Category Archives: Working With Greg

The Downside To Teaching Sales Employees What It Takes.

There are many things that sales management and business coaching books won’t teach you. 1 of them is training an employee, who does well then decides to jump ship to compete with you.

Any business owner or senior manager will tell you that grooming young talent comes with its pitfalls. It requires an investment of time and money, expert guidance and patience.

In business to business sales (B2B), the sales cycles can be as long as 1-2 years. There are lots of skills to master.

From lead generation & prospecting, to product, customer and competitor knowledge.  There is also administration of the sale and management of customer relationship management software (CRM) to increase efficiency.  Managing a pipeline, relationships, working with support personnel, leveraging finance, negotiation and follow up skills are also required for consistent success.  In addition, our top performers also understand and manage priorities, understand how to create value, are good with numbers, hold margins, have good follow up skills, and  present well in various situations.  In our fitness equipment business, knowledge of exercise science is a valued skill of our top performers.

These skills lead to an experience bank. This experience bank allows you to use the above skills for maximum performance.  Most importantly, all of this is wrapped up into a unique selling proposition, an approach that positions our solution better than the others available to the customer.

The learning curve is steep, and often takes 6 months to 1 year or more for a successful representative to hit their stride.

Performance is always the #1 objective. Results. Sales. Generating revenue. 

Therefore, supporting the new representative in these skills becomes a priority for the manager, because time is always of the essence.

With this training, performance and overall investment by the organization, 1 of 2 things tend to occur:

  1. It is not a good fit for the representative.  The activities required are not performed well and results are not there, and the contract needs to end.
  • It is a good fit and the representative builds some momentum, enough to keep going and find a rhythm.  From here 2 things can happen.
    • They settle in and have some success and nice long-term relationship gets established. This benefits the representative, the organization and, most importantly the customer. In many cases, these are the next wave of senior representatives and some start move into management.
  • The success becomes so strong that the representative starts to feel that they can get to a better opportunity. The perspective is that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and will lead to more money and freedom.  Perhaps this opportunity is one that they can run with more control and answer to less people.  The feedback has been that the new opportunity won’t have as much structure and guidelines.    Sometimes, they want an ownership stake or don’t feel the mother ship is supporting them as well, so they decide to leave.

In almost 20 years of sales team management, the most frequent result is #1 above.   In my experience, I have found 2 reasons for this.

  • The profiling and interviewing process was not deliberate enough. Hire slow and let go quickly applies here and is very true.
  • The expectations out of the gate were not realistic for the skill level of the new representative.

Both are on the hiring organization.

The 2nd most frequent result is 2a, they settle in, do well and are long term productive representatives.  This is the most rewarding part of the work, as I have been on both sides.  Representative and management. 

A close 3rd to the above is 2B. This is where the successful representative packs up and leaves for a better offer or start their own shop.

2B is every employer’s worst case scenario.

Investment into the representative, they get up and running and do well, and they leave.

In my experience, there are not many situations departing representative had as much success with the new organization.

Why would this be?

Not a clear understanding of all aspects of the business is the most logical answer.   In the industry where I have the most experience, the selling of commercial fitness equipment, the capital requirements and support expertise to prop up a representative are significant. This would be akin to a top performing car salesperson starting their own dealership.  But they could start their own brokerage could they not?

Of interest here is that yours truly departed a company in 2010 to start out on my own.  That would be option 2B.  That’s right, I was one of those people.  I learned a lot with my first organization for 15 years and then felt I had reached an impasse and had to leave.

The change, at that time, propelled me into business ownership and took my career to another level.  But that other level brought increased investment and exposure financially along with the eventual strong results. (We eventually sold our business in 2015 to the company I work for now.)

The ironic aspect of this, was that I never wanted to leave.  I understood all that my first organization had taught me. The competitive advantage it provided me so I could focus on serving customers.  That organization, however, stopped doing those things to support me and our customers suffered. Products started taking too long and other aspects required to be supported were stopped. In fact, I tried for 3 years to help the first organization get back on track, without success.

