Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Interview the sales candidate without their cell phone - January 27, 2018

This is a short post this week. I want to share with the hiring managers out there a tactic one of my clients has implemented during the hiring process and one you may want to consider. While my client uses this tactic primarily when interviewing candidates for sales positions, you could certainly apply this approach to all of your interviews. It is quite simple and yet so telling. Here you go…


When the candidate arrives at your office, intentionally keep them waiting for a few minutes, and provide them a relaxing environment to wait. Take their coat and hang it up, get them water or coffee, and let them know they just need to wait a few minutes. The likelihood is the candidate will immediately reach for the cell phone. It has become second nature whenever we’re given a few minutes of “down time”.


When it is time to begin the interview, have your own cell phone in your hand (on silent) and walk the candidate to your conference room, office or wherever the meeting will take place. Have a table with a drawer, a file cabinet, or a desk in the room, anything where you can tuck your own cell phone away during the interview. Prior to sitting, announce, “oh by the way, we have a policy of no cellular distractions during meetings, so if you don’t mind I’d like for you to place your cell phone with mine in this drawer, that way we’re not interrupted until the end of our meeting”. Then put your own cell phone away and gesture for the candidate to do the same.


That’s it – end of story. Well, sort of.


Here’s what will happen. You will immediately gauge the comfort level of the candidate by removing one of the most addictive devices of all time You’ll require the candidate to communicate openly without distraction, making eye contact. No vibrating texts in their pocket. And, some candidates will be perfectly fine, comfortable, professional and a delight to interview. Others will lose their “security blanket” and be fidgety the entire time. They will be uncomfortable. They will be distracted wondering what is happening inside their digital world. They will become anxious.


Such a simple tactic can be oh so telling of how the candidate can handle themselves in real one-on-one situations. They either can or the can’t; and generally speaking there’s no in between.


Give it a try, I know I will.

Another Matthew Kelly Quote - January 20, 2018

Over the past two weeks I have written about, generally speaking, being a good person not just a good sales person. There are many good people that are lousy sales reps. There are also great sales people that are not-so-good human beings. I’ve always strived to be both, and truly believe one has everything to do with the other.


Referring back to my post about author Matthew Kelly and the philosophy of becoming the best-version-of-oneself, I feel the need to use my post this week as a follow-up to the past two by sharing my thoughts on another Kelly quote:


“Who you become is infinitely more important than what you do, or what you have.” 


I’ve come across this quote throughout many of the books and posts I’ve read by Mr. Kelly, and at first I simply glossed over it, never really giving much thought to the real meaning. However, over the past year, while I’ve worked diligently to enhance my own life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, these words have been my silent mantra. Now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with my typical sales advice or posts. Please allow me to explain.


Although I’ve read Mr. Kelly’s works off and on for several years, as you’ve recently read through my posts, it was not until mid-2017, when I was 45 years old, that I consciously chose to work on becoming a “better-version-of-myself” in hopes of someday being the “best-version-of-myself”. I believe Mr. Kelly’s words that I am sharing today are the key to my becoming the best-version-of-myself on both a personal and professional level. Here is how I’ve broken down this quote to have such a great impact on my life and it is my hope this short message will resonate with you as a person and as a sales person.


It took me a while to digest this message and it was only after a lot of quiet ponderance that I was able to dissect the meaning of the message. And, when I say I dissected the meaning of the message, I have done so as it relates specifically to me and not to anyone else. The meaning of this quote finally hit me when I studied it in reverse, as in what do I have, what do I do, and ultimately who am I.


What I have is a pretty good life and lifestyle. I have a great wife and wonderful children; a stable family. I have a very good career, solid company, and I’m surrounded by hard working professionals. I have more than enough material possessions to make myself and my family and friends happy. What I do is work as a sales person. I’ve coached youth sports. I volunteer personally and professionally from time-to-time. But, then I ask myself, "who am I?"


I am a loving husband, father and friend. I am a fair employer. I am a successful sales person. I am a business owner and entrepreneur. I am a coach. I am outdoors enthusiast. I am a faithful Catholic. I am all of these things and more, and yet I am continuing to seek ways to become the best-version-of-myself.


