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Selling To Help with Mario Martinez Jr.
I’m feeling incredibly energized to be here with all of you. Blessed as I do feel every day I have to say this. I can’t even think of the last time that I woke up in the morning and I didn’t feel blessed for at least the fact that I was awake and alive and I had a day to create. I truly believe we all have an assignment. Everybody has got an assignment and maybe that’s an assignment that’s for a lifetime. That’s possible. There’s no question that is the case for some folks. The more common thing, and it’s certainly the thing that’s been truer for me in my experience, is that those assignments change. That could be our assignments for a day, it could be for a week, a month, a season. The seasons are there in many ways. Many things in nature are there to be seen as teaching for all of us as a visual representation of how the universe works. A way for us to have a little clue if we’re paying attention or if I’m paying attention that that’s also true for us. There are seasons for things. There are seasons for relationship sometimes. There are seasons for businesses. There are seasons for the things that we do in our businesses and in every other aspect of our life. I feel blessed to be here with you.
I love the fact that the gentleman that I have on the show is somebody that I’ve already gotten to know. I’ve already been a guest on his show so I have a beat on him. He’s gifted. That’s what comes up for me is gifted in the space of business and in sales in particular, which is important for many people because my experience is that most people suck at sales. Selling, which is something that we reframe when we do our speaker training and we help people get clear about their message and then be able to communicate that message more effectively. We talk about it in terms of enrollment. In fact, when I was on Selling With Social, which is this gentleman’s podcast, I know we went over our paradigm for selling, for what it looks like to have enrollment conversation, how it’s more important to open relationships than it is to close sales.
I want to introduce him to all of you and you’re going to have a blast because this guy is so much. He has many gifts to share, so much brilliance inside him. When I read his bio, you’ll get a little inkling as to how much experience this guy has in the area of selling. Mario Martinez is the CEO and Cofounder of Vengreso. He spent 83 consecutive quarters in the B2B sales and leadership role growing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually. Mario is one of twenty sales influencers invited to appear in the Salesforce documentary film The Story of Sales launched in 2018. He is recognized as the Number One Top Sales Performance Guru in the world. Named 2019’s Top Ten Sales Influencers by The Modern Sales Magazine, 2018’s Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professionals, Selling Power Magazine’s 2018 Top Sales Training and Coaching Consultant. In 2017, he listed as the Six Most Influential Social Selling Leader globally.
As a renowned digital sales evangelist, Mario teaches marketing and sales professionals how to develop an engaging personal brand to attract nowadays modern buyer using the digital sales ecosystem. Mario is the host of the popular Selling With Social Podcast. He’s been featured in Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur and the Huffington Post. He’s a highly sought-after keynote speaker with brands such as LinkedIn, Cisco, and many more. He is also known to open a speech with a Salsa dance. Let me ask you this right out of the gate. What’s not written? What’s between the lines of that bio? Before we get into the pivot stories, and I know you’ve got a bunch, what’s something that’s not written in that introduction that you’d love people to know about you?
I’m a raw, authentic individual. What you see is what you get. Thank you for having me on the show. I’m super excited to be here with you and all your audience as well. That happened to start a few years ago. This is not years and years. It’s a short window. It’s a short period of time that has happened. The good news is it’s consistent. That’s what I would say. The other thing I’d probably say is most people don’t know this, but I’ve talked about this before on my show. I came up from a poor background. I was the first in my family to go to college. In fact, we were so poor that when I applied for colleges, it was $40 per application to submit your college application into each University of California school. I only had $41 that I could use towards applying for colleges. I applied to one. My dream college was the University of California Berkeley and I got in.
I remember exactly where we were at my old high school. I remember all the letters came back in and there was an individual who really wanted to get into UC Berkeley. He was making a big stink about it and there was a big scene that he was so upset that he didn’t get in and I got in. I don’t even know why he was upset about it and he started taking it out on me in front of everybody. I was a pretty cool cat. I was well-liked amongst everyone and fairly visible. He said, “The only reason why you got in was that of affirmative action.” Back then, of those people who know what affirmative action is, they were taking minorities and to be able to bring more minorities into the college systems even though they may not have met the minimum criteria for, as an example, SAT scores for UC Berkeley at 1,300. I remember he said that and I looked at him and I was like, “That’s pretty low man,” but here’s the thing. There were 25 people standing around and he was hot. He was upset because he didn’t get in. I said, “At the end of the day, I got one thing to say to you. I got in. You didn’t.”
I felt bad. I dropped the mic and walked away. I did it for me. I’ll be honest with that. That memory has been implanted. I know the guy’s name. I know the face. I know the whole scene. I know exactly where we were standing at. This was many years ago when we were in high school. It implanted in me that others thought that I didn’t deserve to have the opportunity. Sometimes I think that and I shouldn’t. That this person got an opportunity, but I should’ve got it. That’s natural sometimes. I generally wouldn’t vocalize it, especially when it comes to minority or race as someone who’s Mexican. That having been said, it implanted in my brain what my father had always told me which was, “No matter what you do, I don’t care if you want to be a truck driver,” which is what he was, “Or if you want to be a scientist. No matter what you do, be the best at it.” Getting into UC Berkeley with one college application and that’s all I could afford. That was my driver, which was, “I’m going to prove to me and to everyone else that I deserve a seat at the table,” even though I had a C-minus average there at UC Berkeley. It was tough. It was rough, but I would say look at me now.
