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EPISODE 082: How Do You Get the Optimal Sales Mindset? Listen to Federal Cybersecurity Sales Executive Wayne Lewandowski and Find Out Now
WAYNE’S CLOSING TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “It’s in your head. You can do it or you can’t and in either case whatever the answer is in your head, you’re right, because that’s what you believe. So stay committed to your career, believe that this is going to be something that is going to take a lot of hard work and sweat equity and go after it.“
Wayne Lewandowski is the Senior VP and General Manager for North American Public Sector at HyTrust.
He started his career with Bell Atlantic.
He has sold many disruptive technologies in his career.
HyTrust helps organizations securely manage their workloads and data in the data center and the cloud while ensuring their compliant with key regulations and that privileged users cannot create significant disruptions to the data center or exfiltrate sensitive data and workloads.
Find Wayne on LinkedIn!
Fred Diamond: Very good. I’m excited to talk to you, we’ve had a couple of guests on who are in the cyberspace, it’s always interesting to find out what is going on there so I look forward to getting some great information from you today. Why don’t you tell us what you sell today and tell us what excites you about that.
Wayne Lewandowski: I think what excites me about the HyTrust platform is it’s really a convergence of two things and that’s always a challenging question because everyone’s looking for, “Hey, what’s your elevator pitch?” and that becomes difficult when you’re in a disruptive market because there’s a lot of unknowns which means that you generally have to put a lot more context running.
HyTrust really converges between two things: providing integrity to the infrastructure that’s been virtualized that could be in a data center or in the cloud. It also provides a cyber security element and how that converges is we provide a capability that allows us to de-risk the environment by taking controls that would be otherwise unfettered from privileged users, the folks that are operating and provisioning the environment as well as adding an encryption to the workload, the data and ensuring that wherever that information may go that it’s not only secure, has integrity that negligent or malicious activities can’s occur but also that it’s continuously in a compliant manner which is important especially in the public sector market. There is a lot of regulatory requirements that are necessary to be compliant with.
Fred Diamond: Very good. Have you spent most of your career in the public sector space?
Wayne Lewandowski: I have. With very few exceptions, I’ve always had a touch in at least state and local if not federal for the majority of my career.
Fred Diamond: Why don’t you tell us how you first got into sales as a career?
Wayne Lewandowski: Interesting story. I’ve always been intrigued by sales from a very young age and when I was in college I worked at a sporting goods store selling tennis shoes and sports equipment, things like that. Even at that point I realized that I didn’t want to be on a comp plan that wasn’t variable nature and they had a commission plan there over and above your hourly wage. While I was working there over the 4, 5 years I was with the company I used to go to a separate store that was about 30 miles away but it was the highest performing store in the company. I’d work there on Saturdays and one day I was waiting on a middle aged guy, probably my age now that was looking for an opportunity to get back in shape.
I spent quite a bit of time with him, sell him a pair of very expensive New Balance tennis shoes and at the end of it he asked me what he could do for me, and I said, “That’s simple, I’d like a job in sales.” He got me an interview at Bell Atlantic Paging, this is when you could only buy beepers from a sales rep, not at a store or something like that and I got the job after 30 days of hounding the sales manager.
Fred Diamond: Alright, very good. What are some of the things that you learned? You said your first job was selling expensive sporting goods, tennis shoes. What are some of the key things you learned from that job that has helped you in your career in corporate sales?
Wayne Lewandowski: I’d say there are some lessons that were learned there but I think more importantly it really started in my first outside job working for Bell Atlantic, but I think consistency, of course being perceptive of customer needs, things of that nature. Really when I got into outside sales, these are the days when there wasn’t quite the structure that we have now. There wasn’t an inside team, you didn’t work your way up and build your self’s habits you just took a job in outside sales and went after it.
Some of the things that I learned that I needed to do pretty quickly is get down to the basics: every day doing the consistent activities that were necessary for me to be successful. That meant meeting customers, finding new opportunities, building a pipeline, doing that activity and being honest with myself and analyzing was the activity that I was generating on my account sufficient and taking me through a sale cycle that would ultimately get me the sales results that I was looking for.
Also realized that distractions were critically important to get out of the way. It’s not to say that we all don’t have interests that are outside of our work but to be sure that during those very sacred working hours that I was singularly focused on being precise about my activities.
I’d say outside of that that the one other thing that was probably hard for any of us in sales is understanding the mental game. I think in that way it’s a lot like golf, it’s what between your ears that can defeat or allow you to claim victory and getting those negative thoughts out and ensuring that you have a level of execution starts with a fantastic attitude.
Fred Diamond: One of the key words that comes up time and time again on the Sales Game Changers podcast is mindset, having the right mindset. I have a quick question for you, you talked about eliminating distractions and staying focused. What are some of the things that you do to ensure that that’s happened? Again, you’ve had a successful career, you’re now the Senior VP of Public Sector Sales in North America for HyTrust. What are some of the things that you do to make sure that you’re as focused as possible?
