20+ years in sales & 12 years in sales training. Worked across various business channels to provide innovation coaching and training. My coaching techniques has the ability to transcend many ethnic and cultural barriers.
Umar Hameed 0:04
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone! My name is Umar Hameed, I’m your host on the No Limits Selling Podcast where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I’ve got a question for you, do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I’m gonna help you remove that voice and under 30 days guaranteed, not only remove it, but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there’s one that propels you to much higher levels of performance and success. There’s a link in the show notes, click on it to find out more. All right! Let’s get started.
Umar Hameed 0:41
Hello everyone. Today I’ve got the pleasure of having Paul Thevarajoo here with me today, he is a sales trainer at Atlantic Broadband. Paul, welcome to the program.
Paul Thevarajoo 0:52
Thank you very much appreciate it.
Umar Hameed 0:54
And I apologize for butchering your name, but I gave it my best shot.
Paul Thevarajoo 0:58
I’m not shocked when people pronounce my name correctly when they when they butcher it.
Umar Hameed 1:03
So the reason I wanted to chat with you today in so happy you’re with me is we talk to individuals on the show that are basically trying to navigate this new world that we live in, but you get to make sure 40 sales warriors in your organization are relevant on point in closing deals, so you have to have your finger on the pulse to make sure you give them the right train they need for this current climate. How are you seeing the sales climate out there?
Paul Thevarajoo 1:34
Ahm, you know, like everyone has mentioned the talk about, you know, the world have changed and everything have changed. So I think, you know, I’m really paying attention to that. And I think the first step is, you know, I, as a sales trainer, I had to change it to reflect the trend of reps, because prior to this, you know, I’ve done training for the last 10, 10-12 years, and I was about 90% in person in the field working with the reps with this been going on, I’m reversing to totally 90% 95% big virtual. So for me, I had to realize that, hey, the way I used to train, the way I used to communicate, work with reps have to change. So if I’m changing, then you know, the rep has to change as well, because the world is changing. So it’s a constant change that, you know, we have evolved with the started with me. And then once I realized that the change I had to make and make the change, then I worked with the reps to help them make the changes.
Umar Hameed 2:29
Brilliant. So give me like a real world kind of example of how your training has changed from when it was physical face to face in person to when it’s virtual. So tell me about some of the benefits of being virtual, because I’m sure there are some and some of the things that you think are a detriment to the training process.
Paul Thevarajoo 2:48
Sure. So the changes one, you know, I used to go out to the reps and talk with them one-on-one in a big way with a customer facing scenario. So when I’m out on the field, I could actually see them conversing working with customers and you know, able to provide in the moment coaching. So that has changed now because we’re not able to do that reps are not able to go out to about the detriment first of all, is that I think we lose that interaction, the rapport building when in front of a person, it’s so much easier to build a rapport and you know, get on the same page. So that is totally gone now. So you have to find ways to you know, quickly build a rapport either on the phone, you know, virtually through video conferencing, conferencing. The benefit though, however, is in the past, you know, you only could see you know, four or five customers a day because of your you know, the travel the time. Now literally you can see 10 to 15 customers a day on a videoconference without leaving your office. So, so that’s probably the benefit. And I don’t know, if you want to do 15 to 20-10 customers a day could be a little bit drain, but it allows you more more customer contact.
Umar Hameed 3:57
So realistically, what are you seeing as the real numbers for your sales team? Are they doubling the number of appointments? Or is it less? Is it more?
Paul Thevarajoo 4:05
You know, that’s that’s a conundrum we face because I think a lot of the we talked about change, I think people are still hoping and wishing that they’ll go back to the old days, and therefore not really, you know, moving towards increasing, but those who have adopted the reality now are definitely seeing more people. So you know, they are making an effort to see more customers on a daily basis, make more calls because you can do it at the comfort of your home. But again, the other challenges are your distractions and other things. So yeah, I think it has has gone up, you know, overall, but still in I think the challenge we face.
Umar Hameed 4:41
What’s outstanding, is the illusion we had of alright, I’m going to meet with Paul, I’m going to drive to this location is going to be a restaurant I’m not seeing Paul before. So Paul will be coming in so every patron that comes into that restaurant, I’m looking over is that Paul is that Paul, and then You might show up 10 minutes late, then we have a half hour meeting, and then I drive back to my office, then it was a two hour,
Paul Thevarajoo 5:06
Umar Hameed 5:07
thing for a 15 minute conversation. And now we can actually get those compensations done and everyone saves time.
