The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast
The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast

Episode · 1 month ago

Lessons Learned in Sales W/ Kamonte McCray

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Our podcast series “Lessons Learned in Sales” continues this week as John Kaplan talks with Force Management’s new Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Kamonte McCray. They discuss: 

  • How feeling too comfortable in a big account put his company in a dangerous position, costing him the deal
  • A deal negotiation that involved a language barrier and a lesson he’ll never forget
  • A tricky negotiation tactic that reiterated the importance of staying calm and reiterating value during pricing conversations 

Here are some additional resources:

Check out this and other episodes of The Audible-Ready Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

Practice like you play. Don't saywell, when I get to the game, I'll run full speed, no practice, as if you in the game. You're listening to the audible ready podcast, the show that helps you and your team's sell more faster. willfeature sales leader sharing their best insights on how to create a sales engine thathelps you fuel repeatable revenue growth, presented by the team at force management,a leader in BB sales effectiveness. Let's get started. Hi, it's Rachelwith the audible ready sales podcasts. Today we continue our lessons learned in salesseries, where we ask sales veterans five questions about where they've been and whatthey've learned in their sales career. For this episode, John Kaplan talks withforce management's new chief commercial officer, come Onte mccrae. Hey, it's mygreat pleasure to introduce the new chief commercial officer at force management, just oneof the great bright young executive stars that out there in the market place thatwe are so fortunate to to have begun our relationship with. So commante,welcome. It's awesome to to have you on this podcast today and we're justgoing to get started really easy with a general question that we like to askall the participants, but I I know that are listening audience is going tobe really interested in this one, like how did we get such a greatexecutive like you? So how did you come to force management and why?Well, first and foremost, John, thanks for having me. That's firstand foremost. In the checks in the mail you reference this young executive.So the checks in the mail and the young part. So you are comparedto me brother. So I appreciate that. And so that's that's that's a reallygood question. So I spent twenty...

...eight fabulous years with Xerox Corporation,twenty eight fablished years, but it comes a time and people's lives where there'sthis inflection point of things that you want to accomplish in what you want todo. And it was interesting, as I'm going through some of these thoughtsabout next levels in life and in Korea, I get this call from an executiverecruiter about this opportunity and we started talking more about the opportunity with thecompany. Was All about what they were looking for and I said look,Hey, I'll explore this a little bit further. Had An opportunity then togo through the process in meet the executives within force management. We talked alot about not just what was going on with the company and what the companywas doing, but really about the values that the company had, and throughthat process the things just lined up. It's almost like matchcom right. Theyjust lined up. We both were looking for the same things and then nowI'm here. So that's how I got here. John, we're so ecstaticto have you. I remember my first conversation with you as I'm kind ofwalking through your great career at Xerox, where I was very fortunate to beginmy career. We've got two other people and the three other people actually inthe company for other people in the company is I'm going through it with backgroundsat Zerox. But as I as I was going through your history and whereyou were working, I immediately realized that you were working with and for oneof my great friends, Kevin Warren, who's now the CMO of ups,and I just had a quick reach out to Kevin and text with Kevin waspretty short and sweet. It was like...

...if you can get that dude,I'm paraphrasing, but if you can get that dude, get him and we'reagain. We're just really, really ecstatic that you're here. So let's gothrough some of these cool kind of getting to know you questions that we puttogether for the executives that that we do these podcasts with at force management inorder to help our listening audience just kind of get to know our people alittle bit better. Let's shoot with this first one. Why did you getinto sales so many years ago? You know it's interesting. So let metake you back a bit. I was in high school and getting ready tomake my decision around college and I thought I was going to go into law. That was where I thought I was going to go. I get acall from my guidance counselor and says Hey, look, we want to meet andshe says hey, look, you know, what are you going todo with to like I said, what I'm thinking about going into law.She says, have you ever considered business, you know, in corporations and business? I said don't know much about it. She says, we'll look. I want you to go and see about this program called in roads,and so I go in roads as a program to introduce students to opportunities inbusiness. And so there's these different tracks with an introduction type of thing.You go and you said in in the counting, you go in you saidit on finance, operation, sales and marking. The kind of give youan introduction to these different parts of the business, of the business world,of corporate world. So I go into this program and it was almost likegoldilocks into three bears, like accounting was just to you know, maybe softoperations or finance was just too hard. And so I go into this onesession with this lady from Cocacola. I'll never forget it. I wish Iknew her name because people have asked me...

