Sales is the most important aspect of growing a business. Without revenue, you're not going to be successful. Chris Spurvey, author of It’s Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mind-Set, developed a number of courses around the topic of rolling out sales and personal brand. He’s a consultant for organizations across Canada primarily and works with leaders of organizations to help them grow their sales culture growth or sales process and get to a point where they're achieving the revenue targets growing out their sales team. Chris saw the opportunity to influence and impact entrepreneurs when he reflected on his own journey of moving from hating sales to being effective at it.
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Chris Spurvey on Cultivating the Sales Mindset
On this episode, I'm joined by my friend, Chris Spurvey. Chris is the author of It's Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mindset. After consciously choosing the sales profession as a means to create a better life for his family, Chris realized that negative images of sales were holding him back. By shifting his mindset, Chris was able to transform his inner game and use his innate values and talents to become a top sales professional. Chris joined a boutique IT consulting firm in 2006 and spearheaded its growth to the point that it was acquired by KPMG Canada in 2013 where he served as the VP of Business Development for Atlantic Canada. He has sold over $300 million in consulting services. I am so thrilled to have him here with us on Business Building Rockstars show. Hello, Chris.
I'm so grateful to be joining you. This is going to be a lot of fun.
It's always fun to speak with fun podcast colleagues and also amazing people like you. Why don't you let my audience know more about how you're serving and supporting people on a daily basis?
You had disclosed that a company that I built was acquired by KPMG and then I spent the next four years in a leadership role within KPMG. What I found in that role in particular was that I had a knack and a passion for helping individuals, entrepreneurs, and that version of my life, it was consultants, people who wanted to grow within their careers within KPMG who were good at what they did, consultant trained a specialist, but they struggled to get out there and grow a book of business because they didn't see themselves as being in sales. I then decided, “Maybe the first thing I can do as a part of sharing my message that we can all sell if we just embrace some aspect of our personality that we can leverage. Maybe I'll write a book.” I went down this path of writing a book and it led to me deciding to jump out and take this opportunity, the bull by the horns, so to speak.
What I do is I'm a consultant for organizations across Canada primarily and so I worked with the leader of organizations to help them grow up your sales culture, grow up their sales process and get to a point where they're achieving the revenue targets growing out their sales team. On top of that, I also coach one-on-one entrepreneurs who come to me and say, “Chris, I like to work with you one-on-one.” I do a lot of that as well. I've developed a number of courses around the topic of rolling out sales and personal brand and so on. I have an online university where a lot of entrepreneurs have taken advantage of my courses. Lastly, as a result of the success of my book, it's led to speaking opportunities. I probably do about 25 or 30 speaking engagements annually.
Let's talk about the evolution of you walking away from KPMG and identifying that outside of the consultants that you're working with already, how did you wind up having an interest in working with entrepreneurs and also creating that online academy?
I was at the chair of the board for a technology association where I live, which is Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada. I was invited as a part of my role to speak at an organization called Propel ICT. They’re a startup incubator. Entrepreneurs go to this incubator and they help them form their startup and grow. Most of the people at this talk that I was asked to give, most of these people were just moving beyond the concept and it was the time to get out to sell and start to promote their service or their product, whatever the case would be. In the room was 30 entrepreneurs and I got inspired after reading Daniel Pink's book, To Sell is Human.
In that book, it stimulated me to ask the question, “What were some of the first words that come to mind when you think about sales?” What I got back was quite revealing. It was sleazy, slimy, manipulative, objection fighting, greasy, whatever. I looked at the people in the room and I thought to myself, “What bright, beautiful, young entrepreneurs and that's the perception they have of sales.” They don't have any chance of being successful because sales is obviously the most important aspect of growing a business. Without revenue, you're not going to be successful. At that particular moment in time, I saw the opportunity to influence and impact them mainly because I reflected on my own journey of moving from hating sales to being quite effective at it. Through looking at them, reflecting on my journey, I saw right then and there an opportunity for me to help these individuals. That's how I became attached to helping entrepreneurs.
We were talking about our mutual friend, Dorie Clark, and you're telling me that Stand Out is something that you had picked up while you were still working and you utilize that as a blueprint for your exit and creating your book and all this other amazing stuff that you have built for yourself. Can you talk about the transition from the secure and comfortable situation you had with KPMG, to go into the unknown and to write a book for the first time? Can you talk about what you were going through in terms of what got you even to be aware of Stand Out and then how did you utilize that for yourself in this way that you've built to where you are now?
I've always been an entrepreneur, so I go back to my high school days into doing odds and ends with respects to earning more money. I was always seen as a go-getter, so I attached to that identity. We are formed by certain aspects of our lives and I used to get an energy when people would say, “Chris, you've got a golden horseshoe up your rear end. You seem attracted to always doing the best, being the best.” That would make me feel good when people would say that. As I went through university, I started a company in university. We sold that company and layer on layer of entrepreneurship is what my whole life has been all about.