Paul Thevarajoo 5:15
Yeah, that is the truth. But the challenges, people are free to do this, because they’re still convinced, they can build a rapport quickly in person. So even this 15 minutes, I live in knowing that I’m your friend. But we do this virtually, I may not leave that having the same feeling because I’m not in person with you. So. So that’s the challenge people are facing is like, well, I’m comfortable to do this.
Umar Hameed 5:39
So I’m going to give you a my hypothesis on this. Because that sounds like bullshit. And here’s why. Because if in my head, and then my mindset is like, we’re not going to connect in that same profound way. Because we’re not in person. If I come to the meeting with that mindset, I set the tone for the meeting. And I almost create a self fulfilling prophecy. But I’m sure if you got other reps that are very, very sociable, that they’ll kind of know where the kids go to school, things in common, that we need to change the mindset of our salespeople to allow more opportunities to create that rapport.
Paul Thevarajoo 6:19
So that’s exactly what I’m trying to work with the reps has changed. How do you change your approach, you cannot, you know, bind to that, you know, the theory that just because I’m not reading person, I cannot do the same report. So one of the key challenges and the key initially, you know, I think we’ve come a long way since when he first started with my teams, is to re hey, get out of your mind that just because of being virtually you cannot build rapport and, you know, talk to some skill sets and some activities to help build that. So yeah, you’re right. It’s all in their head. And once you get that out, you can build the same rapport, you know, all the video conferencing than you would as in person,
Umar Hameed 6:56
I think, paradoxically, sometimes, actually, the meetings over zoom or video conferencing, sometimes are actually richer and more to the point than it would have been if it was a physical face to face in some paradoxical ways issue more intimate.
Paul Thevarajoo 7:13
Yeah. I think it’s why not just one intimate, but you definitely could control the agenda a little better, because you know, you’re limited to him, because we in face to face, you can go on a wild goose tangent and talking about something that’s not relevant. But when you are in on a video conferencing on a phone, you have to be intentional, what are you going to talk about. So creating an agenda, having topics to talk about will keep you on track.
Umar Hameed 7:36
So by intimate I think I misspoke. What I find is, when I’m doing a meeting like this, like you and I are actually recording an audio podcast, but we’re seeing each other is that I give you more attention on this video conference than I would have in person, because I would have liked looked at what’s behind you maybe looked at my watch, that I would have had the illusion that I’m paying attention. But the reality is, I pay more attention. Because when I’m not paying attention, you notice it instantly on the video conferencing.
Paul Thevarajoo 8:09
On the other side, too, is, you know, a lot of people who we meet with are not familiar with taking meetings, you know, from home, and now you have distractions, or kids running around your dogs popping up, you know, your spouse walks in, and you know, so there are other distractions that you know, you have to face with. So, again, it’s a mindset. I don’t know, you know, we all have figured out the signs. I think we all have definitely gotten better at this both parties, you know, the video customers and us salespeople. So we are moving the right direction. But I think it has been a great challenge. But I think we I think we almost said attraction will be crossed that challenge, you know, becoming more efficient in our process.
Umar Hameed 8:48
And I think I have like this illusion that things are better than than they are because I happen to live alone. And I don’t have the dogs and the kids in this house, that could be interrupting. But sometimes those happenstances just bring in humanity into the call. And sometimes it just breaks the barriers like you know, Hey, you got kids, I got kids, because in my worldview is when we came out of the caves. Our survival depended on the tribe. If you didn’t have a tribe, you were dead. And we have this need to be part of a tribe and when you see that humanity on the other side of the videoconference, that it builds a bond that helps the whole situation.
Paul Thevarajoo 9:29
Yeah, definitely. You know, being working alone from home has definitely been a challenge for some people. So, you know, we we also do other fun activities, like I host virtual happy hours in different things to create that feeling of camaraderie to help you know, through the process. So it is, like I said, you know, the question is, the wall has changed, the world has changed, how have you have changed to get up with a view haven’t changed, then you’re not in a moving forward. So that’s the key word is you know what have we done either as a sales trainer as a sales rep, what have you done? What have you changed to into acclimate to the new environment?
Umar Hameed 10:08
So Paul, I don’t want you to name names, but you got 40 candidates that you’re coaching. So I want you to think about one of those people that was resisting, change, you know, with this pandemic, and what was the pivotal moment where you got them to understand cuz sometimes you can tell people, you need to do this and say, yeah, yeah, yeah. And they don’t change anything. Tell me about one of those cases where you actually got the change after a little while, and what you think the pivotal moment was that got them to see the Epiphany?
