IForce Marketing’s Chief of Sales, Eric Mercado explores the world of sales leadership. When it comes to his sales team, hiring the right people, and instilling a competitive culture is key. Eric uses a variety of tools to not only measure performance but make it fun, engaging, and competitive. Eric has found a balance between ensuring that his team members hit their quotas but are not micromanaged, creating a high performing team, that is grounded in culture.
Chief Sales Officer at Force Marketing
My role is to make sure that our business development team is educating the automotiveindustry on our core values and identifying the best clients partnerships available to assure asuccessful transition to our technology-enabled multi-channel marketing platform.
Force Marketing’s targeted multi-channel marketing solutions eliminate waste and increase ROI for hundreds of dealerships across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico every month.
Our proprietary Helix platform collects data from over 30 data sources allowing us to access over 250 million consumer vehicle ownership, credit score and online buyer behavior records with the click of a button.
By cross referencing our data and clients top sales, top service and designated marketing zips; than appropriating our spends based on buying propensity we see an average increase in sales of 24% year-over-year for our roster of 850+ dealerships nationwide.
Atlanta 3098 Piedmont Rd NE, 4th Floor Atlanta, GA. 30305
WHO WE ARE
Force Marketing provides the full complement of automotive marketing services for large dealer groups, Tier II ad associations and OEMs. Thanks to our years of experience within the automotive space, and a wide range of marketing expertise, we know exactly how to maximize your ROI.
We are a rapidly-growing company that’s headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., with an office on Madison Avenue in New York City. We are known throughout the industry for getting measurable results.
We strive to do good in and out of the office. Our entire team takes pride in participating in events that help those throughout our local community, enriching our culture and our lives. Events and organizations that Force Marketing team members have been involved with include: Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Bright Futures Atlanta, National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Atlanta Pie Patrol, Walk To Defeat ALS ®, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Atlanta Heart Walk, Diamonds Over Georgia Charity Gala, Relay For Life and more!
From the Podcast Booth:
Series Quick Links
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Epic Company Culture podcast where your host, Josh Sweeney, will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals and company culture aficionados the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.
Josh Sweeney: Hello Fellow culturists and welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast. Before I get started I’d like to thank Prototype Prime for this amazing podcast space.
Today’s series is the sales culture series of the podcast. We have Eric Mercado from Force Marketing. He is the chief sales officer and he’s going to tell us all about sales culture at Force. Eric, thanks for joining us.
Series: Sales Culture
Eric Mercado: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Josh Sweeney: Well, love to start off here a little bit about yourself and Force Marketing.
Introducing Eric Mercado with Force Marketing
Eric Mercado: Cool. Company’s about 14 years old. I started with the company about 12 years ago. We have a central focus on the automotive vertical, so we work with just under 1200 dealerships nationwide, all different franchises, and we provide digital, direct, and email marketing services. So we are basically a measurable marketing arm for the automotive vertical. Seen tremendous growth the last four years, last year 170%, and looking to do the same thing this year. So it’s been a good run.
Josh Sweeney: Nice. That’s huge growth, hopefully attributed to all of your sales management prowess.
Eric Mercado: Some of it. Some it’s we have a really good product.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, that too. Good marketing team, maybe.
Eric Mercado: Good. marketing team, yeah, good marketing team. So we connected the dots pretty well.
The Sales Culture: Consistency
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, well we’ll spread the love across the team for sure. So, I mean, 12 out of 14 years you’ve seen some significant growth, probably significant growth for yourself and a lot of ways I’m guessing. Sales culture, tell us about sales culture at Force.
Eric Mercado: So it’s cyclical, like I think in most organizations, right? Our vertical is very seasonal so there are peaks and there can be valleys. The one thing that we try to preach is consistency, right? We have some gamification tools that we use to kind of keep everybody aware of what their peers are doing and where they stand as far as the rankings. No one ever wants to be kind of the lowest person on the totem pole. Built our culture really off of competitiveness. One of the things that I’ve always liked to do is hire athletes, former athletes, people that either played high level high school sports or even collegiate, we even have some professional, ex professional athletes that work for us. They tend to work well as a team. They tend to always want to compete. They tend to always want to be top of the board, and they tend to outwork a lot of the non athletic people that we’ve before hired, right?
