ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST | STEVE HEROUX
Steve Heroux is a leading authority on selling in today’s marketplace. As the Founder & CEO of Victory Selling, Steve teaches insights through sales coaching and keynote speaking. He’s the author of a new book, “Sales Is Not A Dirty Word,” and he is the pioneer of the “Sales DNA Test.” Steve has been a champion salesperson in multiple industries, including being Cutco’s #1 All-American during college, and topping a field of 50,000 sales representatives with AFLAC. He preaches concepts like conviction, honesty, and working on one’s craft, and he shares his insights in this informative conversation.
Q&A WITH STEVE HEROUX
Q: I want to open up by talking about what’s happening right now because we’re dealing with a truly once-in-a-lifetime type of situation for most people, and it’s greatly affecting salespeople. I’m seeing that in the Cutco world, salespeople are taking the challenge head-on and are excited about innovating and finding new ways to hit their goals. There are other salespeople who are following a little bit in the wake, and there are some who kind of have their heads in the sand. What’s happening in your world during this pandemic?
- I think a lot of that is true. We’ve seen so many times that people don’t really seem to understand that what happens to them, is happening to all of us.
- One of my influences Jim Rohn says what happens, happens to us all. It’s what we do about what happens that matters.
- When some people are given lemons, they decide to make lemonade. Other people say what do you want me to do with these lemons?
- It’s funny to see the perspective of salespeople. Some people view this pandemic and all this extra time as time to get better, improve and having time to hone their skills and become masterful.
- That’s what I’m teaching my students and clients. This is the off-season right now. What people don’t really understand is that the off-season is where champions are made.
- In sports, there are so many lessons in leadership and having a championship mindset. Now’s the time you have got to be in the gym. Now’s the time you’ve got to be lifting the weights, building your agility. When it comes to the Finals, are you going to make the shot?
- You cannot just wait until things get back to normal because all your competition has been in the gym and you’re still sitting on your butt.That’s the message I’ve given to my students, clients and friends. Let’s use the time we are given.
- This is a gift. The way I see it, we now have extra time, whether people believe it or not.
Q: A lot of us now work at home. You’re talking to a lot of sales people. What advice do you have about being productive while working at home?
- I just had this conversation with another coach. We talked about the same situation.
- We’ve got to set expectations right with the family or else it’s going to be chaos if the kids think they could go play with mom and dad at all hours of the day. I empathize with that. I don’t have kids. I could do whatever I want and be productive. But I do understand for family and spouses, it’s a real difficult situation.
- But you can make it much simpler if you set boundaries. You have to have that heart to heart with your family because things have changed. But there’s a lot of people who are more productive now at home than they were in the office.
Q: How did you get started with Cutco?
- It was during my freshman year in college.
- I saw this flyer on my desk and it said $10 per appointment and had a phone number.
- I called the number and said I’m looking for a part-time job. What is it? Do I have to talk with people? They basically said, we’ll tell you when you get here.
- There were 4 people waiting for the interview, and I was the last to be interviewed. I got the job.
- Over the winter break, I ended up #1 in all New England. I stayed with Vector through my sophomore year. I then ran a branch which was a tremendous experience. I stayed on running sales teams 2 – 3 years after college.
- What’s funny though is I quit in my senior year 1st I quit selling Cutco. I just wanted to get a regular job around college. It didn’t work. I got a job in the cafeteria, and it was awful.
- I quit that and started Cutco all over from scratch in the 2nd semester of my senior year and I ended up being #1 All-American in the country.
Q: You’re teaching a lot of people the skills necessary to succeed in selling, and to succeed in life in general. What are some of the skills you feel like you gained during your days with Cutco that you use to this day? What you think are necessary for success in any endeavor?
- I think one of the most important is honesty.
- We need to be proud of what we sell. Be honest and passionate in what you do. If you don’t believe in your soul in what you’re selling, it doesn’t matter and you’ll never reach your full potential.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your path after Cutco
- I did very well with Cutco, and I wanted to take a little break again.
- I got a job at a Ryder truck place. Like renting trucks at the counter. It lasted 2 weeks.
- I then got a job as a golf bag boy at a country club. I just wanted to play golf and practice.
