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

Episode 74 · 10 months ago

Lessons Learned in Sales W/ Marty Mercer


Our podcast series “Lessons Learned in Sales” continues this week as John Kaplan talks with Force Management Facilitator Marty Mercer. Marty shares some great stories, including:

- How he became a seller and he didn’t even know it

- A beneficial lesson in patience that he learned that drastically shifted his sales career

- Why he didn’t sell anything in the first nine months of his career

- How a colleague nearly broke their computer fifteen minutes before a presentation

This episode is packed with lessons that both reps and managers can use to propel their careers forward in the right direction.

Here are some additional resources based on the conversations with Marty:

- Virtual Selling Tips & Tricks [Podcast]

- Stacking Customer Requirements in Your Favor [Podcast]

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

So that was another wakeup call of okay, I gotta learned something more than what I know down and it isn't the product. You are 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 BTB sales effectiveness. Let's get started. Hello, it's Rachel with the audible ready sales podcast. Today we're asking some 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 Facilitator Marty Mercer. Marty, great to see a brother. How are you? I'm doing fantastic, John. It's glad to see your happy, smiling face as usual. Right back at you, brother. Hey, so thanks for joining us today. We've really been enjoying these, you know, with our audience getting to know our facilitators better, and I thought maybe one way we could just kick off today is tell us a little bit about your background and how you wound up at force management. Yeah, question, that's a good place. It started the very beginning, right. So I spent twenty five years. Was the pre sales demo guy for a while that I've moved into selling and then, like many sellers, one day they say hey, you're really good at this. Once become a manage it. I'm like, well, what you got to do for that? They did really give me a very, very good of answer. So I got into that. It is a small startup company. You know, we were all making it up, to be honest, and you know, we got good at it. Had A great product but a great solution, and you just keep doing well and you keep getting bigger, better titles and getting bought by company after company and one day the last company that buys you just doesn't do a very good job, and so that kind of tank and they got rid of a bunch of us and I was kind of like what I would I do the rest of my life? Right. It's so we had work with a sales training company out of Atlanta.

So I called them up and I said, Hey, do you guys ever use you know, trainers, and they said, but I we're thinking about it. So I knew them and they need me. So I started working for them for several years and then that company kind of faded out and I got a call from somebody at force management. He said, Hey, your name was referred to us. They said you were one of the best trainers that they knew, so we're calling you to see if you want to come work with us. And I said okay, where is it? Charlotte's. I go to Charlotte Lum behold and met John Kaplan and the rest is, they say, history. So I think it's been about think it's been about five years. I was just thinking about that. I was trying to remember. Is it then, five years already? Wow, I think I think so. What I remember is, you know, I had to do a hooting audition for you. So you and if you're rooted at yeah, no, rude, yeah, and I thought I was the hot shot in it was. Everything was going great until you the first day and we got to this one segment and I just kind of MIS understood what I was supposed to be doing as a trainer and a saying that and I got done with it. Looked at me. You Go, Dude, man, you were killing it all day, but that was terrible. Mr Subtle, toster subtle. Wow, here's here's the cool part about it. So there were a couple stories that I had never told before. The different content come what I'd been doing before. So you and I work shot those two stories and you think you better go back to your Rodal Room, you better get those stories down because you got to come in tomorrow morning and kill it. And so you're very kind of the workshop that I would me and turn out two great stories that I've used a lot and they were new stories I never had. So yeah, you were. You were very helpful. They're very kind and but what was important for me, which what you said. Boy, that was terrible because I needed to hear that right. I was just it's funny that you say that. I might have mentioned this. I don't think I mentioned this on the last podcast we did, but I'm really all about this last chance you series that they do on Netflix, and the latest one, last...

