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

Episode · 5 months 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 say well, 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. will feature sales leader sharing their best insights on how to create a sales engine that helps 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 Rachel with the audible ready sales podcasts. Today we continue our lessons learned in sales series, where we ask sales veterans five questions about where they've been and what they've learned in their sales career. For this episode, John Kaplan talks with force management's new chief commercial officer, come Onte mccrae. Hey, it's my great pleasure to introduce the new chief commercial officer at force management, just one of the great bright young executive stars that out there in the market place that we 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 just going to get started really easy with a general question that we like to ask all the participants, but I I know that are listening audience is going to be really interested in this one, like how did we get such a great executive like you? So how did you come to force management and why? Well, first and foremost, John, thanks for having me. That's first and 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 compared to me brother. So I appreciate that. And so that's that's that's a really good 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's this inflection point of things that you want to accomplish in what you want to do. And it was interesting, as I'm going through some of these thoughts about next levels in life and in Korea, I get this call from an executive recruiter about this opportunity and we started talking more about the opportunity with the company. 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 to go through the process in meet the executives within force management. We talked a lot about not just what was going on with the company and what the company was doing, but really about the values that the company had, and through that process the things just lined up. It's almost like matchcom right. They just lined up. We both were looking for the same things and then now I'm here. So that's how I got here. John, we're so ecstatic to have you. I remember my first conversation with you as I'm kind of walking through your great career at Xerox, where I was very fortunate to begin my career. We've got two other people and the three other people actually in the company for other people in the company is I'm going through it with backgrounds at Zerox. But as I as I was going through your history and where you were working, I immediately realized that you were working with and for one of 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 was pretty 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're again. We're just really, really ecstatic that you're here. So let's go through some of these cool kind of getting to know you questions that we put together for the executives that that we do these podcasts with at force management in order to help our listening audience just kind of get to know our people a little bit better. Let's shoot with this first one. Why did you get into sales so many years ago? You know it's interesting. So let me take you back a bit. I was in high school and getting ready to make 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 a call from my guidance counselor and says Hey, look, we want to meet and she says hey, look, you know, what are you going to do 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 in business. 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 said it on finance, operation, sales and marking. The kind of give you an 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 like goldilocks into three bears, like accounting was just to you know, maybe soft operations or finance was just too hard. And so I go into this one session with this lady from Cocacola. I'll never forget it. I wish I knew her name because people have asked me...

...this a ton of times and I always referenced this. And she talked about her career at Cocacola in sales and marketing. She talked about the ability to interact with some amazing people in her customers. She talked about how it created a great success and a life for her and her family and she said, Hey, look, I kind of work on my own schedule. I said, man, this is perfect, this is perfect. I made my decision right then and there, when I left that session, that I was going to change my major, or when I didn't have a major yet, but when I got to college, my major 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. Then they had a couple of sales classes, so I took a couple of sales classes that were electives and the rest was history. I knew right then and there that once I graduated from college, I was going to get this degree in marketing and I was going to go into sale. So hats off to whomember that lady was from Cocacola that was leading sales and marketing, because she really changed my life. That's awesome. I I think back at, you know, my my decision to get into sales and for me it was just an extension of the way it was described to me. It was just kind of an extension of athletics, Playing Athletics and, you know, meritocracy and and 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 I was going to school and and I'm just so pleased. I think that sales is the is one of, if not the greatest profession on the planet. I think it matters. I think it really is. It really is powerful and now they have great curriculum out there and in great you know, we were talking about why. I think we...