In my case, I had no choice. I had to leave.  Either the company and/or the industry.

I knew going into the new venture, what the requirements in running a business run much wider and deeper than simply sales.  I also partnered with 2 people who were very good at aspects of the business that I was not.

Conclusion:

I don’t think I would change a thing.   I think people leaving are part of the process of running a business and/or managing a team.  The key is developing a process that increases the chances of a good hiring fit and shortens the learning curve to performance.   

I have been on both ends.  The employee and employer. The sales representative being managed, and the manager.

I am teaching my son to find an organization within an area he is of interest, that has a great onboarding program.   Regardless of where you go from there, you can not lose!

Greg Lawlor is a former schoolteacher and 25 year veteran of sales, management and business ownership.  He continues to learn something new every day!

Physical Activity Changed (Saved?) My Life

The words resonate with me almost 40 years later: “You did not workout today did you?”.

In 1981, At 16 years old, I had started going to the gym to rehab my shoulder and strengthen my body to play ice hockey.  I had already had a few bumps and bruises, was almost 6ft 2” but, predictably my muscles had not caught up to my growth!  I needed to get stronger if I wanted to keep playing at higher levels, and boy I wanted to play at higher levels! (that is another story for another day!)

What Mom said to me that day has stuck with me since. She noticed the difference in my mood on workout days vs non workout days.  Enough to let me know.

My time at the gym led me to a part time job there.  Doing fitness assessments and onboarding for new members/exercisers.  It allowed me to build my knowledge, experience and confidence in a physical activity setting, and gave me another physical outlet (in addition to hockey) that allowed me to focus at school (my membership was now free as I worked there!)

When it came time to make a decision what to study in university, I had 2 choices: Commerce/Business or Physical Education. The former I was good at, the latter I was curious about.  My dad was a teacher, and my role model, so I thought teaching and physical activity would be a good pursuit.  So, that is what I did. (My dad, by the way, was the one who suggest that I follow my passion. A very wise man indeed as  that advice has always stayed with me)

I got my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Physical Education from McGill University.  I studied topics like exercise physiology and the movement sciences. I learned about sports skills and the methodology around teaching and coaching. That included the science of regular exercise and the impact it had on the body and the brain.  My career path was locked in.  I was going to apply all my learning as a teacher in the schools!

I coached and taught for 8 years at all grade levels.  All in a position of leadership around physical activity.  Some friends from university introduced me at that time to the love of my life, mother of my son, and partner for the last 31 years. 

Once I stopped competitive hockey in university, I continued to play different sports well into adulthood. Volleyball, golf, slow pitch, basketball, skiing, cycling and mountain biking, flag football and eventually back to hockey. Physical activity was always a staple to my ways. It was always a part of my life. A big part. Oh yes, and I went to the gym regularly.

Yours Truly On The Big Stage.

There was a feeling after being active that I could not duplicate any other way.  When I was not active, my mood was not the same, neither was my patience or focus or ability to get things done. My energy levels changed and my addictive personality focused on less constructive outlets.  I am very grateful that I have had the wisdom to recognize the power activity had on my life. I also thank my mother who reminded my and help me light the bulb!

The activities also allowed me to be a kid again. To revisit a time where all I did was play outside. Every sport and activity imaginable from hide and seek to tackle football to 1-2 hour bike rides (as a mode of transportation). To play. To develop social skills.  When got my first full time teaching job a few hours from home, playing in the rec basketball league allowed me to meet a ton of new people.

The post activity time  turned into my best thinking time and most productive time.  It is when I planned my lessons and planned my practices. Planned my next career and live moves.

My teaching time was a real joy. Teaching young people skill development, and seeing their eyes light up and their bodies adapt to the new activities. 