...chance you basketball, I think, is it's the best one for me. It's so last chance to you. Is like the stories about these junior college it's kind of like the last chance for a lot of these kids. In the last two or three years have been about football and the football coaches from a leadership perspect active have I don't want to say anything disparaging, but like really, really rough and I really, really loved this coach Mosley at East Los Angeles Community College. It's a great story if you haven't seen it. But the reason why I'm saying that is something stuck out to me for what he said is that somebody told him he was wondering why he wasn't starting and he went to his coach and he's just like had all these lists of, you know, why you should be starting, and the coach just looked at him and said, I'm sorry, John, you're just not good enough to start here. And it was in no, I'm not saying that because that's not what I said to you, but I thought that what what a wonderful and he said nobody'd ever said that to him and said it to him in that way where there was no malice, there was no was just like hey, and it really got him contemplating on. You know, talking to people and giving them straight feedback is really, really a blessing and I remember back in my life when people have done that to me and just told it like it was, without any malice without any so anyways, if you guy, I know you're a big sports guy down there with Georgia tech and I think you'd really, really enjoy that. So to follow up on that last conversation we just had, much you dig a little bit deeper for us and tell us specifically how did you get into sales? Well, I wasn't going to go into sales for cover reasons. One, I had a horrible in of sellers coming from my father. My father was a pretty successful civil engineer and Steel Fabrication Business, Small Little Company. It was a teo in the sophomore world. My Dad would have been the head of product. And then there was a third guy who was the seller, and I remember at the dinner...

...table hearing these kind of disparaging comments about Delta. He was just crossed them. Who went the Feller and course with my dad and I love them. And you civil engineer and all that kind of stuff. It's not a bad felf image that. And I was going to go to medical school. My Mom's a nurse and I was a biology Undergrad and everything was on track and I'm taking the mcats and I'm doing all that kind of working in a hospital, but my junior year I started to begin to realize I don't want to go to medical school. So I ended up getting graduate degree in industrial engineering and I stayed in the healthcare business and I wanted to become the gray haired consultant in the corner office with the full floor of the wall and ceiling, the floor windows, and I was going to be taken a piece of very deal and they would all come to me with the hard questions that would give them the answers. That was my vision. I was going to be the whitened old consultant right and except I wasn't all yet. It's so PC came out. They thought they should be getting into computers. We ended up doing a deal with a small software company and I was the with the Demo Guy, so I just ran around doing demos all the time and by three years later I get a box at my home and I opened up the box and inside is the original motor roll of brick phone, what I call the Gordon Gecko phone, the one her right walking on the beach with the rubber antenna. Yeah, I called the company, was from the company that we were distributed for them and I said, Michael, why did you send me this phone. This is the coolest thing. Of course everybody wanted one and he was surprised and he said, Horney, we send that phone to everybody who sells a million dollars software. I thought it was a consultant. That was the revelation that you're not a consultant, you're a seller. That was a million dollars at twenty grand a pop. It was about forty deals, is three years, and that's what I said. Okay, if I consulting. Now when you got to clarify this? Some dude, we're they paying you as a seller or no? Okay, noonings died and I was just getting my salary and none of there was no commission. But I mean it turned that was you had a happy ending, right, but I'm not kidding you.

