Connecting the 'Old School' with the 'New School' in Sales

An Interview with Michael Micallef, Managing Director of Nisbets in Australia and New Zealand

This interview initially appeared on December 3rd, 2015 on LinkedIn. It has been slightly edited for The Carry That Quota Newsletter.

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Michael Micallef is Managing Director at Nisbets Australia and New Zealand. He is based in Sydney and has extensive experience in growing high performance teams across a number of industries. Michael has a unique “old school” and “new school” perspective on how to hire, develop, and train salespeople. I’m excited to speak with him today and get his perspective on a number of topics.

Jesse:

Michael, you’ve got a varied background in selling a number of products and services in the B2B space. You now lead the team at Nisbets - what do look for when interviewing potential candidates?

Michael:

 I know it sounds trite but I can size someone up in the first few minutes of meeting them. I observe their presence in the room, their level of confidence, and their sense of purpose.

Jesse:

Say more on this…

Michael:

It’s the little things. How are they dressed? Did they bring a notebook? Do they make eye contact? I’ve been around the traps long enough to know who has got the ‘look’ and who doesn’t.

Jesse:

What do you mean by the ‘look?’

Michael:

It’s the fire, the energy, the hunger that demonstrates that this person has a desire and curiosity to learn and achieve. I’m less concerned with previous work experience, where they went to university, etc. I’m looking for self-starters with passion. And it needs to radiate.

Jesse:

You pride yourself of your ability to still think ‘old school’, but you also complement this thinking with ‘new school’ sales techniques. Tell me more about this?

Michael:

Yes, I started my career selling on the streets of Sydney and most of my work was done in the trenches with little assistance from technology. I taught myself how to cold call, how to canvas a territory, and most of all how to balance my time based on the deals I was working on. As I’ve grown older, technology has advanced and salespeople now have access to things that allow them to be more productive.

Jesse:

That makes sense. Can you give me a few examples?

Michael:

The mobile phone helped me gain hours of productivity each week because I was able to make follow up and prospecting calls while not in the office. Another example is the entrance of CRM systems into the sales process. While some salespeople dislike CRM systems, I actually love them because they enabled me to see and track my opportunity pipeline in real time. It also forced me to work smarter and focus on the deals that I thought had the greatest chance of closing.

Jesse:

You’ve coined the term the pipeline inside the pipeline, what is this?

Michael:

It’s a simple concept and it stems of the idea that sales teams need to realize that a certain portion of their pipeline can and will develop into another pipeline. People you deal with at one company will change positions, leave the company, and move on into new roles. These people will want to do business with people that they know and trust. So your pipeline today will also contribute to your pipeline in the future. You never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression.

Jesse:

 So how do you coach your sales teams at Nisbits to make a great 1st impression?

Michael:

It’s quite simple. Dress well. Show up on time. Follow up in a timely, professional manner, etc. The online methodology is even more important. Our sales teams need to have an active online presence and make a strong digital 1st impression. Our buyers are researching Staples and our associates before they accept a meeting and their online profile must have impact. I call it the Google test. Google your name - what comes up on you? It’s critical to have both the offline and online profile polished.

Jesse:

What to do mean by job change tracking?

Michael:

From experience most career changes will happen from January – March next year. This means that some of our buyers will be transitioning to new roles and in some cases transitioning companies during that time. It is essential to be across this and I expect that our people are too. We use software to assist in tracking these movements.

Jesse:

Okay, last question here - what advice or guidance do you have for upcoming salespeople?

Michael:

I’d say a few things on this. First, be open and willing to work hard. I tell young salespeople all the time that you can absorb a mass of knowledge by working hard and interacting with different walks of life. It is also essential that they develop their personal brand every day. Second, learn to listen first and act second. Some of the best salespeople that I’ve ever come into contact with are fantastic listeners. Lastly, be organized and develop a process that allows you to make the most of your time and assists with juggling priorities. A salesperson that is not organized will not be successful.

Jesse:

Michael thanks for the time today. It’s always great to see you and I look forward to keeping in touch.

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If you or other members of your sales team are looking to become better at the craft of sales, then please let me know.

Here are a few ways that I may be able to help:

1) Grab a copy of the book or audiobook, Carry That Quota. You can order it here on Amazon or Audible.

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