In Pursuit of Quota
In Pursuit of Quota

Episode · 1 year ago

Let The Buyer Sell You - Mike Centorani

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Before the internet, yellow page advertising reps were both hated and needed by most local businesses. Mike Centorani’s approach to selling made him a top performer and is now used by thousands of sales pros worldwide.

Welcome to in pursuit of quota podcastwhere great sales people get their superpowers. If you are looking to addmore superpowers, check out pitch wise nyc dot com and join the sales. Speakeasy to connect with other sales leaders and founders Like Yourself Wayare a new podcast, so be sure to hit like and subscribe so that you don'tmiss any of Season one. Today we're speaking with Mike Center Ronnie. Hehas a long history of empowering salespeople and has done so in over 22countries. All this in spite of almost leaving sales early in his career untila single sales call changed everything. Join our host, Donny, die to hear hisstory, And the goal here is really just totalk about kind of just the greater career of sales. I'm a big I'm a bigfan of things idea that that sales is a long term profession and it's more of acraft than anything else. So I want to start in kind of an odd place. That'sokay with you. So most people, if you look statistically, most people don'tget into sales by design. Was sales a profession that you actually looked atand said, This is something I want to jump into or something that you foundalong the way. It's something I actually tried to run away from in theopposite direction, as fast as s. Oh, I'll make the story short and quick.But what happened for me, Donny? Is that my senior year of college? I wasthis Broca's any kid could be. And so I was looking for kind of a part time joband being a semi decent athlete in high school, I saw an ad in the paper for afitness instructor, and I had spent so much time, you know, in the gym andworking out that I thought, You know what I could do that, that that couldbe fun. And it was really close to where I was going to school, too. So Idid, and I got the job, and for the first couple of months, it wasincredible. I was taking people through fitness routines. I was helping him getback in shape and I love the job. It...

...was outstanding. I get this on the door and it's from my boss andsays, Hey, Mike, come on in here. I want to talk to you about something. Hegoes. I've been watching you and you interact really well with people. Theyseem to like what you're doing every time you're taking them through yourfitness routines. I think I want to get you in the sales on the second eso It'slike you're doing such a good job. I want you to no longer do that job, estill get to do it. But at the same time is I'm taking people through, likemaybe a first routine Then Then the thing was, Okay, let's see if we cansell them on a membership now to remember saying to the guy, You know, Ilove what I'm doing and I love this job. But if it has anything to do with sales,are not interested at all. In fact, I kind of looked at sales is being kindof an evil thing. So I truly felt at the time that I was doing something tosomebody and not for them. And and so that's what kind of made my wholeinternal chemistry on sales just feel like, No, I can't do this. And overtime, that changed right, Because then I started to realize, you know, wait asecond. Maybe maybe there's a way to do this where it's not an evil thing, butyou're actually helping people. And for me personally, Donny, I had to findthat otherwise I couldn't keep doing it. Okay? And then? And so how long did youdo that job for the deciding membership? Yeah, I actually ended up staying withit for a couple of years after graduation because I really did enjoydoing it actually got into, like, a management thing. And but then, youknow, my background was in advertising, so that's what I went to school for.And so I also was able to get, like, ship at an ad agency. And so from there,what I wanted to find with something in advertising And of course, you know,you and I, at one point working for the same company, I saw an interview for R.H. Donnelley, which was the Yellow Pages company back in the day on, and Iinterviewed for that. And it's a really quick, funny story here, but the when Iwas going through the interview process, the manager who hired me at the time,said, Why do you think he'd be a good...

...fit for this? And I said, Well, tworeasons I said, I've got a degree in advertising I went to school for anddesign copyrighting layout and I got some experience in sales. And the funnyanswer that gave me back was he goes, Well, I love the sales part, but thatadvertising stuff on the play it all but you But you are selling advertisingwell, so that's what I said back to him. Wait a second. We are selling ads,right? And don't you put the heads together, goes, Yeah, but that doesn'treally matter. And I was blown away by that. Now, the the funny other part ofthe story was six months later, he wasn't with the company. E. I've stillbeen in this industry 36 years later, So e still remember this like it wasyesterday. So I you know, I grew up in upstate New York and I was a littletown called Binghamton. And so but part of our territory were areas like Ithacaand Courtland. Like we're Cornell University is an Ithaca admiringCorning a little bit to the West, um, Oneonta and Cooperstown, where the Hallof Fame is. These were areas that we would travel to all about an hour awayfrom where we were s Oh, my. I'm a year and a half into the job and I'm hatingit because I'm getting I'm getting beaten up all the time about you. Gottamake your quote. You gotta make a quote. You gotta make your quota. In themeantime, I'm not doing the things that I wanted to do, which was helpbusinesses with their advertising campaigns. All I'm being asked to do isjust sell, sell, sell kind of thing on. I'm really, seriously considering abouta a completely new profession. And then something really cool happened for me.I mean, Ithaca, New York, and I'm talking to this one business owner andat the time, you know, yellow pages. If you were thinking about you know, thistime, if you were a mover, if you were a plumber, if you were a locksmith,that was the only place you really could be, right? I mean, because, youknow, it's hard to put advertising campaigns together for a locksmith atthe time to say, Hey, just wanna let you know we've got the greatestdeadbolts in the world. Or, you know, it was It was one of those things wheremost of we're making all their money,...

