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 podcast where great sales people get their superpowers. If you are looking to add more superpowers, check out pitch wise nyc dot com and join the sales. Speak easy to connect with other sales leaders and founders Like Yourself Way are a new podcast, so be sure to hit like and subscribe so that you don't miss any of season one. Taylor Robinson is a New Jersey native that learned to sell in China. His story is definitely not your typical path 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 the world selling as his first sales gig. What was it like growing up for you as a kid? Were you? Did you ever have any early signs that sales was gonna be kind of the life of where you lead? No, absolutely not. What I was like as a kid, I would say I was oversized. I was over excited on die, tended to get into a lot of trouble. So my parents, my brother I have an older brother were both large people, especially as Children. We were bigger than everyone else in our grade. And so they pushed us to sports number one to drain us physically on Number two is, uh, just to keep us out of trouble, to be all that to be completely transparent. So do you consider yourself competitive after all that, that time doing Spence? Yes and no. Uh, for me, that's a challenging 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 lose some. And it happened so often with so many different teams that winning on one particular team didn't matter that much, to be honest, because I won somewhere else and I'd lose somewhere else later on down the road. When I went 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 and this is gonna actually describe my personality. In a nutshell. When we were in practices, these were my teammates, and I understand we need to practice, and I viewed it as...

...conditioning. I did not want to hit my friends. 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 play in 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 person in the world, so I try not to turn that switch as often as possible. Now there's a There's a like I've talked to several managers, most of them not sales managers, most of them that have opinions about sales. And they feel that having someone that pay played competitive college athletics is a sure fire 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 is your Yes, my my only concern and why I'm thinking about it So long is this I played enough sports with people where they're homogeneous nature. They want people on their team who are the exact same as them. And in my sales experience, to have a diverse group of people actually lends itself to the best sales team. You hear different perspectives. You hear different methodologies and things of that nature. So I think, yeah, I think more often than 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 school with a history degree? Yeah. So do you feel like you had the stereotypical experience of people to graduate with the history degree? No, no, no. All of my internships were at financial institutions, so I was still very much gung ho math and finance, uh, in in work experience on DSO when I graduated college, unfortunately was right after the crisis. So finance was not exactly the opportune job at that time. So I'll never forget this. I'll remember till the day I die. I went into multiple interviews. I'm walking in for an interview with my resume in hand and I'm watching people walk out with their stuff from their desk. Oh, my gosh. Happened to me multiple times. It was just a surreal for a 22 year old to see that a 21 year old to see that was it was It was heavy, man. There was...

...something really have. What was the interview like? Did you just walk in? And they're like, uh, forgot to cancel this? No, they would say, Hey, we're taking a look at you for potential hirings 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 maybe one day reach out and call you again. And it was so fruitless, but you had just had to do it. And and also a 22 years old. You needed that interview experience, right? Because especially when you're a young buck walking to you have doe eyes and you're not prepared and those kinds of things, So just just getting a little more run at that was always helpful. But you ask the question how I went into sales and and, uh, that's it Very challenging question for me to answer because I took a step back from working at this brokerage firm and I reached out to a mentor of mine, Ah, professor in college who I really, really looked up to and had a really deep impact on me on He told me to reassess things, understand if this is what I wanted to do in life, and he pointed me to a couple of nonprofit program, and so I looked him up and I found one that was teaching for a year. And I said, Hey, I could do this on DSO This started me down a six year path. That was definitely not how I design my life to go, but it's the way it worked out. And I actually lived in China for the next 6.5 years. So you're so it wasn't just a come teach. It was come teach 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 want to 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 know three 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 so it 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 the third largest city in China. It's a...

