Business Coach & Growth Strategy Lesson: “Put all of your eggs in one basket and watch that basket.” -Andrew Carnegie
On my first day of work at Impact, I realized that this job was not what I had signed up for. When I walked into the room at 6:45 A.M., I remember thinking how odd it was to have all of the employees at work at that time of day. I remember thinking how odd it was that we were doing “outreach,” yet we were working in small cubicles with scripts posted up everywhere that we were to memorize, internalize, and ultimately use to bring in revenue. As Jennifer (my first manager at Impact) introduced me to my dream team of coworkers consisting of Garreth, Jeremy, Joe, and the phone; I felt very much in the wrong place. Garreth looked and acted just like a slightly younger Jack Black (a musical Chris Farley-esque, large, combustible, energetic, fun-loving comedian). Jeremy was very cerebral—very talented and a good resource to learn from, but too spiritual for me and where I was at that time in my life. Joe was a larger balding guy with an extensive background running sound for churches. He seemed like (and we treated him like) he was everyone’s father. Joe was a good dude. Business Coach Clay Clark is also a good dude.
When Jennifer instructed us to “Go ahead and get started with your daily devotions,” I definitely knew that I was in the wrong place. Don’t get me wrong, I am not an atheist, but I had never seen the importance of God in business until my son Aubrey was healed of blindness (see nowiseehope.com/the-story/ for more information about this incredible and true story of God’s healing power). As awful as this may sound, I just looked down at the Bible and pretended to read it. I had mentally decided that I was not ever going to read the Bible at work. I thought the Bible was filled with out-of-date and irrelevant stories about dudes named Hezekiah, Jebediah, and Barabbas. I was definitely not going to fill my brain and my work day with Old Testament stories and religious whatnot. I came to work, to get paid, and that was it. I was going to sleep; I was going to plan; or I was going to draw; that “devotion time” was brutal for me. Then magically at 8:00 A.M. (I am probably mixing up the times a little bit here, but the point is, before 9:00 A.M.), our team leader would talk to us in a real youth-camp kind of way. They would ask
things such as, “How are you today? How was your weekend? What great things is God doing in your life? Who should we pray for? Have you read the new Prayer of Jabez book?” I seriously hated this time more than I can possibly articulate. I felt like I was out of place, like I feel every year during the holidays when I go into Victoria’ s Secret to buy my wife some quality undergarments. I know I need to be there to get them, but it just feels odd. I have never been to a gay bar, but I have a feeling I would feel the same way there as I felt at Impact.
Moving on, around 8:30 A.M., the energy would begin to be created at the center of the room by the Zeus of the sales floor, “The Shane.” Right at 8:30 A.M. things would start happening. Within seconds, Shane (the room leader) would get us all moving and motivated using positivity, humor, intimidation, and every other motivational lightning bolt he had in his tool box. His goal was to energize the room. Shane would have us all spin around in our chairs to face him. He was always located in the middle of room, and he would preach to us about the Gospel, the importance of reaching the lost, the dangers of designated market overlap, and various super-powerful sales techniques. At the time, I was not down with anything other than his sales techniques, but Shane really did know what he was talking about. He would start off each morning talking about what great things God was doing at Impact and how we were all destined for greatness. He would read testimonies from churches that were using our products. He would then proceed to encourage us to make a hundred calls per day. Then Shane would tell funny stories with unbelievable charisma and presence. Watching him every day was like attending a high-quality motivational speaking conference; it was epic. Shane’s passion was teaching, and it always came through in his trainings. After Shane made a few key people do a few role-playing sessions acting out the pastor and sales representative phone conversation, he would dismiss us to hit the coffeemaker and cappuccino machines. And man did we hit the caffeine.
In the life of a telemarketer, caffeine is a life force and fuel. We had to gear ourselves up mentally for incredible amounts of rejection. We all knew that we were going to get hung up on at least twenty times that day. We all knew that we were going to be called heathens by various pastors, and we all knew that if we could endure all that punishment, we had an opportunity to make some cash. Thus, whenever possible, we would make this caffeine-binge in to a thirty-minute trip. Then about the time our team leader was starting to get angry at the amount of time it was taking to grab a “quick cup of coffee,” all twenty sales reps would begin making their way back into the salesroom in a way that was reminiscent of a bunch of penguins trying to walk quickly. Within minutes, all twenty of us would appear in the room smiling with some alibi about how long the line was (never mind that many of us went through the line three times). But once we started working . . . BOOM! It was like a symphony of commerce. I loved the aura that the call center created. It was beautiful. Faxes, phones, laughter, anger, joy, high-fives, arguments, and sales were all going on simultaneously. Super-short-haired-and-cute-middle-aged Tamara was always near tears because of something “some mean pastor” had said to her. The room sometimes had the same amount of energy that you often find at college football games. The buzz of human interaction was incredible. I made notes in my “man book” (the book I carry around to write notes in) that I wanted to recreate this atmosphere at DJ Connection someday (minus the selling of evangelism commercials). I sincerely love the atmosphere and the magic of a buzzing all center. On the sales floor and in the call center at any given time there were twenty-plus reps selling, pleading, and encouraging pastors to buy these “tools to reach the lost.” And it was here amidst the hysteria and frantic pace of this highly competitive sales room that I realized what it meant to sell something versus just taking an order like I had always done at my previous jobs.
