Pain points and expanding a company

Startup circular structure diagram. Young businessman holding a marker and drawing a key elements for starting a new business. Isolated on white background.

As our company continues to expand and grow I understand because I’ve been a founder or one of the first employees before.  The goal, at a startup, is to learn from your mistakes and as you build out the business make it better, smarter, and faster than ever.  As you evolve, learn from the different personalities, processes, and adapt a framework that has worked before – understanding that the marketplace has changed and, especially in Information Technology, that things shift very rapidly.

Tony Robbins talks about these challenges in his article regarding the pain points of growing a business:

Systems and Process Problems:

Certainly, back-office and HR systems should change, as Tony mentions, those systems and processes that worked for a handful of employees probably aren’t going to work the same way for thirty plus.  Be sure to hire productive, innovative, and self-starting employees that can not only adapt to change, but can help bring it as well.


It’s important to keep your ear to the street and close to industry to understand changes and trends.  I’ve been stuck in the “one trick pony” scenario before where alliances and offerings were starting to work great and soar, only to lose a year or two later because I hadn’t adapted enough to differentiate for customers farther down the road.

Culture = your people and vice versa

As the company grows you might start “noticing a change in the disposition and attitude of your original employees.”  I completely relate to this.  I personally was an original at a company that was infiltrated by strangers.  It’s important if you are sales manager or salesperson #1 to negotiate, negotiate, negotiate your package and your pay structure.  It just makes sense.  If you are not a founder or principal of the company, that company is going to use you for all your talents to build a great organization and make it stronger, but once there, management has very short memories.  Praise and gratitude from company leadership is helpful and there is a time and a place for celebration and comradery, but business is business and money is money.  Get your agreements signed and approved by legal to capture as much company stock, ownership, bonuses, and potential future payouts so you can enjoy the beginning as well as a successful exit.

Tony Bilby

Sales Status Meetings – Are They Meaningless?

Sales Manager


This article gets right to the heart of many sales pipeline calls.

“I don’t give a shit about sales status” is great!

Taken directly from Kira Moore’s blog:

Sales Manager – “Hey Bob, what’s the status on the Techform opportunity?”

BOB –  “It looks good, we’re waiting on the results of the demo and for the CIO to approve the solution.

Sales Manager – “Are we going to close it?”

BOB – “Yes, things are coming along.  I should hear about it next week.”

Sales Manager – “Is there anything we can do to move things along?”

BOB – “No, we’re good.  I spoke with them last week and they told me everything is good.”

Sales Manager – “Great, keep me in the loop.” 

Unfortunately this is often a realistic depiction of what happens.  I can really appreciate the pre-programmed response from the sales manager that I’ve heard throughout my career.  In many businesses, mid-level management is stuck in a process oriented reporting box where he or she is required to format, edit, and review potential sales, both pipelines and forecasts, and send them up the chain.  I have worked for great sales managers and not so great managers over the years.  Unfortunately, some managers have never sold or haven’t sold in years, but I’ll give them credit, most managers have to deal with similar pressures from management above them and are forced to answer much like the salespeople below them.

Interestingly though, sometimes an MBA and a great resume is just not enough of a pre-requisite to managing talented salespeople in an aggressive results driven environment.  The best salespeople, the ones that close the biggest deals, need to be left alone to do what they do. The sales manager, as discussed in Kira Moore’s blog, needs to ask the right questions.

Questions like:

  • Is there a chance the results of the demo won’t be favorable?
  • If so, what happens?
  • What is the customer looking for in the demo?
  • Will the demo provide the results they want?
  • How will they be measuring “success?”
  • When’s the last time you spoke with the CIO?
  • What does she need to approve the deal?
  • What evidence do you have that even if we get approval it will close next week?
  • You said you are waiting on the results, what exactly are you waiting on?
  • What evidence do you have that is going happen?
  • Could the results divide the customer into two camps?
  • If so, what will we do?
  • What is our backup strategy?
  • What can we do now, that can influence the decision?
  • What is OUR next step, besides waiting? Why?

