Joining me on this episode is Carolyn Coradeschi, Sales Performance and Leadership Coach with Southwestern Consulting, author of The Rainmaker’s Quick Guide to Lasting Sales Success, and a 30-year front-line sales veteran. Among the many topics that Carolyn and I discuss are, her summer job that turned into a sales career, tips for implementing productive behaviors, how to build the mindset of success, and Carolyn’s best advice to sales professionals today.
What’s your most powerful sales attribute?
My sense of humor.
Who is your sales role model?
What’s one book that every salesperson should read?
The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy.
What music is on your playlist right now?
AP: It’s time to accelerate. Hi, I’m your host, Andy. Join me as I host conversations with the leading experts in sales, marketing, sales automation, sales process, leadership management, training, coaching, and any other resource that I believe will help you accelerate the growth of your sales, your business, and most importantly, you. Hello and welcome to Accelerate. Joining me on the show today is my guest Carolyn Coradeschi, a sales performance and leadership coach with Southwestern Consulting. She’s a 30-year frontline sales veteran. She even said I could say that. Carolyn, welcome to the show.
CAROLYN CORADESCHI: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
AP: Take a minute. Introduce yourself. Tell us how you got your start in sales.
CC: Oh, gosh. Well, let’s go way back to college days. When I went to the University of Massachusetts, I got my start selling books door to door 80 hours a week with a company that’s now called Southwestern Advantage. It was part of a summer sales internship. We were recruited on campus and then went dozens of miles away from home and learned to sell. My first summer was in Chicago.
AP: So they put you up somewhere and what type of books are we selling?
CC: Educational reference books – not encyclopedias. So children’s reading guides, study guides that are still around today. They were Webster Student Handbooks and so they were guides to help students and parents understand how to do math and English, how to write papers, how to study for SATs, all that good stuff. We found our own places to live. Sometimes we were given leads, but often not. We would travel, we went into sales school in Nashville, Tennessee for a week of intense training. It still exists and it was probably the best training I’ve ever had in sales. From there, we went out in caravans to the location we were going to sell in for the summer, and then we would find a place to live and then work for the summer. If you did well, you were invited to come back as a student manager and work your way up. I did that for seven different years. I wasn’t in college for seven years.
AP: So that was your first full-time job then after college.
CC: It was. I got to travel the world. That was the exposure I got. What I learned from selling is that if you do well enough and you work hard, you can do lots of cool things. I took advantage of travel and went over to Ireland, recruited a team for Southwestern, and brought them over. We had a whole European expansion that was part of it back in the day, so there were people before me, but nobody had done Ireland before. I was the lucky one who got to go there, met my husband doing it, recruited him, and we’re still together some 20 some years later.
AP: So then I know at some point, you got into medical device sales and so on. I mean, how’d you get from selling books to selling technical products?
CC: Yeah, technical devices. My husband and I moved to LA together and just started pounding the pavement for different companies. We had a little spurt with the entertainment industry but we really were focused on medical sales. I spent over 15 years in that arena and I loved it. It was very lucrative, you know, it was a time when we had great medical devices and there are still great companies out there, but I really rode the wave with it. It was a great experience. What I loved about the particular company that I spent 10 years with was that I got to sell to the physicians but then also see the end-user benefit from the product. It wasn’t drugs, it was a device to actually help them get off of drugs. It was a neuromuscular stem for a lot of chronic pain patients that had lower back, neck, or cervical pain, or they had some recent surgeries that they needed to have rehab for and so instead of getting loaded with pain meds, we could help rehab the muscle and they could use it at home. There were other devices but that was the main product.
AP: At one point you started your own company.
CC: I started my own company, Rainmaker Mindset, seven years ago. Rainmaker mindset. I saw a lot of salespeople out there struggling to get in past the gatekeepers to get in the positions. I had learned how to do that very successfully and I wanted to share that knowledge. I actually went to a coaching program through Australia which I did online and got certified. It was really important for me to become an international coach. I really focused on the healthcare industry since that was a niche I knew and got in with some small to large companies and did a myriad of things, including training and coaching in the field to help them get in with the gatekeepers and have a great follow up process.
