Mike’s Story Part 1: My First Big Break In Sales

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As I write this, it is June 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. I am 31 and married with a 2.5-year-old and one on the way. I am Vice President of Daniel Enterprises, a $5M commercial and residential roofing, siding and gutter company, and launching this construction sales and communication consulting company, WinRate. This is my story.

My focus for WinRate is helping remove FEAR from the remodeling sales process through structured and consistent communication practices.

Seems pretty straight-forward, right?

Communicate with clients and they can hire you confidently. But you will see in my story just how challenging this is and just how many issues there are with this concept widespread in the construction industry. Thank you for reading!

Let’s go back to the very beginning…

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Huge Steelers and Penguins fan. My mom was a teacher and my dad was a sales professional in the steel industry. One of the earliest memories of “sales” training I ever had came from my dad.

I wanted to get a new baseball bat. Let me preface this, as an 11-year-old travel player, baseball was my everything. My dad made me sit down and sell him on why I needed the bat, how I was planning to help pay for it, how I planned to maintain it, and how I thought this piece of equipment would help me hit my current goals.

At the time I had no idea what I was being taught other than the need to give my dad convincing reasons I needed a very expensive piece of equipment. To convince him, I used some of the same techniques I later used in closing deals with CEOs of multimillion-dollar companies. I never really knew what I wanted to do when I grew up other than play sports but this was one of those experiences that, to this day, sits in my subconscious and loves to pop up when the real crunch time or objections come up in sales situations.

 

And I continued to learn

When I was in high school, my dad changed jobs and moved our family from Pittsburgh to central VA. This was one of my first lessons in the need to accept, expect, and adapt to change.

It wasn’t going to work to sit and wish I was back home with my friends and my comfort zone. I had to move forward or be miserable. This was a time when my dad also taught me one of the biggest lessons of sacrifice that I hold onto to this day, now that I am building my own family.

He moved several months before the rest of the family to get acclimated and worked day and night to learn a new industry. I appreciate that sacrifice more now than I did then. I now realize how scary, intimidating, challenging, and ballsy that move was.

He saw a need to get his kids into a better environment. It would be hard for me to make that decision, and my kids aren’t even in school yet. His willingness to sacrifice the easy road to pave the way for a better future for his family, plus his dedication to put all the hours in to make sure he was successful in his new position, was something I have always truly respected about him and one of the biggest lessons in humility and selflessness I learned from anyone in my life.

 

Learning to adapt

After acclimating to a new environment, joining a team, tearing my ACL, turning to alcohol to cope, fast-tracking my recovery, making it back on the diamond, tearing ligaments in my hand, earning MVP, walking-on at a D3 college, getting knocked down a peg from high school top dog, not getting much playtime, drinking my homesickness and depression away and failing most classes, and being put on academic suspension… I realized I had been a passenger of my own life and something had to change. I headed back home.

I was scared, confused, and lost as to what to do. All of my enjoyment, satisfaction, and comfort came from the ball field. I didn’t know how to be happy without it. I didn’t know really how to do anything other than prepare for, train for, and excel at sports.

This was one of the first times I found one of my current strengths of self-analysis and my ability to walk myself through a situation and examine all inputs and outcomes to make the right decision. Clearly to this point I had sucked ass at this. But that day, driving home from college, I made the decision to quit drinking, quit smoking, quit being lost, and start taking control of my life.

 

Taking control of my own life

I didn’t quite know how to take control. I was always led by my coaches or my parents in a very set environment. I was able to be very successful but within very strict parameters. Be at practice by this time, go to school at this time, be home at this time.

I was so confused and insecure about what I had put myself through and all the terrible decisions I made, I lost all faith in my ability to communicate my thoughts and feelings and ended up holding everything in.

I severally struggled with happiness and satisfaction based on success.

I spent the better part of two years meeting with a therapist to learn how to express my feelings. I went from no one ever knowing what I was thinking truly to now, if you ask any of my friends, there is never a question of how I am feeling or what I am thinking.

 

My first big break – and first job in sales

Looking back on my career my first big break came in the fall of 2006. I got a call from a friend asking if I was looking for a job. It was a sales job.

I had zero sales experience. I got called in for an interview that I will never forget. I was interviewed by a store manager and regional manager for a sales rep position in a cell phone retail store. The regional manager slid me a phone and said, “sell me text messaging.”

Keep in mind this was before the first smartphone came out so text messaging was a big deal. I had no idea what to do. I faked some skit about let me turn to my computer and see what package I can ring you up for. Basically, acting like a grocery store check-out clerk. Clearly, they were desperate because I got a job offer later that day.

This job at a small retail location is what has led to every great thing that has happened to me since.

It led to meeting my wife, making more money than I could ever have imagined, moving to Charlotte – which brought me into a group of successful friends that has molded me into the person I am today. All of this took sacrifice, struggle, failure and many nights wondering why I was doing these retail hours.

Mostly it all led to bigger and better opportunities that have gotten me to where I am today and given me the experiences necessary to grow small companies by millions of dollars. Thanks to this struggle and my dedication to learning from my experiences, I gained the knowledge necessary to start WinRate with all the confidence and passion I need to make it very successful and use my skills to help others.

Thank you for reading my story!

Thank you for reading my story and a few of the experiences that guided my work ethic and drive that has brought me to where I am. I hope that you were able to align with parts of my story and if you are in one of the less than enjoyable phases I mentioned, I promise if you keep focusing on improvement and getting better either on your own or with help there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It is always darkest before the day.

I promise your story is not over and there is greatness in your future as long as you start to believe it and repeat it to yourself every day.

There is more to my story of how I was led to being a construction sales expert. Read more here… and if you feel the desire to please reach out and tell me about your story, I would love to hear about it!

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