Paul Thevarajoo 10:38
Yeah, I think, you know, yeah, couple of reps come to mind. And I think, you know, what we initially did was, you know, really worked on a team level, hey, you know, here’s some of the skill sets, and I think, you know, really having them learn some skill sets, how do you build rapport, you know, a virtual phone, because we have had to do that. So educating them and those little processes. And then, you know, giving them some tidbits, you know, I’ve done so I had to change, like I said, my change was first. So once I learned how to communicate, and train, we are in a virtual, I was able to pass on some of those skill sets. So as we work in the group, and you know, the challenge was getting the Detroit I think, when somebody tried it, this this particular rep, when they actually tried it, and saw results, they were now hooked on it. So, in fact, this one rep. Now, he used to be out in the field a lot and how he does, and he just does everything, but he’s really excited about it. He’s really, you know, a gamble, because he sees the results, he sees the efficiency. So I think, you know, trying it and seeing the results, what you know, will vary.
Umar Hameed 11:43
But let’s call this person Tom, let’s hope that’s not his real name. So, Tom, um, I’m guessing, like the first few times he told him to do it this way. Because we all have this resistance to change, that there must have been some pushback, and how did you keep on reinforcing it? So he actually gave it a go?
Paul Thevarajoo 12:02
Yeah, so in two ways, I work with the manager as well, since you know that I’m a trainer, I don’t have people reporting to me directly. So I work with the managers, and then we do one on one shadowing session. So and I would actually jump on and watch and, you know, provide immediate feedback. So just like as I would go out in the field with them, I do one on one sessions with them, virtually. So here, I can listen to them talk, you know, provide immediate feedback. And then you know, and so when they make the next call, they’re making the changes that we’ve coached through. So that’s how we got the ball rolling was, you know, those one on one coaching that I did, and obviously, the managers helped as well.
Umar Hameed 12:35
Brilliant. So as we come out of this pandemic, by the way, we’ve got a pool going on, I’m saying, June 6, is going to be the day that we’re back. Maybe wishful thinking, but at some point, we’re going to go back when we can go visit people and see people, how do you foresee the change in the sales department? Because some people might be embracing this new way of doing business? And some people not? So how are you setting expectations for your sales team? When that day comes?
Paul Thevarajoo 13:04
Yeah. So I mean, I’ve started talking about recently, because, you know, like I said, things, you know, on track to get better whether he does or not, we’ll see. But the fact is, I think, you know, one of the challenges I’ve been talking to people is, just because things are getting better, you don’t want to you don’t want to wishfully wish, let’s go back the bad old days, even if things change is not good with the good old days, the people are used to, you know, videoconferencing, people are used to working from home, people are used to doing business differently. So just because things are changing, and you know, on the projector to get better, it won’t be the good, old way. So you have to figure out what the new normal is going to be? And how are you going to acclimate to that? So first of all, mindset, like we said earlier, don’t think things are going to go back the way they are. They’re not they will be better, but different. And then again, how is that going to impact you? So start figuring out now, how you’re going to move into the new environment? So your mindset change, is what I’m working with right now.
Umar Hameed 14:01
So how do you envision that new world looking like, like?
Paul Thevarajoo 14:05
You know, if I can figure that out, I’ll be a rich man. But I’ll write a book and legend. I think, you know, I think he’s got a combination of some of what we used to do, I think, you know, there will be some face to face and many more increasingly, but I think also a lot of them would want to just meet like this, because it wasn’t only efficient for the reps to make 10 calls. It’s also efficient to the business owner to not have to schedule a meeting, take time to go and meet you he can do it, you know, he or she can do it virtually from when or where they are. So I think that’s the first concept we have to do. I think the biggest change we have to do is go back to when we felt the liberal poor, how do you build rapport, either in the instance of face to face or in a virtual I think you got to be good at both. So I think the skill set now is going to be in not just in person, but also but to go and I have to be able to be good in both moving forward.
Umar Hameed 14:53
So I’m gonna give three pieces of advice, how to build rapport, you may want to take notes, Paul and listeners one, talk about politics that always helps.
Paul Thevarajoo 15:03
You’re so clever
Umar Hameed 15:04
But I think the third one might be the only one I’d suggest using is, is a really good excuse for your sales reps and everyone listening to reach out to each one of your customers and say, you know, hey, we’ve been doing these conversations over zoom. And we used to do them in person, what’s working better for you. And I think having those conversations with people and some people are gonna go, Oh, my God, I miss meetings. And I suspect what’s going to happen is they want some physical meetings. And then after that, it’s like, man, don’t bother coming. Let’s do zoom. And I was just talking to somebody in Athens, Greece today. And she’s like, Oh, my God, I miss going to restaurant. They’re like, in total lockdown. I miss all that stuff. And I think some customers are gonna go, you know, what meeting virtually, is let’s just meet like, once a year in person the rest of the time, let’s just meet virtually because it’s effective and efficient for everyone. And so I think asking is really important. And people want to be asked.
