Catch Jeremy Smith on the #PirateBroadcast™
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Introduction: [00:00:00] Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.
Russ Johns: [00:00:10] And it's a great day for a #PirateBroadcast™ and we are having an amazing week. Lots of things going on and lots of challenges taking place and we're up against the challenge and we're here for it. And we're going to talk about it today and also a little bit of sales, maybe how to get into some retail stores and some strategies behind it. And how did Jeremy get to where he is today? So good morning, Jeremy, how are you doing?
Jeremy Smith: [00:00:38] I'm doing fantastic this morning. Thanks for having me on Russ.
Russ Johns: [00:00:42] Appreciate you being here. And one of the things that I was interested in connecting with you, we've both, you're still doing work for Costco. I've done work for Costco in the past. And one of the big retail outlets that you assist people in developing products and services for, and putting them inside a Costco. And that's an interesting story for me. And I love the organization. I love what they're doing. They've been really good at what they do. And some of the things that they've been implementing out in the world has helped a lot of people. And I love their hot dogs, by the way, we can't lie. I can't lie. That's one thing is a consistency across the years. So how did you end up producing sales strategies and techniques and the efforts that you put into getting people into Costco? What's your origin, your story of origin and your backstory?
Jeremy Smith: [00:01:39] I have to blame my brother, Jonathan, because he worked for Costco for many years. Out of college, started with them when they had one building and one warehouse, some people call them buildings. Some people call them warehouses, if you don't, if you call them stores and they know you don't know what you're talking about with Costco. There's certain lingo and things that go on, but my brother actually... I was in the advertising and design world for a long time. And my brother said to me, one day said, hey, I'm leaving Costco, I'm starting a brokerage firm. And I go, what the hell is that? And so we talked about what it was, which is basically a sales organization that works with food and beverage brands, both large and small to help them get into Costco and manage their business and come up with strategies and grow the business. And so he was the one who he caught me at the right time. And Jonathan and I worked together pretty well. We're only 16 months apart, age wise. We still have stuff as kids that you carry through your life, if you have a close brother or sister. And we can tell each other to go screw off and it's not personal, but if you said that to a employee, the employee would freak out. But he worked for Costco for almost 19 years and was very successful there in operations and ran his own building, opened the San Francisco building, which was, I believe the first building that Costco went into, excuse me, first major us city of that size that they went into. Cause normally they stay just outside the cities. And so he brought me on board and we work well together and I had already been doing sales my whole life and my mother was a born salesperson and learned a lot from her and then went to work for a guy named Drew Andresen who taught me all about professional sales and don't read sales books or take sales training. That's all bullshit and baloney. And I learned my way and with Costco, it was a very different set of skills that were needed because Costco, unlike other retailers is much more an operational sale. It's not about hey buddy, how you doing? Let's go skiing. Let's go to dinner. None of that happens at Costco. So it's a much more, it's a less transactional business. And so if you don't understand, and this is the challenge that salespeople don't understand. There's an old saying, know your audience and it's critical to the life of the salesperson, but you can't go in with that whole Alec Baldwin sales...
Russ Johns: [00:04:23] Always be closing.
Jeremy Smith: [00:04:24] Yes. And ABC is, it's probably one of the dumbest strategies that was ever created in sales. But it worked for some people, but then mostly used car salespeople. But over time you realize that every retailer has their cultural differences. And once you understand culture then you really truly understand sales. And nobody, the one thing I was told by Drew Andreessen years ago, And I really loved working for him was no one wants to be sold a damn thing. And if you have that mentality up here of always be closing and always be selling, you're going to be known as one of those small seed reps. And if you really want to build lasting relationships, you got to understand people and culture and that's really all that it's about. At Costco, you're not going to be buddy with the buyer. So you have to build a very different relationship. And in the beginning it was a lot different because I didn't understand that right away, but once I picked up on it at the meetings, we made adjustments and some clients don't understand that right away. And so they'll come into their meetings with their 150,000 page PowerPoint and put the entire meeting to sleep. PowerPoint was probably one of the worst software crushes that was ever created that it totally takes the relationship that you're trying to build. You can't have dialogue and a conversation with a PowerPoint because everyone's looking down reading the PowerPoint presentation or looking up at a screen and there's no human interaction.