I have to laugh when I hear the question “is there anything you need to help move things along?”  This is a polite rhetorical question because the manager doesn’t really expect a response other than “no” and if they do that salesperson might be considered difficult or needy.  So, posing the question is sheer courtesy or lazy habit rather than anything else.

Salespeople do need to be educated, trained, and coached by talented leaders. If management is pinning them on a conference call or in a room once a week asking status on their pipelines, and only talking to their salespeople during this time, this is problematic.  Management should be looking at creative strategies to drive sales like aligning better resources;  finding the best trainers and coaches to make their salesforce better.  Also, focusing on what is going on in the territories in order to gauge what the competition is doing and ensuring that quotas are realistic and attainable.

If the sales force within your organization isn’t making their quotas, it’s time to set appropriate expectations to senior management, align realistic quotas, get better resources for salespeople, potentially find better salespeople, train and make the good salespeople even better, and revaluate your services or product offering to ensure that it is unique and strong enough to sell in a competitive marketplace.

Tony Bilby

Best Habits for Sales Success

beautiful woman writing a business concept

Business Concept

I read a lot about sales techniques and how to harness the most productive strategies.  As a sales consultant I want to be the best and at the top of my game.  Brian Tracy, and his article “The 7 Sales Training Tips of Sale Success”

provides the most fundamental guidance I can think of:

  1. Get serious – That means studying, certifying, and most importantly, getting out in front of key decision makers with real value propositions and great technology services and offerings.
  1. Figure out what is holding you back – identify that weakest skill and then set your mind to making it better.  For me, as with many salespeople, sometimes I lack the best organizational skills to consistently manage my time the most effective way possible.  As a salesperson you should be focusing on the most important tasks, which usually revolve around customer meetings, follow through, and post sales customer service.  If you’re spending your days updating reports and spreadsheets and emailing other people internal to your company, you might want to focus more on prospecting and touching base with customers that have budgets.
  1. Get around the right people – This is 100% true!  If you are spending time around people that complain, make excuses, and generally want to do things other than be productive you are not flying with the Eagles.
building a great team

Build a Great Team!

  1. Take care of your health – this is a critical one for me that I really need to work on as well.  There should never not be not enough time in the day to focus on the most critical aspect of your life – your body and your health.  Stress, overwork, lack of exercise, poor diet, and bad habits like nicotine and alcohol can turn your life upside down if your body decides enough is enough.  Figure out a time to exercise, eat right, and do things in moderation.  As Mr. Tracy mentions, you will be dealing with constant rejection and discouragement throughout the work week, so find a way to deal with it positively and productively.
  1. Imagine yourself at the top – try to visualize success.  I have the hardest time with this as the mind most naturally will gravitate towards the negative and it becomes an easy habit to harbor negativity when customers consistently say no rather than yes.  Turn it around.  Visualize the win and visualize a year and years of abundance and success!
  1. Practice positive self talk – absolutely.  Do it.  Never get down on yourself as you are the designer and creator of your destiny.  If you can’t be positive about yourself then others won’t gravitate positively toward you either.
  1. Take positive action towards your goals – be action oriented and move quickly.  Get out there in front of customers all the time. The more customers you meet, as Tracy mentions, the more chance to sell.  Make seeing customers, moving quickly, and talking to decision makers a top priority.

Tony Bilby


Best Sales Movies!



I’m a big fan of good movies especially movies that involve my profession. I can appreciate Lee Black’s blog:

“7 Classic Movies for Salespeople” because the movies he picks are some of my favorite sales movies!

 Glengarry Glen Ross

This is the Godfather of sales movies. It’s packed with resonating and iconic one liners that any salesperson can reference at will before and after a sales call. “Put that coffee down – coffee’s for closers.” “You see this watch? You see this watch? This watch cost more than your car – that’s who I am pal.”   I can dish them out over a few drinks with business partners and it never fails to illicit a laugh or a smile.

The reality is that most of us aren’t selling swamp land after hours at Chinese dive restaurants to random husbands that just want a few moments away from difficult marriages, but one thing is true about the situation in the movie, and Al Pacino’s character reflected his error made during the sales process: he only sold his grand idea and land contract to the husband when, in reality, the wife gets involved with 95% of the financial decisions or any decision involving a family investment. Lesson learned after a history in various sales roles. If you’re going out on a “sit” or a sales call, make sure you present to both the homeowners, otherwise you are wasting your time. Both members of the family have to be sold in order to close the deal.

