In 2014 my sister and I had this idea that we  were trying to get off the ground – a sales support company that only worked with one particular type of company – managed services providers.  With both of us dialing the phone all day, doing admin at night, and Ashley Battel joining us to make it three, we managed to hire a few more outbound agents and book and fulfill on $300,000 worth of business.  Year two it was $600,000.  Year three it was $1.2MM.  Years four and five were both 12% growth years – and after year three that was suprising to all of us.  Having never run a company before, we had no idea how our groth compared to that of other entrepreneurs, or other services based businesses.  When we were named the 25th fastest growing business in Canada after that year of hyper-growth, we were excited and ready to go do it again.  Imagine our surprise when we couldn’t move the needle the way we did in years two and three!   I’m sure anyone reading this is thinking “OF COURSE THAT COULDN’T LAST FOREVER!”  We however, were blissfully ignorant and hit that wall a couple of times before recognizing it was time for change.  We made changes.  HUGE, challenging, scary changes.  Taking big risks when you’re a six-person company requires a gut check, but taking big risks when you’ve got 25 people requires a leap of faith.  I’m happy to report that those changes allowed us to have a 60% growth year for 2019.  And we believe we’ll have another year like that for 2020 – in fact, our whole team is aligned with that goal.  To get there, we needed to focus on two things.  Process and Accountability.  (Hint, we use the Traction EOS model to run our business now, but that isn’t the point of the blog post.  If you want to learn how Traction improved our business – check out the 2019 ITNation session featuring Tracie Orisko and Jamison West, or check out this blog post featuring our success on Rise25:

As our Integrator (also known as the GSD or “Get Shit Done” person) Tracie Orisko is accountable for a lot of things – including our sales growth.   Tracie went from dialing the phone herself to managing the call team to managing the business pretty quickly.  Originally focused on operations, she found her joy in sales, and you can see the difference her passion for selling made for us this year.  We can talk all we want about having great service delivery, but to deliver service you first have to sign business.

Forgive me if this post initially seems like one big Managed Sales Pros advertorial.  I do think we’re great at what we do.  I do think that we’re the best in our space, and if I didn’t, we’d be working hard around the clock to be the best in our space – we work hard to stay the best.  To be the best, you need the best people.  The best sales rep I know is Tracie, so pat on the backs aside, I asked her to share with me two things that she attributes her success to, so that I could share them here.

Withour further adieu, I present to you Tracie’s two step no-failure guide to sales and business achievement:

  1. Have a mentor.
  2. Be a mentor. 

I asked her to explain further.

“Having a mentor gives you ideas, and shows you paths to success that you may not have thought about.  It helps you set priorities when everything seems equally important.  It gives you the advantage of more experienced eyes and – if you’re not too proud to ask for it – will give you real, actionable advice.  Mentoring isn’t therapy.  It’s not a bitch about your boss and coworkers session.  It’s not an excuse to golf or drink in the middle of the day.  Your mentor isn’t your buddy.  Your mentor is there to help you grow – and if you’re seeking out a mentor looking for approval or someone to co-sign your bad behavior while you resist change, you’re wasting your time and theirs.  Choose a mentor that you want to be like, not a mentor who is already like you.  Different perspectives, different life experiences – you learn from people who aren’t like you.  I didn’t ever officially ASK somone to mentor me – the relationship evolved naturually.  It was a relationship I cherished and nurtured.  I’m looking for another mentor now – and this time I am carefully evaluating who I want to learn from.  I will ask someone this time.  I’m in a different place in my career now, and I want to identify and work with another mentor that will help me remove any obstacles that are blocking my success trajectory. ” 

Can you share some specifics on how being mentored  made you better at sales?

“My mentor was an executive level sales leader for a Fortune 500 technology firm.  When we began pursing larger contracts from larger vendors, having a mentor that understood and constantly improved the sales process for a much larger company, a much larger team, and a much more expensive offering gave me an advantage over our competitors.  I learned how they thought, how they approached problems, how to present ideas to billion dollar companies instead of million dollar companies.  I read the books he suggested, and we discussed them.  I tried the actions he helped me brainstorm, and then we would brainstorm again to improve those things.  I have always thought about things in a very rigid process-focused step-by-step manner.  My personality profile indicates I shouldn’t be interested in, or great at, outbound sales.  My mentor taught me how to apply the things I was already great at to the sales process.  I’m not an extrovert.  I’m not a visionary.  I’m not a high D (referring to disc profiling).  I’m excited when I get to talk about process improvement and data.  I originally saw this as counter-intuitive and limiting.  Turns out that business owners and sales leaders are interested in the same things I am.  Flash might get your attention, but substance wins deals.   Consistency fills your pipeline.  Follow through builds trust.  I didn’t have to change my personality at all, mentoring helped me grow my strengths instead of constantly dwelling on what I perceived to be my weaknesses.  I never once left a mentoring meeting feeling bad at my job or overwhelmed by the changes I needed to make – I left feeling confident and focused.”

How does mentoring others help you?

“Mentoring others keeps me accountable. I can’t mentor if I’m not doing the things I’m suggesting others do. I like reflecting on how far I’ve come when I share ideas with others. It improves my communication skills – I focus on gestalt communication instead of giving advice. Communicating suggestions with a mentee allows me to think about problems differently. I currently mentor a young woman in the IT Channel – some of our conversations are directly about sales. Some of them are personal. Meeting regularly allows me to explore right-brain solutions with someone who thinks differently, when my tendency is usually to default to left brain analytical. Sales is process-oriented but people are not. People don’t make rational buying decisions – the “buyer journey” is really a “billable consulting hours” invention. You could follow all the best practices ever created for sales, and someone can just walk away from the table at any time for any reason. Mentoring reminds me that everyone is different, and it gives me the ability to give back to my industry and my community in a meaningful way. While I mentor the people on my team, my motivations for mentoring them are as self-serving as they are altruistic. I am financially compensated for their success. The ROI on mentoring isn’t directly tied to financial success, but I do think that being a mentor makes me a better sales leader. I don’t have to watch my mentee struggle to apply the things that I’ve shared with her and get frustrated if she doesn’t – the act of sharing ideas helps me improve, the outcome of applying that information is up to her.”

Thinking about mentoring?  If you weren’t already, perhaps you should!  We’re one month into the year and Tracie is at 2/3 of goal for the quarter – she may be on to something!

Looking to connect with Tracie in person?  Find her at the CompTIA  CCF in Chicago, March 11-13.  In addition to mentoring other women in the channel, Tracie was appointed to the Canadian Executive Council for CompTIA in 2019.

You can connect with Tracie on Linkedin in here:

You can follow Tracie on Twitter,

Or you could just call her.  It’s kind of her thing.