SPOTIO’s Founder and CEO Trey Gibson gives a unique interview with D2D expert Sam Taggart around the topic of how to handle an underperforming rep.
[beginning of recording]
Trey: Alright. So, hey everybody out there. This is Trey with SPOTIO, and Sam, you already know him, he’s with D-to-D Con, D-to-D experts, and all the other fantastic things he’s got going on. So, he stopped by our office in Dallas, and just wanted to talk for a few minutes about some of the issues we hear about from our customers, that they’re experiencing out there in D-to-D world, and get your advice on them, because you’re the best at this. So, we want to get your advice on what they can do to get better and to improve. So, where should we start? There’s so much to talk about. Let’s start off with…one question that I’ve thought about as well, from my sales team and meeting with others, is: how do you handle an underperforming rep? What do you do in that situation? You’ve got a team, and one, they’re underperforming. Let’s say you have a couple underperforming: one, they’re just not working, the other, they’re putting forth the effort, but they’re not getting the results. What are some insights you can drop on us for that?
Sam: Well, in the 18th century, they’d just hang them.
Trey: Yeah, that’s illegal now, so… (light laughter)
Sam: It depends what decade we’re talking about. No, so…
Sam: Millennials, okay. They wouldn’t go for that, I guess. No, so, I think, honestly, the answer to that question, it’s a big answer. I’ll try to consolidate it.
Trey: It’s huge.
Sam: I was like, “Well, that’s a big question.” No, but, honestly, you’re going to have the 80/20 rule – I don’t care who you are, what company, what you’re selling, you’re going to have your top performers that are going to do 80% of your production, right? The real question is, how do we really motivate the middle of the pack to kind of become those top performers?
Trey: Okay, so you kind of divide it, you’ve got your top, middle…
Sam: Yeah, so I divide it into three. I have my top, that I’m going to spend a lot of time with, because in my opinion – let’s just take alarms. If I have a 100 account rep, it’s easier for me to turn him into a 200 account rep versus if I have a 30 account rep, it’s harder for me to turn him into a 60 account rep. Does that make sense?
Sam: So, I’ve found that taking the low-level guy – and, if you’re that guy, I’m sorry, but it’s taking that guy to double his numbers, my ROA, it’s a lot harder than taking the middle guy to go become a top performer. So, I kind of put them in buckets. I spend a lot of time on my top guys, because they’re the ones that I need to keep around forever, then I’ve got my middle bucket, that I’m like, they’re at least working, they’re doing their thing, and then I have my low performers, and I need to know when is it time to turn and churn and say, it’s part of the job, there’s turnover, right? But, I think there’s also the flaw of a leader, where they run into the fact that they just assume…they label everybody sucks, I’m the only one that’s good, and they put labels on everybody.
Trey: “Why can’t everybody be like me? I’m just going to do it myself.”
Sam: Yeah, and they never give anybody a chance, nor the proper tools, nor the proper training, nor the proper support, so really, it’s an inward thing. How I’d answer that question is, how do I motivate my guys, it’s like, well, look at your own leadership capacity, because I think a lot of the times, people think they’re the best – they might be the best rep, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best coach, leader, motivator, mentor, right, and that rep, if he feels like, “Okay, I’m going to go work for you today,” if he feels, it’s like, “I’m just making this guy, sitting on his throne back at the office, I’m going out there, doing the grunt work, I’m going to make him money?” No. So, you have to kind of say, “Look, I’m here working for you, rep. It’s my job to make you successful.”
Trey: So, that’s why I heard you say you go out with them.
Sam: I go out with them, that’s the first thing. The best way to motivate somebody is show them. Don’t be like, “Go out there and hustle guys!” It’s like, “Good luck!”
Trey: “I’ll be here in the AC!” (light laughter)
Sam: Yeah, “You’ve got this today!” It’s funny, because we were sitting in your CRM, and you see the pain points of some of the customers, and they’re like, “I have these 13 canvassers, and I don’t know if they’re working or not.” I’m like, “That’s because you’re not out there with them.” It’s plain and simple. So, my first advice would be looking inward, and lead from the front, would be the second one.
Trey: So, for that middle-of-the-road rep – because that was a lot, and I want to spend a little time on this. To get that top performing rep to go up, how do you do that? Because, they’re already self-motivated, right? There’s some level of talent there. So, how do you get them to make that next step? Is it just more support, like, “Hey, let’s take some of the admin work off your plate,” and stuff like that? Will that free them up?