...very blue collar city. And so they said Taylor, 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. So once you've got to your second college section Your Did you did you come back to the U s or did you were you settling in? It's a great question. I was settling in and what One of the most exciting things I worked in a city where it's blue collar where things were manufactured where things were shipped. And so the people I was meeting was very different from the sphere of New York. This is all established white collar people that I grew up with. This was blue collar designers. Manufacturers factory through 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 actually designed my own product. Um, and just for anyone here, I designed a product that, you know, I'm not sure if any of you have it, but if you can prop your laptop on your desk and it's raised in at eye level, I developed, uh, one iteration of that where you could try fold it and put it in your pocket. So if you went to Starbucks or anything like that, you could pull it out and have your laptop at eye level on. So I put it on. I designed it. I got a cat designer the whole nine yards, and I put it on a crowdfunding site and it was fully funded for 75 grand. And I was like, Man, this is awesome. This is really exciting. You know, this is what I want to do. And that's what I was like. I'm gonna be an entrepreneur. I'm gonna build all this crap. And that's when my mind was going at the time on then, sure enough, the woman who assembled 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 my project, 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 that time, and I said, That's interesting. And she and I said, What do you need from 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's a million dollar book and I went, You don't speak English, How are you doing it? And she literally said, People show up and pointed things that her shoulder Oh, my God. And that's how she order stuff. And I was like, Sure, you've never 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 I had to learn the product. It was hard. It was over. 1000 skews. I had to learn 1000. 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 huge learning curve. I walked the factory floors. It was very awesome. And then I started going to conferences and convention centers on. I brought the normal have never been to those things. But those air like the weirdest places in the world. Yeah, so is that like, Is that it was that in China or was that I've been China. I've been Australia. I've been to Milan, Italy. I've been to Vegas. I've been all over the world to these convention centers. And what's creepy is when you're in one, you have no idea what country. So how old were you 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 because you were flying to the great? It was awesome. Well, I'll tell you what hooked me. So this is like when I started getting the bug for sales, I went to Vegas with, from one of my first conventions with the woman who ended up hiring me. So if I did this show called The Magic Show and it's one of the largest conventions in the world for for wholesale apparel in these kinds of things. And so I went there and a really large luxury brand. I'm not going to say who they are. They came to the booth and they bought almost a quarter million dollars of goods. And I'm like, I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. This extra part of my language. This lady doesn't know what she's talking about. And I'm like, they just came over and quite honestly, cut a check for a quarter million dollars and just bought it on the spot. And I was just like, that was awesome. I was like, I want to do this forever. I'm like, this is the coolest thing ever. And so, uh, this company ended up coming back and buying us from one more year. I learned a lot about the industry. So how did this so? Obviously not there now. So how did the out of the story in? Yeah, that's a great question. So I worked for her for just about 3.5 years. It was an incredible experience. I got the book over $5 million before I left. Like it was an incredible, amazing experience for someone who was in their late twenties, early thirties. And I was like, This is crazy. I met a girl who is now my wife. So it was a great decision looking back on it. But at the...

...time, I had been there for about five or six years, and I actually grown tired of China on tired of traveling to be Honestly, I was traveling quite a bit and so I had to figure out what the next step was. And I knew that this now my now wife was probably the one. And I knew it was gonna be a large process to get her back to the United States. So we went down that conversation path. What that process and take. She was from 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 were concerned with my history, right. I had been out of the country for a really long time and understandably so right because I met a lot of strange people abroad. You know, that didn't really fit in. And that's why they left. And I Do you understand the hesitancy for that? But my background lent itself to sales as well as education. Since I waas since I paid my way through school over there for four years through teaching classes, E was really familiar with baseline education. How toe have these kinds of conversations? What type of methodologies They're using the classrooms and these types of things. So when I came back, I didn't wanna work in those manufacturing distribution centers. So I said, What can I do? I said, I'm going to selling right? What is my experiencing? Well, it's an education. So then I started looking for sales jobs surrounding the educational sphere, and then I came across software companies and I said, This is really interesting. And so from my position, my idea at the time is, Hey, if I can't find a job, I could probably teach my old students back in China and how would I do that? I have to do it through some software program. And so that's what got me going down this path, and my first job back from China was working at a large educational software company on. It was an incredible experience. I met some of the greatest salespeople. We were a crewman. We really, really were, and I have nothing bad to say at all. It was a really, really great experience, but unfortunately, company wasn't doing that well when I was hired and so there was a large contingency of layoffs for my team on I had to reassess the direction I was going. And Matt, my customers react to me, and I had been an outside seller. I had been someone who operated outside of an office. And so it was It was a no brainer. And so...