AP: I’m sure everybody’s ears perked up when you talk about your specialty was getting past gatekeepers. So, what are some tips for how people can deal with gatekeepers?
CC: I think the biggest thing is that everybody’s busy, right? And if we have that mindset that somebody’s busier than us and are more important than us, then we’ll walk in and that energy is transferred. In working with my clients, it was a mindset shift for a lot of them, because when interacting with busy physicians, they’re very much on the go. Sometimes your presentation is done while walking and talking. It really is engaging the front office person or the person behind the glass that is always smiling and to mirror them and, you know, make it a pleasant interaction. It didn’t always happen on the first call, but that pleasant persistence of having the value of knowing how to get back in and what to say. I’m a big proponent of scripting and then making it natural so it doesn’t sound like a robot. It’s really key in in this industry. You want to know what you’re saying, to have the confidence to walk in and be able to ask to get in, get the meeting, get out your day timer or your phone and say let’s set up the call or the meeting. A lot of it really is how you say it, your confidence, your stature, the energy provided and competence.
AP: You’re not really getting a chance to really make a pitch when you deal with the gatekeeper.
CC: No, it’s more about, you know, finding out the need there too. Know whom you’re going into see first, to see if there is a fit, and then really ask to get that meeting set up. So that’s key with physicians is working with busy schedules, knowing when they see reps, that kind of thing. Translating that into the business I do now, it really works over the phone to get to the point quickly so you can get the meeting or get the workshop that we do now.
AP: So key points: Have a script and practice it. Make it natural.
CC: I’m big on roleplay.
AP: So when you’re working on your own, who’d you roleplay with?
CC: Well, I have colleagues and I joined a lot of mastermind groups because you can live on an island if you have your own business and you don’t reach out to others. So I was big on going to regular meetings, getting on the phone with people that I knew that had been in business longer than I had because there’s really no finish line. I’m always learning. That’s what I’ve learned through coaching is that really, there’s always somebody that knows more than you do. So reach out to them.
AP: Yeah, I mean, the minute you think in you know exactly what you’re doing you start going backward.
CC: There you go. Exactly.
AP: Yeah. All right. So the second question then was, we hear the term “rainmaker mindsets” and I’m sure everybody has their definition of it, but what was your definition of the rainmaker mindset?
CC: Well, I was inspired by that book How to Become a Rainmaker by Jeffrey Fox. He was my inspiration because it was such a simple concept of you bringing money to the company. When you go out, meet with people, have conversations, if you’re diligent and persistent, you have something of value. You make it rain. After I wrote my book, I actually connected with him. He said, “Why didn’t you ask me to write your forward?” I’m like, “I don’t know. I should have done that.” I had a really nice conversation with him though. The rainmaker really is somebody who has a mindset for success. Everybody has a different definition of success, but mine is to be a go-getter, be a doer, try new things. Hire a coach, have a mentor, and go out and get out of your comfort zone because I’m all about stretching and doing the uncomfortable for growth. That can sound a little bit like a cliche but rainmakers don’t sit back and they aren’t reactive. They’re very productive. They have a positive outlook, they’re going to have success. They’ll have some failures, but they’re really persistent. They have a roadmap and they don’t give up. The rainmakers in the company that I hang out with now are all top 1% producers. It really does start with your mind. You don’t wait to get excited and motivated to go out and do it. You make a lot of blunders, and then you correct them and you have success. That’s my definition.
AP: So how do you train people to do that? How do you train people to have this open mind, this go-getter mindset with the attributes that you listed here? How do you make that, you know, a habit?