Sam: Yeah, I think tools is a big one. In certain industries, I’ve watched in solar and roofing, and some of these more complex deals, I’ve watched tools slow people down. They don’t have enough time, because they’re having to manage the build and this and this and this. So, that’s one, but I would say also, there’s a mental capacity. So, think of speed of the leader, speed of the team, right? So, if you help people remove this barrier that’s like, what’s the law of the lid, right, it’s kind of like, what do people see as good, and you help remove that, through either you just go blow minds, you introduce them to networks that blow minds. Like, take door-to-door con, for example. I had reps that thought selling 100 deals in alarms was really, really good, they go there and watch a bunch of people on stage doing 400 every year, and they text me now, come August they text me like, “Dude, I did 200, I doubled the top rep ever in my company’s numbers.”
Trey: Simply because they didn’t know it was possible.
Sam: Yeah. They didn’t even understand what was possible. So, if I’m some small company, and my best guy is doing X amount, it’s kind of like, was that even that good? But, to everybody else, it’s really good, because he’s your best. So, removing the law of the lid, and whether that be you having to show your muscles and be like, “I will show you how to do ten in a day. I’ll show you how to do whatever,” just to go prove points, but that would be one. It’s more of a mental game. When I went from 300 accounts to 400 accounts in alarms, it wasn’t I changed my pitch, I got this much better at closing, it was just like, oh, I knew that that was possible.
Trey: You almost expected it, a law of attraction kind of thing?
Sam: Yeah, I wasn’t satisfied with three in a day, I was satisfied with four in a day. My levels of satisfaction changed.
Trey: Good stuff. So, expand your mind – Tony Robinson. I’ve read some of his books, he’s great.
Trey: So, on recruiting, would you – let’s take your solar experience, you’ve spent a lot of time with solar customers lately. Would you rather hire an experienced solar sales rep or bring someone on and train them?
Sam: Very good question. I actually ask this question a lot, because I do a lot of these podcasts, right? So, I just went to a solar company and was with them for about a day, and they were like, “We just don’t touch solar guys,” and I was like, “That’s interesting.” You go to some companies, and they’re like, “All we do is poach everyone else’s dudes.” So, it’s funny, because I get mixed, so I have to kind of play like, “Okay, what is the industry play?” and then I’ll tell my opinion. My preference was, I liked fresh, because I can groom them exactly how I wanted them. This is Sam talking. I could tell you, there’s no right or wrong in this answer.
Trey: But, you also had a process – you had tools, training.
Sam: There was a process, exactly.
Trey: So, you knew what the heck you were doing.
Sam: I knew I could take a guy who was willing to work these hours, and he’s going to work the hours because he plugs into my system, right? So, the system forces him to work the hours. As long as he’s out there and says what I say – literally, I had a dance to my sale. I had a 16-step dance, and I’d make my guys do in my meetings, and if you’re watching this, Jenny, Nick, all of the guys, they remember the dance, I was like, “Just follow the stinking 16-steps,” and I knew guys would close. So, I liked the fresh. When I recruited experienced guys, they’d kind of be like, “No, you can’t do it that way!” I’d be like, “It’s working. I can do it this way, and we do it this way,” and then I’d have to kind of try to cater. So, I liked that, and then I found that there’s some cool hacks on how to recruit from outside, the experienced guys, because I also – my second, third, fourth year managing and stuff, I was like, “I need to go find the experienced guys, too.”
Trey: Do a little bit of both, yeah.
Sam: So, a lot of that, it’s just like, understanding and seeing them where they are, and then helping them see if they follow you, you’re the one that can take them to a new level.
Trey: Got it, you’ve got to get buy-in.
Sam: Yeah, you’ve got to get them to buy-in, to if they follow you as their leader, think that you’re the William Wallace, you can get them to buy-into say, “Look, I see where you are, and you’ve gotten to somewhere where that’s phenomenal. Congratulations. But, by following me, I can take you to here,” and they have to be able to trust that.
Trey: So, have a combination of both. You’ve got the new ones, they’re going to take longer to ramp, right? So, the experienced ones, if they’re going to follow you, they’re ramped up quicker, so you’re going to start seeing results a little faster, so you’ve got a good mix of both.