One of the things that we try to do is build that kind of competitiveness that says, “Listen, like you don’t only want to lose to your peer, you just don’t want to lose to the field.” Right? That’s something that we’ve built is a very competitive culture internally. Then thus that actually helps us externally, right? So a lot of our competition, the vertical, it’s a very competitive vertical, they haven’t built that same culture. They’ve kind of been really relying on the product, right? The product to sell itself and maybe it’d be a little bit more consultative where we’re a little bit more, “Listen, this is what it does, this is how it works, and how quickly can we get it to work for you?” We try to shorten our sales cycle and be really, really competitive and make everything, you know, turn around pretty quick for us. That’s our culture. If I had to state it in one word, it’s like competitiveness. Super competitive.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, I know a lot of the high performing sales cultures I’ve worked with, seen, and worked in, competitiveness was a key attribute of that. You know, they have the leaderboard when you walk in and you can see who’s on top, and if it’s not for sales, it’s for activities, it’s for leading indicators and all sorts of other factors.
You mentioned gamification. What do you use for gamification? Do you use a certain software or is it just kind of leaderboards in your CRM?
Eric Mercado: Yeah, we have a couple of different tools. We have a tool called wide angle. Then we have another tool called a 15Five. Both of those tools integrate with Salesforce. One of the things we’ve done is kind of mapped all the different fields that have to do with like revenue generation, you know, contract closing, and we do everything monthly, right?
Digging Deep: Gamification
We’ve really set up our business development team to be straight hunters. None of them have to actually manage accounts. They just go, they hunt and they kill, they bring the food home. And then we have a team of people that are farming, and we call them farmers. Basically they grow the business, they keep the business. They are charge of retention, customer service. For us it is a kind of a very zero to hero mentality every single month. That being said, all their goals are very realistic based off of that. So tools like a WideAngle, which is a tool that’s out of the Atlanta Tech village actually, and it’s a very, very small startup. I think he’s got less than a hundred accounts total. It’s a really cool tool. It has some really cool kind of a chickad ee attributes to it. Like, you know, if you get a sale you can like customize it to where a great white comes out of the ocean. Like, you know, when it rings the bell and the gong a great white comes out and it spits out like the number of the sale and it makes it fun.
Then 15Five is a little bit different. That’s more of a weekly meeting tool, weekly meeting application where at least biweekly we’re meeting one-on-ones rather than everything be as a team so they can see how it’s impacting them on the board, but they can also one-on-one talk to management to figure out like, how can I get higher on the board? What am I doing wrong? Also, it gives us the autonomy to set deliverables for them. So 15Five is another really cool tool. If you’re an organization, you believe in one-on-one meetings, it is probably the best in the business that allows you to kind of set deliverables, set expectations, basically create an action plan in a systematic way that they can follow. So you know, you don’t have too many people that lag too long. Those are the two tools that we use for gamification.
Activity Breeds Activity
Josh Sweeney: Nice. Then you have Salesforce that brings all of that together, which has sure you’re looking at every day and managing.
Eric Mercado: Yes, yes.
Josh Sweeney: With that, what other, what habits … So you have the tools on one side, but what habits do you like to instill in the sales team to ensure that they get everything done?
Eric Mercado: Activity breeds activity, right? So the way that we work is we kinda have like a point system that we follow and every KPI has its own set number of points, right? So we’ve figured out, we’ve kind of reversed engineered using some different tools that there are very specific sets of activity, there are very specific ideal customer, ideal prospects that generate very specific results. So we kind of instill those numbers to them. It’s great because you’ll see in the months where certain people excel and sort of people fall behind. You look at their previous 30, 45 days of their points, you’ll see the people that excel always have the higher points. There’s a direct correlation. So we’ve built kind of a point system, which also adds to the gamification, right? Like, no one wants to have the lowest points on the board. Right?
