170: CEO Spotlight: Exploiting Sales Tools in a Virtual World

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Contact info:

Glenn Poulos

416-617-9528

glenn.poulos@gmail.com

Link to Book, “Never Sit in the Lobby”: https://amzn.to/3whwPh3

Website: www.glennpoulos.com

Bio:

Glenn Poulos is the cofounder, vice president, and general manager of Gap Wireless Inc. With over three decades of experience in sales, he has developed a successful strategy system by spending thousands of hours in the field or on the phone with customers and working with salespeople in several successful companies.

This is profit from the inside with Joel Block insights to give your business the inside track. And now here's your host, Joel Block? After two years of the pandemic, how do I get my salespeople out of their living rooms and out onto the road meeting with customers and prospects? How can we integrate real world personality into a virtual environment? Where is the old system of being face to face dying? To answer that question, Glenn Poulos. Glenn, welcome to the show. Thanks, Joel. Happy to be here. Thank you for having me. You know, this is such a big problem for companies. They're they're having trouble, you know, getting people who have gotten used to being at home and they say they're just as effective at home and they're working at home. And we're not talking about the bookkeepers and the administrators and the people who we're doing, uh, kind of the behind the scenes stuff. Let's only we're only talking about the sales people, the people that are that have some kind of customer facing responsibilities. That right, yes, yeah, alright. Sorry. The question is, who am I targeting my message to our our discussion right now is about people that have that are customer facing. Absolutely allow them to be in the field, or should we allow them to be at home in their living rooms? Can they be just as effective when they're, you know, when they're living room? My my message is typically targeted towards people that are expected to be in front of customers. In the last two years they have not been interruested from the customers. So so question number one. WHO EXPECTS? Is that the company or is it the customer? So the a lot of what what I figured drives that is, you know, is what is the product and the product that you're selling and what's needed in order to close the deal. There are there are businesses out there. I don't run one, Um, where you can run it...

...sort of via a virtual model, software as a service and things like that. A lot of the whole thing can be done via a series of virtual meetings. You know, I operate in the hardware world. Um, we you know. The company that I run is a is a distributor. Uh, it's high tech stuff. Doesn't really matter what it is. But but I mean for clarity, you know, to put your mind around it's like base station antennas, things are up on towers, things that help the cell phone network work so that when you know the old can you hear me now, when the answer was no, or, you know, or silence. You know, they would call us and they would buy things from us, put it up on the towers or inside of Malls or stadiums and uh, you'll be able to get your cell phone would work right. And so, you know, we've we we discovered that. You know, our products are done through a series of of sales calls, presentations, demos, trials and things like that. And many, many people sell products that don't that don't uh suit themselves to be being sold in this virtual world. That especially that's sort of hyper evolved in the last two years and Um, you know, everyone's given it a shot. Like March, we all um had to send our people home, whether we liked it or not, depending upon your state or province that you're in. You know, I mean in Canada we were actually locked down from that kind of perspective until a few a couple of months ago, basically. And Uh, and so we had to take a world that operated face to face and move it home. Uh, you know. And Uh, in the beginning a lot of the guys thought they died and went to heaven. They're like, wait, wait a minute, I don't have to get in my car, I don't have to put all my tie, suit and tie or whatever get, you know, my my dress clothes, at least not the bottom half exactly. Yeah, that's right. We've all seen that joke a few times on the Internet, right, and I think even Mr Wonderful does that from time to time. Right, he's got pajamas on the bottom and a suit coat on the top. Right. Um. And you know, I remember in March twenty our business, we got...

