CX Top Tips

045: Art Sobczak: I was not a good employee

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Art Sobczak Show Notes

Art Sobczak started a business with a partner at the early age of 22. After a short time, his partner went on to law school and Art tried to keep the business. Struggling to make enough income, Art decided to take a job while trying to build his business. Art still struggled, but income was no longer the problem. Listen to Art tell his story of failing and learning to get over the hump and move onward and upward.

Art has not grown up yet, but he was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. Where at 14 years old, Art landed his first paid sales job, on the phone selling tickets to the police fundraising circus. All through high school and college Art held a variety of jobs that allowed him to sit in the comfort of an office, making money for others, and himself, simply by talking on the phone.

Art also had a weekend job during his four years of college, as a disc jockey for a mobile music company, playing over 400 wedding receptions and parties during that time, further enhancing his speaking and persuasion skills. His sales and speaking trend continued after college in corporate sales positions with the original AT&T, and with a division of American Express.

Since forming his company, Business By Phone Inc. in 1983, Art has helped hundreds of thousands of salespeople–and those who might not have considered themselves being in sales–to generate untold millions of dollars and extraordinary success by saying and doing the right things by phone using conversational, non-salesy methods.

When he’s not working or traveling for business, he’s likely traveling to or at a sporting event, golfing, or feeding his passion for cooking. In fact, Art has been a competitive barbecue cook for 20 years, and has won several championships.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @ArtSobczak and get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet 

“We all have to take risks or else we’re not going to achieve anything of significance.” Click to Tweet

“Risk and attitude are necessary for success.” Click to Tweet 

“Billions of words have been written and spoken about the importance of attitude.” Click to Tweet 

“The way you feel affects your performance.” Click to Tweet 

“I was a great salesperson but not a good employee.” Click to Tweet 

“If I’m really going to have the impact that I want to have…I’ve got to do my own deal.” Click to Tweet 

“Let’s face it, life is based on action.” Click to Tweet 

“Take an interest in others and put what you want to the side.” Click to Tweet 

“What has to come before recommendations, is information.” Click to Tweet 

“Be more interested in other people than yourself.” Click to Tweet 

“Everybody is born a salesperson.” Click to Tweet 

“In any profession there are people who are the crooks and shysters.” Click to Tweet 

“Selling, when done professionally is the greatest profession in the world.” Click to Tweet 

“You really can’t force somebody to do something that they really don’t want to do.” Click to Tweet 

“I will never lose the passion to accomplish something and to make a difference.” Click to Tweet 

“Everybody needs a purpose.” Click to Tweet 

“When you coast, you only coast one way and that’s downhill.” Click to Tweet 

“I have to kick myself in the butt every so often…to make sure I’m motivated.” Click to Tweet

“Take personal responsibility for everything that you do.” Click to Tweet 

“Be curious and always be learning.” Click to Tweet 

“Think a little bit bigger in every situation.” Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Art Sobczak started a business with a partner at the early age of 22. After a short time, his partner went on to law school and Art tried to keep the business. Struggling to make enough income, Art decided to take a job while trying to build his business. Art still struggled, but income was no longer the problem. Listen to Art tell his story of failing and learning to get over the hump and move onward and upward.

Advice for others

Take an interest in others and put what you want to the side.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

At times, I get a little too comfortable and begin to coast. And when you coast, you only coast one way and that’s downhill.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Take personal responsibility for everything you do.

Secret to Success

Be curious and always be learning.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

The internet.

Recommended Reading

Sell or Be Sold: How to Get Your Way in Business and in Life

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition

Contacting Art

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/artsob

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ArtSobczak

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArtSobczak/

Blog: http://justplacethecall.com/

Resources

Free ebook: 501 Sales Telephone Tips

Click to access edited transcript
045: Art Sobczak: I was not a good employee

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we uncover the leadership like hat that help you to experience, break out performance faster and rocket to success. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.
“Developing your company’s talent and leadership pipeline can be an overwhelming task but your burn is over with ResultPal you can use the power of practice to develop more leaders faster. Move onward and upward by going to resultpal.com/fast in getting a $750 performance package for free.”

