Sales Platoon: S1:E10 | Sales & International Ventures with Mike Wickham

Watch Here

Mike Wickham shares his military journey from an artillery officer in West Germany to a successful 25-year career in international business. He highlights the importance of military networks and the role of alum networks in the business world. 

His adaptability and outgoing personality fueled Mike’s transition into sales. He also discusses his pivotal role in AT&T’s experimental division, where he led the testing of groundbreaking technologies globally. Mike’s current role at SD Tech is providing comprehensive technology solutions for small to medium-sized businesses in San Antonio. He emphasizes the importance of securing funding, finding reliable manufacturing partners, mastering logistics, and maintaining financial expertise.

Highlights:

{00:40} Military Service & Career Transition

{02:25} Networking & Alumni Connections

{09:30} Sales & International Ventures

{25:00} Scaling Businesses

{29:30} Cybersecurity Concerns


Find us on your FAVORITE platform

Mike Wickham Bio:

Mike Wickham has worked in various roles in the technology and telecom industry since 1999. Mike began their career at Net2Phone as Managing Director of Gateway Services, where they designed an international strategy to expand the company’s network into 20 foreign countries in 6 months. Mike then moved to NICE Systems as Vice President of the Business Services Group, where they managed a team of 70 technical field support staff and a budget of $3M. In 2001, they joined Xyting Corporation as Principal for the Americas, where they provided short-term consulting projects. From 2002 to 2005, they worked at United American Insurance as Regional Branch Manager, managing a $3.5M book of business. Mike then joined Professional Medical Insurance Services as General Manager of Group Sales, working with two large independent physicians’ associations. In 2010, they became Executive Vice President of Business Development at Mobilezapp Apps Inc., where they recruited, trained, and managed a sales team and generated $5M in revenue during the first 18 months of operations. From 2012 to 2015, they worked at Perigon Solutions Limited and Clearbridge Mobile as Vice President of Business Development. The most recent role was at Pegasus-Clark Associates, where they served as Managing Director from 2015 to 2022.

Mike Wickham received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Links: 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mvwickham

https://www.mysalesplatoon.com

Sponsored Links:

https://therootbrands.com/product/zero-in

https://newulife.com/hk/en 

https://trufinco.com 

Find us on your FAVORITE platform

John 

Welcome to the sales Platoon podcast, where strategy meets storytelling, and we’re at the crossroads of the battlefield and business front. I’m your host, John Rankin. I’m bringing you all the tactics and truths from the sales trenches. In today’s episode, we will decode the transition from service to success with Mike Wickham. How are you doing, man?

Mike

Hey, how’s everybody?

John 

Good. Tell us briefly about what you did in the military and when you served.

Mike

My standard joke is I served. I was in the army so long ago we were still throwing rocks at each other. I’m an Air Force brat from San Antonio, TX. My dad was an NCO in the Air Force, and he was in the intelligence branch. They call it the security for us. And then he had. I plan to attend the Air Force Academy and become a jet jockey. I went to West Point and became an artillery officer from ‘78 to ‘83. And I was stationed in West Germany and did a couple of schools here in the, you know, on Konus. 

My particular unit was a tube artillery unit. We were capable of nuclear weapons. It was an 8-inch unit, so I was a nuclear weapons officer for part of my time. Then, I was a unit commander for two years in Europe. I was a unit commander and then returned to Fort Seal for the advanced course.

When I wanted to be a foreign area officer and attend the Russian program, the army wanted me to recruit people in East LA. So, I decided to leave, and they transitioned into the civilian world. And it’s fine. I mean, everything worked out well. I had a great career in international business for about 20 years. All over the world, I had a great opportunity to travel quite a bit and do many different things, so I’d be happy to get into more detail on that as we go through this discussion.

John 

Yeah. There are two things there. You know, that is what I want to focus on. 

First, because you were in West Point, the West Point Network has changed quite a bit since you were there. When you were there, did they focus on the West Point network like now?

Mike

Not. Not officially. I mean, you know, the whole ring knocker thing. If you have a brotherhood of people that will help you throughout your career, that is all that. Some of my commanders were Academy grads when I was in the service. And, you know, most were not because they don’t, you know, the numbers of people that Commission out of non. Academy Source is a lot greater than what comes out of the Academy. Yeah, and so I did happen to have a few guys who were Academy grads ahead of me, and then I served with several Academy grads in my unit. 

