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9 Behaviors of Great Salespeople

30 Oct

People aren’t born to be great salespeople – it is a learned trait nurtured over many years. Chances are your organization has great, good and bad salespeople. Because sales managers are often dealing with the bad apples, they aren’t investing enough time in coaching the good salespeople to be even better. If you are the sales leader in your company, you must either hire the best salespeople from the beginning or carve out more time for developing employees before they leave.

Beyond their bottom-line performance, what does a great salesperson look like?

  1. They are a consultative salesperson. Gone are the days of talking about all the great features of your product and pushing until the prospect (regrettably) agrees to buy.
  2. They do everything asked of them and more in their first year with a company. Year one is an important period for learning and that requires extra effort from the new salesperson. They are also comfortable with the fact that their sales activities are under increased scrutiny as they get out of the gate.
  3. Real salespeople know their product and services. They always have a crisp elevator pitch and value proposition prepared along with 10 questions. Their messaging sounds natural but is practiced and often memorized so they are always prepared; even this weekend when they bump into a prospect at the grocery store.
  4. They are authentic – and memorable. They don’t change their personality in front of prospects and clients which ultimately creates real connections. They also say “please”, “thank you” and “I’m sorry”.
  5. Great salespeople really listen. They are curious and ask a lot of open-ended questions. If the prospect or client is talking, the salesperson is probably winning.
  6. They sell solutions. Most prospects don’t really care about your product or service. They have a challenge in front of them and it can potentially be solved with your product or service.
  7. Winners are consistent. They take days off and have a balanced life, but they always hit their activity numbers, follow up, dot the i’s and cross their t’s.
  8. Closers drive towards YES or NO. A great salesperson must be aggressive and is conscious of time management. This means they understand how to target and qualify prospects. They aren’t here to please prospects, but to close deals (or move on).
  9. They continually learn. It doesn’t matter where they start, the best are always improving regardless of age or experience. They actually read the sales books given to them and challenge the entire company to better understand the prospects and customers.

Of course, being the best translates to hitting their sales and gross margin numbers. Your bad salespeople are regularly stuck between 1-2 times gross margin. Your good salespeople are hovering between 2-3X. The great ones are at 4X and beyond. Investing more time in your better salespeople is easy math. Is it time to cut the cord on your lowest performer? The answer is YES if it’s affecting the time you can spend with the rest of the team.

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

Pivoting around Chickens Rabbits and Zip Lines

15 Jul

Drew Schmitz
Sales Recruiter (Blue Octopus LLC) | SalesContingent Coach (Grow Faster LLC)… See more74 articles

Since “pivot” has been a common theme of mine the past month, I thought I would share a couple stories about personal pivoting – which is obviously a key strategy in any organization trying to make a profit.

We use the verb version of the word pivot in business to describe a rotation, turn, spin, swivel, twirl or whirl in our business strategy. You might be selling to European truck drivers in 2018 and suddenly you find there is a better market for plumbing and HVAC companies in 2019. It often doesn’t make any sense until it starts to happen to us…


About four weeks ago, I was putting the finishing touches on a basketball hoop for my 14-year-old son, Jonah. It had literally taken me a YEAR to complete – the pole needed to be cemented into the ground… then I had to fill it with cement which took four additional days (when it wasn’t raining). But slowly, and surely, we were building the world’s coolest basketball hoop for my future NBA All-star (hopefully he turns out taller than me)!

The last step was attaching the glass backboard, rim and net. I was beyond bored with the process and had other backyard tasks, so I hired David, a handyman, for a 1/2 day to help finish it as well as assist me with a couple of other projects.

As they were tightening the bolts on the backboard (my son holding it, David attaching it and me running back and forth with tools), the basketball hoop’s post snapped in half and almost killed my son. Jonah walked away with a bruising scrape on his back but was otherwise, entirely intact. I have no idea what happened and had an attorney come out and take pictures; I followed every bloody step of the instructions (and I hate instructions) and even re-examined the process after-the-fact.

A week later, I asked my son, “Jonah, how about we skip the stupid hoop and I finally build that zip-line off the treehouse that I’ve been promising for years?”

“That would be pretty cool…” Time to PIVOT!


About three weeks ago, my 12-year-old daughter, Amelie, asks me “Dad, can we get chickens?”

“Huh, what?” I asked.

“Well, we are raising chickens in science class and we can buy one for $5 and bring it home at the end of the year.”