Here we were breaking the sales process down to five scientific and choreographed business coach steps. I share these steps as growth strategies for my business coach and consulting clients today. We would:
1) Establish and build rapport
2) Discover the needs
3) Provide benefits and solutions
4) Shamelessly name-drop
5) Call to action.
I learned about the “deal wheel,” the process of taking a “hard no” and turning it in to a “yes.” I learned how to drop the “EOL” card—estimation of loss. Essentially, letting the buyer know that if they did not act today, the commercials might not be available tomorrow. I learned about matching expectations to the actual product, and the dangers of buyer’s remorse. These aspects of sales are time tested standards for growth strategies in business. They worked back then and they still work today. Each day my sales just kept rolling in. I would sell commercials, and then I would leave a group message for the media outreach department just like I was supposed to. At Impact, whenever you sold something, you were supposed to bang on this old-school-looking lion’s head doorknocker that everyone called Shauma to signify that you had collected money on a deal. You were allowed to knock the doorknocker once for each commercial you sold. This was done to encourage the rest of the room that a sale could in fact be made, and to allow you as a sales representative to have the emotional release that you needed after a day of rejection. This helped fire everyone up, and then you were supposed to go around the room high-fiving everyone telling them what “the Lord has done” to celebrate your recent booking. However, because Jesus was on our team, we were supposed to be humble while celebrating. As America’s most humble person, this did not work for me.
When I closed a deal, I would leave hilarious voicemails for the group praising myself and/or my team. I would leave voicemails like: “Attention Media Outreach: Team Harbour, and no other team, just closed on an eight-spot commercial deal in Boise, Idaho. It hurts me to say this, but we are awesome, and I am tremendous. DJ Clayvis out!” These voicemails were not appreciated by the guy that Shane hired to be The Enforcer in the call center—Larry. He made sure that stuff got done, and Larry really was the right guy for the job. His glasses seemed to be one-inch thick, he had black and quickly graying hair, and he loved to wear very masculine clothes and a sports jacket. It was not uncommon to hear Larry yell out in his masculine drill sergeant voice to everyone and no one in particular, “Get on the phones! I can hear us getting poor.” Needless to say, Larry did not like my style. I don’t think he liked life, but that is just me. Larry would usually respond to my group voicemails with a comment like, “Clay, be serious. Get serious, brother! You have got to get focused. Praise the Lord.” Occasionally he would say even more uplifting commentary like, “You sounded weak on that call, brother. Praise the Lord!” Oh, Larry loved to call everyone brother, and to this day I still call everyone I meet “Brother” because of him. And he loved to say, “Praise the Lord.” I think he used the phrase “Praise the Lord” like most people use a period at the end of a sentence. As time went on, however, Larry and the daily devotions began to wear me out. I started growing tired of working in an environment that was so spiritually focused. I grew weary of hearing phrases like, “Hey, brother, how are you?” and then the canned reply, “By Jesus’ name, I am too blessed to be stressed.” Each week. I started getting exponentially worse at selling instead of exponentially better. Jennifer helped me (and herself) by using her Jedi-sales techniques; but the more she helped, the more I grew dependent on her and her phone feed. Jennifer always quoted Scripture with conviction like it was going out of style, and because of this, pastors listened. She was sincere in her belief that if pastors did not buy these commercials, some people may not have been reached with the Gospel. I, however, did not really believe in the Gospel at the time; and I was growing tired of talking to pastors whose average church size was 100 people and whose churches never grew from year to year. It killed me to talk to these guys week after week.