Russ Johns: [00:06:01] It's not really a relationship builder, is it?
Jeremy Smith: [00:06:05] No at the same time, it's a great way to script a meeting to start rehearsing with it. But it's really not good. And, I always used to, when you'd go to a what I call a silly sales seminar, and you sit there for an hour and a half watching someone babble on and you look at your watch and you look up at the ceiling as you're on page 39, and you got two hours more to go. It's a bad experience as to where if you get someone who's really interactive and works with you, then you feel like, wow, I'm involved with this process. And so that's really what we try to do with working with the buyer. We want to answer their questions. And then the last one is, no matter what sales you're in, if you don't know how to listen, you shouldn't be in sales and listening is the key. And, we really work hard with our clients because they're so excited when they go to their very first meeting about what they have and what they do, that they lose sight of the fact that the meeting is not about them. In the inward sense, it's about everybody in the room and you've got to tell your story and do it in a way that allows the buyer, the time to interact and get to feel the brand themselves. And if you don't do that, then you don't build that kind of deeper connection or bond. If you will.
Russ Johns: [00:07:26] Absolutely. It's really a few key points that I really want to come back to is it's relationship building and problem solving that really motivates a lot of sales calls, transactions to take place. Cause you're like you said, you mentioned that nobody likes to be sold. However as I learned from Jeffrey Gitomer years ago is that nobody likes to be sold, but everybody likes to purchase, everybody likes to buy, right? And so you just have to be available. And like you said, listen, understand what their requirements are and what their problems that they're looking to solve. And if you can provide that solution and you can provide assistance in a way that they are open to it. Then it's only, it's just a matter of transaction. It's just a matter of, okay, you can solve my problem. I need my problem solved and let's do some business. And it's really that simple. Is that accurate? It's what I hear you saying.
Jeremy Smith: [00:08:25] Yeah, I would say that's accurate. I still think, adjusting to personalities you can't make, even if you're authentic, you can't make this the same presentation to every buyer and and so repetition in some senses becomes an enemy because you have to understand in sales that there's a lot of science to it that you have to understand the nuances between that person that you met with at nine o'clock and the person you're meeting with at 11 o'clock are two totally different individuals with different needs, different craziness upstairs in their mind. And you've got to be able to change the role. And, there's a lot of similarities between selling and being an actor in the movie or entertainment industry in that you have to perform a role. And then the hardest part about it is you have to remember that you're like George C. Scott, the actor. Once he became Patton, he didn't stop playing Patton. And you have to remember when you go home at the end of the day, to put all of that stuff that went on during the day and all the hats you wore and all the things that you did and you said, and leave that at the door and come in and be dad or husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever you are and not to be that salesperson. And for some people, it's a very difficult transition. And when I was much younger, I struggled with it and it, my first marriage didn't go smoothly. Not that any marriage does. Men and women are complicated individuals and relationships are always tough. And it's much easier to get along with a buyer than it is your wife or your husband.
Russ Johns: [00:10:07] True story. What's the thing that you enjoy most about helping people understand these concepts? And especially in the retail space, what is it that really motivates you in order to accomplish this goal of turning it on during the day and turning it off when you go home? What's the thing that you have to really amplify in your day?
Jeremy Smith: [00:10:28] I'll tell you if you'd asked me that question five, six years ago, I would have given you a different answer, but, I used to love my job. And I realized I was misappropriating the word love. And I think what happens is you hear people all the time say, I love my work. You can't, you shouldn't love your work the same way you love your wife. That type of love is very different. And I think we've been taught that. You know that the job that you do, you should enjoy it, but you shouldn't love it in with that same emotion that you would love your wife or your girlfriend or boyfriend. It should be different and there should be a separation between the two of them. Because one of the things that I sadly learned took me a long time to learn was that if you're over committed and in love with your job, then usually your family suffers and you do personally as well, whether you're married or you're single, you don't develop the personal life and the skillset and the enjoyment outside. If you have a real passion for cycling, which I always have, you begin to see the difference and there's lessons there that you don't always think about. If you really enjoy cycling or swimming or whatever it is, you can see that's a totally different emotion and connection. And it's a thing of beauty. You shouldn't love your job the same way. Now you may... I truly enjoy working with brands and helping these companies grow. Working with Chobani and originally working with five people and seeing them get to a billion in sales in just five years was an incredible ride to beyond. And that was exciting. But then when I go home at night, I gotta be 10 times more excited when I walked through the door to see my family and my kids. It's almost like you have to be the dog. Everybody loves a dog because the dog, as soon as you come home, no matter what type of day you've had, whether you've been the most successful or you've had a crappy day, when that dog walks in, he or she is so excited to see you. And they're welcoming that, and then your kid comes up and says, hey, I'm running out the door. Do you have 40 bucks? Who do you want to hug more the dog because the dog is only just giving you love. You have to then think about that relationship and then say to yourself, the kids don't, when they're younger, they don't have that broad love and understanding. And when they get older, which my kids are now in their thirties. They have a greater appreciation for things. And you always have to remember not to get on the work train too much, but that doesn't mean that when you're in the work, that you're not a hundred percent committed to getting things done, but you always got to stop and smell the flowers, if you will, whatever your thing is and get into that group because you'll never be as successful if you don't do that because you'll become a very one dimensional, selfish person in life.