So, a couple of my classmates were there with me, and other guys were ahead of me. But once I got out of the service, I tapped into the network quite a bit, and it’s been very helpful on many different fronts, personal and professional. 

And as I said, as I walked through my career and my transition, one of the steps that took place was that. What started me off in a 20-year international business career was a phone call from a classmate saying there was an opportunity available for you.

Let me back up a second. I’ve traveled ever since I was four but grew up in Asia. My dad was Air Force. We went back and forth, too. Asia all the time. So, I’ve always had a travel bug. Even at the Academy, I was sent to Belgium on an exchange with the Belgian Military Academy. Then, I was sent to Africa to do Crossroads Africa. But it was essentially like Peace Corps work.

John 

Yeah.

Mike

And so, I was always going somewhere. My classmates called me the Gypsy because I had never been in the same place for long. And so, when I got out of the service, one of my classmates called me and said, you know, you’ve been the Gypsy as far as I’ve known you. 

So, you know, there’s a job in the International Relations department at MCI. International, now Sprint or T-Mobile, is a long transition of various companies through acquisition. Right at the time, it was MC National, and they had an opening for an international position, and that started me off.

John 

Yeah, whatever. Whatever it is now.

Mike

I have been working internationally for close to 25 years, and it was all because a buddy of mine happened to work for them in a different capacity. He knew these guys in the international department and said I was a perfect candidate for you. 

So, I called my eventual boss on a Friday. They flew me up to me. I was in, I was in Oklahoma at the time, and they flew me up to New York. On a Monday, I got a job offer on Wednesday, and two weeks later, I was up in New York working for MC I for three years. And so, it all happened because of a military connection that helped me get my foot in the door.

John 

This is one thing I’ve noticed about West Point. I was at … I don’t know what you guys call it, but I was a guest instructor there for four years. I would come up for just one three-week period and then teach the cadets throughout my time. 

One of my good friends, General Scott Bauer, was West Point Grad Jay Powers. West Point grad Colonel Powers. And I’ve noticed that in West Point, whether it’s done intentionally, it’s more intentional now than probably when you were there.

But they teach, or at least have this idea of keeping that networking going even after you leave West Point to where you are now, even in the business world … Oh, it’s the West Point kind of gang, right? There’s this idea, and I don’t know if the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy do it or the civil world, but West Point is known in the civilian world for your ability to network with each other And get stuff Done.

It is such an important lesson, not just for you but everybody in the military, to start developing that network of people you served with or served around. To get stuff done when you become a civilian. So, when you were there, did you ever think that that’s how it would play out, or is that just? All accidental.

Mike

I mean, I knew there was a UN quote about fraternity. We belong to the largest fraternity in college because it’s 4000 people at a time. And so, I knew there would be this heritage from the Academy grads, and I saw that because you cycle through the same sorts of assignments, you come back to the Academy to teach if that’s your path. And then, when you get out into the business world, you keep in touch with these guys formally and informally through reunions, networking groups, and just through personal contact.

And you know, like most recently, I’ve lived in Houston and now in San Antonio, and there are two things. There’s the West Point Association in each of the cities. And then there’s a service Academy association in each of the cities.

So. Even though we always tease one another about the different service academies, we all get together as Academy graduates and trade stories to help, give advice, and do whatever we want. 

So, it’s not just the West Point guys; it’s all academies. And then, in addition to that, we’re very happy to have other people who are just business associates come in. Join in the festivities because we know we have a lot of stuff going on. And it’s in each of the cities. 

Each of the major cities will have organizations similar to that. And it’s not just the academies. I mean, like in Houston … Houston is probably the most networked city in the country that I’ve ever been to. They have a networking group for every slice of life. And so, you can go there with a personal or professional interest. I want to be in a group of like-minded people and get involved with the community there in Houston. 