“Cool!” I stupidly respond. “Let’s do it! Get two but make sure they are hens,” All she had to do was bring a permission slip signed by a parent to class and come up with $10.

My fiancé rolled her eyes at me as soon as I excitedly shared the news. “We’ll have to build a chicken coop…” I was already running ahead to raising chickens.

“What in the world do you know about raising chickens? What are you going to do with them in the winter? Have you Googled or researched anything?” she asked me.

“Um… it will be fun. If we don’t like them, we’ll just get rid of them at the end of the summer!”

And… so it began (we’ll finish this story after Part 3)…


About 2 weeks ago, I stopped by a bar that serves up my favorite burger and the bartender overheard my fiancé and I discussing our pet rabbits (we have two “free range” bunnies that have roamed the backyard for the last 2 years and we almost never lock them in their hutch).

Kevin, the bartender, starts asking us questions leading to… “Do you want my rabbit, Winchester? I’m pretty sure he’s fixed… I got him from a lady that didn’t want him any more…”

A week later, Winchester arrives at our home. He wasn’t fixed and immediately started mating with our male and female rabbits (Jonathan & Domino).


My daughter failed to turn in the permission slip (or get me the teacher’s contact info) and so the last day of school came and went and we were chicken-less.

So, Winchester is now in the half-finished chicken coop. We have a vet friend that has fixed the other two rabbits, but she’s gone for the summer. I’m going to build a better coop and am shooting for autumn chicks… that way we can actually have adult, egg-laying hens next spring.

PIVOT! I wanted a basketball hoop and chickens this spring… but I end up with a cool, new rabbit (albeit a bit randy) PLUS I will have a zip-line by the 4th of July.

Have you considered pivoting your sales strategy of late? If you don’t, life has a way of forcing you to pivot. Ideally, you are planning ahead, and you’ll experience less chaos.

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

The Dog Days of August

31 Jul


How was your summer? Nope, it’s not over, but it is getting closer to Labor Day…

When it comes to my business cycle, August is always similar to the January turn at the beginning of the year. It’s still a bit slow – but we all know a busy season is approaching us. Given the Blue Octopus’ pipeline, it may be the busiest fall/winter yet! So… I can stall a few more weeks – or get “back on the horse” and prepare as if I’ll have no time September through December.

An August To-Do List:

  1. Email, Paperwork, etc. Are your files in order? If you don’t clean out that inbox this month, you are going to find July emails at the bottom of your inbox in January! Delete ’em, refer them onto someone else, file them away or take action.
  2. Finances. Personally and professionally, where is the cash flow going to fall for the rest of 2018? Match this up with the planning that I suggest below in #8.
  3. Networking. I vacationed twice in June and July and my networking plummeted. I have a lunch, three meetings and a networking event set for the first half of August. I’m shooting for at least 12 of these in August before I start getting comfortable.
  4. Marketing. I have a nearly finished second sales management book that I’ve been sitting on since April. It’s time to finish proofing and editing so I have a prayer of getting it out this fall. Partnering with Elite Holding Co., I also released a YouTube video last month (… and we need to get two more done this month.
  5. Sales. Not everyone is working hard this month, but those that are in the office aren’t getting as many emails and phone calls. This is a great month to keep the sales push going. Catch them now and you probably double your chance at a meeting with them in September.
  6. Old Connections. A different bent on sales & marketing is simply dropping an email to those that you haven’t talked to in the last few months. My best clients and referrers are practically friends. Don’t forget to proactively reach out to them regularly (and ask in return if there is anything you can do for them).
  7. Management. My personal responsibilities are to my recruiting team. I’m the salesman and they do the bulk of the recruiting and screening work. It’s time for a simple 2-way review. I certainly evaluate their performance but a one-on-one with each of them is important to make sure (a) Are we on the same page? (b) How is your boss doing? (c) What do you need in order to hit our numbers the rest of the year? This one hour interaction goes a long way towards better retention of your employees.
  8. Planning (and Thinking). It might sound stupid, but this could be your last chance to really think before the boss, clients, spouse and kids start dictating most of your schedule. Lay out your year and 4Q goals. Are they still achievable? What actions need to take place?

People are generally happier in the summertime (particularly here in Minnesota), so it’s a better time to catch them on a good day and bend their ear.

Don’t let your August blow away without some serious planning as well as taking action on that plan. What are you going to accomplish before Labor Day??

It’s time to grow faster.

Drew Schmitz


Is a Phone Call Old-Fashioned?

