Simply defined, an icon is a person who is very successful and admired. Some might call them “masters of the game” or “hall of famers”. Their accomplishments are undeniable. It is my pleasure to introduce you to an icon who has influenced me throughout my career.
Drew Myers is a veteran sales & business professional and leader with nearly 30 years experience, who is an expert in the areas of sales, business strategy, human capital, and entrepreneurship.
Drew has held key leadership positions in the United States Marine Corps and throughout Corporate America, including: Vice President of Business Development, Senior Vice President of Sales, and President/CEO. In 2013 he sold the very successful company he founded 15 years earlier to a group of private equity investors.
Jeff Weaver: Some would say you had one of the toughest sales jobs in America: running a Marine Corps recruiting station in an affluent Midwestern city. What did you learn from that assignment that contributed to your sales success in Corporate America (B2B sales)?
Drew Myers: As the Operations Officer and then Executive Officer of Recruiting Station Cincinnati, we had 40+ recruiters under our command and recruited into 520 or so high schools throughout Ohio and corners of Indiana and Kentucky. My Marine Corps experience in its entirety helped me realize how to be competitive at a high level and, frankly, how to win. On recruiting duty, I learned the importance of using activity analysis to predict and drive recruiting (sales) results. I also saw firsthand how critical it was to start with the right kinds of people in those positions—you can’t just take anyone and make them a Marine Corps recruiter. Some great Marines in the field make poor recruiters—the basic building blocks just aren’t in their DNA—and it’s not their fault.
JW: When you would consult other corporations and train their salespeople on selling skills and sales methodology, what was the most common need/deficiency that needed attention?
DM: I spent about six years working for a sales training firm in increasing positions of sales leadership and was exposed to a few hundred different companies and thousands and thousands of sales professionals. The most common needs? Really, the basics—how do you handle objections, how do you build and maintain relationships, how do you conduct a needs analysis, how do you make a presentation, and so on.
JW: At a time when job growth had slowed to a crawl and many companies stopped hiring altogether, your company, which was levered to the job market, experienced explosive growth. To what do you attribute that paradoxical success?
DM: I’ve thought a lot about this one. First, I had several very good managers in place that had been with me a long time. Second, I was always thinking about growth strategies—vertical (how do I get current customers to buy more products and services or new products and services) and horizontal (how do I find new customers to buy our current products and services). I was driven, because I knew to successfully exit the company, I would need to be big and profitable. So, early on, before the recession, we worked on both vertical and horizontal strategies. When the recession hit, we had already rolled out initiatives to support both strategies and the business on which I had initially started the company was virtually non-existent. As a result, companies could still use us at a fraction of the cost and because I’d continued to build out the sales force, we had enough great people to make it through.
JW: You—through the company you founded and ran for 15 years—are responsible for helping thousands of military veterans find jobs in Corporate America. What advice do you have for someone who is currently looking for a job?
DM: Network. Network. Network. You don’t need your network when you are happily employed, but boy do you need it when you are looking. So, start now and never stop. Force yourself to be social media and internet savvy—use everything from LinkedIn to the job boards.
JW: What is the biggest mistake you saw job seekers routinely make?
DM: Not treating the job search like a full time job. You have to work it on an 8am to 6pm schedule. Turn over every rock. Talk to everyone. Don’t make snap judgments about opportunities before you have conversations.
JW: What advice would you give someone who is contemplating following in your footsteps and starting a small business today?
DM: Do it. The clock is ticking. If you have inspiration, go do it. You can do it in a very intrapreneurial way—that is, you can start it while already employed. That way it’s a safety net!
JW: In your opinion, what book should all sales professionals read? What book should all business leaders read?
DM: There are so many—I cannot answer that exactly. Read blogs. Set up your own magazine on Flipboard, which allows you to read and follow business and sales topics of interest. Magazines—I read them all: Inc., Worth, Fast Company, Bloomberg Business Week, Fortune, Forbes, etc. And then get inspiration from great books—get fired up by reading and rereading The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I love biographies—I just finished Snowball about Warren Buffet and iJobs about Steve Jobs.