And so, you know … You leverage that in addition to the Academy associations, and you’re right; people who are Academy graduates get looked at differently because it carries that reputation. And so, in some sense, it lets you maybe take a step ahead of the next guy, but it doesn’t necessarily prove that you’re going to be successful simply because it’s what you bring to the table, in the end. 

But that pedigree, you know, is the same with Ivy League schools. It’s the same with each major university within the state of Texas. It’s the University of Texas and then A&M in, you know, Michigan, it’s U of M and Michigan State, that type of thing. 

There’s always some kind of difference made to certain institutions, and maybe you’re in your educational pedigree, but the bottom line is what you bring to the party. Do you have the enthusiasm to drive great ideas, the discipline to do the things necessary to succeed in business, a nonprofit, or whatever you’re involved in?

John 

Sure. Now it’s pretty interesting. So, you go from being a field artillery guy to an international business. How does that transition in your mind? How did that work? Well, let me back up one second. You served in a period when there were no resources for anybody, right? 

Mike

Yeah.

John 

So maybe West Point did something for guys getting out of the military, but because I know—I served there in the 90s—it was nothing for us. Talk about your transition and what you went through getting out.

Mike

Well, first of all, it was a difficult decision because of my whole family. Top to bottom were military people. All branches of service, and so, like I say, my dad was in the Air Force. His brothers were in the Air Force. One of my mom’s brothers was in the Marine Corps Navy and Air Force. 

And so it was ingrained in me that when I got out of high school, I wanted to go to college and didn’t want my parents to pay for college. So I ended up going to West Point, and upon graduation, I just thought I had, you know, a 20-year. My career was laid out before me and at the end of my command when I returned to the course. 

What ended up happening … I discovered that I wanted to be a Russian defense analyst. I wanted to go to a Russian language school at Monterey, get a master’s degree, and then do that function on assignment somewhere. I did that as a secondary because that’s what I wanted to do in the army. But I figured if I went into the intelligence branch, everybody would be a foreign area officer, so there would be more competition. 

And so, as an artillery officer with a secondary, that might give me a better chance to get that path, and I thought I’d qualified. I speak a couple of foreign languages. I did a lot of liaison work when I was in Europe. I mean, I, my battalion commander, thought I was on loan to him because I was. I was getting sent out so much, too. Do French translations for various people. And so. During one AGI, I was the battalion adjutant and got a phone call at 9:00 that morning. 

And some guy says, where the hell are you? And., I said, well, who the hell is this? And I was the 2nd lien, our first attendant at the time, and the guy goes, this is Colonel. So. And so from the 5th court headquarters, you were supposed to be up here for the briefing.

I Said what Briefing. I know what you are talking about. 

He says you’re the translator. The French translator for this NATO exercise that’s going on for the Next three weeks.

I said, Sir, we’re right in the middle of an AGI, and I said, I’m the S1. And so, you have to talk to my boss. 

And so I transferred him to my battalion commander. 5 minutes later, my battalion commander came down and said pack a bag. Mike, you’re out. And I took off and left. And so that went on constantly for like 6 or 8 months. And he said, you’re on loan to me rather than being me being on loan to someplace else. So anyway.

When I returned to the advanced course I had in my head, you know what the DA told me when I was a brand-new second lieutenant? They said to manage your career. That’s OK. So then, when I finished my long tour overseas, I had my command—all that stuff. I was punching all the tickets, I said. Here’s what I want to do. I want to be in a foreign Area.

So, I want to go to the Russian program, speak two languages, and have a background in traveling everywhere. Fit in anywhere. You know I’m the guy. I hit the end of the fiscal cycle, and the guys in Washington were going like we have two stacks, jobs, and people. And we will have to put these together for me to get a good one, OR I have to get this cleaned up before I can open up the stuff for the next year. Right. And it turns out they gave me all of us, all the guys who were rotating about the same time I was, regardless of branch. We’re getting offered the same crappy jobs. 

And so, a buddy of mine who was one cycle behind me and hardly spoke English—I don’t know, he could write his name three times in a row … got the Russian program because he was six months later than me and got into the new fiscal cycle. And I thought that was just not right.