Russ Johns: [00:13:25] The thing, the really thing that really strikes a chord and I can completely agree with you cause it, and there's been times where I've been fully invested in my work. My work was my identity and my family suffered as a result of this process because I was thinking that, hey, I'm doing, I'm working really hard to to provide for my family yet I was suffering. My family was suffering and when it all ended abruptly from a merger and acquisition, the reality is that your identity is disrupted and you really have to take a strong look and say, where am I, what am I doing? Why am I doing this? And so shifting that, so that's a great perspective, Jeremy. And like you said, five years ago, the answer would be different. However, I love the perspective and especially, I love biking as well. So I can relate to that emotional attachment to different things in different processes in your world. And the fact that yes, when the dog greets you, when you come home, there's no judgment, there's no measure, there's no level of interaction other than love. And it's just really, it's really amazing to think that we can do things that people appreciate and still separate ourselves from those things that we're doing work.
Jeremy Smith: [00:14:56] Yeah. What happened to me was that my brother and I sold our company in 2015. We had a company called Level on Marketing and it was a culture shock and a wake up call after we sold the company because we went. We went, we had a 12 person, I don't know. I think we were around 300 million in sales, we were into a $2 billion plus organization with 40,000 employees that didn't know who they were without a name tag. And it was such a shock that I had a almost a breakdown over the Christmas and Hanukkah holiday in 2015, because. I was so used to doing things a certain way. And these guys were like, screw your way of doing stuff. You're now part of the machine and they didn't say the machine, but that's how I viewed it. I felt like I in the Pink Floyd song, The Machine. I felt like I was inside the actual machine. And I then called a buddy of mine. Cause you always in life, one of the things you, you always have to have. Is two or three advisors that you can call and it's not just for business. It's about whatever's going on. And I called a buddy of mine who sold his company and he said, oh, it's the worst. He said, you come in the next day, just as excited as you were the day before you sold the company. And then you get a bunch of people that tell you you're of no value. And just go in your office and go do your thing. Don't worry about it. We got it covered. We're taking over. And so now if I ever sell my company again, which I don't know that I will, but if I do, I would not stay on. I would leave because it's no longer your baby. It's like giving away your child. And now somebody else is running the show and they don't care what you think about culture. They just said, hey, we just acquired your company. Now you're going to do what we want. So we earn our money back. And that was a big crisis moment for me because I'm not into that. I was always raised by my father and mother always said, do what you enjoy doing and the money will come. Don't seek the money first, but then here I was working for this big company and they're like we think your budget is okay, but we want to cut it by 30%. And so you have to adjust to that new world and that's the price for selling the company. It ain't yours no more.