...letters from all our customers right away saying look, you're an essential service to us. Um, you know, we're you're you're providing technology to the telecom network. The Telecom network is more vital than ever. Uh, you can't close. So so we had to send all our accounting staff home, our sales staff, anybody that wasn't in the warehouse, and myself. And so Um, uh, the so march, we we bought everyone laptops that didn't have one, sent them home in the warehouse and myself. We kept coming to work and the sales guy started, uh, signing up for zoom accounts. Right, zoom, go to meeting, you know, one of one of those kind of uh, and and in the beginning I remember how happy they were. Right. It was like, Oh, this is the best things to slice bread. And I'm doing like three or four webinars this week and I got like four zoom meetings and I did six more meetings today than I've ever done in a, you know, a day or a week in my life. Right. And the it didn't take me long to for the novelty of that, of hearing about it, to we're off. I mean I wasn't actually making the calls right the Um, but even listening to it in our weekly calls is thinking like there's something, something not right here. And let me let me interrupt for a second. So how is the productivity at that time? I mean there was no alternative two years ago, two and a half years ago. But when that happened, how is how is their productivity? So we don't measure like clicks or anything like that. We don't have any kind of monitoring system that would notice that, you know, their eyeball, you know, interactivity on their screens, like were there, weren't they? But I would say that their productivity for a very short period of time spiked quite a bit, like while they were figuring it out. They were really, you know, glued to their desk and Um, you know, really trying to really trying to make it, make a goal of it and figuring it out. But but you know, as as they got more comfortable with the environment, as we all do, and things become more more habitual or whatever, you know, the dog barking and needing a walk...

...and you know, and your wife's like, you know, honey, can you take the dog? I know you're not doing anything, and he's like yeah, I can probably squeeze moments, you know, and he's out walking the dog. Right. And I mean the guys here were at the at the at our office and warehouse. Of course they don't get to walk their dog, right, because they're they're they're here. Right. So did productivities start to slide? My Gut feel is that it did, right, and I mean I I've made a few checks here and there about, you know, like did cell phone bills go up or down and things like that? Right and there, you know, we have a complicated vote system and all that, and our billings and things decreased. So I didn't think that. I don't think that they were actually making more calls. They weren't. My my my net net of it is that they weren't more productive after the initial spike of of interesting. You know, when when it was a novelty, the first few weeks, it was, I think, very challenging for them and very emotionally draining for an outside sales guy couldn't to operate as an inside sales guy. and Um. So my answer your question is no, I don't think they were more productive. Yeah, you know, that brings up a couple of very good points. One is, you know, what does it take to be successful virtually and one of them that you just brought up is that the family has to respect the autonomy of the office and I think there's a tendency for many people who work at home that they don't get the same respect in their Home Office as they would get in their business office. In other words, the family wouldn't call them every hour and the family would knock on the door every hour and they wouldn't. I mean. So those are issues that are that are real. Um, and the person needs to respect the boundaries and that you know that if you're the if you're the salesperson, that you need to say this is my office, these are my hours and this is what I'm doing and and that makes it work. Um, do you think that, you know, as we're now trying to get people to come back from virtual into the office again, do you think that people...

...are gonna be willing to give up the virtual thing, or do you think companies are going to have the strength to be able to tell people, hey, listen, come in or stay home? Perfectly so I can only tell you what I think is going to happen and what I want to know what you think is gonna and my my, uh, my prediction is that, for the most part, Um, you know, the your upgraded system that you put in your Home Office will be getting less and less use in very short order and that most companies, between now and the next few months, probably long before the end of the year, will have issued absolute edicts of our our R T W versus at W F H right, mark, was W F H, work from home right. It was an edict we all the people, and I feel that most companies, big, small, big, medium, uh, large, small and and every size in between, will be issuing basically ads saying you have to come back to work. You may get some that will say, look, you can work two days a week at home if you're this category or this category or this category, but for the most part everyone's coming back to work. Um, my people are all back five days a week here, and you know, Um, it's I'm not because I mean or anything like that. We actually treat our people very well, but we we needed our people back here. We needed the culture that that exists from the admin staff to the you know, to all all points in between, right, and Um, you know, Elon Musk had come back to work, or you're fired. Right. Um, the TD Bank in Canada and the US. That's a North American Bank in both countries. Um, they've issued and need it. Three days a week, or you're fired. Right. And the bigger problem as well, you know, which I know you're you you would understand this. Um, a lot of people bought residential properties in the Boondocks and the bunny patches, we like...