Wall Street

Gordon Gekko “greed is good.” Must I say more?

Boiler Room

Much like the heated sales meeting with Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, Ben Affleck delivers another epic grandstanding monologue in front of his young men, young brokers, whom are excited and optimistic to get to the next level in the world of stocks. Boiler room portrays many sales techniques and sales situations, but ultimately highlights what sales is and can be all about: a rollercoaster ride of uncertainty and often times the markets or any business potentially being manipulated by opportunistic capitalists that remain in the shadows.

The Wolf of Wall Street

I think this movie as a follow up to the original is entertaining. Is it as subtle or realistic as the original? No. Does it provide entertainment and content that salespeople can identify with? Absolutely! Is it outrageous and somewhat over the top? Yes. Would I recommend the original, along with GlennGary and Boiler room first? Of course! Either way, enjoy all the movies on his list, learn what you can, and laugh about them with your sales colleagues and business partners as you move through your career.

Tony Bilby

The Importance of Networking

team networking

Team Networking

I can appreciate Jonathan Farrington’s thoughts in his article “Why I take an Interest in Anybody and Everybody – Do You?”

because I don’t and I should. I can appreciate the notion of giving and sharing versus bargaining and keeping score because as a salesperson I think we often fall into this, especially the younger version of me whom was seduced with the ideas of getting to the top any which way possible.

I have to remember this behavior really is contrary to human nature and that human happiness stems from helping, interacting, bringing value, as well as providing help and support.

As discussed in his blog, successful networking is about those most important tenants:

Receiving – Giving

It’s great to receive, close deals and make money, but it’s always great to donate, give, and provide for those that are less fortunate or in need. I do believe in Karma, or rather, a harmonious flow that exists between giving and receiving. It’s important we give thanks every day for what we receive and have and then give back when we can.

Contributing – Accepting Support

This is all about keeping an open mind. If you are self aware then you can certainly accept support as well as criticism. Now not all criticism is good, however, some is very critical and if you can move past the personality ego, and in many cases with salespeople a very strong personal ego, you may learn, evolve, and adapt along the way.

Offering – Requesting

This is very important. Remember to offer guidance, help, support, opinions and request feedback as well.

Self Promotion – Promotion of Others

I definitely feel like you should always be promoting your best and most valuable asset – yourself. And while you’re at it, certainly promote those within your network and group that are valuable and help you succeed!

Being Truthful – Being Persistent

When a customer or anyone wants to know more or they ask a question, especially a sales consultant in IT that might not know the answer to every question, always be truthful. If you don’t know the answer and you need to consult an engineer than do so and tell the customer you don’t have the answer, but you will do research and get the answer for them. The customer will appreciate the truth more than a sales angle.

Persistence is the key to most things in sales. That means follow up with the customer, follow up with the project, and everything else associated with keeping them happy and the business successful. If a door closes or continues to close – never give up – another one will open that will be even bigger and better than before.

Tony Bilby

Why Mentors Matter

tony bilby, Tutor, Mentor, Business Coach


As time progresses the concept of a mentor becomes more and more of a dated concept, whether due to increased social insecurity or due to an ignorance of the benefits a more experienced individual can offer, I do not know. What I do know is that having a mentor has been a tremendously influential aspect of my life. Thus, I have decided to write down some of my thoughts explaining just how and why a mentor’s insight is truly invaluable.


A mentor has had experience you have yet to have, or may never have. If you can tap into the lessons they have already learned and apply them to your own professional career, you will attain an unquantifiable advantage over your professional peers. With a mentor, you don’t have to learn things the hard way. The hard way becomes a thing of the past as a business coach can guide you to and through astounding opportunities that will breed the career you desire.


