Don Williams | The Sales Process for Top Performers and The Importance of Practicing Gratitude

Don Williams 10:54

And I kind of agree with Mark, I think for sure, sales cures half of your problems. And the other half, you now have money to hire people to fix. And so it’s kind of like being a football team. If you my Dallas Cowboys are not very good very often. But if they would score 50 points a game, they will almost never lose. Okay, and if and if you’re if your sales are very high, 50 points a game high, you will almost never lose, because you’ll just have so much access, you almost can’t be that silly, stupid, or grant. right not to do well. But But the second year, I began to have some mastery, not just over selling and dealing with people, but also in running a business. Okay, and dealing with accounts receivable, and accounts payable and taxation, and all the other things that go on that a sales guy is not normally, you know, skilled to deal with, right. And so but I began to having some mastery, open my second location, and got the first location, humming. I mean, it was running like a machine, open the second location, random issues there for about a year. First locations humming though, so you know what half your life is really good. You can you can deal focus on the bad part. And you can kind of manage that it’s like, it’s not like the whole ship is going down. And

John Corcoran 12:34

it also sounds like this was a good, you know, I don’t know if this is exactly the model. But these days, there’s the Drop Shipping model where people sell something, they never actually take delivery of it, it ships directly, you know, people sell those sorts of things on Amazon and whatnot. It sounds like this was maybe a low inventory type of business where you’re just selling the membership, and then they get access to buy from the wholesale providers out. Right.

Don Williams 12:59

Exactly. And, and then about, you know, probably 50% of all purchases were furniture, we dealt with 300 Different furniture manufacturers, so the furniture did not get shipped to the customer’s home, back then you could do that today. And in some locations, some major cities, you could you could do that, then, but the furniture was shipped to our physical location, and we uncredited inspect to that. And then the client came and picked it up, or we hired a delivery service to take it to their home. And that also was a huge, even today, if you bought furniture from North Carolina, okay, and you had a ship to your home, that the freight. And I’ll just say if it if it was $1,000 to ship it to a business, it’s going to be $1,600 to ship it to your home. Because it’s going on a on a, you know, a 54 foot trailer, it’s going on a big truck. And it’s just a lot easier for the people on the logistic side to unloaded at a dock than it is to pull up, you know, in front of house or condo and go up the steps. Right? You know, they’re not used to doing

John Corcoran 14:08

that. What about I want to ask you about, you know, you said that since you were young people said you’re good at sales. And I often say that sometimes our greatest strength becomes our biggest liability, because we’re good at it. So we don’t want to let go of it. And also, as you pointed out, a lot of times some of the best players are not great coaches. How did you get over that? How are How did you manage to you said it took about six months to teach people to become top performers. How did you teach sales to people who work for you?

Don Williams 14:38

So great question and but but keep in mind, you know, top salesman in the country, and a year later, top sales manager so I’ve always kind of had the teacher mentor gene, I guess I was born with it. I don’t know. And, you know, I think it’s important that you model the right behavior. People forget what you say. And sometimes they can’t even hear what you say, because your action screams so loudly in their ears. And so it’s much better to model it than it is to tell it. And that goes for salespeople or children in your household. Same, same principle. And so I was always pretty good with that Where I was weak, was on the business side. I didn’t know. You know, I didn’t, I didn’t know what a balance sheet was. I didn’t know what a p&l was. I didn’t know any of that stuff. And I’d always made a lot of money as a young guy. And so I never learned. And so

John Corcoran 15:44

who did you turn to then? You know, you and I know each other through EO Entrepreneurs Organization, which is a community of entrepreneurs who are looking for that type of support. So did you turn to?