I was a consultant who just happened to be doing demos and cells offtware, implementing it, and when I got that phone, he said, we said do everybody who filled a million dollars, I'm like, like, the wrong company and the wrong job. My different person than I thought it was. That no, all I got into say. That is awesome. I gotta tell you. That's not on common I've talked to other people about how they got into sales and sometimes it's a simple revelation of comp like they were either on the you know, on one end of one part of the process, which the only thing that they didn't have officially, I guess, is the quota, but they didn't really know what they were out there doing, consulting or application engineers or what have you. And some of the best sellers I've ever met are people that have kind of got that realization. They were natural sellers. They weren't really in it for the compensation because they didn't know, but the minute they found out that that's what they should be making is when they jumped into sales. I love that. That's an awesome story. Yeah, along those lines. Tell me. Wow, got a list of questions for you here. Ye, tell me the worst mistake you ever made in a sales job. But I think it's the beginning when I thought the way you're going to be great at selling was to just tell them everything that was about that product. I mean, I need every module, every screen, I can go into the config files. I did go into the CONFIG but right. So I was completely convinced that because we had quote the best product in the market and I knew everything that was about it and I'm arming and I'm energetic and I can answer any question there was. And that was all true. That all you know, because I knew it was great for them. They would automatically get it and then they would buy. And I remember for the first beginning in ACW of month, I didn't tell a thing and I finally hooked the deal talking to the CEEIO. Why did it take so long? And he has you. He told me. Basically, I asked the people in nursing three or four or five questions, but the business impact on the hospital, and they said, Martin, they were talked about... and we were working the contract, he said, and that's why you just gave you the account just gave me. And again that's another one of those revelations of waybe you wishing the business impact not about the cool function is. That was another wake up call of okay, I gotta I gotta learn something more than what I know now, and it isn't the product right, I'm already good at that. So I got maybe I oh, you know, and maybe one of the carryovers from being so technically first on the product, which is a huge advantage for you to make a leap in the sales but then realizing that you kind of kind of have to hold onto that and when it's appropriate and you earn the right to share that information about the product. So that's really interesting. So for those that are listening about the conversation we just had about the technical folks getting in the sales is that it's really all about timing and kind of earning the right to share that knowledge. But it could become a burden. It was a burden for me. I had to unburden myself of that technical knowledge. Yeah, not that I love that. That's really interesting. So I know I'm going to get a good one on from you on this one. What's the funniest thing that happened on a sales call? So I was thinking about that and you know, we probably all had lots of funny stuff, but the first feller I ever hired as a manager, Lauri Martin, still one of my best my you know, best friends of fact, invited me down to her sixty and birthday party, you know, and augustly that we're still pretty tight right. So she was the seller. Now with the manager in many cases, I would go with them because they were big crowds of people and we had to. She's going to do the demo on a PC and we had a projector to project this. Projectors finally come out and so we getting the room set up and she's got a computers on this table, one of those movable tables like you would see in the cafeteria. This is not a hospital. So we're getting all sent it up and the woman who was our main contact comes up and looks how we kind of got things to figure she will one hundred and know, Lo rate. She said that's not when the table should go and she grabs...

...the side of the table that has the computer on it and goes like that and the computer goes and he started bouncing off the keyboard. Oh No, oh no. The Lori and I are like and it's like, you know, Demo in fifteen minutes, you know, and she's leaving at the floor. And so we didn't laughing. We laugh we laugh later. But Lori was it so calm and collected. Shoot the former. I see her. She'd seen a lot worse right, you know she did. I mean I kind of want to get super angry. She just kind on the floor, grabbed the key started sticking them back on. That's been those keyboards were. They had little clips on the we have a clip by in the letters. Wouldn't work right. But she's somehow if the demo with and it didn't bother her at all. But she started the presentation you would have thought nothing had happened. Now it wasn't the funny then, but then, all right, back to the airport. We're just laughing, going. Can you believe she didn't think one of the computer or home? No, no, but calm under pressure, though, Dude, right, and a pressure. Yeah, I'm the hands and knees. That's awesome. That's a good story. All right. Now a salesperson or sales leader you worked with in your career who's the best one? In some of our Tay I talked about this Guy Bruce. Bruce was a guy that filled up and the companies that all got melded together. And when I when I was able to move from managing teams that were selling pc bassed APPs to big UNIX, big mainframe, million dollar stuff. I had never been in that world and Bruce had, and so I was, I guess, hope, luckily, smart enough to listen to Bruce. The Bruce is the feller. He works for me. I'm the the VP, and I learned more from Bruce, I know, than Bruce Ever learned from me. But the two things that I thought reflecting on this. Lauren Bruce was the seller that will come to me. I'd say, Hey, I filled out our blue sheeter, filled out whatever it was very using at the time. I didn't email it to you. Let's set some time...