A mentor has spent years and years building a social network you have yet to develop. From being exposed to opportunities that would otherwise fly over your head to receiving glowing letters of recommendation, these experienced and insightful individuals have your back. Mentors want to see their students succeed, and it is for this reason that a mentor is a nearly necessary cog in the wheel of professional networks. Tap into their connections to meet the man or woman who will offer you the career you have always dreamed of. To be scared to reach out to a mentor is essentially ignoring a vast network of professional superiors who are looking to give you a job that is better than the one you already have. Use the trust your mentor has already built to build your own network, to build your own career, to build yourself for the better.

Staying on track

For those moments when we as individuals question where we are in life, a mentor is actually there to answer. There is no need to become bogged down in social and professional anxiety when you have someone to ask for guidance. A mentor is there for you to answer the tough questions and to help you in your professional (or social in some cases) quest for success. Although tough to exonerate numbers behind this particular point, the fact remains that a mentor will offer you truly immeasurable solace.

Anyway, this is just what I have noticed in my own professional career. While I would never say having a mentor will make or break your career, I can certainly say it will help to a phenomenal degree. The choice is yours, but one moment of awkwardness asking for someone to be a mentor can equate to a lifetime of insight. As Newton said, “If I have seen further than other men, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

For further reading on the value of a mentor, you should check out this New York op-ed.

The Resolve of Resilience

Perhaps nothing is as effective in your professional career as the ability to bounce back and overcome adversity. It is a tremendous skill that goes hand in hand with developing absolutely vital tools in the toolkit for success, those tools being dedication and confidence. What’s more is that while resiliency is certainly rooted in basic genetics to a certain extent, it is also strongly associated with taught habits.

Take this Time article for example. It specifically states that very often resiliency is found most commonly in individuals who retain a positive belief for what lies ahead. Our ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles comes at the hands of believing that what lies beyond the mountain is worth climbing the mountain for. While the article cites religion as a specific instance where resiliency is commonly found, it also specifically mentions the basic belief that just having a future can be an enormous catalyst for projecting someone past the obstacles that currently hold them back. It makes sense. Why would we put ourselves through hardship if the hardship isn’t worth working through? However, while the article mainly focuses on children coming up in difficult circumstances, I feel the same basic concept can be applied to your professional career as well.

To attain and retain resiliency is to teach yourself dedication. To implement a basic belief that helps you overcome whatever is dragging you down at the current moment is tremendous motivation and a phenomenal tool for achieving eventual success. Without dedication, we could never move past difficult situations, difficult times, or even difficult conversations. Dedication is instrumental in pushing us to the be the best we can be in life, to be the best version of ourselves, be it professional or not. To be the best, you have to be dedicated to being the best.

It is from here that we can see resiliency translating directly into confidence. I don’t think I have to mention the necessity of keeping confident in sales, but regardless anyone who has ever cold called knows no one is buying from someone they don’t trust. Without confidence, there is no trust. Without trust, there is no sale. By applying dedication through resiliency, and then by extension overcoming whatever difficulty we encounter, we develop an enormous sense of confidence. We believe we can push through the hard times, which then in turn further motivates our internal dedication when we reach hardships that lie further down the road. Through attaining, developing, and retaining resiliency, we are creating an absolutely vital asset for success.

It is important to remember what lies ahead. If we only live in the moment, then when the moment becomes overbearing, we will succumb because we have no reason to push past it. Remain resilient. Remain dedicated. Remain confident.

tony bilby, Obstacle, Resilience, Keep Going, Motivation, Inspiration




The Business of Business

A business is more than just a money machine. Like a living organism, it takes more than just sales to breathe life into your business, and in fact, profits are the least of your concerns when building a thriving business. What are some tips and tricks you can use to make the success of your business, your business?

The first and most major realization you should be open to is that if you got into this business solely to get rich, you will fail. No plan that has ever begun with the end solely in mind has ever gotten far. You need a goal. A mission to aspire to and constantly push yourself toward achieving. Without something for you to drive toward, your business will seem hollow and insubstantial.

You need to have passion for what you do. While your individual desires may vary, it’s important to communicate those desires at every opportunity. If your employees and investors get the sense that you’re not putting all of your heart behind your product, they’ll take their time and effort elsewhere. Don’t be afraid of showing how much you care about your business.