Don Williams 15:55

So a great question, and I won’t say I did this well, and I’ll tell you a funny kind of sad story. But the burst April 15, I’m looking for an accountant to help me with a tax return, I find a guy who was primarily oil and gas accountant. But But, but literally, he said, you know, you’re here, you’re a month late. What do you mean, I’m a month late? It’s April 15. He’s like, Yeah, your tax returns to march 15. I mean, that’s how knowledgeable I was. I wasn’t knowledgeable at all. Yeah. And Jim did in back in that day, you know, you sent all your check stubs and your bank statement, your invoice, you sent everything to your accountant. And they had I’ll say a clerk. So that’s not gonna be the right word. But but an employee in his office entered everything into there. This is pre QuickBooks. Yeah, okay, entered everything into a system, they printed out your p&l and your balance sheet. Everything was went to the appropriate accounts, but the accounts were four digit codes. It wasn’t as simple as QuickBooks to say, Okay, well, you know, account 1000, we could call income, and we could put what it is beside the numbers. And so you wouldn’t have to call your accountant and say, what is that? What does that mean? Okay. Yeah, but, but back in the day, that’s how it was, it was all done to a four digit code. And so you’d send it off, and they would send you the write up with a call the write up once a month. And, and so I learned, like, like, most things I’ve learned in my life the hard way, I thought I knew what I was doing. And then when I found out I didn’t, I got people who did, you know, to, to show me and, you know, we do know each other through EO Entrepreneurs Organization, and, and it’s a phenomenal resource for entrepreneurs, unbelievable, in my opinion, the best on the planet. And I know of several that I think are very, very, very high quality, but way back in which TOF balls maybe Fort Worth, but I had a client call me one day and said, You know, I think you ought to join this group. And I was like, what’s it called? And he said, It’s called YEO, which, of course, was the original name for reverse organization, with the Young Entrepreneurs Organization.

John Corcoran 18:44

And then when was this this late? 80s? Early 90s? Yeah,

Don Williams 18:48

yeah. I can’t tell you exactly when, but somewhere in there. I mean, tell me a little bit about it. And they did. And I was like, Okay, I’m not a joiner and I don’t play well, with others, I pass. Now, fast forward, 20, maybe 25 years later, a friend who I’ve known for 25 years. tech guy, brilliant, genius. tech guy. Okay. So different personality from me, okay. He calls me he says, hey, I want you to invite you to come to this thing. And I’m like, No, I don’t do things. And I said, No, if it’s multi level, and I know I’ve known him 20 years. I said, if it’s multi level, then you’re gonna

John Corcoran 19:30

send me some Tupperware. I’m like,

Don Williams 19:32

I will never speak to you again. And he knows me. And he’s like, I know. And so it’s not multilevel. I go to this dinner. I can’t figure out what they’re doing. But it’s an EO test drive. I wouldn’t say it was a good one. Yeah, but it was a test drive. At the end. The guy who was doing it, he couldn’t articulate the offer which is like, number one, broken rule of thumb. Hills if you can’t tell people what the offer is, they certainly can’t make a decision on it. But, but he couldn’t articulate the offer. And he did. But he did say, don’t make me chase, you tell me yes or no at the end of today. And I was like, Well, if you could tell me what the offer was, I can tell you yes or no. But since you can’t, I guess the answer is no. Okay. And so and it wasn’t a big box, it was five or $6,000. But I called my buddy, the guy who had invited me the next morning, and I was like, Walter, Walter monk, good friend of mine. Walter, do you think I’m gonna like this? And he said, I think you’re gonna love it. I was like, Okay, I’ll send him a check. And, and that’s kind of accidentally haphazardly. Who knows, maybe the universe conspired, but, but that’s how I didn’t join EO, back when maybe I could have been king of the world. You know, when I was just really, really young. And how I did join 25 years later.

John Corcoran 21:00

That’s funny. And I want to ask you about so in the meantime, you your company, you grew your company, it grew to eventually 20 locations I want to ask you about, you said the second location was a struggle for you. Obviously, you must have figured something out because you had 22 locations eventually. What did you figure out? How did you overcome that hurdle?

