Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome: Sales Growth Tips from an Air Force Vet

Don’t sweat it if you missed our webinar featuring Wes Schaeffer— we’ve got you covered! In this Webinar Replay, we’ll be going over Wes Schaeffer’s military secrets that you can apply to grow your sales.

Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara was inspired by Wes’s willingness to speak the truth and his ability to deliver knowledge to help people grow their businesses. Wes pulls experiences from his time in the military and afterward to use as a framework for business growth. In this webinar, Wes shared advice on how others can apply these principles to their businesses to grow sales.

Be Prepared to Fully Engage

According to Wes, “One of the key things the military does is break you down and then build you back up.” In June 1988, Wes flew up to Colorado Springs to start his Air Force training program. He explained that before they even got on the bus, they were yelled at. The yelling made him so nervous that his hands shook as he wrote his name on the tags of his duffel bags.

Sepia photo of a young man in uniform smiling with a thumbs-up

A quote that Wes felt encapsulated those feelings was: 

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” –  Archilochus

This quote also applies to sales and marketing, particularly sales, “because everything is sales.” Whether it’s deciding on a font or picking an envelope, all of that is meant to win someone’s attention. As a salesperson, you need to practice enough to be ready to engage at a moment’s notice.

Don’t Fall Out of Touch

Oftentimes, salespeople and marketers might not fully understand the worries of their customers. Wes says that it’s important to remember that other people have very different experiences. And staying in the loop and being sensitive to your clients is something that can be trained.

Working hard to prepare for these situations will pay off in the long run. “Do you have the procedures in place to put you and your team through the cycles?” he asked. “…so you’re ready when it hits— and it’s all going to hit.”

Sales is a Zero-Sum Game

Wes recalls his experience training in jiu-jitsu. He quoted a jiu-jitsu poster that could be applied to sales and marketing. It suggested that everyone who gets into it does so out of genuine interest.

Jiu-jitsu poster

The next part of the poster says that some people think that the journey will only ever be fun and rewarding, which is not true. 

While this may seem scary and a bit harsh, the reality is that sales and entrepreneurship (like jiu-jitsu) aren’t easy. Wes asked Jon if his journey to founding Goldmine and Nimble was ever difficult. 

Jon responded, “Nobody ever hands you anything in life, certainly anything worthwhile.” He goes on to explain that there were moments before he reached success where he felt like he couldn’t take it anymore, but “you have to tear muscle to make muscle.” Jon says, “Very few journeys of entrepreneurship are easy, but the rewards are so rich.”

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others, Compare Yourself to You from Yesterday

Seeing social media posts of others with their nice cars, private jets, and personal libraries may make you think that there’s something wrong with where you’re at. However, you have to remember that a lot of those posts aren’t an accurate depiction of what’s going on. Wes explains that “you can’t beat yourself up [or] compare yourself to others.”

Know Your Numbers

If you want to succeed, you have to know your numbers. Hiding from your numbers or ignoring them will not help. 

While working in a retail sales position in 1998,  Wes learned the “Scientific” Sales Process. Part of his process for selling mobile homes included asking people questions to disqualify them as prospects. He explains that disqualification is more important than qualification and that it’s crucial to know who you serve and what those people look like because not everyone is your prospect.

He says, “Hearing ‘no’ early is a win.” Disqualifying prospects allows you to spend more time serving your actual target audience. “You’ve got to have a process to uncover the truth quickly, with everyone you’re talking to.”

Further, Wes goes on to explain that salespeople and marketers tend to fuss over traffic, when in reality what they need to focus on is conversions.

For Wes, narrowing down his prospects and focusing on conversions resulted in making over $100k in his first year in that position. 

To help others keep track of their numbers, Wes shared a link to this free calculator.

Process, Process, Process

Similar to tracking your numbers, Wes also urges you to track your processes. 

Small, incremental changes have big impacts. The saying goes, “Small hinges swing big doors.” Document every part of your process so that every little thing can be changed and improved upon.

Wes shared another free tool to help you document your process.

To Make Any Sale You Must Make Every Sale

On the topic of process, it’s important to remember that every step counts. 

In sales, you have to make sure that every step has meaning and will help you meet your goals. As opposed to the linear way of looking at the sales process, Wes introduces what he calls the ABCDE System, as in “Attract, Bond, Convert, Deliver, Endear”.

As opposed to being a linear path, the ABCDE System is a cycle.

  • Attract: What are you doing to entice your potential customers, attracting them to your business? Some examples include free infographics or webinars.
  • Bond: This is where you can learn more about your potential customers. You can get their name, email, phone number, etc. at this stage.
  • Convert: This is where they become a customer or a client. This is also the midpoint of the cycle. Wes says that this stage is also what differentiates amateurs from professionals. Amateurs tend to think that this stage would be the end of the cycle, but Wes believes that this stage is where the real work begins.
  • Deliver: Once your customer has given you their business, you have to deliver. This is where you have the opportunity to set yourself apart from your competitors by going above and beyond to “wow” your customers.
  • Endear: Now that you have given your all to get to know your customers and give them an amazing experience, you can now endear yourself to them. This is where your customers can become your advocates. Your happy customers can now start writing testimonials, refer their friends, and write positive reviews.

As your customers talk about your business, they will continue to attract more potential customers just like them. Thus, the cycle continues.

The ABCDE System allows you to think about your sales process more holistically. It puts a focus on getting repeat business and customer testimonials so that it becomes easier and easier down the line.

Don’t Get Distracted

Speaking of viewing your process more holistically, many people miss the big picture and try to use technology to solve their problems. But Wes says that technology is not the answer.

He compares technology to salt, saying that a little can go a long way but too much will ruin a meal.

Technology can be a great tool, but it also facilitates distractions. It’s easy to get overstimulated by having hundreds of tabs open and always having something to consume. But Wes believes that people should take time to disconnect and seek boredom. “Boredom is when the breakthroughs happen,” he says.

Redefine Success

Lastly, Wes says that you need to redefine what success means for you. Success for some might look like only working Tuesdays to Thursdays. Or it could look like having the means to go on regular family road trips. Whatever it is, it should be true to you.

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