355: Rethinking Sales in Small Businesses - with Bud Matthews


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By Lori Highby. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Meet Bud

With nearly 40 years of sales, marketing, and management experience at multiple Fortune 500 companies, Bud started Ascend Performance, LLC, powered by Sales Xceleration, utilizing his experience to help small to medium-sized companies obtain optimal results. He also works in talent selection, assisting companies in finding the right person for the right seat using state-of-the-art assessments. These assessments can also be used to understand skill sets as a basis for training and self-development.

What is an outsourced VP of sales?

I think in my bio, you talked about that I was a sales professional. I was in business for 40 years. So before I tell you what I do, I'd like to tell you why I do it. And those 40 years was really a curse and a blessing. And I worked for those two Fortune 500 companies, great organizations, I took away much. But I found myself over that time period traveling a lot. And what happened was that I traveled 80% of the time across the country and even across the world. And this caused me to miss a lot of family events, birthdays, school events, etc. And although I lived in Brookfield at the time, for over 20 years, I wasn't really part of the community. In fact, I really didn't even know my neighbors. And I'm ashamed to say that. So about a year and a half ago, I decided to make a change. And what I want to do is take that experience, knowledge and skills that I gained, while being a part of those organizations, to smaller companies in my community. And in doing so I can spend more time with my three grandchildren, enjoy our cabin up in the north woods and make a difference in the lives of small business owners, many of which now today I call my friends. So what is an outsourced VP of sales? Well, what I do is I come in to small-to-medium-sized organizations and I place a sales infrastructure within them. And what that means: it's a sales strategy, a sales process. I introduce KPIs to help drive the right sales behaviors toward company goals. I write job descriptions for sales professionals. I work out incentive plans. I focus on an outbound sales strategy, and that's the cold calls, and the prospecting, and the seven steps to selling that I implement within the organization. So once they get sales and revenue up, and that's what it's all designed to do: to help small to medium sized owners grow revenue, then I can either exit the business by hiring a replacement, or help them hire a replacement. Or I can train one of the sales professionals that they have within their organization to take over, and then periodically monitor and make sure that they're on task. It's a great job, I love every minute of it. It helps me spend a lot more time at home. And it helps me really gain fulfillment and joy in my job. And it's, it's not the old grind that sometimes we all face in a career, it's something that I really enjoy doing. And you know, sometimes I like to tell a story about how I got into it, and what the difference is, and how it kind of all works together. So I was called by a gentleman by the name of Michael Patrick Cola, and Michael ran a small food company in Elizabeth, New Jersey. And if you've ever been to Elizabeth, it's the place that you don't want to go to at night. But I remember going into Michael's manufacturing facility, and it was about a $7 million organization at the time. And I was walking up these big steps. And I looked into the office, and he had the corner office on the second floor of the manufacturing company. And I looked in there, and Michael was 52 years old at the time, and he was an Irish, Italian. And he had red hair and had these big red cheeks. And I looked at him and he says, "I need some help." He says, "I spend 12-14 hours a day in this place, I've got to run the operation, I've got to run the supply chain, I've got to buy raw materials. And then I had two sales guys over there in another room. And I don't know what the heck they're doing." So he says, "We've been flat for the last couple of years. And I need some help." So then we went in, we looked at his process and put a good sales plan in place, really got those guys focused on the right behavior to drive sales that the organization needed, and really turn it around. And it was a great time. And I remember about a year and a half later, I was in town -- I have some other clients out that way on the East Coast. And I walked up those steps again. And it was about 4:30, it was the end of the day, I knew Michael would be available. And I walked up and I looked in the red was gone from his cheeks. And he had a big smile on his face. He said, "Bud, I've only got 10 minutes, I've got a date with my wife, and I'm taking her to dinner." And that was the end of his 14 hour days. So that's what really makes my job and my role fulfilling.

How did you get into more of the coaching and consulting space, then?