30 Apr


Every day, you only get a few phone calls – probably no more than twenty? Also every day, you probably get 100+ emails from clients, co-workers, friends and others.

So I ask the question – are phone calls a thing of the past? I’ll give you my perspective and I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

YES, I think the phone call is old school. I hate it when someone interrupts my work day with a call on something that isn’t urgent or important; most people don’t want to answer a phone call when they are in the middle of something. Paying clients – YES PLEASE – call me! Candidates, friends, colleagues, vendors and co-workers? I’d prefer an email or text. Then we can schedule a time to talk by phone or in-person (in the near future).

When to make a phone call:

  • It’s urgent and something needs to be done within the next couple of hours.
  • It’s a pre-scheduled call.
  • I can’t really think of a third reason!

Once I end my work day, I find myself too exhausted to call my friends and family. Reason being? I’ve already spent too much time that day talking to people over the phone. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy working with people and helping them out. But I’m a borderline introvert/extrovert so my loved ones usually get texts; often planning a future rendezvous in person. From my experience, most people get exhausted by consistently being on the phone during the day. 

Read this article on why Coca Cola decided to discontinue voicemail last December:

When to send an email:

  • Just about any time and for any reason. You can send them in the middle of the night regarding something taking place tomorrow or 3 months from now.
  • It’s always appropriate to send emails. In fact, it seems more polite as the recipient decides if they want to respond and also when they have the time to respond.

Bonus – When to send a text:

  • Just about any time. Think of it as a faster email. Just make sure you know that it’s their cell phone.
  • If I haven’t been able to reach a person by email or phone, I’ll often text.
  • If they are under 40, you are almost always guaranteed to get a better response rate.

People selling products or services to me, call more than anyone. If I don’t recognize the number, I don’t answer it. Instead, I get a transcribed text message of their voicemail via Google Voice. I’m not saying that the phone isn’t a necessary tool but it isn’t as necessary as it was just a few years ago. I’ve found that some of my friends don’t even listen to their voicemail messages for days at a time. Generation X and Y are up and coming so be prepared for more change… For all I know, Facebook Messenger and Instagram will be the only ways to reach young Americans in the future.

For now: Urgent matters – call. When in doubt – email.

If you are a regular reader of my posts on WordPress, I apologize for my “disappearance” of late. My bi-monthly posts have now returned! Last quarter, I wrapped up my sales eBook “Sales Neutrinos” – feel free to request a copy. Also check out my recent blogs on LinkedIn.

It’s time to grow faster.

~Drew Schmitz





Twitter: @drew_schmitz

Sales Neutrinos

5 Feb

Cover Neutrinos

To those of you who have consistently read my blog –  or “stumbled” into it recently, I have finished an eBook called Sales Neutrinos. If you are interested in a free copy, please reach out. I’ve told everyone that it will cost you in 2016 but I’m giving it out complimentary in 2015!

Essentially, the book is an organized version of my blog – laid out in a linear manner with some new content. I would love to have you take a look. The forward is below…

What is smaller than an atom?

Recently, scientists have identified subatomic particles called neutrinos – they are so miniscule and weigh so little that no one has been able to measure their mass yet. Yet neutrinos are among the most abundant particles in the universe and by finding them, we are able to learn a great deal about the structure and the history of the universe.

I’m a bit obsessive about the root of a word, cause, movement or ideology. I want to understand the reason behind why certain salespeople overachieve while others flounder. Hence, my sales book gets the title Sales Neutrinos. We’re here to uncover the sales truths at the core!

It’s time to grow faster.

~Drew Schmitz

Blue Octopus LLC

How to Close More Deals

18 Dec


The one question that I’m asked most often is simply “How can I close more deals?“. It’s a loaded question, but if I had only one response it would be that you have a specific sales process which gives you control throughout the entire sale.

Sales is completely different than customer service. In customer service, you bend over backwards to take care of the customer. You react to their needs.

In sales, you only bend over backwards if there is a high probability of closing a deal. As the salesperson, you drive the deal and the prospect reacts. You still want to help people but only if you get something in return. If this sounds selfish than you probably aren’t wired for sales.

1. Call the decision maker(s). If you can send over some more information, I can ask my manager…” How many times have you heard this? You are calling the wrong person and need to be talking to that manager directly.

