Deb Calvert is September’s Contributor Spotlight! Each month, SalesPOP! interviews one of our top contributors, giving readers a peek into the mind of experts in the sales industry. Calvert has had a long relationship with SalesPOP!, sharing her insights as one of Treeline’s “65 Most Influential Women in Business” and a professor at University of California, Berkeley.
Her SalesPOP! Contributions include numerous blog articles, such as Sales Managers: Focus on Employee Engagement, Stop the Revolving Door of Sales Hiring, and How Learning Leadership Improves Sales Results; media features like her true sales tale, Ask the Right Discover Questions…or Suffer the Consequences, and a #SalesChat, Stop Selling, Start Leading.
An expert on sales management, training, coaching, and leadership development, she shares information about her career. Check out her interview below.
Thanks for being such a prominent contributor! We love how you’ve shared your insights with us over the years. What’s your favorite part of contributing to SalesPOP!?
SalesPop! is the real deal. Like Pipeliner CRM, Go Ahead!, and many of the contributors and supporters in this universe, I’m a strong believer that we have to focus first on today’s buyer. I have a natural affinity with Pipeliner. After all, I’ve been championing the notion of “putting people first” for 13 years through my business People First Productivity Solutions. So the mission of Pipeliner, which begins with “We put people first…” really resonates with me! It’s an honor to be part of a community where this is a true commitment (not just a platitude). SalesPop! delivers quality content and is making a difference when it comes to educating sellers and helping them adapt to a buyer-driven world. Being some small part of that is what I like best about being associated with SalesPop! and Pipeliner.
How did becoming a University Instructor change how you think about the sales and business world?
The opportunities I’ve had to work at seven universities has changed my thinking about sales and the business world tremendously. Mainly, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of being both a doer and a learner. Inside and outside of academia, far too many people resist learning and change. They defend antiquated ideas about how to sell and reject the uncomfortable truth that sellers aren’t keeping up with emerging buyer demands. Similarly, there are those who focus too heavily on theory and rely too much on new technologies without testing them in real-world selling situations. Being in the classroom and keeping up with research is important. Being in the field and getting a reality check is equally important. Teaching sales people and leaders from every sector opens my eyes to a variety of perspectives. Researching what drives buyers balances those perspectives. Coaching sellers in the field and continuing to be my company’s sales lead gives me an opportunity to test what I’m hearing vs. spreading unproven or half-baked theories of my own. Continually learning and doing the hard work to get appropriate certifications in coaching, instructional design, and assessment tools provides me with rigorous standards and deep confidence in what I offer my clients and students.
You seem to do it all. You have a book named by HubSpot as one of the highest rated sales books of all time, you’re a University Instructor, a sales influencer, and a certified sales coach. What advice do you have for others who want to follow in your footsteps?
My advice is to find your passion before trying to find your outlets for it. What’s most gratifying for me is when I’ve contributed to someone else’s growth. My passion to make a meaningful difference to others is what steers my decisions about what to do and how to do it. Making a difference — one that really helps people — happens in training workshops, 1:1 coaching, through books and speaking engagements, and in collaborations with colleagues. I choose to do the work that fuels my passion. Examples include founding The Sales Experts Channel, contributing to SalesPop!, and training trainers to deliver our leadership, management and sales courses.
It’s easy for others to misunderstand this sequence. They see the outlets and the activity, and they try to emulate what others have done by following rote steps. Without the passion and purpose, they run out of fuel. I “do it all” because I am constantly refueled by work that makes a genuine difference.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Professionally, what is most gratifying for me is when I’ve contributed to someone else’s growth. That happens in training workshops, 1:1 coaching, through books and speaking engagements, and in collaborations with colleagues.
What was your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?
I have to admit that there’s one way I’ve failed multiple times. I’m still learning on this one! In business, you have to be careful when it comes to selecting partners and associates. I’ve been burned a few times by people I trusted and respected. What I’ve learned is that some of the titans in our industry don’t back their public image with personal integrity. They don’t walk their talk. Professionally, that’s been an expensive lesson to learn. Personally, it’s been deeply disappointing to realize that my admiration and respect had been misplaced. The takeaways I’m reluctantly adopting are to proceed with caution no matter how well-known someone is, to read the early warning signs about character before it’s too late, and to accept that “birds of a feather flock together.” With these reminders, I am becoming more discerning and refining my inner circle.
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