It was many years ago that I was sitting at a high school cafeteria table as a young person about to be turned loose into the world, looking at the results of some standard career aptitude test the school had issued us – and thinking to myself - “What in the heck am I supposed to do with this?”
Of the hundreds of potential careers listed in the test results, there were only two that were checked for me. ”You are most suited to a career in the following fields…” and there, checked to my utter disappointment were “Ministry” and “Sales”. What?!!! Are you kidding me?!!!
No one in my family tree had worked in either of those fields…this must be some kind of mistake, or a cruel joke…I quickly told myself these tests don’t mean anything. Why didn’t the results say I should be a rock star or something cool like that? (No one in my family tree had worked in that field either, but I was cool – surely something more exciting or glamorous was in my future.)
I have come to be quite a believer in standardized asssessment tests since that day in the cafeteria and realize they have nothing to do with genetics or family tree. And through trial and error, deep introspection and pursuit of things I liked – I found that I am very much in my ideal environment in sales.
After finishing high school I worked at a few factory jobs as a machinist, welder, quality control inspector, warehouse worker and shipping clerk. During my breaks and free time I found myself reading a number of self-help and psychology books. What I learned from those books fascinated me about developing human potential and I grew to love those subjects. After a few years of factory work and considerable self-analysis, I came to understand that work in sales was going to provide me more of what I liked and less of what I did not like in a work environment, so I set out to build a sales career.
The thing about salespeople though, is that they are liars, pushy, inconsiderate, selfish, don’t really know what they are talking about, will tell you whatever it takes to make the sale, disappear after the sale, do not follow up etc. There are so many well-deserved negative stereotypes for salespeople that I have undoubtedly left many out. Anyway, only a couple of those stereotypes would have described me at that time (inconsiderate and selfish in case you were wondering...) my parents had raised me to be honest, considerate and sharing…and the honesty part had actually taken hold.
I learned a variety of selling systems, most of them based on a “push” approach and each of them incomplete in a number of ways. Most of the selling systems applied little real psychology and seemed to put the salesperson under quite a bit of pressure. By piecing together the effective pieces of those systems, there was a basic combination...a repeatable process to follow that uses persuasion fundamentals grounded in ethical behavior that focuses on the wants and needs of prospects. Can it get any better than that?
Yes, because it matters what you sell. Over the course of more than 20 years of selling technology solutions and insurance, I found myself disinterested in helping people with those types of business problems and correspondingly, my sales performance languished. As I wandered in the sales wildnerness for a few years, I continued to attend sales training classes and soul-search. The classroom provided new information occasionally, but little opportunity to really practice with the material. I really wanted more experience using the most promising material I had learned in order to develop my skills and ultimately turn them into habits. I enlisted the help of my oldest son to serve as a "sparring partner" and in the process of teaching him the fundamental skills of selling and practicing those skills with him, I rediscovered my passion!
As my son shared his stories of successfully using the material he was learning, I was awash with the great feelings that come from genuinely helping someone to learn and do something new. This had been a rather frequent personal reward I had enjoyed during my years working as a sales manager. Training and practicing persuasion skills with my son led me back to what I love to do - gather, use and develop excellent persuasive material and train others to ethically use it for our mutual benefit.
Eventually, a sales training client leveraged me into training his production manager to be a more effective boss. The experience of teaching this person a combination of persuasion/leadership skills and the appropriate use of power in his role as the production manager was as personally rewarding to me as teaching someone how to sell ethically and profitably! I was curious why.
The answer came in understanding my abhorrence of the misuse of power in society. We see power misused every day in business, government, schoolrooms and even in American homes. It is the stuff of movies, books and tv shows - stories of tyrants we find so easy to dislike - stories of people abusing the power they hold over other human beings. Though Command & Control has been in decline, it is far from being extinct. There is need for training in the appropriate application of power in the workplace and I have something unique to offer.
Sales and Management Coach
With over 25 years in sales - 6 of those spent managing other sales professionals there is quite a lot that Kevin has seen and experienced in the sales and management world.
Kevin has and continues to be in the sales trenches and knows the challenges of getting in front of qualified prospects. And he knows the value and confidence of having successful tools to do the job once he gets in front of one.
Managing other people is tougher than most people who have never done it might realize. And many of today's managers are not getting the results they or their companies want. In the years of being a manager and observing the performance of others in that role he developed some unique insights into achieving desired results.
Kevin lives in Port Byron, IL with his wife and pet dog Mugsie.