The only frustration was the imposed reduction in physical education time for students. This was the mid 90’s and government, at the time, felt PE, like the arts, home economics, car shop and music were expendable. Budgets were cut. Instead of daily PE, students now only had gym class 1x per week.  The demand for the good ole’ gym teacher was declining.  I was offered other subjects I could teach.  I was not as passionate about that possibility. 

I don’t think future generations have been too keen on that either. Since the mid 1990’s we have seen a horrible impact on lack of activity in our youth. 

The decline in PE teaching opportunities led me to explore other options.  I got a temporary position as intercollegiate sports coordinator for the college for Dawson College in Montreal. Loved that job, as I worked with student athletes and coaches, organizing all the behind the scenes work to give them their competitive opportunities. But that was a replacement position, and ended after 1 year.

I answered an ad in the paper for a commercial fitness equipment sales representative for a new company in the area. They offered the job to the guy with no sales experience.  The compensation was all commission, and I think I was the only applicant who would take that gig.   It was the summer and I figured if I did not like after a couple of months, I could go back to teaching.

Selling exercise equipment led to long hours and low pay as I learned the ins and outs of the business. But I still had my connection to physical activity.  

The more I performed, the better I got paid. “Wow” moment.  Over the next few years, I performed well.

After a few years that led to new territories and markets and management and ownership opportunities. Management and ownership gave me a new teaching platform and a business education like no other. (I ended up getting that business education after all!)  

While this was happening, we had our son, and yes, he developed his own interest in sports and activity. And yes, I coached many of his teams growing up. 

Now in my 50’s, and on the “back nine”,  I still very involved in fitness.  My passion for fitness and active living has opened doors and led to a great career in the equipment and education side.  Still a teacher, but a very different classroom.     

Physical activity has opened the doors to many great experiences!

As a father, husband, businessman and coach, I have had to find ways to stay active through a busy lifestyle over the years. 

I always prioritized physical activity, because I knew I was different without it.  I was not the person I wanted to be without it.  I made decisions I did not like without activity in my life.

The Problem with Exercise On The Internet

Exercise online is a bit of mess.

The problem with social media and what we see on the interweb is that most of it is inappropriate. I don’t mean inappropriate in a “parental guidance “sort of way, although there is too much of that as well (put some clothes on people!! ).  I mean more inappropriate for you and me.

Random exercises performed by someone who is ½ our age, or has 10x more experience in the gym, or is a freak of nature, or has no injuries, or (I can go on and on) is not the best guidance for most of us.

I can come up with a few different examples.

Here is one I see often. Back squats.

The squat that we did in high school or perhaps our sporting years, with bar loaded up on the back of our neck and down we go!  Back up, Down we go.

The old school lifters will tell ya that all you need is master the squat, deadlift and bench press and you are good to go.  But those guys have been doing that for 25 years!

The new school fitness coaches will give you all kinds of variations to keep things interesting.  Too many sometimes.

The answer is somewhere in the middle for most of us.

See the rest of the article with video support over on the A040 blog

Our journey continues,

Greg

Sprint Intensity Training to overtake HIIT?

The Sprint 8® Protocol is more intense than interval training, but worth the effort, according to its creator Phil Campbell.

In two hospital-based studies specifically on Campbell’s Sprint 8 Protocol, the research shows an average drop in body fat of 27% with no change in diet. Campbell attributes the results to a natural increase in human growth hormone.

Our team at STAK Fitness/Matrix Canada is implementing this program with organizations as I write this. Stay tuned for more details on progress.

see the full story here: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/3188584/

Some of the latest gym design trends

Tired of seeing the same old same old in each gym you go to?

Very predictable…a cardio area, weight stack area, free weight area. All very good but more and more organizations are doing something different with certain areas of their floor space.

Others are creating different designs to help gain interest and keep people coming back.

Have a look at what my friends at Escape Fitness have created in some key international locations.

Have a look….

http://www.escapefitness.com/blog/14962/design-trends-2017/

let’s connect soon!