...both went to I think you spent some time at Mit in the Sloan School. We just went and spoke to the Sloan School and there was an NBA program for entrepreneurship and they asked us to come in and talk about enterprise sales. Like I thought about that and I thought, man, if we if I had the ability to have some exposure to that back then, I would have been even more excited to go into to go into this field. So really, times have changed. That's it's almost in every school now, right, right. Yeah, they didn't have a 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 this opportunity now to get degrees in this I would have absolutely taken advantage of that if 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 next question. That I get a kick out of worst mistake that you can think of, worst myths mistake you ever made in the sales roll, in a sales job. Well, you know, I started off by saying by saying this it was. The mistake was was feeling comfortable and complacent. So I'll tell it in the story. I had an opportunity. Was a pretty big account that was a part of my territory and I had a friend that was in what I thought was the decisionmaking position within the the account. We had several meetings. I took foot, took it for granted. I didn't go through 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 the business 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 a sudden, which which was a situation where...

...we, as the company, kind of owned the account. This is when I was with Zerox. Next thing you know, here's this competitor that I have to deal with and the competitor did the job that I should have done, which was brought in its contacts within the within the the customer, and I didn't do that. I took for 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 to play catch up in the scenario. Long Story Short, I lost a deal and you talked about you talked about how you are where an athlete played football in college. The thing that I took from that is never take any scenario for granted. Think about the Times maybe when your athletic career, you were playing a team and you thought they were a lesser team and you didn't prepare as much for that game and that team ended up blowing you out and you didn't see it coming because you took for granted a situation and didn't prepare for Game 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 just didn'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 in sales where and I've read so many books on the topic and I've always thought that I think people go too quickly to try to build those relationships into like friendships just through the concept of like a relationship. And I know that's not what you're describing here, but it's a good point to make for some of 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 a friendship and you earn the right to get a friendship by solving a problem you know so significant that it had a significant impact on somebody. We all have stories where he we have great friends that come out of that. But going into it, when we're calling on friends...

...and they are truly friends of ours before we before we even walk in the door, I've always noticed that friends tend in a business environment, not intentionally, but but friends wind up kind of taking advantage of friends and it kind of can turn into like a ghosting scenario that if you don't establish that business value, you really put that friendship on a awkward ground and when it's all about the friendship, it can be a very, very awkward scenario. I hear it all the time, like at force management will have true friends that are inside of accounts and if we don't do our jobs, if we don't prepare, if we don't try to add the same amount of value, we actually put those friendships at risk. Yeah, you know, I did it. I did a disservice to him by not doing that and I did a disservice to my company by not coming to gain day prepared in not doing the things that I would traditionally do with any other customer and going through those same emotions. So, yeah, it was a lesson that I learned and I didn't do it again. So for those coaching out there, I think when you hear hey, they're a friend of ours or that's a friend of mine, I think it's probably good advice to make 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 we as come on and I've been discussing here. Okay, let's talk about let's talk about 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 funny stories, but one that sticks out. Years Ago I was a senior seller. I was a specialist, so that mean I support supported other sellers and we had a call on a Middle Eastern...

Embassy. We had been negotiating with them for some time. This particular day was for us. We had the contracts in hand to ink the deal. So we get there and the normal guy that we deal with, we're having a conversation and then, in left field 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've already talked about everything. The solution is baked. We talked about the budgets, we talked about the price. This is supposed to be for us just thinking the deal. So he says, well, I've got to bring in someone 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't speak English. So we're going through the back and forth in the party that doesn't speak English in his native tongue is very animated. He's banging on the table, he's all over the place and obviously I can see that this guy is somewhat angered, and so we go back and forth through the discussion and the more junior seller I can see he's a little shook because this guy is really animating. He's very angry, and so the person that we traditionally deal with that could speak English, he gets up and walks out of the room and 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 be okay, it'll be okay. So when the other guy comes back in, I said and he says, look, you need to go back to your office and talk to someone that really can make this deal happen and reduce our price, and I say, well, I'm not going back to the office and 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 to get and I'm not we're going to do this deal today. What is it that's going to take us to happen so...