CC: Yeah, it doesn’t happen overnight. That’s what I found through coaching is, you know, some people have that gumption and they want to get up and go every day, but you can’t drag somebody to success. You can give them new ideas and a new strategy though. Sometimes people just need to get back on the horse. You know, maybe they’ve been in a slump, and they need some new ideas. One thing that we talked about in coaching is, if you were to draw a visual of a triangle at the top of the triangle, people have certain skills, right? They may be really good at prospecting, maybe they’re good at answering objections, closing, whatever those hardcore skills are above sales. On the lower right-hand side is the motivation, That’s where I feel like a lot of people just need a kick in the butt. Whether they’re seasoned or brand new, sometimes they just need some new ideas and strategies. The third piece that I find that kind of intertwines, it all is systems. You know, goal setting, time management, those things that people struggle with. How to automate, how to delegate. In the middle of the triangle, you focus on the word habits. Those are the things that we focus on for success with our clients We hone in on what are the habits they’ve created that are not so good. There’s the gap, right? Maybe time management, whatever it is. We take it one day, one week at a time, two weeks to a month to a year, and reverse engineer it. We focus on activities for success versus results. Everybody who’s in sales generally has a results-driven attitude, and we don’t get away from that. We want to help people focus on what are the income-producing activities or the right activities and habits they need to form for success. Does that make sense?
AP: Sure. I’m all about the habits. That’s what I write about. So what other key habits do you talk about?
CC: I think a lot of times people write down goals at the beginning of the year. It’s really popular to set those new year’s resolutions or whatever they call them, and then they put them in a drawer and forget about them. A fun reminder for some creative people is a vision board and have that present and I’m looking at mine on my desk right now. So knowing your vision is important. We focus on critical success factors which are the income-producing activities. A lot of people are winging it out there. They don’t really know the common denominator or how they got there. We help people refine and define what they want to focus on for success. When we look at their time management, the gaps, their goal-setting, what their systems are that they have in place to delegate, we try to figure out if they’re automating those kinds of things for success? Where are they in their business? Do they need to hire new people to support them? Are they trying to do everything themselves? All those things come into play for success. I’m a practitioner of what I preach, so I am out there selling. Every day I’m in the trenches with my clients. We share with them what we do every day, so it’s not like we’re just saying, “Oh, try this. Do that. It worked 30 years ago.” They’re fresh strategies that we parallel along with our clients.
AP: When you talk about habits and behaviors my point of view is that there’s really nothing new when it comes to habits and behaviors. That is the foundation, that’s the bedrock. I think you could teach sales professionals skills or do skill training until the end of time and if you don’t have the right habits that form your foundation, it doesn’t matter. You’re not going to go anywhere, you’re not going to achieve your goals. What are the sort of mindset habits that have become really important?
CC: Great question. Okay. So getting out of your comfort zone is a mindset. It’s painful. People are afraid and they’re afraid of failure. Sometimes people are afraid of that word “success,” which is tricky. So I think it’s really digging in and finding out what they’ve done in the past but not dwelling there, and looking at where they can go. The reason I do bring up activities is that they do become habits when you focus on the right activities, and you have success. So let’s say somebody wants to make $300,000 this year, or they want to be a 100 million dollar producer in a company. Well, that’s great. That’s money, that’s a result. If we don’t focus on reverse engineering and how to get there, all they’re doing is focusing on the money. If they fall short, they might feel like a failure. So when we talk about reverse-engineering the habits, it’s like, “Okay, well, what things do you do to get in front of your clients? Great. It’s not just numbers, but that’s part of it, right? If you make this many calls or conversations and are having this many meetings in a week, where does that get you? What does that convert to? Those do become habits because a lot of people don’t track what they do. They wing it every day, and they somehow get there or they don’t and we find a lot of people fall short. So what we do is we really help people track their daily activities, which becomes a habit and when they can see where they have their success, it’s a huge win for both parties. We can see where we can still focus and where we can help them more and where maybe they’re falling short.
AP: Tracking the activities is a great habit to get into because that’s how you learn. I think learning is one of the key fundamental sales habits that people need to have and that they overlook.
CC: Yeah. I’m a big believer in how there are only two things you can control: attitude and effort. We can’t control who rejects us. We can do our best to get in front of the right people to move the needle or move the conversation forward to get the meeting, but people will cancel and people reschedule – things like that happen. It’s how we respond to it. Not react, but how to respond. So that is a big attitude. If you’re talking about mindset, along with activities, that’s where I see huge 180 degrees for people, people double and triple their business and have more time with their families. Workforces are working smarter. I’m not saying don’t go work hard, because I’m a big believer in that, but also sometimes people need to pull back and be more strategic. The attitude that we wake up with every day, as you know, is so key in being service-minded. You know, if you’ve talked to one of our co-founders, Rory, then you know his whole mantra is servant-minded selling. That’s really what we practice What can we do for the other? You know, what is the service that we provide? What’s the value, and if there’s a fit great, and if not, no big deal.
