Sales stories: Ty’s Outdoor Power

Peer Sales Agency - Ketchup Popsicles Podcast Episode featuring Brian Huddleston

Thank you for tuning into Ketchup Popsicles, the podcast about getting leads and closing deals. I’m your host, Ryan Mack. Let’s get started.

What makes Ty’s Outdoor Power Different?

Ryan Mack: Okay. Well, our guest this evening is Brian Huddleston, with Ty’s Outdoor Power, and Ty’s is the largest… I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you guys are the largest commercial lawn and landscape company in the state, right?

Brian Huddleston: Yep. Absolutely.

Ryan Mack: So Brian is the head of sales, we’re very excited to have him on the show. We’ve been talking about this for a while now, and you’re a busy guy so we’ve been kinda playing a little tag on trying to find a time that works. So here we are, 9:15 PM Eastern Time, and this seemed to work for you, so welcome to the show.

Brian Huddleston: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Ryan Mack: Alright, so…

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. It’s been a struggle to get with you to do this, but…

Ryan Mack: Well, you guys have been busy, so it’s good.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. We’re slammed. We’re slamming right now.

Ryan Mack: That’s good, man. We’re gonna get into some of that. I’m excited to hear what’s going on. So why don’t you… Let’s start… Why don’t you give us a quick overview of Ty’s for the folks that don’t maybe know what Ty’s Outdoor Power is. Talk about what you sell, why you guys are the best in your segment. Just give me a nice little breakdown.

Brian Huddleston: It’s from the smallest residential piece of equipment to huge, big salt spreaders or big commercial mowers, big snow plows, stuff like that. Lawn and garden. But we’re different because we sell so many products, like, there’s too many to explain, and… But some of the main brands we sell are… Hustler’s our main mower brand, STIHL’s our main and only handheld, Boss snow plows, Boss salt spreaders. You got your turf renovation equipment, so aerators, saw cutters. I mean, I can go on and on. So we try to be your one-stop shop, huge on service, so we not only do sales, but we also do service. You have, within the three locations, I think there’s like 14 or 15 technicians between Omaha, Gretna, and Lincoln. It’s hard to do sales when you don’t have service. They go hand in hand. So when you buy something from us we gas it up, file the warranty, if you have issues, you bring it back to us and we’ll take care of it.

Ryan Mack: So Bri, you said you were kinda leaning on the commercial side. Do you guys do a lot of residential stuff too?

Brian Huddleston: 100%.

Ryan Mack: Okay.

Brian Huddleston: We do, you know, from Toro, Honda, push mowers, generators, residential Toro snow blowers…

Ryan Mack: Yeah. I used to have one of those.

Brian Huddleston: [chuckle] Yeah. We’re probably 50/50, split down the middle between commercial and residential.

Ryan Mack: Oh, wow.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. We offer a variety for everybody. Our sales staff is incredibly knowledgeable on everything we sell, and if for some reason we don’t know something, somebody next to you knows, you know, we can quickly get you an answer. Yeah. So that’s kind of Ty’s in a nutshell. With the three locations, it’s… Our Gretna location is kind of where it was all born. So that’s our main location, and the way our business is set up is Gretna is our biggest, we have the most ground, the most… Our warehouse is there with all of our inventory, so we are like a distribution center for the other two stores, so we feed the other two stores their products so they have something on their floor to sell, so each location there has a team that says, “Hey, we need this,” or “We need this,” and we’re always transferring a part… Whether it’s a part, a whole good, just anything. We have drivers. We’re driving in a circle.

Ryan Mack: Just as a vendor would fulfill a transaction for the other stores.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. Right. Exactly.

Ryan Mack: Okay. So you said…

Brian Huddleston: Not to mention we do… Not to mention this part. Forgot to mention something. The service side of things, we actually have a pick-up and delivery service too, which not everybody has a pickup, not everybody has a trailer that, you know, so…

Ryan Mack: Yeah.

Brian Huddleston: We try to serve everybody that we possibly can.

Ryan Mack: No, that’s great, I love the pick-up and delivery. I’ve never… I don’t have a hitch, I don’t have a trailer, so for me, I always took advantage of that option, especially when it came to servicing the equipment. So you got three locations. It looks like it’s I-80 and Highway six in Gretna, so kinda by that Flying J. Just south of that. You’ve got 45th and Leavenworth down in Midtown Omaha, and then about 18th and Cornhusker, is that right? In Lincoln?

Brian Huddleston: Yup.

Ryan Mack: Okay. Cool.

Brian Huddleston: Yup.

Ryan Mack: That’s awesome.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah.

What makes a great sales leader?

Ryan Mack: Well, thank you. I think that’s good. I know that you guys take a lot of pride in what you do. Family-owned joint and I know that that is a big part of the service that you guys provide, is kinda treating everyone like they’re part of the family, so… Okay. Let’s talk about you a little bit. By the way, what are you drinking right now? What did you eat tonight? I saw a little cuppie come up through the… [laughter] Five Guys.

