Greg is a good friend, and a serial entrepreneur. Always willing to work hard to achieve great sales and lead by example, Greg is dedicated to building big business – most recently his own.
A true new business hunter, Greg gives his advice here on trade shows, hustling to hit your goals, and reading your audience as the potential buyers in this self-aware interview.
You can read Greg’s biography in full here
Jamie: Greg, what have you found most fulfilling about your career thus far?
Greg: Most fulfilling is the aggressive, up-tide swimming. More than a career, really. I think of a “career” as in a big corporate.
Jamie: What have you found most fulfilling about being in sales, specifically?
Greg: Being in sales is all about the daily wins. Every day, you can either win or lose. If you have a bad day, you can wake up the next day and win again; I think it’s done daily. I think that mindset – in my style of selling, you can turn your day around at the end of the day or you can win the day from the start of the day. I think that probably the best thing about sales is that day-on-day, it can be different. But you can also lose completely and wake up the next morning, and you reset – you get new customers, and you win the day.
Jamie: When you say your style of selling, what do you mean?
My selling is fast-paced. Originally, actually, as a child, coming from a group sale background, I used to love the concept of a group sale. And how I sell their exhibitions now, that’s a glamorous group sale. That’s something that’s all in. That selling is fast-paced. In individual sales, we would do 30 to 50 sales a day.
Jamie: Do you prefer that to a longer sale cycle?
Jamie: What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Greg: I don’t recommend it for everybody at all. The best thing is, it’s all down to you, to your self-drive as to how far you get. I don’t think there’s any limit. There’s no ceiling. There’s no anything. You can get as far as you can make yourself go. With Google, you can learn anything you need to know. You get as far as you need to get.
Jamie: What’s the worst thing about being an entrepreneur?
Greg: There’s no balance. You will sacrifice a lot to be an entrepreneur. A lot. It has to come number one, everything else finishes number two. If you prioritize anything else, that is the worst thing. If there’s anything that you prioritize – for me, I used to play football. Football is out of the window. Girlfriends can suffer. Anything else that would finish close to a number one, or originally number one, will suffer. Your main focus has to be business.
Jamie: How are entrepreneurialism and sales related?
Greg: There’s sales involved in any style of business and entrepreneurialism. The key aspect is to ensure that there’s a transaction to sell. That is essential. It’s a key skill because sales isn’t just making the monetary deal. Sales is about being able to convince people to do things. I think it’s essential as a part of being an entrepreneur.
Jamie: What skills do you believe someone should exhibit naturally to want to go into sales?
Greg: Competitiveness is most important. I’ve always employed people with sporting backgrounds. I knew that playing sports, previously, provides just great determination, and competitiveness. I think they’re your main things.
Jamie: Would you recommend then any personality type can become an entrepreneur?
Greg: I don’t think you necessarily need to be an extrovert. You can be an introvert, no problem at all. Certain personalities, I think it’s just doesn’t matter how many times you get kicked you get back up again. I think it’s just the determination, you know? It’s pure grit. Even though you’ve entered a battle with yourself, and you can be up against society; you’re conditioned to work in a certain way. Quite often, you’re up against your family – your family wants you to do something different. I think the most important thing is self-belief. You have to be confident in yourself and determined to achieve, and to want to do something different, to want more.
Jamie: What advice would you give to people who started on that journey and then struggle with other influences, whether that be themselves or their family?
Greg: Some of that I’m learning; don’t think that their words matter as much as you make them matter in your own mind. It doesn’t matter if your Mom and Dad don’t agree with what you do. It doesn’t matter if your girlfriend doesn’t agree with it. As long as you believe in it, that’s OK. You don’t have to have the support of other people. You just have to believe in yourself.
Jamie: What skills do you think are needed to really succeed in sales?