...to call it. Right, like, oh, honey, guess what, we can now afford a house. Not, you know, we don't. I don't work in Toronto on Bay Street anymore or on Wall Street, so I can move. You know, I'm Canadian, so I use Canadian geographical references, unfortunately, but I can move from, you know, downtown Toronto right out to uh what's normally a ninety two, uh, you know, uh minute commute, and we can get a nice house that we could never afford before, you know, four bedroom with a bit of grass out front and back for the dog, because I'm gonna walk twice a day for you and because I never have to go back to work, you know. And the price of housing doubled in those areas. And two things happened. Of course, the interest rates have spiked and the UH, the pandemic ended and, Um, and now they're saying you've got to come back to work and they're like, well, I can't get there on time. And so now they're there's, there's becoming, you know, those those bunny patch houses are dropping rap more rapidly than the center core of the cities as people race to figure out how they're going to get back to the office. You know, don't don't you think that Um, these edicts, which I kind of get it, I mean there are companies that are gonna do that, but don't you think they're gonna be some companies are gonna say, one of the employee benefits that we offer is you don't have to come back in, or one of the benefits is you only have to come in three days a week, not five days a week. And so, you know, employees are gonna Start Making employment decisions based on some of the benefit package. And the benefit package is no longer just health care. It's gonna end up being, you know, where they get to work and how much flexibility they have. And I mean so there are a lot of those kind of things and I think that the companies that do what you just said, but there are also the companies that are going to try to be more competitive and they may substitute work from home for some salary. True, that's possible. Yeah, the important point there, though, is that, um, they're going to they're not gonna pay them downtown in Toronto or New York City wages to live in the...

...bunny patch. Yeah, that's that's that's another really big complic companies are being a really big problem with this. If you are from San Francisco, for example, and now you live in Omaha, like fair that you get, you know, those same wages that the other people get. In San Francisco because now your cost of living is enormously less in another place. No, it's not. And Most San Francisco companies pay that premium. And when you move to the Omaha branch, you get you GETTA CUT Bay. So it's going to be the same for work from home. And Uh Yeah, I actually not sure that that. You know, I mean employees, you know, they don't see it that way. They see it that you know, I get this amount for my value, not because of my location. So well, you know, but it's certainly, you know, kind of the way that people think and it's it's really a conflict that needs to be resolved and companies are having a really hard time with it, for sure. Yeah, Um, the there. You know, there are staff members in my many Um, that where it's not it's not unideal for them to work at home because they have such a very, you know, distinct little job that doesn't need anything to do with the office or the interacting with the other staff. We have a business analyst that does a certain reporting and literally, as long as they can connect to our systems, there's nothing, there's no lift for us bringing them in or what have you. And so those are easy choices. It's the ones where, prior to the pandemic, they were five days a week, Monday to Friday, nine to five whatever, and Um, you know. And now it's this about figuring out that balance. and Um, I always find that in the absence of very strict, like very uh defined decisions, chaos will ensue. And and so, you know, we're basically moving to we're basically moving to a less you know, like, Oh, you can pick anywhere from this many days, so that many. We're just basically saying we're moving back to Um, we're moving back to a...

...five day in office work week. And if you have some kind of a family or other situational uh thing that needs attending to, will be will be very accommodating. But, you know, maybe something that occurred because of the pandemic, you know. But again, not the example of a guy moving two hours away that's normally in the office. That's that would be a bit of a non starter for us, right. So let's let's talk about outside sales people, because outside sales people, you know, they they're on the road or they're going places, they're doing things, and now they're trying to substitute virtual instead of going face to face. Um, what do you think going forward is going to be the right place for supplementing in person with virtual, because there there is gonna be some combination. Nothing in the world's ever all or nothing. It's always some combination of things. So what do you think is the right way to use virtual and be successful as a person, as an outside salesperson that would typically, you know, visit customers or whatever? Do you do you have a sense about how to use those technologies in a way to supplement the in person stuff? Um? Well, the one thing that I wanted learning to have your audience and Um, maybe some of the struggles they're probably dealing with. Prior to answering that question, I just want to share one little nugget that I learned over the years as it relates to the inside sales, outside sales, marketing, etcetera. And it's a it's a rule I like to always share, uh whenever possible, and especially for managers and other departments, and it's this rule is like, don't confuse uh, marketing and selling, right, never confuse selling with marketing or marketing with selling, and and so and they're like, what are you talking about? Dude, like, what do you mean? and Um, and I and so the way I put it to them, and this is kind of a you know, these are this is a rule like that that that I follow, right, which is when you're in front of a customer closing business,...

