In this episode of the Epic Company Culture Podcast, Taylor Barnes, Vice President of Global Business Development with CentricsIT joins us to discuss his unique take on sales culture; he calls it, “Continuing Improvement.” Taylor’s Continuing Improvement ideology emphasizes personal and professional development, as well as work life balance. The result is a high performing and highly engaged team that is encouraged to continue their education, as well as find their ideal work life balance.
Vice President, Global Business Development at CentricsIT
Taylor Barnes is an accomplished IT sales professional with over 12 years of experience in IT hardware and end-of-life ITAD solutions. CentricsIT formed the CentricsIT ITAD division in 2013 with Taylor in the lead as Director. He lives in Johns Creek, Georgia with his wife and two sons.
3140 Northwoods Pkwy Ste 700 30071 Norcross, Georgia
At CentricsIT, we see IT differently.
Questioning the status quo is in our DNA. It’s the foundation upon which CentricsIT was first built in 2007, when our founders left their jobs at a leading IT hardware reseller and sought to redefine what it meant to create value in the enterprise data center.
Now, more than a decade later, CentricsIT is a world-renowned leader in IT lifecycle management solutions and global IT service delivery. We got here by following our instincts, embracing change, and committing ourselves to the highest levels of customer support and service delivery.
Our approach is simple; we help companies around the world make smarter decisions about their IT delivery. We provide common sense, battle-tested solutions—a balanced mix of traditional tactics and smart alternatives that optimizes your systems, maximizes your resources, and helps IT leaders and CFOs finally speak the same language.
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Series Quick Links
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Epic Company Culture podcast where your host, Josh Sweeney, will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals and company culture aficionados the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.
Josh Sweeney: Hello and welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast. Before we get started, I’d like to thank Prototype Prime for this amazing podcast space. Today’s episode is part of the sales culture series and we’re joined here by Taylor Barnes of CentricsIT. Welcome.
Series: Sales Culture
Taylor Barnes: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, thanks for coming in. So tell us a little bit about yourself and CentricsIT.
Introducing Taylor Barnes with CentricsIT
Taylor Barnes: Sure. So yeah, Taylor Barnes. I am our Vice President of Global Business Development. We work over here in Norcross, Georgia. I personally live out in the suburbs of Alpharetta, Cumming area, a wife, two boys, and the commute isn’t too hard, so every day’s a joy coming to the office.
CentricsIT is an It solution delivery company. Basically what that means is we try to design different types of solutions around engineering skill sets, hardware related implementations, deployments all over the world and people can consume those solutions in an on demand fashion, project based fashion, contractual based fashion. Yeah, so that’s what we do in a nutshell.
CentricsIT: Corporate Enterprise
Josh Sweeney: Awesome. So you’re managing the IT infrastructure projects, all kinds of things that keep the business up and running.
Taylor Barnes: That’s right.
Josh Sweeney: Awesome.
Taylor Barnes: That’s right, specifically for corporate enterprise. We do get into some of the small to medium business, but not too much. It’s mostly in the data center and, or with large organizations with thousands and thousands of users that might require a management element around a lot of their EUC devices, their tablets, their laptops and whatnot. So yeah, that’s what we’ve been doing for the last 12 years.
Taylor Barners: Contained, But it’s a Fire.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. Well I heard that you also have two boys. I have two boys myself.
Taylor Barnes: Nice, nice.
Josh Sweeney: I’m sure they keep you super busy-
Taylor Barnes: They do.
Josh Sweeney: if they’re anything like my house.
Taylor Barnes: Yes, it’s a dumpster fire.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Taylor Barnes: Contained, but it’s a fire.
Josh Sweeney: Awesome, yeah. It never ends. It never ends.
Taylor Barnes: No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. I remember, my wife was like, “When are they going to stop doing this?” And then I look over and see a 16 and an 18 year old doing the same thing. I’m like, “I don’t think this is going to end.”
Taylor Barnes: Exactly, it’s really funny watching the difference between boys and girls. And a lot of their friends, and a lot of my buddies that have daughters, they seem so much more mature than boys, you know? And I’ve heard that later in life, that flops. I guess we’ll see.
Personal Development: Helping Them Personally First, professionally Second.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. Only one way to find out, time will tell.