So, I got annoyed and said that if you said we can’t send you the Russian thing because you’re a West Point guy, That’s a seven-year program. It’ll take you out of consideration for the O5 command. I said, let me worry about that. And they said, well, you speak French. We’ll send you to Delta. We’ll send you to sub-Saharan Africa. I said been to Africa. I don’t want to go back. Then they said you speak French. We’ll send you to Arabic. You can go to the Middle East as an advisor. 

Had I known what today looks like, it probably would have been a good thing for me to be an Arabic speaker. But I said no, I don’t want to. I have a young family. I don’t want to go to the Middle East or an isolated tour. And then they said, well, last offer, we’ll send you back to the, we’ll send you the DLI for. German. Send you back to Germany. You’ll be G5, and I said G5. That’s the liaison officer in my mind that’s the glorified travel agent and escort services. I don’t want to do that either. So, I said, I’m. I’m out. I got out. 

So, I spent my last 30 days on active duty, getting my **** chewed by every general. Officer at Fort Sill, and then I left, and that was, you know, the transition was just that it was just. A group in corporate America had these interview sessions in major cities, such as Denver and Dallas. It was from Honeywell, Motorola, Texas Instruments, and all the major companies at the time. They would have these job fairs in these major cities. 

So, two days in a row, a buddy of mine and I drove from Lawton, OK, down to Dallas to interview with different companies. He got a job with Motorola, and I got a job with an industrial chemical company called Nalco just to have a job. When I got out of the service, you know, it was in industrial chemicals in a sales position up in Tulsa. 

And so it gave me the opportunity to make the transition without being unemployed. And so, I took the job, and then six months later, I got a call from that buddy of mine up in New York about the international job. And then that kicked off a much bigger opportunity. But it was just, you know, forcing the issue.

John 

I mean, to go from field artillery and your super intelligent multiple languages to go from all of that to sales, and even though it was a short stent, had you ever done sales before?

Mike

I know, I sell. What are sales? Every transaction and every interaction is a sale.

John 

Yeah.

Mike

I’ve always had an outgoing personality, so it’s always been easy for me to talk to people. In my mind, it was nothing more than telling me what you wanted me to sell a product or service. As long as I understood it enough to talk to somebody about it, I never really had an issue with it. It never was something I was intimidated by because I just like talking to people.

John 

Yeah. Yeah. So, you get this call, and you go to MC I. That’s three years. Where do you go after that? I mean, you have 25 years and internal.

Mike

Yeah, I got into that. MCI was trying to break into the international telephone market, so my job was to go to all the territories. My territory started in the Caribbean and ended up in Latin America. While managing the Caribbean, I was the most hated man in the office because all the other guys were going to Bangladesh and sub-Saharan Africa, and I was going to the Bahamas.

So, you know it, it was great, and my answer was that somebody has to do it.

John 

OK.

Mike

Better me than you, right? So, we were taking their services and trying to sell them to government entities because they only did international telephone work. There was no similar product on a consumer level; it was all government-to-government.

So we were, I was involved in negotiating with governments to what they called proportionate return. 

So, we send you X amount of traffic. You send us a similar percentage back the other way. And that went on for three years in different countries. I was wondering about all the different countries meeting all the different government agencies. Then, after I left PCI, I went to work. A telephone manufacturer that made if you saw the movie Wall Street with Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas.

John 

Oh, yeah, yeah.

Mike

On the trading floor, those big phones that they had, well, the company I work for made those phones. We provided them with the set. I had international responsibilities outside of London; we had an office in London, and I had everything else, taking these phone systems and selling them to the financial community. 

So, we sold them to Bear Stearns, American Express, Chase, Manhattan, and all the big, big brokerage houses worldwide. And I managed. Major customers, you know, major multinationals and people in the country. That would be our representative.

So, I was the New York suit that would come and ensure that Mitsubishi Electric was doing everything right—us in Japan. From there, I ended up working for AT&T. In about ten years, I was working for AT&T. It was a small division of AT&T at the time, $300 million, and so, you know, they’re what they call their long lines division, which was their long-distance telephone division here in the domestic US was a, you know, 10s of billions of dollars.

And we had a $300 million division in New Jersey. And it was an experimental division. Everything we do today, cell phones, voice over the Internet, e-commerce, we test drove all that, and what they did, what they asked me to do was to say take this product or service, identify a market internationally where we could test drive it. Identify a company that can sell service and support that product and then, in 18 months, bring us back some positive revenue. 