...up so we can walk through this deal, so we can figure out what the next steps should be. I was beating everybody else over the head similar blue sheets, Simi your blue sheets. Boot was always proactively, only thought out, well thought out, good conclusions, good strategies, and so we we had an amazing conversation because we didn't have to figure out what the the details were. We were actually talking strategy, so so that he would the real rarity from that perspective. The other thing that I learned from him it stopped talking so much. And maybe no by now. That's challenge for me right. I mean our real extrovert. He's a real introvert. I would open the show, close the show. Bos was very quiet and it's what I learn from him is I remember getting in cars many, many time effort meetings and I would say, Bruce Man, we got to get back to the office and put that pricing together. He would go, don't it's a boost. They wanted to do the pricing. He goes, you don't got to answer that question. Just because they ask you something, then you gotta answer it Nice he was a master and waiting and waiting and waiting. So we had full scope, full understanding, full connections to people, champions, economic buyers, and then we put the price together. And so that that again, you know, not rushing to the demo and not rushing to a proposal. Bruce was the matter at that and he taught me because I didn't have that skill he had. Marty, that's a that's a really interesting perspective about your story about Bruce because when I think about that story, I think about a couple of things, and I often tell this to companies, that if you are the way that you're managing and utilizing resources to help wraps get on stock or to do, you know, to coach and develop them, if you if you focus on compliance versus the value that it creates, there's a problem and that's a really bad value proposition. The second thing is which sticks out is is that Bruce came to you and I used to tell managers that work for me. If your reps aren't coming to you for help precall...

...planning, for help on strategy, that's also a real good indication that your value proposition to them is probably focused around compliance and not around with it. So I really like that story. I like that. Okay, last one, brother. What's the best piece of sales by advice that you ever got? And that and that you don't hear that often. Yeah, so I remember years ago my boss, the head of sales, I was like it's a regional director that I'm Alan. He had come and kind of knew he wasn't from the old crew. He's to the outside and in the beginning and a little culture was kind of cleaning. What Alan going to beat us? You know this kind of thing. I remember him very clearly saying to me Marty got to stop doing unnatural acts. Like what are you talking about? He goes, we got to stop doing all these crazy things at the end of the quarter try to close that deal, to try to pull it in. And so when he said on natural acts. That's all the things. Well, if you signed by now, you know you'll get this price, but if you don't sign by now, the price is going up. I mean all the crazy, goofy things that we've all done. We know we shouldn't be doing them, but in our at our company at that point and we thought that's how you us to do it. Well, you know, the revelation of Alan coming in. We're thinking, he doesn't know anything. He's like we're doing way too many unnatural acts. We got to stop it. If it goes the next quarter, that it's going to go the next quarter. I get happened. The money away just to book it. The book at Didcor and that led to us becoming much better and will be called diagnostic selling. It also led to US becoming much better negotiators and planning for that negotiation phase. But that thould never forget the phrase, because I was like what are you talking because I caused up some bad images. Right, unnatural act. Yeah, explained it. I'm like he's I guess I do one of those at what the week. You know, it's amazing, though, like it's so profound what that individual said to you because, like everything...

...we do is seller teaches our customers all these unnatural acts that we do typically in the last two weeks of the cord, or it teaches in a preconditions buyers. You know, when we were at PTC, we had probably eighty percent of our revenue, and sometimes much, much more, that came in the last two weeks of the corridor and that's not uncommon for enterprise software companies. And the number one reason why is because the buyers were preconditioned by the sellars said if you wait till the last two weeks of the quarter, these guys are going to do unnatural acts and and you'll probably get a great discount. So I think that's a really, really valuable less so and also I think the number one reason why we do those UN natural acts is pipeline. It's always related to pipeline. If you got a big pipeline, you're less inclined to do on natural acts. So I love that. Yeah, I love that. Great add brother. Hey, dude, you've been such a blessing to force management your you know, I thought you were going to come in and kill it kind of for us with your healthcare background and in that healthcare background and technology and software and you know, you are one of the favorite facilitators out in the marketplace and we just get nothing but raping reviews about you. So thank you for what you do for us and just wish you just continued success. Well, I'm might keep hanging out with you guys. You got it, brother. Ever, Great Week. Dude 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...

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