...that we can make this deal happen today and what is the real issue that we're trying to solve for? He says, what, our budget changed, and he's translating back and forth and every time I say something, says them to this guy and this guy goes all over the place. And I said, well, okay, so your buttet's change. Do we need to change the solution? Know, we want the same solution for the for lesser costs. And I said, well, what is the issue with the budget? He says, well, our first year budget we have. We have a problem. So I knew in the back pocket we could negotiate more on things like a warranty, because they'd have to pay for things like maintenance over the time and if we gave them a bit 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 year free maintenance? Right? So that has a value of X. and he talks to this guy and this guy goes off a bit more, and so he says that might work. So I said, well, I need to make a phone call. So I walk out, I go call and I knew I had a little bit of that in the back pocket. I call our finance people and they see I cannot say you know, that's still big deal. So I go back in. I say done, let's do the deal. So they had to reprint some contracts. The guy that supposedly the guy that could speak English walks out and the guy that didn't speak English all of a sudden says, Hey, I appreciate the business. Hey Me, you're gonna say that. We appreciate you going the extra mile. and Johnny just coming out of Ramadon. So they were having a big celebration in the office. Let's celebrate the contract. I know you've worked with this gentleman extensively with 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 how you would react, to see if we get more out of you and to see 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. Grant and 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 like bone chilling at the end of the negotiation when the person who wasn't supposed to be able to speak English said like very, very, very clearly very nice to meet 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 deferring to a higher power. And you did it when you got up and left the room, and the the car salesman does that when he supposedly gets up and goes into another room and there ain't nobody there that he's see if he can 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 to a high are authority and when we dug into a week, the way we teach it at force management now is hey, it's no problem, I understand if you need to go check with somebody. We also teach through Med pick to make sure you understand who the economic buyer is, what the decision process is. 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 reopen the negotiation right correct and it just really puts a lot of things on common ground. I love that story, though I knew that you're going to I felt like you're going to say that the...

...person could speak perfect English. All right, let's do this. Let's do this. Let's talk about with your career and where you've been and who you've been associated with. I know you probably have some great examples of this, but the best salesperson or sales leader that you ever worked that you that you worked with in your career. So the best salesperson or sales leader, and if it's you don't want to mention the person's name or whatever, you can just give the characteristics, because I know 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 would say there are three that kind of come to mind and I'll talk about some of the characteristics, because all of them had very similar characteristics, one of which you mentioned, which is Kevin Warren Base, who I've worked with numerous times. Another is a guy by the name of Herb Jenkins, who sort of got me started at at Xerox, and I talked to both of those guys to this day. And there's another guy named Jeff White, who I put 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 district manager, but I learned so much from him, and I'll get to that moment. 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 about just what they did from a coaching and teaching perspective, it was knowing the right 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 on your 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, you feed up for a lifetime. That's really was in the fabric of what these three guys were really all about.

The coaching aspect was phenomenal. One of the things I learned from Kevin specifically is when I was a young sales manager, I always thought about it. was just always focused on the performance, always focused on the performance. What are you doing to perform? And kept and said, wait a minute, this thing is really about a three legged stool, and I use that to this day, which is really about competency, behavior and performance, you know, making sure that that the folks that you have, all of them, all of them, are extremely competent in the roles that they do. So this whole concept of always having something involved, where you're teaching your team something, always teaching them and and uping their game, leveling up. Then it's really about the behavior. You know, hey, are we doing the right types of deals? Are we doing deals that we do with a customer and it comes back and all of a sudden we've got to make some sort of price adjustment because we didn't do the right things. From an integrity perspective with with the customers, and that also the behavior. Are the sellers doing the things that they're supposed to do around utilizing the system so that we can make the business decisions? Do they have those right types of behavior? So you got you know normal it is that you need to do, having the right behavior, and then the performance pieces will come. So kind of managing each one of those sort of on the three 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 guy had 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 it was 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 that all of those things happened, the teaching moments, making sure people were there the things that they need to do,...