Russ Johns: [00:17:15] It ain't yours anymore. Hey, I want to give a shout out to some of the individuals in the room here. Wendy says welcome to the pirate posse, Jeremy. Thank you. Thank you so much. She's actually up in Seattle right now. Good morning, pirates. Hiett's over in Houston. We're here. Darren Denning blake. Hi all. So she's here in the room, Darren. D-Roo Sprinkle. We had him on yesterday. Love that you're not listening to how you can sell them the right thing, or know if it's the right fit. I love that. And yeah, if you're not listening to them, Cathi Spooner says, good morning, Sheri Lally. I love you relay the language that your client speaks. I love that Mahesh 8:30 to 6 job. Absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. Very true. Had to learn to set boundaries from work and home. That's so critical. And that's the lesson that many of us have to learn. Jorge , pirates from Spain or France or Spain or France. I'm not sure. Darren. I have had the out of balance for decades. I believed it was a have to when really I was the one driving myself so hard. Learning to smell the flowers is important. Many have lost that ability. Absolutely positively, true. The thing that really strikes a chord with me, Jeremy, is the idea that we all have an identity. And sometimes we tie our identity to things rather than our ability to do amazing stuff, ability to grow a company or show up and have a family and take care of our daily needs. There's a lot of identities that we have, and I know in sales, there's a lot of things that we have to imagine an outcome and be positive in a way that we can communicate that confidence to the client or the prospect. And that's a process it sounds like you've developed and nurtured over the years. So what are some things that, people that are getting into sales or thinking about the sales process or wanting to provide services for companies, what are some things that we can share today that might be beneficial to the community to get them on the right track on how to think about their business? I do the #PirateBroadcast™. I have the #PirateSyndicate™, I produce shows for other people all the time. I produce these little episodes that create content for busy individuals that don't have time or don't want to deal with the technology. So every product or every service has a story behind it. So how do we develop those stories and those kind of mindsets or ways to think about things? What are your suggestions?
Jeremy Smith: [00:20:04] One of the things that I wish I had known at an early age, because there's no one that tells you this in a sales book or pretty much any other book you have to go outside that is to really focus on who you are as an individual and finding your true self. You have to learn to be who you are going to be, especially when you're younger. I always tell people when I'm at sales seminars that if you are not yourself, then you can't begin the process because you'll be all over the place. You won't be able to maintain a strong groove for a long period of time. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that we're really not taught much, like most people when they start out, unless you go work for a large corporation, most smaller to mid-size companies have no sales training whatsoever. And you're just given, hey, here's the keys to the company car, go out and do it Swifty. And and that's how I live, learn, but I felt like that doesn't the first thing I said. I remember the very first day I worked for this really small company and they locked the sales team out of the office and we had to do cold calling, which the times have changed. Most people don't come true, cold calling. We had to go out, they gave us a list of buildings to go into and you had to go in without an appointment and you better bring results back. It's what we were told, or you won't be allowed into the building ever again. That's the old way of selling and it doesn't really work that well, but there's still companies do that, but you got to develop your own thing, your own abilities. Again, going back to the actor analogy, you can't be Denzel Washington, you have to be who you are. And you can borrow from those techniques and see what works for you and how comfortable you are with it. But the closer you can get to being authentic, the better you can be and then stay away from the gimmicky things. If you've got a salesman in your company that is more like the Alec Baldwin character, there's probably one or two things you might learn not to do from them, but you don't want to who be a part of that. And to always remember that the number one salesperson is always the most hated person in an organization from the other sales team because everybody wants to be the number one salesperson. And you learn over time that only one person could be the number one salesperson. Yeah. I set different boundaries and different guidelines for myself. Some of which was, do I respect what I'm doing? Have I dealt with the client in a professional and respectful way? And you'd be surprised how many people respond that more from a buying perspective, how much better they respond to that than the always be closing strategy. And then you've always got to be learning and reading and not just sales books really. But broadening your education when you're young and understanding what's going on, because if you are in a job where you go to lunch with clients, the worst thing a client, you can do for a client is to sit there and talk to them about what you do at work all day long. You've gotta be able to have broad conversations with them to develop the relationship, to find out about them. And it's a pretty simple thing. But not everyone is good at that. And you need to really focus on those things and, sales is one of those jobs. There's only two jobs that I'm aware of that, sales is a job where 90% of the time or more you're going to hear, no. So you have to be the type of person that when you do hear no, that you don't allow that to psychologically disengage you from...
Russ Johns: [00:23:45] It's not that they're saying no to you. They're saying no to the opportunity.
Jeremy Smith: [00:23:50] Yeah. And sometimes, your boss who doesn't have sales experience may think his company is a good match for you and he's sending you out there, but you may learn when you go out there that actually isn't a good match. And that's part of your listening role is to understand, are you a good fit for that company? Because some organizations make a mistake of teaching salespeople to sell anything. And and then manufacturing hates the sales team because they bring a lot of work in that is unprofitable for the company.
