Never Too Qualified to Talk

July 16, 2019

Four years after I first held the title VP of Sales, I applied for an entry level sales position at Main Street Hub.  Why? I was looking for a job and that was the only one they had available.

I had mentioned to a few people that I was on the market for a sales leadership role, and my friend Lena told her friend JM about me.  JM was an entry level sales rep at Main Street Hub and told the founders, “Hey my friend knows this guy in sales leadership,” to which they replied, “We aren’t looking.”

This is where my life story could have gone a completely different direction.

I could have said, “Well, if they don’t want to talk to me, that’s fine,” and moved on.  But, that’s not me. I didn’t care if they didn’t want to talk to me. I wanted to talk to them.  So, I applied for the open position they were looking to fill – an entry level sales rep.  Of course, that would have been a pretty drastic decrease in pay from my previous VP salary, but I knew that if I could just meet these guys, I could at least get on their radar for when they were ready for me.

In the interview, the first couple of questions were about what makes a good sales person, basic entry level stuff.  I went along with it for a little while. Then, the conversation totally changed and became more about how to build a sales organization.  They were asking, “how do you scale it; how do you grow?”

My plan worked.  I had taken the interview, gotten in front of my target, and showed them who I really was.  In that conversation, they asked me for a 30 or 60 day consultation period to help them out.  That temporary consulting gig morphed into a full time VP of Sales job. If I would have been more closed off, that never would have happened.

I actually met my good friend and business partner, Richard Harris this same way, but I was the interviewer.  Back in ’09, Richard had lost his job and had been without one for a few months when I was looking for a Sales Manager.  Richard was older than me, had more experience than me, and was way over qualified for the role I needed filled. I was a little uncomfortable offering him a salary that was well under what he was worth.  But, Richard had no ego about it and came to work with me. That working relationship spawned a personal friendship and now our families are all friends. Today, Richard is one of the most successful consultants out there and he’s amazing at what he does.  Taking that chance paid off for both of us and now we’re even building our own thing together at Surf and Sales.

I’ve always tried to live by the maxim, “I’ll talk to anybody.”  I take every phone call, email, and LinkedIn message and try to keep an open mind about it, at least in the very beginning.  I’ll hear you out and see if there’s an angle for me. If there’s not an angle for me at this point in time, I know so many people that there’s got to be an angle for somebody I know.  Maybe I can help them out.

Have you ever taken the wrong meeting to get in front of the right people?  Have you ever interviewed the wrong person for the job, only to find they were exactly the person you needed to meet?