From the Sales Trenches: Q&A with Kerm Foltz


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This continues our series of front-line sales interviews, featuring quota-carrying sales reps as well as their managers and leaders (see previous interviews here, here and here). Kerm Foltz is Director of Sales for Market Leader, an industry leader providing innovative online technology and marketing solutions for real estate professionals across the United States and Canada.

How (and why) did you get into sales?

I left teaching for an opportunity to make more money, and to grow as a business person. I didn’t know what was out there, and already had a perception of what sales is, which was completely opposite of what I think it is now. There are so many correlations between sales and teaching, and that’s why I love it so much. You’re teaching people how your product or service can benefit them.

Little did I know that teaching is sales, and sales is teaching. It makes it fun for both sides, because I’m not trying to sell them, I’m trying to teach them why certain things are important. With any good teacher, you’re influencing someone’s thoughts and getting them to think about things a certain way. That’s what selling is as well. I enjoy having the light bulb turn on for the other person because they have a new understanding about something.

Little did I know I already had 10 years of experience teaching and influencing before I started I sales. Once I was able to make that correlation, my approach changed and my results improved quickly.

How do you combine teaching sales strategy with the high-pressure inside sales game?

We have to figure out how to make it more transactional, especially for our market. We need to help our customers find more compelling reasons to buy, not just for financial reasons. I don’t want to rely only on a foundation of promotions, to make it easier for them to buy today. We’re always looking for more compelling reasons, but I’m also trying to help my salespeople ask for interest-gauging questions to provide more value and ultimately bring on that new customer today. I don’t just focus on the customer, but what can I do to influence the salesperson to uncover interest and need in the sales call.

I focus really on creating compelling events for the salespeople and sales teams.

We always look at numbers, and assume salespeople are motivated by money. And they are, but when I ask them what’s missing in their current role, the word “challenge” comes up all the time. I value that in my position. I’m challenged every day, and I want that same environment for the salespeople. I like to provide industry knowledge, so they feel like they’re being challenged and have more information to share with their customer base.

What were some of your challenges in moving to a management position?

Avoiding accountability and tough conversations, avoiding discussions about performance, that was a mistake for me initially. Being too focused on things that weren’t affecting results, that was a problem too. An example of that, this one person would come in every morning at 6:30, leave at 3:30, have lunch from 11:30 – 12 and it annoyed the heck out of me. If she was performing, I would have been fine. But because she wasn’t, I was focused on the schedule when it had nothing to do with results. So, being focused on having performance-related conversations and discussions is important. I avoided that early on, which was wrong.

One of the things I love today are our pretty structured, two 1:1 meetings a month with each rep. They consist of their agenda 75% of the time, and my agenda 25% of the time. I’m listening a lot, they’re providing ideas and telling me what they’re doing well, where they’re confident, where they’re feeling short, where their frustrations are. You’re gathering this info and probably know how to provide some feedback or value to help. They come in with an agenda, and the last 25% is to provide them more value – industry knowledge, confidence through better sales strategy, reiterating what they think they’re doing well, or providing 1-2 techniques to take away their frustrations.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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