...you know, Um, the that's selling. Everything else is marketing, and so the if you're paying a guy, you know, x amount of dollars per year, right, it depends on the geography, the products, you know, everything, quota and everything. But you're paying them tons of money to be selling for you. Don't make the mistake of letting them become marketing because it's more comfortable. The chairs and marketing are infinitely more comfortable than they are in the sales department. In ours, there are no chairs in the sales department, right, because we don't want them here. You know, uh, doing. Also, Oh, today's my office day, where I do you know this, that and the other thing, right, and I mean no, the office is a destination. You drive by to pick things up and drop things off, right, and and so the so we're always, I'm always pushing our people to be in front of customers as much as possible. Now, the some of our guys cover, you know, national counts, right, like carrier, you know, wireless carriers right there, from coast to coast, you know, and so they you know, we typically in this environment would use um zoom or or it's, you know, counterparts, like go to meeting or teams or something like that, you know, for you know, for something that's qualified, where you need to include people that you couldn't otherwise be face to face for things like product demonstrations or maybe a presentation of some sort or another. But we don't, we don't sort of use it for initial consultation type, you know, getting to know people, but more in the Middle Right, you want to use it. That by itself is a great rule, you know. So we'll come we'll come back to the selling versus marketing thing in a second, as I love that rule and I'm with you on that. But I think you just hit on something that's very important, and that is that zoom is a good supplement once you have a relationship that's been initiated face to face. I'm with...

...you. I think that the sale has to be made face to face where there's some relationship, there's trusting bonding, conversation whatever, and that doesn't happen the same way on zoom. But zoom can supplement relationships once they exist, and I think that's a very, very key point that you make. Yeah, and Um, yeah, and the you know, you need to uh, you know, you need to hone your skills. It's you know, it's different. And I mean, you know one of my rules that I quote in my book, right, it's called something in your hand and something in your mind and Um, you know the it's hard to do that rule over zoom. Um, but because you're not you're not in front of the customer. Right, and m but the you know. But if you, you know, if you take the time to properly craft each um interaction, whether it's face to face or via zoom, you know, you can still get value out of them. The biggest thing that I found about people that are using the zoom is not so much that it's good or bad, it's that when they're using the zoom there may not be Um, the one, there may be distractions and two, they may not Um, they may not have the same sort of ability to present the way they can present face to face, right, because there's a chemical you know, uh, there, there. You know, you know, it's like, you know, it's like a date, right, you know, like you're talking, you know, and you get to know someone, then you go and have coffee and you realize there's no chemistry. Right, it's the same thing. Your presentation needs to be spot on and Um, you know, you need to figure out what works and and and follow those those kinds of rules in there. Otherwise, if you try to wing it or anything like that on zoom, Um, you know, it can get uh people, your customers will easily be distracted. They have windows open all around them. You think that you're getting of their attention, but you're not right. and Um, and that's...

...one of the so I know, like I'm not. I'm not a very good salesman for zoom, right, like, clearly they wouldn't hire me because everything that comes out of my mouth that is basically well, let's I think. I think that. Um, you know that's because you're focused on the relationship development. But you know, listen, uh, you know, if I said to you, what do you prefer? A putter or a driver when you play golf, you know what do you mean? Which one do I prefer? I use the tool that's necessary to get the job done at the place where I am when I move the ball, and that's kind of that's how I look at Zoom Zoom as a tool. But I think what goes wrong is that people misuse the tool and they try to get the tool to do too much. Zoom has a very, very good purpose that it can and you kind of nailed it. It brings along a pre existing relationship that, once you kind of have some chemistry, once you kind of have a little little repertoire together. Uh, it's really, really good for moving things along, especially in short bursts. You know, you can sit with somebody for two hours. You can't sit for two hours on zoom. It's just people's attention span. Everything is different and even though it may seem exactly the same, it's not the same. So I think that the trick and I think that the takeaway from what you're saying for me is that we have to learn how to use this tool because it's not going away. The concept of of Hybrid, hybrid is gonna keep going. There's gonna be some things that happen in person on airplanes, there's some things that are gonna happen on Zoom. There's something's gonna Happen in the office and I think what people need to really learn is what's the right way to use the tool. And that's so I'd kind of like to adapt some of the other because you've got like fifty seven of these, you know, different kind of different tools, that their tricks or whatever you have. I'd like to see how can we adapt some to zooms, adapt some to real life, because you can't, you can't say anymore, in my opinion at least, that it's always got to be face to face, because there is good supplement by zoom sometimes. Yeah, true. and Um, the one of the other things you said,...

