Kia McGuire is the Director of Sales at OralWise Inc. She has over 10 years experience in sales, sales management, sales coaching, and consulting.
Why did you choose a career in sales?
Because everybody kept telling me I was good at it. I started off in the medical profession and I worked my way up to Practice Administrator. And then I became a teacher, and everybody would say ‘you need to be in sales!’
What was your greatest fear on your very first sales call?
Hearing the word ‘no,’ absolutely. The best advice I was given was: every single ‘no’ you hear gets you closer to your ‘yes’. So if you can figure out how many ‘nos’ you have to hear before you get to a ‘yes’, you won’t mind them as much. It is a fear of rejection, but you have to remember they aren’t rejecting you as a person; they just may not want what you have to sell. Which is why I’m more in to question-based selling. I always start with questions. For me, I want people to feel they bought from me, not I sold to them. It’s a completely different experience.
Who was a mentor or someone you looked up to when starting your career?
It was my first regional director. He was charismatic, outgoing, and articulate. He could sell an Eskimo ice cubes. And I said to myself, ‘I want to be like that.’ Finding someone that you can emulate is key.
What is the most valuable lesson you learned from him or her?
Never give up. He talked about his first year—he set records in the company in regards to sales—and he said he never gave up. They gave him the worst territory and he said he was determined to be successful and he wound up breaking records.
What does it take to be successful in sales?
Three things, and they are the same when it comes to being successful in life: sacrifice, hard work, perseverance. If you’re missing any one of those three you will never make it, and in sales it is especially true. In sales, you need to be methodical. Some people think that just talent is enough and it’s not. If you don’t have a methodology, a specific approach, if you don’t have a model that you’re following then you’re just pissing in the wind.
What is the most overrated talent or quality you don’t need to be successful in sales?
An outgoing personality. A lot of people think you have to be likable but some of the most effective salespeople are very mechanical, causal, and even cold. You wouldn’t necessarily think of them as being good salespeople. I can think of a colleague of mine who was like a robot. He was a former police officer and he had the best sales in the department. Why? because he was methodical. He was a machine. He was consistent. He always followed up, and you could count on him like clockwork. It just goes to show that personality is overrated when it comes to sales.
What is your motto at work?
My life credo is: educate, empower, and inspire. And as long as I’m doing those three things, I’m happy. I would say find your core values and the things that make you happy. Make sure any job you do incorporates those three things.
What’s your go-to ice breaker on a cold call?
Weather. I live in Phoenix where it can be 122 degrees and I often call people who, when I’m experiencing gorgeous weather, are freezing where they are or in three feet of snow so I always ask about the weather. It applies no matter where you’re calling.
What is your go-to line or phrase to close a deal?
‘So do you have any questions before we get started on your application?’ It’s assuming the sale and before I go for the close I always summarize: ‘So if I understand you correctly, these are your needs. If you had a product or service that was able to solve these needs, you would move forward today. We’ve established the product falls within your budget so do you have any questions before we complete your application?’
What quality do you like the most in a team member?
Being a team player. My favorite motto is: team work is dream work. You can have friendly competition, but you always need to think about what’s best for the team. Departments are made up of regions or specialties or channels. If you get something that falls in someone else’s channel, give them the deal…or if you can somehow leverage a deal so one of your colleagues can benefit as well, do it. The more you work as a team the better everyone does.
What quality do you like the most in a manager?
Helping me understand where I need to go without telling me how to get there. And then offer me constructive feedback along the way. Telling me exactly what steps I need to take is not helpful to my growth.
What advice would you give your younger self on your first day in sales?
Be fearless. Move forward despite your fears. The worst they can say is “no.”
What has been your proudest moment in your career?
I was laid off March 1st. However, I landed my new job in the same type of position and it’s even better than my last one. It was my first time being brought into a company where they knew absolutely nothing about me. Normally I’m recruited. However, this job came to me by happenstance. It has allowed me to use every skill, tool, resource, methodology, and sales philosophy I have ever learned. I can honestly say I am equally challenged and rewarded.
What do you dislike the most about selling?
People assume all sales people are alike. That they are all smarmy and sleazy. Often people perceive there’s some negative connotation associated with sales or that all sales people have an agenda. I would say most salespeople are consultative. We are experts in a particular area. We try to ascertain what are customer’s needs and try to help them fill that need.
What is your most valuable characteristic?
Empathy. Empathy allows me to understand what the customer thinks, how they feel, and what they truly need. If it’s not my product, then I help them find what that product would be a better fit. The dollar doesn’t motivate me. It’s having the satisfaction of knowing I helped someone.
What are three books that have helped you as a salesperson?
SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham, Good to Great by James C. Collins, and Smarter Faster better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.