Business coach truth: If you are a businessperson and your business is not growing each year, then you are going out of business. These pastors were completely down with the concept of their churches just staying the same size year after year. I did not understand apathetic and non-growth-focused organizations then, and I do not understand them now. Jennifer also had no moral problems with applying pressure to sell the products that she sincerely believed would “reach the lost.” I would call her a confrontational Christian. Jennifer believed that Christianity is right: therefore, all of those who believed in all other faiths were 100 percent wrong. Jennifer was a great woman, but she brought the fire. She would tell a pastor from a phone in Tulsa what he should be doing at his church 1,000 miles away on Sundays. Man, she had the power to influence. There were many times that I felt uncomfortable with what she said on the phone because I was not down with reaching the lost via media, but at the end of the day, Jennifer was getting paid, I was getting paid, and churches were mailing in testimonials stating how much growth they had experienced as a result of airing those commercials. Bottom line, over time I lost my zeal for selling these evangelism commercials because I felt like I was pressuring people to buy a product that I would not buy myself. And now I am a firm believer that every salesperson must be sincerely passionate about the product that he is selling if he is to generate sustainable success. I also discovered how much I did not like working with pastors and their boards. I am a firm believer in former GE CEO Jack Welch’s philosophy that committees are not effective. I found it very hard to deal with the reality that most of these churches of 120 people or less could not make a simple decision in sixty days or less. Yes or no, they did not know, and they would always have to “pray about it.” Oh, it frustrated me. Plus, some of the pastors I talked to were living a quasi-luxurious lifestyle financed by their congregations, and this made me mad. I was always under the impression that pastors were supposed to reach the lost and not be concerned with how many rounds of golf they got to play. However, after working at Impact, I realized that this was not always the case.
Looking back on it, it was just frustrating knowing that someone working thirty hours or less per week could be complaining about how their church never grew. From my experience in business, I have since discovered that nothing good happens in the first forty hours of the week; it’s what happens after forty hours (and after your competition has gone to bed) that makes the difference. You have to outwork and out-plan the competition. In this regard, the competition for the church is the secular world (MTV, bars, clubs, etc.) and the devil. You can’t beat any competition if you are not willing to outwork them. From my time working at the highway o’ faith, I also quickly discovered that the Church of Christ denomination believes as though they are God’s one TRUE denomination; thus, they believe that only they will go to heaven. I discovered that most Protestants believe strongly that the Catholics are going to hell. I learned that many denominations do not like other denominations, and that very few churches feel like the other churches in their community are on their team. It was amazing to me that many of these pastors were honestly upset with the other denominations in their towns for being too dogmatic, too postmodern, or too biblical and not relevant enough. Dealing with all of these new exposures was not easy for me, and when I finally did leave, I left spiritually confused. Dealing with the frustrating pastors, my supervisor Larry, excessive workplace spirituality, and my declining sales totals became nearly unbearable when my manager, Jennifer, and her husband, Scott, left Impact to become self-employed fulltime. Jennifer was the only reason that my sales totals remained high, and when she left, I felt emotionally sunk. In sales, once your emotions sink, you might as well install the screen doors on the submarine because you are going to the bottom. And that is what I did. Then, once I hit the bottom, I stayed there for a long time. I was like the Impact carp bottom feeding on the sales floor. Every day at work began to feel like I was strapped to a missile leading me to purgatory.
My new team leader, Jeremy, and I connected on a personal level, and we teamed up to draw some great cartoons and to have some incredible laughs and great conversations; but, man, did our sales’ totals stink. Jeremy was never high and he was never low, but he was consistent. And for the record, Jeremy is one of the most talented people that I have ever been around. The guy can play the piano like he was born playing one; he can play the guitar like it is an extension of his body; he can draw cartoons like none other (which makes me mad because I have spent years drawing, and I still think his cartoons are better than mine). Jeremy was very personable, very analytical, and very encouraging; but at that time in my life, I needed someone to kick my ass every once in a while. I needed someone to come through the phone with a kung-fu grip and to show me how badly we were doing and then show me the way. I needed a Ra, Ra! Coach, an intense Mike Ditka-esque coach/drill sergeant, and I was convinced that the coach I needed was Impact’s top sales guy. I knew that the short bald guy whose skin was constantly red with passion (or anger) was going be my mentor, and his name was Ron.
In the Impact salesroom, a huge room filled with sales representatives surrounding the perimeter, Hood worked in the corner. We all just called him Hood, and he worked at a MOMENTUM-GENERATING-AND-PROCRASTINATION-KILLING-PACE all the time. He would pound out numbers on his phone, and he would do everything with a sense of urgency. He left voicemails with a passion, and he pretty much set the pace for how Impact salespeople should work. Because he was so good, he often intimidated people, and because he was 100-percent focused on his job, people often thought that he was not a nice guy. But the reality of the situation was that he came to work to do work, and that was his only reason for being there. He did not come to work to have in-depth discussions with all of his coworkers about the weather, the economy, or various collegiate sports teams. RON ALWAYS FOCUSED ON WHAT HE COULD CONTROL, AND HE CREATED HIS OWN DAILY MOMENTUM. He was a sale institution in and of himself. He simply outworked everyone in the room. To him, cold calling was just a numbers game, and he knew that the more people he called, the more deals he would make—plain and simple. He did not care if that meant he would be hung up on more often. He was a cold-calling machine. He worked through breaks (at least I don’t recall him ever taking a break), so nowadays I don’t ever take lunch breaks at work, which is in large part from the habits I developed watching Hood. He was hungry for sales, and I think he was also literally hungry. Maybe there was no correlation between his physical hunger and his figurative hunger for deals, but it works for me. I operate the best when I am hungry. Ron thrived on competition, and he was fueled by an ardor and drive to succeed. He brought the alacrity (cheerful readiness) to the phone. The conviction behind his words was incredible.