...when I reached out and we had the conversation, I met the CEO and the team, and I said, Hey, this is my next step. So one question I have because because obviously, it sounds like a lot of your selling up until your first job back in the States was really almost like a self taught sales process. Right? So when in your mind, did you really start to understand what it meant to be a sales person? Like, obviously, you had 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 you start 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, but my third year while I was selling product in China. My book was large and my 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 sidewalk every time they took me out, right? That's that's how they do business over there, right? And so it was a little bit different. And so that's when I realized that I had, um I had an ability to get people to find me likable, 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 understand that 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 back to the States and I worked at this educational company, Um, and one of the benefits of working educational cos they love to educate you on. So that's when I came back and they started teaching me traditional software sales methodologies. Sandler, Challenger, Spin. I learned all of these things and I had an incredible coach. He was a sales enablement traders Name is Greg's Corolla. He he gave you what you put in, and at that point in my life, I was putting in a lot. And so I got a lot out of him and it was a really, really powerful experience. And that's when I started when I started closing software deals. That's when I knew I could do this successfully. That's when I decided 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 it really so in your mind it was being able to kind of Did you feel like you were sitting among your peers at that...

...point when you're in that kind of the rowdy 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 of these were younger, less tenured reps that were just looking for the opportunity Thio have and be successful in sales. I was older. I had seen large deals go through. I have held relationships over multiple years and it was very strange to be put in a very junior position from a sales perspective. 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's going on. And I got that. But it was It was surreal. And it was the first time in my life that I experienced a very large disconnect between leadership and the actual team itself. They weren't doing well as a company, so they were worried about other things. Their minds were in other places, so the emphasis wasn'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 customer that they're talking to but stays true to their own voice? I heard this a long time, but my grandpa was a sale. He was selling, uh, pumps, sump pumps way back in 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 you lose 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 a call not true to your own character. They know that they can feel that, and and 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 a disrespectful prospect for me, it eats away at me because I think I did something wrong. Even if it's out of my control or something like that, it's something that lives with me because I wonder what I could have done differently. Yes, you're getting done better. You're in internalize er, so you take what you take, whatever someone says, it's if it's negative and you just kind of bring it into yourself.

So 100% do you feel like it ever gets to the point where it impacts your desire to be in sales? No, I mean, I'm lucky enough where I got pretty thick skin. I've had enough things go wrong in 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 of advice that I've received. Better were incredibly powerful for me. 11 is my old sales manager. His name is Dan. He used the analogy, uh, boulders, rocks and pebbles. I don't know if you've ever heard this before. I'm sure he stole 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 reality of it is what makes your pipeline up the most are actually the rocks and pebbles. And so it's actually more advantageous for you to build the baseline 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 thing for me to understand, cause I didn't it go my first quarter and then the next quarter actually focused on smaller deals and moving them faster on I hit quota. So it was. It was very solid. Sales advice. Thea Other thing. I would say The other piece of advice that I got was incredibly powerful. Was this treat every deal the same, Whether it's a million dollars or $10,000 or $5 you talk to the person as if they were the same. Who cares if they're VP or a GM versus a sales rep? It's the same conversation. It shouldn't change. I think I would say if I had to talk to my 18 year old self. What I would really tell them is that don't don't feel unnecessary pressure to do something that's not true to your character. I've had enough people try and influence me enough, and I've seen enough people to try and influence other people, to not be who they are on did. It just doesn't work. I've seen it just failing multiple multiple locations, so that's that's definitely what I would say for that. Thanks for joining us. If you would like to speak to Donnie directly, his email is Donnie at quota nyc dot com. That's d o N N y at q u o t a n y c dot com. Also, be...

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

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