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Three Ways We Learned How To Be Better Salespeople

Any good sales person should pay close attention to the approaches, personalities and tactics of anyone else sharing in their craft — regardless of whether it’s the small business owner who’s printing “DNS Is Sexy” campaign t-shirts, the General Contractor looking to win your business to do some improvements at your house or a PR software sales guy looking to capture your attention and introduce his product. “Sales” isn’t voodoo, it isn’t scary and the negative connotation is overblown.

Like it or not, sales is everywhere and is in all of us.

I touched on that fact in an earlier post and I wanted to introduce some real world sales-like encounters where lessons are learned, harvested, and will forever be re-purposed.

The Teacher: Local Screen Printing Business Owner

So this one is a bit biased and full of nepotism as my family runs two businesses in Manchester, NH. One is a sporting goods store (Indian Head Athletics) while the other is a screen printing and embroidery business (Special T’s). When Dyn needs new shirts for a marketing campaign, I turn to my dad but not just because he’s my dad. Rather, it’s because I learned everything I needed to learn about sales and business from this guy at an early age: be direct, don’t bullshit and take none, be honest, look people in the eye, firmly shake hands, do what you say and finally, underpromise and overdeliver.

It’s the principle of the thing. I couldn’t trust anyone in life more. So t-shirts are a no-brainer. Everyone should work in retail at least once in his or her life and career. I learned the ropes about business working in retail for my parents and if it’s a family-owned shop you work for, you also get an education in passion, loyalty, commitment and integrity that can’t be duplicated. You learn more about reading people, their buying habits, their social skills and quirks, their motivations, their problems and their needs when it’s face-to-face. It’s not easy.

I look for this on resumes when we’re hiring for any job in sales, marketing or customer service at Dyn because I believe it’s that important. You know what my dad says to me every time I pick up a t-shirt order? He’s classic old school. “I make nepotism work. Go tell Jeremy and Tom (our CEO and CTO, respectively)  that. No one…I mean no one…will have the turnaround time I have and deliver on a deadline like me. Go tell them that!”

Pretty straightforward, huh? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Lesson Learned: It’s all about trust.

The Teacher: The General Contractor Looking To Do Your Home Improvements

Ken Dionne from KRD Builders does phenomenal work and builds ridiculous homes throughout New England. When my wife and I decided it was time to do some work at our new home, we called Ken. We didn’t get multiple bids, we didn’t interview several GCs and we didn’t mess around with going through the motions. I told him, “Listen Ken, this is your job. I don’t have time to look at several contractors for this work. It’s yours, so be fair, give me a great price and you’ll have a referring customer for life just like my brother and friend have become.”

Ken is well respected and builds solid relationships with his customers. He first remodeled my oldest brother’s home after my grandfather passed away and before Travis’ family moved in. It was my mother’s childhood home and successfully kept in the family, so the integrity needed to be preserved. He then remodeled a third floor master suite for our CEO Jeremy. Ken’s work was glowingly reviewed by all.

The icing on the cake came when he came over to our house right after a pipe had frozen and burst this winter. He came, was calm and got the repair work done fast. He worked hard to build a personal relationship with Katie and I, asking questions about my work, my wife’s work, my family, my company, my past and engaging in hours of shared storytelling and conversation. We became friends and that is what business is all about; actually liking the people you choose to do business with.

Lesson Learned: It’s all about the relationship.

The Teacher: The PR Software Company Sales Guy

Heading up both sales and marketing at Dyn has its advantages. Marketing to me has always just been the softer side of sales and in my marketing role, people are always trying to “sell” me something. I try hard not to take the “dueling sales guy” approach when I get these calls. I always try to listen as I know how hard it is to knock doors down. I try my best to always pay attention and see if I can learn anything from how I’m being sold to.

When Sean Kruglak (a sales executive for Vocus) popped up in my inbox this week, I paid attention. There is obviously a bulls-eye on my back in his database and this email finally caught my eye. What did Sean do that was so unique? He was real. He was a living, breathing human being. It wasn’t about process, quota, commissions, his product or anything else. It was simply about my lack of response to his weekly check-in email and I can’t fault the guy for effort.

He sent me the following, which I immediately forwarded to our sales team. It doesn’t mean I’ll buy his stuff, but I will look at it when things slow down. Heck, I might even offer him a job.

Good Morning Kyle,

I’ve tried to contact you a number of times in regards to your interest in our on-demand software for corporate communications and public relations, and have had little success. At this point, I assume we are out of touch for one of the following reasons:

1. I have done something to offend you.

2. You have decided to stick with the way you are currently handling your PR lifecycle.

3. You have made a decision to go with a different tool for your PR purposes and you are too nice of a person to break the news to me.

4. You are not the right person to be speaking with, and you need to forward me to the correct person.

5. You are stuck underneath a heavy object and can’t get free.

Please check the appropriate box so that I may retreat with a sense of peace of mind.

Thanks for your kindness and understanding in getting back to me.

Best Regards,

Sean Kruglak
Sales Executive
Vocus, Inc.

Lesson Learned: It’s all about keeping it real.

As Dyn continues to build and scale out our sales and business development team to support our growing enterprise DNS and Email Delivery brands along with our ecommerce products, we look to the people trying to sell “us” and insert their ways into our bag of tricks. We’re always learning and that’s a very rewarding thing. We’re excited for our next two Business Development Reps to start in early June and keep selling the right way.

Many more lessons will be learned.


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Kyle York
Whois: Kyle York

Kyle York is GM & VP, Business & Product Strategy, and has been a long-time executive, having joined in 2008. Over the years, he has held go-to-market leadership roles in worldwide sales, marketing, and services. In his current role, Kyle focuses on overall corporate strategy, including: positioning and evangelism, new market entry, strategic alliances and partnerships, M&A, and business development. Outside of Oracle Dyn, Kyle is an angel investor, entrepreneur, and advisor in several startups.