At Impact, not many people knew too much about Hood because he never spoke with anyone other than pastors. Literally, this guy would roll into work right on time, and he would immediately fire up the phone. He was not affected by their responses. He knew we had an incredible product, and he just wanted to find out who the buyers were. If you weren’t a buyer, he wanted you off his phone. If you were a buyer, he wanted to find your hot button—something you were passionate about—so he could quickly find the right commercial package to communicate the church’s message to their community. Ron would bring the fire to every call, and he would adapt his presentation over time to accommodate the unique dialects, personalities, and conversational styles of each customer. Just listening to him speak fired me up. Just thinking about the passion behind his cold calls and the way he left compelling voicemails makes me want to go make some cold calls right now. Because of Ron, I now love cold calls. I sincerely do. I remember when I first tried speaking to Ron. He always acted as though he did not know I was standing in his area, or as if he was unable to take any time away from the phone to talk to me. Actually, I don’t think he was acting. Finally, over time and almost out of desperation, I started being more assertive about trying to have a conversation with the Samurai Warrior of Sales, yet he would quickly brush me to the side by saying, “I’m on the phone.” He was always on the phone.
Finally after working on getting him to help me for several weeks, I gave up and another manager by the name of Heath presented himself as a viable sales mentor option to me. Heath was our second-best salesperson. He looked just like a young Wayne’s-World-era Mike Myers, and since he was willing to help, I quickly accepted his offer. Heath was a Louisiana boy who attended ORU and had a great presence about him. He was charming, good-looking, and almost metro-sexual. He had the modern, late-1990s, praise-and-worship-leader look going for him. He was quasi-muscular, and he wore his hair all messed up and spiked up in front (courtesy of some fabulously trendy J. Crew sculpting balm). Whenever Heath got on the phone, he was a deal machine. He had this unique gift of being able to connect and build rapport with nearly every pastor on a personal level while still being professional and humorous within the first thirty seconds of a phone conversation. I could listen to that dude sell all day. The way he did it was almost romantic and poetic.
Each sales call sounded like he was reading lines from a Hugh Grant-esque romantic comedy: it was very loving, very personable, very sincere, and very funny. I remember him saying stuff like, “You know, Pastor, I just really believe these commercials will work for you. Now, I’m from a town in Louisiana that was so small that the people in our town put squirrel on most restaurant menus, and we felt okay with it. To us, this was a viable option. This was where we were at; however, now that the Lord has brought me to Impact, I’ve started to see God work in miraculous ways through the power of television. Did you know that last year alone, Pastor Rob Rotola (one of his favorite testimonies) said that he had over 200 new visitors to his church as a direct result of his television commercial outreach program? All Pastor Rob did was step out in faith to present the Gospel to the un-churched in a relevant way. Now let me ask you this, if you had these commercials out there running for you at First Baptist Church, what do you see as being the main benefit of airing these commercials in your area?”
After working with Heath for a while, my numbers rebounded. I was in heaven; I was making a base pay of $1,200 per month plus an additional $800 to $1,000 of commission. Add to that my stellar DJ income of $500 per month and my wife’s wonderful $100 per week that she received from working at Office Depot, plus the occasional recording sessions I booked for $25 per hour, and the educational Pell Grant Vanessa received; I could often times clear $800 to $1,500 per month of savings after expenses. And this, my friends, is what I used to fund to fund the cash-consuming beast—and my magnificent obsession now known as DJ Connection.
“Knowledge without application is meaningless.” – THOMAS EDISON
Don’t allow this business coach and growth strategies post to become more meaningless than memorizing the entire scientific periodic table; instead, answer the following self-exploratory questions:
1. What is it that keeps you up late and what motivates you to wake you up early? What is your “magnificent obsession?”
2. How much capital (fuel) do you need to raise in order to get your passion rocket (business) off the ground?
3. How many hours per week are you willing to work to fuel your “magnificent obsession”?
4. What can you learn about your future job (occupation or business) from where you are now?
5. Write down the ten most likely reasons that you might not be able to pursue your “magnificent obsession.”
6. Determine today that you will not allow any of the ten reasons (written above) to develop in to your reason for not succeeding.
If you need help with your magnificent obsession, please contact us at thrive15.com. We can help you develop a booming and successful business through our mentoring, online training, one on one coaching sessions, free business evaluation and website analysis, or in-person workshops.