...around the planning reviews, of monthly reviews. It was like hawkwork. And what it up happening is, as you may know, sometimes the business that you have and what you're focused on changes. So one moment we were focused on technology, another moment we were focused on services, another moment we were focused on business process outsourcing. But Jeff's way was like the constitution. I mean you just dropped in his program and, interestingly enough, as I progressed in my career and moved around the country, Jeff and I work together in Charlotte, North Carolina. When I went to New England to run our business there in the in the equivalent of a district manager was having some challenges with his sales leader. Guess what, called Jeff, Jeff, I need your help. Guess what? New Sales Manager comes on board, you need to mentor called Jeff. So I moved around the country but I still leverage jeff and what he did because and he was a not only was he a perennial presidents club performer, but we're so his people were perminial presidence club performers. So, like I said, they were very selfless in their leadership in and making sure that everyone on the team was really focused on their customers and focus on their craft and developing them so that they could be the best that they could be. And that was really the all three of them like that. You know, we were so lucky to I was about probably about ten years before you. We were so looked lucky to begin our careers with Zerox, I believe, at one time the greatest coaching and developing company of talent. Their philosophy on training leaders, training managers, training reps, it was just amazing. And I'm just people running through 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 still use many of the principles today of the...

...people that I worked for. They taught 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 what an 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 here at force management. There's a focus on training the people, but many times sales managers are left behind that they don't train. So if you're listening out there, take a look at and ere leading companies. Take a look at what you're doing, not only to develop the the individual contributors or the performers, but you know, also make sure that you're developing the frontline managers and because there are great opportunities. We all remember the great coaches. Very few of US remember the bad coaches, and the fact that you can remember Kevin and Jeff and in those people's names is because they were great coaches for you. All right, let's take a looking round it out with this last one here. The best piece of sales advice you ever got that you often don't hurt here. So the best piece of advice that you ever received that you often don't hear. You know, John, I think this would be somewhat intuitive, but it was really round. What it was called the five piece pryor preparation prevents poor performance, or you could say prior heard of a different way, but I like it. Or prior preparation promotes positive performance. Either way you want to either way you want to slice it, but it was one of the best piece of advice it. I go back to the one 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. You know, I go back to thinking about...

...your career as a college athlete. One of the things that you know you say is, Hey, practice like you 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 practice as if you're in the game. So this whole thing around preparation, and it was one of the best pieces of advice, not just relative to the to being a seller, but also being a leader and also just in my personal life. So that whole concept around a five piece prior preparation prevents poor performance or, if you want to use it as prior preparation, promotes positive performance. Either way of it, always, always prepare. Love it and I've already seen that in our our short relationship with each other and your relationship with force management. Come onte. I'm going to get a little selfish year and just reflect a little bit and how just thrilled we are that you made the decision to come to force management. We we are just so thankful for the skills that you've already demonstrate that I think I it seems like you've been here forever, but I think are you on you're still are you on month one or month to just over a month one. It's amazing. Month one right, it's amazing. So we are so ecstatic to have you. Were so ecstatic for you and your family and we just wish you nothing but the greatest success here at force management. Thank you for joining us today and letting our listeners get a little bit closer and connect it to you, and this will be one of many that we will do because we want to get an opportunity for you to share your wisdom with our listeners. Thanks a ton for being here in more ways than just the podcast. Well, look, I had have to say. I know we're...

...closing out here, but the feeling is mutual. The feeling is mute to it is my pleasure, my honor to be a part of force management. Thank you for you and your leadership and 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 going to have together. So thanks a lot, appreciate it. You're welcome, brother. Now go drive that forecast of force management. We're focused on transforming sales organizations into elite teams are proven methodologies deliver programs that build company alignment and fuel repeatable revenue growth. Give your teams the ability to execute the growth strategy at the point of sale. Our strength is our experience. The proof is in our results. Let's get started. Visit US at force MANAGEMENTCOM. You've been listening to the audible ready podcast. To not miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (165)