Don Williams 21:22

Ma’am? Great question. Nobody ever asked that. So here’s how we we tripled the business in three days. Wow. I’ve been in business three years. Okay. Two years in Wichita Falls. Another year in Fort Worth two years in Wichita Falls, it was painful, right, four years, two years, which I thought was painful, one year where things really really rocked and rolled, open a third location, a second location, which files which like 120 miles apart. And in Texas, that’s nothing. That’s like driving the 711. And, and then the Fort Worth location, I couldn’t get it going. But what used to happen is we would have salespeople sit down with prospects. So John and Mary Smith, who’d come in, and they were a prospect for what we were doing, and we would sit down with them one on one, and do about an hour or an hour and a half sales talk. So think like, timeshare, camping memberships, Lake clots, things like that. It’s that type of direct sales operation. And and that’s how we did it. I met some other people that they were, instead of sitting down one salesperson with one prospect, they were sitting one salesperson down with an average of three prospects. Hmm. Okay. And so literally, in three days, we put us on a run rate to triple our annual sales.

John Corcoran 22:56

And what are you doing, like a dinner format or anything like that? I’m just

Don Williams 22:59

not doing that format. We had a brick and mortar office and we brought people on site. Yeah. But but instead of we were doing many mass presentations, and then at times we did mass presentations, 25 or 50 people in a big room. But, but even today, so I’m a tactical sales consultant. And I see everything along the metaphor of romance. Okay, I see business at the customer journey as parallel and almost identical to the romantic journey. Okay,

John Corcoran 23:33

you’re dating and then you get more serious? Yeah, day in the prospecting. Yeah,

Don Williams 23:39

I’ll skip over the padding but, but at the point where you sign the contract, that’s like saying, I do, okay, I’ve won the deal. Now, okay. The relationship changes from pure romance to Hey, guys got to still bring some romance cross a line. Okay. And, and so for most of my clients, now, they have one of two problems. One, they don’t have enough dates, they don’t have a consistent stream of qualified leads. So they’re making up sales. Okay, to they’re not very good data, they can never get a second date. They need to up their game. And so and sometimes, clients who have both problems, okay, but generally, it’s one or the other. And so, what we learned there going back 25 years was we weren’t seeing enough people. Okay, and so time is all it’s our common enemy. As an entrepreneur. You can do 10 million in sales over 10 years, or you can do 10 million in sales in one year. Okay, you Peck. And it’s not quite that simple. But about 50% of it. That simple. Okay, am I going to build an organization that’s going to do this, or am I going to build an organization that’s going to do this? Okay, and by condensing the time, okay, that’s how you really make things rock and roll. And so we went from doing one on one presentations to three on one presentations and tripled our business literally overnight, went on to add a total of 22 locations. No outside capital, no debt ever. Okay, we did it the old fashioned way. And, you know, today, I probably wouldn’t do it the same way. But we just earned her money and we reinvested it. Okay, yeah. And could we have gotten faster with debt? Sure, could we’ve gotten faster with capital? Sure.

John Corcoran 25:38

But and to use your metaphor, you must have figured out some way to expand the dating pool, there wasn’t a shortage of, you know, people to be in these three on one presentation and one on three presentations.

Don Williams 25:52

So we knew it down to the point that, so even if, if you’re a contact, so I have a contact center client right now, who is reaching out to owners of restaurants, okay. And they only want to talk to owners that have 15 to 100 employees. Okay. And that’s a, there’s, let’s just say there’s 100,000 of those in the country. Okay. Because because maybe you own 17 locations, but you’re still the only owner. So those 17 locations really become one point of contact. So let’s just say there’s 100,000 of those. So I would tell you from a contact center standpoint, you could call all 100,000 records every quarter, to call 30 33,000, in January, 30,000, February 33,000, in March, and then in April, you could call the records back in January, because you will never talk to everybody in the lowest okay. But if you call sooner than that, there will be some road rash. You know, we used we used to do a lot of work for that company is still a lot of work for Aflac. And they were so prolific in one specific market country, that and I’m being facetious here, but it was almost that when you would call, they would answer the phone and say, Rise25 You better not be athletic. It wasn’t that bad button, but but they had basically scorched the earth.

John Corcoran 27:26

So so the answer is that you had figured out outbound sales at this early stage,

Don Williams 27:33

I knew my numbers needed. I knew my numbers. And so and I encourage anybody, when you look at marketing and sales, you got to figure out your numbers. Okay, you know, number one, what’s gonna be your ROI. Okay. And number two, you know, what, you know, at what point is a market saturated? Because when it saturated, you’re done. You’re done growing. Okay.

