The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

Ep 71: From Farmer to Sales Leader with George Leith


Ep 71: From Farmer to Sales Leader with George Leith

Part of the "Is This a Good Time?" Series hosted by Brandon Barton.

Hello everyone and welcome to the revenue collected podcast. I am your host, Brandon Barton and you're listening to Is this a good time the show, I asked revenue Collective members some really basic questions and they have incredible answers. In a short 15 minute conversation. We really shows Tuesdays and Thursdays and if you hit subscribe this week, I promise that I will teach you where saskatoon saskatoon Saskatchewan is in Canada. If I even got that sounding right. Our guest today is actually from there. That is George Leaf, He is the sierra and Bend Asta and we talk about his journey from working on a farm to becoming a sales leader. Pretty amazing story. This episode is brought to you by quota path. A commission tracking software built for sales operations, finance and accounting teams. If running commissions and payroll has you running for the hills quota path is for you quote a path helps organizations track and manage commissions and pay their teams accurately and on time every time. Keep your team motivated and on target. Simplify your commissions at quota path dot com slash revenue dash collective and give your reps the gift of transparency. All right. Let's do this. Episode 24 of is this a good time? All right. We are here with George Leaf. He is the chief customer officer and S. V. P. Of sales at Mendoza, based out of Saskatchewan Canada, where everyone has clearly been so George. Really awesome to have you here. Brandon. Great speaking to you and looking forward to being on the show. Well, look here on, on our revenue collective podcast. We have all meat, no filler. Jump right into the, to the meat of things. So why don't you tell us a little bit about your role today and how you got here? Sure. You know, I have the privilege of working with our team of over 200 customer facing folks in the company with front...

...line sales teams have account management teams, customer success retention, onboarding and I lied what we call the and ask a sales guild as chief customer officer on our senior team, reporting directly to our Ceo Mr Brennan King. I started, there's the bell. I started uh, at the company for the last, the last day of the month here. So we do have activity in the background. I do love that. I hope they will sell tomorrow on sunday too because you know, the month doesn't end till midnight on sunday specific time. I arrived here nine years ago as the first salesperson at this company were start up at that time about 20 people and I've known our CEO in a past life. I started the media business when I was 16 years old, working on local radio station and there's no money on on the air unless you're Elvis Duran or Ryan Seacrest. So I I started selling when I was doing play by play hockey and one of my clients was actually our Ceo Brendan King. He had a chain of computer stores and he wanted to sell them to farmers in the area that that I was based out of with our radio station. So I sold him radio ads back then and we had maintained in contact throughout the years and so he was looking to scale up a sales organization and you know, that was nine, some odd years ago and and here we are. That's super, super cool. And look, I always love to think that both hard work and luck at us to where we are in life and would love to know from you a story of either or both about that that has propelled your career forward. Yeah, I you know, Brandon hard work. I'm glad that you started with that because I think that really is the key. You just got to work hard at it and um you know, really care about your customers and really care about the people that you put on your team. And I think that was instilled in me at a young age by mentors and my parents and you know, grew up on a family farm and you had to work and bringing what type of farm grain farm, No way grain farm and you know, you're out shoveling been bottoms and hoeing...

...weeds and things like that when you're a kid and that was just the deal and you know, farm Was you know, there was a lot of lot of boys in the family, not you got to be a boy to be a farmer, but back 30 years ago, you know, that was kind of the way it worked and there wasn't enough land for everybody and I was kind of told from day one that you should look at other things and you know, the radio career was something that just kind of happened and and then sales was something that I really enjoyed and working with customers. I was really shitty in the first few years. In fact, I probably owe some apologies to sales managers and general managers back in the day. But don't worry, karma comes around right because I've got some sales people that probably give me the karma from the things that I did, but you know when I when I realized that if I put my customers' needs before mine and and the companies and really started serving that customer. That was when I started exceeding quotas and, and then moving into leadership roles and fortunate enough to run into some really good mentors that helped along the way. So yeah, that's, that's kind of, you know how I arrived here, I won't sell my own businesses for 10 years to and I got a real uh, real taste of, you know what it's like to have to make payroll and you know, manage staff and, and things like that. I had done a little bit of that and some of my management roles before, but really and owning some businesses over 10 years and, and what we do, You know, we have a channel partner model and we serve local businesses through that channel partner model. Now in 50 countries around the world, I have a, you know, a real affinity to help local businesses and you know, covid happened. And you know, I think all of us are feeling the effects of our favorite local business uh suffering in this time. So yeah, that's a little bit about how I got here. Yeah, great. I mean look, you're talking to somebody who is obsessed with restaurants and and certainly, yeah, the restaurant industry has been, it is mostly local businesses, right? Like we have great national brands both in the Canada and us, but a lot of local businesses suffering because so I I appreciate that that part of your passion for sure. And look, you know, you have managed many people in your career. I wonder if you would share with our audience here.