Wayne Lewandowski: Quite a few things, Fred. I think it starts with how we all work today. Most of us used to go into an office and I’ve worked from a home office since really the late 90’s and it’s understanding when the work day starts. Sometimes the tougher one is when it ends because that tends to be a little fuzzier but being precise about once you start your day, have a plan for it, understanding what those major objectives are, what are your A priorities versus your B. If you never get to those, you still accomplished a net win for the day.
I think that’s critically important and again, it goes back to that prioritization of those activities. The things that are most impactful at this point in my career are ensuring that I’m supporting my team properly to enable them to execute at the highest levels that allow them success as well as myself.
Fred Diamond: Tell us a little more about you specifically. What are you an expert in? Tell us a little more about your specific area of brilliance.
Wayne Lewandowski: I think for me, what I’ve come to the conclusion is over my career, and I’ve worked for a variety of different size companies and worked in both sales as well as sales leadership positions, I would say that where my expertise lies at this point is either creating a version 1.0 or version 2.0 of a public sector team.
This is a difficult market, it provides a lot of protracted sale cycles, localization of marketing materials and things like that can make it rather daunting for most commercial companies and to understand what that process and the type of team as well as execution is necessary to build that marketplace. I’d say that’s probably been my success today doing that several times around my career.
Fred Diamond: Very good. You’ve managed teams along the way and along the way you’ve probably had some impactful sales career mentors. Why don’t you talk about one or two and tell us how they impacted your career?
Wayne Lewandowski: I think for me, it started with my first real sales job and it was at Bell Atlantic. My first sales manager was Tom Carothers and what I most remember about Tom is he came to work every day with an attitude to go get after it, he was always excited and supportive of his sales team. He was there to mentor us through quite a bit of the ups and downs of sales, especially early in the game when your mental toughness may not be where it should be.
I still recall one of the things he did for me and I still have it in my library is provided me my first Zig Ziglar book with a little signature note on it in the front cover. I think from there quite frankly I’d say it’s hard to say that you don’t get something from every opportunity that you work in. That’s both good and bad and it’s understanding how you take those lessons away and improve yourself as you move forward in your career.
Fred Diamond: Very good. What are two of the biggest challenges you face as a sales leader?
Wayne Lewandowski: Probably the biggest one is finding A players and what I define as that, everybody wants an A player and I think depending on the maturity of your company, what that means and what the skills are can differ. For me, it’s finding people that understand what a startup culture is and that’s a rapid environment where you’re not only painting the bus as it’s running down the highway at top speed, you may be actually grabbing the can while the bus is already moving. That’s difficult for some people.
I think finding folks that understand there’s a difference between an enterprise account manager that can take things that already have some maturity within the customer base and actually building that brand and awareness of a product or solution and being able to evangelize while still knitting out the results that are necessary for the team to grow.
Fred Diamond: Wayne, tell us about the #1 specific sale success or win from your career that you’re most proud of. Why don’t you take us back to that moment?
Wayne Lewandowski: Sure. This was back in 2000, I was selling some BI early stage technology and at the time I was a sales rep covering department defense. One of my key opportunities was with the marine core and after a rather long and protracted sale cycle which was about 20 months I finally closed this piece of business and what I learned from that was there were a couple things I needed to do to manage enterprise deal.
One was to ensure that I had an internal champion that was going to help me shepherd the right stake holders, understand the blind spots that you don’t necessarily get from being on the outside. I had to ensure that I had an ROI attached to that opportunity that matched and aligned with what the executive’s stake holders in the account saw as imperative for them to procure anything and I think beyond that it was not getting comfortable with the folks that did enjoy talking to me. I had to reach up into the organization, get to the final decision makers, create that compelling event that aligned with their mission to ensure that the deal was closed. It did come to a dramatic close, I got the order on December 31st so it made for a good new year’s eve.
Fred Diamond: Very good. That is of course after the government buying season has ended so 20 months and actually doesn’t really 20 months sound like a long time? But it’s just over a year, did you have to define the need for them or did they have a specific need for specifically what you sold at the time?
Wayne Lewandowski: No, they really didn’t and that’s what made it challenging. This was one of the disruptive technologies I sold along the way, this was showing them how they could get significant reductions in cost of what they were paying for communications from DISA which handles a lot of the pink power pipe type of resources for the DOD and show them how they could create stronger visibility in the readiness of their manpower reports that were coming out of green bar paper reports from the main frame. We can enable that to be quicker, faster and put into spreadsheets and other decision making type of formats.
Fred Diamond: Wayne, you’ve had a great career in sales. Did you ever question being in sales? Again, you sold in a couple different scenarios, disruptive technologies, large companies, small companies, startups, different types of technologies. Did you ever question being in sales? Was there ever a moment where you thought to yourself, “It’s too hard, it’s just not for me”?