...like when you're augmenting a relationship, the other thing you can do is it allows you to include people that would otherwise be excluded. Like maybe, Um, you know the director of technologies in Um, you know, a different city. Right, maybe you're in San Francisco and your people in that your core, maybe you're even on site, but the you know there's a guy who who works on the other side of the country, you could include him for a portion of a meeting or what have you, or ask him to participate in something that he wouldn't otherwise be able to, you know, you can bring, you can separate, you can uh make geography no longer a problem, right, so it really helps with that as well. Again, uh, in the middle of the you know, in the middle of the presentation, basically, yeah, you know what, and that that's another great application for the tool is to include people, men and women, by the way, and it's just so we're all clear that, you know, it's for everybody, uh, that you know, it allows everybody to participate, not just the couple of people that are in the office that you have to be visiting, especially if their decision makers. And so again, these are these are ways that salespeople could use this tool to their advantage. Yeah, and you'd you'd uh, you know, you'd sort of given me some perfect a perfect in there a couple of a couple of minute or so ago when you said about adapting. Right now, I'm thinking in my mind like a way I could uh, you know, spin the book right, like rewrite. Right, you're you'RE gonna come out with version two here coming like, zoom, zoom, alize the book. Right. And I mean I often get that challenge about linkedin and things like that, because there's so many people that like to sell on Linkedin. But the zoom I think is more appropriate because the books really for a lot of people that are meeting, meeting people, meeting customers in business meetings or sales meetings and what have you. And UH and zoom is the same thing, right, it's just it's a it's a different medium of of of meeting your customers, right, and uh, whereas, whereas Linkedin is more of a marketing tool, right, it's not, you know, not not really the where the sales occur. Well, it's either it's a marketing tool, of you're trying to sell what you do,...

...but it's also a research tool if you're trying to find people to buy it. And and again, I think this is a good segue from from talking about the using zoom and video and supplementing on on site, because Linkedin is a virtual activity. Um. To me there's a really important and great way to be successful with Linkedin. You know, there's a couple of good ways to use it in a lot of ways that are just not you know, if you're just sitting on there all the time. Top TAP message, I don't know, tapping messages out that may or may not be helpful because I get a lot of junk that I don't appreciate. But if you use it to find people and you pull them off linked in, get them into your own database and then you end up creating some relationship with them. I have been fantastically successful with Linkedin by initiating relationships and finding commonality. So you know again that that's the ex yeah, that's exactly how I were how I use the tool as well. And, Um, the but the you know, I was I was thinking back sort of segway back to zoom. But I mean you had mentioned about adapting and Um, there's one of the rules called part of the expression. But ship flows downhill is one of the names of one of the chapters and it tells the story about a guy who sells um forklifts or to motors, whatever you call them, uh, you know, in your area Um, for a living. And he starts by calling the CEO Right, and he's like, you know, I don't buy, I don't buy, I'm not involved in the toe motor purchase and I'm like yeah, I know, it's a hundred thousand dollar purchase, you know. and Um, he's like look, you know the vice president of warehousing. You know, you gotta deal with him right. Called Jack, right and you called Jack and Jack's like what are you bothering me for? About toemotors, you know, BOB's a warehouse manager for for the northwest. Right, called that. You call him right and before you know your four or five levels down right and everyone you call you're like, Oh, I just I was just on the phone. Had a great chat with the CEO. He said really got to take check out these town motors, right and the you...