Know the Expectations
If you’re on the bottom too long, you know, and you’re not right sizing yourself or at least showing the effort in the points, like, we get rid of you. I mean, it’s very simple. That’s just the way the culture works. So, our team is very dialed in. They know their expectations when they first set their first foot in the door. They know exactly what’s expected of them for the first 3, 6, 12 months. They have a great earning opportunity. It’s really a matter of are they willing to put in the work, right? We just measure the work, the outcomes come. That’s the best way to say that we’ve built our culture.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. I’m a big fan of a Jeb Blount in his book, Fanatical Prospecting. He talks about that. He has, I think, the scenarios like a guy comes, a friend comes to him, is like, “You know, I’m in this sales lull.” He’s like, “Look, well, your sales cycles 90 days and it’s March. What’d you do in December?” Yeah. You know, and it’s looking back and saying, “Well, you know, you are off on vacation and everybody’s out and you weren’t hitting your activity numbers in December and that’s why you’re having a bad March, and there’s nothing you can do.” Like, you can try and overcome it and March and triple down on activities, but that’s not going to help you until three months from now.
Eric Mercado: Exactly. What we do now we see the fruits of later. Our sales cycles anywhere between six and seven weeks. Right? A lot of the work that we’re doing, you know, in early February doesn’t come to fruition until late March, early April. One of the things that we try to stress is that we’re not judging you off of your now results, when your net new. We’re judging you after your 91 days. That’s when we expect to see some return. We’ve seen it, we’ve seen it 9 out of 10 times. Right? Because it’s very easy in month one to figure out somebody who’s willing to do it or they’re not willing to do it. We’ve made it very simple in our process. Right? Like, you don’t have to travel as much in our business. You can click a button to make a phone call. It auto logs the call in the system, right?
Josh Sweeney: As easy as it gets.
Eric Mercado: Yeah. You have a team of people that enter your opportunities and once you get one, like there’s not very much you have to do besides activity, besides be active, be in front of opportunities, you know, pitch our product. You know, when you need to travel, that all applies to your point system in person meetings actually increase your points. So a lot of our sales team likes to travel. They like to go get in front of them of the amenities, opportunities as possible.
So again, it’s so easy to measure success these days. It took us probably five or six years to reverse engineer that funnel to see like, here’s what our expectations were. Here’s what we’re getting. Let’s go back and look what we did to get that. How many demos did we do? How many demos showed? How many demos closed? What was our average size opportunity? How much activity did it get to get those number of demos? Okay, cool. Now we know to hit these goals, we have to get this many demos. Well, do we have enough people to do that? No, we don’t. Or do we have enough? We have too many. Right? They need to do more work.
So it’s not hard to do. It’s just, it’s simple math actually when you break it down with all the tools that you have today. Yeah.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. You mentioned earlier the ability, you know, everybody has goals but they’re goals that are measurable and that they can hit. Right? They’re achievable. What I’ve seen over time is the ones that aren’t achievable are normally set by managers who don’t know those numbers. They don’t know that, you know, 60 calls equals 1 demo and 10 demos equals 1 deal, and reverse engineer that and say, “How many calls do we make a week, well, we don’t have enough people.” You know? They just say, “Here’s how much in sales you have to have, and by the way, there’s no more people.” And it’s like none of the numbers add up. Then everybody had just gets disgruntled because they don’t hit the numbers and things like that.
Eric Mercado: We’ve had those moments too. I mean, over my 12 years I wasn’t always the head of sales. Right. I was a salesperson. Right. So I remember when I first came in the owner of the company he was the head of sales and he said, you know, “Hey, here’s what I need you to do.” I said, “Okay, cool. Let me know how I can do that.”
Asking the Right Questions: Who here has done that
“Who here has done that,” was my first question, actually. He said, “Well, it was Jeff.” Remember Jeff? I said, “Okay, well now you mind if I just shadow Jeff for the first three to four weeks, figure out what Jeff does, what’s made Jeff successful?” You know, one of the first questions I asked Jeff was, I said, “How long have you been doing this?” And he said, “I’ve been in automotive vertical for 25 years.” I said, “Wow.” Well, this is my first day in the automotive vertical, right?
Josh Sweeney: That’s not promising.
Eric Mercado: Yeah, well this guy’s got 25 years of relationships, you know, and I asked him, I said, you know, “Well, Jim says you’re the best guy. You’ve hit these numbers. Let me know what you do on a daily basis.” He goes, “I call all my friends from the automotive verticals.” So I was like, “Well, there you go. There’s a dud. I’m not gonna be able to do that. Right? I don’t know anybody in the automotive vertical.” So then I said, “Okay, cool. Let’s go back and figure out who’s our ideal customer.”