Taylor Barnes: That’s right, experience.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, well again, thanks for being on. I’d love to hear more about your role and really just get started off with maybe some of your belief systems around sales culture and how that impacts sales performance.
Taylor Barnes: Sure thing.
Josh Sweeney: What are some of those beliefs that you have that you lead with?
Taylor Barnes: Absolutely. I would say that I’m, I don’t know if I’m in charge of the culture, but I can say that I’ve been driven to make sure that it’s top notch. Okay? Chief culture officer, per se.
Now, I’m a big believer in personal development and if things are not good at home, I don’t see them being good at work. So helping people find the ability to find some balance, some harmony in their personal habits around their disciplinary habits, their high performance habits, what have you, and as that relates to bringing into the office, I think that that’s only a benefit. I’m personally a big believer in helping them personally first and then professionally second. We’ve done that very heavily over the last four to five years specifically, which is increased things like morale, things like excitement. I can see passion and energy. It’s more palpable now. Competition internally is healthy. It’s not unhealthy. It’s not in a vindictive way of trying to run over someone in their way. It becomes a true healthy, head to head competition, say for a salesman trying to make their yearly attainment.
But there comes a courteousness involved in this when, potentially with other organizations, if it’s a sink or swim mentality, you really do run over anybody in your way. So this has been a good shift in Centrics from my personal experience based on the things that we really try to coach them up on.
Personal Development: Intentional About Training and Education
Josh Sweeney: Got it, so how do you go about helping them in their personal life first? You know what I mean? I know people probably come from other organizations and are like, “You want to talk about what? You know? Maybe that’s something that was never talked about in another organization. How do you make that come to fruition?
Taylor Barnes: We’re really intentional about training and education. And during training and education, the way that I’ve structured it is we begin with a lot of personal development and then the majority of it ends up being around subject matter expertise. We will take, for instance, the first 15 to 20 minutes of every hour, hour and a half session, and we will dive into things around authenticity, discipline, acceleration, continual improvement, all the things that, quite honestly, I think, and I’ll use just authenticity as an example, that’s one of those elements that is so apparent to customers, prospects, colleagues, bosses, anybody that tries to come in and kind of fake it. It’s not going to work out.
Personal Development: Authenticity
It’s one of those things where it’s becoming more and more evident, especially when … I mean I get cold calls every day and I can tell when somebody is just reading from a script. I can tell when somebody’s not being true and genuine. So it’s really obvious to me that if someone’s … Maybe they’re not full of crap. Maybe that’s a little bit of an intense way of saying it, but if they don’t have a genuine need to be themselves, and be comfortable, and talk about things in a way that they’re not just in an authentic way, it’s going to come across so much more genuine. It’s going to come across so much more real and attractive is the main part.
You can be persuasive without being manipulative, but the only way to do that, I think personally, is by understanding and being very, very authentic with yourself, and I think that’s what customers and prospects are going to really be attracted to.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. I know. I’ve been a part of many presentations, seen many presentations, and you can tell when people are passionate about what they’re doing, what they’re talking about, how they’re presenting, their style, everything about it comes across, that authenticity comes across, whereas everyone else is kind of canned, wrote-
Taylor Barnes: Yeah, and isn’t it so obvious when it’s not? And that’s what we try to coach. We tried to say, “Look, this isn’t just my opinion. This is the voice of the customer. This is feedback from some of the biggest CIOs and CEOs in the world.” They can tell when someone’s not being genuine. They can.
Josh Sweeney: Right, they’ve been doing it long enough.
Taylor Barnes: They’ve been doing it long enough. You know? They’re seasoned professionals. They’re fathers. They’re bosses. They’re cousins. They’re friends. They’ve got a lot of different ways … They’ve got a lot of experience. And at the end of the day, if you’re not willing to have a conversation very naturally, and if you don’t feel comfortable enough with yourself to have that naturally, I think people are gonna see right through it.
MRP: Meditate, Read, Pray
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. So I always talk to people and say, when we’re interviewing for positions, when we do our culture first hiring workshop, or something along those lines, it stands out when something is really inherent to a person like continuing education. So how is continuing education built into your life? What kind of things do you do on a daily basis that really drives that home so other people see it?
