Fireside Friday with Michael Parks
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales.
Michael: I am a client-facing CEO whose roots are in sales and marketing. My first job out of University of Illinois was in sales. I have built several national sales teams over my career. Sales and the thrill of the close is what gets me going.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Michael: I love to mentor sales professionals and teach them to sell without selling. No client wants to be sold to but every client wants to be understood. Learning how to "consultative sell," how to prepare for a client call or meeting, and how to effectively probe are all key skills I always teach.
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Michael: The most successful sales professionals are process driven and plan. The business world is loaded with sales professionals who never come close to maximizing their potential because they "wing it," aren't process driven and don't effectively plan each week.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Michael: Don't hide behind technology. Successful sales people understand how to build client relationships, the importance of picking up the phone and getting in front of clients. Don't let email become your go-to communication platform.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a sales mentor, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Michael: Yes - my first manager out of school. I was hired because he knew I could sell. He instilled in me that if I was disciplined and process driven, then I would have everything I need to be successful.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Michael: Creating Customer Evangelists and of course, Mr. SHMOOZE.
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related books, articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Michael: The best is impossible to answer because it is always based on the last great information I received which led to a hot lead, helped close a deal, or identified a growing target market. Read every day and keep on searching for the sources which help you in your related field.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Michael: Make sure your first manager is someone who can mentor you and you can learn from. The industry or company is not as important as who your manager is and do you think your manager will provide you a good foundation for your future.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Michael: I see fewer and fewer fresh college graduates who are interested and effective in sales.
Sales Assembly: Are sales professionals overpaid or under-valued?
Michael: The non-performers are overpaid and the top performers are under-valued. From a sales management perspective, cut your losses early with your low performers - you know after 3 months if you have a keeper. Work hard to retain and career path your stars. Compensate them fairly, and don't limit their upside. The cost to replace a top rainmaker is tremendous.