What is a tactic that you feel like is underutilized that people could use tomorrow and be specific, nothing general, something somebody can put in their deals tomorrow are referring brown into managing teams, are working with custom water, tactical advantage or how to close it. You know, sometimes, you know, deals closed on the last day of the month. You know, keep it simple and over communicate the message. Don't assume that the audience has understood and hung on every word that you've said over communicating the message very clearly understanding what the goals are of the team member or of the customer and focusing on an outcome for them because they really are, they really want the product or service or they want with the product or service is going to deliver to the might, you know, I heard a really good line a few years back that actually kind of describe something that I had been, um, that I believed and I was living and it's fall in love with your customers problem and how you can solve it and not in love with your product or service. And you know, that has, we have that as one of our guiding principles here at the organization. And it it really changes your perspective when I think back to those early years in the radio business, I was selling what the sales manager wanted me to sell and not serving the customer. And the minute that I flipped that around and started serving the customer was when actually in some clients, I was their marketing manager, like they wouldn't buy anything from even competing properties without talking to me to see what I thought about it, that you became that trusted expert in that reliable individual that had the client's best interests at heart. And I think if we put that into our teams, if we have our team members best interests at heart and really understand where they want to go and how they want to, you know, how they want to conduct themselves and guide them to get to that outcome. Um, it has a tendency to work out a lot more times than it doesn't. I love that. That's a, it's a great little mental switch to make, right? You sell you sell to the problem, not not, you know, not the...

...product. Right? That's awesome. Well look, um, always want to try to be able to add value to you here. Are there any positions that you're hiring for that folks in in the audience might want to, you know, know about and come jump on with you? And are they remote? That's a good question. I don't know how many people are, where you are. Yeah, We so Brandon we're dealing with the work from home challenge that everyone is dealing with Last March. We we move 400 some odd people to work from home. And the majority of them are in our offices. We do have some senior folks that are in our leadership group that are in the United States because we brought in some top talent and we're starting to embrace more work from home And we're growing like crazy. We were fortunate to raise 40 million just before Covid came in and we were going to put that stuff to work. Um and we wanted to track that talent to our market And you know, Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada. It is a mouthful were about six hours north of the US. border where Montana and North Dakota meet that there is a country up above here, it's called Canada. Um and if you drove in a car from the border, you would arrive here about six hours later. We're 350,000 people. Beautiful city. We're in the middle of where I'm sitting right now is is on a temporary floor, We're renovating the top six floors of one of the tallest towers in town. And uh you know, we we like to call it the vendor master rocket ship. Um so to answer your question, absolutely, we're looking, you know, we have, we try to find great people and then figure out where they fit. But I I am looking for a director of training and enablement that would service the sales guild under Ian jones is our VP of operations and we're always looking for top sales talent from a leadership standpoint. So captains, directors of sales. Um we're, you know, we're looking to fill those positions and an initiative that we started last May, it was called the next 100 and we were going to hire 100 sales professionals and then move them throughout the sales, jailed into the roles that we needed. We're at about 67...