Jim Rembach: I really excited to talk and share the guest that I have with you today because he’s been a long time mentor of mine from a distance and I just recently reached out to him because of me being able to have really this medium to do it in the Fast Leader show and I am so excited to have art subject on the show today. Art since he hasn’t grown up yet but he was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. At 14 years old he landed his first paid sales job on the phone selling tickets to the police fundraising circus. All through high school and college are held a variety of jobs that allowed him to sit in the comfort of an office making money for others and himself simply by talking on the phone.

Art also had a weekend job during his four years of college as a disc jockey for a mobile music company playing over 400 wedding receptions and parties during that time further enhancing is speaking and persuasion skills. His sales and speaking trend continued after college and corporate sales positions with the original AT&T and with the division of American Express. Since forming his company Business By Phone Inc. in 1983, Art has helped hundreds of thousands of salespeople and those who might not have considered themselves being in sales to generate untold millions of dollars in extraordinary success by saying and doing the right things by phone using conversational non-sales method.

When he’s not working or traveling for business is likely traveling to or at sporting events, golfing or feeding his passion for cooking, in fact, Art has been a competitive barbecue cook for 20 years and has won several championships. Art Sobczak, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Art Sobczak: I am Jim. Thank you, it is my pleasure to be here today, and thank you for that great introduction it reminded me somethings about my past and my recent past which included traveling to the World Series to see my Kansas City Royals win the world championships, so I’m really still on the high about that.

Jim Rembach: No kidding, go Royals. I’ve given our legions a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

Art Sobczak: You did touch on my current passions, you’ve got personal passions and you have business passions. On the personal side, most definitely I’m a passionate cook and I have been doing the barbecue thing competitively for about 20 years but I really cook everything and start watching TV when all the people talk about reality shows and everything else they watch. I’m normally watching cooking shows or involved taking cooking classes online, I just invested one the other day, so it’s really tough for me to go to a restaurant and look at the menu and say, “I don’t know what I get here that I couldn’t make better for myself.” I know that sounds kind of arrogant but that truly is a passion.

On the personal side, I’m not professional side even though I’ve been doing a long time helping salespeople say and do the right things by phone, it’s still truly is a passion. I really get no greater joy than working with salespeople and seeing their aha moments and seeing them succeed and hearing them succeed when they’re overcoming their hump of being fearful of picking up the phone, talking to a higher level decision-maker, dealing with the resistance that everybody gets. I don’t think that will ever go away and hopefully they will never go away and that’s still what I do every day, and I doubt if I would ever retire because I’ll still do that in some form partly because I’m unemployable. [Laugh]

Jim Rembach: I don’t know about that Art, maybe it’s that other passion of not wanting to be employed but meaning all those passions are keeping you busy and that’s fantastic. So, I know for you—I can’t think of how many posts and articles and things like that I’ve read of yours but like had even mentioned is that, it’s really conversational, it’s the non-sales piece trying to engage instead of push and I think we all can learn from that. Dan Pink came out with a book that talks about everybody being in sales whether you think you are or not. So, another reason why I wanted to have you on the show is that everybody needs to realize that, look were all in sales and a lot of us if we’re not writing something to try to connect with others were definitely speaking it whether it’s on a webinar and getting recorded or on a video like we here on this podcast or trying to make that call to get in and connect, it’s so important to understand that were all in sales and it’s about connections.

With that we have to let our passions that drive us, even talking about—I know that a lot of those barbecue guys they’re pulling 24-hour shifts in order to make sure that their meat comes out so that they can win their championship, there’s a lot of passion that drives that, and we look at quotes on the Fast Leader show as through one of the things that drives us, is there a quote or two that drives you?