That was certainly a pivot. It was a pivot point. It was a catalyst. It’s interesting because you would never say that to somebody but we say it to ourselves though sometimes. I saw you go in there and then I thought you’re going to go there but isn’t that true though. We speak to ourselves that way. That story is a great story. It’s like one of those I saw in a movie. You could see everybody gathers around. Throw down the affirmative action thing. That’s a cruel thing to say. It’s got that Hollywood ending because you get the last laugh and then you go. Berkeley’s tough. It’s a tough school to get into. I’m going to say it now because I got to put this out to the universe. We have four kids. The youngest of them, Eden, she’s made all of her applications. Berkeley is at the top of her list. Her sister went to UCLA, another tough school to get into. She’s got this activist nature. This is her personality and she wants to change the world. That’s an activist. Far left-leaning as we know, but they really put you to the task. It’s a tough school to get into. It’s tough to stay in there.
This is another pivot point. I was there for five years and I never graduated from there. In my second year, I got an internship for a sales and marketing company which landed me an opportunity to work for a software company. That software company, I started out as a telemarketer and I had to pay for my own way. Unfortunately, I had to pay for school on my own. The first year, I applied for over 200 scholarships and I got enough money to pay for my first year. I worked my first year to be able to pay for my second year. That’s what was happening. I ended up at nineteen years old getting into software sales. By the time I was 21, I was making over a six-figure income in B2B software sales. I bought my own house. I bought all the things that you would define as success for a 21-year-old. I realized like, “What do I need college for? I’m making more money than any other college graduate. End of discussion.” I was like, “I’m going to start pivoting my direction to work in corporate.”
Long story short, I ended up focusing on corporate. A few years later, I got this sales leader. When he first started managing me, he said, “You need to go back. The company will pay for it. You should finish off your degree.” That was year one. Year number two, he was like, “You need to go back and I would like for you to be focusing on this particular element.” Year number three, we sat down for the opening elements of my review and he says to me, “What I said in the last two years you didn’t listen to and I’m going to help you. I’m going to do something for you that probably you’re going to be angry about but you will not regret it. I’m going to require you to go back to get your degree. The company is going to pay for it 100%. You have to get your degree because here’s the thing. All things being equal if you’re the greatest sales guy in the world,” which I was a Top Presidents Club Earner. Fifteen out of my eighteen years in corporate I spent in President’s Club or Hundred Percent Club. He was like, “You’re an amazing salesperson. You know how to work the customer. You know how to do relationships. You know how to close big deals. You got it all. All things being equal between you and another candidate for any job in the future, they’ve got the degree, you don’t. They’re going to win. I’m going to require you to get your degree.” That was pretty hot, I got to admit. I was angry at the fact that he was making me go back because I didn’t see the value in it. Nonetheless, the company paid for it.
I ended up transferring over to Saint Mary’s College, which is a well-known reputable school in California. I finished my degree in Business Management and Economics. I got a C-minus at Berkeley and I got an A+ at Saint Mary’s. It shows you a different caliber. I had been previously married then as well to my ex-wife. It was at a different stage, a different phase in life. Saint Mary’s is an excellent school, well-known, but Berkeley was much harder in terms of its academically rigorous program. Nonetheless, that was another pivot point for me whereas an individual I was like, “Was there value?” If someone asked me now was there any value in my college degree, the answer is I still feel there is no value that it brought me from real-world experience. However, if someone said to me, “If there’s no value, then why would I do it?” The answer is it’s because it’s necessary. It’s one of those boxes that you have to check if you want to get into a professional career from a career standpoint. In the cases of entrepreneurship, sometimes people especially when you’re looking for funding. They’re looking to see not only do you have a great product, but do you have the business acumen to be able to grow a company? Sometimes depending on the school, that might help to get you started and get the credibility that you need.
I know a little bit about some of the pivots in your career and personal life. I want to start us on that path. Before I do, I want to say this too. This is why sales are the most highly rewarded aspect of any business. That’s because people are shy about it. On one end of the spectrum, they’re shy about it. On another end of the spectrum, they’re in total abject fear of it. It brings up all the demons of their own self-worth or the questions that they have about their own worthiness and their own deservingness, etc. This is why when you can deal with those fears, those demons, you are rewarded at a higher level. It’s not unusual that guys and women who drop out of college, who don’t go to college or go to college but don’t know what to do next. They’re not on the path to become a dentist or a lawyer or whatever end up making six figures pretty quickly and then upper six figures in sales.
Do you have a philosophy about sales? If somebody was eighteen, nineteen years old and you told him, “You’ve got to go to college. You’ve got to check off that box.” When you get out of college or even while you’re in college, forget when you get out. You want to work on developing sales muscles. That skill will serve you regardless of either the traditional career trajectory into a company, moving up in a company. Where you start your own thing at some point, you’re going to crisscross with that. On one side is going to be a lot more opportunity and money. On the other side is going to be more of a slower build and a different path entirely. What are your thoughts about that?