As I continue to dissect this quote from Matthew Kelly: “Who you become is infinitely more important than what you do, or what you have” I am reminded that it is not my career or possessions that define who I am rather those are byproducts of whom I am today and who I want to become. They are intertwined and by recognizing that it is vastly more important to be a good person, each day striving to be a better-version-of-myself, while on the journey of becoming the best-version-of-myself, it is my character that will be my personal compass. Staying true to myself in all that I do, as a husband, father, friend, boss, sales person, coach, volunteer, etc. will ultimately be what defines me and not just being known as a successful sales person who accumulated stuff because of my accomplishments.

Who Do You Hang With? - January 13, 2018

I woke up extra early this morning for a variety of reasons. One, I am anxious to participate in a competition today with my Labrador Retriever, a hunting-retrieving contest. Second, it is my forty-sixth birthday, and other than the number, I am feeling better than ever physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. And, third, I read an article yesterday afternoon which contained a quote that I simply cannot stop thinking about.


“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.” Warren Buffett


I’ve long admired people for who they are more so than what they are or what they have. And, I have written and spoken at length about surrounding oneself with success. I feel today’s post is very personal for many of the same reasons as to why I woke up early, and I would also like to share my opinion on this quote.


For years I have worked diligently toward a successful career as a sales person, manager, business executive, entrepreneur; and on the personal side a good husband, father, son and friend. I have abandoned old “so called” friends in favor of new friends. I have distanced myself from family members who are more about exploiting others to get ahead in life. And, I have exhausted myself more times than I can count in an attempt to rid my organization of bad clients while replacing those bad with good. All through this journey I have enjoyed myself more than I have had regrets.


Around May of last year I experienced an unexpected change of plans in my business when a longtime management team member left the organization rather unexpectedly and with little notice. I was also starting to feel more like a sixty-five year old instead of a forty-five year old. I was enjoying IPA’s matched with a juicy burger too many times per month and not enough fresh fruit and salads. And, I was doing a great job of convincing myself that I was getting a good amount of exercise in.


Then, for some reason I’ve yet to put an exact finger on, I stopped the nonsense, took my own advice, and heeded the words Mr. Buffett states in the quote above. I looked around at the people I was associating with, personally and professionally, and realized I was very much their equal (at least in many ways), but I was not feeling it. It dawned on me that I needed to be a healthier person. I needed to get back to basics in terms of sales. I needed to read for enjoyment again. I needed to be more active with my family. I realized I could be a better person and I needed to start working on it immediately.


I asked myself, “who do you hang with?” The answer was not bad, not in the least, but it shed light on where I wanted to go as a person both personally and professionally. Here’s a glimpse: I would come home in the evening from work, shoot some hoops with the kids, and have a few beers in the driveway with my neighbors. My neighbors, my beer buds, are good people. We don’t have too much in common in professional terms though. One change I made was to stop drinking the beer. That led to less nights with the neighbors but more time with my kids shooting hoops. And, while shooting more hoops I realized I should be exercising more, so I joined a CrossFit gym. Fast forward and I am spending more time (hanging with) other business professionals who are into health, wellness and exercise, CrossFit or other forms.


Don’t get me wrong, I have not abandoned my good friends or my beer buddies, rather I have made choices over the past several months more so about the amount of time I’m spending with people, while trying to expand my network of those whom I deem to be positive influences on my life and career choices. Take for example the fact that I do work as a freelance consultant in the area of sales, sales management and sales performance. There are those I work with who look to me as a positive influence and I am flattered. In return I look to surround myself (hang with) those that can give me good advice, help me explore new opportunities to advance my organization, and who do so “leading by example”. I look for those whose actions speak louder than their words.


I know that I’ve taken on this challenge at other times throughout my life, in high school, college and in my career, where I’ve needed to push ahead by putting some people behind me. I feel I am in a very good place today, and I believe I am hanging with those that I not only admire, but those that want to hang with me for equal reasons.