Art Sobczak: There are, there are and these two I really have followed since an early age. The first one I first heard I was a junior in high school and the principle of the of the high school I went to in Omaha at an assembly sure this quotes from John F. Kennedy and he said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly will ever achieve greatly.” At that moment I still recall 5 years ago sitting in that assembly room hearing that and it was just like a slap upside the head and I thought, “Wow that really resonates.” And from that moment forward I put that into practice including probably several weeks after where I took a big leap and decided to run for the student government for the next year and put myself out in front of my first big speech ever inform of a thousand kids in campaign as to why I should get elected and it worked and I did and continue to follow and lived that quote. Let’s face it we all have to take risks or else we’re not going to really achieve anything of significance, so that really has to do with risk which is necessary for success.

And then the other thing that is necessary for success is attitude. Obviously millions if not billions of words have been written and spoken about the importance of attitude, and it is true, particularly in sales but life in general. And I tell salespeople that there are probably no other profession where the way you feel effects your performance as much as is being in sales. Let’s face it people in accounting or HR could probably come in maybe half hung over and feeling like they’re still put out a passable spreadsheet but in sales we really can do that, so the quote that that I have lived and shared with countless, hundreds of thousands of people is from Henry Ford and that is, “If you think you can or you can’t you’re always right, You think you can or you can you’re always right” and I’m not sure this on I’ve coached my kids, sports teams and I’ve shared it with salespeople and just really anybody in general, it’s like the little engine that could.

I would say those two, if people just follow those two premises they’re well on the way to extraordinary success. I think that’s a great point. My oldest son, he loves the two words ‘I can’t’ and I tell, “You know what, every single time you say that you’re absolutely correct, now do you want to be correct? And he pause a little bit and maybe that’s something that he’ll be able to overcome as he gets older and develops that front part of his brain and can realize that he’s creating his own destiny when he does that. You talk about failing and failing big, and we look at those as learning opportunities on the show because they’re just that. Science has proven over and over that we learn the most when we do fail, that’s how we learn. Even when we’re babies when we can’t get that touch thing right and we can grab that cheerio and we keep failing, we keep trying, we learn how to manipulate it and move it and do other things in order to be able to get it to our mouth and reach our goal we have to fail. We have humps that we need to get over, can you think about a time when you have to get over a hump and it really helped you know take off the next time?

Art Sobczak: Yeah. I was thinking about this a little bit prior to the program and it isn’t necessary so much as one isolated instance in failure but it would definitely was, as relates to failure, but it was definitely a hump. When I first started my business, and like a lot of small businesses you’re not ordinarily successful to start out with, I started my business pretty young I was 22 years old and left the friendly womb of corporate America. I was a great salesperson but not a good employee and I always do and I wanted to do my own thing.

So, I left with a partner and we started this consulting and training firm and we weren’t making a ton of money, my partner wasn’t married at time I was, so he was the one that was taking most of the revenue out and because I had somebody to help support me I wasn’t. Then he left and went to law school so I had the business but still not making as much I would’ve wanted as luck would have it. I had a client that wanted to hire me mostly full-time to run there inside sales, set up their inside sales, and I decided to take that on which then put me back into a quasi-job type of situation still keeping the business and some of the things on the side.

And then what happened from there is that I got recruited away by another company which was a division of American Express to sell for them as opposed to doing everything including operation, I’m a salesperson at heart I’m not an operations guide, so decided to take that position and now I find myself again working and making more money that I’ve ever made in my life but I still had my passion for my business and now I’m essentially working almost two full-time jobs.

Then what happened with that company is that they promoted me into another position which is the director level position were I’m now running marketing programs and it reminded me of why I hated that corporate life and at the same time I’m thinking that if I’m really going to have the impact that I want to have and if I want to accomplish what I’m going to accomplish in life I’m going to do my own deal full-time, and that was the hump. I decided I’m going to make this leap again similarly to what I’ve made a few years ago, it wasn’t as big of a leap this time because at least I had the infrastructure in place for a business and had more experience and, geez now I’m was 25 as opposed to being 22 I was grizzled old veteran by this point.

Again going back to quote, I was daring to fail great a leap again to succeed greatly. And again taking the risk and taking that step, I’m sure there’s a million quotes I’m action but one the one thing that has to be there in addition to the attitude and being able to take the risk is actually pulling the trigger and taking that action because, let’s face it life is based on action. So, I took that step and never looked back since then.