The freedom of owning your own business is a double-edged sword. Without knowledge in its correct use, you’ll end up hurting yourself and your company. Freedom means that all of your time now belongs to you and your business. Many small business owners either underestimate the work needed to grow, and fail, or they start operations and fall victim to their own laziness.

Tony Bilby closing


Lastly, you’ll want to focus on your impact and where you’d like to make it. A business that aims low will surely hit their mark, but if you set out to make a difference for the world and fall short, you’ll make an impact with those you were able to reach. While not all small businesses are geared toward making the world a better place, you can make the world your business inhabits a better place. Redefine the way homes are constructed, serve ice cream with the widest smile imaginable, whatever you choose to do, do so without compromise or fear.

For more information, click here.

Selling – The Early Days

Selling for a living is a tough game.  Well, it depends really.  Small sales or the average salesperson working for the big firm, all right, not so tough. Big sales where you make big commissions, now that’s entirely different. I’ve met a ton of salespeople in my career. Many are average. Some, the best ones, the multi-millionaires, now those are some of the most persuasive people I’ve ever met. As you get into multi-million dollar sales the stakes go up and the game gets tougher. If you want to close big deals, make big money, you’ve got to be better than the best. You’ve got to study, know your product and industry better than everyone else, you’ve got to learn the angles and work every strength you have. Know your stuff. Learn your trade. Prepare, be disciplined, call high, and never “wing” a sales call. My favorite sales movie: Glengarry Glen Ross. ABC: Always Be Closing.

I landed my first sales job when I was seventeen and from then on I was hooked. Sales is in my blood. It’s what I do and I’ve been doing it for a long time. That first sales job I sold vinyl windows, roofing, and siding door-to-door. We went to rich neighborhoods, middle class, and poor. The poor ones were the toughest and dangerous. I was young, foolish, and I should have been scared. I thought I was invincible, maybe because I was mostly a loaner. At thirteen, I’d spent much time away from home. I’d experienced hours in bars and pubs in Europe, unfortunately, at too young of an age. By seventeen I’d already had the great fortune and opportunity to have lived and traveled around Europe, Turkey, Greece, and other parts of the world mostly with just one other friend. So, I guess I felt, whether naïve or not, old enough to handle an American city.

Those early days selling on the streets were my first encounters with capitalism and business. It was an unbelievable experience. I witnessed people making money and those without money. I witnessed the inequalities that exist in America, the stark division between rich and poor that is the inevitable result of our capitalist system. In Germany, when I was a boy, they had three schools that students were required to test into at a young age. If you tested well, you were put on the University bound professional track. If you scored mediocre you were placed into schooling for craftsman and specialized labor. If you scored low, you were placed in the remedial schooling. Their paths were chosen at a grade school age and once in the track it was very hard to get out of. Another example, and even more extreme, is the Caste system in India.

Not in America. In America you have the chance, regardless of your background, to rise above and achieve. I was fortunate enough to be an American citizen at the American schools in Germany so I didn’t have to conform to those rigid European standards. In fact, much of grade school was very difficult for me and I was riddled with learning disabilities. I was fortunate, again, to have a German born mother who wouldn’t stop home schooling and tutoring until I got it right. I remember many summers stuck in the kitchen reciting grammar and math exercises with my mother while the other kids were outside playing. I hated it at the time, but I realize how blessed I was now to have someone teach me and instill discipline when I was young.

At seventeen, though, I was selling on the means streets. I was the young tin man. “Hello sir or maam,” I said, “have you ever considered an estimate for home improvements regarding your windows, roofing, or siding?” I got the door slammed in my face. That was a common objection. I got all kinds of objections selling. My favorite objection was the very polite “do you have some literature you can drop off? If I’m interested I’ll get back to you.” I should have carried For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Sound and The Fury, or The Great Gatsby in my back pocket and handed it over to them: “here’s some literature.”