First off, people need to think about in terms of sales. We’re always selling something whether you’re selling yourself for a date or whether you’re selling yourself for the proposal or whether you’re selling yourself on your AT&T or Verizon bill and something’s wrong with it. You’re always selling something and we don’t realize it. One of the things I think about in terms of this pivot between a career in sales versus not are two things. Do you recognize that salespeople do what most other people will never want to do? What is that? My entire family life, my home, my car, my insurance, feeding my family, my benefits, everything in my entire life rests on one thing. That I’m willing to carry a quota and I’m willing to work hard to be able to have rich rewards at the end. If you’re not willing to have that type of risk, my wife as an example, she is not the type of individual. She needs stability. She needs to know that she’s working from A to B or X to Z or a certain time. She wants to know that every single month, every single week she’s going to have X number of dollars and that’s her personality. She needs that type of environment. If you’re that type of person, sales is probably not for you.
If you’re willing to put the weight of the world and carry your entire family, your livelihood, your travel, your insurance, your health benefits, your everything all onto, “Am I going to hit a number so I can succeed?” it’s for you. I love the risk behind that. The other thing I think about is I have a saying and it is, “Sales is the art of helping.” If I were to say, “What is sales?” that’s it, one sentence. Sales is the art of helping. If you are a natural helper, meaning that you are inspired to help other people, you hear of a problem, a situation, you immediately want to go and help. A great example, my family and I were down in Newport Beach. I was sitting at the top of the beach. My kids were playing football with my wife and I was sitting there. I happened to be looking off about 100 yards to the left and there were three guys that were playing in the water and the waves were pretty strong. This is Newport Beach, there’s good rip tide over there and the waves are pretty strong.
I happened to be watching and then a wave hit a guy and two of them popped up, one of them didn’t. I looked at them and I was like, “Where’s the other guy?” The next wave hit, the guy didn’t pop back up. I stood up out of my chair and then all of a sudden, a floating body popped up. I immediately ran right to it. My son was there and I gave him whatever it is I was holding and I beeline exactly to where it was. I jumped into the water to see if I can help. By that point, the two sons that were there which were older in nature, middle-aged sons. It was their father who was probably 60 plus years old that was the one that was floating on top of the water. They were screaming out and then the whole family all of a sudden saw what happened. Here I was some random person and that’s my natural instinct is to help. If you think about selling, selling is helping. If you’re the type of person that if you saw the danger, you run to it. If you saw an accident, you run to it. If you someone’s getting hurt, you run to it. I was that guy in high school. If you were making fun of somebody, I ran to help. That’s me. It’s the art of helping. Ever since then, I’ve tried to think about what is sales? That’s true for my customers we want to help and help solve a specific problem.
Just so we’re clear here, it’s not a judgment. We’re all the same way in many ways and we’re all different in many ways. There are people who will watch someone going down and also going, “I can’t help because I don’t have the skills to help. I go in there and it will be a double drowning. That’s even twice as bad as it was.” A personal assessment is required. For our audience, you’ve got to take an assessment of yourself because there’s a chance that the reason that you’re not selling could be the fact that you’re uncomfortable with it or that you’ve heard things. We’re programmed. Everything we feel, everything we do on some level is the basis of some programming we received when we were young. Before we were even thinking, from birth to seven, eight years old, our cognitive abilities have not developed at all. It’s all emotional developments. We learn about what love means. We learn about many things.
For me, I’ll never forget the time when my dad let a guy into our house. We grew up in this tiny little apartment. About the same level of income as what you had growing up with. The next thing I know, the stranger is sitting at our dining room table. This little round table, there are four seats for me, my brother, my mom, and my dad. He’s got these big fat books that are on the table and I’m listening like, “What’s going on?” He’s talking about this stuff and how knowledge is power. Your kids have got to have knowledge. My dad’s an educated guy. He went to NYU. He’s a writer, but he’s working as a civil servant. This was his path. He wanted to be a recreation director and teach and he was writing at night. Creative writing is his real passion, never a lot of money. He’s listening to this guy. All of a sudden, my dad starts to take out a check and there’s paperwork with five copies of the mimeograph. There were eighteen copies. Get all that stuff all over your fingers. He starts filling out paperwork and writing a check.
I hear this number, $1,600. I’m like, “What $1,600?” My dad earned $1,600 in half a year at that point. He’s like $20,000 a year. They bought the Encyclopedia Britannica from a guy who knocked on the door. I couldn’t believe it at the time because I didn’t know any better. I remember that there were strong influences in my life early on about money and about sales. You’ve got to do a self-assessment to see whether or not are you the person that’s not equipped for this, sales is the art of helping. If you’re not the person that gravitates naturally or by a desire to go and help someone, then maybe sales is not for you. If you’re the person who would want to help somebody, wouldn’t watch somebody that they could help struggle or drown figuratively. Maybe sales is the way you can not only add a zero to your income but add tremendous freedom and opportunities in your life.