When we sold our company in 2013 to KPMG, I knew immediately that my future wasn't with KPMG. I felt like a cog in a wheel, a bureaucratic organization. Good organization, great people, but not a place where I want to hang my hat for the rest of my life. I jokingly said to a friend one day, “I don't want my tombstone to say he graduated from the firm.” I never really associated well with such a big organization, so I decided I'm going to do something different. I read Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek and that book stimulated me to maybe grow something a bit different than a non-traditional business instead of having employees live a lifestyle. I ended up joining a couple of masterminds and different things like that and Dory was a guest of one of those masterminds. I attached to her message because I just started writing the book and I realized I don't have anyone to buy it outside of mom and dad.
I needed to grow a following. I needed to start to follow a formula, but there was so much information out there about how to do it that I was getting myself all confused. I decided to take an information diet, take one book, Stand Out by Dorie Clark, and I decided to start implementing. What I loved about Dorie’s formula was it was scalable, there were layers. We all start with a one-to-one strategy. We just need to get our word out there and then we move from one-to-one to one to many. From one to many to many to many. I started writing articles, publishing articles. A few of them got picked up by Forbes. I started my podcast and I saw the podcast is a great way to level off because not only are you sharing your message but you're leveling up through the networks of other individuals, key influencers. I saw the formula, so I ran with the formula and it worked. I'm a huge testament and testimonial for Dorie. I wave her flag from the rooftop as much as I can.
You couldn't be waving the flag of a better person, so that's so awesome. I enjoyed it when you said you took an information diet. That's so key in this information age and over information. I see all the time people getting stuck in the information, “I still have to learn this. I still have to do this. I still have to before I can take action.” When we're in that space of thinking that we need more information, more education, we can't even see that we're in it. How did you recognize it was time to hunker down, focus on one thing, and ditch the rest are at least pause the rest?
There's always something we can use as some guidance and that's our results. Are we getting results or are we not getting results? From my vantage point, results only come from actual action and putting some effort into it and getting out there and doing all the right things. What I will say to that is I've grown an identity as being an action taker. I don't go to bed at night unless I've taken some actions throughout the day to move myself forward. What I would suggest to people, I'm a big believer in a vision, having a vision for our lives and a vision is just a story that we read to ourselves. We write, and we read to ourselves on a consistent basis and having that vision, what are the key aspects of our lives that we want to zone in on?
For me, it was being an action taker. The more I read that vision, the more I would make sure every day I was taking that action. I do find though we do get caught in cycles, so I made a decision. Here it is now, and I had gotten myself into a cycle of consuming a bit too much information. Yes, I was acting but I was getting myself all confused. I was going through a major transition in my life, so I decided, “Until I reach a certain goal, I'm not reading one more book. I’m not listening to one more audio book.” I've done none of that since Christmas, so it's all action for me. I feel like I know enough at this point to take the next step. I'm not going to consume anything else until I take that next step. I challenge people to do that because everything that you need is already in your head, believe it or not.
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In this information and coaching and consulting industry, people give credit but people pat you on the back for how many books you read and how many things you know. Sometimes I don't want to talk to people or deal with people. I take breaks from social media because I feel so exhausted by all the expectations and I'm like, “These aren't my expectations.” I used to get caught up in that trap of trying to impress. Not intentionally, it wasn't in my brain that I was like, “I want to impress these people.” I never thought that, but what I did realize was that I would be on this constant creating content and staying relevant and all these things you're told you have to do.
The funny thing is I'm a marketing strategist and I'm a genius at it. My whole message to people is you’ve got to figure out what's best for you and then we double down on it. We go deep on it and yet at the same time, I was still falling into the trap of doing the opposite of what I know to be true just allowing all those messages in. Do you ever feel, or have you ever felt during this time that you've taken this break guilty or maybe people are going to think you're not up to speed or maybe you think, “Maybe I should get up to speed with something?”
I've zeroed in on Chris Spurvey’s unique ability and I am extremely confident in my own skin. I wasn't always that way, but I've hit that point. I've zeroed in on the fact that what I'm good at is I have a genuine aspect of my personality that comes true and when I'm talking to people. I feel like right now, I'm not in a headspace at all of the need to impress. Unconsciously, I know exactly what you're saying. It's not something any of us probably say, “I need to go out there and impress somebody,” but we are highly influenced by how we've grown over the years. I became associated. My personality became associated with excelling and doing well, and I just fed off that energy. Now, I would argue I've tried very hard to disassociate myself with anybody else's input. I'm just being me and just being very happy in my own skin. It's been a work in progress, but I feel like I'm there. We all work through in cycles. We hit the ceiling and then we might retract a little bit and so on. I'm sure the best people in the world, that's the exact same thing that's happening for them. Right now, no, I don't feel the need to go out and consume a whole pile of information because I might feel like I'm behind. I'm very confident in my own skin right now and it's a genuine confidence.