Sam: Yes, because then I can leverage the experienced guys, and that’s another powerful way to recruit experienced guys, is say, “Look, I’m good at recruiting the new guys. I need support leading these guys,” and now, they want to be a leader, they want to feel like they’re making a difference and impacting, so that’s another powerful way to recruit those guys.
Trey: Absolutely. You mentioned hours – I’m curious, did you have a schedule that your team would work, or that you expected?
Sam: Yeah, usually we’d go out around like 8pm, and then come home at like, 8:30.
Trey: Yeah, 30 hard minutes, that’s intense.
Sam: (light laughter) I know. No, I consulted this roofing company, and I trained them on the power hour. Well, the power hour to me is in the morning, you read, you pray, you work out, this hour, right? They called me a couple weeks later, like, “We’ve tripled in sales, man! We’ve implemented your power hour!” I was like, “Tripled because of the power hour…what do you mean?” “Well, we spent one hour – one full hour – knocking!” (light laughter) And I’m like, “You’ve tripled in sales…” (laughter)
Trey: What were you doing before?
Sam: Yeah! I was like, “It’s more the power eight hours…”
Trey: That’s great.
Sam: So, my schedule was simple. I went from 2pm until 9:30pm, and if I wasn’t on the doors at 2:15, I was feeling really jittery.
Sam: I did a podcast with a guy, Mitch Matthews, out in Georgia, a couple of weeks ago, and this was the first hour he took off from his schedule, and you could tell in the interview, he was like, “I should be out knocking. I should be out knocking,” and it’s like 11 o’clock in the morning. He knocked from 10am until 9pm every single day for eight months straight.
Trey: I’m guessing he was successful.
Sam: Well, he’s a Golden Door award winner, he’s doing the workshop at door-to-door, he has a thousand pest control accounts. So, you know what I mean, but it’s the guys that can say…the interview I did with Ty Williams, he’s the VP at Vivid Solar, he’s like, “Your schedule makes you violent,” and I like that.
Trey: That’s good.
Sam: Yeah, he’s like, “Your schedule makes you violent.” If you can have your schedule be your boss, you literally can do things that no one else can do, because you’re literally so dialed in and disciplined to that regimen.
Trey: So, when you would go out – let’s say for you, it’s two o’clock. Are you driven off of results or time? For instance, “I’m going to knock for five hours,” or is it, “I’m going to go until I get five deals,” or is it both, “I’m just going to keep going”?
Sam: I’ve found, so there would be like once a month, I called it, “You get your go and you’re done,” so, we called it “two and done,” “one and done,” “four and done,” whatever that number was, right? And, I would change it for different guys, I’m like, “You can’t do one and done! You normally do three.”
Trey: “You’re a five and done.”
Sam: Right, “You’re a five and done, and then you can go home.” The fourth of July is a day that I would do this. I’d be like, “What’s everyone’s goals?” and I’m like, “Surprise! We’re not going to make you knock until nine tonight on the fourth of July, which I normally would do,” and I would say, “Look, if you get three before three, then go home at three. If it takes you all day, it takes you all day.” But, I would do that as a treat, not as an everyday thing, because then what people do, is they lower, lower, lower that standard, like, “Well, I’ll just knock like 30 doors and I’m done,” and then they don’t care about the result. So, I’ve found that I was driven off of, I’m going to stick to my schedule no matter what, and if I’m at four by four o’clock, and it’s like, dude, I’m crushing today! This is going to be a big day!”
Trey: Yeah, keep rolling.
Sam: You know what I mean? Because I think what happens a lot of the time is people are like, “Man, I made three grand already today!” instead of, “Oh, dude, I have an opportunity to just finish out this day strong and go make nine grand,” or whatever that number is, right? So, I think letting your schedule still be your master, but leveraging the fact that you should never be complacent.
Trey: That’s good. What about…we talked earlier a little bit about the best technique, or kind of the “hack” is the fancy word for winning the first 30 seconds at the door. So, you knock on the door, they answer, and you’ve got to kind of…that’s your time to shine. I’ve seen videos of you doing it, so I kind of know what you do, but what do you think? What’s a good technique for that first kind of interaction to get it, because that sets the tone for everything else after?