In fact, I was talking to an old friend of mine who is a CIO of a fairly large sized organization. They had rounds of layoffs and they decided to collapse the organization and he got laid off. As soon as I found out, my next response was, “How can I help?” That’s it. That is my opening line in a sales call, “How can I help? What can I do to help?” and let them tell you their problem and then you’ll know whether or not there’s something you can do. If that’s the natural thing in terms of sales, that’s probably my best advice especially for entrepreneurs who are trying to get their idea, their vision, and their company off the ground. Don’t think of the product. Think about how you’re helping. Don’t think of, “How am I going to sell this?” Think about how you’re going to help somebody when you sell it. Don’t think about, “Is the sale going to work?” The sale will work because you already know how you’re going to help and you’re going to stick to the problem of how you’re going to solve what it is they said that they need help with.
You’ve got to go buy this URL. You’re going to have plenty of time to do it. You got to start incubating the book and it’s The Art of Helping. This is your book. This is like Bob Burg’s amazing book, The Go-Giver, which if you haven’t read that book go get that book. Go read that book. Reread it. It’s amazing. It’s like Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman In The World. If you haven’t read that book, you’ve got to go get that book. You got to go read that book immediately. In the future, I’m predicting you’re going to have to go get Mario Martinez’s The Art of Helping. I’m not kidding in the least. If you don’t get it, I will. You’ve got to go get it, TheArtOfHelping.com.
I’ve got a great opportunity coming up. I’m going to be keynoting a big conference for an MLM company and I’m going to go to Singapore and do this thing over a couple of days. One of the influences when I was researching this particular multi-level marketing network company, a big influence for them was the teachings of Jim Rohn. Do you know Jim Rohn? Is there anything about Jim Rohn that’s influenced you? Is there anyone else that in that space of personal and business development that’s been a big influence for you?
I know who Jim Rohn is. I know who all the greats are, the Dale Carnegies. Is there any one individual that has influenced me? I would say there’s not been any one individual that’s influenced me, except for my dad. This sounds cliché. Some people would be like, “Your dad, your mom,” but my dad was a truck driver and he was severely abused as a child. At one point, someone had to come and hold a gun to his father’s head to get them out of the house. The thing that he always instilled in my brain was, “Whatever you’re going to do, be the best at it.” That’s probably the thing that is in the back of my mind, “Am I the best?” It’s not at the expense of if I’m not the best, then I’ve got to be the best. It’s like, “Am I at least in the best class?” I’m okay with that. “Am I in the top of my class?” I’m certainly okay with that because I certainly wasn’t the smartest guy at school, but I always wanted to try to be at the top of my game. I would say that in terms of influence. I’m an avid reader. I wrote an article, which you were a part of, The Top 33 Best Sales Books for 2019.
Thank you for that. It was well-received. We shared it all over the place, but it was an honor to be included on that list.
If you all in our audience haven’t got Pivot yet, then you need to get Pivot. That was one of the books that were included inside there. I started out that article saying, “I hate reading books. That’s not my thing.” However, when I’m given a book such as yourself or others, then I’m going to take the time to go through those particular details. I’m an avid blog reader. I like to also learn through watching video. I’m a huge video consumer. Every day I’m reading blogs. Every day I’m watching videos to understand different techniques and I learn how to apply them. That’s my thing. I’m a consumer of many multiple facets of information from different sources. I can’t say there’s one thing that inspires me, other than my dad and other than I consume information like crazy and short snippets. My brain can only work in short snippets. That’s how I work.
At some point, sociologists or scientists, whoever are brain researchers will be looking back at this time in the human development, the history of that and think, “Our attention spans have diminished.” I’m saying it and it might sound like it’s a negative thing, but it doesn’t have to be. It might not necessarily be. We adapt, that’s the human species. We’re constantly involved in evolution and adaptation, etc. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t read books because I love reading books and I’m a slow reader. If you ask me to read a book, it’s going to take me months to do it because that’s the way I consume it. What you need is to get that information sooner. If I needed to get that information sooner, that wouldn’t be the way to get it. A blog might be or watching video clips, which I do all the time as well. That’s where we’re going anyhow. You’re probably more in the majority than a lot of folks are.
Here’s what I want to do. You’ve already set the stage for this. You get out of college and then you end up in the corporate space and then going back to college to finish the degree, etc. You didn’t stay in the corporate space. Our community combines a number of different people, folks that are already out of the corporate arena. Out of traditional, I’ve got a job thing and they’re doing their own thing. They’re an entrepreneur. They’ve got a business or something like that. There are folks that have been considering what that might be like as a side hustle, etc. Take us through a little span of time where you’re working the job and you’re doing that more traditional path to the place where you find yourself wanting to leave. In marriage, in a relationship, what happens there impacts that in some way and then ultimately becomes a business owner. That takes us to now. If you could track that for us, that’d be great.
