Trey Harris has been one of the most impactful leaders in the Cutco/Vector Marketing sales organization. He’s impactful not just because of his $35 million in career sales, but even more so through his development. Over his Hall of Fame career as a District and now Division Manager, Trey has developed no less than 72 new managers. He has great appreciation for his opportunity, is an excellent role model, and has mastered the tools and strategies to multiply his own success by developing others. What follows here is a clinic on succeeding in business and helping others to do the same.
Q&A WITH TREY HARRIS
Q: Let’s hear about when you started with Cutco back in 1999. Take us back.
- Prior to Cutco, I had the normal jobs. As a teenage boy, I was kind of maybe not doing the right things I should have being doing.
- I got a letter in the mail. I opened it up, $10.25 was the base pay back then. I went for my interview, and I got accepted.
- I came home and my parents were pretty supportive. I did my first demo with them.
Q: It’s cool your parents were supportive. Not everybody is. What made your parents excited this would be a good job for you?
- My mom was always the encouraging cheerleader. She was really the mom that said, “put your mind to it and you can do anything!”
- She really coached me as much as Larry Manley, my manager. Every day when I came home, she asked what did this lady buy? When I had a rough day, she would say tomorrow will be better.
- She was very supportive, very encouraging. more than most for sure.
Q: Tell us about some of your experiences on the job?
- As a sales rep, I was basically pretty average. I sold about 8 out of 10, $300 average back then.
- I think the difference was I worked harder than other people. I was never afraid. So I rolled up my sleeves and grinded. I think that’s a really important skill to have.
- I don’t think selling Cutco is about talent as much of it is grit and making sure you get the job done.
- I worked hard as a rep and I was really good at recommendations. I think that’s a really important part of this business and any other business.
- I also had open conversations with Larry. A lot of times, people may be afraid to talk with their managers. People are afraid to tell people what they feel.
- Larry and I had an open relationship. I could tell him when I was happy, sad or angry, when I was pumped up. He could always coach me through it.
- I think that’s super-important, whether it’s business or any relationship, just say exactly what you feel.
- Larry is a fantastic coach. He took me under his wings. As an Assistant Manager, I started to work side by side with him.
- Eventually I became a Branch Manager. I was scared of branch, I really was. I would never have admitted it as a 20 year old. I really was nervous to take the lead and it was the best summer I ever had. We recruited 119 people and sold over $100,000.
- The reason I was scared of branch was it was all on me.
- But then later that summer, my dad who worked with Wells Fargo for 30 years, and one day they fired 197 people out of 200. My dad was luckily one of the 3 who got to keep their jobs.
- That’s the reason why I went DM. I had more confidence in myself than in other companies doing what’s supposed to be right for me.
Q: What do you think were some of the contributing factors to your great success as a DM?
- I would say caring about people. That’s ultimately the most important one.
- When I started off, I was fighting that fight to living paycheck by paycheck. I found myself wanting people to sell mainly so I could get money to pay my bills. This was before campaign bonus or quantum bonus.
- Then when I focused on my people, I cared about them more than I cared about myself and we ended up selling more.
- Being comfortable with who you are. You can learn from all people you grow up with in the business. Jake Bailey was an old DM and he really opened up my eyes a lot because he was unscripted. I saw him run a training one day and it was completely Jake Bailey, not a script.
- Mark King also really impacted me. I was a sales manager in 2003 before I graduated college and I got to move to Florida and work with him.
- We read books. I didn’t necessarily want to read books, but I’d be glad I did when I got done. It was always about growth. Constantly learning about improvement. Always challenging yourself, how can I get better?
Q: You were a DM from the middle of 2004 after you graduated all the way to the end of 2016, 12 and ½ years as a DM. During that time, you became known as one of the prolific developers in the company. Every year, basically since your early career, you’ve averaged over 4 new managers per year. Some of years, it was 5 or 6 which is really incredible. What makes it happen for you?
- I would say the first is making sure you’re having fun and you love your job.
- The next thing is being the same person on the inside as you project on the outside. As you develop people, you get them closer and closer to your circle. If what they see as they get closer is you aren’t the same person they saw when you projected on the outside, they won’t trust or follow you.
- Take an interest in their lives outside the business. Larry told me long ago, love is felt T.I.M.E. Spending time with your people and getting time with them.
- It’s important to have at least once a month a staff night out.
- Take people for breakfast or lunch.
- Really getting time with them outside of business, but with mystique.