Brian Huddleston: Five guys.


Ryan Mack: Five guys.

Brian Huddleston: That’s a… That’s a Powerade. A Little Powerade.

Ryan Mack: Little Powerade, zero sug.

Brian Huddleston: Yup, zero sug. Exactly.

Ryan Mack: Okay. Alright. So talk to me. I really do wanna talk right now for this session about sales process, sales enablement, how you do it today, how you got started, so let’s just… Let’s run back the clock a little bit. How’d you get started in sales? Talk to me about your path and what led you into being this head of sales for Ty’s Outdoor Power.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. I’ll give you the quick version and then you can ask questions if you have questions about it. So 20-something years ago I started a lawn service, me and my older brother. He went to college, I kinda took it over, I took it to a level, commercially and residentially, and that’s how I met Ty, actually. So I bought all my equipment at Ty’s Outdoor Power. So…

Ryan Mack: Okay.

Brian Huddleston: From there I sold my business, I went and did grounds maintenance at our local airport, Eppley Airfield. Anywhere from mowing to sprinkler repair to snow removal. Still kinda doing the same thing, same industry. And then I left there and I went to a basement foundation repair company. I got recruited to run logistics, warehouse, procurement management, tool management…

Ryan Mack: Shout-out Thrasher?

Brian Huddleston: I found… Thrasher, yeah. Shout-out to Thrasher. Super sweet company. Another family-owned company. Such a blessing to work there. It was like… I learned so much outside of what I already knew or thought I knew about business in general, and I missed… I really missed the green industry. Ty had a position open. We talked about it, it was an outside sales position, territory sales manager, whatever you wanna call it. I took a leap and…

Ryan Mack: Were you still working with Ty when you went over to Thrasher? Was he supplying any goods for you guys?

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. They were actually servicing our saws and stuff.

Ryan Mack: Oh, cool. Okay.

Brian Huddleston: Concrete saws and demo saws and…

Ryan Mack: So you kept the connection?

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. So I’ve known Ty forever, I wanna say 2006. 2006, I think, is when I bought my first Hustler Zero Turn mower. We made a deal, I was scared. [chuckle] But in the end, we made a deal, got it going and I hit the ground running. Haven’t really looked back, keep going, and I’ve created many long-lasting relationships. Always looking for more relationships, partnerships, to just help… I’m really a consultant at heart and with my past, I can really help people that aren’t really sure or “What do you think?” And I really, that’s probably one of the most things I enjoy is I get to still consult with guys that do this every day, and I did it for 15, 17 years. So, lots of…

Ryan Mack: So no formal training on sales other… Well, except for maybe the most important sales training you can get, which is being an entrepreneur. You gotta sell all day, every day, and so did…

Brian Huddleston: Right. Actually to stop… I’m gonna stop you. So that’s one thing that… I did sell when I was an entrepreneur, but I also did all the work too. Yeah, I had a crew of guys, awesome guys, but I was right there with ’em, so it was hard to grow it even more because I was on the job.

Ryan Mack: Yeah. ‘Cause you were working in the business and not on the business.

Brian Huddleston: Correct.

Ryan Mack: Yeah.

Brian Huddleston: Exactly.

Ryan Mack: But obviously, the very tricky part of owning your own company is finding that opportunity to make the switch to where you’ve scaled the operations in a way that you can take a step back, so…

Brian Huddleston: Exactly. Exactly.

Lessons Learned

Ryan Mack: That’s a tough one. Okay. So as you’ve gone through this, again, no formal sales training, but you’ve learned to become a more process-oriented sales leader. You have to, I don’t think… You can’t have a team of sales reps underneath you without some formal process in place. So talk to me about some of the lessons that you’ve learned throughout the last few years, especially at Ty’s, what you’ve experienced.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. So number one, everybody’s different. Every customer is different. Every customer has different needs, so you have to listen to what they say. I will say, you’re not gonna hit a home run every time. You’re not gonna win every sale. You have to be patient and you have to get over that. The biggest, I would say to any sales guy out there, the biggest thing that I found in my success is you’re honest, 100% honest. And if you say you’re gonna do something, you do it. You don’t fluff it off, you don’t… You do it and you grind and you go help the next customer. As long as you’re doing that and you are following through or following up on a phone or you might have 50 deals going on in your funnel, well you better check on them ’cause they’re not closed yet.

Ryan Mack: Yeah.

Brian Huddleston: Even if they’re like, “Hey, I’m gonna go in a different direction.” “Hey, no big deal. If I can ever help you in the future, you got my number, I’ll stop by.” Whatever it is, you have to follow through and do what you say you’re gonna do.

Ryan Mack: I like those. Those are too good… I think those are two that’ll go on the wall for sure. Honesty, I agree, you can’t keep up if you are a bullshitter, you can’t keep up with the lies. You’re better off being truthful. And I think customers know, especially probably the customers that you sell to who are entrepreneurs, own their own companies. They know, and they also understand when you can’t fulfill something or you don’t have a product available, whatever it is, or you can’t meet that price. Just being honest, the credibility gained is… I agree with you completely, and then I love the follow-through piece. If you say you’re gonna do it, you gotta do it. And I noticed that a lot in service. You ask somebody to come out and do something, they don’t come out. You ask ’em to do something for you, they may or may not get to it. And the ones that do really stand above the rest, for sure, and I think they make a quick name for themselves as being reliable. I think reliability in service is important. Okay. That’s good.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah.

Ryan Mack: So some lessons that you’ve learned. How about some of the individuals that you have interacted with, some of these mentors from a sales process that have helped you shape your career into what it is.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. So there’s tools out there that help you, everybody knows what Salesforce is, I’m sure. There’s CRM’S that help you keep track of everything and… ‘Cause I got…

Ryan Mack: So this is kind of on the process side. Yeah.

Brian Huddleston: Process. Yeah. So a lead comes in or somebody calls, you’re logging it. And you can refer back to it, because in five minutes your phones are going to ring again and again and again and again. And its organization is huge, and there’s tools out there to help you get organized. So we, we use a log called HubSpot. From the time the lead comes in, to the time the sale is either closed on, or you lost it for whatever reason. Price or they weren’t ready or whatever the case was. You can refer back to it, you can create reminders. You can do… There’s e-mail marketing, there’s so many things in this one hub and it all funnels in and you can refer back to it, and that is huge, if I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. So, it’s a wonderful tool.

Ryan Mack: So CRM, big, big part of your process day-to-day is organization management, documentation of all activities surrounding deals.

Brian Huddleston: Yup.

Ryan Mack: I agree.

Brian Huddleston: Exactly.

Ryan Mack: It’s like a no-brainer.

Brian Huddleston: Right. And then you’ve made the sale, [chuckle] so what happens after that? So in our organization, there’s so many people that I rely on before I can even deliver the product. We have a warehouse, we have people in the warehouse. I couldn’t do my job without them. They put everything together for all the stores. Not just Brian. They…

Ryan Mack: Like they assemble the equipment for you?

Brian Huddleston: They assemble everything. Yeah.

Ryan Mack: Okay. Got it.

Brian Huddleston: They’ve… Even down to wash it prior to delivery.

Ryan Mack: That’s nice.

Brian Huddleston: Free delivery inspection, we go through a checklist, because when you show up with your brand new shiny piece of equipment, I hope there’s fuel in it. [chuckle]

Ryan Mack: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Brian Huddleston: Hopefully it starts, right? Hopefully the tires are inflated, hopefully there’s oil in it. On and on and on. There’s a lot of things these guys do. I gotta start with number one, do we even have… I’m gonna go backwards here but, do we even have the inventory? If we don’t, then we gotta see when it’s available. This year more than most is…

Ryan Mack: It’s been a tough year for your industry. Steel shortages, labor shortages…

Brian Huddleston: Yeah.

Ryan Mack: Yeah. I’ve heard all about it on the news.

Brian Huddleston: It’s tough. So luckily we have a fearless leader and he… He’s aggressive.

Ryan Mack: Shout-out Ty Lisiecki.

Brian Huddleston: He wants to make… Yeah. Shout-out for Ty. He is a real person. People ask me that all the time, by the way. “Is Ty a… Is he really a real… ”

Ryan Mack: [laughter] Yeah he is, I met him. He is a real guy. Yeah.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. Yup.

Ryan Mack: He’s a good dude.

Brian Huddleston: Yup, yup. It’s just not a slogan it’s literally a… He’s a person and he started this, this animal. He’s a great person. Very humble. But yeah, we have him as our leader, and he makes dang sure that we have product to sell. All over the place, like if it’s available at a factory and there’s only a certain quantity, we typically buy the rest of what they have.

Ryan Mack: That’s great.

Brian Huddleston: Whether we don’t sell it tomorrow, maybe it’s a year from now, it doesn’t matter, we have it. ‘Cause if you don’t have it, you can’t sell it and you can’t help your customer. And that’s the number one priority. There’s just so many, I don’t even know how many customers we have but, there’s so many people that rely on us for a lot of things and so it’s important to have that opportunity to help them but, anyways.

Ryan Mack: Well, you talked about… You were talking about the process a little bit. Metrics and sales are a really big deal. So what are some of the metrics, the KPIs that you guys are looking at month-to-month, week-to-week, day-to-day, whatever? In terms of your CRM and some of the metrics that you are tracking, some of the marketing that you’re doing, what are some of those indicators that things are going in the right direction?

Brian Huddleston: As far as like lead comes in, we schedule an appointment. Those type? Okay. So yeah, so that’s I guess, a little bit… I get what your saying. So lead comes in, we give them a shout or I go and visit somebody and cold call. And we start with, okay the call was made, appointment was set, a demo was scheduled. You go do the demo, and it’s a negotiation of price, more than likely. And then the follow-up, and then you either, you deliver, or you don’t. So… I’m the only one that… I guess I push myself. I don’t have like a target number or whatever. I know what I’m capable of, and I know that… I know where I’m at and I need to continue to grow that number year after year after year, and as long as you do all those things…

Ryan Mack: Your goal is just beat last year by 10, 20%.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. Absolutely. Mm-hmm.

Ryan Mack: Yep. Okay.

Brian Huddleston: Even as a company… As a company as a whole, we’re trying to… As a business you don’t want a flatline. There’s certain products that we’ve picked up over the months and in almost four years and the times I’m in this position, and that also helps your growth to have more offerings. I try to, you try to… I’m at a point where it’s hard for me to go do cold calls because it’s just a… It’s I’m serving all the people that rely on me. Come to Brian. And so every opportunity that I have, I try to go start a new relationship, a new partnership and that’s the really fun part really for… Is you get to meet new people and there’s a lot of times during the year that I don’t have time, I just don’t, I don’t have the time to do it but I wish there was more of me to go around and, but we’re not there yet but eventually we should be.

Ryan Mack: Yeah, you guys are…

Brian Huddleston: By adding sales staff and stuff…

Ryan Mack: You’re definitely on a rocket ship right now from a growth perspective. I’ve paid close attention, for all you listeners out there, Peer handles all of Ty’s marketing and so we do work pretty closely with the sales team with Ty. And it’s been impressive to watch what you guys have done even during the pandemic you guys switched it up you realized that you couldn’t… A big part of the game is going to shows that’s part of it. And shows were canceled and so you guys, you also have an open house every spring like right end of March, beginning of April where you guys are offering pretty big deals. It’s an event and people look forward to it and that was also something that you guys couldn’t do. So you got, you got smart and figured out some different ways to generate demand and it worked and you guys have been just servicing your market really, really well, really consistently, and I’ve been impressed over the last three years to watch you guys grow.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. And don’t cut yourself, your team short ’cause we had to make a quick decision, was that two years ago? When all this pandemic was happening we were like, it’s like coming down to the wire and are we gonna have this thing live or not? And with the help of your guys…

Ryan Mack: That’s right.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. With the help of your team we pulled it together and get did virtual with, and did… You could speak more on that and what you did but whatever it was it was email blasts and Facebook posts and just trying to get it all out there. Radio even just to get the word out because there’s such a huge audience that come to that. People look forward to that, you know, with food and you could…

Ryan Mack: No, you’re right.

Brian Huddleston: People came there to buy something and we all pulled it, we all put our heads together and were like, “What are we gonna do?” And we had to do it, since we did it year one, what didn’t work, what did work and we were able to, we had to do it again this year.

Ryan Mack: Yeah. Right.

Brian Huddleston: So…

Ryan Mack: Gosh, I know it feels like… It’s weird to think that we’ve already done it twice now this way, but no you’re absolutely right, you guys are constantly thinking outside the box trying to figure out new better ways to support your market and it’s working. Whatever you’re doing, it’s working. And I think a big part of it is kinda going back to what you said earlier about, do what you say you’re gonna do, and that’s part of the service game. So you say that you’re going to have my back when my equipment goes down, especially if I’m a commercial lawn and landscape owner. I mean if I’m down, if I’ve got a mower down, I’m not earning and so I’ve seen you guys really do a nice job with getting people back up and running as fast as possible. Very empathetic group in your service department, they know that every minute that’s unbillable is really coming right out of the owner’s back pocket. And some of these companies aren’t very big and they rely on you to service and support the main piece of equipment that they need to get the job done.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. Let me speak on that just for a second. So we do an incredible… We do an insane amount of volume year in and year out and machines break. You use them…

Ryan Mack: Sure.

Brian Huddleston: You abuse them, you use it as a tool and they break. And I have to give a shout-out to our service fellas, they care a lot and we’re not perfect, we’re all human, things fall through the cracks but man, they are there to help, they are there to fix, there to… It’s a tough grind for them too. We wouldn’t be where we’re at without our service folks.

Ryan Mack: Well, shout-out to the service department at Ty’s Outdoor Power then.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah.

Ryan Mack: I hear you.

Brian Huddleston: Yes.

Ryan Mack: You need implementation, you need support for sure. You need…

Brian Huddleston: You gotta have… They keep the… Just another gear in the business that you’re not gonna make very many people happy and we’ve made people mad and we learn about it. We always try and improve.

Ryan Mack: Yeah.

Brian Huddleston: ‘Cause it’s an animal. You got all these machines, there’s some days there’s 40 machines that get dropped off in one nine-hour day. [chuckle]

Ryan Mack: Wow. That’s crazy.

Brian Huddleston: That’s a lot.

Ryan Mack: That is a lot.

Brian Huddleston: That’s a lot. I mean, that is a lot to handle and somehow we do it. It’s because we care and we’re passionate about what we do.

Ryan Mack: Yeah. 100%.

Brian Huddleston: Shout-out to the service guys.

Ryan Mack: Yeah. Shout-out Shane, Darren Kurtis down in Omaha.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah.

Ryan Mack: Terry Martinez over in, that Lincoln, that Cornhusker.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. Don’t forget about George.

Developing Sales Talent

Ryan Mack: Don’t forget about George Omgin. Okay. So… Alright. I got a couple of questions around talent, because it just feels like everybody’s looking for sales talent anymore. Actually, I’ll just go as far as to say everybody’s just looking for talent right now, in general. Even outside of the nursing industry, which we’ve all… Yeah, we’ve known that issue for a long time. But when you’re looking to recruit sales talent, talk to me about some of the characteristics that really do well in your industry that you guys are, when you’re interviewing and identifying these prospects, what are you looking for?

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. Good question. So first and foremost, you have to be motivated. So it’s like, what gets you out of bed in the morning? Why are you excited to become alive after a long night’s sleep. You have to be motivated, self-motivated. You have to look for someone… We look for people that like, I’m always looking, are these guys organized? You have to be sharp, you have to have the want to, or I say you have to give a shit every day.

Ryan Mack: Yeah.

Brian Huddleston: What it all… Actually, no. It’s on the tip of my tongue. There’s another… It’s like, if you’re not… And you have to be able to grind because it’s, you get blown up. And there’s nights where I’m up ’till midnight. I’m up at 5:30, and it’s a long day, but that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. Who did I help? Who can I help? Who needs me? Where do I need to be at today? How many more people can I go talk to and tell them a good word of Ty’s and why they should give us a chance.

Ryan Mack: And there’s a coin-operated component to this scenario, right?

Brian Huddleston: Absolutely. Yeah.

Ryan Mack: I mean, we’re not just sitting here, getting out of bed for the hell of it. Like this is sales dude, we grind for the dollar bill.

Brian Huddleston: Yes. Absolutely. I am extremely coin-operated. That’s one of my key motivators, it doesn’t make me happy it just… I like to win. [chuckle] We want winners, we don’t want somebody that is looking to get… Hang out and sell a half a million dollars a year.

Ryan Mack: Yeah. I take that’s a small amount for you guys.

Brian Huddleston: No. That’s a decent amount. If you grind, if you do what you say you’re gonna do and you’re organized, you should be doing six times that.

Ryan Mack: So motivation, organization, coin-operated…

Brian Huddleston: Having the drive.

Ryan Mack: Having that drive.

Brian Huddleston: Eager to learn. ’cause you gotta…

Ryan Mack: Oh, I like that one. That’s a good one.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. You have to be eager to learn and you have to put in the time to study. You don’t have to know everything about every piece of equipment that we sell, by any means. I still learn… I used to use the equipment, now I sell it, and I still don’t know everything. But you gotta utilize your resources, and there’s so many people and tenured employees that know much more. And, yeah, it’s continuing education, always.

Ryan Mack: Okay. Yeah, that’s good. I like that. So moving on to… I always like to know what trends people are seeing in sales in particular. We obviously have seen this transition from everything being in-person to remote capabilities, whatever they may be. Talk about what you’ve seen over the last few years as some of the trends in, for you guys, selling.

Brian Huddleston: So I will say it kinda ties in with recruitment. Most every business is in the same boat. They can’t find the talent, they can’t find the people, they can’t find the help. So one trend that I’ve seen is, I have a great core staff, I’m not gonna use any company individually, but Ryan Max Lawn Service has 10 really solid employees, but they need like 15 to do it all, to make their world go round. And what’s happening is, in order to keep those 10 guys, those 10 core guys happy, they’re investing in better equipment, more efficient, but the manufacturer also is building machines today that are quicker, faster, stronger and take the place of people. So that has been huge, the last three years that I’ve seen is that, there’s so many offerings out there that don’t require… That will take the place of four or five people and only takes one person to operate it, and they’re investing that for their core 10 guys that are doing the work and grinding.

Ryan Mack: Wow. Interesting. So because people aren’t easy to find, now we gotta get machines to take the place, and so what you’re seeing from a sales perspective is the people looking for equipment that supplements the human labor…

Brian Huddleston: Correct. And it’s there.

Ryan Mack: Or maybe complements it.

Brian Huddleston: It complements it, and it’s there, ’cause somebody still has to run it.

Ryan Mack: Yeah. Totally.

Brian Huddleston: It doesn’t… So anyway, so that’s a trend. And because I hear this every day, I can’t… So I don’t know how I’m gonna get it all done when it… If it snows six inches, I don’t… We’ll get it done. But man, I don’t have the people, you know, there it is.

Ryan Mack: Watch out robots. Robots are coming for us humans. So, get ready.

Brian Huddleston: Another trend is people taking advantage of… If there is a deal, they take advantage of it to save, it could be 500 bucks, could be a 1000 bucks, could be 2000 bucks.

Ryan Mack: So you’re saying, deals are becoming more… Offers are becoming more and more important in…

Brian Huddleston: Yeah.

Ryan Mack: Your ability to convert bottom-of-funnel deals into closed one.

Brian Huddleston: You got it. Exactly.

Ryan Mack: You hear that salespeople? Offers. And marketing people? Offers. They matter, people wanna know that they’re getting something…

Brian Huddleston: Everybody wants a deal.

Ryan Mack: Everybody wants a deal.

Brian Huddleston: You and I are consumers. I’m always looking for a deal. You know, I feel like…

Ryan Mack: I know. I’m the same way. I’m the worst.

Brian Huddleston: I feel like I haven’t paid full price for something in a long time.

Ryan Mack: Yeah. You like a deal. Okay. That’s a good one. How about the way that you are interacting with your customers, with your prospects, like pandemic, I mean, it created a remote… People are a little more tolerant of remote interactions, and sales was the first one where it was like, woah, this is weird, why are we on the computer right now and not in front of each other?

Brian Huddleston: Why I got this thing… Or you show up and you have this thing on your face, and yeah…

Ryan Mack: You just can’t read the body language, you can’t… Just talk… What’s that been like?

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. So a lot less on site visits and it, honestly, it’s a lot more… I feel like people are emailing more. Like people that you would never think really would email are emailing you, and it’s still a lot of phone… Tons of phone interaction, people wanna talk to somebody, but there’s some that don’t, but I feel like I’m a guy that likes to call up service and say, “Hey, I wanna talk to you about this, I wanted to give you more information.”

Ryan Mack: What, versus just like showing up?

Brian Huddleston: Just showing up. Yeah.

Ryan Mack: Yeah. I feel like people don’t have time to just show up anymore.

Brian Huddleston: Right.

Ryan Mack: Who has time to just show up?

Brian Huddleston: Right. And sometimes, though, if you… As a sales guy and you’re trying to prospect new customers, it’s hard sometimes to get to that person that you absolutely, is the person that you need to talk, whether a guy or a gal, or sometimes you just have to show up and say, “Hey, I wanna talk to you. Give me 30 seconds. I have a lot of opportunity for you.” Most people, I respect people’s time but, in that situation, if you can tell them something in two minutes or less, they’re either interested or not.

Ryan Mack: Okay. Good. Don’t bait your pitch is important. I agree. Salespeople, take note, don’t bait your pitches. Get to the point, right?

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. Don’t go in there and be like, “Hey, how’s it going?”

Ryan Mack: Yeah. Totally.

Brian Huddleston: Be nice and be cordial, you don’t have to be fake, just be yourself and say, “Hey, I just wanna talk to you a little bit about this, this and this, and I’d like to set up a demo.” ‘Cause really, it was hard to do demos, that was a negative trend, some of the municipals and the school, they wouldn’t allow anybody, outsiders to come in and do that kind of stuff, so that was tough ’cause demos sell equipment. You try it before you buy it.

Ryan Mack: Yeah. I agree. It’s just like a car, you know, you gotta…

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. There’s a product we sell called Ventrac, you could be in the 30, 40, 50,000 for a big package of multiple attachments and the tractor and everything, but people just don’t walk in and write a check for that kind of stuff. They wanna see it, they wanna touch it, they wanna feel it, they wanna run it. So that was a negative trend that’s been tough. I remember three years ago, I think I had demos every single day.

Ryan Mack: Wow.

Brian Huddleston: Sometimes two in one day from June to, heck, October. The last two years, it’s not been that way.

Ryan Mack: I was going to ask you, but have they been closing even though they can’t…

Brian Huddleston: Yeah.

Ryan Mack: There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s not like they can go down the street and demo, nobody can demo anything.

Brian Huddleston: Right. So that’s where you… Right. And that’s where you really take the time and you really give them as much detail as you can, show ’em videos, just be… In The Buyer’s Journey it was longer but they still closed, I’d say 80% of the time, or 75-80% of time. Yeah. You have to be patient. It just took longer. And there’s a lot of trust there.

Ryan Mack: Yeah.

Brian Huddleston: You gotta do a good job of building that trust and that rapport, which goes back to just being honest and doing what you say you’re going to do. And the equipment, really, we feel like we sell the best equipment. And so really it kinda sells itself, but you have to be there to help make them, making sure they’re making a good decision and it’s gonna work for them.

Ryan Mack: Yeah. So without demos, obviously, you leaned more on sales enablement, marketing support, because you gotta nurture it. I think most salespeople understand the value of a deck and a slick and… Sorry. PowerPoint presentation, one pager, slick, whatever you wanna call it, but it goes deeper than that, and there’s a lot of social proof that you need to provide people. And we get in… We talk a lot about case studies and testimonials. Buyers don’t give a shit, they know you’re trying to fluff everything you’re saying and “Oh, it’s the best,” and whatever, and they want… Just like how we rely on Yelp and Google reviews, anything that gives us stars, Amazon has obviously gotten us to where this is just commonplace, but you need social proof. I don’t wanna hear it from you, vendor, I wanna hear it from your customers and I think that you guys have done a good job in not only capturing the information from your customers about how much of an impact it’s made, but you’ve leveraged that information as a way to say, “Don’t take my word for it. I’ve got 10 people that you can call right now and will vouch… They’ll let you come out and mess around with their… Whatever you wanna do.” Did you ever… You guys do that all the time now.

Brian Huddleston: All the time. Well, what’s really neat is that the folks that have a piece of equipment there that they love and they cherish every day, every time they get on and they’re just like, “Oh, man this things amazing.” They’re like, “Hey, if you ever need… If you ever… ” I don’t know, I can’t even count how many people have said this, but, “If you need somebody to… If there’s somebody that’s unsure about… Give them my number. I don’t care, I’ll talk to them.”

Ryan Mack: Yeah.

Brian Huddleston: I mean, that is… That speaks high. That’s like, “Oh man, this guy’s on my side.” [chuckle]

Ryan Mack: Yeah. I agree.

Brian Huddleston: He’s on Ty’s side, he’s in love with the piece of equipment that he bought.

Ryan Mack: Well, and that goes… I think I probably should have stopped you early on and said, “There’s a reason, folks, why he’s going on and on about service and support and all this stuff,” because of how tightly coupled it is to your ability to sell more stuff because that word gets out. We know negative information hits 10 X compared to positive information. People will tell one individual that they had a good experience, but those trolls will tell as many as will listen about a bad experience and so you really do have to rely on social proof, testimonials, case studies, customer testimony that says, “No, it’s legit. They’re good. Yeah, they have flaws, but every business does.” And so I think it’s all full circle there. It’s you sell it, you better support, you better do what you say, follow through, give them a good experience. Not only will they be a return customer, so you get greater lifetime value out of that client, but then they’re inevitably going to tell someone. Somebody’s gonna ask them, “Where’d you get that Hustler? Where did you get your hand helds? Where do you get your stuff serviced?” And they’re gonna be like, “Ty’s.”

Brian Huddleston: Yeah.

Ryan Mack: And boom, that’s a customer right there with zero cost of acquisition, it’s just doing your job right.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. I have a good story, a very recent story that’s just happened with a city that I have been trying to nurture and kinda get in the door ’cause they use competition equipment and they wouldn’t allow me to do a demo because of the pandemic, blah, blah, blah. So a gentleman called me and he said, “You know, I’ve been talking to people about this Hustler mower and all of a sudden a guy in our shop said, ‘Yeah, I have one of those.’ And then his neighbor has one and then he’s like, ‘Send me some information. This is kind of what we’re looking for to replace this.'” They buy through a buying program ’cause it’s a municipal deal. But I sent him what he wanted, we talked through email, we had a couple phone conversations and within a week’s time I had a purchase over there.

Ryan Mack: Wow.

Brian Huddleston: Just because a guy at the shop loves his Hustler, then that guy’s neighbors got one, he loves it and he’s like, it’s neat to hear… Some people even, not this particular customer but, they’re like, “Well, it’s about all you see around town, you see these yellow mowers, so they gotta be good.” [chuckle]

Ryan Mack: I’m telling you, the “Yellow Mower” thing is… It’s real. So that’s a good example for company leadership out there, CEOs that might be a little negative on brand awareness, it’s real. The more people hear about you, know about you and that stuff comes from organic marketing that you feel like doesn’t give you… Wow, there’s no value in this. I don’t see a good return.

Brian Huddleston: 100%.

Ryan Mack: That’s a short-sighted view, for sure, and I’ll tell you, Ty Lisiecki has been a master at brand promotion and he spent a lot of time in traditional channels that don’t really give you much attribution to like, what revenue was closed as a result of this campaign or promotion that you’re running on the radio or on a billboard or on television. But he got the word out about what it was that he was doing and that started the snowball and then people bought, they had a good experience and then they told other individuals and Ty’s been on this ground swell for the last five years, it’s been hockey stick growth and it’s because you guys are doing all the things that you said before. So I love how that all kinda came back around. Alright. So before we shut this thing down tonight, which this has been a great conversation.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. It has.

Ryan Mack: I probably could have gone on for another hour, but nobody wants to hear us talk about mowers and shit.

Brian Huddleston: We can talk about other things.

Ryan Mack: [chuckle] Yeah. I’ll have you back on.

Brian Huddleston: Alright.

Advice From a Sales Leader

Ryan Mack: Alright. So last question I have is, what advice would you give individuals looking to get into sales? Give me three things.

Brian Huddleston: Mentally prepare, be very patient, you have to be patient.

Ryan Mack: With whom?

Brian Huddleston: With yourself. I’ve seen… Well, I’ll just say this, this might help explain it. So I’ve seen guys that, you spend a little time with them, they’re like, “Hey, I just wanna go. I just wanna go sell.” Well, it’s not that easy. So mentally prepare, be patient, learn as much as you can learn, and you have to spend time outside of 9:00 to 5:00 doing that. This isn’t a 9:00 to 5:00 job. And third…

Ryan Mack: God, I’ve got a number three, I gotta just throw in, based on this conversation…

Brian Huddleston: Good. Do it.

Ryan Mack: Believe in what you sell.

Brian Huddleston: Boom! There you go. Yeah. I like that.

Ryan Mack: It makes it way easier, doesn’t it? You’ve been a case study in itself of… You loved the industry, you loved the equipment, you loved what it was… You loved everything about it, which made selling it… That had to have been just a breeze to pick up the phone and start evangelizing about equipment that probably made your living for 10 plus years.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. And be yourself. Don’t…

Ryan Mack: That’s a good one.

Brian Huddleston: Nobody likes the sales guy that walks in and is like, I don’t even know how to explain them, but they’re just annoying and pesky and pushy and… Just be there for the customers. Help support them in making a good decision. And do everything they ask you to do. And if you lose, it’s okay.

Ryan Mack: Yeah. Yeah. Onto the next. You should have a full enough funnel to where that shouldn’t be a big problem.

Brian Huddleston: 100%. It’s okay to lose. The first time I lost…

Ryan Mack: It’s gotta be okay. It has to be.

Brian Huddleston: I was devastated. And somebody looked at me, I don’t even remember who it was, doesn’t even matter, and they were like, “Yep, that’s sales for you.” [chuckle] And I’m like, “Yep… Yep.” And there’s of part of my heart that’s just like, “Man… ” But, it’s okay.

Ryan Mack: Yeah. It does suck because you invest time, but you gotta realize price is something that a lot of times we can’t control. Margins are set for a reason, companies need to keep the lights on, and so there’s a reason that there’s a floor on that margin that you can’t go below. You invest as a company in a line of products, and those products have a feature set that, that’s what it is. And then another product has some other feature set that differentiates them, and there’s gonna be a percent of the population that’s gonna choose your competitor, and that’s just whatever, dude. There wasn’t a fit anyway, and honestly, if you were to bring ’em on, they would have complained about your shit and how it doesn’t have this thing, and sometimes it’s better to just offload the lead weight from the boat and just try to figure out how to keep the boat afloat. That’s good, man.

Final thoughts

Ryan Mack: Well, I appreciate you hopping on tonight, I know you guys are busy, especially coming into that Midwest winter, I’m sure it’s gonna be just glorious. Is it gonna be a wet one, this winter? Is there gonna be a lot of snow?

Brian Huddleston: Man, I’ve heard mixed reviews on the meteorologist…

Ryan Mack: So probably…

Brian Huddleston: Predictions. We’ve had pretty decent snow the last two years. What’s goofy is… It’s funny you ask, because it’s been freaking raining here. We got 3 1/2 inches the other day, and we probably got another 2 1/2 to three today and…

Ryan Mack: I mean you’re not far away from that being…

Brian Huddleston: Right? Soggy fall equals, it’s probably gonna be at least the average, or above average, snowfall. In my experience in this industry, when you get these crazy rains…

Ryan Mack: It’s that heavy snow too… It’s hard to move. So folks, get out there, get your snow blowers.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. Snow blowers. Get your snow plows. We always say, we have… One of my favorite marketing pieces is, “Don’t be a last minute Larry.” [chuckle]

Ryan Mack: [chuckle] Don’t be a last minute Larry. I agree.

Brian Huddleston: Get it now ’cause supplies are lower than we thought, so, what we have is what we have. And really, as far as snow blowers and stuff and once they’re gone they’re gone.

Ryan Mack: And you guys have more than the most.

Brian Huddleston: We have a ton of inventory right now, tons of it. But once it goes, it goes.

Ryan Mack: Yeah. You have more than most. But folks, for those listening at home… Don’t be a last-minute Larry.

Brian Huddleston: No. Come get it now.

Ryan Mack: Okay. Well, Brian, I appreciate it, man. Thank you very much.

Brian Huddleston: Yeah. Let’s do it again.

Ryan Mack: So Ty’s Outdoor Power, Nebraska’s largest outdoor power superstore. Omaha, Lincoln, Gretna. Yeah. This was really good. I congratulate you guys on a really nice five-year run so far, and I’m sure there’s much more to come, and you guys have found ways to just continually impress, so congrats to you on the sales side, Ty on the leadership side for sure, and all the people that support the organization. Yeah. Thanks for joining us.

Brian Huddleston: Thanks to you and Peer, for all of your help. You got a solid team. You guys are amazing. You guys do some amazing stuff, so…

Ryan Mack: Yeah. We got a good crew, for sure. They do love what you guys are all about. It’s a very symbiotic relationship. For sure. Alright, buddy. Well, I’ll let you get back to some emails, I’m sure you gotta get back to some customers. We’ll catch you on the flip side, man.

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Ryan Mack

Ryan Mack is the CEO and co-founder of Peer Sales Agency. Fueled by his drive to help companies reach their revenue goals, he puts his decades of experience in sales, private equity, and organization leadership to work for Peer’s clients.


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