Taylor Barnes: Yeah. Glad you asked. For me it’s absolutely a routine and it has to be. It has to be an intentional routine everyday. I call it MRP. That’s meditate, read, pray. Every single morning, I am up at 4:45. There’s typically a workout involved. Sometimes I have to wait until later in the afternoon, but it involves getting your mind right around meditation, getting some reading in, getting some wisdom and whatever elements it’s going to be, that could be in professional development, personal development, and then praying about it from a spiritual point of view. The idea there is to always be continually improving around mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally so that when you do go into the office, you’ve checked the boxes in terms of finding some rhythm in your life, finding some balance and some harmony before you go into the office.
Clarity Around your Objectives
And my impression is, and I’ve lived this on the other side, when you wake up, you brush your teeth. You take a shower. You haul out the door and you get into the office and then you just kind of look around and you’re like, “Okay, what do I need to do now?” Versus preparing everyday intentionally for your day, being very, very clear around what your objectives are for the day, what you’re trying to accomplish, being able to reflect on your day at the end of it to see if you did those things well enough if you needed to do something better, and learning, and measuring yourself from it.
Those elements are what I like to call continuing improvement. It begins with awareness. It begins with being intentional and then at the end of the day, if I’m going to lather, wash, rinse, repeat over and over again, even if I don’t learn anything new, I want to be able to come back to the core foundational elements that have made me successful and have made me influential to assist other people in getting better at their life again around mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. I feel like this is a really common theme for a lot of high performing people I meet, so whether it’s a high performing sales rep, sales manager, entrepreneur, almost all of them get up at a time, which everybody else considers ridiculously early mornings-
Taylor Barnes: Yeah, that early.
Josh Sweeney: … and laughs at him for doing it half the time, and they have some sort of regimen they go through. Like I know myself, I do the whole wake up warrior regimen, which has all kinds of different things involved meditation, work out, green drink, all those different things that are part of that program.
Taylor Barnes: Awesome.
Josh Sweeney: And it starts at 5:00 AM. Have you seen or been able to parlay that into other team members? Do you see that the highest performing reps already have a regimen? Or are you also … I guess the second question on to that is are you able to influence and help them put a regimen in place? Or do you go that far?
Taylor Barnes: The second part is my goal.
Josh Sweeney: Okay.
Element of Accountability
Taylor Barnes: For instance, during training and education at the end of the term, I gave everybody a challenge. I created a group of 20 of the 50 people that were involved in this training, by invitation. I said, “If you are interested in a challenge, in a disciplinary challenge, come talk to me.” I had 20 of the 50 agree to it. So we did. We had a two week regimen every single day, even on the weekends, of being up early, number one, of eating right, sleeping right, of being grateful for a few things in the morning, of measuring yourself that evening.
We provide photographic evidence of food. We provided photographic evidence of journaling. I had a lot of people in a group. It was actually a GroupMe text message. So at 5:00 AM, a bunch of these texts were going off and waking people’s spouses up, and I got in trouble for that and all that. But yeah, and it’s not that it’s something where if I talked about it, I wouldn’t believe that somebody else was doing it, ’cause it’s not about that at all. But it is about … there’s an element of accountability that’s extremely important.
Need for an Accountability Partner
In any situation in life where you’re a father, you’re a husband, you’re a friend, you’re a professional, you’re a leader, you’re a manager, whatever it is, there is an absolute need for some sort of accountability partner, group, mastermind, whatever it is, right? Many times it’s financially stimulated, meaning that you’ve got a gym membership you are paying for and that is someone’s accountability to get to the gym, and that’s fine for that. However, if you’re not willing to take action, or get involved, or agree to something, then I don’t think, and really that comes into the acceleration part of this, then I don’t think it’s very easy to get started, you know? And that was my goal in that example was to create a group, create an atmosphere where every single person is being included in a community where they can talk about their achievements, their shortcomings when they mess up, and by mess up I use that word very lightly because if they didn’t eat right, mess up may be a pretty drastic term, but they are able to share.
That is what I am trying to coach, quite frankly. Not to say that I need to be, or anybody, that there needs to be the moderator, per se, but that’s what I’m trying to coach. The results of it, to be clear, were extremely positive. Everybody felt that the gratefulness factor was something amazing that they’ve never gone through before, a drill that they’ve never gone through before, for the result of creating less of a high-low polarizing effect when things are great, things are awesome, and you’re celebrating, and you think you’re the best. When things are bad, the world is coming to an end and there’s a fire in the building. You think you’re terrible and all these things that I’m trying to coach on basically creates some sort of a mental toughness or durability element to the individual where they don’t have those high-lows. They’ve got more of a balance. That’s what some of these things that I’m trying to coach are doing for them, which I’m extremely happy about.