Wayne Lewandowski: I think that’s something that everybody goes through at different stages in your career. It can be a real grind especially in enterprise sales where you may be doing the right activities and not getting results quarter after quarter and sometimes as much as a year, year and a half. So sure, I had those issues along the way as well but I think when it really came down to it and I looked at what opportunities were out in the market, there’s nothing that matches my desire and skill more than being in sales. I enjoy the flexibility, I love the competitive nature of being in sales and knowing that you do get paid for performance is something that excites me quite a bit.
Fred Diamond: Wayne, what’s the most important thing you want to get across to junior selling professionals to help them improve their career?
Wayne Lewandowski: There’s a couple things that I think are important, Fred. As I mentioned, being mentally tough is critically important. You have to identify some positive influences in your life that are going to allow you to stay centered. I think for everyone that can change, it might be family or faith or just making sure you get the right type of input into your head on a daily basis but you have to stay mentally tough.
I think that you also have to build strong communication skills and I don’t believe that’s really even restricted to sales but anything in a business environment having great oral and written skills are absolutely paramount to how you communicate. We know that more often than not, our customers we may be getting to them through email or text or chat and things like that. Having some level of decisive communication skill around that and then be able to enunciate and have a clear messaging as you move forward in the cycle is absolutely important.
I’d say other things that are important is building a mentorship. Programs like this are a great way to do it virtually but have high touch with some folks that you have confidence in that you want to be like. Ask them the questions in a safe place that’ll allow you to maybe shortcut some of the mistakes that folks like myself may have made along the years and then I think it’s important to build your personal brand.
That’s not only good for you but it’s also good for your company and that’s from creating better awareness of the market that you’re serving, understanding what those needs are and really becoming an expert in that vertical, in my case public sector and knowing how you can create connections through social media and organizations that help you create a higher level of position of authority in the market that you’re serving.
Fred Diamond: Very good. What are some of the things you do to sharpen your saw and stay fresh?
Wayne Lewandowski: A couple things. I think reading is an important part and that’s a balance between a personal belief type reading as well as business improvement. I rarely read just for entertainment purposes, it’s more for that improvement. I think building a lifestyle that creates balance for you around work and play, for me I’m an avid skier so having that time to get on the slopes and have the complexity of understanding how to navigate a mountain at high speed allows me to challenge myself but get away from the sales game a little bit.
Beyond that, it’s just that overall balance in your life. You don’t do anybody any good in your career if you’re constantly at the wheel. At some point you have to take a break, refresh your mind and come at it with full vigor.
Fred Diamond: Where’s your favorite place to ski?
Wayne Lewandowski: Out west, I’m a Utah powder junkie.
Fred Diamond: OK. I once skied at Alta, is that still there?
Wayne Lewandowski: That’s my favorite, absolutely.
Fred Diamond: What’s a major initiative you’re working on today to ensure your continued success?
Wayne Lewandowski: It’s some of the things that we just talked about. For me, building a personal brand is critically important. Making sure that I’ve got connections into the marketplace that allow it to rise the overall visibility of HyTrust and how I’m serving them in this leadership position. Beyond that, it’s really staying sharp through constantly looking at different practices and innovations to ensure that I’m bringing the best game to my team and my company and market.
Fred Diamond: I want to ask you one follow-up question, Wayne. You’ve mentioned building your personal brand a couple of times here in the last minute or so. Can you tell us what that looks like for someone who wants to have a successful career in sales and somethings you do to stay constantly aware of that?
Wayne Lewandowski: It does differ depending on what role you’re playing in the company, of course. For myself, I’ve got different media organizations that assist me in making sure that I have blogs and articles and things like that that I’m either contributing to or authoring ensuring that I’ve got speaking opportunities in different conferences and events and things of that nature.
That becomes a little bit harder when you’re a junior sales person, I think where it starts for most folks that are early in their career will be things like LinkedIn and associations that tie to their marketplace making sure that you’re involved in different working groups and collaborating online with content that’s not self-serving but serving that market and by doing so you’ll increase your quotient and visibility.
Fred Diamond: Wayne, sales is hard, we kept talking today about the need to be mentally tough, to have a strong mindset. People don’t return your phone calls, they don’t return your emails. With your particular customer there’s rules and regulations and a lot of macro things you need to be aware of plus in cyberspace, the whole cyber marketplace is new and a lot of competitors, people trying to figure things out, so why have you continued? What is it about sales as a career that has kept you going?
Wayne Lewandowski: A couple things. I love the competitive nature, I’ve always enjoyed competing. I think the idea of not having the opportunity to be compensated and recognized based on my results is just unappealing. Having that passion towards success is critically important to me and quite frankly I think it changed my outlook as I get older. I’m in my early 50’s now and have been in professional sales for 30 years and I quite frankly can’t see a time where I would not want to be in this type of situation.
Fred Diamond: Why don’t you give us one final thought for the Sales Game Changers listening to today’s podcast around the globe?
Wayne Lewandowski: I think the one takeaway if nothing else is it’s in your head. You can do it or you can’t and in either case whatever the answer is in your head, you’re right, because that’s what you believe. So stay committed to your career, believe that this is going to be something that is going to take a lot of hard work and sweat equity and go after it.