David Bailey, General Manager of Transformation Services, WESCO Distribution

Today’s installment of the iST Connect series includes insights and perceptions from one of iST’s valued Advisory Board members, David Bailey.  David is considered by his management and peers to be a highly influential sales leader, constantly searching for and uncovering new avenues of revenue with his company’s most valuable customers.  In addition to growing existing customer relationships, David also has that enviable natural knack for new business development, possessing the easy confidence to start a new conversation, quickly develop rapport, and effortlessly connect his company’s service offerings with his prospects’ priority business objectives.  Graduating from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, David latched on with GE Lighting shortly after completing his undergrad program.  His career goals had always included becoming an engineer.  However, David naturally gravitated toward GE’s Sales Leadership development program, where his natural personality traits and technical expertise allowed him to quickly set himself apart from his peer group.  After launching his sales career at GE, David has since enjoyed tenures at other large Fortune 500 sales organizations as well as a startup environment.   At this stage of his career, David subscribes to the belief that success in today’s selling environment requires hard work, dedication to your craft, and a strong element of innovation. 

Having David serve on our Advisory Board will enable iST to tap into his expertise often.  For now, here are five excellent takeaways from our initial conversation with David Bailey.    

Key Takeaways

What has been your mantra throughout your professional career?  This is an easy one.  My mantra in life has always been “Seize the Day!”  Each sales cycle is a series of events, decisions, meetings, and touchpoints that begins with initial discovery and ends with a contract signature.  However, with the ever-increasing amount of non-revenue-producing job responsibilities (i.e reporting, internal meetings, fielding phone calls and emails, office distractions) we can quickly lose sight of those critical milestones in our sales processes that occur in between those two big events.  Sometimes I see my peers and counterparts allowing the day to come to them versus seizing it for themselves.  To make sure I win each day, I’ve become a religious daily goal-setter.  I start my work day early and use that uninterrupted time to list my most important tasks for the day.  I’ll mentally fast-forward to the end of the work day and ask myself “Today is a successful day if I get _________ accomplished.”  Once I’m finished with my daily goals, I’ll time block everything on my calendar, then begin (and sometimes complete) my most important daily objective before the workday officially begins and other things start competing for my attention.  In summary, I work very hard at winning each day. If I win every day, I win the week, and winning each week leads to exceeding monthly targets, which this allows me to surpass quarterly sales quotas.      

What new technologies and/or do you use in your sales process?  Great question!  It seems like I read about a new, helpful sales tool almost every week.  Here are a few that both my company and I currently deploy with high levels of success:

  • We subscribe to a popular data service that allows us to quickly find companies that fit our ideal customer profile. 
  • We utilize a highly-trained lead generation center to make outbound phone calls in order to qualify leads.  Once a sales lead meets certain criteria, the lead generation center connects the customer with me.  This ensures that I maximize my time conducting discovery and generating proposals while the lead generation team constantly fills the top of my sales pipeline.
  • Personally, I schedule lots of external meetings and conference calls.  To eliminate much of the back-and-forth exchange trying to find a time, I’ve started using Calendy, which has made this process much more efficient.
  • If I send an important email and it’s mission-critical that I receive a response in a timely manner, I’ll utilize FollowUpThen.  It is a nifty little tool that includes BCCing one of FollowUpThen’s email addresses, for example 2days@followupthen.com.  I’ll then receive an inbound email exactly 2 days later reminding me to follow up (or escalate the issue if I still have not received a response).  

What relatively new practice have you adopted that you’d like to share with iST’s network?  I recently participated in an informal brainstorming session.  Four of my peers joined me in their meeting room and all of us had our phones on the table.  No less than 30 times during that hour did we hear the familiar chime – a new text, LinkedIn post, email, Skype message, Instagram pic, etc.  Looking back, it made me reflect on a few things:

  • Distractions in today’s work environment are more numerous than ever before
  • Extrapolated over the course of an entire workday, the inbound communications we received during that brainstorming session would have approached 100 per person
  • If I’m receiving this many daily inbound communications, so are my customers and prospects

That third realization completely changed the way I think about structuring emails.  Now, since I know that I’m competing for mindshare with 99 other people in a given day, I condense my messages so that my recipient can read my entire email on the screen of his phone without having to scroll.  Setting these restraints for myself forces me to get to the point quickly, deliver my value statement sooner, and eliminate much of the “fluff” sometimes present in sales emails.   

What approach do you take to professional development?  Just like goals and objectives, I make this a daily practice.  Flying on an airplane allows me to pre-download a video (LinkedIn Learning is great!) and learn a new skill.  Additionally, I stay abreast of current events by subscribing to free services that deliver to my email inbox a summary of today’s headlines.  Finimize and The Skimm are two of my favorites – they allow me to understand today’s most newsworthy topics in just 5 minutes per day.  Keeping up with current events allows me to have better conversations with my customers/prospects and helps me grow client partnerships by providing a path for introducing new products and services.  For example, let’s say that we’re in a challenged economic climate and the stock market just took a plunge yesterday.  When speaking to a customer today, it allows me to start the conversation with something like “To offset the expected top-line revenue pressures in today’s economic landscape, some companies are increasing their focus on OpEx improvements.  If you’re considering a similar strategy, here is one idea that’s been well-received by other companies in your industry…”  The conversation that ensues from that point forward is much deeper and consists of more meaningful back-and-forth dialogue and co-creation of value.  Had I approached this conversation without the knowledge and understanding of today’s current events, I feel as though I would have appeared as more “salesly” and less as a helpful solution-provider.     

As sales organizations grow through acquisition, many sales professionals can now provide new products and services to their existing base of customers.  A prime example is when your company, a reputable distributor of electrical products and services, recently acquired a company specializing in safety products.  What advice do you offer to those embarking on the “cross-selling journey” for the first time?  We have a natural tendency to overcomplicate cross-selling, so my advice is to keep it simple.  Over time you’ll learn the finer details and features of your new products and services, but in the interim, lean heavily on your internal subject matter experts.  First learn from them what discovery questions to ask when you’re speaking with your customers.  Second, research ahead of time on LinkedIn to determine who at the customer’s organization can make the buying decision on your new product or service.  Then, if the decision-maker is not within your current base of contacts, request an introduction from your main customer champion.   Once you connect with the decision-maker, briefly explain your current sales relationship, ask a discovery question or two in order to qualify the opportunity, then bring in your subject matter expert (usually a fellow sales professional within your acquired company).  To simplify, this process can be viewed as:

  1. Learning a few discovery questions to help qualify your cross-selling opportunity
  2. Identifying the decision-maker, or someone who will benefit from the new product/service
  3. Requesting an introduction
  4. Partnering with your counterpart to close the deal   

How do you get past customer objections? Let’s face it – in sales, you’re going to hear no much more often than you hear yes.  But that doesn’t mean that you must take no for an answer.  If I’m failing to connect with a prospect, or if I sense they don’t see substantial value in my product or service, I’ll find a different avenue into their organization.  For example, if I’m not getting anywhere with my prospect’s Sustainability Director, I might try approaching my potential customer through Finance, Operations, or Human Resources.  After all, my service offering positively impacts several departments so why not try another one if my initial attempt fails?  Plus, it forces me to change my narrative a bit – framing benefits to Human Resources looks much different than selling to Finance – but regardless of the outcome, I always learn beneficial information and insights that help me when I eventually circle back to my original contact. 

Interested in hearing more insights like this?  Leading revenue-focused professionals from all over the country will be sharing their tips and strategies at the upcoming SalesLive Miami in November.  Click Here to Learn More

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