With all the different areas of your business and your interests, what lights you up the most right now? I know things change all the time, but in terms of what are you most enjoying about where you're at right now?
If anyone reads my book, I highly encourage them to just go on my website. They can buy my book for a penny plus $8 shipping. I'm a big believer in the idea of always having a vision for the next version of your life. I jokingly call myself Chris Spurvey 7.0. What it comes down to is by always growing and stretching and challenging ourselves through the writing of a vision for our future, we're going to be always growing and expanding. I heard one time that if we're not growing, we're dying because time passes by. What excites me since I've left KPMG, I've built a stable group of consulting clients and these are medium-size businesses, small, medium businesses, and I'm working with the entrepreneur on a daily basis. I'm very busy doing that.
In terms of the next version of my vision is I'm at a point in my life where my son is eighteen and my daughter is fifteen. We're three or four years away from having a ton of freedom and flexibility as they move on to grow their lives. Jennifer and I have formed a vision of being able to live a warm destination, work as much or as little as we choose on our terms. I'm building the foundation for that. What does that look like? On my online university, I'm building out, for me, a residual form of income because people are buying my courses and consuming my courses without my direct involvement. That excites me. I'm doing the work, consulting, coaching, but I have a backend that's growing, which is going to be more of the automated residual income component.
Being able to serve people who need your help, but it's not at the high touch and high price point that you do for your one-on-one or consulting coach clients. You've mentioned vision a couple of times. Do you have an exercise or something that you can take us through for my audience to walk through how you would recommend creating it? There are so many ideas out there and there are all kinds of doorways to use vision boards and writing your mantra and all these different things. I would love to know how is it that you recommend doing it?
It's near and dear to my heart because the people who I personally coach, that's the first exercise in my personal coaching. It’s gaining clarity over what you want your life to be. For me, a vision is so important, and the result of a powerful vision is self-motivation. Self-motivation is what I have become to learn is the key ingredient that will guide a person through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. What does self-motivation look like? It's persistence, it's consistency, it's energy, it's putting your all into each day. The only way I've learned to create this consistent flow of self-motivation is to have a picture in your mind. We think in pictures. Have a picture in your mind of what you want your future to look like.
A vision is something that's written as though you already have one of these you want in your future. Then what you do is you read it, or you listen to it, and I recommend both. It's a one-page document which is it's this beautiful picture that when you read it and you put your all into the reading of it, you're believing you're in it. You're seeing yourself already in the vision, so that's what a vision is. For me, it's written document. How do you go about doing it? For me, how I start with my clients is put together a list of 30 things you'd like to do, be or have in your future, just brainstorm, dump on a couple of pieces of paper. After you have your 30, then go through them and group them in buckets, A, B, and C based on priority and what you'd like to have happen.
When you have your A, B and C buckets, then go through the ten in each bucket. Try to aim to have ten in each bucket and then rank the priority of each of the ones in each bucket. Then you end up having an A1 goal and your A1 goal is your primary goal. Then what you want to do is you want to sit back, visualize what it would be like to have a compilation of these goals. My vision has me spending time in the Rockies in Canada, working with corporate clients there but in the evenings, jumping on a Skype call, working with some personal coaching clients, heading off to Toronto, which is my favorite city in the world, going to see a Toronto Maple Leaf game, joining my two children in Mexico where we're going to spend some warm, relaxing time. That's my vision. I described what's in my one pager that I read every day. What it is is just take the goals and put it into a one pager in the present tense, “I'm so happy and grateful now that I am,” and you describe it. You bring in all the senses, the sensory factors of sight and touch and smell. Add these elements into your vision because then when you're reading it, you're smelling it. You're tasting it. You're touching it as you're reading it. The more you do that, the more it becomes real.
I mentioned my book and the reason I mentioned that is because when I wrote my book in 2014, the last chapter was my vision that I wrote in 2014. I love to tell this story and suggest people read that last chapter because hopefully, if you read it, you'll say, “Here it is three years later. That's the Chris Spurvey that I heard on the podcast.” I'm living the vision I wrote three years ago. I've got a vision for where I want to go in three more years from now. Visions really do work. I challenge anyone that you need to have a vision and hopefully that little exercise I described is a way to do it.
Congratulations on reaching that vision that you wrote in the book. You've mentioned the book a couple of times and you mentioned your website. Do you want to let our audience know what your website is?