I did that repeatedly in Asia, Latin America, and Europe, and for ten years, I did that for this division. Then, when I left AT&T, I went to work for a couple of entrepreneurial firms in the New York City area, and it was always technology or telecommunications in that period.

John 

OK.

Mike

And I worked for a couple of different companies I took. I got. The next company hired me because of all my AT&T and international contacts. It was a company called Net to Phone, a voice over the Internet, and its parent company was IDT. And I think they’re still around. But they wanted to take their new product to 25 countries abroad and do an IPO. And so, because of all my AT&T contacts, they hired me to go in six months and get it into place in a dozen countries in Asia, Latin America, and Europe. 

So I was bouncing around doing that kind of negotiation. It deals with where we could install this product in these various countries, and then they, you know, the IPO hit. I was a paper millionaire for about, you know, 5 minutes and then. When the bill came due for everything I’d put in place, they didn’t want to pay the bill.

John 

Oh no.

Mike

So, I said, you had me go out there with all my contacts and reputation, and now you’ll stiff these guys on the bill. And the answer was, well, have him sue us. And I was like, I’m out. I got to get out of here. There’s no. The way I can work like that. And so, I left there, and I and I worked for a couple of.

John 

Yeah.

Mike

Other. Entrepreneurial firms and then. And then I ended up with a long history of stuff. I started working for a software development company making enterprise-level mobile applications, and then I got into, you know. And that was interesting because it was a virtual company. We had developers in international places in Malta, Germany, and Pakistan. 

Then, we had an administrative office in Texas, Austin, San Antonio, or Houston. I’ve touched many different market segments and technology and telecommunications companies at different manufacturing levels.

John 

With great locations, by the way, that’s come on, man.

Mike

Yeah, it was. I have no complaints about the places I’ve been, right? But in all those cases, you return to sales and transition. In all those cases, what was important was making the connection, being able to express yourself, understand your product, say things confidently, and back up what you’re saying. 

And so, in most cases, people get into a sales function. They go at it. I’m going to say I’m like a car salesman. They go at it as if they have to hustle somebody. They have to keep information back from people. And I’ve always felt like that’s not the formula. I mean, yeah, you can get some successes that way, but they will bounce on you. 

And so, my approach, and part of it, is the West Point pedigree of our country’s duty to be legitimate with people, to be forthright and knowledgeable. When I enter a sales situation, I tend to come across as somebody who knows what he’s talking about. 

And two, you know, can be trusted in what he’s saying. And so that’s always giving me a level of success that says, you know, people want to talk to me. People want to do business with me because they feel like I’ve got some solid footing under me.

John 

Huh. So where are you now? Talk to me about the company you’re at now and what you do now, and then I’m going to. I’m going to kind of because you said I want to highlight some things for the listening kids. I say kids because we’re older…

Mike

Right now, I’m in San Antonio. I have been doing business consulting alone for a while. I figured I’d built enough businesses for other companies. Why don’t I help small businesses? And I used to tease people and say, I’m the guy you bring in to fire your brother-in-law because he’s the wrong accountant for the company, and you know. So yeah.

What I always tell people is, you know, ideas and enthusiasm will get you to $2,000,000 in revenue, but to go to 5 or 10 takes a different set of talent, and I’m the guy that would come in and tell you, OK what do you need to get from 2/5/10 and help companies do that, and then I was. I was toying with the idea of retiring cause I’m 67 now. And I was toying with the idea of retiring, and I thought, you know, I just have too much energy. And I just like getting out there. 

So, what’s the point? Keep doing it until it’s no longer fun. And I knew this guy in town here. Who runs his? He’s had this managed services company and this IT services company since he was in high school. 

So, 25 years now, he’s in his. He’s in his late 40s, and he’s known each other for about five years, and he’s been bugging me for like three years. He’s just joined me, you know? God help me. And so, back in November, I decided just to give it a ride because I didn’t want something with a big title and big responsibility at this point in my life. I just want to relax and enjoy myself.