...this a ton of times and Ialways referenced this. And she talked about her career at Cocacola in sales andmarketing. She talked about the ability to interact with some amazing people in hercustomers. She talked about how it created a great success and a life forher and her family and she said, Hey, look, I kind ofwork on my own schedule. I said, man, this is perfect, thisis perfect. I made my decision right then and there, when Ileft that session, that I was going to change my major, or whenI didn't have a major yet, but when I got to college, mymajor was going to be in business for the concentration in marketing and ironically,at the time John they didn't have like a lot of sales classes. Thenthey had a couple of sales classes, so I took a couple of salesclasses that were electives and the rest was history. I knew right then andthere that once I graduated from college, I was going to get this degreein marketing and I was going to go into sale. So hats off towhomember that lady was from Cocacola that was leading sales and marketing, because shereally changed my life. That's awesome. I I think back at, youknow, my my decision to get into sales and for me it was justan extension of the way it was described to me. It was just kindof an extension of athletics, Playing Athletics and, you know, meritocracy andand out working you know, other people. Sales was just an easy transition.But there were no there was no curriculum for that back then when Iwas going to school and and I'm just so pleased. I think that salesis the is one of, if not the greatest profession on the planet.I think it matters. I think it really is. It really is powerfuland now they have great curriculum out there and in great you know, wewere talking about why. I think we...

...both went to I think you spentsome time at Mit in the Sloan School. We just went and spoke to theSloan School and there was an NBA program for entrepreneurship and they asked usto come in and talk about enterprise sales. Like I thought about that and Ithought, man, if we if I had the ability to have someexposure to that back then, I would have been even more excited to gointo to go into this field. So really, times have changed. That'sit's almost in every school now, right, right. Yeah, they didn't havea specific degree, which in some places there are degrees in sales today, but you're right, it's it's a profession just like anything else. Right. So it's important, I think that as time progresses and people have thisopportunity now to get degrees in this I would have absolutely taken advantage of thatif it was available to me back in the day. Awesome, awesome.All right, let's get a little humble and talk about our next our nextquestion. That I get a kick out of worst mistake that you can thinkof, worst myths mistake you ever made in the sales roll, in asales job. Well, you know, I started off by saying by sayingthis it was. The mistake was was feeling comfortable and complacent. So I'lltell it in the story. I had an opportunity. Was a pretty bigaccount that was a part of my territory and I had a friend that wasin what I thought was the decisionmaking position within the the account. We hadseveral meetings. I took foot, took it for granted. I didn't gothrough all of the normal things that I would do in a selling process,trying to expand my contacts, trying to understand really what going to be thebusiness outcomes that they were looking for, and I relied solely on this friendship. And so what happened, John, is all of a sudden, Bam, here's a competitor. I didn't even see it coming and all of asudden, which which was a situation where...

...we, as the company, kindof owned the account. This is when I was with Zerox. Next thingyou know, here's this competitor that I have to deal with and the competitordid the job that I should have done, which was brought in its contacts withinthe within the the customer, and I didn't do that. I tookfor granted that I had this friend who I thought was a decision and maker, he was somewhat of an influencer, and then I found myself trying toplay catch up in the scenario. Long Story Short, I lost a dealand you talked about you talked about how you are where an athlete played footballin college. The thing that I took from that is never take any scenariofor granted. Think about the Times maybe when your athletic career, you wereplaying a team and you thought they were a lesser team and you didn't prepareas much for that game and that team ended up blowing you out and youdidn't see it coming because you took for granted a situation and didn't prepare forGame Day like you would for any other game. And that's what I did. I took it for granted that this situation with this friend and he justdidn't have the juice to get it done and we ended up losing the deal. Worst I think I could have done. I think that happens a lot insales where and I've read so many books on the topic and I've alwaysthought that I think people go too quickly to try to build those relationships intolike friendships just through the concept of like a relationship. And I know that'snot what you're describing here, but it's a good point to make for someof our listeners and some leaders out there that are coaching, you know,great up and coming salespeople. I think you earned the right to get afriendship and you earn the right to get a friendship by solving a problem youknow so significant that it had a significant impact on somebody. We all havestories where he we have great friends that come out of that. But goinginto it, when we're calling on friends...