This was many years in sales and eighteen of them were spent inside of corporate. My last job was as a VP of Sales for a software collaboration company. My philosophy is anytime an organization asked me to do something. I’m going to do it if I can, number one. I’m also going to look for how can I use this to catapult me to where I want to go? I’m generally a goal-oriented individual. Every year, I write down all the things that I want to accomplish. I have it documented in a PowerPoint. It’s about a fifteen-page PowerPoint. If people don’t have this, this has got to be your why. You’ve got to document your why. I can’t even remember when I started this, but for the longest time I’ve had two paths that I would take on my goal. Path number one would be a chief sales officer of an organization or path number two would be a speaker and be onstage. People have always asked me, “Which one do you want? Which one’s your passion?” I didn’t care. Either one I was okay with, whichever direction my life took me. Anytime I was asked to do something corporate, how can I use this to get the visibility I want to be able to get to the chief sales officer position or to get to this other speaker’s position.
When I came to this company, they were a traditional-based sales culture. Cold calling and emailing, knocking on doors. This was a few years ago. I came in and I’m like, “First off, that’s so old and archaic. I don’t even know if you can knock on business marks anymore without being thrown out. Usually, there’s security there.” I told the organization, “You guys are doing it all wrong. Let’s get to modern times with how the modern buyer is engaging. The modern buyer’s engaging through video, through social, through email, through text, through phone calls, through potentially networking events. You’ve got to have a diversified omnichannel strategy.” It took me several months to get this whole program approved, but I ended up launching a digital sales strategy. I remember I got an IM from our Executive Vice President of Worldwide Sales Administrative Assistant. I was on a call and she IM’ed me and she said, “Mario, are you available? Scott would like to talk.” I said, “Am I available now?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “No, I’m on a call.” She said, “Can you get off of it?” I said, “I’m on a call for another fifteen more minutes. Can he wait?” She said, “No, he can’t wait. He wants to speak to you now.”
I’m like, “Is there an agenda? Help me out here.” She said, “He’ll explain when he talks to you. How long will it take?” I said, “Give me two minutes if it’s that pressing.” I get on the phone with him and I’m thinking, “What is he going to say? Did I do something?” He says, “Mario, I’ve got this $125,000 PO in front of me that you’ve put forward to get approved for this technology.” I’m like, “That’s what we’re talking about.” I feel safe now. He goes through, he says, “In two minutes or less, tell me why I need to do this.” I give him my two-minute spiel which turns into a twenty-minute spiel and he says, “I’m going to approve the funding of this program only if you sign up to be the executive sponsor.” I said, “You want me to take on basically a second full-time job and prove out the ROI on this program?” He’s like, “Yes.” I said, “To clarify, you want me to take on a second full-time job?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Deal.”
I thought about this and I thought, “How can I use this as a platform to be able to gain visibility?” We were teaching our sales teams how to create video, how to be able to use it for social, how to be able to create leads through social. I’m like, “I’ve got to be the teacher to 350 salespeople. I’ve got to be the leader.” I did that and I’m like, “I’m going to use this to amplify the heck out of my brand.” The company was 100% behind me. As I published content, the company was also tagging on and I had 350 sales reps that could tag on. I’m going to show by example and I’m going to use this whole plan to be able to help bring my brand to light. That was a six-month-long period. What I set out to do was to make this program ultra-successful. That’s exactly what happened.
We launched the LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which was a platform that helps you to do better prospecting. As far as I know, under my leadership we were the first and only company now to ever accomplish two things. 100% rep participation, which means 100% of our reps were using the platform and the tools and technology, and 100% of our reps had attributed one sales opportunity to the open pipeline, closed loss closed won or open pipeline. That had never been done before. LinkedIn saw our progress and how successful we were doing. They invited me to speak at their annual Users Conference. That was a 48-minute solo session speaking to other sales leaders about how we launched the program. How we need to move forward in taking this mindset of old sales leadership thought process, the 40 and older, of how to do selling gone. It’s fundamentally changed. We need to be thinking differently to use this omnichannel approach. If you’re not, you’re missing 90% of your buyer market because only 10% are responding to phone calls.
I said, “I need to freaking nail this presentation.” I came out and I did. I practiced and practiced and I had all my talking points. I worked with marketing to go through it. I brought high energy. I was ready to go. Within two hours after I spoke, a CEO of a Fortune 100 company sent me an email and asked if I would be willing to come flying in to speak to his head of marketing, his head of sales and himself for a half-day to talk about how to launch a program. I honestly thought it was a hoax, to be honest with you because you usually don’t get an email from a Fortune 100 CEO. I responded. Three weeks later I was in his office. I spent a half-a-day with him and four other people, the president of sales, the CMO, and the head of branding and social media. I remember in that room they would ask me questions. These individuals were definitely 55 and older. As I’m presenting these ideas, the CMO and the president of sales said, “That won’t work,” because whatever the reason was. Here I’m standing in front of these guys. They asked me to come in. I got a job. What do I get to lose?
I would say I respectfully disagree and here’s why. I would challenge them and then they would look at me in the face and they didn’t have anything to say. The CEO was sitting in the room with me and them and I was standing in front of the room. There were three of them sitting around the table. His head would go right, left, right, left because we’d be going back and forth on various different topics. It was ping pong. Seven times he would look at his CMO or his president of sales and said, “You’re wrong,” and he said, “Continue.” By the third time this happened, I was uncomfortable in the room. I thought, “This is awkward.” I’m trying to win these guys over because I may be working with them. That’s a sense of what had ended up being offered was a role to come on board and head up all of the social media and to head up a digital sales program.