High Performance Employees
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, it sounds like a great program. And one of the things that you mentioned earlier was that it’s not something you mandate, right? You sent out an invite to everybody and basically they self selected into the challenge, right?
Taylor Barnes: That’s right.
Josh Sweeney: The challenge of getting up at the crack of dawn and taking pictures of your food and being accountable. I like the concept around, “Hey, we have this program available. It’s up to you to self select in.” Now people that self select in, do you normally see that those are your high performers and that they have more comradery with each other than what you’ve seen at past companies? I would imagine that would be the case, but let me hear about it.
Taylor Barnes: It is the case, not directly resulting in a high performance salesman, but high performance employees. These are the most organized, project based, task driven people that create their list of things to do and they truly get them done.
Moving the Needle in Your Organization
Ironically, I had less salespeople dive into that program than I did support, operations, accounting, HR, et cetera. Quite frankly, that doesn’t shock me at all because in a salesman or saleswoman, and I grew up in this environment as well for the last 18 years, we all came from a sink or swim, from hard work and grinding over, and over, and over again creates high performance dollars, revenues, margins.
That’s not necessarily a bad aspect. If you have a sense of urgency, if you have a good work ethic, I’m fine with that, but it cannot come at the risk of not working smart. Right? And working smart can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but it’s what I call PQOs, prolific quality outputs. If you don’t identify what those two to three things that need to move the needle forward for you every single day, then you’re not going to barely make an impact. You’re not going to move the needle for your organization. You’re not going to move the needle for yourself.
You could sit in front of a computer for 15 hours a day, all you want, it doesn’t mean you’re getting anything done.
Working Hard vs. Working Smart
Josh Sweeney: Right.
Taylor Barnes: That’s what we try to coach. We try to coach some sort of balance between working hard and working smart. Quite frankly, this work hard, play hard thing doesn’t really resonate with me, never really has. It kind of implies that you’re working really hard just to support a play really hard lifestyle, which isn’t sustainable at all, in my opinion.
Josh Sweeney: Both are hard.
Taylor Barnes: They’re both hard. Yeah. And if you’re doing one just to support the other, then you’re not really, then you’re just going around in a circle. I am okay, again, with this work hard idea, and it’s not to say that you can’t have fun, but it needs to come at the … There needs to be some sort of balance, some sort of sustainability to it where you are working smart, moving the needle for yourself professionally, and potentially celebrating and having a good time in a moderated fashion so it’s not affecting your work, so it’s not affecting your homes, so it’s not affecting your life. Those are the things that we try to talk about.
Forecasting the End Goal
Josh Sweeney: Got it, I love it. You mentioned PQOs.
Taylor Barnes: Yup.
Josh Sweeney: Right? Prolific quality outputs?
Taylor Barnes: Correct.
Josh Sweeney: Okay. One of my questions, as always, what are some of the metrics on the sales team that you’re extremely passionate about? So what’s a PQO other than the sell, right? Other than the sales number, right? Everybody has a number or quota, but other than that, what really leads up to hitting those?
Taylor Barnes: Absolutely. What we do a lot of times when we measure the performance of an individual, obviously their previous attainment, their monthly margin numbers, their quarterly margin numbers, those are good revenue metrics and margin metrics. But for me, it’s really about their ability to forecast where they’re going.
Customer Acquisition Efforts
So for instance, we talk about pipeline a lot. That pipeline is opportunity based, based on a potential project or an opportunity. But I’m also very curious and concerned with their customer acquisition efforts, their ongoing relationship maintenance. So many times people can say, “Yeah, I just got a deal done with them, but they bought all their stuff, so I’m not going to hear from them for another year.” Well that is one phone call away from being replaced, in my opinion.
So if you can, we call them touch points and they might be called a lot of different things, but get them involved in continual education, make sure they understand what’s going on in the marketplace, give them unbiased recommendations to what is going on in their specific vertical. If you can educate them and help them understand what’s going on in the marketplace with no intention behind sell, sell, sell, sell, creating less of a transactional relationship and more of a consultative, collaborative, educational relationship, the value of you as a vendor, the value of you as a partner to them is going to be exponential.
