraid to talk to them about ways to look at their business differently if you have a right to do that. That has to do with doing your research and being prepared.
Fred Diamond: You can’t just wing it, you mentioned preparation a number of times before. To get to the Sales Game Changers level you’ve had to really understand your customer and where they’re going, their industry, what they’re faced with and what some of the big challenges are that they’re faced with. You eluded to the fact that you’ve had some great successes over the course of your career, why don’t you tell us about one? Tell us about your #1 sales success or win from your career you’re most proud of.
Patti Dumas: It’s hard to narrow that down but I will tell you I’ve been fortunate to have great successes. One of them was quite a few years ago with a large biotech firm and I look back and think what made that such a successful win for us, and it was because we had with us a team of people putting that proposal together and really studying the solutions the client was going to need. We worked very hard on that and very specific as to what it is the client needs. When we help the client, we work the proposal so it goes back to the theory of the Challenger Sale but we realized what they were asking for wasn’t exactly what they needed. We also knew that for us there were some technology integrations and some things that needed to happen that we saw ahead of time, so we were able to address those and be prepared for those. That made a huge difference in the client’s eyes, and when we came in and showed them what we thought was missing from it, that drove them to the next conversation which helped us get to the win. It was pretty exciting because we had the right technology people in the room to be part of that proposal.
Fred Diamond: Did you ever question being in sales? Do you ever think to yourself, “It’s too hard, it’s just not for me”?
Patti Dumas: I have never had a day where I thought that. I have truly been fortunate in my career and loved what I’ve done, I love what I do, I wake up every day looking forward to what I’m coming in to do, I’ve never thought twice about it. I think having that marketing background for me has been invaluable and always having that side of my head thinking about our clients. I love sales and there’s never been a day – there might have been frustrations along the way, but not a day that I haven’t wanted to do this.
Fred Diamond: I’m just curious, before we take a short break and listen to one of our sponsors you mentioned this group of four other women. Did you guys give yourselves a name?
Patti Dumas: The Tomatoes [Laughs]
Fred Diamond: Patti, what’s the most important thing you want to get across to the selling professionals listening around the globe to help them take their careers to the next level?
Patti Dumas: One is always be learning. Reach out to every type of vehicle that you can to learn more about the sales process, to learn about your customers, always be curious and be willing to critique yourself and be honest with yourself. After every call I ever do there’s a critique that I do to think what we could have done differently, what we could have done better. Be willing to be open to the fact that everything we do is not perfect in life and you’re just constantly learning, but you learn from learning from others. Listen to podcasts, watch Ted Talks, read what the best sellers are, ask others around you and be willing to really listen to advice from others.
Fred Diamond: We mentioned the mentor question before, do you consider yourself to be a mentor to a lot of people and if so, do you enjoy that?
Patti Dumas: Yes, I love it, absolutely. I love to help drive success for others. My biggest role is to help drive success for others and to help mentor them to be the best that they can be.
Fred Diamond: Every once in a while we get some Sales Game Changers who approach people to be mentors. How can you set someone up for success if they want to be mentored?
Patti Dumas: I can show them the resources to go after, I can tell them that they have to work harder, work smarter, I can give them tools to make sure that they know how to move forward with their business in the best possible way and just tell them to be the one that works harder than the one next to them.
Fred Diamond: Patti, why don’t you tell us about some of your selling habits that have led to your success?
Patti Dumas: Embrace learning, #1. That’s a strong selling habit, I read something new every day. Challenge yourself to do things that others wouldn’t jump in to do and I’ve always done that in my career. I’ve been tasked to do things that I know nothing about, to provide technology solutions and learn new things and I’ve always jumped in to do it. Always be willing to be that one person that says yes when asked to do something that others don’t want to do.
Fred Diamond: What are some initiatives you’re working on today to ensure your continued success?
Patti Dumas: I mentioned earlier we’re really looking at the future of the sales force, that’s going to be critical to us. What does that force look like? I’m doing that through reading and talking to other experts and really embracing different ways. What’s fun at working at this organization is they’re completely open to that philosophy. We’re really going to be testing that along the way, and the other thing is to always be prepared and studying what our clients are doing, new ways about talking to them about helping them with their business.
Fred Diamond: Patti, I’m going to ask the next question slightly different. Typically we ask, “What is it about sales as a career that keeps you going?” but since you’ve spoken so much about the future of the sales force, why would you encourage someone to come into sales as a profession?
Patti Dumas: I would encourage someone because in their career they will meet more people than they ever could have imagined meeting. They’ll be challenged by learning more about themselves than they ever knew possible, they’re going to always be learning, they’re going to have to really put themselves out there in a way that’s not always comfortable and be open to taking on new things and new responsibilities. You’ll never have a boring day in your life.
Fred Diamond: Why don’t you give us a final thought to inspire our listeners today?
Patti Dumas: Embrace learning, make mistakes, stay focused and find those friends and people that are going to inspire you and keep you motivated.
Fred Diamond: I just want to ask one quick follow up. You’ve mentioned mistakes a couple times along the way, can you share some of the mistakes that you’ve made that have helped you lead to your sales leadership?
Patti Dumas: Yes, one of them had to do with not being prepared on a call one day. I picked up the phone and called somebody in the morning without preparation and he answered the phone and I didn’t know what to say to him. As I babbled on, luckily we became friends later but I realized how important preparation was, and that was early on in my career. Most of the time when there’s been mistakes that has to do with not being prepared or have not been focused enough, that’s why I always love to critique myself after calls and critique the salespeople and the team that we’re with as what could we have done differently. You learn from that and move on. We’re all going to make those so we just have to learn from them.