Mind you, I had zero marketing experience but they wanted to give me all of the social media for a Fortune 100, the whole department for this Fortune 100. Take over all of the social media and digital selling for the sales organization. I respectfully declined because they wanted me to move somewhere into the middle of the country and I was not about to move out of beautiful California. That was a shock to them. Nonetheless, I said, “Thank you, but no thank you.” Four days after I declined, the company I was with was bought by a private equity firm. They announced within four days after the acquisition that they were doing a 20% workforce reduction. I had made a decision a few years before that. I was with a company of 80,000 employees. When I left, there were 40,000 employees. I no longer wanted to work for a shrinking company. That was my personal thing. They gave me a package.
On January 3rd, I had a conversation with my son. It was a funny conversation. He said, “Dad, you said LinkedIn would make you money.” I wrote a blog article and I published that on January 5th. Four days after I published that article, it had a video of me speaking. It was about my son asking me who was then five years old about LinkedIn and how come I’m not working for LinkedIn and how you can use LinkedIn to be able to be found more. He had watched my 48-minute presentation of speaking at LinkedIn twice on YouTube. I didn’t know he knew anything about this, but apparently he did. I published this article and four days after I published the article, I receive an InMail. For those who don’t know what an InMail is, it’s a message that you can send to somebody you’re not connected to on LinkedIn, from the Vice President of Worldwide Sales Operations for Fortune 100 number two. He says, “I’m the 14th person to have received your article. I watched your 48-minute video twice. I’d like to be able to invite you in to come to help us launch a program.” Five days after that InMail, I receive a phone call from the Head of America’s Marketing at Fortune 100 number three.
He said, “You may not know this, but I was in your presentation. I read your article and see that you’re out of a job, loved your conversation with your son. I saw your presentation. I’d like to know if you’d like to help us since you’re looking for a job.” Three weeks later, January 27th, I have two signed statement of works and I’m thinking, “I’ll do this until I find my next gig because I’m looking for my next VP of sales role.” I walked out of this office. I go to my wife, her name is Shawnna, and I tell her, “I got good news and I got bad news,” and she’s like, “What’s the bad news?” I said, “The bad news is we have to start a company.” She’s like, “What? What’s the good news?” I’m said, “The good news is we’re fully funded.” It was a huge pivot point. As an entrepreneur there’s a lot of unsettledness. I’ve invested a lot of time and money and hours into starting and launching my own company. We’ve gone through several acquisitions and mergers and bringing people into Vengreso and it’s been all-consuming.
When you guys started, there were seven co-founders involved in Vengreso. I’d love to take this tack if we can. First of all, this is rich because of the great upside to being your own boss and to having your own business. There’s also a daily understanding of what those challenges are. We’re clear that the grass is never greener. We’re clear about that for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re in corporate now and you’re thinking, “That’s what I want to do. I want to do what Mario is doing. The grass is greener there,” or you’re out on your own and an entrepreneur. You’d like to get back into corporate and have that be the stability in your life. The grass is never greener. You’re going to make your bed or mow your lawn wherever you are and it can be a beautiful lawn in either place because clearly, you’re in demand at that point. You had the skill set, you had something special going on. You could have stayed in corporate, but you decided to take that leap, not to get back inside and take a paycheck or sales commission. You started a company. What was that like? What were some of the growing pains you had with seven heads of this multi-Hydra monster?
First off, I started out on my own, which was that January timeframe. Within several months I started hitting all the sales influencer stats and all that stuff. I came up with this idea and I said, “There’s got to be a bigger, faster, better way because all I’m doing is selling myself and I don’t have enough time in the day to sell myself. How do I scale this? How do I build this to scale?” That’s my mindset was always build to scale. That’s when I said, “What if I was to bring together some of the top influencers in the world underneath one corporate umbrella and form the largest digital sales training company in the world? Nobody else is doing that. Let’s see if I can do it.” I came up with this idea and went out and I was on the advisory board for another startup company. I asked them, “Who do you use for your management consultant, put all this structure together?” They gave me who they used and I called him up and said, “This is what I’m looking to do.” He was like, “That’s a brilliant idea.” Service-based companies do it all the time.
In fact, if you look at TwentyEighty, which is a private equity firm, they have done this in terms of roll-ups. They buy a bunch of service-based companies that roll up into one portfolio and everybody works together and helps each other out. It’s a standard protocol. He was like, “Your stuff is new and sexy. It’s not sales training. There are 200 sales training companies that are out there. Yours is all about the pre-hello, whereas everybody else is primarily focused on hello onward. We’ll format this into a roll up. Accounting firms use this. Law firms use this. Service-based professional service companies use this, management consulting companies. You’re good to go.” Put the whole entire program together, did all the contract work, all the pitch decks, brought everybody together. We started out with seven founders in the firm. At present, we have the final four. We’ve lost three individuals in the organization. We lost them for many different reasons.
