SALES! Arguably the most important part of every business, and today we are joined by a very special guest, Sam McNamara! Sam is the Head of Sales for Jordan Belfort a.k.a the 'Wolf of Wall Street', one of the best salesmen in the world. He's also an entrepreneur and an incredibly driven individual, and today Sam tells us about his tips, tricks and stories in this extensive interview. Let's go!
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Hey Sam! Working as head of sales for one of the best salesmen alive must be an interesting job!
Hey there! It is! It’s very interesting, I wouldn’t really say I have a structured work schedule in terms of hours, I’m pretty much working from when I wake up to when I go to sleep, which is generally when the rest of the people I work with are awake! There isn’t really an hour that you can’t work.
I’m learning as much as I possibly can, it’s hugely beneficial working with Jordan and being able to be mentored by him, using his experience to my advantage. That’s certainly one of the biggest things I’ve taken from it. There’s also certain beliefs and techniques that I’ve used in the past that he’s corrected me on. It happens all the time, he will ask ‘Why did you do this?’ or say ‘This is how I want you to approach this’ and he often just lets me shadow what he does.
The biggest benefit would be the way that it has raised my standards in terms of the numbers that I now deal with. My standard now has to become his standard because I’m selling his business, and obviously some of the people he’s working with are multi-billionaires and some seriously successful people. It’s very motivating to be associated with those people.
In Jordan's Straight Line Persuasion program we found the myth about rapport particularly interesting - tell us about that.
Yeah I found that very interesting too - it's all about sticking to the sale. A lot of people think rapport is about being likeable, when realistically it's actually counter productive when you're wasting time talking about anything other than the product. I find that a lot of people try to find similarities with others whenever they meet, and obviously there’s a certain level of rapport which is good but then there’s rapport that Jordan talks about which is being an expert and being there for a reason, not to talk about their hunting trip!
What is the most common mistake people make in sales?
One of the most common ones is not acting like a professional. If you go to a doctor and they tell you to take something, 9 times out of 10 you will buy it and take it. It’s the same with sales, if you’re beating around the bush and you’re not positioning yourself as an expert, it’s quite likely they won’t buy. But if you’re subscribing to that person, you know your product inside and out, and it’s something that’s going to benefit that person, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t want to buy. If you’re selling something you see value in, it’s very easy to be convincing. If you don’t like the product it’s going to be a tough sell!
Another one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen when I train people is the lack of referrals they ask for. A lot of people are all about chasing new clients, but they’re not focusing enough on the clients they already have. Especially for what we do, when we are selling events or coaching, a lot of those clients have friends or colleagues that are in the same boat. It’s very easy to get referrals through those avenues if you take advantage of it.
" If you’re beating around the bush and you’re not positioning yourself as an expert, it’s quite likely they won’t buy. "
So for someone looking to work in sales, is it important to pick a company that sells something you believe in?
Yeah 100%. I think a really good example of that is the car salesman. When I go to buy a car I’m very fussy - I’m always happy to meet other good salespeople and buy from a good one, but I find it’s very easy to see what they’re actually passionate about or whether they have any idea about the product they’re selling. If you go to buy a car, you’re expecting the salesperson to know more about it than you do, but if they don’t know much and they don't really care, you’re probably not going to buy it.
Sales is arguably the most important part of business, although some people are intimidated by it. What tips would you give to someone that doesn't like to do it?
Be an expert. Learn your product inside and out, and truly believe in what you’re selling. That way you’re actually doing the customer a favour, and you can look at it as if you’re actually helping them, not annoying them. Selling isn’t just a thing salespeople do, selling is everywhere, absolutely every business has a selling aspect. So if you’re in business you need to be creating something you know is a great product or service.
" Selling isn’t just a thing salespeople do, selling is everywhere. "
Before you worked for Jordan did you work in sales somewhere else?
Correct, I originally started off as a personal trainer. I was doing that and I went to uni where I was going to study physiotherapy. I was sort of looking at my exit strategy, figuring out where I wanted to go and what I wanted to achieve. With personal training there’s a certain amount of people you can train, and a certain amount of dollars you can charge for your services. It got to a point where I physically couldn’t book in any more clients and I couldn’t put my price any higher. That’s when I thought why not develop a website where I could train people all around the world from my computer?
So I played around with that idea because I’ve always wanted to make money while I was asleep. This was a way where I could make that happen, training people anywhere on a subscription model that could run autonomously. That took me onto a number of other things, one of which I’m still running today called How Harley. One of my good friends is a world champion wake boarder, so we filmed all of his tricks and created pointers covering everything from picking your wakeboard to landing a double backflip. People can sign up to the website and learn all his tricks.
I love creating things like that, it’s a lot of fun and I enjoy being an entrepreneur. I then went onto sales, and I worked at a business that had an opportunity to be mentored by Jordan, with 60 - 80 other salesmen. I basically went in there and learned as much as I could, we had an hour training session with him every morning and after 6 months he called me to work with him externally. Now I’m here!
So is that how you got started in business?
Yeah the personal training threw me in the deep end of running my own business. That gave me a really good learning curve and I was working with different people every 30 - 45 minutes, meaning I had to be able to adapt to different personalities.