John Corcoran 28:00

And so and so that’s when you knew you had to go on to another market.

Don Williams 28:05

Yeah. So look at look at you know, Cabela’s Cabella started in nowhere, Nebraska. Okay, and I forget the name, but but it’s not Omaha and it’s not Lincoln. Okay. And that makes it nowhere, Nebraska. Yeah. And I got lots of friends in Nebraska. Don’t send me any hate mail. But But literally nowhere, Nebraska. And so to expand their market, they put out a physical catalog, similar to what JC Penney’s and Sears Roebuck did, and that expanded their market. And then when the internet got popular, okay, I’m sure they sell and now they’re owned by Bass Pro, Johnny Morris Bass Pro, but I’m sure that I don’t know 70 80% of their volume is actually in online sales, not brick and mortar sales. And so those are just strategies to expand that market to avoid market saturation.

John Corcoran 29:02

Yeah. What are some other challenges with opening up these different locations? You’re young guy, you got a family, you know, who was it trial was it’s travel hard, or, you know, did you have to move around to these different cities as you open up new locations?

Don Williams 29:19

I didn’t move around. No, I had, you know, I was very good at training and motivating, you know, sales managers. And so my sales managers had to move okay, but they were also compensated at a level that they didn’t mind. In fact, they not only didn’t mind they kind of liked it. And, and they were young guys, so they were seeing some married some not okay, but but they were, you know, they enjoyed it. So it’s a matter of finding, you know, when you recruit people that are the right fit, or the right fit, people that are the wrong fit are pretty much the wrong Have you know, we were good? The people part of business has always been pretty easy for me. Okay. And I think so many times entrepreneurs ask what business they’re in. They’re like, Well, I’m in it. I’m in. I’m in legal field, I’m in whatever. And you’re like, Yeah, you’re really not. We’re all in the people business. And so when you get that people part done, man, you can get great things to happen. And you get you get subject matter experts on everything else. Okay, even today, 35 years as an entrepreneur, you know, you wouldn’t hire me as a consultant to do accounting systems, you wouldn’t hire me as a consultant to do governance and compliance. Okay, do I know a lot about that? Yeah, I know a lot about that, primarily, because I’ve worked with so many major corporations. But my, you know, where I can bring magic to your life as this, I can see how to put your sales process together to crank it way up. Almost instantly. 

I mean, I’ve just done it for so long. And you know, we all have, like few do Clifton Strengths or Myer Briggs or, you know, any of those. So in Clifton, I think that’s Clifton, my top my strength there is strategist. And a strategist is a person, how they define it is somebody who sees how to connect the dots almost instantly. And so I really get no credit for it. You know, it’s not a skill. I don’t have I honed it, yeah. Okay. But if you’re gonna have to give credit for it, you’d have to thank my mom and dad, even though, you know, they gave me my DNA, but they didn’t choose it. You know, and, and so I’m a real big believer that, and this, I learned any of this the number one win in e o for me. And I’ve written four books and have a fairly popular podcast and meet cool people like you that were instantly, you know, brothers, okay, no matter where we met Washington, DC, what, 60 days ago? Yeah. And, but the number one thing, my number one went and do is this. Because of what I’ve learned any, I only invest time and effort where I can be, and I’m gonna say this with humility. Or I can be magnificent. And I do workshops where I talk about the word magnificence. And you know, even when you just use the word people kind of cringe. They’re like, they’re like, do I do anything magnificently? Like I know you do. I don’t know what it is yet. Give me 30 minutes, and I’ll figure it out. But there is something you do that you are a genius. You’re a wizard, and you perform at a magnificent level. And I really think that’s the only thing you should do. You know, other people to do everything else,

John Corcoran 33:11

that might be a good transition point, because I wanted to get to asking about your contact center business, because it’s kind of funny the way that you ended up in that business. So at some point, you decide to sell your the wholesale Buyers Club, service. And then you end up it’s kind of a funny story, like the the buyer didn’t want the contact center piece of it. So tell us the story and how you ended up starting another business focused on that.