Timing wasn’t right, maybe it wasn’t a good fit, culture and whatever the case might be. Every one of these items has been a setback for the organization, from the outside no setback. It’s been phenomenal growth on top of that because we remain laser-focused on what the mission is. When we all came together, the mission was and still is now, how to help salespeople create more conversations through digital selling. End of discussion. For everybody else who didn’t want to be part of the club, it’s no problem. What I learned early on was in order to build to scale a company. The first thing you have to figure out is the who. Who are the right players on the team? Who are the individuals that are going to get you to where you need to go? Who are the individuals that support the mission? Who are the individuals that are going to be part of a team? If you don’t have the right who they got to go, that’s it.
They either self-select or you got to move them out of the business. It’s business, it’s not personal. I love every one of the people that were part of the program. I’m thankful for they’re being part of the journey. It wasn’t right for them. Vengreso is growing leaps and bounds and we are still the largest digital sales training company. When you have those pivot points where you lose a cofounder or you lose somebody, think of it as a great thing. It may be a temporary setback, you may have lost a skill, and you may have lost something that you needed, but you can always get it somewhere else. You got to think through these setbacks as opportunities to be able to ask the question, “Was that the who that I needed on the team to begin with?”
You’ve got to be resilient. This is something that is near and dear to our work and our hearts as well is the requirement. It is a business and a life requirement these days that you develop resilience. There are people who are naturally resilient or more resilient, but that is a skill that if I was going to embed the DNA in everyone across the board, it would be this DNA strand of resilience. What you’re talking about and in essence the pivot. What creates successful pivots is your ability to become resilient in the face of any of those seeming changes. I’m a big believer in rituals for resilience. Creating rituals to help us to learn resilience because the research on this is clear, whether it’s your genetics as some people think people are born more resilient or they got that genetically going for them. The epigenetic theory that this is learned, this is acquired, something that is a skill or a way of being that can be learned, acquired and programmed even.
To me, rituals are a way that we are able to reprogram or program ourselves to be able to bounce back quicker, able to learn from setbacks. One of the most powerful questions that I’ve learned and I learned this from my wife, Randi, about resilience is to ask that question, “What is the creative opportunity?” One of your business partners, whether they were a cofounder or someone else in your business, decides to say, “I got to go. This isn’t right. This isn’t working.” What’s the creative opportunity? Let me circle back to rituals. What are some of the things that you do on a consistent basis that help you to see the creative opportunities or get your head straight, get your mindset straight, and get your body right? Whatever it is that helps you to be able to be resilient in the face of disruption, adversity, change or whatever you want to call it.
I’m going to be totally raw and authentic here and that is I wish I had good rituals that I could depend on. Part of this is natural. There’s a natural piece of me that always thinks is the glass half full or half empty? For me, I’m always trying to think how is the glass half full? It’s about your personal mindset. If you don’t have that mindset and you got to go and find the tools that are going to help you get that type of mindset. To your point, whether you lose a founder, whether you lose a person, we’re losing an individual in our organization that plays a critical role. They’re not a founder, they’re not a partner, but they play a critical role. It sucks. As a small business, when you lose an individual, it’s a huge empty void. You’ve got to be thinking through what’s the opportunity. It sucks and after twenty minutes you got to be like, “What’s the solution?” You got to be focused in on. If you don’t have that natural the glass is half full thinking, the optimistic viewpoint as opposed to the pessimistic viewpoint. The resiliency, which comes naturally with most salespeople anyways, especially if you have a quota, then you need to find something that’s going to help you get that.
The other thing too is I used to weigh almost 250 pounds. I had a 42-inch waist and I’m only 5’9” so I was way overweight. I lost 60 pounds. I got down to 180 pounds and then I gained back up to 220. I like to call myself an Oompa Loompa. Now that I’ve shed off twelve pounds to get back down to my one 180 weight is where I’m going. My wife asked me, “How do you feel?” I’m like, “Physically, I don’t feel any different. Everything still feels the same. Mentally, I look better. I feel better.” This is more a realization for me is you got to think of the things that are going to help make you feel better and make you look better so that you perform better. Those are super important that you be in tune with those things and then act upon it. Fortunate for me, I don’t have any per se rituals. No yoga, no meditation, no working out every single day as many other people do. I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’m saying I have a natural knack to thinking that way. The glass is half full and anybody with a half-empty mindset that is a problem. It’s a sore spot for me because I can’t think that way. I don’t allow myself to think that way. I generally try to purge those individuals out so that I don’t become weighed down. That’s for me what I do if you think about a ritual. I’m realizing that especially as you get into your 40s that you start thinking about health in a different way.
A couple of things that is important. It’s a different ritual, but you said document your why and that’s something you do. You document your why at the start of every year. It’s a yearly ritual. It’s not a daily ritual. The shout out to Jim Rohn here is, “The bigger the why, the easier the how.” That’s his quote, I believe. Being able to document your why and be able to express your why. When we work with people, more often than not we’re working with people on how they express themselves. You want to be a better salesperson you’ve got to be able to express yourself clearly. Not just clearly, but powerfully, passionately, authentic, all of these things. The art of public speaking, the art of being able to speak clearly and effectively is key. One of those things that we work with people on is getting clear or getting access to your why. When you can access your why, when you can access the part of you that is at the depth of your heart space, people feel you differently.