Asking the Right Questions: Who’s our ideal customer
Because I had come from a sales job at another company. We were very … we had this thing, it was like everything was IDC, ideal customer, ideal customer, focus on your ideal customer. So I said, “Who’s our ideal customer?” And you know, the owner said, “Anybody with money.” And I said, “Okay, fantastic.” So at this time the company had like nine people, right? It was a very, very small company. I took the job because the previous company I had sold, and I said, “Let me just, I’m going to shadow Jeff.” So I shadowed Jeff more for his work track and work track was good.
Then a couple months later the owner came to me and he said, “Okay, you’re doing well. You know, we’ve got some sales. You done good. You know, I need you to do more. I need you to hit these numbers and here’s how quickly I need you to do it. And by the way, I’m giving you another region because we don’t have enough people to cover it.” So then I really very quickly … so what you said earlier, realized I didn’t have the bandwidth to cover both. I didn’t have the bandwidth to prospect both.
But it was a good … we had a really good leader at the time who was open to suggestions, you know. So I said, “Listen, I make a suggestion, give me two other people that can help me manage this region, you know, and I can turn it around at this time.” So he said, “Okay, well let’s go talk to Jeff, see if Jeff wants that too. Jeff wants two people then we’ll give you two people.” Jeff didn’t want two people. Jeff didn’t want to manage anybody. I said, “Fine.” Gave me two people. So, our little region outperformed the rest of the company that was like six other sales guys. We were doing really well. Our margins were high, we’re turning sales quicker. Then he came to me about three months later he said, “Okay, cool. So I need you to hire like 10 more people like those 2 guys that you did,” because the numbers just banned out, right? So at the third or fourth years when we started to really figure out how, like, what level of activity does it take to hit these goals that we have. Because one through three, we didn’t have the same tools.
I mean, at that time we didn’t have Salesforce, right? We were using spreadsheets. You know, this is 12 years ago. They had ACT but they didn’t know how to use it, you know, which was like the initial CRM. Then about three years later I actually went to a sales thing and here in Atlanta and there was a guy from Salesforce speaking and he did something in his demo where he pulled up a customer profile. I was blown away by it and I was like, “We have to get this.” So did it, never looked back. Salesforce is phenomenal tool. Like, it’s our Bible, right?
Like, you know, you want a good one liner. We literally tell people in our office “If it’s not in Salesforce, it didn’t happen.” There’s no like, “Oh, I spoke to buddy and, you know, got the deal done,” or, “I’m working on it.” It’s like, “Cool, where’s the opportunity in Salesforce? What stage is it at? What’s the revenue?” Right? So, it’s been a progressive thing over 12 years and I think any small business that gets to, you know, we went from $200000 in revenue to just shy $75 million now. So it’s been very progressive, but it’s been like learning lesson, learning lesson, learning lesson, learning lesson and Salesforce has been a big part of that. Also, our support teams really good. We don’t lose very many accounts. So yeah, that’s a big thing.
The Engine that Drives
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. Very cool. Yeah. I know in CRM, I mean, that’s also another kind of sales culture item is I’ve run into so many companies where they’re always trying to adopt the CRM and people aren’t using it. Then I run into others similar to yours where it’s like, if it didn’t happen in the CRM it doesn’t exist. Like if it’s not in there, it didn’t happen. That’s just the rule. And it doesn’t give people outs, you know, it doesn’t give them excuses or anything else. I was like, “Well, I can’t count the activity because it never happen.” What you gotta do is click log or, you know, in yours it’s integrated into the phone system. All you to do is click dial and go, you know.
Eric Mercado: I’s crazy. I mean, we’ve done a good job. I think a lot of good sales cultures do a good job reinvesting back in sales, right? Like the engine that drives the operation is kind of how our CEO says, the engine that drives the operations. So like what you need, if you can present a good enough case, we’ll get it for you. Right? Like, cause obviously we look at it as does it create a higher return on investment, does it make your sales cycle shorter, does it increase margin, does it increase your activity levels, which we know will generate more sales? And once that cost component, right, is it small? Salesforce no brainer. Right. Now we’re up to, I don’t even know what we spend in Salesforce a month, but it’s huge.