I always like to see those things as well as how good they did over a certain quarter. That would be an example of a PQO to me. I got to give credit to my boy Brendon Burchard for coming up with PQO. That’s not a Taylor Barnes thing.
Sink or Swim
Josh Sweeney: Okay, got it. R and D, rip off.
Taylor Barnes: That’s right.
Josh Sweeney: That’s right, got it. Hey, some of the best ideas come from, or a lot of the best ideas come from other people.
Taylor Barnes: You said it.
Josh Sweeney: Definitely. All right, so when it comes to sales teams, sales cultures, blunders, doesn’t have to be CentricsIT, it could be a past company, whatever experience you want to share, again I always like to tell people they don’t have to name names, but what are some cultural things that you’ve seen, some places it’s gone wrong, something you thought would work that didn’t, or a sales culture you were part of that was just not effective?
Taylor Barnes: Yeah. When I personally started in this business, it was 2002 right after the dive bombs. There was a lot of customers out there that were really looking to save dollars when it comes to their hardware acquisition, and their technology innovation, and whatnot, so being in the space that we were in, which is a secondary marketplace, was a great time. It really was not difficult to make sales, quite honestly. What that created was sure you’re hired. The marketplace is so good right now, if you can’t make it, it’s on you. That created a sink or swim, thrive or die mentality for a lot of these salespeople that, quite frankly, are some of my business partners now and all of us grew up in that atmosphere.
Looking back, in my opinion, not healthy whatsoever. It’s not, and again it kind of goes back to what I said earlier, the sink swim mentality does create a sense of urgency, and it does create a pretty good hard work ethic as it relates to grinding and powering through, and making sure that you show up. What it doesn’t create is, necessarily, any sort of organizational tactic that’s going to help you work smart. So it kind of goes back to what I said earlier that the worst sales culture that I’ve seen ,and I use worse a little bit too liberally there ’cause I’ve been in only two organizations in my professional career. My last organization, all of our last organization, really did have that sink or swim mentality. This organization that I’m in now, there is absolutely a work smart element to it that is supported at the executive level, at the sales management level, and at the individual level.
It is not as much a sink or swim mentality anymore as it is a … How do I want to say this? As it is a work hard, work smart. I don’t know if I’m doing the best job at explaining that, but it basically, to answer your question, dead on, I think the biggest blunder that I’ve personally have been a part of is when people don’t work smart. It is when they sit there, like I mentioned, in front of their computers every day because their bosses are making sure that their in from eight to seven. It doesn’t matter if you’re in from eight to seven if you’re not doing anything. You know what I mean? That’s what we try to hone in on.
I personally don’t care, from a management position, how many specific hours as a salesman you put in a week. I don’t really care what time of the day you show up as long as you are working hard and working smart, and the way that you are producing is evident. I think that if you’re out in the field and you’re with customers, that’s fantastic. If you’re building relationships, that’s fantastic. I think people can get caught up in, he didn’t show up at eight o’clock he must not be doing his job. She didn’t show up at 9:00 AM she must not be doing her job. She has no urgency. What I try to remind, and what we all try to remind ourselves on is if they are working towards their PQOs, if they are working smart in that, then it’s a benefit versus sitting in front of your computer all day long and just grinding for no apparent reason. Does that make sense?
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely. I mean one of the things I’m hearing and kind of thinking through top of the sink or swim, I think of maybe a sales culture in that maybe they only get commission on the first year of revenue and there’s no need for them to follow up, and do the relationship building, and tell them what’s happening in the market because they’re not going to get comped on that, so it’s not aligned and their quotas are always going up. So again, it reinforces that you don’t want to spend time on the relationship because you’ve already brought them in.
Taylor Barnes: That’s right.
Josh Sweeney: I guess other things that come to mind are … I guess just the ways to change that, ways to work smarter where if you have a client for a year but then they don’t renew, then how do you reinforce that with the sales team to ensure that, well maybe they need to be comped on it, or maybe they get an extra bonus down the road if somebody stays with them longer to get them to build that relationship, or keep communication going.
Taylor Barnes: Yep, and I think you nailed it. I mean where we all came from was very transactional. It really was a, they need to buy a bunch of infrastructure and then once they get it, they are good to go because our technology is supporting their business and they’ll be back in a couple of years.