I befriended my clients and tested a lot of things to keep them on board and build rapport. Everything from Christmas cards to birthday messages, I’ve still got clients from 8 years ago that I catch up with on a weekly basis. Rapport is important when you’re selling your services. When you meet someone you have to make them believe that you can help them get where they want to be. Personal training is really just a sales job, you could be the best trainer in the world but if you can’t sell then you’ll fail. So that was a good starting point for me.
" You could be the best trainer in the world but if you can’t sell then you’ll fail. "
Was there any one thing that you did that contributed to your success?
Referrals. Treat your customers right, treat them like gold, because your clients are a representation of your business. If they are succeeding and you’re putting in the extra effort, you might get tired of not getting paid to call your client up on a Saturday, but at the end of the day it’s those little things that are going to keep your clients and also bring you new business.
Always look after the customers and don’t lose it. A lot of people and companies start of strong but as they expand they can lose their core values.
You sell business coaching and sales. Where do businesses go wrong?
One of the biggest things I’ve noticed from Jordan is his tonality. He spends a lot of time on this. He’s taken salespeople aside and spent 30 minutes on a 2 sentence part of the script. He’s very persistent with his tonality and expressions. The script is very important, because it all comes down to the presentation. He can take anybody and teach them how to talk a certain way and speak a certain lingo. It’s just a matter of learning how to persuade the customer with those techniques in a way that’s convincing and honest.
He also spends time just making you work harder. Whether that’s 25% more phone calls or more referrals, simple things that could potentially double your business. You might only get 5 referrals every time, but if you pick up just 1 of those, you’ll get ( x ) amount of clients every week. Attention to detail.
Jordan is also very good at delegating - he will take people’s strengths and use those to the company’s advantage. So if your strength is customer service he will put you in that, and by putting people in their areas of expertise it helps the business grow.
People can get uncomfortable asking for the money or asking for the close. What’s your best advice?
Again, it’s all about believing the value of your product. Here’s an example: if you want Jordan to come and work on your business it costs you $100,000 per day plus travel expenses. Now a lot of people might think that’s ridiculous, but the way we see it is that we’ve never seen a business that hasn’t grown by ten times that amount. So it might cost you $100,000 but I’ve seen him to sales contest with companies where they’ve profited 1.7 million dollars. So if you believe in the product and you believe that it can benefit the consumer, then it shouldn’t be hard asking for the money upfront.
For situations that aren’t a direct return on investment style product, let’s look at the Yeezy shoe for example. Nobody needs that shoes, and is it worth $1000 compared to a regular nike shoe of $100? Probably not - but Kanye’s conviction in his own product, combined with the reputation that it has built and the demand it has created, allows him to pull off that price.
" It’s all about believing the value of your product. "
Have there ever been times that you’ve just wanted to give up what you’re doing?
Yeah I mean it happens all the time, the entrepreneurial journey is only for some people. If you enjoy security and guarantees, I wouldn’t recommend it! (Laughs). Although for myself, I could never go to an office and take a salary, it’s one of those things I just couldn’t do. I have a vision and I have goals and I enjoy being creative, building products and selling product. It’s good fun and obviously it comes with some challenging times, especially if you have expenses and little to no income. But there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing an income from something you’ve built from scratch.
" There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing an income from something you’ve built from scratch. "
Commission based jobs can either be your best friend or your worst friend depending on your approach and your work ethic. I think I’ve only ever done commission work to be honest, and the one thing I love about that is that there is no limit to what you can make if you’re willing to put in the work. There’s no reason you can’t sell a product 24 hours a day and make a lot of money - but if you’re lazy and don’t put in effort, it will come back and bite you.
For the times when a customer isn’t literally in front of you, what do you recommend doing?
The customer is always there even if they’re not right in front of you. One of the best things you can do is work on your referrals. I once worked with an incredibly successful car salesman and he had 10 huge thick books full of client’s information that he had collected over the last 36 years. In his spare time he literally just goes through those books and follows up old customers, in fact he sold a $500,000 car to a client he had 34 years ago! All from going back through his network of customers that he treats like gold.
If you could back in time, what would you tell yourself?
I was actually thinking about this the other day and I would tell myself to read more. I never used to be a big reader (and I’m still working on it), but everything I’ve learned so far has been written down somewhere. Reading has really expanded my knowledge, and it allows you to learn and stay motivated from the world’s best.
Favourite sales book?
I’m actually reading one right now from Jordan that will be coming out soon, and it’s certainly one of the best ones I have read. In terms of other books, I’m a huge fan of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It takes it back to basics, it’s super motivating. I really enjoy audiobooks as well, I listen to it all the time when I’m driving, travelling, workout out etc.
Who inspires you?
My Dad is certainly one of my biggest inspirations, he has been in sales since I’ve been born. I’m very inspired by athletes as well, I’m a big Lebron James fan. It’s nothing to do with sales but their dedication day in and day out is amazing. If anybody put that dedication into their passion or even their industry, their progress would sky rocket.
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What a great conversation! Certainly some valuable tips in there for salespeople and entrepreneurs. Thank you so much to Sam for giving up his valuable time to chat to us! Don't forget you can join in the conversation in our Facebook forum when you join The Exceptions for free. Happy selling!