Breaking Away from the Old and Hard Way
We also use another tool that I thought was pretty cool, which is a local Atlanta company. We know the CEO pretty well. His name’s Kyle Porter, but SalesLoft and I’m sure you guys, you know, if you’re talking to salespeople in Atlanta you’re talking about SalesLoft. That tool is phenomenal as well. And that even makes it easier. So there’s layers of easy just kinda baked in.
What’s funny is you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t get everybody to drink, right? So there are certain people, you know, that very quickly you will recognize just will not use the tool they’re given. They prefer the old way or the hard way or what they did in the previous career. That’s where the tough part comes in. That’s my job to kind of wean those people out. Like I don’t need them.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, that’s a tough turnaround. I mean, I know the evolution of the tools in sales, even when you’re interviewing nowadays. When we’re helping clients interview salespeople and figure out are they the right fit we have to go to the tools. Because, you know, I’ve been in CRM training and provided CRM training where, the person, we tell them to install the APP and they kind of hold up their phone like they don’t know how to get to the APP store. Then I go into other high performing sales environments where those salespeople are just as much salespeople as they are technologists. They want the tools. I know one mention came up the other day where I asked a person what kind of activities do they have to have? “It’s like minimum 60, minimum 60 a day along with creating quotes and everything else they have to do.”
Opportunity to Go Back and Train
He goes, “But we’re trying to get it to 120,” but the only way you can do it is with a SalesLoft. If you have the tools and the automation you can get to 120, other than that it’s not even doable. It’s too much of a burden if you don’t have to click to call and the tools and everything else, those activities are going to be lower.
Eric Mercado: Yeah. I mean, it’s just time, right? If it takes me five seconds to dial a phone number, you know, well, hopefully. It takes three seconds to dial a phone number, takes me 0.1 seconds to click a call. Right?
Josh Sweeney: Right. And it all gets logged.
Eric Mercado: And it’s logged, so it’s gonna take me another three seconds to log in, and I got to take notes. You know, it was recording my conversation. It’s installing a link in Salesforce. What the technology has also provided us in a big way these last couple of years is an opportunity to go back and train. Right? So like when we have these one-on-ones where we’re meeting with these salespeople who are frustrated because they’re underperforming, which we’ll tend to find the first conversation is I’m not receiving enough inbound opportunity where so and so might have, and that’s why they’re doing so well, which provides a training opportunity immediately. Okay, well let’s look at the ones you have received. Let’s listen to those calls because it’s in there.
Getting that YES!
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, the script’s right there.
Eric Mercado: And let’s see the emails you’ve sent them and let’s see if there’s an opportunity or where you may have missed or there was a sale available. It’s so funny, when you start to turn it back around and show them that, “Oh, okay, this is why they’re making us use as tool. And by the way, I can’t point the finger at X, Y, and Z for why I’m failing, or I feel like I’m failing.” Sometimes they’re not. They just feel like they are.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, too many nos that day.
Eric Mercado: Yeah. You know how it is, right? Like sometimes you just got to go to the water faucet, get a glass, go outside, take a breath of fresh air, and jump back at your desk and get after it. The opposing side of that is as soon as you get that yes, you don’t need to leave your desk. Stay at your desk and call the next 15 people that you could potentially get a yes from. Your lowest hanging fruit, you will get more yeses because your enthusiasm level is like an all time high. Right.
That’s what I was talking about earlier where like sales is waves, man. It’s up and down. It’s very, very cyclical. We’ve had a lot of luck. Like, you know, our churn rate for sales had been level. We know most of our reps have been with seven plus years, and the people that have left, have left because they more so or not they couldn’t hit their number, some cases, but more so that they couldn’t adopt to progress. They wouldn’t adopt. They would not like, you know, “I need you to do this, and the reason why I’m telling you to do this is so later down the road I can help you get better.” You know, it was like, “Oh, you’re micromanaging me,” or, “I don’t work that way.”
You know, and to be honest with you, I get micromanaged. So like my numbers, everything you do reflects a final pie that the owner eats.
Not to Micro Manage
Josh Sweeney: It’s all scrutinized.