...things done, lockout cases, right? Andso they had to be in the Yellow Pages. But at the same time, we knew they hadto be there. It was a necessary evil. A on those were the exact words of thebusiness owner would use with me every day that I hate you. I hate yourcompany and I hate what you're doing. But I have to be with you becausethere's no other choice. And so because of that, we were taking advantage ofthem. In my mind, we were hitting with an 18% rate increase every year justbecause we could, right? So every time I walked in the door, they'dimmediately start screaming at me. And so that was miserable. And I rememberthinking, I just don't want to do this anymore until one day, one businessowner said, All right, here's the deal. I am canceling on you. It was a prettybig contract. There's a few 1000 bucks a month, which was a lot of money backthen and he goes, I am canceling. But he goes, I'm going to give you 20minutes to convince me that maybe I shouldn't do this. And nobody had everdone that for me before. And I started thinking back, Okay, This isinteresting. This guy's giving me a chance to actually talk to him. So Iwent back into my old advertising training and I started trying Thiointerview him almost a ziff. I was trying to put together a campaign thathe wanted me to do for him, and he loved it. He was eating it up and hewas like, Okay, this is like, the best meeting I've ever had with one of youguys because all we were doing was brainstorming. We were white boarding,brainstorming, and I was getting him to try to sell me on why he was reallygood at what he did. And he was he was doing that. I was semi creative guy.I'm coming up with headline and I'm coming up with, like, graphic designideas. I'm coming up with bullet points. I'm coming up with action statements,and he's like he's looking at this he goes, that's really good. That willwork. That's going to get people to, you know, actually call my business.I've heard this so many times over my life. Might you become obsessed withthe sales process like every component of what happens in the salesinteraction? Why? And my come back is because that's where the moneyexchanges hands. If you don't know that part, that, then how are you doinganything? Because everything should be built to support that, right? We've gotso many vice presidents that, you know,...

...like we could we could do so many greatepisodes of undercover boss with many businesses and companies. Because ifyou look some of those sales VPs and put him in the street, ah, lot of themcan't do it right. But at the same time, this is the same people that arescreaming at the front line managers to do a better job. Well, how you gonnahelp the front line manager get better if you don't know how to do it? Right.So So my belief is that every level of sales should know the core componentsto the sales called process and know how to coach to it well enough becausethat's the only way you create a culture of doing the right thing wheneverybody's in front of the actual customer themselves. But I gotta tellyou, I've worked with consulted 46 media companies Now, in 22 countries,90 plus percent aren't even close. Just which is why I think people are failingso much is because nobody really knows what they want that sales up to do. Andthey don't have a trained eye so they can help him get better. So that bringsup an interesting dilemma. Then if if your your sales rep or are a new salesmanager kind of listening to this and you're going Okay, so I'm gonna have areal problem finding the skill set that I need to be successful, and the personabove is gonna have no clue how to help me. Where do they go? But in your inyour view, what? What, what? What? What's that? What's a good step to makeyou know? And I and I believe Dani to that question is one of the biggestreasons why you see a turnover rates being so high, right, and a lot ofcompanies. You'll see turnover rates organizations 30 40 50 60. I've seen70%. And so, you know, when you start to peel that onion bag to say, Okay,were they all just bad hires? And the answer is no on that right? And so partof, like part of like the sales management training that I've tried toput together for companies is the idea. And I know you've heard this phrase alot. You know, some people call it ability, desire, or there's a peoplecall it skill and will. And either way, it's kind of like to me, that's thefoundation. If I hired Donnie Die and I look at him and say, You know what,That guy's got a lot of ability. He does. And then the second part is, youknow what? He's also got a lot of...

...desire to want to become great. If I'myour manager, Donny, and you're not great after that, that's myresponsibility in my mind that I screwed up on you. But unfortunately,that's not how a lot of sales organizations look at it today. Whatbest describes the style of selling that you use? You've heard this I guessthe phrase consultative versus maybe more transactional, that kind of thing.But I really do believe that I try. Personally. I try to go in with themindset of I'm not really worried about making the sale. If it happens, ithappens. If it doesn't, it doesn't. I want to go in and see if I can helpthat person. So it's very much more of a consultative type of thing. The saleitself is a byproduct of doing the right thing, even if it means walkingaway. What do you think makes a great seller? Someone who's really great attheir job? I think I think it starts in that foundation of really trulybelieving in the product or service that you're selling first. I think itstarts there, all right, and then I think the second part is trying to seeif it's a fit for whoever you're talking Teoh, right? Because again,that old adage you can't really forced a square peg into a round hole, you cantry. You could get the biggest hammer in the world and try to force it inthere, but it shouldn't be that way. It should be more along the lines of Youknow what, Maybe my product or service isn't right for everybody. So go inwith the idea that, let's see, based on where this person is in their world, ifwhat I've got to make it better, some and if it if it is, try to approach itthat way. But if it's not, be okay with what fucking away, too. Be okay withletting the person know. You know what, Mr Mrs Business owner or whoever it is?Customer. I could sell you this, but I don't think it's the right thing foryou and walk away. I think you're going to feel better about yourself andbetter about life in general. If you look at it that way, you know, versusjust trying to make, trying to sell anything, you can anybody, that's justa miserable way to go through it. Definitely agree. Number three. Do youfeel your ability to sell comes from your nature or training? For me, it wasIt's definitely both. There's no, but for me, it's more than nature thananything else, Donny. And that's that's...