AP: Selling is a service. If it wasn’t a service, then people would be buying completely without you, which we sometimes see today with online shopping. The products and services still require that service orientation if you want to stay relevant to your customer. How are you helping them make a decision?
CC: Ah, yeah. So I think a big dialogue around this is creating a buying atmosphere. I often coach people around this and now a big question mark will come up on the other end of the phone going “What does that mean, Carolyn?” So really coach people in creating an atmosphere where it’s not a hardcore sell, you’re not pushing, and you’re not making people feel pushed into something. A question that I always like to incorporate and you can word it where you want to use it, but I like to say, “You know what? Let’s have a discussion about it and find out if there’s a fit. If there is, great. If there’s not, that’s fine too. So it really just takes the pressure off the other person or the group or the meeting you’re in front of. You still have confidence because you’re going to present, you’re going to dig in and find out what their needs are. But a lot of times I still find when I follow or shadow clients that they’re just spending time on the presentation and not spending time on their introduction. They do a poor job of getting to know the client to find if there’s pain or a need, and they go into selling too soon. Then they lose the sale or they push for too soon. They come out going “Wow, I wonder why that happened?” It’s because they don’t take the time to create a buying atmosphere.
AP: Well, yeah, they’ve lost focus on why they’re there in the first place. So you know, the beginning of my latest book Ramp Up Your Sales, there’s a quote from Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon. In an interview he did with Harvard Business Review he said, “We don’t make money when we sell things. We make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.” That’s what it’s all about. I couldn’t agree more. All right, so let me ask you some sort of basic questions on sales. In your opinion, what is the single biggest challenge that’s facing sales professionals today?
CC: What do they spend their time on?
AP: So how they allocate their time? Mm-hmm. Now, has that changed, or has it always been that?
CC: I think it’s always been a challenge for people. When you deal with independent contractors or entrepreneurs, they have all this freedom, right? That’s awesome, especially if you’ve come from a company where everything was tracked, and all sudden you have all this freedom, which is a lot of the clients that we work with. How do they delegate their time? What are they doing with those income-producing hours. Are they filing things, are they using creative avoidance, are they getting distracted really easily? I think more and more we can get distracted with everything that’s out there. So a lot of times in our coaching calls, we will revert back to that time management module with our clients to really find out where the gap is. Where’s their productivity? Where could they be more mindful? Where can they multiply things and not waste? So it’s a myriad of things but I would say most people waste time. They find ways to do things that are easier. Make the calls, follow through with all that good stuff.
AP: If you had to give one piece of advice to a sales professional today, what would that be?
CC: Know your roadmap. Really sit down with somebody who’s not entrenched in your every day life as somebody who can be an outside source looking in. They will be really honest with you and ask the hard questions of yourself if you really want to hit that goal this year. Do you really want it? How hard do you want it? How much do you want it, rather? What are you willing to do to get there and put the right roadmap together? As I said before, too many people wing it and expect to do differently. So really look at how you can reverse engineer that goal that you want? Aa lot of people don’t even know what that means?
AP: It’s important for them to understand that the goal is not a quota.
CC: Yeah, because it’s a result and then we can all get caught up in that – myself included. We love results for sales-driven but if I can feel really good about my day or if my client can feel really good about their day, whether they hit that mark or not, they have success all around. They connected with the right people, they moved something forward. Those are successes. So commit to something now and if you commit to it, go do it. Put a map together and figure out how to get there.
AP: So changing directions just a little bit. So who is it that you’re coaching?
CC: Oh, great question. With my role now, we coach leaders. They can be CEOs of companies, they can be the sales manager or branch manager, or they can be a sales professional. We work in industries across the board. We have clients such as Microsoft and Google to mortgage companies and real estate – really anybody who has a sales team.
