In Pursuit of Quota
In Pursuit of Quota

Episode · 1 year ago

Doing Math In China - Taylor Robinson

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Selling overseas is tough. Selling six figure deals tougher. Doing both as your first sales job? Ridiculous. Taylor Robinson redefines what it means to be thrown to the wolves in sales. He found success and now helps companies navigate COVID 19.

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. Taylor Robinson is a New Jersey nativethat learned to sell in China. His story is definitely not your typicalpath to sales today. He is helping outside sales teams navigate Cove it.Our host, Donny die chats with Taylor on how he found himself traveling theworld selling as his first sales gig. What was it like growing up for you asa kid? Were you? Did you ever have any early signs that sales was gonna bekind of the life of where you lead? No, absolutely not. What I was like as akid, I would say I was oversized. I was over excited on die, tended to get intoa lot of trouble. So my parents, my brother I have an older brother wereboth large people, especially as Children. We were bigger than everyoneelse in our grade. And so they pushed us to sports number one to drain usphysically on Number two is, uh, just to keep us out of trouble, to be allthat to be completely transparent. So do you consider yourself competitiveafter all that, that time doing Spence? Yes and no. Uh, for me, that's achallenging question to ask. I like to play sports. I played so many sports,uh, that I didn't take it as overly competitive. I would win some and losesome. And it happened so often with so many different teams that winning onone particular team didn't matter that much, to be honest, because I wonsomewhere else and I'd lose somewhere else later on down the road. When Iwent to college, it became a little more defined. I played college football,and it was one season you trained eight months of the year for that one season,and so those competitive juices were big. But what I will say is this andthis is gonna actually describe my personality. In a nutshell. When wewere in practices, these were my teammates, and I understand we need topractice, and I viewed it as...

...conditioning. I did not want to hit myfriends. I did not want to push them. I did not want to potentially injure them,and it was viewed by coaches and people that that was not effort. That was not.You did not want to practice and things of that nature. But when I would playin a football game, it was very much like the inside and outside,introverted, extroverted. I could flick a switch and I became very competitive.And I have to be honest you when I get competitive, I'm not the nicest personin the world, so I try not to turn that switch as often as possible. Nowthere's a There's a like I've talked to several managers, most of them notsales managers, most of them that have opinions about sales. And they feelthat having someone that pay played competitive college athletics is a surefire way to find a good sales route. Do you think there's any truth to that?Are what I'd love to kind of get your having being one currently? What isyour Yes, my my only concern and why I'm thinking about it So long is this Iplayed enough sports with people where they're homogeneous nature. They wantpeople on their team who are the exact same as them. And in my salesexperience, to have a diverse group of people actually lends itself to thebest sales team. You hear different perspectives. You hear differentmethodologies and things of that nature. So I think, yeah, I think more oftenthan not, I think a athlete would put in the hours, would put in the effort.They know what's required. So So you came out it. So you came into schoolwith a history degree? Yeah. So do you feel like you had the stereotypicalexperience of people to graduate with the history degree? No, no, no. All ofmy internships were at financial institutions, so I was still very muchgung ho math and finance, uh, in in work experience on DSO when I graduatedcollege, unfortunately was right after the crisis. So finance was not exactlythe opportune job at that time. So I'll never forget this. I'll remember tillthe day I die. I went into multiple interviews. I'm walking in for aninterview with my resume in hand and I'm watching people walk out with theirstuff from their desk. Oh, my gosh. Happened to me multiple times. It wasjust a surreal for a 22 year old to see that a 21 year old to see that was itwas It was heavy, man. There was...