Because this has transformed into much more of a services organization, the need for ongoing services, the need for contract renewables, the need for continual consumption of engineers, per se, based on wherever they’re going, it is very, very, very important from our organization’s core values, from our mission, to have this continual touch, to have this non transactional mentality, to have this really big impact on our customer relationship.
It’s very evident in our top performers. There is no secret to why our top performers are the way that they are. They work smart. They have got incredible relationships and they know everything there is to know about what’s going on in their customer’s vertical, what’s going on in the marketplace, what’s going on in the news of their business, how their stock’s doing, if they’re going through any mergers and acquisitions, and that is such a new mentality compared to where it used to be, which is just transactional base, I’ve got a pop, I’m moving on. If you are in the transactional based, moving on, get a pop, you’re very, very dispensable. You’re very replaceable. You’re a phone call away from getting displaced.
But if you have this ongoing relationship, They’re going to remember you a whole lot more than some guy they just bought $1 million worth of equipment from and never heard of again. You know?
Josh Sweeney: Oh yeah, definitely, ’cause I feel that in the future it’s going to be, I mean it is now, by all means, important to build that relationship and maintain that relationship, but I think it’s going to become more and more evident that that’s the differentiator for a lot of companies because even in your industry, if you can do cloud software, you can switch from Google, to Azure, to AWS. A lot of them are fairly easy to switch. You can switch hardware. You can switch vendors, and that’s across every industry. But it’s the service that you get from them that makes you want to stay with somebody.
Taylor Barnes: That’s right.
Josh Sweeney: Or it’s the service you get from the next person or company that makes you regret switching from the last one.
Taylor Barnes: That’s right, it’s the experience.
Josh Sweeney: That happens as well ’cause it’s-
Taylor Barnes: It’s the serve … Yeah you said it.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah they save a few bucks they’re like, “This was not worth the money we saved.”
Taylor Barnes: That’s right. That’s right. It’s the experience, and it’s the continual experience. It’s the consistent quality deliverable regardless of the size of the transaction that people are going to remember and keep coming back.
Be Intentional in Your Routine
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, so we talked about continuing education, challenging them, having them self select into a program that really drives their habits to the next level.
Taylor Barnes: So we had authenticity, discipline, acceleration, continual improvement as the four foundational personal development elements, and there’s a lot of subcategories as you can imagine, that translate directly into how they’re going to perform professionally for our organization, for their own personal book of business.
Josh Sweeney: Got it, I love it. You rattled those off like that’s what you use in your environment.
Taylor Barnes: It’s very, very important.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, a little ingrained in the sales culture.
Taylor Barnes: That’s right.
Josh Sweeney: I love that.
Taylor Barnes: That’s right.
Josh Sweeney: ‘Cause if people can’t repeat them that way for their own business, then they’re probably not repeating it enough to their staff and ensuring that it’s ongoing.
Taylor Barnes: Yep and if you’re not intentional about, if you don’t have it down to your routine, then, as I just mentioned in my routine, then you really do run the risk of being susceptible to distractions ’cause distractions are going to happen, man. They’re evident every minute of every single day and it really takes discipline, core foundation number two, in order to understand that being distracting doesn’t mean it has to result in a distraction ’cause distracting is going to happen. Distraction is a choice.
Manage the Distraction
So if you can eliminate the distractions by managing what’s distracting, then you’re going to win. But if you are not, and you’re intentional and you’re just kind of winging your day and you’re not really, you don’t have that foundational element to sit back on, then in my opinion, you’re really going to be susceptible to the squirrel mentality, to the distractions of the world. I think that’s where procrastination comes from, it’s the enemy of progress and if you are not really dialed in and aware of those things, I think you’re cutting yourself short.
Time Management’s a Myth
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. I know for myself, I take a lot of techniques to get rid of distractions. I use a Mac and when you install the software it’s like, do you want desktop notifications? No, I don’t. I install something on my phone, I turn off notifications. I turn off most of the alerts. If I want to see it, I’ll go to it and be intentional. I like to block time and if I’m going to start on a task, close every tab that I have and then open up one tab and start on that task, so that I can do it. What are some tips, tricks, techniques you use to get rid of those distractions?
