Fireside Friday with Gregg Salkovitch
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales.
Gregg: After being a top sales performer for multiple companies, I decided I wanted to be in sales recruiting. To me, it was a combination of what I loved most, sales and helping people. For almost eight years, I have been recruiting salespeople and sales leaders for some of the fastest-growing technology companies in the country. I'm currently the owner of Right Choice Resources, which is a national sales recruiting company based in downtown Chicago.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Gregg: At a previous company, we had challenges closing one of the industry’s largest accounts.
When I spoke to the decision maker, he was very upfront with me about his feelings towards our firm. Over the next 6 months, I reached out to him about once a month but never trying to sell him on anything. I sent him articles, one time sent him a book and slowly earned his trust.
On December 23rd, he called me and said, “Our vendor has been making some mistakes, so there’s a small window for you here. However, you’re going to have to fly out through a blizzard and present to us tomorrow, which is Christmas Eve.”
I was on a flight less than 24 hours later.
A few weeks later, they signed a contract with me and this account consistently produced annual recurring revenues well into 7 figures. The decision making executive told me he picked our firm because 90% of my presentation focused on how I could help them, and my competitors solely talked about their company’s revenues, how long they’ve been in business and things that weren’t important to them.
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Gregg: My mom always says, “How you treat those that can’t do anything for you defines your true character.”
Although at the time, I didn’t perceive this as sales advice, I’ve always taken it to heart and applied it to sales and networking.
When I started this company, I was amazed and humbled by those who went out of their way to help me because they didn’t forget how I helped them in the past when I had nothing to gain from it.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Gregg: One of the biggest challenges that I see in sales reps is the lack of training. Many managers implement strict metrics, but they don’t teach salespeople how to prospect, cold call, email, leave voicemails or overcome objections.
My advice to companies would be to invest in a manager that is a great coach, not just one that’s going to babysit the sales reps, making sure they make their dials.
If you’re a sales rep, my advice would be to find a good mentor to help you, read sales books and listen to podcasts. Do whatever you can to educate yourself and make yourself better. I also suggest trying new sales techniques. If you send an email and get 0 people responding out of 100, try something different.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a mentor when it comes to sales, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Gregg: Barry Saltzman is a great mentor of mine, who I believe is an exceptional sales consultant.
He has shown me how to take a step back and look at the big picture, which is challenging to do when you have your head down working so hard. In addition, he’s taught me that you can still be nice and empathetic while being direct, which is how I would describe him.
Finally, I've learned from Barry that not all people should be managed the same. He puts all of my potential hires through a PREP personality assessment that he monitors. It has given me a lot of insights into them, so I don't make hiring mistakes. In several cases, he’s been able to say, “This candidate is very talented but not a fit for you and your company.”
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Gregg: One recent book that I’ve read and really enjoyed is, The Transparency Sale by Todd Caponi. For those of you who have read the book and know Todd, it’s even more enjoyable, because he practices what he preaches.
Todd really details the importance of being honest and taking an approach you don’t typically see of salespeople. Instead of being negative about competitors, Todd compliments them, and he’s upfront about the capabilities and limitations of the product he’s selling. Being transparent builds credibility and typically results in a much stronger, long-term relationship.
I just purchased, Radical Candor, about how to be a great boss by giving direct and productive feedback to employees.
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business-related books, articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Gregg: Besides reading the Sales Assembly newsletters and posts, I read Morning Brew which gives me a quick summary of the stock market and what's occurring in business throughout the country. I also view LinkedIn posts every day and read articles from Entrepreneur, Sales Hacker and others that are posted.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Gregg: Find a great mentor, be a sponge and learn all you can through meeting people, listening to others sell, read and listen to podcasts, and don’t be afraid to try new things in sales. Some of my most successful sales techniques have been from trial and error.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Gregg: From a hiring perspective, there’s a war on sales talent right now. The bigger companies are able to attract top talent due to being a recognizable name, reputation and deep pockets.
I see some of the small- to mid-sized companies having challenges competing for top talent for this reason. However, I recommend doing a few things:
First, make the candidates feel like they're important and wanted.
Next, move quickly without cutting corners. One advantage you have over large companies is that you can move them through the interview process faster.
Finally, explain the advantages of working for your company. Salespeople can make a bigger impact in smaller companies and they’re not just a number, advancement is typically faster, there could be stock, the territory is bigger, etc.
The other major trend we’ve been seeing as of late is the hiring of more Business Development Representatives (BDRs) to set appointments while they learn the company. The top performers are then rapidly promoted into bigger roles.
Sales Assembly: What hiring advice do you have for those companies hiring salespeople?
Gregg: I always found it interesting that most companies believe it’s appropriate to ask, “Why should we hire you?” but most find it inappropriate if an interviewee asks, “Why should I want to work here?”
I always compare interviewing to dating. When you’re on a date, both parties need to show mutual interest.
If you’re interviewing a candidate that you like, you need to keep them engaged. Make sure they have an opportunity to ask questions. Tell them that you’re interested in them and are excited about their candidacy.
If there’s going to be a delay, make sure to let them know and you may even want to invite them out to lunch in the meantime. People want to work at places where they feel wanted and important.