Well, an example within Michael's organization and other organizations that I'm a part of, a lot of times, sales managers really don't have the training. And I was privy to that for many, many years working with large companies; they're very good at training their staff and training me and I went through a lot of good things. So I learned very quickly in my roles as a consultant, a sales consultant, that when you work with people as a consultant, it's not the old command and control like you used to do when I was in the seat back in the day. So I would have to learn new skills to help them, convince them on the right behaviors to get things done. And I had a challenge with that. I didn't have that. I used to come out of my office and say this is what needs to be done today. And they'll go get it done. And that was the old style of management for many, many years. Today, you've got to be very empathetic and sympathetic to your personnel within the organization, you got to treat them very well. You got to retain them. So I didn't have that skillset. So I went back to school at 61 years old. I enrolled at University of Wisconsin-Madison certified coaching program. And I went through a nine-month program there and I learned a lot about me. And really to be an effective coach, you really have to know yourself first, before you're able to help others. And it was a great experience. And I use those skills each and every day and it ties in very nicely on the sales consultant side and putting those systems and processes in place and helping others understand that and then really being empathetic to their situation, helping them see the way, and then helping them become more successful.

What can the small business owner do to improve their revenue?

Well, that's what they all ask themselves. That's the biggest challenge, as you know, you work with the companies and clients that you have. And I think when I look at a small business owner, there's two big challenges that they face. And first of all, they really don't understand what the problem is. And you can't change what you don't know. But recognizing the problem is half the solution. And that's when they call me to come in. And when I do, they need to be in a position to really have the mindset of growth. They want to scale. And that's where the opportunity works. So I'd much rather work with an organization that has a growth mindset, and, most of all, operates with integrity. I think those are the two most important things that a small business owner can possess and be successful.

What's one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?

Well, Lori, networking is something that I had to learn over the past couple of years. And when you work within a large company, you really don't have time to work within your community. And I had network with a lot of contacts across the country. But my goal was to work within Southeast Wisconsin and stay close to home. So what I had to do was really find a way to start developing referral partners, and understanding people that are complements to the work that I do. And that's how you and I met. And we had coffee together. And we talked about the important roles that you play the small businesses, and then how on the sales side -- and that's strictly all I do, I stay in that sales lane -- how I can complement your efforts, if we're working with a client, who I can see needs more inbound or lead generation, that's where an organization like yours can come in. So developing those networks, and it's not only with the marketing professionals like yourself, it's understanding people that are in the banking industry, and understanding all the complementary partners that work with small business owners and then getting to know that. And the other part of networking that I've learned is that you really need to develop a friendship with the people that you interact with. Because they're trusting you to make a difference with their client, if they refer you when and making sure that they know you will know the type of person that you are in the work that you do is critical. Or networking really doesn't come together like it should.

Regardless of the size of your network, it's really important to stay in touch and nurture those relationships. So how do you do that?

Well, within my organization and my company, Ascend Performance, I do have a newsletter, and I send that out to prospects, I send it out to clients. And I send it out to referral partners, which I call my network. And a lot of times, I'll change the message. And what I try to do, and I've learned this from smart marketers like you, is providing something that they can use. Something that's useful to them and interesting. It's not about me, it's about working with my referral partners, and my network partners and my clients and prospects and giving them something, a sales tip, or letting them take my sales assessment that I have, that I provide free of charge to a lot of people. And that's that really is how you begin to build trust and how they start to understand what you do and how you do it.

If you could go back to your 20 year old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of less of or differently with regards to your professional career?

I was telling my 20 year old self, the first thing I would tell him is to listen to what your Trainer Tells you and how you prepare your workouts. So as I mentioned to you, and when I was doing my training for the triathlons, that's, that's hard on the body. And a lot of times we think we're Superman more than we are. So I would tell myself to listen to the trainer. And then the second thing I would really tell myself is to be patient, slow down, stay in the moment and enjoy life. So often, and I'm a good example of it, when you get into the corporate environment, and you get within an organization, you push, push, push, push, push, you let a lot of things go by. And I mentioned that too, I missed a lot of things with my family that I do regret. And I really didn't have to. I really didn't have to. So I would tell Bud at 20 years old, slow down, stay focused, do the job, but take care of others that are around you.

So I hear that you have a nice offering for our listeners. Want to talk about that?

I do. I do. I've got a great blog that I read a couple of times. And it's by Mark Thacker. And it's really designed for a small business owner. It's called Hope Realized: Finding the Path to Success. And I like to call it a love story, Lori, but it's more than that. It's about how a sales consultant came into an organization and address many of the challenges that today's small business owners are facing, and provided some really good guidelines and a path to success.

Connect with Bud

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/budmatthews/

362 episodes