Fireside Friday with Kevin Piket
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales.
Kevin: I've been in sales and sales leadership roles for 25 years, mainly in technology in some form or fashion. I am also an Adjunct Professor in Sales & Marketing classes at Aurora University. Sales is my passion, and I enjoy the coaching, mentoring and leadership part of my job the most.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Kevin: My biggest accomplishment in sales was when I was a sales leader for an organization that grew from $6 million to $68 million in revenue in three and a half years. My team was a good part of that growth. It was a fun ride!
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Kevin: I had a great VP of Sales, Dan Marchetto, tell me that "it's not fish until it’s in the boat". The meaning behind it is the deal isn't closed until the line is signed. Verbals don't mean you have a closed deal. It's something that I have repeated many times to my teams over the years.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Kevin: Time management. Hands down, the biggest challenge is staying prepared, organized and being productive with your day. So many talented sales professionals need help with time management. Having systems in place that allow you to reach your full potential will make you successful. Master time management, and you will be a sales achiever for sure!
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a mentor when it comes to sales, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Kevin: I've been fortunate to have many mentors over my sales career. Each one teaches me something new and challenges me to do better. I firmly believe in coaching, and today, my VP of Sales, Derrick Havis, is my mentor. I've known him for over ten years, and he's always given me a perspective that I didn't think about. He's always challenging me to get better by giving me tasks that allow for me to grow as a professional.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Kevin: The best sales book I have ever read was Entrepreneurial DNA by Joe Abraham. It showed me how every buyer has a different personality and how I should approach working with them. I highly recommend it for every sales professional. It changed the way I approached how I sell. I am currently reading (again) Who Says Elephants Can't Dance by Lou Gerstner. It's the story on how IBM grew into a service organization. Best book on change management I've read.
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Kevin: Hands down the best sales podcast I have been listening to is Sales Success Stories with Scott Ingram. I highly recommend it. I am a big fan of Selling Power; I've been reading that magazine since the late 1990's, when it was actually a paper magazine and now as a digital copy. They send daily and weekly emails too. Great resource on sales, I use it in my classes that I teach as well.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Kevin: Always be learning...no matter what. Everyday try to learn something new. Put the work in and invest in yourself. Also, be comfortable with the uncomfortable. It will pay off.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Kevin: I think there will continue to be new sales tools available with the advances in technology and gathering data. Don't always rely on that though; sending a hand-written note goes a lot further than you may think. Not many people are writing those notes today. You will stand out.
Sales Assembly: What do you look for in a sales professional that you would hire?
Kevin: The number one quality I look for in a sales candidate is how coachable they are. I like sales professionals who want to continue to learn and improve. I have a saying, "feedback is a gift, and it's up to you how you unwrap it." I believe in giving and receiving feedback. That's very important to me.