21 May Inside the Mind of a Top Sales Performer
At echogravity, we often talk about how difficult it is to hire sales people, especially really good ones. Over the years, I’ve probably met and interviewed no fewer than 1000 sales reps/account managers that work in the staffing and services industry. Only a small population of them hit my short list of what I would consider the best of the best – top producer, customer focused, hunting machine and money motivated.
This article is about Kyle Gams, who in my opinion, sits very near the top (likely the #1 position). Kyle is probably the best hunter and business development professional in the IT staffing space – hands down.
The other day, I had a chance to catch up with Kyle over lunch and had the pleasure of learning more about what makes him tick and why he has become so successful in selling IT Staffing Services. If you are a sales rep looking to be the best, a sales manager looking to hire, or are a business owner looking for characteristics that will help your reps be successful, you will want to learn about Kyle.
How did you get into the IT Staffing and Services business? Well, like many others in this space, I randomly fell into it. I received my masters in human resources and utilized my connections through my fraternity. If it wasn’t for you Kevin O’Brien, I wouldn’t be here! (Me and Kyle were in the same fraternity at the same school, but not during the same period of time.)
How long have you been in this industry? Since 1998.
What do you do first thing in the morning? I wake up at 5:00am and am working by 6:00am either at the office, in a coffee shop, or in my car on the way to my first appointment. I have over 100 daily tasks scheduled in salesforce.com, and my objective is to get as many of them done as possible before my first client appointment. These tasks involve either sending cold emails, interview follow ups, responding to an RFP, or responding to internal company communications. I try to accomplish as much as I can in the morning so I can use my day attending to client or consultant needs.
What about the rest of your day? For the most part, I spend no less than 8 hours of face time per day with clients or consultants. Ideally, I want 9am-5pm to be reaction time to deal with the day-to-day activities that come with managing more than 80 consultants across numerous clients. Responsiveness to clients and consultants is considered my highest priority. I leave the strategy and planning of my territory for off hours.
What do you do for lunch? I have a lunch meeting on my calendar every day of the week, scheduled no less than 45 days in advance. My lunch appointments are limited to only a few types of people: clients, consultants, or former consultants (that have previously worked for me at a client). I never eat lunch alone unless there is a last minute cancellation.
So you don’t spend any personal time during the day? Not really. I don’t listen to music or satellite radio while I’m in the car. Travel time is a great opportunity for phone time. When you’re working and building a business, there’s no time for personal affairs. I am a workaholic, and there isn’t a moment in my day when I’m not on the phone, on email, or texting for work. If I run out of emails to respond to, then I’m sending a cold email to the next prospect. My day is insanely busy with activity from when I wake up until I go to sleep.
Why do people buy from you? To be successful in this business, people need to think they can trust who they are buying from. It’s my job to make certain that they can trust me. I never commit to what I can’t deliver. I always keep my promises and give my honest opinion on what I believe; even if it’s not the desired outcome. I believe that if I am honest and trustworthy, I will earn the faith of the people that will make me successful. Additionally, my objective is not to sell IT talent, but to build a long term relationship with the influencers in my clients and prospects. Many competitors and other sales reps in this industry are always trying to sell, but it’s not about the sale – it’s about a long-term, trusting relationship that makes the difference.
How do you hit your next goal? You’ve done so much already. Have you hit the level where you just can’t build anymore? Not even close. I know I can reach the next goal. My potential is to manage more than $30 million in revenue per year – and I’m pretty confident that I can get to $40 million. In order to reach this goal, I need to prioritize my objectives so that I can scale my time on sales activities instead of managing the day to day management of my current book of business. If I was able to transition daily territory management somehow, I know for a fact I could double my territory in two years. That is my goal.
What would your best clients tell me about you? They’re going to say that I am extremely trustworthy, honest, and someone they enjoy to talk to. They also say that I am extremely responsive; almost to a fault. A good CIO contact of mine told me to quit responding so fast to his needs, and that it wouldn’t hurt to take some time in responding. However, it’s important to me to react very quickly to any request or need from clients or consultants.
Does anything rattle your cage? Yes – things that are out of my control. It drives me crazy to the point where I want to punch something!
What motivates you? Money is obviously my top motivation, otherwise I would be doing something else. However, even though the financial gains are great, I also enjoy the fact that organizations trust me with their IT goals. I’m also very obsessive about winning.
Why do you think you are so successful? In all honesty, I think I am a successful because I started in this business as an IT recruiter. I think having the experience in knowing what makes consultants tick, I’ve developed the skills that allow me to better manage relationships with clients and with each individual consultant. Recruiting is a skill set that many salespeople don’t bring to this business. I actually enjoy recruiting more than selling because I get the sense of fulfillment that I am a trusted advisor to people and their career – it’s a reflection of their faith in me. There’s such a great level of satisfaction being at a Christmas party or an event where you can look around the room and see all the people that you helped in their career. That to me is a great personal achievement.
How did you grow your territory so large? Cold calling, cold calling and more cold calling. I am a relentless hunter and always have the next prospect on my mind.
How do you handle rejection? It’s a numbers game really. Without rejection, you can’t enjoy the acceptance or the goals you set out to achieve. I truly believe that if nine out of ten people tell you “no”, the one person telling you “yes” will provide the level of gratification that makes your job worthwhile. It’s keeping the mindset and focus on the one “yes” that helps me easily and consistently move past rejection.
What’s different selling now versus 10 years ago? For the most part, nothing has changed. The main difference is that buyers are more untrusting and carry the baggage of bad experiences with other reps and firms. This baggage taints their view of new relationships. It just ends up taking longer to gain trust and to build strong relationships with new clients.
What do you do for fun? Well you know me, I love to go to concerts. I’ve probably been to over 1000 of them in my life time.
What bands do you like the most? Bruce Springsteen, Drive By Truckers, Jason Isbell, and of course, KISS.
I know you have another job, what is that? I own a number of properties and enjoy real estate investing. If I could, I would buy more and more real estate because to me, that’s easy money.
What’s your advice to new sales reps entering IT Staffing? Don’t jump in if you aren’t prepared to make it a lifestyle. If you want to have quality of life AND want to be at the top of the industry, selling IT staffing services is not the right position for you. There is very little work/life balance if you want to be highly successful. I’m not saying that the job is not satisfying, because it is – you just have to commit fully to make it in this business. If you are a person that is used to bankers hours, you may want to go work for a bank. I also believe that the harder you work, the luckier you get!
Kevin O’Brien is a Co-Founder and Partner at echogravity. Kevin’s credentials include being a top recruiter for a international Big 8 consulting firm, top business development rep for a global consulting and staffing firm, and consulting with over 100 companies across North America.