...and they are truly friends of oursbefore we before we even walk in the door, I've always noticed that friendstend in a business environment, not intentionally, but but friends wind up kind oftaking advantage of friends and it kind of can turn into like a ghostingscenario that if you don't establish that business value, you really put that friendshipon a awkward ground and when it's all about the friendship, it can bea very, very awkward scenario. I hear it all the time, likeat force management will have true friends that are inside of accounts and if wedon't do our jobs, if we don't prepare, if we don't try toadd the same amount of value, we actually put those friendships at risk.Yeah, you know, I did it. I did a disservice to him bynot doing that and I did a disservice to my company by not comingto gain day prepared in not doing the things that I would traditionally do withany other customer and going through those same emotions. So, yeah, itwas a lesson that I learned and I didn't do it again. So forthose coaching out there, I think when you hear hey, they're a friendof ours or that's a friend of mine, I think it's probably good advice tomake sure you're buttoned up and make sure that we don't skip any steps, because I think that friendships can be put in an awkward situation as weas come on and I've been discussing here. Okay, let's talk about let's talkabout the funniest thing that ever happened to you on a sales call.What is? There's plenty of those. I think you got plenty of funnystories, but one that sticks out. Years Ago I was a senior seller. I was a specialist, so that mean I support supported other sellers andwe had a call on a Middle Eastern...

Embassy. We had been negotiating withthem for some time. This particular day was for us. We had thecontracts in hand to ink the deal. So we get there and the normalguy that we deal with, we're having a conversation and then, in leftfield he pulls out, well, we're looking for an additional price discount,and so we're saying, well, this is not what we discussed. We'vealready talked about everything. The solution is baked. We talked about the budgets, we talked about the price. This is supposed to be for us justthinking the deal. So he says, well, I've got to bring insomeone else to talk about this negotiation. So he brings in this other party, and this other party he's having to translate for because this other party doesn'tspeak English. So we're going through the back and forth in the party thatdoesn't speak English in his native tongue is very animated. He's banging on thetable, he's all over the place and obviously I can see that this guyis somewhat angered, and so we go back and forth through the discussion andthe more junior seller I can see he's a little shook because this guy isreally animating. He's very angry, and so the person that we traditionally dealwith that could speak English, he gets up and walks out of the roomand so it's just the seller, the Juniah Seller, myself in this guy. So the junior sellers like, what in the world is going on?Come on tent. I'm like, just just be quiet, will it'll beokay, it'll be okay. So when the other guy comes back in,I said and he says, look, you need to go back to youroffice and talk to someone that really can make this deal happen and reduce ourprice, and I say, well, I'm not going back to the officeand have that conversation. We've already discussed that. This is the right solution, this is the right price, this is the best that you're going toget and I'm not we're going to do this deal today. What is itthat's going to take us to happen so...

...that we can make this deal happentoday and what is the real issue that we're trying to solve for? Hesays, what, our budget changed, and he's translating back and forth andevery time I say something, says them to this guy and this guy goesall over the place. And I said, well, okay, so your buttet'schange. Do we need to change the solution? Know, we wantthe same solution for the for lesser costs. And I said, well, whatis the issue with the budget? He says, well, our firstyear budget we have. We have a problem. So I knew in theback pocket we could negotiate more on things like a warranty, because they'd haveto pay for things like maintenance over the time and if we gave them abit of a Warty, they would have to pay this value to it.So I say to him, what if we can give you the first yearfree maintenance? Right? So that has a value of X. and hetalks to this guy and this guy goes off a bit more, and sohe says that might work. So I said, well, I need tomake a phone call. So I walk out, I go call and Iknew I had a little bit of that in the back pocket. I callour finance people and they see I cannot say you know, that's still bigdeal. So I go back in. I say done, let's do thedeal. So they had to reprint some contracts. The guy that supposedly theguy that could speak English walks out and the guy that didn't speak English allof a sudden says, Hey, I appreciate the business. Hey Me,you're gonna say that. We appreciate you going the extra mile. and Johnnyjust coming out of Ramadon. So they were having a big celebration in theoffice. Let's celebrate the contract. I know you've worked with this gentleman extensivelywith us, and I said you could speak in the we bust out laughing. The in the junior seller, she can speak English all the time,said, yeah, this is just sort of a negotiation tactic to see howyou would react, to see if we get more out of you and tosee if you've been hey, you handle it fantastically. Let's go eat,because they had been fast and awesome.