- I then went to a job fair and at the last booth was AFLAC (supplemental insurance for medical expenses). The guy there sees my resume and he goes, Cutco knives! You made money selling Cutco knives? I said, yes sir. He was like if you did that you can do AFLAC.
- He told me what AFLAC did, and what really got to me is the cancer policy. I was like, you give money to families that are going through cancer? From the get-go, I knew I could sell this to people because I knew how much it helped people.
- That’s how I got started with AFLAC. That was 2003. 14 years later, I was blessed enough to make it to #1 in the company as well, which is probably one of my biggest accomplishments.
- It was amazing. I helped so many people, thousands of people who I was able to touch in their lives in a positive way.
Q: What led you into forming your own sales training company?
- When I ended my career with AFLAC, I was thinking what’s next?
- I felt like I’d accomplished a lot, but I wanted to help more people. Not just inside one company. I want to help many others.
- I’d seen Jim Rohn and Simon Sinek. These thought leaders and I felt I wanted to do that. So, I ended up leaving AFLAC in late 2017, and decided to build my own thing.
- I had a partner at the time, but we ended up parting ways amicably because he wanted to turn it into a one-on-one, while I wanted to help lots of people. I wanted to bring something different to the table.
- There are a lot of good trainers, a lot of good people out there. But what I wasn’t seeing was the stuff they were teaching.They were trying to help, but it didn’t work. It was a lot of the older school, the antiquated stuff.
Q: What are some of the fundamental guidance you provide to sales people right now? What are the signature concepts you teach?
- Probably the biggest one is what we help them discover. I came across this sales DNA test. Coming from somebody who had been #1 in Cutco and AFLAC, you feel like you’re pretty good in sales.
- I gave a keynote to AFLAC, and a guy said to me, Steve, you’ve got to meet my buddy, he’s got this tool that will blow your mind! I said, listen I’ve taken all kinds of assessments, profiles and personalities. I really didn’t buy into it.
- Then I realized I had 20 years of success, but I hadn’t even scratched the surface of my potential. I realized then that I needed to rearrange my company around this concept.
- The stuff I’m teaching now dives into reasons people aren’t good in sales vs. just giving someone the remedy. It would be like a doctor recommending surgery to all patients who come in her office.
- That’s what we work on with people now. Most salespeople have something called the “need to be liked” which is a killer. About 90% to 95% of sales people have the need to be liked and aren’t going to end up being successful because they are wondering what their prospects are thinking.
- People buy when there’s a value not just because they like you.
Q: Your book is called Sales is not a Dirty Word. what perceptions are you trying to debunk about sales in the book and with your work?
- In 1975, a movie came out that completely changed the way hundreds of millions of people live their lives that movie was Jaws. It was about a shark, a 30-foot great white attacking people. Just so you know, there has never been a 30-foot great white in history.
- Yet hundreds of millions of people stopped going into water because of a perception and not reality.
- What’s the perception of sales people? It’s often negative. That’s why I named the book Sales is not a Dirty Word. Sales is an amazing profession. It’s just sad to see what’s happening out there.
- We have an impact on people. Everyday, something is being sold. Life’s not about making a sale. It’s about helping someone else and bringing value whether or not you sell something to them. It’s about integrity, honesty and humility; it’s not about how much can I sell, how much can I buy? You cannot take pride in pulling one over people.
Q: Our podcast is called Changing Lives Selling Knives. I’m interested to hear from you as you look to the future, what are the ways you aspire to change lives through your work or influence?
- One of the things that pops in my head is are we positively impacting someone’s life or not?
- Did I help them make extra income this year? Did I help them be the #1 sales person? That’s what drives me.
- 2 of my students sent me texts and both set personal sales records in business during COVID-19. That’s humbling! That’s my ultimate goal, my passion!
- I loved how Steve framed the current times we’re living in as potentially being the off-season for many people.
- It’s a reality for many people that this is a tough time. Viewing it as the off-season and preparing for the next wave of opportunity.
- Steve had great tips for working at home.
- He also talked about his Cutco experience and that honesty was his secret weapon. Having that belief, conviction and being authentic. It’s what helped him excel as a sales person.
- Authenticity in selling is one of the key things that salespeople do well and attract a base of loyal customers who appreciate that style and want to continue doing business with them.
- I also love Steve’s conviction of how amazing a profession sales really is.
Show Notes for this episode provided by Brian Njenga.
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