...know. And at some point, you know, and I'm using the same thing, finally get down to the Warehouse Manager for, you know, the Toronto location or buffalo or whatever, and I'm like look, I talked to the VP, the CEO. They all say, we've got to get one of these units in here to try. When can I drop one off? Right and in this in the book, the story goes I invite this. I call the CEO down at the perfect moment when they're all in love with it to have a quick look. It's the best thing. You know you're gonna want to see this. I know the requisitions for a hundred grants going across your desk and he pops down you could do the same thing with zoom, right. You know, when you're you know, you could pull that guy in at some point and, uh, when he wont, when he otherwise wouldn't participate. And you you got to know when you're selling, like WHO's signing off on ten thousand bucks, who's signing off on fifty, who's signing off on a hundred? And before, in the old days, people would say, Oh, I sent it upstairs. Uh, you know. And then you how do you tell that to your sales manager? Oh, it's upstairs and you know, it's with the powers that be or something like that. Right, and I mean in my scenario I can call whoever I think is the right guy, look the VP of finance, the CEO, and say, look, I know this is on your desk. What do we have to do to close this deal? Right, and you know, and again, these some of these virtual tools will allow you to connect with them, you know, maybe easier, better, more appropriately then listen. And some of these tools are are excellent for researching and finding out something. Uh, you know, I use linkedin. I'd like to know uh a lot about the person I'm calling and I like to call every person and talk to them, like I know since kindergarten, and you know and and have you know, whatever conversation that that we can have together. It's you know, it's interesting. One of the things, I think that if we think of these things as tools and not the end of the world, they're just tools. Um, it's important to understand the power of the tool, but it's also an important understand the limitation of the tool. I can give you an example. I just relocated my office and the moving company had US use...

...facetime and walk around and show them all of the property that they were going to be moving. And you know, and it turns out that the estimation was not that accurate. Well, because, you know, they should have sent a mover, an estimator out to look at it. Instead they relied on this and you know. So it's that's a limitation. I mean and they maybe they get it close, but they don't get it right like a human being. What if they were there in person to see, I don't know, perspective or to see dimension or whatever things? And so you have to if you're going to really master the tools, whatever the tools are, seems like you've got to be able to master what it does well and what the limitations are, and I just think that a lot of times we're not thinking about those things in an adequate way. Yeah, yeah, the that's really good. In your golf analogy was a good one. And, Um, yeah, and I mean the mistake that some people might make because of the comfort level or they're more comfortable using the virtual tool or how to use that. It can do everything right. That's that's what you have to really, you know, understand is that it's a tool and uh, you know, if you want to drive at two hundred yards, you don't want to be using the puttern right. But look, you know what I mean people, people kind of think the whole Internet is like a be all and end all. It's like, you know, heaven on earth, the whole thing. But the truth is it's a tool. It has limitations, it's in a certain way. It's allowed us to do lots of cool new things, but there are things that it doesn't do that great. Maybe it will in the future and we have to understand those. Yeah, so, speaking to that in one way, I often relate that to our people when it's like, Oh, you know, I can do it on Linkedin and zoom and this is not whatever. I know I pick it may be sounding like a picking on them, but is that the UH? Oh, you know what, I actually completely lost my train of thoughts. So, well, the UH. We'll have to we'll have to switch to something else. You know what, listen, uh, this has been an interesting conversation. You know, are the promise of the show is to deliver the inside track, the best, smartest and fastest way to get something done. And when you talk...

...about adapting some of the tools that we were talking about zoom linkedin some of these other kind of tools into a kind of a new hybrid reality where people are at home, people are at the office, people are traveling, people are at zoom and really understanding these tools, I think you did deliver the inside track on a lot of this and when people deliver the inside track and they live up to the promise of the show, we call those people advantaged players, and that makes you an advantaged player and we appreciate you contributing to the show. So thank you very much for sharing and UH. And you've got a book and we'll put a link in the show notes to your book and if anybody wants to pick that up they can run Amazon and I'm sure they can buy all the copies they want. Right. Absolutely, yeah, all right, over, twenty four hours a day. Well, listen, glad. Thank you very much. Appreciate you being on the show and we'll we'll keep in touch. You've been listening to profit from the inside with Joe Block. For more insights and to learn more, visit Joel Block Dot Com. How about a shout out and a huge thanks to our podcast show producer David Wolf and the team at Auto Vita Studios. Profit from the inside wouldn't be possible without these wonderful professionals. To learn more or to find out how you can launch and produce your own podcast show, reach out to www dot auto vita dot com. That's a U D I v I T A DOT COM.

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