Greg: Likability is most important. Likability and adaptability. You have to be anything to everybody. It doesn’t matter who you are speaking to. I mean you have a broad range when you’re selling. I sell to the public as a whole. You just have to be adaptable to each person. I think that’s really important. You can sit in a room with Jamie Hamer. You can sit in a room with a guy in McDonald’s. It does not matter. You have to be able to adapt to whatever environment you’re in. That’s really important.
Jamie: What are the biggest challenges to winning business in the FMCG mass-market industry?
Greg: Competitive prices and justifying why yours will be more cost-effective. Consumer electronics is very competitive. It’s about justifying why yours is more than somebody else’s. Another big challenge would-be competitors and going up against Amazon sellers. It’s just being able to justify why there is a difference and getting that across, you know?
Sometimes you can, physically, have a one-to-one chat with somebody but sometimes it’s actually doing that on a digital platform, doing that in Amazon or eBay, which is a bit different. Then they ask if they can have a video format rather than talking. It’s a different method but still justifying why it’s more but in a different way.
Jamie: So, video is a big sales format for you?
Greg: Currently, I would say, I’m very good at face-to-face sales. But, yes, video, I think, is key to e-commerce sales.
Jamie: If you were a salesperson starting up, or indeed an entrepreneur, how would you go about selecting and designing a product to sell?
Greg: Look at what’s similar in the market. Look for a differentiated factor but also, I think, materials. The most popular materials are key. I think traditional styles don’t date. Traditional material with, let’s say, I’ve always liked leather, wood, and the core materials. I think that’s what I will get to use rather than trying to make it too futuristic. I think the plastics and acrylics, and different things can come around together. I don’t think it’s really important to stay with materials that have always been about. That way, you don’t get stuck with stock that maybe is in for only a window, it allows longevity.
Jamie: So, yes. How would you recommend that organizations best compensate their salespeople?
Greg: Each person is different. You all recognize people in different ways.
I think it’s one of the really important things, in sales, to recognize somebody when they’ve had a bad day, but they’ve tried their hardest, as long as they have given it their all. I think it is really important to give them praise and to notify them that you’ve paid attention to that.
I think it’s just letting them know that you’re there and you care. I’ve managed a lot of salespeople over time. I think a gesture makes a big difference.
Jamie: Tied to that, what elements of culture makes the sales organization successful?
Greg: I think if you can have, we’re talking about a group of people, to have a mix.
You can’t just have go-getters and pit-bull style sellers. You have to have a mix of – from my background in exhibition sales, you have two or three who are hard hustlers. We have two or three that have more of a relationship style. I think it’s important to have a blend of the two.
I’m going to make sure that the team dynamic is good because it’s all well and good to have 10 go-getters, but it wouldn’t work as a team. They have to respect each other and not step on each other’s toes too much.
Jamie: If you are looking to join a sales organization, how would you test for culture from the outside?
Greg: I think it stems from the leader. The leader is the one who’s got their culture in place. Whoever the boss is in that scenario, I would look at them. If I didn’t respect them, I wouldn’t be on the team. They’ve got to be showing good qualities of treating each person as an individual and not categorizing people. They have to be treated individually and managed individually. Each person is different. They want different things. They work in different ways.
Jamie: You mentioned the leader as being so important. What are the specific characteristics you’d look for in a leader?
Greg: I think the leader should work harder than their workers. It’s like mirrored behaviour. I think if they expect you to do something, they have to have already done it. I’d find it very hard to work with somebody that knows the theory of it but couldn’t practically deliver. They have to have hit a certain level. They don’t have to be the top, top tier.
I think about too, having a football coach – if that football coach wasn’t good as the player, then that would still be OK. But they should at the very minimum played at high-level, and they should have studied and had a good background, and therefore should be more knowledgeable than the player about the field or subject which they were teaching.
I think the moment that they didn’t have strong accolades to back up what they’re saying, then I probably wouldn’t believe them. I think a leader also has to be a person of the people. That’s really important as a leader. If other people don’t like them, then I would say there’s a problem there.
Jamie: Let’s suppose you want to get into consumer goods sales and trade fairs. How do you go about getting that job?