Sam: I’ve watched terrible and I’ve watched phenomenal. I think that’s probably one of my biggest strong suits, but everybody that watches me, they’re like, “Well, I’m not like you Sam. That’s not my personality,” and so, after studying this a long time, I’ve found – because I try to impose my personality on everyone, and what I’ve found is that actually, it did the opposite effect. When a guy tried to be Sam and not him, he then came off really inauthentic, faking it, and then the customers could see right through that. So, my step one would be be you, but not the robotic version of you. Most people are, “I have my script, and I do this,” it’s like…if you were to go talk to a friend, how would you initiate this conversation? So, it’s like, be very…almost too comfortable with that person, where they’re like, “Wow, this guy is just like really chill.” A lot of my approach is never like, “Hi! I’m Sam!” I’m not like that when I talk, I’m like, “Hey, what’s up? I’ll be super quick. Let me tell you kind of what’s going on.” I know what I’m doing, I gain authority by my tone and confident as heck, and they’re like, “Wow, this guy is actually pretty chill,” and they let their guard down. So, I think some simple hacks would be, be chill, be you, don’t try to be somebody else, and then kind of pay attention to what they’re interested in. So, I call that kind of building a bridge. It’s kind of like if you notice they have little kids, don’t be like, “Oh, I have kids too,” if you don’t have kids, but just be like, “Hey, I’m guessing you have around a two or three-year-old,” and they’re like, “How’d you know?” “Because I have a two or three-year-old. I’m at the same stage, dude.”
Trey: A SpongeBob toy or whatever.
Sam: Exactly, “I have that same SpongeBob thing,” and then you start laughing about the SpongeBob toy. So, it’s creating that bridge in any way that you can, whether that’s sports, family, occupation, their yard, surroundings, things like that, I think that’s another powerful tactic to use, but don’t make it fake, make it like, “I really do have a two and a three-year-old,” you know what I mean?
Trey: Absolutely. Okay, let’s see, what else do I want to go over? A couple of other things. So, you’ve done podcasts, you’ve interviewed the top people in every industry – there’s nobody else in the world that knows more top performers than you have talked to. What’s a commonality? No matter pest control, alarms, whatever, but what do the top one percent do that the rest of them don’t?
Sam: That’s a really good question. My goal is actually…have you ever read the book “Tools of Titans”?
Trey: Tim Ferriss? Yeah.
Sam: Yeah, so my goal is to take the podcast, kind of like he did, and then find those commonalities, and make my own “Tools of Titans” book with the podcast.
Trey: Coming out December 2019!
Sam: Yeah, “Launching D-to-D con, 2020!”
Trey: “Buy your ticket now!”
Sam: “Sign up, free registry!” No, but, the goal is to find those, and I’ve started to categorize them in the university. So, I cut up the podcasts into these two-to-three minute clips, and I put them in the university, but I found…and it sounds so dumb, but it’s like, these top performers, their work ethic – your hard work is their lazy, would be the easy way to put it.
Sam: So, it’s like, when people think, “Oh, I’m grinding, I’m working hard!” it’s like, I go shadow this guy and I shadow you, and it would almost be embarrassing – and, it doesn’t necessarily mean hours.
Trey: Yeah, that was going to be my next question.
Sam: This is where I think a lot of people get confused. It’s like, “Well, I work the same hours that you do, Sam.” Like, you do, you are on the job from this time to this time, but you on the job versus me on the job, in that same exact time, the productivity of what I’m doing versus what you’re doing. So, my hard work with every customer is I am persistent, I’m grinding, I’m focused, I’m not just like, “Oh, this is not my deal.” People are like, “Oh, I would have given up like three no’s ago,” but I’m grinding with that person, then he says, “No,” and I’m like, “Okay,” and then I move on.
Trey: So, it’s like the focus, yeah.
Sam: It’s the mental…it’s the focus and the mindset, you’re so dialed in when you’re working, it’s crazy to watch. I mean, they get phone calls and Facebook…you just look at some of these guys, and it’s like, that’s all so irrelevant to them when they’re on that door, when a lot of people are like, “I’m dealing with this, and I’m dealing with this, and I’m fumbling this, I’m going to take my 15 minute break.” It’s like, these guys pee in a freaking cup, they freaking run door-to-door, I ride a scooter door-to-door.” When I’m talking to somebody, it’s like, “You’re my sale. 100%, you’re my sale.”