Don Williams 33:39

So, you know, like many acquisitions, a larger player in your space grows by acquiring your business. Okay, and so they already had a call center, they are, you know, they, you know, if we were going to do a roll up, if we’re going to put 10 auto body shops together, okay, and go take them public. We need the mechanics, we need the bays, we need the buildings, but the bookkeepers and the 10 and I’m not picking on bookkeepers for auto shops, but I don’t need 10 bookkeepers for that I need one. Okay, so I’m gonna save a little money there. And so that was very similar to what happened. They were not interested in the real estate or in the business or in the call center. And so after it sat idle for a while, not a year, but close to probably, I decide, well, I’m gonna be in the call center business. I know how to do that. We have generated our own leads forever. And so So here’s guerilla marketing for you. I didn’t really know how to go when business there I’d been direct consumer my whole career. Okay, so now, I’m going to need businesses to hire us for their business initiative. And so I found a list of the largest 50 Call centers in the United States. And and I sent a fax. Okay, a fax back in the day. Yeah, but not a carrier pigeon, not that old. Fax, okay. And I wrote a fax that said, Hey, I’m Don Williams. And here’s where I’m located. And I’ve been in the call center business since forever. And here’s what I’ve done in terms of leads and appointments over my career. And and if you need a high quality call center, if you have an opportunity come your way, these are my competitors that I’m sending this to. If you have a high quality opportunity coming your way, that’s not a good fit. Would you think of me as a potential referral? me as a potential referral? 

John Corcoran 35:41

That’s it?

Don Williams 35:42

That’s it.

John Corcoran 35:43

That’s what you said? And why did you think they’re gonna send you business?

Don Williams 35:53

Well, I’m one of those optimistic expect things to go well, people will ask I guess, right. And so about a month late, well, you know, who’s getting the leads? They are? Yeah, sure. Okay. And in that business, if you’re a big call center, you know, one of my best friends, the business have 8000 seats. If you call them up, and you want to call her she know what they do. 

John Corcoran 36:16

Please forgive them and then return the phone call. 

Don Williams 36:18

They laugh. Yeah. Okay, you know, it’s 25 people minimum, one year contract, right? $100,000, check walking in the door, we’re gonna need another one and a couple of weeks. Okay, it’s that kind of it’s that kind of business. So I get a call from a guy, I don’t know. But from one of the companies that I’ve sent the fax to, and he said, Look, I may have a deal for you. I’m picking up a client tomorrow, DFW International Airport, they think we’re going to launch their campaign, we are not, I’d like to bring them to your call center. I don’t know him, I’ve never met him. I don’t know his name is caused because of your letter that you sent. Because of the facts and the facts, the facts, the VAT, he calls and says I’m going to pick them up the airport, I want to bring them to your call center location. And I want you to launch the campaign. And the money that that you earn will be yours, I don’t do not want a referral fee. Now going forward, if this works, I’ll want referral fees. But on this one, I don’t. So literally, I’m talking to him at like noon, or one o’clock in the afternoon, at 10 o’clock in the morning, he’s going to show up, I’m going to meet him for the first time. client doesn’t know that. But I know that and I’ll meet the client for the first time. And, and we need to have the campaign, you know, call center, you know, there’s, it’s a technology business to you have to program everything into script screens, reports into a switch, you know, takes a programmer, most of them what three weeks to get that done, I’ve got something less than 24 hours. As we get it done, client shows up. There, they’re in the trucking business. And we launched the campaign, it runs for a year. And so so another tip there is this. It’s a lot easier to sell what people want to buy than it is to sell what you think they should buy. Mm hmm. And so if somebody wants to buy something, and you can do it, even if you don’t know, all 26 steps, figure it out. Say yes. Figure it out.

John Corcoran 38:35

Yeah, that’s always a tough one. Right? Because the tension there is, you know, staying within your lane, continue to do what you know, you do well, and whether you should chase other opportunities that come along.