One day I was really upset. I’d been hit with a million objections and I’d probably been threatened once or twice as well. When I went back to the office I mustered up enough courage to ask my boss why the hell he’d sent us, yet again, into the ghetto. “That’s my old neighborhood and where I grew up……fool,” he told me irritated. “I used to live there and you want to complain to me about visiting? Maybe you aren’t tough enough to handle this job and I got a million kids to replace you if you can’t.” That about summed it up. What was I going to say? In reality, if my mother had known about the visits to dangerous neighborhoods she would never have allowed me to continue the job, but I was up for the challenge. I was independent, strong, and I had to prove myself!

Dave was a young successful business owner that had worked a number of years in home improvements, learned the business, and then started up on his own. He was a shining example of a young black man succeeding in America despite his background of adversity and severe challenges. Dave was a few years older and a great role model for me. I was impressionable and I didn’t want to let him down. Not only was he managing his own business and putting himself through school, but he was also providing assistance for his parents as well. Unfortunately his brother was shot and killed in a drug related incident years prior and that, he shared with me, was his motivation to get out. Dave was the ultimate salesman. He could talk the talk. He could convince anyone to do anything and he was smooth as silk. It seemed like a different beautiful woman was walking in and out of our office every week. Always asking for Dave. Dave would smile and off they would go. Dave was the boss, he knew it, everyone knew it. He was the ultimate player, the big time baller, the boss.

Dave hired a pit bull as his lead salesperson. Tim was a huge guy, a body builder, and most likely used steroids or various drugs to boost his physique. He was aggressive, in his early twenties, and when he charged into the office barking orders at the rookies that set meetings for him I wanted to hide under my desk. You didn’t want to set a non-legit appointment for Tim. Our job was to generate enough interest and set an appointment so the senior salespeople could meet with the homeowners and discuss the home improvement offerings we provided. Once, a rookie set a bogus meeting for Tim. Tim came back, with his fresh crew cut, bright red face, and veins bulging. “Your lead was crap, rookie,” he screamed as he confronted one of my co-workers. I thought for sure he was going to grab him by the neck, but Dave caught him right before it got out of hand. Dave and Tim would often go at it in the office. Egos were big and our office was diverse, to say the least, and the yelling, ribbing, and verbal assaults were part of the norm. It was a relatively young start up company so it wasn’t the most professional environment.

Those were my first experiences with sales. A bunch of men stuck in a small office filled with bravado and testosterone and an aggressive commission only environment. If you weren’t closing you were out. If you didn’t sell you were out. I learned the ropes quickly and it didn’t take long for me to set quality meetings and close deals. Soon I was making more money in high school than I knew what to do with. Like I said, I was hooked.

Glengarry Glen Ross – Not for the faint of heart!


The Music of Marketing

The power of music is palatable. Reaching where no hands can touch, music lifts us up and demands that we move our feet. However, the power of music’s ability to be as far-reaching and all-encompassing as it can be is due to the genius marketers behind every tune. Without the proper channels, the best tune in the world is little more than a bar song. What are some of the secrets behind the greatest musical successes of 2015?

Few can touch the hem of Adele’s fur coat, especially after her dominance of the music scene in 2015. Adele’s album, “25,” was a smash success. Selling nearly 4 million copies in its first week, Adele broke the record for most albums sold opening week by a cool million. Her single “Hello” broke records of its own, quickly becoming the most watched video online. In only 24 hours, her hit song grabbed the attention of 27.7 million fans. But what is her secret? What simple tools were implemented by her and her marketing team to send his album into the stratosphere?



Well, first there is the element of quality. Adele has made it known, through tireless live shows and practice, that she has the skill to back up her record. Far too often, unskilled performers are exposed to the public as little more than the result of clever sound design, and that peak behind the curtain is enough to turn diehard fans away. Aside from her considerable talent, Adele’s choice to withhold her album from the many popular streaming sites added an element of exclusivity to her music.

Additionally, two days before the album was released, Adele held a free concert in NYC. Separately, the raw talent of her voice and a free concert make for enjoyable experiences. Together, Adele created an exclusive moment that would be remembered by all the fans who took the time to attend. Directly emailing her fans with news of the concert and passes to get in, Adele’s marketing team ingeniously strengthened a bond made manifest through the power of her music. It’s not the job of a competent marketeer to force people into enjoying something, but to press the perfect keystone and let gravity do the rest.