Commit to being the "Best Version Of You" - January 6, 2018

I’ve became a fan of author Matthew Kelly after reading The Dream Manager. Since then I’ve read several other books and found that his style, tone and messages really speak to me. One such message that resonates throughout many of his writings is “becoming the best version of yourself”. He doesn’t just preach this message to the reader, he explains why it is important, and how each and every person can make this message their own as they work toward becoming the best version of themselves.


Mr. Kelly is a devout Catholic and many of his works are derived from his faith. They tend to be written with a Catholic tone, so to speak, and are based in having faith or a belief system. But, regardless of whether you do or do not believe in religion, the ideology of becoming the best version of yourself works, especially if you are a career-focused sales person. I imagine most ‘A’ level sales people can relate, but for those that are unfamiliar with this concept, here are my thoughts.


Striving to be the best version of yourself will not, and quite frankly, should not come easy. If it were easy, we’d all be the best sales people in our industries making millions of dollars per year, all while being able to look ourselves in the mirror stating, “yep I’m the best version of me”. Sounds kind of hokey, huh? It is not realistic. Sure, there are a few pompous individuals out there who act this way, and we can all spot them a mile away, but for most, we all want to do better in sales. In fact, I suspect sales is an extension of who we are, and so we all want to do better in life, to be a better person.


This, loosely, is the concept of being the “best version of you”. It is the idea that your life and your career are building blocks, and these building blocks will help you grow, so long as you have a solid foundation and remain focused on your growth. Several years ago, when I got into reading Mr. Kelly’s books, I committed to becoming the best version of myself. One day it dawned on me that I was a business owner, sales person and consultant; I was a husband and a father of three; I was a volunteer and a board member for several organizations; but, was I the person everyone not just wanted in those roles but needed me to be in those roles.


As I took time to self-evaluate where I was in my life, I realized I could do more by being more. I realized that I needed to be much more careful in making commitments to others so I didn’t come out half-assing something. I needed to be a better husband and father by being present in both body and mind at my family’s activities, including being a sounding board for my wife at the end of a long day. I also realized that my own faith and health need not be taken for granted. In other words, I identified ways in which I felt I could become a stronger person for myself, thus becoming a stronger person for everyone else.


Being the best version of you does not require a long, drawn out playbook. It requires dedication. Simply put, you must dedicate yourself to being aware of who you are and who you want to be. This is an everyday dedication. One year ago I thought I was fairly healthy, could run a few miles without much effort, but in fact was about as average as average could get. I had put on a few pounds and shed a few pounds. I would fast from beer drinking and then join in neighborhood fun pairing heavy beers with food we were having during a cookout. I would attempt to workout in my basement and then oversleep. It was a long time coming, but I finally woke up and thought I was definitely not in very good shape, and in fact, was not working toward the best version of me.


Not being one to dip my toe in the water, rather jumping right in the deep end most of the time, I decided to join a CrossFit gym. I began by going three to four days per week for the first two months as I learned the ropes (no pun intended for you CrossFitters out there). Then I made the commitment: if I am going to continue to work toward becoming the best version of me, I need to take my health even more seriously, and push aside distractions and dedicate myself to a new routine. I now workout five to six times per week. I need it. I feel terrible when I don’t work out. But, when I do, I feel great. And, because I’m feeling stronger, healthier, and much more confident in my own appearance, I feel as though I’m becoming a better version of myself (not the best yet).


Building upon this approach to CrossFit, I have also re-committed myself to my sales education. I’ve been at this game for a long time, and I do know a lot, but as technology and innovation speed lightyears forward, I need to continue to educate myself on the current trends in my industry, how to pitch business in the 2018 climate, and how to use my existing skills to drive sales forward with a new (millennial) type of clientele. In doing so, in my desire to learn more, I am working toward being the best version of me. This will make me a more successful sales person which will ultimately benefit my family and my organization.


I encourage you to take a step back at the end of each day and evaluate your accomplishments for that day. Were you at your best, for you, your family and your organization? Could you have done things differently, better? Are there areas in your life that you feel could be improved, strengthened, altered, or enhanced? Do you feel you need to attend church more regularly, get back into the gym, drop a few pounds, coach your kid’s softball team, etc.?


If you want to be a better version of you, take the first step and make the commitment, and then dedicate yourself to making one small change / improvement each day toward your goal.