...right now and uh I'd love to hit that 100 number before the one year is up. There's been some start stops in there as we tried to figure out whether we get locked down again or you know, you've got that money in the bank, you had a bit of a runway so you want to make sure you can preserve it. But you know, we uh we're in the e commerce business and we offer an e commerce platform to our channel partners and then we offer e commerce that our channel partners can sell to their customers. So Our business has benefited from this forcing function of the new normal that we're all facing. And we actually had one of our biggest years of growth ever last year, not the early years where you're doing the triple double double, but we, we got to 45 again were down around 36 37 year over year. So we, and we anticipate this year that we might be able to double that growth with the headcount that we've added. So it's exciting times and we're looking for, we're looking for top talent, I'd love for someone to come and uh and be the chief customer officer and then I can, I can retire, That would be fantastic. So we were saying you've been there too long anyway with night when I read some of the stats, I tell our ceo I'm like, what the hell are you doing? Keep me around. Well you gotta, I guess that's because you have the long relationship with them, so well, hopefully it's because I bring value and reinvent myself every three or four months ago. I mean the fact that you even say that, you know, you don't want to, you don't want to give them him any any ideas. But uh well look, who are some of the people that you value like, you know, hearing from them and and hearing their content. I know you put out a bunch yourself. I want you to make sure you plug that and then who are some of the up and comers that that you see in the in the industry that you'd want to shout out? Well, you know, 11 group that are one individual I always turn to is Patrick Leahy Cioni and his material really speaks to me when it comes to scaling up an organization, 200 people in our sales team is actually not the largest team that I've ever lead when I own my own business is we were 400 or 500 people. But when it comes to the sales side of it, and, and... you get bigger and you start to build out divisions and we have three different divisions in our company. You know, there is, there is some politics there and you know, I can't really do anything anymore. I can lead and I can direct and but you can't, I'm going to do that. It's not going to happen because you just have too many other things going on. So I'm always looking for, I've found that's faster and the, and the faster podcast, you know, the people that, that that group get on, that broadcast there usually isn't a week that goes by, that we're not sharing some content, whether it's an old episode or a new episode that's speaking to us, according to, you know, I'll say robert, you know, Mark roberts has got some great ideas and where, you know, we are big followers of the reforge model that him and Patrick Campbell, that group have put together and of course the revenue collective, and I'm not just saying that because I'm on this podcast, but I will tell you that what an amazing resource that has been, Stephen Delfina in Canada up a clear bank, Butch lang butch language, who started the whole thing, you know, Butch was actually the consultant that we brought in back in 2016 to help us build out inside sales. So when he messaged and said that you were gonna start a Canadian chapter, like Toronto is a hell of a long way away from where I am. Um but I like going to Toronto and Maple Leafs fan, so you know, to be able to go out there quarterly to those meetings has been really good. And Sam, uh Sam has been a guest on the podcast that I host, which is called conquer Local. We're entering our fourth season. We're now over 15,000. Listens a month unique. Listens a month in 50 different countries to that broadcast. So you know, I could just do a laundry list of guests that have been on that show. I've been very fortunate interview a lot of leaders there that I would consider to be mentors that are, that are adding to it. So leave a little meat on the bone and have people go seek out the podcast and listen to it themselves so they can, they can find their favorite leaders. I like that. Well, look, last, but not least when I get myself up to your neck of the woods in Saskatoon, uh, it doesn't need to be there. It could be in Toronto to...

...whereby it actually does have an office. So I make my make it up to Toronto often. Where should we eat well in, in Saskatoon right now. I have the privilege of a really good friend of mine who managed and ran one of the best restaurants in the city. It was a group of three brothers. He decided to do his own thing. And I actually helped him with the marketing plan and their go to market, which my wife likes because she does not want me to start another restaurant or bar ever again in my career. I've actually given her permission to kick me square in the plums if I ever even have that idea. So if you come to Saskatoon, we'll go to a place called Philosophy. It starts with a fantastic restaurant. My buddy Bill Barlas has opened and he opened it during Covid. So speaking of plums, he's gotta, you know that guy, he's, he's in there, but I'm trying to clean it up. But I will tell you that if you're ever in Johannesburg, one of my favorite restaurants in South Africa is called marble Restaurant and it's in the Rose Rosewood area of the city and it is just to die for. So I make a point of going there every time I'm in Johannesburg. So I love it. We got something someplace and it's real, real south of the, the globe here in the real real north. So exactly right. Polar opposites, my friend. Perfect, perfect George. So happy to have you and have this conversation with you. It's fun to hear your energy and I can hear the action in the background and the, you know, the bell going off because deals are closed and it's just really cool man. Really looking forward to keeping in touch and watching as you continue to grow. Very nice meeting you. And I appreciate the invite. And I'll see you when I see you, my friend. Great. All right, That's our show. Thank you so much for listening. If you love the show, please rate and review in the Apple podcast and Spotify have send it to some friends and it to all your friends. It's the best gift you can give them and then smashed the subscriber. And just for fun reminder, this episode was brought to you by quarter power. What a path is the first radically transparent and to end compensation solution from sales to... Get started for free at quota path dot com slash revenue dash collective. I had a lot of fun today. I hope you did too. Now go crush your numbers. Say something. Mhm.

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