Jim Rembach: Well, I know that you’ve had a lot of ups and downs of the economy because that’s what happens with sales, when you think about your consulting practice, I know recently you just moved offices and have done a few things, so it’s a whole lot of ebbing and flowing and all that happens when you start taking that leap, but if you’re to think about one piece of advice that you would give to the Fast Leader Legion from all that you’ve learned over that, what would it be?

Art Sobczak: One piece of advice, Oh, I’m not really good at just one piece of advice, let me put it in terms of just having success and having an impact with people in general. I would say that would be taking interest in others and put what you want to decide, here another famous quote I use all the time from Zig Ziglar “You can get whatever you want in life by helping enough other people get what they want.” That is really the basis for professional sales and when salespeople don’t do well it’s because they are more interested in selling what they want to sell as opposed to what the other person wants to buy. We can break that down further and say logistically, how does that manifest itself? And it really is asking questions before we make our recommendation. And I really like to use the word presentation in sales because that implies, “I’m going to be doing most of the talking” so I like to always call it recommendation since what has come before recommendation is information and making it all about the other person.

In my training programs we spend the first part of it crawling inside the minds of other people. Who are the people that were talking to? What’s their position and their job in life? What do they want? What do they want to avoid? And then taking what we have, how can we help them accomplish that? And then from there we formulate the questioning strategy that we need to use in order to uncover that information. So, again it sounds simplistic but like a lot of success principles they work that is be more interested in other people than yourself.

Jim Rembach: You know Art, as you were talking and explaining and teaching that is, I started thinking too about a lot of the internal work that takes place with the cross functional teams and all project work that has to happen in order to do whatever you want to do. And you have to internally sell your idea, you have to internally essentially get people to give their time to focus in on whatever you need to accomplish, so that that selling activity is universal as well not just from the perspective of, ‘Yes, I am sales and I can sell siding or I can sell financial services or I can sell medical supplies but not I also have to sell ideas’ and I think that works universally.

Art Sobczak: Oh, yeah, absolutely. We’re going back to what you had said before about kids, everybody is born a salesperson and anybody who has kids, of course everybody has been a kid, we’re all born salespeople what happens is that some people just get out of it as far as being their formal title but every kid knows how to be curious, ask questions, their persistence, they certainly aren’t afraid to ask for what they’re not deterred- by the no’s, in a lot of our cases even when you have grown kids like I do they still know how to ask for the money.

Jim Rembach: I think that happen once they realize what money is [Laugh] I think they start doing that and so they’re trained by the time they got out of the house quite well.

Art Sobczak: You’re absolutely right. Whenever somebody says, “Oh, boy I’m just not a salesperson” what they’re really saying is I’m probably not that good at it. But Grant Cardone has a book, I forget the title, but it’s something to the effect of life is sales, it’s Sell or be Sold he’s got a great quote in there, he said that life is on commission if you really think about it. Commission in terms of either monetary or whatever reward that you’re looking for. Again the best way to get anything is to step back and say who is this person? What do they want? If you’re looking for your spouse or your companion to go to dinner, instead of saying, I want to go here let’s think in terms of, okay, what do they like and not like as it relates to what I want to go and what questions can I ask them to get them to think it’s got to be their idea, sounds a little manipulative doesn’t it?

That’s a great point that you bring up. A lot of people start having that squirmy feeling when you start talking in that manner but you have to look where it’s coming from. So what’s the intent? Is the intent to connect and build a deeper bond or is it to manipulate and just get your own way? I think where your values come, where your values are, what your focus is, you’re your vision, mission and all those things start coming into play, so what’s inside of you. I think that’s where a lot of people get those things really mixed up.

Yeah, unfortunately sales had such a bad reputation and that’s a result of the salespeople out there again, who are placing their intentions or their wants ahead of what the customer wants at all costs. Obviously in any profession there are people who are the crooks and the shysters and the scammers, again unfortunately in our profession that probably more than most other profession. But selling itself again when done professionally is the greatest profession in the world because you really can’t force somebody to do something that they don’t want to do. And if I’m asking the right questions to get somebody to take some action and they feel like it’s something that they wanted to do anyway, we both have accomplished our objective and they feel great about it.