Sam: It’s so focused.
Trey: Did you personally learn to do that, or is it just how you are?
Sam: No, I had to learn it. I wasn’t naturally just like, “Boom! I’m amazing.” Every year, I had to get better and better and better, and what I found when I dialed in, is I had the same amount of hours in a day as everyone else did, but it was like, how do I maximize those hours? So, the scooter is the easiest example to use. It’s like, I was in a neighborhood in Texas, and some of these neighborhoods, they’re super spread out, right? You’ve got land here. So, I’m like, “Dang, early on, from two to six, no one’s home, and I’m walking…” I felt like just a weird dude, walking around the neighborhood.
Trey: Walked a marathon! (light laughter)
Sam: Yeah, walked a marathon before I talked to anybody, like, this isn’t effective, right? So, I find effective ways to work. So, I got a scooter, and was like, “What if I flew around to everyone’s home and found out no one’s home?” and I worked my neighborhood more effectively, and I was able to talk to more people in that time. Then I was like, “What if I went to businesses from two to five?” So, I said, “I’ll take small businesses where I’ll catch them at work,” and I’d go to small businesses. I just found different ways – I only have this many hours in a day, how do I make those the most productive?
Trey: That’s awesome. Final question, and I’m just curious, because I’m in Dallas, I don’t come from the summer sales world, and I had lunch with someone when I first launched SPOTIO, and they did pest control. I was like, “Okay, I’m curious. What is the most someone has made in a summer?” I was having lunch, this was probably two years ago, and he’s like, “Guess.” I was like, “I’m going to say $60,000,” for three months of work. I’m thinking, if I was in college and I made that, number one, I’d have a land boat, I would probably not be alive today, and he goes, “No. Someone made…” it was in Dallas, actually, a dude made like $340,000 in one summer. I’m curious – I don’t even know if that’s real or not, but what’s the craziest number roaming out there?
Sam: Summer sales?
Trey: Yeah, summer sales.
Sam: Well, that’s super hard, because you’ve got categories. You have a rep – like, just on sales commission, you have a team leader, to manage the team…
Trey: Let’s go rep. Not the overrides and all of that, but just a rep.
Sam: But then, I mean, you’ve also got alarms…
Trey: Okay, so it’s all over the place.
Sam: Yeah, I was like, “That’s a hard question to do on camera.” But, I will give you…there’s, like, for example, I know solar guys that have made over a million, I know pest guys…I had a guy, literally yesterday, “Hey dude? You know what the best feeling in the world is?” pest control guy. “I had one of my reps make a million bucks this year.”
Trey: A sales rep?
Sam: Well, he was a manager, he has teams, but still, he’s over this guy, that he brought…made him drop out of college to go knock doors, his dad is like, “You’re crazy,” and now he goes and makes a million dollars as a 25-year-old kid.
Trey: I was landscaping in college. I landscaped for $7.50 an hour, and then I waited tables. If I knew this world was out there – no one’s recruiting in Lubbock, Texas.
Sam: That’s where I was! (laughter) I was out there, I was like, “What’s up?” They were like, “Knock doors? No.”
Trey: All they want are t-shirts and beer.
Sam: I took this kid out of Wellington, like this southern cowboy kid, he was like, “This isn’t for me.” He wore his cowboy boots every day, “You’re not going to walk all day in those, are you?” he was like, “Yep.”
Trey: That’s awesome.
Sam: I mean, that’s what’s crazy, the income potential – and, that’s with teams. I’d say sales just commissions, I mean, half a million.
Trey: That’s awesome. I was just curious. That story reminded me, you being here, I talked to him a few years ago. Anyway, that’s all I got. Anything else we need to talk about?
Sam: No, I mean, this was fun. I’m usually not the one getting interviewed, so this is cool.
Trey: Yeah. I hope you all found some value in this, had a good time. I always love it when Sam stops by, and I hope to see you all at D-to-D con this year. SPOTIO will be there.
Sam: Yeah, big sponsor! One of our main gold sponsors, so we’re super stoked, so come check them out, and go check out their link. You just launched your new app, which is dope.
Trey: Yeah, we have new version of SPOTIO, so check it out at www.spotio.com and in the app store – you’re going to love it! Alright, thank y’all.
[END OF RECORDED AUDIO]
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