Don Williams 38:47

It isn’t, you know, where I see that the most I have a client right now they’re in the technology business. Most of my clients are what I call scientists. So I work with a lot of law firms, really brainy people, poor at winning business, but really smart people, accountants, pharma, physicians, engineers, people that are really high IQ, but maybe a quart low EQ, endless selling and buying happens. You know, you don’t fall in love on IQ. Yeah, fall in love with EQ. Okay, and keep in mind, I think business is all about romance. Yeah. So if they if they fall in love with me, they will buy

John Corcoran 39:29

so then the challenge for you is as a contact center, you do outbound you make the introduction and it’s not love at first sight is much worse, right? To take the metaphor further. Like they they don’t know how to date. So then is that how you got into the consulting side of well, we got to have to teach you how to dress and I have to teach you how to how to buy order a glass of wine off the menu.

Don Williams 39:52

Use your breath stuff. Yeah, the whole thing. So yes, and okay, so We used to just give away hundreds of 1000s of dollars worth of consulting, when we saw call center business. Okay, we don’t do that anymore. If you wanted to call center, you know that they’re separate businesses call call center does handles phone calls, live chat, emails, the consulting business, we handle problems, and we turn them into solutions. And sometimes they overlap, but I don’t know maybe 10% of the clients. We’re doing both with, okay. II Oh, so my, my my passion, but I’m really best at what I can be magical about is helping people refine that customer journey to where things get easier, okay. And you’ll have more leads, and you’ll have more sales, and you’ll have more money, and you won’t even really know why you do but you will. And that’s easy for you to keep doing. Okay, when you have to learn the 17 step system by my competitor, that’s really hard. And maybe you can do it with a gun to your head for 48 hours. But as soon as time goes by or the threat goes away, you can’t keep up with the 17 steps. So. So there is some overlap, but but they’re pretty separate. You know, businesses?

John Corcoran 41:22

Yeah, yeah. Well, I’m mindful of the time I’m really enjoying talking to you, but I want to be respectful of your time. And since you wrote a whole book about gratitude, I have to ask my gratitude question at the end. To make sure that we get that and so first of all, I’m a big fan of gratitude like you are expressing it publicly to those who are appreciative of so if you look around at your peers and contemporaries, however you wanted to find that duty respect to the admire, would you want to just thank publicly for helping you along the way?

Don Williams 41:54

Okay, so and I believe, when you intentionally practice gratitude, it starts out with I’m grateful for. So I’ll answer that question in this manner. I’m grateful for Gina Molipede Long, Whistler Canada, who I met in Bangkok, Thailand. And she shared something with me about human performance and emotion. And that humans perform at their very highest level, when they express your experience, gratitude, and that put me on my gratitude journey. I had wanted almost everything I’d ever done. But I’d never been that grateful. I expected to do well. And maybe that’s one of the reasons I did pretty well. But I never really was grateful. And so sometime we have more time. I’m happy to tell that whole story. I’m grateful to her in EO, I’m grateful to Warren Rustand, okay, out of Scottsdale, Arizona, he just wrote a book called The Leader Within Us. He’s been a phenomenal mentor to me, George Gan, but I’ve met in EO who is lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. And then I’ll, I’ll reference my EO Forum, which is seven other gentlemen, most of whom I’ve been with for almost nine years now. And that group of men who have you know, poured in my life and given of their time and of their intellect, and of their heart, I am really grateful to them. And then finally, the love of my life is Leta, and I’m so grateful to her. 

John Corcoran 43:57

That’s great. Don, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. Where can people go to connect with you learn more about you check out your podcast, check out your books?

Don Williams 44:04

I’m everywhere on social media. The podcast is The Proven Entrepreneur Show. You can email me at [email protected] And you can find me Don Williams or Don Williams Global almost everywhere.

John Corcoran 44:20

Excellent. Don, thanks so much.

Don Williams 44:22

Thank you, John. 

Outro 44:23

Thank you for listening to the Smart Business Revolution Podcast with John Corcoran. Find out more at And while you’re there, sign up for our email list and join the revolution. And be listening for the next episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast.