Sales Hustle is now Sales Transformation
July 28, 2021

Episode #125 Creating Cultures of Productivity, Alignment & Accountability with Steven Crawford

Joining Collin Mitchell in this episode of the Sales Hustle Podcast is Steven Crawford. Let’s hear from Steven as he shares how he was able to establish a well-deserved reputation as the go-to resource for resolving the most demanding business operations challenges, achieving critical operation and financial goals for the business.

Particularly effective in leading operations struggling with tough economic, competitive, and regulatory conditions, Steven Crawford has mastered organizational, financial, and leadership skills critical to strong, integrated operational planning and management.

In 2016, Steven joined McGhee Productivity Solutions as a consultant. His prior professional experience includes executive leadership roles at Sutherland Global Services, LenderLive Network, JP Morgan Chase, FirstPlus Financial, and Transamerica Financial Services. He also founded Crawford & Grey, a small business advocate and consultative firm in Denver Colorado.

Steven served eight years in the United States Marine Corps and Reserves, earning Marine-of-the-year honors and several meritorious masts. He lives in Littleton Colorado and enjoys reading, volunteer leadership at his church, and physical fitness.

You can follow and learn more about Steven on the following links below.

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Episode 125 - Steven Crawford

[00:00:00] Welcome to the sales hustle. The only no BS podcast, where we bring you the real raw uncut experiences from sales makers across various industries. The only place where you can get what you're looking for. Uh, your sales game today's episode is brought to you by sales cast sales cast helps sales professionals transform the relationship building process and win their dream clients.

[00:00:30] I'm your host, Colin. What is happening? Sales hustlers. Welcome to a, another episode today. I've got Steven Crawford, Stephen and I connected on LinkedIn and had a quick chat and, uh, just loved what he's all about and knew I had to have him on the show. Uh, Stephen Crawford has established a well-deserved reputation as the go-to resource for resolving the most demanding business operations challenges.

[00:00:55] Achieving critical operational and financial goals as the [00:00:59] director and executive consultant at Mickey productivity solutions. Stephen, welcome to sales hustle. Thank you, Collin. Glad to be here. Glad to be here with all those sales houses. Yeah, awesome, man. So just before we get in, you know, I know you're managing and coaching a team and, and belief, you know, uh, deeply in consulting and relationship based selling, which I do as well.

[00:01:22] So I know we're going to have a ton of fun talking about those things. And before we dig in and give the sales hustlers, uh, what they need today, just give us the short version of your sales story. Absolutely. So, um, Mickey productivity solutions where we're consulting. We specialize in creating cultures of productivity with our clients at the organizational team and individual level with consulting change management training and coaching programs.

[00:01:48] And my role here is the director of sales. So the consultants all report to me from a sales standpoint and I'm an executive consultant myself. So I also have a responsibility around [00:01:58] sales. Uh, my path to sales was a little bit kind of wakey. I started in operations and business process outsourcing for many, many years.

[00:02:07] I actually had a kind of adverse opinion of salespeople, to be honest with you most, right? Yeah. I resisted sales, but what I found was that the sales team would keep bringing me in at the last presentation as the guy who ran operations and asked me to tell them, how do I run the operation? How is it that I manage KPIs and SLA.

[00:02:30] I would say I was closing the sales, the sales team started bringing me in and saying, Hey, we need you to close this. And I started looking at my skill set around that. And, um, you know, the fact that I enjoyed that part of it. Um, and then just as fate would have it, I shifted careers and got into, um, this professional services work with Magee.

[00:02:52] And I love it because what I, what I do, I don't really even consider, say, [00:02:57] Um, I know that that's my role and that's what I'm quote unquote doing, but, um, my approach is different and I don't feel like I'm selling anything. So we'll talk more about that. I'm sure. Yeah. You know, what's interesting is some of the most successful people in sales or, uh, you know, people that are like, I like to call sales professionals or elite sellers, um, have a very similar.

[00:03:26] Uh, experiences, you were, they were resistant to sales or, you know, had like no experience and kind of got into it by accident. And didn't have a lot of those really, you know, stereotype, bad habits that a lot of, you know, hardcore old school salespeople have for me, you know, like many of those people. I'm a natural people person.

[00:03:52] I love building relationships. I love meeting new people. I'm an extrovert. [00:03:56] I'll talk to anybody. I can make friends with a guy on a bus and, you know, a 10 minute ride. Um, so that part was already there. So when it ended up getting into the sales piece and I had 20 years experience, you know, in the, in the world, um, It was just a tweaking to make the sales piece happen.

[00:04:15] Whereas people that start off in sales and they're, they're being taught and focused on all these sales techniques and everything like that, they didn't necessarily build up their people skills and the relationship building and how to build rapport and how to build credibility value and trust and get people to want to work with you.

[00:04:30] So I think that's the harder path so that, you know, my path took me this way because it's, it's a joy for me to do it. Yeah, Steve and I definitely had the harder path where I started in the, uh, you know, boiler rooms sort of environment. Here's the script, here's a list of names and treating people very transactionally.

[00:04:52] And then I had unlearn. [00:04:55] Yeah. Then I had to unlearn all those bags habits and then people start, you know, I started hearing to be able to talk about, you know, serving and, you know, You know, helping and, and, uh, and customer centric, right. And it's like, you had the opposite, right? You had that sort of experience first that sort of, you know, building the relationship, the rapport and, and, and, and be more customer centric focused, uh, which then, you know, lead you into, to a sales role.

[00:05:21] So that, that's interesting. Um, all right, so now you, you, you, you, one thing that I love that you said that you do is, you know, you're actively selling and managing a team. I love sales leaders. Um, that are still in the trenches or carrying a bag as they like to call it. Um, I'm not a big fan of the, the, uh, the, the, the dashboard jockeys or Excel jockeys that are just sitting there crunching the numbers, you know, cracking the whip to get the activities up.

[00:05:51] So, uh, I think that's the best way to lead a [00:05:54] team. I mean, what do you think some of the benefits are that you've had in. Still being in the trenches, selling and leading a team. Um, it's absolutely a benefit, not only to the team, but to myself, you know, we're constantly learning and as the industry shifts or clients shift and product shift and offering shift, um, you're always adjusting.

[00:06:13] And what a great way to do that when you have a team that you're managing and you're supporting them, but you're also hearing what their challenges are, what types of things they're having to overcome. Um, successes are having, and as a team on our every two weeks, I get the whole team together and we talk about those things.

[00:06:32] And so I learned from them as much as they learn from me. So there's a benefit there, but the other benefit is that credibility, you know, I'm out there doing the same thing I'm asking them to do and I'm excelling. Um, so, you know, I'm setting the standard for them and, um, overachieving my goals every quarter or every year.

[00:06:49] And that's what I'm hoping that they do. And they have a leader that's [00:06:53] demonstrating that. And, um, also support them on any call that they have with any client. And they get a chance to, you know, kind of see how I approach something a little differently than maybe they would have, or I'll give them feedback after that call and accept feedback from them as well.

[00:07:08] I'll bring them into some of my calls and say, Hey, join me. Be a subject matter expert on this call around. Particular program that we're working with this client on so that they can experience, you know, how I'm building rapport with my clients at different stages. I have clients that we've had for 18 years and I find that, you know, I'm having my first call with them.

[00:07:27] Um, so there's a lot of different nuances there and running a team and be an active, doing that work has been awesome for me. Not only because I love it, but because it makes it easier to manage and have that credibility with your team when you're actually doing that. Wow. All right. So sales also listen up and sales leaders that are listening.

[00:07:47] I just want to make sure I heard that correctly because I don't think a lot of people are doing this. Um, [00:07:52] you said you actually bring your team in to give you some feedback on some of your calls or come in and collaborate. Absolutely. Um, you know, the approach that I take is if you're a client of mine and you, you reached out and said, you know, Hey Steve, I'm interested in some change management work.

[00:08:08] We want to do some strategic team planning and team accountability, work with my leadership team and say, awesome, let's set up a call. Hey, I'm going to be bringing Mitchell, Mitch. Mitch's one of my, uh, fellow consultants and he is a subject matter expert on the team accountability program. Okay. So he'll join the call with me.

[00:08:24] The benefit there. Is that Mitch is going to see how I'm working with the client. And he's going to learn from me and for the client, what a great thing for them, because you know, I'm bringing in this other person, who's not quote unquote selling he's, he's talking about the program from a subject matter expert, point of view, sharing with them.

[00:08:43] You know how this might work in this area, in this area. And it just makes the call experience even more comfortable for the class. And then we [00:08:51] debrief after that. He says, Hey man, you were a rockstar. That was great. You know, how you listened to the client? I really found out what they're trying to accomplish.

[00:08:58] I'm learning from that. I appreciate it. Um, or he might have some feedback and say, Hey Steve, you know, here's the one thing they said, I don't think you captured. And you had an opportunity to go deeper on, you know, and having that two way feedback is really important because as soon as you think, you know everything and you can't learn anything.

[00:09:16] Yeah, we got to constantly be learning. Yeah. I love that sales hustlers. As soon as you stop learning, you're, you're done. You've reached you. You probably will. If you haven't already reached a ceiling, if you're not, you know, open-minded to learning, even from people who have less experience or are maybe less senior than you.

[00:09:34] I love that, you know, transparency and, and vulnerability. Uh, as a leader with a team and a colleague, um, and, and so many leaders are not doing that. And is this something you picked up or when did you start [00:09:50] implementing or feeling like this was, you know, something that you, you wanted to start doing that always bed this way?

[00:09:54] I mean, from day one, you know, after I got out of the Marine Corps in college and went into business and quickly escalated through management, um, I've always been very, uh, collaborative with my staff. Um, when I was in business process outsourcing, starting in financial services, I did every job that reported to me on purpose.

[00:10:15] Cause I wanted to know what, what Cubs, the challenges that they have, what do the processors deal with? What do the underwriters deal with? What do the loan officers deal with? Um, and having that firsthand experience helped me understand and be able to lead them better. And I would bring them in when I was making decisions.

[00:10:31] You know, I make it clear. It's not a democracy. I'm not taking a vote here and we're going to make a decision that way. But I do want to hear your input and I'll consider that when I make my decision. But what that does is it makes people feel included. And that decision so that you get buy in. So when you do make a decision, you knew if it was something that they didn't [00:10:49] necessarily think was the way to go.

[00:10:50] At least they knew they were heard and they can align and support that decision. Instead of being, you know, creating a choir, I'll throw on the floor about, oh, gee, Steve made this decision. How dumb was that? Right. So I've always been collaborative that way. And then when it came to a sales standpoint, um, really when I came on board at McGee, um, that was one of the things I saw as an opportunity to help him.

[00:11:12] The sales team, everybody was kind of on their own islands. And I'm like, how come you're not learning from each other? You know, this colleague does this really well. And this one doesn't, this one does this really well. And this one, doesn't why aren't we helping each other out, having this joint accountability so that.

[00:11:27] The team hits our sales goals. And in order to do that, we all need to hit our goals. And in order to do that, we need to support each other and learn from each other. And it's been huge. I mean, it's made such a big transformation. What's interesting here too, is, um, our CEO. Um, she manages a few accounts herself still.

[00:11:45] So from that standpoint, she reports to [00:11:48] me. So she's the CEO, but I'm the sales director and I'm in charge of all the sales. So when it comes to how she's managing her clients, She reports to me, she'll bring me in, on calls to support her and give her feedback. So we have that complete kind of no ego with transparency thing happening here that allows us to really do a lot with joint sales, to do a lot, to support each other in managing our accounts and having success in sales with work.

[00:12:12] Yeah, there's so many things. There's so many benefits from that sort of culture in a sales environment, right. Where, you know, sales environment can be very competitive, but we can all learn from each other, regardless of, you know, how long we've been in sales, how long we've been at the company or what our title is.

[00:12:29] Um, you know, Things from people that are just brand new in sales that I hadn't thought about. And, um, you know, and I try to have a good mix of people on the show as well with, you know, different roles and different levels of experience because, you know, sometimes a fresh mind [00:12:47] has some, some fresh ideas that, you know, I haven't considered or heard before.

[00:12:51] Um, You know, you, you see some of this sort of team selling modeling in more enterprise sells, you know, where they have, you know, sort of an account manager or account executive, and then they have different subject matter experts for particular industries or particular, um, titles or to, you know, subject matter expert around a particular offering or product.

[00:13:16] Um, But I don't think that the enterprise space is the only place that should be adopting this, you know, team selling model that you're describing. Uh, and, and, and leaders. I think it's easier for a lot of sales leaders to get caught up in thinking like, I need to have all the answers, right. So it's hard for them to have that level of vulnerability of like allowing somebody less senior than them give them some feeds.

[00:13:46] [00:13:46] But that's really important. And you know, we don't team sell on every call that we have. You know, I might have, you know, 40 different calls throughout the week and maybe I'm bringing somebody on, on half of them. Right. So it's not something that has to be done on every call, but where you see opportunities.

[00:14:02] For example, I'm certifying a consultant on my team on one-on-one coaching right now. And I had a sales call yesterday with a client. That wanted to talk about one-on-one coaching. So I invited Mitch and I told my client, I said, Mitch, a consultant. That's getting certified in this program. If you don't mind, I'd like him to join this call.

[00:14:22] Um, so he could hear the types of questions that you're asking and how I responded and the client was totally open to that. So in that case, I was transparent that it wasn't a subject matter expert. It was a junior consultant that, you know, it was going to be on the call with me. So there's lots of ways to leverage that.

[00:14:37] Um, but the, one of the things you said that. Know, absolutely true. And the most important thing I think is, is that humility, the ability [00:14:45] to understand that, you know, just because you're a leader, doesn't mean you have to have all the answers and you can learn from other people. Um, you know, case in point, I had a new consultant a couple of years ago, who was a much younger man than myself.

[00:14:59] I'm kind of old and crusty and, you know, being a young millennial and his approach, right. Um, it was, you know, I had to give him some coaching around dealing with executives and organizations and all that, but he had some taxonomy, some verbiage that he used when he was talking to younger buyers inside of our clients.

[00:15:18] That was very useful for me to learn. Right. And just his approach with people in that kind of same age range and you know, what better way to learn it than somebody who's living it. Right. So that's what helped me. Yeah, I love that. And then I really love the example there, you know, that, that, that you gave Steven.

[00:15:36] So the sales officers, in case you missed that, um, where the, even the authenticity with, with the client or the prospect, you know, [00:15:44] because so many times you see. You should, you know, if you're a buyer, you know, if you, if you try, I try to put myself in the buyer's shoes sometimes and see like, Hey, how would that feel?

[00:15:54] What would that look like? What would I think? Right. And I try to make decisions based on that, um, to just give the best possible experience. And, and so, so often buyers show up to a call and there might be two, three people from the organization that's trying to sell the product or the service. And you don't even know.

[00:16:13] Why such and such person is there, what are they learning? Are they, you know, the manager, like sometimes you can see two or three people from a company show up and the buyer doesn't even know who's who and why they're there. And so that, even that, yeah, that, that level of authenticity with the client of like, Yeah, this person is just, you know, do you mind if this person shows up he's, you know, learning about this program, you know, they're bought in, they have some skin in the game and they feel like, Hey, I'm, I'm also [00:16:43] helping.

[00:16:43] And it's a much more, you know, full circle, collaborative conversation. And how, how brilliant is that when you think about the approach that I have, where, you know, I'm not going into any call, um, with an expectation of selling it. I'm going into those calls to learn about what the client's desired outcomes are.

[00:17:01] They might've reached out to us because they were interested in a take back your life training for personal productivity and a lesser salesperson or consultant would say, oh, okay. Yeah, I can help you with that here. Let me write up a contract and give you a training for take back. Right. But what I've coached my consultants to do is ask what they're trying to accomplish.

[00:17:20] Why do you want this program? Yeah, well, I heard about it from these people. They said it was great and it really helped their productivity. Awesome. What's the challenges that you're having right now in your team and they might go down a path of, well, we do have email overwhelm and we're overloaded with meetings and our meetings are garbage and we're back to back and there's no agenda and all this.

[00:17:38] And I'm like, okay. That's awesome. And to take back your life [00:17:42] program will help you with that personal productivity. But what I'm hearing you say is that the bigger challenge that you're experiencing right now is unproductive meetings and the, the amount of meetings and there no governance around these meetings.

[00:17:53] We have a change management program that can start with your leadership team and help them really give some governance and guidelines around what tool for what purpose, how we're going to do meetings. How are we going to do these things? And then roll that training down to your team to get full alignment.

[00:18:09] Oh, that's exactly what I'm looking for. Well, that's a whole different program, right? So I, I could have just given one, well, they wanted, and then an order taker, or I could be consultative and really learn why that, what they're trying to accomplish and what they're trying to do. So I can give them the right solution and what happened.

[00:18:25] There was not only did I serve my client by giving them what they really needed. Um, and my consultant got the witness that, right. So he or she learned from that. Um, but I felt incredible. Credibility value and trust with that client because they [00:18:41] know I could have just given them what they asked for, but instead of giving them what they really needed.

[00:18:45] And so now that client, and then we go do that great work, and then they're telling everybody about us. That's why 82% of our business is referral businesses because of that approach to them. Yeah. I mean, you don't want to be a yes man or woman in sales, because you're going to build the, you're going to build way more trust and rapport and respect from your prospects.

[00:19:10] If you make them think about something. That they haven't considered go, you know, care enough to ask questions rather than just do the obvious, which is, you know, sell them some program that they reached out about, or, you know, sometimes they don't know what they need or what the actual problem is, or they might have additional problems or they might have another problem.

