Fireside Friday with Rob Chapple
Sales Assembly: Give us your quick background in sales.
Rob: I started out of the Army and college in a sales job at Fujitsu, because they would train me to do something I'd never done before. I've led sales and client teams across the US, Asia and Europe with annual sales budgets / quotas of over $150M. I had the chance to parlay that into large P&L jobs as a GM managing nearly $1B in annual revenue and over 5,000 people in 17 countries...and then took the chance to join Civis and build it from the ground up.
Sales Assembly: What's your biggest accomplishment in sales or sales leadership?
Rob: Most, if not all, of my former leaders are still close colleagues; we talk, give each other advice and many of them still call me "boss" - which I'm told is out of respect ;-)
Sales Assembly: What's the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
Rob: I was told early in my career that "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care"...these people are teams, peers, clients, prospects and partners. And, the best training I ever received was Helping Clients Succeed from Franklin Covey. I use it almost everyday to balance advocacy and inquiry in my selling process.
Sales Assembly: What's the biggest challenge facing a sales rep today, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Rob: In all sales, but particularly more "technical" sales, it's often thought that the more the client knows about your product, solution, benefits - the more likely they are to buy from you. In reality, the more YOU know about the problems, issues and metrics the customer is trying to achieve or change - the more likely you and your sales team are going to be able to align your products, solutions and benefits.
Sales Assembly: Do you currently have a mentor when it comes to sales, or have you ever? If so, what did they teach you?
Rob: Yes, I do. He is kind of peer-mentor. He teaches me to think, to step back, to look at things differently. He holds me accountable for doing this regularly. This is invaluable.
Sales Assembly: What's the best sales book you've ever read? What are you reading now?
Rob: Best book: Let's Get Real, or Let's Not Play (Mahan Khasla). Reading now: Measure What Matters (John Doerr).
Sales Assembly: Best sales or business related books, articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Rob: Blitzscaling Podcast by Reid Hoffman; anything from Aron Placencia.
Sales Assembly: What's the best advice you'd give to someone just starting a career in sales?
Rob: DO IT! You will learn more about business, people and money management by being in sales than in any university in the world! And, in sales, because you have to interact with product, marketing, finance, delivery...you will learn it all FASTER! So what if you fail once, or twice, you will learn.
Sales Assembly: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to sales?
Rob: People still buy, they make emotional decisions and they back them up with facts. Listen to what really matters, then give them a reason to make the decision...and then give them the facts to back it up with.
Sales Assembly: Do people thinks sales is less of an 'honorable' profession today than they did, say 5, 10 or 20 years ago?
Rob: Yes, because there are so many people committing 'malpractice' today. Specifically, I think that at some point in the past, larger, more established businesses created very strong and regimented ways to recruit and train sales professionals; my PoV is that sales, as a profession was a genuinely sought after career. The desirable companies, the world-class training, the ability to get out from behind an office desk and get "on the road" was an alluring career. Since the 'hyper' growth era of the late 1990's and into today, the larger companies are less of the destination employers, and it's harder to find people who have been trained in the real art and science of selling...and who are getting better every day, because they see sales as a mere stepping stone towards some other executive or non-sales role.
This means that fewer people proportionately are actually dedicated to being world-class salespeople...they are looking for shortcuts, ways around the system. So many people meet people who are committing malpractice as salespeople, and I think that's lowered the standard! This is true in consumer sales (auto, insurance, financial, home sales, etc.) and it's true in complex B2B sales...
We can change this effect, but it's going to take some time and some serious effort.
My dad was a ' traveling salesman" and it had a hugely different meaning then - compared to now.