ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST | BRANDON BROWN
Brandon Brown is on a short list of THE most talented and accomplished salespeople in the 70-year history of the Cutco/Vector Marketing sales organization. He has won the Silver Cup (representing #1 in the Nation) three of the past four years, and has broken numerous company records during his rocket-like ascent to the top of the company’s sales charts. Beyond his own success, he has mentored numerous other reps to elevate their performance into the levels of elite status in the company. Brandon’s “superpower” is his ability to remain curious — about himself, about others, and about business and life. The quality questions that he poses, and his powerful insights can enable others to catapult themselves ahead in sales and in life.
Q&A WITH BRANDON BROWN
Q: Let’s hear a little about your background and how you ended up being a sales rep for Vector/ Cutco.
- I worked in a restaurant as a cashier, and about 2 months into that job, I got a letting letting me know about summer work opportunities with Vector Marketing, but I thought, “I already have a job” so I ignored the letter.
- A few weeks later I got another letter, and this time, I asked my mom her opinion of the opportunity and she told me that it couldn’t hurt to go in for an interview.
- Always put yourself in a position of choice.
- So I went into the interview, and by the end of the interview I was so excited for the opportunity and the product.
- I paid for my college selling Cutco.
Q: Most Cutco reps experience some challenges early on in their career, what were some challenges you experienced early on?
- Stepping out of my comfort zone with people was a challenge right off the bat. I would say that I’m more on the introverted side of the personality spectrum so being in a sales job where I was meeting with people at their house was outside of my comfort zone.
- Another challenge was experienced all through my college years selling Cutco. I was often faced with the decision to do things with my friends or focus on my Cutco business and looking on it now, I made the right decisions to sacrifice.
- The 3rd big challenge I had was after a big summer conference sales contest. I had achieved a pretty significant goal, selling $10,000 for a 2 week sales contest called a Push Period, but the challenge came after the conference when I self-imposed this idea that now that I had shown I could perform at that level, I thought I should always perform at that level. Instead, I noticed I just started to fade into the background until my manager pointed out that I was imposing this “standard” on myself. That’s when I realized there are seasons. Some seasons you work really hard and some seasons you don’t. There’s a balance.
Q: You left Cutco/ Vector for a little while and when you came back you had an intensity that few have ever seen. I think it would be helpful for people to hear what brought you back to the business and what contributed to going out and right away selling over $400,000 and being the #1 rep in the nation.
- One of the main reasons I left Cutco was because I had hit a prestigious award, winning a Rolex, and I had just graduated college and I thought that I can’t graduate college and continue working at my “college job” I needed to get a “real job.”
- My friend got me connected with a start up company that I thought was going to make millions but only 9 months later it fell flat on its face.
- What brought me back was I had a high level of clarity how truly great the product, Cutco, is. I also really loved the culture in Cutco.
- Some things that contributed to my performance when I came back was seeing what people were selling the year prior, and I knew I was better than them but even more than that, my mindset coming from being a partner at a start up, I thought about business differently. So I came back to Cutco looking at running this as a business.
- I also began to pay more attention to my circle of influence and who I was hanging around.
- I also committed that I wanted to do something in Cutco that has never been done before and I knew that if I wanted to do something that hasn’t been done before I needed to get guidance from outside the business so that was the first time I paid for outside coaching and it’s been one of the best decisions of my life.
Q: You talked about being new and selling $10,000 for a Push Period but 10 years later you did something a lot more significant. Tell us that story about that and what was your goal and how did you do that.
- I have a strong belief system of constantly trying to explore my own personal potential. I’m constantly trying to push through thresholds, break through ceilings that people think are there when in reality they’re imaginary, and redefine opportunities.
- Years ago, Jon Berghoff set the all time Summer Conference 2 Push Contest record at about $70,000 and a number of years later Tyler Park broke Jon’s record and did about $75,000. I just knew this was a record that I could break so I set the goal back in December 2016.
- About 10 days into the 16 day contest I had a pretty clear idea that I was on pace to break the record and I had the chance to sell even more. I was asked an important question- I could just sell the $75,000 or $80,000 but what was the original reason for setting this goal? The answer was that I was doing this to challenge myself and see what I’m fully capable of. And it was that powerful question that was asked of me about 5 days before the contest ended that really made the mental shift of, “you know what? I’m really going to push the boundaries and push the limits. I’m going for $100,000!”
- I made the decision that that was what was going to happen and it did!
Q: What are some of the skills that make a sales champion and how does one master these skills?
- The first one, and this sounds so simple, is hard work. You have to be willing to put in the work if you want to be a champion. There is no cutting corners. But remember that there are seasons.
- Resilience is another quality. There are a number of challenges that will come your way and you’ll need to be committed enough to find a solution and overcome them. The larger the goal is you’re going to get just as much obstacle and challenges. People often don’t respect the challenge. You have to respect it and acknowledge the challenge for what it is. Reflect on and meditate to think of what you’ll actually need to do to make it happen. Internalize it.
- Having a humble attitude. I’m constantly learning. When at a sales conference I put on my “learning hat” and look for the one or two nuggets. I ask myself, am I really implementing and do my actions and results prove that I’m implementing this?
Q: When you teach from the podium at a sales conference your words are so precise and they’re so effective. It’s clear that you’ve worked on your game very much so. How does one go about becoming great at that area of sales?
- It’s something I’ve developed over time and I’ve realized how important that is. Anyone who’s worked with me or coached with me has heard me talk about the importance of asking quality questions.
- If I’m going to be breaking records that no one has ever done before I’m going to need to ask the questions that no one has ever asked before.
- What does the customer need to feel? What does the customer need to experience? What do they need to embody to go from one point of the sales process to another point and all the way through the very end?
- When someone gives an objection, getting really clear on what the objection is. Is it what they’re saying or is it something else?
- Also doing it from the point of service and integrity.
Q: I know you’ve really studied this and practiced this. What are some of the ways you’ve practiced your skills on a regular basis?
- Spending time after every single day and reflecting on the interaction, even if they walk away with an order.
- I embrace the idea of curiosity. This allows me to look at things through other people’s lenses rather than just my own. We’re taught to look externally for answers but I believe that all the answers we need can be found internally.
- You have to be aware of that idea.
- Get curious.
- Actually spend time, create space, to actually discover what that is. Do you have white space in your calendar?
Q: I’d like to wrap this up by hearing what you’re most excited about for your future and how do you aspire to change people’s lives through your work or through your influence outside of work?
- I mentioned earlier that I want to explore my full potential but the reason I want to do that is I want to encourage and inspire people to explore their full potential.
- Run your work like a business.
- Explore your full potential.
- Respect the challenge.
- There’s power in reflection.
- Hard work!
- Summer Conference- a sales conference designed around competition (push period trophies are awarded), education, and inspiration.
- Push Contest- a 2 week sales contest amongst reps in a given area
Show Notes provided by Carlo Cipollina
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Spectacular conversation, thanks so much Brandon and Dan!