Next up in our expert interviews series is Allan Himmelstein, Founder of Sales Coach AZ. With over 30 years of sales experience, he provides candid observations and powerful insights on why small businesses need a sales coach, how sales and marketing should work together, and what the future of sales holds.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into this industry.
I started my career as a Sales Person for Kraft Foods. Kraft had a very detailed sales training, which gave me a structured strategic analytical approach to selling. One basic simple sales premise that has become my mantra is that unless you can save a person or a company time, trouble, or money than you should not try and sell them. After 9 years and 4 promotions at Kraft, I was approached by an established European company to start up their operations selling enzymes for food processing. I always wanted my own business, and now I could start one with someone else’s money. After 10 years we had gone from 0 to $40,000,000. We had 2 manufacturing facilities, and I was now in charge of 4 business units managing rapid growth and dealing with a European business mentality. Another European flavor company approached me to turn around their struggling US flavor operations. After going through 1.5 years of Due Diligence and negotiating, I helped sell the operations to ConAgra. At ConAgra, I was made a VP of Sales and Marketing. Although I have extensive experience in all aspects of operations, my true passion is Sales and Marketing. That is where all the action most of the creativity and strategic thinking comes from in any organization.
When did you start Sales Coach AZ?
In 2010, I started Sales Coach AZ. I developed the idea of becoming an Outsourced Sales Manager.
Why would people want a service like this?
Most small business owners are trying to juggle sales, marketing, and operations. They frequently cannot afford a Sales Manager. If they have a Sales Manager, it is usually their best sales person, who has not been trained as a Sales Manager. I fill in the gap. Sales Management is second nature to me. I have been doing it for over 30 years.
What’s one of the best success stories you’ve had with Sales Coach AZ?
A drug testing company wanting to expand their market decided to go into 24/7 nursing care for Workman’s Compensation. The owner considered himself to be a great sales person, but never really managed sales people. After almost a year of little to no sales, he called me. After some initial discussions with the salespeople and the owner I discovered the following. There was no clear message on how the company can save time, trouble, and money. When I say money, I do not mean a better price. Their target market was not clear, and they had no idea of a Sales Process. How many times do you hear every customer is different. Developing a message was the easy part. Now how do we get the leads and get them in the door? After teaching them the basics of LinkedIn, the Sales Manager and I worked on developing a process to get leads through LinkedIn. After 4 years this company is now approaching over $4M in sales.
Why can’t people just get sales and marketing to work together their own?
It’s fascinating to see how Marketing and Sales have changed over the years. I think many companies have not been able to differentiate how Marketing and Sales are different, yet work hand in hand to generate revenue and profit. This is especially true in small business, where restrictive budgets and insufficient planning hurt a company’s growth. I try to think of Sales and Marketing as an orchestra. The strings, horns, and drums all must work together to make it work. Better communication between departments and very clear achievable joint goals is imperative if a company is going to make the system work and for company growth.
Where do you see the future of sales and marketing integration going?
Companies must recognize the importance and differentiation of both disciplines. Sales people will become more and more consultative, and with a stronger emphasis on service rather than product. Marketing must help Sales craft and deliver the proper messages and together they must define a joint path to success.