Eric Mercado: Exactly. So no offense, I have to not micro manage, I just have to look at your metrics. I have to see if there’s something different between you and everybody else that may be a correlation between why you’re not doing as well or you may be doing better. Maybe I changed some things that I thought were best practices based off of your performance. From a sales leadership perspective, you can have anxiety, right? Because you know, these are people, these are lives you’re dealing with and you have to measure different attitudes. That’s why I truly think we have a very good, you know, no pun intended, but prototype of who our best fit is. And it’s somebody who typically has played team sports, super aggressive, super enthusiastic, you know, positive attitude, willing to be a team player. Right?
Typically, those people you’ll find out later on or the most proactive and innovative people in your staff, the people that come to you with suggestions on how they can make themselves better, where other people will sit in the background and just, okay, well let’s go through the motions and this is what they told me to do bang your head against the wall.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I hear horror stories all the time. It’s like, yeah, they hit their call quota. They started calling everybody in California at 4:00 AM knowing they weren’t going to be in the office. And I’m like, “What?”
Eric Mercado: I’ve never heard that bad a scenario.
Josh Sweeney: Some bad ones for sure.
Eric Mercado: We’ve had some similar things like, “Here’s your call quota.” Up front we’re not telling people when they come to work for us that we’re recording the calls, it tells them when they make the call. Right.
First 30 to First 90
Josh Sweeney: Right. So It’s recording in front of them.
Eric Mercado: Right, but there’s a purpose for that. As I say, the first 90 as a sales leader of any kind is the most important frame of that person’s career at your organization, because it tells you everything you need to know about them. Really in the first 30, but in the first 90, cause sometimes people will do really, they’ll work really hard in the first dirty and then they kind of wean off and you figured out, oh, it’s that like they were drinking the Koolaid and not 30 days later they’re not seeing the immediate impact because our sales cycle is six to seven weeks and they haven’t figured that out because they might’ve been selling a $500 widget before they got here.
Our average sale is $28000. Right. So like it’s a long, and it’s a monthly residual revenue. It’s a longer time sales cycle. Right. So, it’s funny when they … You can immediately tell. Like one of those stories that I have is, “Okay dude, you’re, you’re making 45 calls a day. Your point system, your activity quota for the week is roughly 300. You’re not even close.”
Josh Sweeney: Right, yeah. You’re short 15 a day.
Eric Mercado: “In order for you to make that up in this next week you’re going to need to make close to 125 calls a day. Just because it is month two, I’m going to hold you to that. All right? I’m gonna, because it’s your fault you’re even here. You’re not traveling for business. You’re not building quota. You’re not building quotes. You’re not, you know?”
Build Your Pipeline: Relationships
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. There’s no distractions.
Eric Mercado: “There’s no distractions. Your whole job is to build your pipeline of relationships right now, right, that will come to fruition as business.” And you’ll see that. They’ll cheat the system, and those are people I get rid of very quickly because I have no integrity.
Refusing to Adopt a System
Josh Sweeney: It’s interesting you bring it up recording, because I was talking to somebody the other day that it was like, you know, “We’ve gone through all the training, they know how to do it, but again, they have somebody on their team that’s been there multiple years, does well enough.” But then they go through the recording and they were like, “You’re not hitting the key points. You’re not hitting this piece, which is what … That’s kind of the trigger for whether they need the next version up that’s going to lead to a bigger sale for you.” You know, and they just, they go through and mark up the script and walk back through the script with them and just continuously, you know, refresh that. Whether you’ve been there for three months or three years, it’s just, that’s the rhythm. Just go through those every day.
Eric Mercado: It’s so funny. Every sales organization has that guy or that gal. Very rarely that gal, by the way. Yeah.
Josh Sweeney: Oh, really? Interesting.
Eric Mercado: Most of the time, that guy, and I’m not trying to sound chauvinist or anything like that, but there is that guy who refuses … I’ve seen this more than not. I’ve hired a lot of girls. I’ve hired a lot of guys. There’s always that guy who just refuses to adopt a system. Right. But they’re pretty good salesperson. They might excel at the close. They might shorten the sales cycle. They might have all the intangibles that I talked about. Be athletic, be super aggressive, be enthusiastic, be proactive. But you can’t truly measure their success or use them as the prototype because they won’t follow the system that allows you to see what they did to get there. You know, the guy who doesn’t log things in Salesforce, but he hits his numbers. So what do you do in that scenario as a sales leader? You know, most owners will tell you leave them alone.