...something really have. What was theinterview like? Did you just walk in? And they're like, uh, forgot to cancelthis? No, they would say, Hey, we're taking a look at you for potentialhirings in the future. No, we don't have them right now. Kind of a thing.Yeah. We're gonna put you in a giant docket with 7000 other people to maybeone day reach out and call you again. And it was so fruitless, but you hadjust had to do it. And and also a 22 years old. You needed that interviewexperience, right? Because especially when you're a young buck walking to youhave doe eyes and you're not prepared and those kinds of things, So just justgetting a little more run at that was always helpful. But you ask thequestion how I went into sales and and, uh, that's it Very challenging questionfor me to answer because I took a step back from working at this brokeragefirm and I reached out to a mentor of mine, Ah, professor in college who Ireally, really looked up to and had a really deep impact on me on He told meto reassess things, understand if this is what I wanted to do in life, and hepointed me to a couple of nonprofit program, and so I looked him up and Ifound one that was teaching for a year. And I said, Hey, I could do this on DSOThis started me down a six year path. That was definitely not how I design mylife to go, but it's the way it worked out. And I actually lived in China forthe next 6.5 years. So you're so it wasn't just a come teach. It was cometeach in China. Well, that's a loaded question. I don't want to go to China.When I applied to this teaching program, they're like, what countries you wantto go on that list of countries and I was in Spain, Italy, Australia or not.Australia, Spain. Italy. Uh, what was the other one is like the Philippines.I want to say, somewhere down there and then China was like the fifth choice.Okay, of course. You feel like you're going to China. And I'm like, Oh, jeez,I'm like, Okay, like, what city do want to go? And I'm like, Well, I only knowthree Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. So I was like, those were the three.And they're like, Great. Well, you're going to Guangzhou. And I was like,What? What was a caddie spell that? How do you say that? I have no idea. And soit turns out it was the If you're counting, Hong Kong is part of China.It's the fourth largest city in China. You're excluding Hong Kong. It's thethird largest city in China. It's a...

...very blue collar city. And so they saidTaylor, this is where you're going. And I said, Well, I don't want to go there,but I could do anything for a year. Cool. So? So once you got through. Soonce you've got to your second college section Your Did you did you come backto the U s or did you were you settling in? It's a great question. I wassettling in and what One of the most exciting things I worked in a citywhere it's blue collar where things were manufactured where things wereshipped. And so the people I was meeting was very different from thesphere of New York. This is all established white collar people that Igrew up with. This was blue collar designers. Manufacturers factorythrough these kinds of things. So I was meeting a different group of people,and I found it really exciting. And I started making inroads, and I actuallydesigned my own product. Um, and just for anyone here, I designed a productthat, you know, I'm not sure if any of you have it, but if you can prop yourlaptop on your desk and it's raised in at eye level, I developed, uh, oneiteration of that where you could try fold it and put it in your pocket. Soif you went to Starbucks or anything like that, you could pull it out andhave your laptop at eye level on. So I put it on. I designed it. I got a catdesigner the whole nine yards, and I put it on a crowdfunding site and itwas fully funded for 75 grand. And I was like, Man, this is awesome. This isreally exciting. You know, this is what I want to do. And that's what I waslike. I'm gonna be an entrepreneur. I'm gonna build all this crap. And that'swhen my mind was going at the time on then, sure enough, the woman whoassembled my product offered me a job. She saw that I was fluent in Mandarin.I went to her factory and I had conversations with her. So I did myproject, and I ended up selling my designs on and at the end, she said,Hey, do you want to work for me? I own three factories. No. Well, and I went,Sure I was when she reached out to her and I was like, I don't want to do this,to be honest with you, right? And she had about a $5 million book at thattime, and I said, That's interesting. And she and I said, What do you needfrom me? And she said, I need someone to handle the international business.And I said, I understand that What does it look like today? And she said, It'sa million dollar book and I went, You don't speak English, How are you doingit? And she literally said, People show up and pointed things that her shoulderOh, my God. And that's how she order stuff. And I was like, Sure, you'venever actually proactively gone out and...