AP: So you’re working with people at various companies, large and small, that all for the most part work for other people that have supervisors. So why are you coaching them instead of their supervisors?
CC: Well, you know, a lot of times, managers have never been taught how to coach. Some of them were top salespeople, but they aren’t great managers. Or, they might be a decent manager, but they’re terrible leaders. They recognize that in themselves, or a lot of times they want our services to augment what they do because they can’t spend as much time with their individual sales team. They’re their sales professionals, or it could be a sales manager who reports to a CEO, whomever. So what we come in and do is really augment and help track things for them so that they can see where the successes are, and we engage with the manager so that they’re in the loop on what we’re working on with the clients. It’s just the professional things that we’re working on within that we share. That way we can show the trends backing. Companies really love that because they don’t often do it.
AP: I mean, my contention is if you’re a sales manager, your primary responsibility is coaching the people that work for you. Yeah, not your second or third or tertiary, it’s your primary responsibility. You guys provide a great service, but it seems like a failure mode for companies.
CC: Well, you know, I think what we do is we track our success with all of our clients. On average, our producers will increase 23-26% because we use these critical success factors, which are their activities that we focus on. We can track income and all of these because that’s a result. But companies love the activities to get there because they don’t do it. The second part I think is that a lot of managers and leaders have never been instructed or taught or trained on how to coach. They know how to manage, but coaching and managing are different.
AP: Sure. You know, one’s directive and one’s not.
CC: Exactly, and so when we can come in as very highly trained coaches and ask the right questions and help people move forward and make changes they’ve never done before, it’s a beautiful thing because they have a safe haven outside of the internal chaos or politics that go on in companies. We’re a safe place to share those strategies and help them really get out in the open. You know, sometimes it’s personal stuff that’s holding them back. They may not share that with their manager. They may not even know some of the goings-on that somebody has in their world, and so when they can have that outside resource, that sounding board, that’s where the value is to be able to prove it that we increase, you know, not just money, but time.
AP: I know you provide a great service, but it’s still mind-boggling. So now we get to the last segment of the show. Carolyn, we’ve got standard questions I ask all my guests. The first one is a hypothetical scenario in which you have just been hired as VP of sales at a company whose sales have gotten stuck and they’re anxious to get things back on track. What two things could you do your first week on the job picking up the biggest impact?
CC: I think the most important thing is something that we coach around with our VPs and the leaders that enlist in our coaching: Sit down with each individual and have one-on-ones. Not enough VPs do that to find out what’s going on internally. From those conversations, I would put together an individual, customized roadmap for each individual to get them back on track. A lot of times we think a one size fits all approach works. This is how they operate. This is how they’re motivated. If you sit down with each individual and find out what motivates them, you get different answers. When people have ownership in what they do each day, it’s not about a quota. It’s about how they’re striving for something because they want it to work.
AP: Okay. All right. Good answer. So, some rapid-fire questions for you. You can give me a one-word answer, so you can spell it out if you wish. So the first one is when you personally are out selling your services, what’s your most powerful sales attribute?
CC: A sense of humor.
AP: Who’s your sales role model?
CC: Zig Ziglar?
AP: What’s one book other than your own that you’d recommend every salesperson read?
CC: The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.
AP: All right. Okay. I think someone has recommended that one before. What music’s on your playlist?
AP: All right. Well, good. Well, Carolyn, thank you very much for joining me. Tell people how they can connect with you.
CC: Sure. Cell is 818-879-3651. I can be found at southwesternconsulting.com. That’s our website. I can also be found at email@example.com.
AP: Excellent All right. Well, good. Well, again, thanks for being on the show and remember friends, make it a part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you accelerate your success. One easy way to do that is to make this podcast, Accelerate, part of your daily routine. That way you won’t miss any of my conversations with top business experts like my guest today Carolyn Coradeschi, who shared her expertise about how to accelerate the growth of your business. Thanks for joining me. Until next time, this is Andy Paul. Good selling everyone. Thanks for listening to the show. If you like what you heard and want to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming episodes, please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or stitcher.com. For more information about today’s guests, visit my website at andypaul.com.