Adopt to Learn
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. I think the challenge for that is that we’re in this place where like before that would have been fine, but as the automation, the tools, the SalesLoft, Salesforce, all of this starts to get smarter and incrementally increase the amount of work you can do. At some point when enough companies are using those systems and there’s an inflection point, that person won’t be able to keep up, the other people will hit quota. I mean, in all the CRM implementations and everything I’ve ever done, you know, what you’re talking about is top 1%, you know, using all those tools. You know, you guys, you know, there’s a few other companies in town that are just, they went from $200000 to $70 million, but there’s not a lot of those.
That’s a big differentiator from what I’ve seen of inaction. Like, that person can go somewhere else and be a top salesperson for the next 10 years if they never adopt tools. But your standards are different, right? They’re higher and the more automation until you get, the more it moves that bar up.
Eric Mercado: Well, that’s what we’re saying. So the tools, even for the best of the best it makes them better. Right? That’s if they adopt it, it’s the reason why you continue to read, right? Like, you continue to learn, right? It’s the reason why you go and you can continue to work out. If you don’t, you know what happens. So there’s, it’s important that they adopt the tools. The other thing is that person, you can’t make that person be the … I’m trying to think of the best word here. You don’t want everybody else on your team to look at that person like they’re doing something right because they’ve been more successful. Right? If you allow it to long, you teach everybody else that it’s okay to not adopt the tools. Then you, from the top down, then it becomes very hard to measure any success or see what you have to do to be successful.
Adopt: Measured Progress
We’ve literally had … I have a guy right now, I joke about it. I have one guy, and you know, he does well, he’s a good salesperson. He’s a hell of a closer, I give him that. He’s worked with us for about seven years, and as we’ve progressed and add a new tools he just refuses to use them. Always refuses, but comes close or hits his number every single month. And I’ve literally had the sit down conversation with him a hundred times saying, “Hey man, this is why I need you to do this. Let me help you how to do this. Let me show you. Look how easy it is. You would rather do this then do this. I don’t get it. It’s easier. You have it. It’s sitting in front of you. It’s the same phone. Just make it easy.” And he’ll do it for a week and then fall right off and he’ll, “Oh, I had a bad week.”
Like he’s … I don’t know if it’s more of he’s got this mindset of like his process makes him lucky. It’s like a luck thing or, but he refuses. So now recently, before this year we set all of our goals for the year. I went to him and I said, “Listen, here are your goals. You know, for years now I’ve managed you, and four years you just refuse to do the things that I asked you to do. I’ll leave you alone. I’m not gonna say a word to you as long as you hit your goals 9 out of 12 months. I won’t talk to you. All right, now there’s two sides of the coin. I’m not going to talk to you. I’m not going to bother you, but you also have no chance of becoming a manager here because I can’t have you training other people to do what you can because from the top down, it’s immeasurable, right? You know, you are that 1%, and God bless it. You’re the 1% that can do great things without any of the tools. The other 99% of the people that work here and come through here have to adopt the technology. They have to. And the reason they have to is because from a company, but we have to measure everything to progress.”
Which we have. We’ve done such a good job in these last seven, eight years of progressing through measurement. Yeah. Everything, you know, down to time on call, conversation, scripts.
Plan with a Pipeline
Josh Sweeney: It’s hard to plan without a pipeline.
Eric Mercado: Exactly.
Josh Sweeney: You know, there’s a lot of impact of not having the data that you need as a business.
Eric Mercado: Oh, it’s unbelievable. Same guy will put in … It just sounds sounds like I’m venting. Before, but it’s funny.
Josh Sweeney: Podcasts, therapy, you know.
Eric Mercado: The same guy will actually … we have weekly sales meetings. Everybody, I click a button, I see the board. Right? I know exactly what it is. And his boards going into the third week is always the lowest. And then I’ll get with him and I’ll say, “Hey, listen. What do you have? What do you have? What’s in your goal. Do you have anything else? Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Oh man, I just haven’t entered a bunch of the opportunities. I got like 15 more opportunities I’m going to enter in.”