...tried to find people. She was like, No,And I said, This will be interesting. Let me try and do this. And so first Ihad to learn the product. It was hard. It was over. 1000 skews. I had to learn1000. Everything's what their price points were what they were made out of,how to pitch them, who? It's for all this kind of stuff. So it was a hugelearning curve. I walked the factory floors. It was very awesome. And then Istarted going to conferences and convention centers on. I brought thenormal have never been to those things. But those air like the weirdest placesin the world. Yeah, so is that like, Is that it was that in China or was thatI've been China. I've been Australia. I've been to Milan, Italy. I've been toVegas. I've been all over the world to these convention centers. And what'screepy is when you're in one, you have no idea what country. So how old wereyou when you were doing this? I was probably 26 years old, 27 years old.Wow. So did you have you felt that you feel like you were just arrived becauseyou were flying to the great? It was awesome. Well, I'll tell you whathooked me. So this is like when I started getting the bug for sales, Iwent to Vegas with, from one of my first conventions with the woman whoended up hiring me. So if I did this show called The Magic Show and it's oneof the largest conventions in the world for for wholesale apparel in thesekinds of things. And so I went there and a really large luxury brand. I'mnot going to say who they are. They came to the booth and they boughtalmost a quarter million dollars of goods. And I'm like, I don't know whatthe hell I'm talking about. This extra part of my language. This lady doesn'tknow what she's talking about. And I'm like, they just came over and quitehonestly, cut a check for a quarter million dollars and just bought it onthe spot. And I was just like, that was awesome. I was like, I want to do thisforever. I'm like, this is the coolest thing ever. And so, uh, this companyended up coming back and buying us from one more year. I learned a lot aboutthe industry. So how did this so? Obviously not there now. So how did theout of the story in? Yeah, that's a great question. So I worked for her forjust about 3.5 years. It was an incredible experience. I got the bookover $5 million before I left. Like it was an incredible, amazing experiencefor someone who was in their late twenties, early thirties. And I waslike, This is crazy. I met a girl who is now my wife. So it was a greatdecision looking back on it. But at the...

...time, I had been there for about fiveor six years, and I actually grown tired of China on tired of traveling tobe Honestly, I was traveling quite a bit and so I had to figure out what thenext step was. And I knew that this now my now wife was probably the one. And Iknew it was gonna be a large process to get her back to the United States. Sowe went down that conversation path. What that process and take. She wasfrom China s O. I was applying to jobs for factories, logistics supply, chain,that kind of stuff. And I had some traction. But a lot of people wereconcerned with my history, right. I had been out of the country for a reallylong time and understandably so right because I met a lot of strange peopleabroad. You know, that didn't really fit in. And that's why they left. And IDo you understand the hesitancy for that? But my background lent itself tosales as well as education. Since I waas since I paid my way through schoolover there for four years through teaching classes, E was really familiarwith baseline education. How toe have these kinds of conversations? What typeof methodologies They're using the classrooms and these types of things.So when I came back, I didn't wanna work in those manufacturingdistribution centers. So I said, What can I do? I said, I'm going to sellingright? What is my experiencing? Well, it's an education. So then I startedlooking for sales jobs surrounding the educational sphere, and then I cameacross software companies and I said, This is really interesting. And so frommy position, my idea at the time is, Hey, if I can't find a job, I couldprobably teach my old students back in China and how would I do that? I haveto do it through some software program. And so that's what got me going downthis path, and my first job back from China was working at a largeeducational software company on. It was an incredible experience. I met some ofthe greatest salespeople. We were a crewman. We really, really were, and Ihave nothing bad to say at all. It was a really, really great experience, butunfortunately, company wasn't doing that well when I was hired and so therewas a large contingency of layoffs for my team on I had to reassess thedirection I was going. And Matt, my customers react to me, and I had beenan outside seller. I had been someone who operated outside of an office. Andso it was It was a no brainer. And so...

...when I reached out and we had theconversation, I met the CEO and the team, and I said, Hey, this is my nextstep. So one question I have because because obviously, it sounds like a lotof your selling up until your first job back in the States was really almostlike a self taught sales process. Right? So when in your mind, did you reallystart to understand what it meant to be a sales person? Like, obviously, youhad the moment that that someone cuts a quarter of a million dollar check?That's a That's a heck of a day. Is there? Like when? When was when did youstart to understand that? You know, maybe this is maybe I'm good at this.And maybe the this is probably the career I'm gonna choose long term. Yeah.So it was interesting. I don't know if I made this decision at this point, butmy third year while I was selling product in China. My book was large andmy customers were coming back and they liked me. They brought me out to dinner.I mean, shoot. They wanted to get me hammered and throw up on the sidewalkevery time they took me out, right? That's that's how they do business overthere, right? And so it was a little bit different. And so that's when Irealized that I had, um I had an ability to get people to find melikable, to, to find, to want to have a conversation, that easy going, you know,disarming type of conversation. And so that's when I started to understandthat I'm probably a people person oriented in terms of professionally.However, I wasn't sold on sales. Not yet. Still, it wasn't until I came backto the States and I worked at this educational company, Um, and one of thebenefits of working educational cos they love to educate you on. So that'swhen I came back and they started teaching me traditional software salesmethodologies. Sandler, Challenger, Spin. I learned all of these things andI had an incredible coach. He was a sales enablement traders Name is Greg'sCorolla. He he gave you what you put in, and at that point in my life, I wasputting in a lot. And so I got a lot out of him and it was a really, reallypowerful experience. And that's when I started when I started closing softwaredeals. That's when I knew I could do this successfully. That's when Idecided that this was going to be my career choice. This is where I'm going.I know Aiken have a successful professional career. That's cool. So itreally so in your mind it was being able to kind of Did you feel like youwere sitting among your peers at that...