Jim Rembach: That’s very true. I know you’re still growing up and you have all the passions in regards to sports and cooking and your business, your work teaching others, helping others, but when you start looking at all the things that you have going on, what are some of your goals?

Art Sobczak: I’ve been in business a long time and I never will lose the passion to accomplish something and to make a difference and to me I could never see myself not having that purpose, and everybody needs a purpose. I was looking at some of the guys at my country club, their everyday is to just get up and play ten holes of golf and they go back home and watch TV and I got, “Geez, I could never, ever do that.” So, my goals are to continue what I’m doing and continue learning and a rolling out some new learning program here that we’re working on right now that could potentially be some of the biggest things that I’ve ever done.

My goals too to continue and to continue reaching more people and helping people be better salespeople and it’s really cool to be able to work with kids right out of college who have chosen sales as a profession as opposed to what many people have done they just kind of fell into it by default because there was nothing else available. But I really, really love the fact that both the colleges and universities today are teaching something that’s useful, and that is sales as opposed to a lot of the other garbage that they’re putting in the students minds.

Jim Rembach: And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.

“A dry leadership pipeline shouldn’t clog your business from moving onward and upward. Get over the hump by filling the gap between leadership development and top performance with ResultPal. Rocket to success by going to resultpal.com/fast and getting a $750 performance package for free.”

Alright here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the—Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Art, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Art Sobczak, are you ready to hoedown?

Art Sobczak: Okay, let’s do it.

Jim Rembach: What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

Art Sobczak: What’s holding me back is at times I get a little too comfortable. When you get too comfortable, that you’re satisfied and then you start you start to coast and you only coast one way, coast downhill. So, I have to kick myself in the butt every so often like many people do to make sure that I’m motivated every single day.

Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

Art Sobczak: Best leadership advice is to take personal responsibility for everything that you do because if you do it by example other people will follow you and if you think about it that will take care of a lot of problems both personally, professionally and worldwide.

Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Art Sobczak: Be curious and always be learning.

Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

Art Sobczak: One of my best tools is the Internet, I think it’s going to catch on. There is more information available to us at any time in history and whenever I’m in a line or anywhere, I’m one of those guys that are pulling out my phone not playing a game but I’m constantly reading something.

Jim Rembach: What would be one book that you’d recommend for our listeners?

Art Sobczak: One of the best all-time books it’s a classic it’s simply called “Influenced” by Robert Cialdini.

Jim Rembach: You can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/Art Sobczak and you’ll also find a free e-book from Art titled, 501 Sales Telephone Tips. Okay, Art, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you are given the opportunity go back to the age of 25 and you’ve been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have back with you but you can’t take everything you can only choose one so what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

Art Sobczak: Well, 25 I was already, two and half, three years into my business. And looking back on my career I would say one thing that has probably held me back from even achieving greater things is the ability to think a little bit bigger in every situation. I’ve certainly done it, I’ve accomplished a lot but if I started even earlier with, just thinking bigger asking bigger, going after bigger deals in all aspects of life, I know I would’ve achieved more but it’s never too late to start.

Jim Rembach: Art part it was an honor to spend time with you today can you please share with the fast leader legion how they can connect with you?
Art Sobczak: You can connect with me in several ways, my main website is businessbyphone.com, you can hook up with me at LinkedIn, I’m an open networker, you can also look me up on Facebook, I also have a blog which is smartcalling.com. You can also find on Twitter, all those places you can get free sales tips and information.

Jim Rembach: Art, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!

Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

END OF AUDIO

No Comments
  1. Art Sobczak says

    Thanks for having me on, Jim! This was a fun interview and you are a real pro. I shared info that I never have before on typical sales shows in the past.

    1. Jim Rembach says

      Art,

      Thank you! It was an honor having you on the show. A special shout out to the late Lee Van Vechten for introducing you to me so many years ago.

      Godspeed,

      Jim

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