2. Don’t waste time on maybe’s. Sometimes it is hard to tell if people are seriously interested. It’s your job to always ask questions that identify the following:

  • Am I speaking to the right person?
  • Do they need my product or service?
  • Do they understand my offering?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Do they have the budget for my product or service? (see below)

3. You have a series of questions prepared for every phone call or meeting. That means having a series of questions prepared for every phone call or meeting. I repeat – have a series of questions prepared for every phone call or meeting. This requires preparation. Are you putting the work into it?

4. There is always momentum. From the first phone call to inking the deal, there is always a next step. Whether it’s a phone call, meeting or a simple answer, it’s on the calendar and both parties are in agreement on those deadlines. You are continually dictating or asking for the next step. This weekly or daily momentum is where a salesperson is essential.

5. Every meeting has a preset agenda. It’s your job to make it a good one. Do you know everyone involved in making the decision on their end? Figure out who should be there and don’t hold the meeting until everyone can be present. Prior to the meeting, speak to every person involved and simply ask them directly what they’d like on the agenda.

6. At the meeting, use a version of this script.

  • Meeting Opener: “I’m not sure if I’m visiting at the right time, but what I’d like to do is just ask you a number of questions about your business. I’d also like to answer any and all of your questions. I can take whatever time you need today or in the future to go as deep as you wish. If it looks like there is no value, we will probably both realize that at the same time and we can end the discussion and get on with our days. Are you comfortable with that approach?”
  • Pain Probing Questions: “I’m never sure which is more important, but usually when I’m talking to a CEO, they’re often dealing with X issues and it’s usually one of two things:” (next should be a money and time problem that is related to your product or service’s solution).
  • A Catch-All Question: Is there anything else keeping you up at night in regards to X?”
  • Summary: “In regards to evaluating X, what were you planning to do next?” OR summarize issues and ask “What would you like to discuss first?

7. At the meeting, discuss the budget. 

  • What do these issues cost you per month“?” They won’t know. “How could we find out?” What do you think that problem is costing you every year?” They answer and you respond “Interesting. Where did that come from?” (their best guess or an actual number). “On a scale of 1-10, 1 not being a problem, 10 being a must change, what number would you give your intention to fix the problem?”
  • What is your process for making a decision on this in the present quarter?” Somewhere in here you should find out their process for vendor decisions. If there are a lot of steps and decision makers, ask “How long can you wait through this process while it’s costing your business even more?
  • Assuming we came back with a solution that (1) fixed the problem(s) (2) stayed within your budget and (3) includes answers to all of your questions – What action would you take?” If you don’t get a commitment, say “Tell me more about that” or “I’m not sure I understand.Shut up and work through an often uncomfortable moment. Let them think and elaborate a complete response.

8. The Proposal. It should include unique solutions catering to a prospect’s needs. It’s your “canned” proposal with specific answers to their business so that it doesn’t look like your competitors’ template. By the time you are pulling this together, the deal should already be 90% closed and this is only the window dressing.

This process has worked well for me for a number of years even though my prospect doesn’t always like it. You aren’t in sales to make prospects happy, you are selling to close deals and make clients happy.

It’s time to grow faster.

~Drew Schmitz

"M@il" button (blue)





Twitter: @drew_schmitz




The Average Person has 5,286 Emails in Their Inbox

18 Nov


PandoDaily did an extensive examination of 38,000 email inboxes back in 2013 and found that the average Outlook user has 5,286 emails in their inbox. If you look at the Pandodaily statistics, the numbers get even worse for non-Outlook users: I would argue that emails are the #1 issue in regards to time management in the office.

On Monday morning, I sat down to my desk and had 147 new email messages and it was an uncomfortable start to my week. I deleted about 75% and acted on or filed the rest in about an hour. As I write this on Tuesday, I have 34 emails in my inbox (90% of users have more than 75 emails).


I know there are hundreds of systems, but this is the one that I’ve mastered and strongly suggest that you use if your inbox is out of control: TRAF

Gimmee a “T” for Toss:

If you can delete it, don’t hesitate.

Gimmee an “R” for Refer:

Give it to someone else. The ball is in their court – so you can delete it.

Gimmee an “A” for Act:

Don’t leave it in there. Get it done (when it is on someone else’s plate, you get to… delete it).

Gimmee an “F” for File: 

The average Outlook user has 75 folders. I have a LOT of file folders – over 1,000 that I’ve slowly created for every client and everything else in between. I will argue until I’m blue in the face that my system is a lot easier and faster than doing a search through your deleted emails or sifting through an overloaded inbox. When in doubt, file it – just get it out of your inbox.