So, I joined a company called SD Tech. Here in San Antonio, we primarily serve the Greater San Antonio metro area, a big circle around Austin and San Antonio. Tonio. But they have customers scattered around the country.

So, when there’s an account here that might have satellite offices in Denver, Los Angeles, and New York, we’ll also support that. But generally speaking, the businesses in and around the Greater San Antonio area, Dallas, Houston, and other places in Texas. What we do is everything related to technology for small businesses. 

The focus will be on companies with 5 to, let’s say, 100 employees. These companies probably don’t have someone who can support their IT network or just make sure the printers are working, and that’s about the extent of their expertise. So, we’ll step in and help those people. We don’t want to work for Lockheed Martin or Valero because that’s too big of an account.

John 

Right.

Mike

Yeah. San Antonio is a small—to medium-sized business city that is changing. But right now, it’s a small—to medium-sized business city. So, it’s a nice, sweet spot for what we do, and we do everything from it. Card access doors. Do you know those electric doors that could be external or internal to a laboratory or secure area? Then we do surveillance cameras, and everything related to computers. 

So, from the hardware to the networking to the software, cloud services, and cyber security—all that stuff.

John 

Wow, dude, Dang. OK, so hot. Yeah, that’s a lot.

Mike

There’s a lot.

John 

So, this is a great conversation because it’s not just our students listening; there will be other people. This podcast goes out to a ton of people. Talk to me about that scaling.

I’m a business. I’ve hit seven figures. You said their enthusiasm, energy, and vision get them to 1 or 2 million, but it takes something completely different to hit 5 or 10. What is that?

Mike

Well, there are several things. Let’s assume let’s assume you’re building a product, you know, a heart or something you can touch. It becomes an issue when you have to scale one; you have to get the money to scale, so you have to have some sort of a banking relationship. Or venture capital or whatever. Some sort of a funding source, and then you have to find a source that will make the product for you, and the biggest problem with that is quality control. 

Because once you start making things at scale, you probably can’t do it locally. You’ll have to find some manufacturing facility somewhere, whether stateside or overseas. One of the things we learned in this software development piece is that even though the guys spoke English in Pakistan or Malta, the problem was that when we sent specs to them, their interpretation was much different than we thought.

So, it took several iterations to get it to the point where, you know, whatever we were asking them to do would get to where we needed it to be. And it’s the same when you’re building something, you know, a piece of hardware …  Years ago, I had to go to Singapore because we would do some injection molding. We were going to do some subassembly stuff for these. And you know, I had to interview all these companies that did injection molding and subassembly electronics. Finding the right company that shares your vision and mindset to manufacture at scale is difficult.

So, you need the money, find the right manufacturing source, and then come up with the logistics once you do that. Panel that says how do I get it from the manufacturer to a holding location, my warehouse, or the customer. 

And so, you need somebody that understands logistics that can do that. And then it, from a financial side, somebody has to be in your finance team that can understand pricing models, and you know cost controls and all these different things because it’s easy to say here’s X amount of money to build stuff. But if the per unit cost is too high for your market and you can’t price it at $100, you have to price it at $ 50; you’ll lose money on everything—every item.

So that’s why I say people who start with an idea can do stuff on a small scale and need 100 units of this or 500 units of that. But once it gets to the point where you need 100,000 units of something, all these other factors come into play. And if you don’t have the expertise to do that and you don’t have people around you who know how to do that, then you’ll spend the money and be broke in six months. 

And that’s what happens to many companies that reach that 2 million pinnacle, and then they want to go higher, and things don’t work out because they don’t surround themselves with people who understand finance and logistics. They don’t have a banking relationship. They don’t have an operations guy who can keep track of the manufacturing side of things. 

John 

Yes.

Mike

It’s hard to tell an entrepreneur. Or. That I know it’s his baby. But you got to give. Let the babysitter take it occasionally because you can’t do it all yourself. And that’s the hardest thing. You know, you can explain all this to them. Cybersecurity is a big thing in my job as an Internet services guy. 

And, you know, you go into a company, law firm, or doctor’s office and say, what would it cost you if your business shut down for a day, a week, or a month? And then you tell them here’s how you can avoid that, and then they just don’t take the step, and it’s like, well, when it breaks, it won’t be as easy to fix. You know I can protect you if I can get ahead of this.

