Interview with: Garin Clark, Vice President of Sales Texas Division, First American Title
Recently, we had an opportunity to sit down with Garin Clark, Vice President of Sales with the Texas Division at First American Title. He provided us with his perspective on what makes top performing salespeople different, what gives them their competitive edge, and what sales leaders can do to train and support them. He shared a number of unique ideas focused around:
- Bad Habits Salespeople Get Into
- Top Performers Bring Value to The Table
- Confidence and Industry Knowledge Matter
- The Best Sales Managers Get in the Trenches
- Encourage Collaboration and Best Practice Sharing
- Advice to New Salespeople
Early in the interview, Garin said something that really framed the rest of our conversation,
“The best and worst habits salespeople get into are formed before the sale ever begins. Salespeople who are willing to do the hard monotonous activities of prospecting before the sales interaction…the cold calling and prospecting …the hard work … day-in and day-out, have the most success. However, spending time on the wrong activities can be a double-edged sword. The worst habit salespeople get into is coddling themselves in activities that make them feel busy but don’t put them in front of potential customers.”
Bad Habits Salespeople Get Into
When we asked Garin about the biggest mistakes he sees salespeople make that limit their results he responded with,
Three of the worst habits salespeople get into are:
- Just talking too much, telling the prospect everything right up front
- Inability to communicate the value they bring to the table.
- Failure to ask for the business.
We’ve conducted extensive research into the results limiting behaviors of salespeople, and according to the numbers, Garin is dead on. The same behaviors Garin pointed out frequently come up as the biggest challenges salespeople face in tests we’ve facilitated. Garin went on to say,
“The ability to ask the right questions goes hand in hand with breaking the habit of talking too much. It’s the failure to ask questions that really indicates a salesperson is not going to succeed. The ability to identify what the customer’s needs are, plug in a solution, and ask for a deal are the keys to being successful.”
This is an area in which top performers really set themselves apart. The ability to ask direct and insightful questions that move the customer further down the sales process and then actively listen and engage in the customer’s response is a sales skill that pays big dividends for top performers.
Top Performers Bring Value to The Table
Next, we asked Garin to elaborate on salespeople’s inability to communicate the value they bring to the table. He obliged with:
“I see two parts to the value proposition; salespeople need to be able to show value in themselves and the company. They have to understand what their competitors bring and they have to show the value they bring to the table that’s different and of more value. Our best people represent that our value proposition is the best solution for the prospect’s needs.”
Garin also made two interesting points about the closing process that stood out to us:
- “Salespeople think they’re asking for the business, when they’re really not. Asking for the business is asking, “may I have your next contract” … and setting that up by asking a question like, “have I demonstrated enough value to earn an opportunity to ask for your next contract?”
- “Sometimes salespeople think they’re asking for business but they do it in a soft way and in our world, that doesn’t work. You have to ask for the customer’s business with a straightforward yes or no question. I also think, in terms of asking for the business, they may feel it’s too aggressive or confrontational and they avoid rejection by not asking. Want the sale? Ask for the business.” “Sometimes salespeople think they’re asking for business but they do it in a soft way and in our world, that doesn’t work. You have to ask for the customer’s business with a straightforward yes or no question. I also think, in terms of asking for the business, they may feel it’s too aggressive or confrontational and they avoid rejection by not asking. Want the sale? Ask for the business.”>
Confidence and Industry Knowledge Matter
Next our conversation turned to Top Performers. We asked Garin what he feels sets them apart and how they achieve outstanding results. Garin told us for him it really comes down to two key points: a quiet confidence and formidable industry knowledge. Garin explains,
- “There are several things that set the best salespeople apart. First, they really understand their value as a salesperson and they have a sense of confidence that’s not arrogance. They have confidence in the value they bring and confidence in the company. That confidence comes from inside and they can use that to communicate how they can help the customer.”
- “The second thing top performers have is an understanding of the business. They need to have a solid understanding of their prospect’s business, what makes their customers tick and what it takes to help them be successful.” “The second thing top performers have is an understanding of the business. They need to have a solid understanding of their prospect’s business, what makes their customers tick and what it takes to help them be successful.”>
The Best Sales Managers Get in the Trenches
When it came to the topic of sales management and sales coaching Garin had several interesting insights to share. Here’s what he had to say about the way the best sales managers coach,
“When it comes to sales coaching, you have to be willing to hold people accountable. Each person has their own strengths and weaknesses and you have to work with them individually while also holding them accountable. The best sales managers are willing to go into the trenches and work with their people, shoulder-to-shoulder on live calls in order to coach them.”
There are few coaching experiences that serve to keep a sales manager’s axe sharp while also cementing a salesperson’s learning as well as coaching in the trenches during live interactions. Not only does this style of coaching emphasize practical application and rapid skill acquisition it also has several underlying benefits. Garin noted,
“A sales manager’s credibility is a big part of the relationship with their salespeople. One way to establish credibility is to effectively demonstrate the sales skills you are coaching.”
Encourage Collaboration and Best Practices Sharing
Salespeople often tell us they leave sales meetings uninspired and rarely leave inspired to take their game to the next level. When we asked Garin to react to this type of thinking, he shared with us his take on the sales meeting and how they can be made much more effective:
“I hold monthly sales meetings. My strategy is not to go over numbers; how they’re doing this month or that month. Instead, I spend time on sales strategy development and collaboration with the team. I also try to bring in other resources like a guest speaker or another rep from another territory and have them talk about what they’re doing that’s working. I find that works with my salespeople.”
If your top performers don’t view the sales meeting as a value add they’ll instead see it as an opportunity cost. One thing many sales managers miss is how to address this in a way that engages top performers while staying accessible to middle-of-the-road and brand new sales people. Garin tackles this unique challenge this way:
“My goal in sales meetings is for salespeople to walk away with something that will make them better. That doesn’t have to come from me teaching, that could easily come from collaboration and best practice sharing.”
Advice to New Salespeople
Garin concluded our interview with this guidance for people new to a sales role:
“My advice to a new salesperson is keep calling! … I think that the salesperson that is most likely to succeed is the person that works harder, longer and more tenaciously than their competitors. Everyone will make the first call, some make the second, but very few go beyond that. The people that just go after it and don’t give up are the ones who make it. So, the one thing I’d say to a new salesperson is “outwork the competition.”
Thanks to Garin for the interview and solid tips on how to effectively coach and develop top performers. For videos on how to increase sales utilizing the SalesGym’s “Compete Selling” approaches, check out our SalesGym YouTube Channel!
SalesGym is a research, consulting, and training company that works with and learns from sales teams all over the world and has refined a coaching and training process that trains sales teams the way elite athletes are trained. More insights and articles from us can be found on our RESOURCES PAGE.
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