* Only read your emails at the beginning, middle and end of the day and get your life back.
*99% of your emails should only be “touched” once.
*Delete and sort quickly so that your inbox has meaning again.
*Create more folders (they are free, free, free!!).
*Dedicate one evening a month to getting your inbox back under 25.

Worst case scenario, just delete everything that’s over a month old and spend a half day sorting through anything that’s come in over the last few weeks. Wouldn’t it be great to have a clean inbox once again?

It’s time to grow faster.

~Drew Schmitz

"M@il" button (blue)





Twitter: @drew_schmitz



Would Google hire Yoda?

14 Oct

images (1)

Does Yoda or Homer Simpson have higher self-awareness? Who’s more motivated – Erin Brockovich or George Costanza? Today, Google is hiring people based on their “emotional intelligence” or “EQ” and also offers a free training course for their employees. I’m hearing about these concepts often in 2014 so I decided to download Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves on my iPad (to hopefully increase my EQ!).

Is it a bunch of fluffy, new world garbage? Is this another crappy Fish! philosophy or the Who Moved My Cheese? of 2014? Or is there something to this emotional intelligence? I’m inclined to side with the modern-day hippies and give this movement some recognition. 

It a nutshell, the book is a nice step-by-step on increasing your “EQ” in 4 areas:

  • Self-awareness – Who am I?
  • Self-management – What do I need to do to be who I strive to be?
  • Social awareness – How am I perceived?
  • Relationship management – What do I need to do to be perceived authentically (your true self)?

In each chapter, it’s further broken down into 15-17 strategies per area. I’m the kind of guy that wants to read a book all the way through in a half day and then refer back to it in the future. The way the book is constructed, it’s easy to return to any of the concepts. It’s certainly a business book but it carries over into all aspects of your life.

Know thyself – if you have read my blogs over the years, you understand that I am all about self discovery. Figure out who you are, what makes you great and where you want to go (see my former blog on the Hedgehog concept). I don’t know how you’ll consistently improve at work and play without taking a few personality assessments, reading a book like this and/or engaging in some self-study. It’s simply easier to understand others when you really understand yourself.

I’m a kid still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. Regardless of your age or stage in life, I think most of you are as well. I’d recommend working on your EQ and picking up this book as a great tool for your reflection and the journey going forward.

It’s time to grow faster.

~Drew Schmitz

"M@il" button (blue)





Twitter: @drew_schmitz

Why I Quit Golfing

8 Sep


As a middle-aged guy with three kids, one dog and a girlfriend, I decided  that I had to find more time. Being the nerd that I am, I broke it down like a math equation; if I have 17 hours a day after sleeping, I figure I only have 119 hours to use. I could sleep less, but the reality is an adult needs more than 7 hours of sleep, which means I need some margin for error. Let’s start with 110 hours…

  • W is for Work: 45 hours (best case scenario). Many of you have commutes to worry about so add it onto this total.
  • F is for Family: 26 hours a weekI can sort of put my kids in a box that many of you cannot. I have them 30% of the time, so I broke that down to 104 waking hours a month divided by four and that gave me 26 hours a week when I strive to be the World’s Best Dad (although I still haven’t been nominated). By the way, those of you that have them under your roof full time, are you giving them 26 focused hours a week?
  • R is for Refueling: 10 hours. Even if I quit golf, I still need a little cardio every day. So there goes 2.5 hours a week. And there’s that stuff called food – so there goes another hour a day or 7 hours a week.
  • M is for Maintenance: 7 hours. I’m not talking about the body; now I’m talking about your environment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that “household activities” in 2013 cost the average American another 2.4 hours a day. I’m cheating this category and going with unswept floors and outsourcing some of those needs and keeping it at 7.

 In a normal week, I then have 22 hours of leisure time.

  • The Daily News reports that the average American spends 34 hours a week watching television (I hope they are scrubbing floors and making dinner at the same time).
  • The normal golfer (my guess), plays 27 holes of golf a week. 2.25 hours per 9; that means another 8 hours are down the hole. Add in the commute time and let’s call it 9.

If you golf and watch as much television as the average American, you are short 19 hours every week which means work, family, sleep, refueling and maintenance are being short-changed. Do the math and figure out what you are doing with your free time.

It’s time to grow faster.

~Drew Schmitz

"M@il" button (blue)





Twitter: @drew_schmitz