That is awesome. Grant Wilson,the other for the listeners, the other CO founder of force management. Grantand I started the company about twenty years ago when grant was working in Japan. He had a very similar situation and the he said it was almost likebone chilling at the end of the negotiation when the person who wasn't supposed tobe able to speak English said like very, very, very clearly very nice tomeet you today, after after the deal was already done. You know, that makes me think about something like when we first started teaching negotiations,I thought about there's a there's a tactic in there that's a very powerful tactic. So if you're listening out there, beware of this. It's called deferringto a higher power. And you did it when you got up and leftthe room, and the the car salesman does that when he supposedly gets upand goes into another room and there ain't nobody there that he's see if hecan get this, you know, to throw the floor mats in or whatever. But it's very interesting how we are predisposition to just normally accept deferring toa high are authority and when we dug into a week, the way weteach it at force management now is hey, it's no problem, I understand ifyou need to go check with somebody. We also teach through Med pick tomake sure you understand who the economic buyer is, what the decision processis. But one of the greatest tactics that I've heard is people saying,Hey, it's no problem if you go. Just to be clear, though,we've agreed. We have agreed on this solution for this price right now. If something else gets introduced, no problem, but we need to reopenthe negotiation right correct and it just really puts a lot of things on commonground. I love that story, though I knew that you're going to Ifelt like you're going to say that the...

...person could speak perfect English. Allright, let's do this. Let's do this. Let's talk about with yourcareer and where you've been and who you've been associated with. I know youprobably have some great examples of this, but the best salesperson or sales leaderthat you ever worked that you that you worked with in your career. Sothe best salesperson or sales leader, and if it's you don't want to mentionthe person's name or whatever, you can just give the characteristics, because Iknow you probably know a ton of people that that could fit the bill.Yeah, you know it's there. There have been many, but I wouldsay there are three that kind of come to mind and I'll talk about someof the characteristics, because all of them had very similar characteristics, one ofwhich you mentioned, which is Kevin Warren Base, who I've worked with numeroustimes. Another is a guy by the name of Herb Jenkins, who sortof got me started at at Xerox, and I talked to both of thoseguys to this day. And there's another guy named Jeff White, who Iput in the sales manager haul of fame. Now, I didn't work for Jeff. Jeff actually worked for me when I was the equivalent of a districtmanager, but I learned so much from him, and I'll get to thatmoment. But the characteristics that all three of them had. You know,you hear this concept of servant leader. I mean before that was a term. That's really what these guys were really all about. When I think aboutjust what they did from a coaching and teaching perspective, it was knowing theright times when the roll up the sleeves versus the the times when you hey, I'm gonna let you flounder a little bit so that you can learn onyour own this whole concept of you know, you you give a man of fish, you feed him for a day, you teach him to fish, youfeed up for a lifetime. That's really was in the fabric of whatthese three guys were really all about.

The coaching aspect was phenomenal. Oneof the things I learned from Kevin specifically is when I was a young salesmanager, I always thought about it. was just always focused on the performance, always focused on the performance. What are you doing to perform? Andkept and said, wait a minute, this thing is really about a threelegged stool, and I use that to this day, which is really aboutcompetency, behavior and performance, you know, making sure that that the folks thatyou have, all of them, all of them, are extremely competentin the roles that they do. So this whole concept of always having somethinginvolved, where you're teaching your team something, always teaching them and and uping theirgame, leveling up. Then it's really about the behavior. You know, hey, are we doing the right types of deals? Are we doingdeals that we do with a customer and it comes back and all of asudden we've got to make some sort of price adjustment because we didn't do theright things. From an integrity perspective with with the customers, and that alsothe behavior. Are the sellers doing the things that they're supposed to do aroundutilizing the system so that we can make the business decisions? Do they havethose right types of behavior? So you got you know normal it is thatyou need to do, having the right behavior, and then the performance pieceswill come. So kind of managing each one of those sort of on thethree legged stool. And then Jeff who who worked for me later on,who taught me so much about the discipline around leadership. I mean this guyhad sort of what I would call this sales managers or sales leaders manual.So the ex spectations were set with the sellers. They knew exactly what itwas that they were supposed to do when they were supposed to do it,and Jeff was was maniacal about making sure he was disciplined around making sure thatall of those things happened, the teaching moments, making sure people were therethe things that they need to do,...