Even if you’re still quiet, it doesn’t mean you have to become something that you’re not. All of a sudden, you’re loud and boisterous and that entire thing. I’m an introvert. People are shocked sometimes, maybe not so much when I say that, but a lot of people who are in Hollywood, a lot of speakers, a lot of people who are in the public eye are introverts. It’s an interesting thing because when you’ve got a powerful why, when you know in your core why you do something, why you want to do something, the art of helping. When your insides tell you, every part of you tells you that you want to help other people or help the world in some way, you can get over things like the fact that you’re naturally shy or that you’d prefer to be alone. That’s what introverts are about. It’s about where you regain your energy. I regain my energy and my strength by going internally and by even sometimes being myself or in small groups. Whereas someone who’s more outgoing and extrovert, they gain their energy by going and getting to a club or being with a lot of people.
To me, that’s a ritual from what I see you do, that you document your why. Seeing the world differently, the mindset of half empty or half full as a way of looking at things. If you’re one of those people that naturally gravitate toward what’s missing and what’s wrong and we can call it negative, but it’s where your mind goes. There are certain people who look at a situation and go, “I see what’s missing. I see what’s wrong,” and we need that critical thinking. If you go, “This is what’s right,” everything is always what’s right. Maybe you miss the parts that are in need of some assistance. I’d say Jim Rohn or Zig Ziglar or any of the other people that have proven themselves over time. My mentor would be Emmet Fox. It’s more of spiritual leadership but find someone. There’s so much content on the internet. There are many things that you can find that can help you to see things a bit differently.
Hopefully, this show and our conversation have helped people to see things a little differently, certainly in the arena of sales. Not just the mindset of sales but also the future of sales, which in many ways feels like it’s gravitating towards the digital side. Your company’s committed to that. I love what you said about the pre-hello and the fact that there’s a whole series of things that you could be doing, that all of us can be doing to tee up the hello. To get ready for what a hello looks like and not a superficial hello as in, “Now, I’m going to cold call 100 people and I’m prepared to hear no 99 times to hear that one yes.” I’m not sure that paradigm is wrong, but it’s certainly an older paradigm. What if instead of that you spent your time in pre-hello mode, teeing up ten authentic hellos so that there is a meaningful conversation and an opportunity to open a relationship that’s the result of that? I’ve enjoyed our talk.
I’m glad that you had me. Thank you, Adam. Thank you to our audience. Thanks for reading the stories.
The Art of Helping is going to be Mario Martinez’s book. It’s on its way. It’s in pre-development. Here’s what I want to do as we conclude this episode to remind everybody what a blessing as we started the episode. What a blessing it is that we awoke. We got to wake up and have another day. I wish that more than anything in the world. I wish that for everyone, that for all of us that we get to wake up again. As we do that, the challenge that I’ll put out there is that you take ten seconds at the start of your day. As you put your feet on the floor, you can recognize and realize in truth that not everybody gets to do that. Not everybody gets to start their day at all. As you take that first breath of the day and you’re aware of it, be also aware of the fact that other people will be taking their last breath in that same moment. That’s no joke. That’s no BS. That’s the truth of it. To be grateful even for that at that moment is special. Take ten seconds to put your feet on the floor and feel gratitude and appreciation for yourself. If you’re inclined to say, “I love my life. I love my life. I love my life.” I wish that for all of you. Mario, thank you so much for being on the show.
Thanks for having me. I appreciate it so much.
We’ll see you soon.
- Selling With Social – episode with Adam Markel
- The Story of Sales
- Selling With Social Podcast
- The Art of Helping
- The Go-Giver
- The Greatest Salesman In The World
- The Top 33 Best Sales Books for 2019
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator
About Mario Martinez Jr.
Mario is the CEO and co-founder of Vengreso. He spent 83 consecutive quarters in B2B Sales and Leadership roles growing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually. Mario is one of 20 sales influencers invited to appear in the Salesforce documentary film “The Story of Sales” launched in 2018. He is recognized as the Number 1 Top Sales Performance Guru in the world, named 2019’s Top 10 Sales Influencers by The Modern Sales Magazine, 2018’s Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professional, Selling Power Magazine’s 2018 Top Sales Training and Coaching Consultant, and in 2017 listed as the 6th Most Influential Social Selling Leader globally.
As a renowned digital sales evangelist, Mario teaches marketing and sales professionals how to develop an engaging personal brand to attract today’s modern buyer using the digital sales ecosystem. Mario is the host of the popular Selling With Social Podcast. He’s been featured in Forbes, INC., Entrepreneur and the Huffington Post. He’s a highly sought-after Keynote Speaker with brands such as LinkedIn, Cisco and many more. He is also known to open a speech with a Salsa dance. Follow him on YouTube, LinkedIn, on Twitter or view his website at https://vengreso.com.