...not necessarily say Sara Lee. The wayit is with everybody. I've known people who've been super successful in salesfor decades, and they hate every minute of their life. Okay? And so so thatthey did it through training and learning how to do it through differenttechniques and tactics, right? It wasn't in their nature. They just didit because that's what they did right? For me, it is my nature, right? But itonly became that way when I figured out how to do it based on helping and notselling. So the best people that I've ever seen start with that. But thenthey get trained and how to do it at a really high world class level, and thatjust takes him to a place where you know they become great at it. And and Ialso don't believe you ever really stopped learning how to become great.And I'm still trying to become better all the time. Myself and I definitelyrelate to that. So what are you happiest in your in a sales role? Greatquestion. That's my favorite question investing so far today. I know this isa little weird, but I I figured out fairly early on that I am way morepumped up and excited when I have taken somebody who is already working as asales person or manager, and I give them some ideas and how to help themget better. And I watched him succeed. So for me personally, it wasn't aboutme succeeding. It was watching somebody else succeed. And that's when Irealized training was the right place for me, not because I can't do it,because I'll go out on the street and prove you right now. I could do it ifit's just because it's like that was so cool. Tow watch that persons and higherlife change because what I was able to help them to dio it doesn't get betterthan that. You know, at the end of the day, you're like, Wow, I just help thatperson. I might have saved that guy's career, you know, they might have had afamily with small kids or whatever, and they're just beaming there, shaking myhand and thanking me, saying, Look, I can't thank you enough for how you'vehelped me become better at what I'm doing. That's what that's what keeps mein the game. That's what gets me excited. Very cool And then on the flipside, where you typically the saddest What is something that just reallybummed you out in this world When when I the worst case scenario for me and Italk a lot of is about this and...

...management training is and I really ittook me years to figure this out. This was not one of these things I figuredout very quickly. Not not everybody can be great at this, and and I because ofmy nature, thinking that I could make everybody great, right? That wassomething that really made life miserable for me for a long time. WhatI realized is that if you get a person who doesn't have the ability or doesn'thave the desire, because you've gotta have both, they're not gonna becomegood there. Andan. Sadly, I think that when you figure that out pretty quickly,you should try to guide them and maybe thinking about trying to do somethingelse, because it could be really great at something else. Just this is forthem. It's just sad as hell, cause I know now it doesn't have to be that way.If you could talk to your 18 year old self. What would you say to them aboutthe career that you will choose eso? I was that cocky kid who thought that hedidn't have to work hard at it, right, Because there were. There were certainthings that I was pretty good at, and it did kind of come natural for me. AndI would have said to them, You know what? Study harder, become, become orof a student practice. Or don't think that you're just naturally great, right?Try to figure out how to get Thio the next level by working harder, workingharder. There was a There was a little bit of a laziness to me and somethingon things, especially when it came to school and when it came toe work. And Iwish if I had to go back again, I will work so much harder on the first day ofyour retirement. What will you miss about sales? Not helping people anymore?Yeah, every day and in fact, a half hour from now I'm gonna be talkingabout 22 people down in Austin, Texas, and I've got one component of theprocess that they they've asked to try to get better in. And it's a reallycool thing. It is every day I get to do that right. And so I take it slow,because those 22 people, I don't know, most of them, and I don't know whatthere is going on in their life, but I...

...know that if I do this well for themtoday, which is why I take this stuff really, really seriously. E can I couldpotentially say something. Do something, help them with something that could belife changing for them, that they could then become so much better at whatthey're doing. And then maybe they pass that along to somebody down the roadbased on what they're learning today to, You know, I'm gonna miss that moreanything else? Because I I know that. Okay? I don't have the ability to helpthose people anymore, so that that's Yeah, that that'll be the hardest thing.Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Understand that for sure. And then thelast question is, do you ever regret going into sales? Not now. No. No,because, you know, the one thing is that Donny and this is the coolestthing in the world to this day. I still get tons of emails, phone calls, textmessages, even to this day from people all over the world. Every country I'veever done consulting and work with, like sometimes it's 2345 10 years later,they'll say, Listen, hey, I got to tell you, I still remember when you help mewith X y Z, whatever it waas and what a difference that made. And I'm stilltrying to apply these things. Or now I'm teaching people how to do thosethings. I just wanted to reach and say hi and thank you for that again andthat zoos to me is the coolest thing in the world. Thanks for joining us. Ifyou would like to speak to Donnie directly, his email is Donnie at quotanyc dot com. That's d o N n y at q u o t a nyc dot com. Also, be sure to checkout pitch wise nyc dot com for exclusive content and to join thespeakeasy till next time. Be well and hit quota.

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