Paul Thevarajoo 16:01
Yeah, I agree totally with you. So you know, and I think, you know, I was gonna mention another point is part of moving forward. You know, it’s not so much I think a lot of people think about salespeople, hey, I can help you through this pandemic, I can help you in business. I think that’s a fallacy. How are you going to help somebody or help yourself, when what you’re facing is truly unknown? Nobody has lived through something like this, that I know. And to come out and say, I can help you through these times. And that’s BS. I mean, you know, so it more like, would you say it’s understanding, asking, how do we collaborate? Hey, listen, let me collaborate with you to see how we can move forward, you know, I’ll draw from my experiences, my company’s resources, you share with me what your business industry is, like what your vertical looks like and together, let’s collaborate the move for, because I surely don’t have the answers to help you because this is new to me as it is to you. So yeah, asking is going to be key.
Umar Hameed 16:55
So I think, here’s some homework for you, Paul, you didn’t expect homework on this podcast. But since you got 40 reps, ask your 40 reps to talk to five of their favorite customers each and ask their customers, you know, what something they learned from the pandemic to improve their business or deal with what’s going on. And I think what that would do is that would create a kick ass amazing research project that every single one of your customers would want to know. And it would be a great thing for salespeople to reach out, especially new customers, you know, we’ve interviewed 200 customers, and here are the best practices that they’re using to thrive in this environment, and come back on the podcast, share that with us. Because I think what we need to do is not just sell them, whatever we sell them. But if we can give them insights to improve their business, we build trust, we build connection, and we build loyalty, that the next cuter looking zoom meeting doesn’t take that accountant.
Paul Thevarajoo 17:57
Yeah, I think insight is key. I know a lot of salespeople sometimes miss that. Because you know, as salespeople, sometimes you’re driven to sell, got to meet your quota, you can beat the numbers, you know, and that’s all important. But like we said, inside, it’s going to give you a leg up on the other salespeople are competing with because everybody wants to sell but you know, we all want to be helpful want to learn. And so I think if you touch on that point, and I like the idea, but I asked him, you know, what have the prospects have learned? So, you I’m assuming you have have asked and what maybe one or two overall answers you’ve gotten.
Umar Hameed 18:31
So in asking people, it’s really been how do we stay connected with our team when they’re remotely situated? Because how do you keep that connection? So what I do with my team every morning, is I’ve got a small team of three people. But I recommend this to people with large teams as well, is that morning, group meeting, we have a quote of the day, and a different team member had gets into the quote of the day, and they go again, this the qoute of the day, this what it means to me, we discussed around it. What’s the number one thing you want to accomplish today? Is there anything that could get in the way of you not doing that? And then if someone’s got a problem, then either the team helps them solve it, or the manager goes, let’s do an offline thing for a couple minutes. And the next day, whoever’s leading the meeting that day, is gonna ask, did you accomplish what you wanted to accomplish yesterday, and I think keeps everybody on the same page. It distributes leadership around everybody. And it’s actually one of my favorite times of the day.
Paul Thevarajoo 19:26
I think, the Agile Manifesto principle of Scrum meetings. Yeah, so I’ve done that previously, as well. So yeah, it helps definitely stay connected. And you know, we do huddle. So we call huddle. So because it’s a larger group, so we meet a little bit less frequently we meet in a we used to meet three times a week. Now we’re down to two. But we have a similar concept, but we when we promote learning and teaching and rotate the leadership around.
Umar Hameed 19:51
And it comes down to that relationship, how do you keep that relationship going? And how do you get that relationship? Because even in your team, a lot of times in sales teams, people wanna look braver than they are, and more awesomer than they are. And I think if you get a team where someone can say, you know, I don’t feel the magic today, or I’m really frustrated. It turns out at the end of the day, people do not go aha. I knew Paul was a weakling. What people do is they go, Oh, my God, Paul, we had the same thing in this company, how can I help you and transparency and vulnerability is the pathway of their strength really is?
Paul Thevarajoo 20:27
Yeah, we know one of the things that happened with this is we are spread across the eastern seaboard. And so we have different teams that pre prior to this had no idea who the other team members when the other companies or the you know, the division. So by doing this, we all know who everybody is and, and people are starting to reach across, you know, different face to hate. Somebody from Florida will call somebody from Pennsylvania and say, Hey, listen, I have these issues, how can we help with so we have created more collaboration and camaraderie and doing this times and doing this meetings as well.
Umar Hameed 20:59
Brilliant. Paul, thanks so much for being on the program today. The 20 minutes zipped by super quickly. Thanks so much.
Paul Thevarajoo 21:07
Appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Umar Hameed 21:13
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