John 

So, there’s a company. It’s so interesting you bring this up because I don’t think most companies realize how risky it is.

How at risk they are, so I have a friend. He owns a cyber company and tells me there’s a very large medical company in Nashville, and it has something like, I forget what he said, but it was something like some outlandish 20 penetration attempts a day from China, right?

Mike

Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

John 

And so, I think when we think of cyber, we think of just some teenage kid that’s learned how to hack, and he’s going to steal your emails. But they don’t realize that there are nation-states like Russia and China going after our businesses.

Mike

No, not anymore.

John 

This is such an important thing. How much would it cost you if China beat down your door, your cyber door, and, like, the oil pipelines?

Mike

The industry stats are that 60% of the hacks target businesses with revenue under 20 million. These companies have 5 to 50 people, so nobody on staff watches the watches, the gate watches, or the network. 

And so, they’re low-hanging fruit; they’re easy pickings. But when you try to hit Lockheed or Exxon, they have thousands of people on staff whose job is to protect the network.

John 

Right.

Mike

So, it’s much harder to get into those places, even though the payoff at Sony is much better.

John 

Right, it’s Harper.

Mike

But the problem is the easy one is to go after the doctor’s office, the small manufacturer, or the Regional Hospital and hit them, and the average ransom is somewhere in the range of, like, I think it’s 3,000,000, no 1,000,005, something like that.

John 

Yes.

Mike

In most cases, they only give back about 60% of the data to keep you on. This is the hook for the next time.

John 

So, I don’t know if you saw this article, but you know this stuff for me because I was a grunt, right? Like I’m a small entrepreneur grunt, my buddy told me they had devised a way to put a cyber attack inside a thermostat in Las Vegas. Fish tank in Las Vegas and stole millions from that casino. And I was just like. You know what? You know what you know. And so, I don’t think businesses realize how much at risk they are with that.

Mike

The other problem is that I was in a law firm the other day. And they had. Virtually no. Uh, nothing. To secure the network. And I said, you know, you’ll be on the other end of this equation when you get sued because you compromised your information somehow. Client and said, well, we’re not. That’s not a priority right now. We’re going to take care of it.

Later, I said OK, whatever you know.

John 

Whatever. Yeah. Yeah.

Mike

Give you the information if you don’t want to do anything with it. But the other problem is that the company would be like that if hacked.

John 

Yeah.

Mike

Their reputation would be so ruined that they would not. You know, they couldn’t do any business with anybody.

John 

Yeah.

Mike

And it’s not a monetary thing. It’s just a question of whether you’ve just ruined your reputation. Where do you go to get that back?

John 

Right, right. In sales, it’s so important to divorce yourself from other people. Yes and no. Right. And throughout this process, you’ve been talking about consulting and taking companies from one and two million to five and ten; you’ve got to do the same thing. There’s always.

You’re putting out this information on how to scale, and you’ve done it for other companies, and here you get this little law firm. That’s like, hey, whatever.

Mike

Well, what I’ve found is that this has happened over and over again in the last 2530 years of business. When I go into a situation and have a compelling case to sell, whatever it is I’m representing, And I get turned down, it never bothers me because I like it. I know I will get a call from these people at some point, and they will need what I have. And it’s happened over and over and over again. 

And I remember situations where there was a woman. I can’t remember what her business was, but she got ugly and unloaded for me. And I just said, OK, fine. I walk away. And about six months later, she called me back and said, ” Mike, this is Mrs. so and so. Probably don’t Remember Me, and I said I. Remember you. And I just, you know, I didn’t bring it up, and she didn’t, but she knew I knew the last time we met was. A bad a. Bad day, and I just let it go. I said, you know what?

How can I help you? What can I do for you now? You know you had a bad day then. OK, that’s fine. Let’s start fresh right now. Yeah, and? And it always happens—that way.

John 

Man, it does. That’s such a good point. I, you know, had a mentor tell me the same thing you were sharing years ago. You can have the right to have your opinions and feelings or decide to do business and make a lot of money. Which one do you want?