Taylor Barnes: First off, I think time management’s a myth. Time’s going to happen regardless. It’s really about activity management. Activities don’t happen regardless. Activities are what you decide to make them. You mentioned blocking time. It is a requirement. You have got to do that. Right? And that’s the reason why I don’t estimate what time I’m going to wake up. I know exactly what time I’m going to wake up, and I know exactly what time I’m going to be finished with my MRP, and I know what time I begin responding to emails. I know what time I stop responding to emails and begin working on the projects that have been designated as I’m in charge of. Right?
Then when I get home, I stop working and I’m intentional about spending time with my kids, intentional about spending time with my wife. If things need to get done because of an emergency or whatever, you make do. That 20% is going to happen. I do try to make that as much as possible, the 80-20 rule, 80% routine, leave 20% open to emergencies, surprise deadlines, changes ’cause that is going to happen. We don’t live in a fairy tale world. It’s obviously going to happen.
But my best advice there, I mean number one, it really begins with intention. Absolutely, it begins with intention. Then number two, it really begins with figuring out who you are, having the discipline to stick with it, taking action through acceleration, and then over and over again, just continue to develop on it. But time blocking 100% and throw that time management idea out. That’s a myth. It doesn’t happen.
Josh Sweeney: I’m a huge fan of the time blocking. I’m beginning to … I’m continuously getting better at it. It’s a concept that I’ve adopted off and on over the years, but I’ve seen the fruits of that labor, and that planning, and that intentionality over the last year. It definitely makes a difference when you know that you have a certain amount of time because I know I have a natural tendency to rush through to get things done and you collapse it into the time, and you rush through, and you maybe don’t do as good of a job as you-
Taylor Barnes: Right, could be less quality.
Josh Sweeney: … but if you say, “I’m going to spend one hour on this,” there are some ways that that work can expand to fit the time in a bad way, but there’s also the amount of dedication. So one example for me in the wake up warrior program that I do, you have to send a message to your family every day. So for mine, my wife and each of my kids, my two boys, and it’s I love, appreciate, thank you for type of message every single day. After a while, I was having a really hard time coming up with them so I’d look at it, nothing came to mind, and I’d go to the next step and maybe I wouldn’t get it done that day.
And I said, “You know what? When I get to this step, I’m going to put a 10 minute timer on.” I’m not going to do anything else for 10 minutes-
Taylor Barnes: Okay, I like that idea.
Art of Saying No
Josh Sweeney: … but think about this. So every time I set the timer now, I come up with something. I give myself enough time to force myself to think about it and then I have a backup plan, which is, okay, well if I don’t come up with something, at least for my boys, I’ll go find a sports quote or something that they’re into from somebody that’s influential and I’m sending something. So I spent 10 minutes thinking about that topic, whether I achieved it or not.
Taylor Barnes: Right but you set the intention and you blocked out the time, and you avoided distractions, and you and you moved the needle.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. I definitely think there’s just a psychology of saying I’m going to give it that amount of time and that’s how much I’m going to have to complete it.
Taylor Barnes: Yeah, that’s great. One thing that you just mentioned that I thought was really, really good, and it’s for anybody that’s listening, people tend to really take on a lot in every single day. They might have 10 to 12 different projects going on at the same time and they try to time block all 10 to 12 of those. The art of saying no or the art of saying wait is something that is, especially for leaders and high performers, tough, tough to do because we want to save the world. We want to fix, and I am no stranger to that.
I have … One of my unhealthy habits in the world is thinking that I can fix everything. I work every day on understanding that people might, A, not want a fix, and number two, that it might not be in my hula hoop, per se, you know?
More Important But Less Quantity
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Taylor Barnes: So anyway-
Josh Sweeney: You can but shouldn’t.
Taylor Barnes: You can but shouldn’t. So taking on more important but less quantity is a really good way of moving the needle for you. You’d be surprised what can wait a day. I would recommend, and I try to coach a lot of this, is one versus 100% of three to four of them done it’s not going to work out in your benefit. You’re going to want the ladder. You’re going to want to check things way off the list versus getting things just a status bar moved a little bit, ’cause as you know, there’s going to be more. 10 to 12 is going to turn into 20, and then 25, then you’re going to have 50% of 25 things done. You have not moved the needle for yourself enough. So take on a little bit , high quality, very critical important things but less of them.
