Read Davis, the CEO of McGriff, talks about his experience as one of the top business development professionals and how he discovered that momentum takes time and the key to a successful career in sales is playing the long game. Learn about the fateful conversation and advice that changed the trajectory of Read’s career, why everything in an organization comes down to the success of the salespeople, and why leaders need to eat last.
Mo asks Read Davis: When was the moment you decided to get great at business development?
- You can learn to compete and life is about competition in Read’s mind. There isn’t always a winner and loser in every situation, but measuring success is based on the scoreboard you’re looking at.
- As Read moved into his career out of college, his scoreboard changed. One fateful night while working alongside the CFO and the General Manager, they gave him a piece of advice that changed the way he thought about business.
- If you really want success and to own your career, you have to think about being in the business of the business. For Read, that meant selling and having an impact on the growth of the business.
- Sales and business development transcend everything. It gives you a skill that can be transferred anywhere and if you can get comfortable being uncomfortable you will always be able to find a job.
- Being successful in production is a long-game grind. You have to do the time and the work to get the snowball rolling. Relationships are built over time and the most successful salespeople are relationship-oriented.
- There is a numbers game in every business. Sales and relationships are about solving problems, and the more people you meet and get to know the more opportunities you have to make a sale.
- You need to invest in the process for it to be able to pay off.
Mo asks Read Davis: What is your personal definition of business development?
- Being a CEO wasn’t something that Read ever aspired to. He always enjoyed leadership, sales, and being in the field.
- When he took on the role, he put a challenge to all the business development professionals in the organization to make payroll.
- Every salesperson needs to strive to be a leader. They own the revenue and everyone at the organization is relying on them to bring in the business.
- Leaders eat last. They need to take care of everyone in their world and business development professionals are leaders at heart.
- Business development and leadership go hand-in-hand.
- Building a growth-oriented culture means understanding your mission and getting buy-in on the vision from everyone on the team. Having the support of the delivery of the service is crucial to being able to sell successfully.
- Being empathetic is important as well. There are people from both sides of the business that have a vested interest in your success.
- The objective is to put the sales and services team in front of the organization instead of behind the leadership. Read is a firm believer that the best solutions and companies are driven from the bottom up.
Mo asks Read Davis: What is your favorite science, step, or story from the GrowBIG Training or the Snowball System?
- Successful sales and business development is psychology, which is why Read’s favorite science is the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument. It’s critical to understand who you are and how you learn, as well as how you react when you get challenged.
- The most impactful aspect of business development is the sum of all its various parts.
- Being able to quickly understand who the person is and how they communicate is how you take someone from a cold call to a warm relationship.
- Read prefers going to the office where someone works to have a meeting with them to get a better idea of how they think. It’s possible to observe little details in the environment and how a prospect answers questions that will give you an idea of how they think.
- Try not to measure success in 30, 60, or 90-day intervals. True success is a long-term project and what you do needs to align with your long-term vision.
- Revisit activities that aren’t performing well and see where the holes are in your process. Without identifying your weaknesses you’re going to waste a lot of time. There is always something to get better at.
Mo asks Read Davis: Tell me about a business development story that you are really proud of.
- Read formerly worked for one of the largest brokerage firms in the world, and when he first came to work with McGriff they were often David going up against Goliath.
- Read recalls several different stories where the relationships they built helped their clients take care of their people. Each experience gave Read additional skills and confidence to take into the next.
- One, in particular, stands out where Read was handling a casino in Las Vegas. As the real estate guy on the team, Read was meeting with banks and people on the team to help them through the financial crisis.
- They broke the paradigm by bringing people in from all over to show the client what they could do. The best part of the sales story is that four years later the casino was sold to Blackstone and the client referred Read and his team as the broker of choice to the new buyer.
- It’s all about the connectivity of the relationships and adding value while playing the long game.
- The team was what made the difference. By listening intently to what the prospect needed, that got the team motivated to deliver. They recognized that the deal was a major opportunity for the firm and they rose to the challenge.
Mo asks Read Davis: If you could record a video about business development and send it back to your younger self, what would it say?
- We can’t see around the curve, but we can think about where we want to go.
- Read would start investing in himself and his skills much earlier.
- Don’t think that you have to have it all figured out.
- Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know. One of the biggest assets of Read’s leadership team is the environment of challenging each other and asking questions.
- Don’t let pride be your deterrent from being successful.
- People will try to define you but you have to find success in your own way. You have to figure out what the balance of your life is for yourself. What success is to someone else won’t be the same standard for your life.
- When you’re looking for the secret sauce, it takes what it takes and you have to put in the work to make it happen.
- When setting goals, Read doesn’t look at the things he wants to get done now. He tries to keep in mind what he wants to get done when he’s 90 and then figures out what he needs to do now to make it happen.
- Read looks at areas of his life that may have gotten out of balance and then makes those a priority for the year.
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