Russ Johns: [00:24:23] It creates a lot of problems because it wasn't the right solution for the client.
Jeremy Smith: [00:24:27] Yeah, that's true. And at the same time, though, as an organization, you can't be Jack in the box to everybody. And Jack in the box, I always use as an example because I don't think there's a food product that they don't make, but that doesn't mean that they sell a lot of them. McDonald's primarily is a hamburger company. And that's 90% of what they sell. And so you've got to sell to your core strains and then adjust for certain things that the client wants to do if they can and, being straightforward with the client and being honest enough to tell them you're not a good fit. They'll remember that you didn't try to sell them something that they didn't need.
Russ Johns: [00:25:08] What's really great about that strategy as well, Jeremy, is that when they get to the point that they need your service and you build a relationship with those individuals. They will remember you and they will say, oh, okay, Jeremy, didn't sell me on something I didn't need. And now I need what he has. And I should probably give him a call and provide some business to Jeremy because he's a standup kind of individual that was looking out for my best interests, not his best interests. And that makes all the difference in the world.
Jeremy Smith: [00:25:42] Yeah. And I think it's also important that you develop your own little techniques about how to get yourself up when the downs are there, because probably the most challenging part of sales is that the business that you have today will be gone tomorrow. Yeah it's rare. Even Levi's which Levi's jeans had their advertising with Foote Cone and Belding for over a hundred years. And the day came when Levi said goodbye to Foote Cone and Belding and went to Shai a day and that day is going to come and some people can't handle that. And if you're not prepared I'm always motivated by the fact that I know I'm going to have a certain amount of turnover. And so I can't rest on my laurels. I've got to make sure that I go out and I'm continuing to drive more business through my company because the accounts I have today could easily be gone tomorrow.
Russ Johns: [00:26:37] I really appreciate the fact that you're here, you showed up and you shared this information with us. I just want to give a shout out and Jorge is from Spain. I just want to make sure thank you so much for being from Spain. Sheri Lally says we were taught to recharge the hobby that wasn't supposed to be a contest corded function, family first. I really liked that. And then Jorge says, be always yourself. Absolutely. James is here in the house. No one likes sales gimmicks. How are you teaching your people to be better consultants, salespeople? We're probably going to have to get you back here, Jeremy, and talk about that because I think that could be an entire program. All of it on its own and sales training is probably something we could dive deep into. And then Mahesh says, I think journey depends on self-improvement on boss' decisions. We're all going through this same world together. We're flying through the same on the same rock through the universe. And if we talk to people long enough and we have a conversation that's meaningful. There's always something we have in common and it's really great to be able to, like you said, have the conversation outside of the work. You're not always talking about the product. You're not always talking about the services. You're talking about the relationship and some of the things that are common goals between all of us. And so how do people, how do you like people to connect with you, Jeremy? Online or in business, or if they want to learn more about your company and what you're doing, how can they reach out to you?
Jeremy Smith: [00:28:12] Either on LinkedIn, you can find me or you can go to our website. And my email and phone number is there. Simplest thing is you just pick up the phone and call me at (650) 576-8803. Otherwise email's fine as well. We're such a connected world. Now, you almost have to go hide. I almost miss the day of the pager.
Russ Johns: [00:28:36] At least we're not putting quarters in the payphone, right?
Jeremy Smith: [00:28:39] Yeah. That's true. I remember those days as well, especially if you didn't have a quarter.
Russ Johns: [00:28:46] Yeah, no kidding. No kidding. So Jeremy, thank you so much for being here and sharing with the pirate community. You're now officially a pirate and welcome back anytime. We do this because we've tested these theories. Hopefully it was a great experience for you to get on board. Come on board, get notified, get the notifications from Tracie the producer, and join us on the #PirateBroadcast™. Hopefully it was a good experience for you.
Jeremy Smith: [00:29:10] Oh, definitely was. I really liked it. It's not a call in program, but people can actually text out. And I think that's very interesting. I've never seen that on a podcast before, so that's pretty cool.
Russ Johns: [00:29:23] Fantastic. Thank you so much for being here everyone, as you know, #kindnessiscool, #smilesarefree, so you #enjoytheday. Take care. Don't go away.
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