Greg: Most importantly, attend events and showcases and see what products are being shown. Go to exhibitions. Have a look at what style or products you like and see what tickles your interests. Look at the competitors in the market, and look at who does things the way that you want to. Obviously, at the moment, a lot of consumer electronics are made out in China. So, you head out to China. Maybe that can be a starting point, and you can see what products are being produced. Then start asking questions.
Jamie: So, someone who comes with you with a good knowledge of the industry and the products you’re selling will have a competitive advantage?
Greg: Of course. Yes. It’s really important to understand competitors. It is good to understand how the market works.
Jamie: What advice would you give for aspiring salespeople, generally?
Greg: For salespeople, always believe in yourself. But always learn from others. Your sales style won’t work for everything or everywhere. Other people will have other styles of selling that you should always be open to hearing. If you want to be the best salesperson, you need to learn from the other good people.
Jamie: If you were starting your sales career again, what would you do differently?
Greg: I would attempt another style with selling, which might not be the style for me, but just attempt to understand it, and to work in another style like in higher-ticket selling.
Jamie: What do you think that would need to make that change?
Greg: It’s more about relationships. It’s being nice, rather than fast-paced. The longevity sale is what I need to try. That’s more about an ongoing relationship. I’m probably too impatient for that, but it’d be interesting to learn the patience.
Jamie: I was wondering if you’d tell me about the time when you didn’t make a sale, but you really learned something valuable from not making that sale?
Greg: Actually, for me, it was training people. When you train other salespeople, one of the really important things that you do is you have to let them fail. I distinctly remember training people to sell in a store, to sell a speaker system. I distinctly remember, when I trained a new recruit, I could see their mistakes.
You had to let them make it rather than intervene. If you intervene, you could salvage the deal. You could make sure that the sale happened because you knew that the customer was going to buy. However, obviously from what your new recruit was saying, they were going to lose the sale. I think it was really important to let them lose the sale, so then you can teach them their mistake after they’ve committed it.
The moment you intervene, they lose confidence in themselves. It’s really important to let somebody fail so then they know where they might have gone wrong.
Jamie: Great. Is there a specific story in your mind when that happened?
Greg: Yes, definitely. In John Lewis Cambridge, I had a recruit called Simon. He was a really strong guy, and he was very competitive. He was a good sales guy. He’d probably gone a bit too aggressive with his sales approach, and he was trying to sell too many items. I could see that they probably had a budget to spend, and he was pushing too hard on the budget. If he would have just accepted the lower-bracket sale and made it happen, I think you could tell that there was only so much they had to spend. If he would’ve accepted that, he would have got the lower-bracket sale. In the end, I witnessed him push for too much, and they bought nothing. I think it’s really important to make sure that you understand your customer you’re selling to. But you develop it over time via experience and understanding people.
Jamie: On the flip side of that, could you tell me about the time when you made a sale which shows up all the skills and expertise you’ve gained throughout your career?
Greg: I think the most important is not to judge people. I remember a distinct story at the Ideal Home Show. We weren’t having a great day. In the middle of the day, I stopped my sales team, had a little brief with them, and brought them all in. I said, “Look. You have to approach everybody.”
Being a man of my word, the next person that walked past me was a lady with a trolley; one of the bagged trolleys. There’s no chance that she would be our regular customer. I stopped her and did my sales pitch. She gave me no buying signs at all. I carried on with it, because I had just prepped the tea, and I used all of our normal scripted chat.
I then pushed for an up-sale and said if she bought multiples, then we could do a deal. Then because she was giving no sales signs, I asked her, had she got all of her presents for Christmas? And did she have any people to buy for? And that was the only time she gave me a response. She started listing her grandkids. And she had nine grandkids. I told her if she bought 10, I’ll give her one free. It was unheard of to sell over five of these products to one person. She agreed to it, and she bought 11, with the 11th free. It was an incredible way to prove to the sales guys that it didn’t matter who the person was. Anyone could be a potential customer.