It was that. And now, I no longer post any of my opinions on social media about anything controversial. I was like, man, that’s a really good point. I took all that stuff down, so as we get ready to wrap up here, kind of. Or. We have 3040 kids in class right now who are learning how to do sales, B2B, and professional business relationships. 

What tips and things do you have for somebody who’s just performed at such a high level in their last three to six months of service? Now, what are some tips or things that you would tell them to focus on for the next three or six months? And then what would they do when they first get out? What do you think from your vantage point?

Mike

Yeah. The most important thing in sales is being genuine. People can sense if you’re genuine, if you’re scripted, or if you’re trying to con them. So, you have to be genuine, and you have to take a hard look in the mirror and say what my personality is, and then have a critique of what’s good about it and what’s not good about it. Do you make eye contact? Do you smile? Do you sit up? Do you dress properly? All these superficial things? That’s the first thing to be. Genuine. The second thing is, especially if you’re talking about guys who are young and transitioning out of the service. They’re under 25 and 30. Whatever they are. 

The issue there is you have to be genuine, but secondly, you have to be curious. You don’t pitch people anymore. It’s not, you know, in my day when I first got into sales. It was all feature functionalities. You did your PowerPoint, and that was all. Here’s what it is and what it does for you. Well, now the sales mentality is, are you a problem solver because your customer is going to have a problem, and the only reason you’re sitting in front of him is that you potentially can solve the problem? 

So, if you go in with curiosity, ask the right questions, and let them talk, I mean, it’s the adage: the one who talks the most loses. And so, if you go into a situation, you ask open-ended questions and get them to talk, and they’ll reveal so much stuff to you. Consequently, you must listen to the answer to pivot and bring your expertise into play based on what they told you.

The last thing is that you have to follow up and honor your word. If you say you’ll do something on Tuesday, get him a quote, and deliver it in three weeks, that stuff must happen. Over time, you’ll develop a reputation as reliable, and that’s the most important thing you can do in a sales environment. People will come back to you. They will refer you to other People. 

But the biggest thing is genuineness and curiosity. You can’t come in there and browbeat people with information they don’t want to do that. You have to read people. This whole series of matrices says, OK, if a person is in a personality or B personality. There are all these different analyses if someone’s a scientist, a hugger, or whatever.

 But what it is you have to read. Your audience and you must understand if, if, and it’s the whole thing in mirroring. If someone sits up in their chair, sit up in your chair. If someone leans forward, lean forward. You know, just mirror their behavior, and that’s subconscious; it makes them comfortable with you. 

And so, if you can teach these guys as they transition from being in the military and having that mentality and having that. Officers are NCOs or superior subordinates. It’s very stilted. It’s not. It’s not the way it is in business. You have to go into a situation as an equal. If you walk into a CEO’s office, you must act like a CEO. He doesn’t want to deal with under. If you walk into a business owner’s, you know you talk to him like a business owner. You have to mirror the situation that you’re in; it takes a little time and a little confidence, and sometimes you have to fake it. 

But I mean, the thing is, the first part of it is, like I said, being genuine, understanding your personality, understanding how you come across, understanding not only the way you speak. But the way you look and how you come across, and that’s if you can be critical about that and then fix the things that make some people you know, ask other people. 

If they tell you you come across as brassy or lazy, you must fix that. Once you do that, you’ll be on the path to doing these other things that will help you succeed in sales.

John 

Awesome. Quite a few people I’m connected with are transitioning from their IT cyber lives. As that’s your world, what’s the best way for them to reach out and contact you? Thanks.

Mike

I’m on LinkedIn. They could look me up on LinkedIn; you have my contact information. I’ll be happy to share it any way you want to do it. I’ll be happy to help anybody.

John 

Right, man. Mike, thank you so much. I’ll get back to you because the scaling conversation intrigues me. We’re scaling our company right now, and there’s a lot of wisdom that you could lend to us in that process. That’s super valuable today. We appreciate you spending time with us, and if you need anything, don’t hesitate to reach out—not to me.

Mike

Well, my other byline, my other phrase is don’t invite me because I show up. So, John, thanks a lot. Thanks a lot, John.

John 

I don’t mind. Thanks.

More from Titan Evolution Podcast

Sponsored Links