- One other thing is making a list. a list of my top reps, their career sales, how much do they have, their holdings, their savings account. I’d then map out a 4-year plan for them.
Q: Part of what makes this business successful is the relationships that are built. I’m not saying we can’t do that over Zoom. I’m saying it’s a segment that needs to be done in-person for sure. Spending time with our staff, our key people and it’s in-person. That element of in-person time is such a powerful key to build relationships that will keep people here for the long-term. How do you do that these days?
- Our Assistant Managers and top CSPs, they come to the office on Sundays. That’s the day they come together.
- When we’re developing the next layer of people, that’s the first thing we do. Invite them and they come in on a Sunday and see everyone. They get tied in, love each other and it helps with the next layer of development.
- With our Assistant Managers, we do a staff night out once a month. We have a monthly goal and if we hit the number, I pay 100%, if we don’t I pay half.
Q: I’d like you to speak to the current DMs in Vector for a moment. You were a DM for 12+ years and there’s a lot of great DMs in our company who aspire to be DVMs one day. In some cases, that opportunity opens up quickly. In other cases, somebody is going to be a DM 5 years, 10 years, maybe even more as they are pursuing their greater path in Vector. I think you’d be the perfect person to share with people why building a powerful district is amazing in itself even if someone never became a DVM. Why is the DM role so awesome? What would you say to our best young DMs about that?
- It starts with appreciation. Being appreciative of the opportunity we’ve been given.
- As we’re evolving, we have people who want to be DM, but we don’t have territories for them. If you’re already a DM, there’s no limit for you. You can have Branch Managers, you can develop endless CSPs.
- I hear people say I want these different income streams, and you can do that as a district. You aren’t limited and you could make a ton of cash.
- My last year as a DM was around profit after all the expenses, $180,000 to $200,000.
- The DM opportunity now is better than ever.
Q: Over time Trey, in addition to being great at earning, I know you were always good at saving and investing. You were a millionaire as a DM. What are some of your most important financial habits?
- Most people go to work to make money. In Vector we also get to impact people. We feel good and leave a legacy.
- Most people work 40 hours a week to make money. Yet they don’t even take time to learn about money and how to make it work for them.
- If we view it from how many hours a week to do work to make money, then how many hours should I be putting to ensure I’m doing wise things with money?
- I think it makes sense to read books, to get good habits.
- Start with the end in mind. When do I want to retire? At what age? How much is everything going to cost? the dream house, do I want a boat?
- How old are you now? how much do you need to save each year?
- Good financial habits and having a budget.
Q: You mentioned earlier about protecting your family time. How do you balance everything? I know you and your wife have 2 children. Tell us a little bit of the role your family plays in life and how you balance it all?
- It really gives purpose when you have children and you want to be a good influence to them and a good leader for the family.
- The habits I want to instill in their lives. Being intentional and getting things done.
- What’s really key is we have family nights on Friday. On family nights we have no TV, no tablets, just family nights. We play board games and do whatever.
- What’s great is my wife is well organized. We sit down every month or so and review the family calendar.
- One on one time, I think is also key. I like to take Hudson golfing at least 2 or 3 times a week, hunting camps, daddy days.
- I also do have dates with my wife.
Q: The theme of the podcast is changing lives, as you look into your future, how do you aspire to change people’s lives through your work or influence?
- Getting to learn more about my faith through small groups and impacting people there.
- Obviously, a lot of it comes through Cutco. We’ve got a lot of influence. We impact a lot of lives.
- Eventually, when we die, we’ll be either a debit or credit to society.
- Such great information!
- Trey talked about having an open communication with his mentor Larry Manley.
- It got me thinking about Larry and how do we create a vibe where people are willing to be open with us.
- Through our listening skills, coaching we provide, the feedback we give and how we respond to whatever they bring to us. Larry is great at all those things and Trey was lucky to work with him.
- I love the mind flip Trey had. From me was afraid of being a branch because it was all on him, to loving being a DM because it’s all on him. That feeling of control we have when we’re responsible for our results and our results are responsible for our rewards.
- We being in control there provides the ultimate self-confidence you could have.
- Trey gave great ideas on how to develop people in your organization. Whether you’re a Vector manager or somewhere else.
- He talked about getting good habits financially because part of the reason we do what we do is to build a nice lifestyle.
- Purpose and intentionality with your family been the priority above everything else.
- Trey asked a great question are you a debit or credit to society? What about today? How did you add value to society today?
Show Notes for this episode provided by Brian Njenga.
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