I'm spinning from your exercise because what I heard in that was a combination of so many different things that I've learned over the years as a coach and so many different tools and resources. What I love is you've brought that all together in a holistic way. It feels, even as you're talking about it like, “I can see the vision exercise being such a powerful vision exercise.” It's complex and complete. It's not complex like, “This is too challenging to do. It’s simplified it but there are a lot of steps there.” I challenge anyone as well and I'm going to challenge myself to go through your steps because from all of the different vision processes that I've experienced and worked with people on and been taught and even used myself with clients, nothing has been that comprehensive, so I'm excited to try it out.
My book is a narrative book but the core component of my book is creating a vision for your life that it gets you to act powerfully. The theme as that's interwoven throughout the book is how to approach sales in a pull mentality versus a push mentality. Pull is a lot easier than push. My book also has the formula that I described.
Can you talk a little bit about that the pull versus push? I call it attraction versus chasing. Can you talk about how you recognized it? Maybe you always knew it but I believe that years ago, people succeeded with push in sales. As times have changed and society has changed and expectations and information, all that stuff, it's much more crowded than it used to be to get people's attention. In my own experience and observations and what I fell into when I quit my job as a correction officer in jumped into, “Now what? I know I'm a great coach, but how do I find clients? What am I supposed to do?” I found myself learning bad practices that never resonated with me and it was always very challenging. I didn't realize it, but what I was attracting because of where I was coming from and that was following these push processes is desperate people and it was exhausting. It was like I could never please them no matter what. Their bucket was always leaking.
I know that feeling. One of the things I will point out is that I left KPMG and after I was roughly two and a half years of growing my personal brand. One of the first tasks I had on my list was reach out to some local business leaders and just chat with them about their business. Go into the conversations. Have a diagnostic conversation. What does the diagnostic conversation entail? It really entails, “Where do you see yourself in two to three to five years?” Just make note that the number doesn't really matter. Effectively, you're asking them where they want to be in their future and then ask them where they are presently. Then say, “What’s holding you back from bridging the gap between where you are now and where you want to be?” That's where you get all the information and then you just say simply, “If I could show you a way to bridge that gap, would you be interested in getting into a more detailed conversation?” That's how you're setting up as a diagnostic conversation.
I spent two years growing my personal brand, sharing articles on LinkedIn, launching my book, launching my podcast. I reached out to twenty or 30 business leaders in my community and invited them out for coffee. Roughly 70% of them said, “Chris, I feel like I know you and I like you and trust you even though I've never spoken to you before.” The reason that was because they might've watched me on YouTube. They might've listened to my podcast and so I'm a real believer in growing a personal brand as a means to attract business to you. I was on a podcast and the guy said to me, “Chris, that's all right for you. You've been doing it now three or four years.” That's not a suitable answer for the person listening. I said to him, “I was in that exact same boat three years ago. The best time to start is today if we never started yesterday.” I'm a real believer in growing a personal brand as a way to attract clients to us and get ourselves into the mindset that let's pull people to us through the sharing of our knowledge and our expertise in a genuine down-to-earth way. That that's the formula.
Do you have any final words of wisdom? Any parting thoughts you'd like to leave the audience with?
The last element of personal branding, you can call it what you like, professional branding, personal branding, sharing yourself, I recommend that the people do it. We all have within us a story. I refer to my version, and the fact that I'm version 7.0, every version has a story. All we need to do in order to grow an effective business selling our knowledge is share our story and share the ups and downs. I always encourage people to share as much of the downs as they do their ups. You're sharing the holistic side of you and that's what will resonate with everybody. I've had lots of downs. It was the downs that made the ups so much more enjoyable. We level up by reflecting on our downs and working towards leveling up as we move forward. Share your story.
Thank you so very much for this interview. It's been fantastic.
- Chris Spurvey
- It's Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mindset
- KPMG Canada
- To Sell is Human
- Stand Out
- The 4-Hour Workweek
- It’s Time to Sell book on the website
- link – It’s Time to Sell for a penny
- @ChrisSpurvey – Twitter
- @ChrisSpurvey – Instagram
About Chris Spurvey
Chris Spurvey is the author of It’s Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mind-Set.
After consciously choosing the sales profession as a means to create a better life for his family, Chris realized that negative images of sales were holding him
By shifting his mind-set, Chris was able to transform his “inner game” and use his innate values and talents to become a top sales professional.
Chris joined a boutique IT consulting firm in 2006 and spearheaded its growth to the point it was acquired by KPMG Canada in 2013, where he served as the VP of Business Development for Atlantic Canada. He has sold over $300 million in consulting services and I'm thrilled to have him here with us on the Business Building Rockstars Show.
Thanks again to Chris Badgett for supporting the Business Building Rockstars Show.