...point when you're in that kind of therowdy sales for yeah, but it was mostly mostly 25 20 for maybe a 26 year olds.Uh, you know their education so they don't pay as well, right? So a lot ofthese were younger, less tenured reps that were just looking for theopportunity Thio have and be successful in sales. I was older. I had seen largedeals go through. I have held relationships over multiple years andit was very strange to be put in a very junior position from a salesperspective. Even though I'm not familiar with software, I understood,you know, e need to take my spoonful of medicine and understand what the heck'sgoing on. And I got that. But it was It was surreal. And it was the first timein my life that I experienced a very large disconnect between leadership andthe actual team itself. They weren't doing well as a company, so they wereworried about other things. Their minds were in other places, so the emphasiswasn't on how to get the sales engine back going. It was just kind of Hey,keep doing what we've been doing. It's been proven successful in the past.What do you think makes a great seller? Someone who understands the customerthat they're talking to but stays true to their own voice? I heard this a longtime, but my grandpa was a sale. He was selling, uh, pumps, sump pumps way backin the day. And the one thing he said to me that really stuck with me is this.As a salesperson, you only have one thing mhm is your word. The second youlose your word, you don't have a voice in the deal. And he said that to me.And it made so much sense because it's the first time you're disingenuous on acall not true to your own character. They know that they can feel that, andand and so that's That's what I would say. What is the what is the saddest?Oh, this is actually need to go. I experienced this maybe two weeks ago,not even joking when I get on the phone with an angry customer or adisrespectful prospect for me, it eats away at me because I think I didsomething wrong. Even if it's out of my control or something like that, it'ssomething that lives with me because I wonder what I could have donedifferently. Yes, you're getting done better. You're in internalize er, soyou take what you take, whatever someone says, it's if it's negative andyou just kind of bring it into yourself.

So 100% do you feel like it ever getsto the point where it impacts your desire to be in sales? No, I mean, I'mlucky enough where I got pretty thick skin. I've had enough things go wrongin my life. At this point where I can I can suffer some punches. Absolutely.What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten as a salesperson? Oh,interesting. I would say This is two fold for me. There's two pieces ofadvice that I've received. Better were incredibly powerful for me. 11 is myold sales manager. His name is Dan. He used the analogy, uh, boulders, rocksand pebbles. I don't know if you've ever heard this before. I'm sure hestole it from some sales book somewhere, but it's talking about your deal sizes.Everyone focuses on the boulders in your pipeline, right? But the realityof it is what makes your pipeline up the most are actually the rocks andpebbles. And so it's actually more advantageous for you to build thebaseline with rocks and pebbles and then throw a boulder on top. You don't.I want the foundation to actually be boulders, and that was important thingfor me to understand, cause I didn't it go my first quarter and then the nextquarter actually focused on smaller deals and moving them faster on I hitquota. So it was. It was very solid. Sales advice. Thea Other thing. I wouldsay The other piece of advice that I got was incredibly powerful. Was thistreat every deal the same, Whether it's a million dollars or $10,000 or $5 youtalk to the person as if they were the same. Who cares if they're VP or a GMversus a sales rep? It's the same conversation. It shouldn't change. Ithink I would say if I had to talk to my 18 year old self. What I wouldreally tell them is that don't don't feel unnecessary pressure to dosomething that's not true to your character. I've had enough people tryand influence me enough, and I've seen enough people to try and influenceother people, to not be who they are on did. It just doesn't work. I've seen itjust failing multiple multiple locations, so that's that's definitelywhat I would say for that. Thanks for joining us. If you would like to speakto Donnie directly, his email is Donnie at quota nyc dot com. That's d o N N yat q u o t a n y c dot com. Also, be...

...sure to check out pitch wise nyc dotcom for exclusive content and to join the speakeasy till next time, be welland hit quota.

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