Meet Susie Mathieson. She’s an experienced sales trainer and coach with more than 15 years’ in selling and sales leadership roles. Her passion is helping sales people reach their sales potential by empowering them to think for themselves and giving them the tools they need to be successful
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Susie Mathieson: I am one of those rare individuals who chose a career in sales, and I love it! Working hard has always been part of my ethos, and even from a young age, I made the connection that if I put in the effort, I would be rewarded for it, and that has never left me. Sales seemed a natural and logical step for me, as I could directly influence my success and reap the rewards in the form of bonuses.
I have been lucky enough to do almost everything in sales, from being an individual contributor, to a sales leader, and latterly running the European field sales, inside sales and customer retention teams for a large automotive company.
As my career progressed, I realised that whilst I LOVE sales, what I enjoy even more, is helping others achieve their sales targets. So, in October 2019 I set up the small stuff, a sales training company dedicated to focussing on making small changes to achieve big differences in sales performance.
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffet, how would you describe your company, your services or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Susie Mathieson: Anyone who tells you their company is completely unique is lying. There are myriad sales training companies available to choose from, many of which also offer high-quality sales training & coaching like we do at the small stuff. When selecting which company to work with, it is important that you TRUST the person and company you are working with.
In most cases, sales leaders are putting the development and, therefore, success of their sales teams in the hands of someone else, so the chemistry has to fit, ergo it is the people at the small stuff who make the difference. When meeting a potential client, we insist on having a “chemistry call” first. If the people don’t get on, or something feels off, we will walk away and happily recommend another company who might be a better fit. It’s a cliché, but “people buy from people” and that is the basis we use when selling our services.
So, if Warren Buffet and I were in an elevator, I would more than likely not pitch. I would want to know more about him and what is going on in his world, so I could assess whether the small stuff was a fit for what he needed right now. It’s sales 101, but we have to get to know our prospect first before coming with a solution.
Quiet quitting, The Great Resignation, are an ongoing trend causing many businesses to struggle keeping talent engaged and motivated. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. In your experience, what keeps employees happy? And how are adapting to the current shift we see?
Susie Mathieson: Working with so many multinationals, I see a lot of evidence of “quiet quitting” going on. Keeping talent and nurturing it has become paramount to surviving and thriving in this current climate. It’s an employee’s market, so we need to be focussing on what we can do to retain that talent.
Let’s think about it from an employee’s viewpoint for a second though: we just went through a pandemic, where we were all forced to “pivot” whether we liked it or not. Many people found that working from home was a viable option and in a lot of cases, it was more efficient than going into the office.
In varying forms, many of us are now being asked to return to these office buildings, which, due to increased energy costs, are being heated less than before (it is winter in Germany as I write this) and are often being sub-lit as a result too.
Compare that with our comfortable, warm, home office environment, where employees have more time for the things that are important to them, and we quickly have a disconnect. I am not saying we ditch the offices – no way! But we need to be talking to our teams and understanding how we can make collaboration work in this “new normal”. In 99% of cases, the team already has the answers, we as managers just need to create that environment where they feel comfortable to share that with
What advice do you wish you received when you started your business journey and what do you intend on improving in the next quarter?
Susie Mathieson: I was incredibly lucky to have a bunch of supportive people around me when I started my business, however, there is some advice I would give myself in hindsight.
Network, network, network! Most of our business comes from referrals, so starting out from scratch took a lot longer than expected. Keeping networks going and showing up, even when it feels like a dead end can lead to new business connections and leads in the future.
Don’t think too small! We started out going after SMEs, but soon had the larger companies knocking on our door. Multinationals are now our bread and butter and I love being part of the sales teams’ growth and development. Don’t be afraid to say YES, even if it feels like the most daunting contract at the time.
Online business keeps on surging higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for the year to come and how are you capitalizing on the tidal wave?
Susie Mathieson: At the small stuff we believe in working as efficiently as possible in whatever we do. Of course, as a sales training company, one of the first things we did back in 2020 was to move to virtual training solutions. Despite the world opening up and with travel becoming “normal” again, virtual training sessions are still a very popular option for many of our clients. I expect this trend to remain, with many teams opting for a hybrid solution in the future.
This new way of working has opened up our potential customer base and we are now working with clients internationally, from Australia to the USA, Europe to South Africa. It’s no longer a problem to deliver a training session with teams in Asia, we just start our day a little earlier!
I believe this is the realisation for many companies, regardless of industry. The world has become a lot smaller and more accessible, meaning we are no longer limited by geography and can sell internationally without leaving the comfort of our home office environment.
Christopher Hitchens, an American journalist, is quoted as saying that “everyone has a book in them” Have you written a book? If so, please share with us details about it. If you haven’t, what book would you like to write and how would you like it to benefit the readers?
Susie Mathieson: Writing a book is a great idea for a number of reasons. For me, when I wrote “How to Sell Virtually” with Keith Rozelle during the pandemic, it was a fantastic way for us to get all of those thoughts and that knowledge in our heads down on paper and to structure what it takes to hold a successful virtual sales meeting.
The process was a lot of fun and I highly recommend writing with a partner. Keith pushed me when ideas got stale and vice versa. The goal of our particular book was to be a simple “how to” guide in a world that had promptly turned on its head seemingly overnight.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Susie Mathieson: The challenge for growth that I see for businesses right now, is cutting through the noise and the over-communication to focus on what is really bringing success. This can be broken down to the sales funnel too. With so many ways to connect and communicate with each prospect, we have to select the right path to connect with THEM. Not only that, but our message has to stand out in this digitally noisy world so that we can be seen and heard.
In your experience, what tends to be the most underestimated part of running a company? Can you share an example?
Susie Mathieson: Whether they like it or not, business owners and Directors are actually all in SALES. Every day we are influencing people to make changes, just like in a sales role. Whether you have just invented the next best thing, or you have a new piece of technology to make others’ lives easier, if you can’t sell it, you won’t be successful.
You only have to watch “Dragon’s Den” a couple of times to see that there are a lot of great ideas out there. But why do some sore and others fail at the first hurdle? Usually, it is down to the Marketing and Sales of the product or service. People need to be made aware that they have a need for what we are selling and sorry to burst your bubble, but word of mouth is usually not enough.
In a world where we are bombarded with information overload, we need to stand out from the crowd, and that is usually through heavy investment in marketing or clever selling strategies that fit our target audience.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Susie Mathieson: If I could, I would choose the real ability to empower others as my superpower. As humans we tend to be motivated by fear twice as much as a desire to succeed.
That means we allow ourselves to be held back by fear of failure, of the unknown, or because staying in our comfort zone is quite nice actually! This leads to people and teams hiding behind structure and hierarchy that large organisations can create, and turns even the wildest of risk takers into corporate “yay Sayers”.
If we could give people the permission to try and fail, without the repercussions we are familiar with, we could get creative with our approaches and discover new ways of working or delivering which could benefit many. This is a philosophy we try to live by at the small stuff – “it’s better to try and fail than fail to try” Samuel Beckett.
What does “success” in the year to come mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Susie Mathieson: 2023 is all about growth at the small stuff. Thanks to a successful 2022, we are now in a position to expand our team. By adding more trusted and international partners to our network, we will be able to offer our training packages in more languages to extended sales and leadership teams. We will continue to offer a hybrid learning model for our clients, enabling long-term learning, development and of course, performance, which is specific to what they need.
the small stuff may be getting bigger, but we still fundamentally believe in making small changes for big differences in sales performance. Self-development should be fun and that is our goal – to help each individual get that little bit better every day.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Susie Mathieson for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Susie Mathieson or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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