“Well, when were you intending on entering them in?”
“I’ll do it today. I’ll do it today.” Next week we’ll come in. Now we’re in the fourth week, last week, close that week. I’ll get with the same guy. “Hey, man. Your pipeline didn’t really change from last week. You know, looking at it week over week and it’s the same.”
The Multiplier in the System
“Oh, I’m doing it all today. I’m doing it all today.” Three days left in the month everything comes in to the pipeline and then he gets frustrated when he … those are the months he misses and then the next month it’s like, “Aw man, I just, you know, I dunno what happened.”
“Well, I told you what happened. You didn’t enter your opportunities and get into the contracts early enough. You stalled on that.” I mean, I went as far as the sake, “Dude, just tell this person to do it for you. Like, I got that person for you. They will do it.” He won’t even do that. “No, they don’t do it right.” You know? So it’s one of those like, you know, you can lead a horse to water. You can’t make them drink. Right. You know, he’s done well for us so I kind of just leave him alone. It’s one of those things, but the rest of them
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. It’s a decision to be made. Yeah.
Eric Mercado: It was a very tough decision for me because it still throws everything off, but I’ve put kind of a … what’s the word I’m thinking of? A multiplier in the system to kind of figure out where it is.
The Tailoring Experience
Josh Sweeney: The one work around, right.
Eric Mercado: The one work around, which is a cheesy way to do it, you know? But yeah. Our culture, I think, is the same as most excelling sales cultures. Right? It’s nothing very different. You have a lot of technology, you have KPIs, you have quotas, you have goals, right? You hit goal, you do it three months out of the year, you know, where you’re well above, like, what your quota was, there’s some things to be had, right? Some bonuses, some awards and travel. We used to buy our guys suits, you know, that’s a cool experience. Tailored suits.
Josh Sweeney: Oh. Like the whole tailoring experience.
Eric Mercado: Yeah, a lot of these guys come in from college or a job where they might’ve worked sales. But you know, like I said, maybe selling widgets or something that they never had to dress up for. When we’re going to present, you know, multimillion dollar contracts, like, getting them a tailored suit, that first tailored suit, they want to get that every single month after they get that one. It’s kinda fun.
The Next Step: Growth
Josh Sweeney: Right. Get hooked once you look good.
Eric Mercado: Oh, yeah. Confidence boost.
Josh Sweeney: So last question I have for you for today is all about, you know, what you’re looking to do in the future. So as a sales team what are your next steps? What’s the next evolution of enhancing the sales culture at Force for you?
Eric Mercado: I think now it’s growth, right? So we’ve reached a point where our team does well. You always want more, but we’re doing well. We’ve made some movement changes where some of our best business development people, we’ve made account managers because there’s a really good correlation between the way they can establish relationships and keep them and kind of can drive up sale and cross sale opportunities into our organization. We’re now backfilling with new, right. In the last four months we’ve hired some in-market reps, you know, that’s a little bit different of a challenge where they’re in Texas or Ohio or a New Jersey or Virginia. Our next goal is to get a handful more of those and then a handful more in the market in our office. You know, people that are right HQ that can learn every single day. That’s our goal is to grow by getting, building a bigger business development team.
The Next Step: Training
Then after we hire those people our goal is to backfill with layers of like more business development centric people and then just have those people be closers, cause then they’ll have them trained, they’ll have some time under their belt. We did that a couple of years ago with some success. But again, we’ve made a shift from hunters and farm, you know, top farmers and at lot of those people became some of our account managers where they make a good living and they don’t have to do as much work. So we were probably going to reinstall that layer and the next year as well. That’s our goal.
Josh Sweeney: Fantastic. Well, thank you for sharing and thank you for being on the podcast.
Eric Mercado: I appreciate your time guys. This is cool.
Speaker 1: Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the Epic Company Culture podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoyed this content, please subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit EpicCulture.co. If you have questions or topics you would like us to address or expand on, tweet us at EpicCulture1 or email at podcast@EpicCulture.co.
Podcast Highlights and Resources
- You don’t only want to lose to your peer, you just don’t want to lose to the field.
- What we do now we see the fruits of later.
- You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t get everybody to drink.
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