Mike Lancellot

040: From Sales Rep To CEO with Mike Lancellot

Podcast

ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST | MIKE LANCELLOT

Mike Lancellot has the greatest track record of any other person in the history of the Cutco/Vector Marketing organization. As a sales rep, Mike was the #1 College All-American. After graduating from the University of Delaware, Mike became a District Manager and was the company’s #1 DM for three years in a row. He then became a Division Manager, and again was #1 for three years in a row. He then became a Region Manager, and was #1 for four years in a row, before taking on an Executive role as Vice-President of Sales. Later, as CEO of Vector Sales, “Sir Lancellot” led the company through multiple years of rapid growth and expansion. After retiring from his day-to-day role, he has remained on as a member of the Cutco Corporation Board of Directors.

Q&A WITH MIKE LANCELLOT

Q: Can you tell us how you got started with Cutco back in 1977?

  • I was a student and planning on going back to my seasonal job only to discover they were laying people off and I was out of a job. I replied to an ad to sell the world’s finest cutlery and I was off to the races.

Q: What are some of the early experiences that you remember as you first got started with the company as a sales rep?

  • The more the business changes, the more it stays the same.
  • I remember making calls between 5-6pm every single day because I wanted to do 5 appointments every day so I needed to make calls every day.
  • Having my first day selling over $1,000 in a day is another great memory, honking my horn late at night in Don Freda’s driveway. 

Q: What was your path into management with the company?

  • When I went back to school I remained working in the office part time and that’s when my manager started to train me to be an assistant manager.
  • I came in to the office every week for the team meeting and learn how to do PDI. I would also come in to learn how to run various roles in a Vector office.  I would do one section of the interview until I learned the entire interview process.  I would run a section of the training seminar until I learned how to train people.
  • Not only did I work in the office but I also focused on selling too. In fact, I was the #1 All American the same months that I was in school and learning how to run an office.

Q: Your career success started by being the #1 All-American, #1 District Manager, #1 Division Manager, and even the #1 Region Manager.  To what would you attribute such consistent long-term excellence?

  • Consistent effort and being willing to do the work while being willing to accept rejection or setbacks.
  • Use setbacks as building blocks rather than stumbling blocks.
  • Maintaining composure. Anger is one letter short of the word “danger”.
  • We were always excited about where we were going. 

Q: What do you think motivated you the most during your career with Vector?

  • I would say the two things that motivated me were income and advancement.
  • But once I go higher up in the company the things that motivated me the most were helping other people to succeed.
  • In order for us to succeed, our people must succeed first.

Q: What are some of the core principles upon which Vector was built?

  • People, Products, and Programs.
  • Running an ethical business at every aspect.
  • A strong recruiting focus.
  • The importance of family and balancing your work and your family.

Q: When you became the President, the company had some explosive growth in a very short period of time.  I believe we went from $80 million in annual sales to well over $200 million in sales pretty quickly.  What do you think lead to that explosive growth?

  • Two things come to mind and they apply to every level of the business.
    • We built a very strong Division and Region manager team. Our philosophy is to have breadth and depth in our organization.  We targeted people for future talent.
    • We built on positive momentum. I believe the two most powerful forces in business are momentum and lack of momentum.  Building on momentum takes you to a whole new level of momentum.  Beware of things that can kill momentum.

Q: What do you believe are the most important qualities of a leader?

  • Strong ethics. Something is honest and ethical or it’s not. There are no grey areas.
  • They build strong relationships. The little things make a big difference.
  • Successful leaders are growth-focused. They recognize trends.
  • If you’re not managing your people, someone else will be. Followership is a voluntary activity.
  • Being humble. It’s not about you.  Being a leader means being a servant.

Q: Is there any other advice you’d like to give or anything else you’d like to share?

  • I have 2 closing thoughts.
  • There’s a difference between what we’re doing and what we’re accomplishing.
  • Success requires hard work and sacrifice.
  • A commitment is a promise to yourself and/ or other to follow through with a specific goal despite any and all obstacles.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • The 2 most powerful forces in business are momentum and lack of momentum.
  • Have a willingness to work.
  • The easiest answer is usually not the best answer.
  • The foundation upon which Vector was built: People, Products, and Programs.
  • The organization philosophy of breadth and depth.
  • The idea of targeting future talent.
  • Have strong ethics and build trust.
  • A commitment is a promise to yourself and/ or other to follow through with a specific goal despite any and all obstacles.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

CUTCO/VECTOR TERMS

  • PDI (Personal Daily Interaction)- a daily dose of influence for newer reps on the team via phone calls, meeting, training, etc.
  • All American- a scholarship given by Vector/ Cutco to 100 Cutco representatives each year who are also full-time college students.

 

 

Show Notes provided by Carlo Cipollina.

To learn more and get access to all episodes, visit our podcast page!

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