[00:19:30] That's a bigger priority. Or they think they need what you want, what you have. And maybe they. And even saying, Hey, you know, I don't think this is a good fit for you [00:19:40] for these reasons. And here's some resources, so that takes a lot of discipline. Um, but that's how you build, you know, a high quality network of, of people, high quality relationships with people that do want to buy whatever it is you're selling, if it can help them, um, and want to refer you business, like you mentioned, uh, you know, for the sales hustlers out there, just to, to underscore that a little bit, you know, The way, I explained it to my consultants quite a bit, as I'm like, your job is not to give the client what they want, it's to find out what they needed, consult them to give them solutions.

[00:20:14] And those solutions may be things that we offer and sometimes they're not. And that's why the power of a great network is awesome. You know, I might learn at this client, what they really need is, you know, sales training. Well, we don't do that, but guess what? I have some great people in my network that can help you with.

[00:20:31] And while you're doing that sales training, our take back your life program could help them be more productive so they can win back time to have space, to focus on what they learned from that [00:20:39] sales training. Right? So you can collaborate with people in your network, but if you're not asking those questions, um, you're not going to know what the real root need is there.

[00:20:48] And so one of my biggest approaches is just shut my mouth. You know, like I want to do more listening than talking on these calls because I'll ask questions and let them tell you. What it is that they're struggling with, or whether they're trying to accomplish and do more listening than talking. It's a great way to really learn what the client needs so that you can be consultative and offer solutions as opposed to just solve them what you're trying to sell them.

[00:21:13] Yeah. I love that you brought that up because that's a, that's a common, that's a common theme with, uh, you know, with elite sellers, uh, you know, the best, the best of the best in sales. Um, Talk less and listen more. I think it's like that most things in life. I think it's like leadership, I think any kind of leadership, not just sales leadership, but any kind of [00:21:38] leadership, you know, if you're, if you're allowing people to have a voice and being heard and getting their input, um, they're gonna appreciate the decisions you make much better, um, versus, you know, dictorial and just pushing things down all the time.

[00:21:50] So certainly that collaborative approach and, and. Um, it was really important. Yeah. And, and, and, you know, buyers or just people in general, you know, they're, they're a lot smarter than people give them credit for. And they know when they feel like, you know, they're just being talked at, or you've got a clever response for, for everything they say, like, you know, and so if you just more open-ended questions and really genuinely curious about learning and authentic about wanting to help.

[00:22:24] Uh, you know, those are the deals that are actually going to close rather than the ones that, you know, you just were slick enough to shove in the pipeline. Right. Right. And you think about, you know, some of the sales training that we've all experienced back in the day, you know how to [00:22:37] overcome objections and how to, you know, steer your client into a decision and all this different stuff.

[00:22:42] If you're taking the approach, like I've been explaining, you're not overcoming objections because you're not pushing something at them and they're telling you why they won't buy it. That's not what's happening here. You're letting them tell you what they want. But you're finding out what it is that they need and offering some suggestions.

[00:22:58] And then what happens? Did you end up typically, um, getting a bigger opportunity out of it than if you just would have been that order taker and giving them what they wanted? Yeah. I mean the lifetime value, you didn't build any credibility value and trust her. Right. And, and the lifetime value with that sort of approach of a, of a customer relationship is, is so much higher than, you know, just a one time deal one-time sale or, or deal that churns, especially in our business, because our clients are annuity clients.

[00:23:28] These are clients that come back year over year, over year with multiple different things, you know, out of our, uh, suite of offerings. And [00:23:36] they wouldn't do that if they felt like they were being sold or, you know, they worked in stuff that was adding value. So that's just a testimony to the approach working really well.

[00:23:46] Yeah. Awesome. Stephen, thanks so much for coming on today. Really appreciate it. Uh, before we wrap things up here, just let people know where they can follow you, find out more about, uh, any of the things that you're working on. Absolutely. Thank you, Colin. And thanks for having me. Um, I'm big on LinkedIn as well.

[00:24:01] That's how Collin and I got connected. Um, on LinkedIn. I am Stephen D. Crawford, middle initial, D as in dog. I'm Steven D. Crawford on LinkedIn, and then you can check out our website at any time as well. It's uh, McGee That's mcg, H E P R Um, and you can reach out to

[00:24:24] Awesome. We'll drop the links there for all the sales hustlers in the show notes. And if you enjoyed today's episode, please rise, review, share the show with your friends and as always we're listening for your [00:24:35] feedback. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of sales hustle. Are you a sales profession?

[00:24:41] Looking to take your sales career to the next level. If the answer is yes, then I want you to go over to sales,, check us out. And if you feel that you are ready, set up a time to talk with me and my co-founder Chris, I'm your host column Mitchell. If you enjoyed this episode, feel free to leave us a review and share the podcast with your friends.