One time Liverpudlian and now devoted Kiwi, David Carlile has led a varied working life including, doorman, stuntman, semi pro Fighter and security guard. The single father of five is now the Lenovo BDM at Synnex, when he’s not raising money various charities including Starship and Canteen.
What’s your best and worst experience of cold calling?
The worst has been just the normal “Why are you calling?” then they hang up and the odd abusive comment.
The best though is the type of call where the whole conversation just gels and you call at the right time, meeting gets booked and foundations laid. There are now many customers who I cold called years ago, that have followed me are still customers and I now count as personal friends. If they are reading this then they know who they are.
What’s your most successful tip for cold calling?
I was fortunate enough to do some training with a lovely lady called Becky Carr who is a sales and behavioural trainer. The best tip she ever gave and that I still use; don’t waffle and don’t rush when introducing yourself or when conveying the message you want to get across. It was a very handy tip. I would often introduce myself by full name followed by title and by the end of the conversation they would say thanks Carl because all they had caught was part of my surname. Now I keep the name and intro brief, and just use Dave or David and use pauses just like a normal conversation. It’s fine to have a script of conversation topics, but... pause, breathe and give the person you’re calling time to process what you are saying. Listen for audible cues, because you do not have the benefit of being able to read their body language.
Is money your only motivator for being successful?
Nope, not at all! I like money… a lot, but it’s not the only thing that motivates me. I like the win, I like the feeling that I am achieving something more than just financial gain and I like to feel that my customers and vendor are happy with the end result. Although in saying that, my tribe of kids really like the money, and I will never say no to having more.
What’s the most useful tip you can give to a struggling salesperson?
If a sales person is constantly struggling then maybe they were not meant to be a sales person in the first place. But if I had to sum up; listen, be honest and establish empathy and put yourself in your customer/client’s shoes. Identify their need and then help fill that need, offer constructive ideas and advice. But most importantly, don’t ever sell a product that doesn’t fit. In my opinion that’s not acting in the best interest of your customer/client. Remember…People buy from people and it’s hard to win back trust once you have lost it.
What percentage do you consider your personality contributes to your success compared to the product and the company?
Truthfully? (I had to ask some of my customers the answer) The feedback was 60 percent personality, 40 percent knowledge and support. I know I am not everyone’s “cup of tea” and in those cases the above percentages probably reverse.
Most sales people have some experience of other jobs, what’s yours?
Ha ha! Is there enough space on the page for this? My original vocation was a panel beater spray painter after following in my father’s footsteps and did that for many years, I have also been a barman, doorman, stuntman, semi pro fighter, security guard and part time photographer for Auto Trader - that’s just to name a few. I joined Nortel in 95 and since then have worked in IT and logistics or combination of both. I have worked for Repco, Top Hat, ACP Media, Tech Pacific, Ingram Micro, Connect NZ, Cellnet, NSP and now Synnex NZ, where I am solely dedicated to Lenovo.
Do you ever consider changing your career?
I do….at times. I have always wanted to become a lawyer specialising in family law, but having young children to consider right now, it’s not really an option and I still really enjoy what I do now. Maybe when I am 50 I will go back to school. After all, I don’t believe you are ever too old to learn something new.
Does the pressure to hit your monthly or quarterly targets ever make you stressed?
Sometimes. But I believe there is no point in stressing about it; you just have to get on with it and try harder.
How would you sum up the craft of sales in one sentence to an outsider?
Helping a customer discover their needs and delivering a solution to meet their needs at a price that realises value to both the customer and the supplier.
How long does it take you to assess how you should approach your sales pitch?
Depends on the customer, But normally I have assessed what sort of personality they are within 30-60 seconds and then adjust my approach from there.
Have you ever put your foot in it when talking to a client?
Oh yes! It was more of a slip of words. I was in a meeting with a really nice gentleman doing a presentation on some new product lines; the gentleman appeared to have a glass eye. I was showing him the new product, we went over the specific features and he asked the price, I told him the RRP and he was very impressed and commented that he could get some reasonable margin with his solution and then out of the blue I said “Yeah! Extra margin is good, it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.” As soon as I said it I realised and just froze out of sheer horror at what I had just said and the total insensitivity of it. He was good about it though, laughed and carried on as normal.
How did you get past the point of struggling to make a sale to where you are today?
You know, honestly I don’t remember…Sales just kind of came naturally to me, I was given a chance during my days at Tech Pacific to try sales instead of pre sales technical and I just slipped into it like a duck to water. It’s not really hard to genuinely listen, be polite and offer advice and assurance, and think outside the square when you need too.
Do you consider yourself a persuasive person?
No, not really. I consider myself an honest and upfront person, if I don’t believe my solution will fit the bill, I won’t waste my customers time or mine trying to persuade them it’s the right fit.
What’s the best deal you have ever closed?
Not being big headed but there are a lot of deals over the last eight years as a BDM/AM. But I guess best deal in terms of revenue was a single drop deal with revenue of about $1.2 million for IBM server/storage hardware. However, most fulfilling deals are the ones where I have actually assisted with the whole solution and not come in half way, they are often substantially lower value than the above, but very fulfilling to go through the whole process from idea phase, positioning, pricing, proof of concept and finally sale.
Would you encourage your offspring to go into sales?
If they wanted to pursue a career in sales then I would support them and guide them the best I could, but what works for me in sales may not work for them. I wasted six plus years doing something I didn’t really enjoy, because I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps, so I would encourage my children to do what interests them and not try to be carbon copies.
Has anyone ever made you feel intimidated?
Intimidated? Don’t know if that is the right word. I have been made to feel “ordinary” at times; there are a lot of very smart people out there, far smarter than I will ever be and some like to showcase it.