...around the planning reviews, of monthlyreviews. It was like hawkwork. And what it up happening is, asyou may know, sometimes the business that you have and what you're focused onchanges. So one moment we were focused on technology, another moment we werefocused on services, another moment we were focused on business process outsourcing. ButJeff's way was like the constitution. I mean you just dropped in his programand, interestingly enough, as I progressed in my career and moved around thecountry, Jeff and I work together in Charlotte, North Carolina. When Iwent to New England to run our business there in the in the equivalent ofa district manager was having some challenges with his sales leader. Guess what,called Jeff, Jeff, I need your help. Guess what? New SalesManager comes on board, you need to mentor called Jeff. So I movedaround the country but I still leverage jeff and what he did because and hewas a not only was he a perennial presidents club performer, but we're sohis people were perminial presidence club performers. So, like I said, theywere very selfless in their leadership in and making sure that everyone on the teamwas really focused on their customers and focus on their craft and developing them sothat they could be the best that they could be. And that was reallythe all three of them like that. You know, we were so luckyto I was about probably about ten years before you. We were so lookedlucky to begin our careers with Zerox, I believe, at one time thegreatest coaching and developing company of talent. Their philosophy on training leaders, trainingmanagers, training reps, it was just amazing. And I'm just people runningthrough my head like Dick Lton, John Thomas and Fred Thomas and Paul Menace, and I don't want to leave anybody out, but the just I stilluse many of the principles today of the...

...people that I worked for. Theytaught me how to be a great developer of talent. And it's you.It sounds like you had the same the same experience as well. Just whatan outstanding an outstanding company of teaching leaders how to coach and develop talent.It's a little bit of a lost art. We run into it a lot hereat force management. There's a focus on training the people, but manytimes sales managers are left behind that they don't train. So if you're listeningout there, take a look at and ere leading companies. Take a lookat what you're doing, not only to develop the the individual contributors or theperformers, but you know, also make sure that you're developing the frontline managersand because there are great opportunities. We all remember the great coaches. Veryfew of US remember the bad coaches, and the fact that you can rememberKevin and Jeff and in those people's names is because they were great coaches foryou. All right, let's take a looking round it out with this lastone here. The best piece of sales advice you ever got that you oftendon't hurt here. So the best piece of advice that you ever received thatyou often don't hear. You know, John, I think this would besomewhat intuitive, but it was really round. What it was called the five piecepryor preparation prevents poor performance, or you could say prior heard of adifferent way, but I like it. Or prior preparation promotes positive performance.Either way you want to either way you want to slice it, but itwas one of the best piece of advice it. I go back to theone question you asked me about what happened on one of the worst selling situations. If I would have kept to that that would have never happened. Youknow, I go back to thinking about...

...your career as a college athlete.One of the things that you know you say is, Hey, practice likeyou like you play, practice like you play. Don't say, well,when I get to the game, I'm I'll run full speed, no practiceas if you're in the game. So this whole thing around preparation, andit was one of the best pieces of advice, not just relative to theto being a seller, but also being a leader and also just in mypersonal life. So that whole concept around a five piece prior preparation prevents poorperformance or, if you want to use it as prior preparation, promotes positiveperformance. Either way of it, always, always prepare. Love it and I'vealready seen that in our our short relationship with each other and your relationshipwith force management. Come onte. I'm going to get a little selfish yearand just reflect a little bit and how just thrilled we are that you madethe decision to come to force management. We we are just so thankful forthe skills that you've already demonstrate that I think I it seems like you've beenhere forever, but I think are you on you're still are you on monthone or month to just over a month one. It's amazing. Month oneright, it's amazing. So we are so ecstatic to have you. Wereso ecstatic for you and your family and we just wish you nothing but thegreatest success here at force management. Thank you for joining us today and lettingour listeners get a little bit closer and connect it to you, and thiswill be one of many that we will do because we want to get anopportunity for you to share your wisdom with our listeners. Thanks a ton forbeing here in more ways than just the podcast. Well, look, Ihad have to say. I know we're...

...closing out here, but the feelingis mutual. The feeling is mute to it is my pleasure, my honorto be a part of force management. Thank you for you and your leadershipand grants in there, your confidence and me and bringing me on board.So I'm looking forward to this next chapter and is great journey that we're goingto have together. So thanks a lot, appreciate it. You're welcome, brother. Now go drive that forecast of force management. We're focused on transformingsales organizations into elite teams are proven methodologies deliver programs that build company alignment andfuel repeatable revenue growth. Give your teams the ability to execute the growth strategyat the point of sale. Our strength is our experience. The proof isin our results. Let's get started. Visit US at force MANAGEMENTCOM. You'vebeen listening to the audible ready podcast. To not miss an episode, subscribeto the show in your favorite podcast player. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (147)