Sales Development Program
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. So we’ll stick to the same topic but last question on time blocking. For your sales team, do you have mandatory time blocks? Are there certain things that are just non negotiable? Like I know there’s certain companies where you have these two one hour calling time blocks. They’re non negotiable. Is it something that you’re training them on and it’s up to them to lead? Or do you have some non negotiables that are part of the organization?
Taylor Barnes: It is something that we’re training on and it is up to them to lead.
Josh Sweeney: Got it.
Taylor Barnes: So when I think of our SDR program, sales development program, they’ve got cadences that involve a lot of social media, phone, email, drip campaigns, eBooks, white papers, you name it, blogs, and everything, and they’ve got a cadence that they set out for themselves that typically makes up the majority of their morning. Then they might go on to working on something that they might have received. Then in the afternoon they do the same thing. So a heavy prospectors, I think have got a little bit more time blocking than there used to be. Some of our larger account managers tend to be a little bit more reactive based on the fact that one of their best customers needs something and they’re ready to serve. So I would say that somewhere in the middle is probably our least common sales reps.
To be clear, we’ve got a lot of heavy prospectors. We’ve got a lot of amazing global account executives. And as soon as the prospectors move on a little bit, their time probably comes a little bit more reactive. How to manage that? Great question. That’s going to be something that I think we’ll struggle with the rest of our lives in sales and sales management because as you know, things come up and you’ve got to be able to be reactive enough, and you’ve got to be able to serve without losing your mind and that’s the balance that we’re all looking for, so how to accomplish that. At the end of the day, I think it’s about finding rhythm at home and at work.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. And like you said earlier, 80% of the day needs to be very intentional, but there’s 20% we have to leave for other things that are going to happen-
Taylor Barnes: ‘Cause it’s going to happen.
Josh Sweeney: If you do the inverse, a lot less productivity probably happens. If only 20% of it’s intentional and 80% is happenstance or what comes up-
Taylor Barnes: Yeah, that’s well said.
Josh Sweeney: … I’m not sure that’s going to be a different kind of challenge, a lot less productive.
Taylor Barnes: Yeah, that’s well said. I think you nailed it. I think that, and unfortunately what I think is that a lot of salespeople out there, maybe not even salespeople, maybe just a lot of employees out there, have that backwards. They’ve got that 80% reactive mentality and that is just a grind man. That is just, in my opinion, that’s a recipe for disaster because what that results in is spinning your tires and you have abandoned the idea of working smart at that point, or you’ve really limited your ability to work smart at that point.
So being intentional about having that 80-20 rule versus the 20-80 rule, I think, is an excellent, excellent thing for sales men and women to take on.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, well thank you for joining us. I think it’s been-
Taylor Barnes: You’re welcome. I really enjoyed it.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, it’s been amazing talking sales culture, regimens, big part of our podcast here, so I appreciate all your time.
Taylor Barnes: Of course, thanks for having me, Josh.
Josh Sweeney: Thank you.
Speaker 1: Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the Epic Company Culture podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoyed this content, please subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit EpicCulture.co. If you have questions or topics you would like us to address or expand on, tweet us at EpicCulture1 or email at podcast@EpicCulture.co.
Podcast Highlights and Resources
- ../If things are not good at home, I don’t see them being good at work.
- Helping them personally first and then professionally second.
- You can be persuasive without being manipulative by understanding and being very authentic with yourself.
- If you’re not willing to have a conversation very naturally, and if you don’t feel comfortable enough with yourself to have that naturally, I think people are gonna see right through it.
- Always be continually improving around mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally.
- Be very clear around what your objectives are.
- If you don’t identify what those two to three things that need to move the needle forward for you every single day, then you’re not going to barely make an impact.
- If you can educate them and help them understand what’s going on in the marketplace with no intention behind sell, sell, sell, sell, creating less of a transactional relationship and more of a consultative, collaborative, educational relationship, the value of you as a vendor, the value of you as a partner to them is going to be exponential.
- If they are working smart, then it’s a benefit.
- If you don’t have it down to your routine, then you really do run the risk of being susceptible to distractions.
- If you can eliminate the distractions by managing what’s distracting, then you’re going to win.
- If you are not really dialed in and aware of those things, I think you’re cutting yourself short.
- It really begins with intention.
- It really begins with figuring out who you are
- The discipline to stick with it, taking action through acceleration, and then over and over again, just continue to develop on it.
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