This is part three of the conversation I had with Eric.
In Part 3, Eric and I talk about:
- You might not be saving lives but that doesn’t mean it’s not important
- How the Art of Shaving store began
- Hiring the Eric Malka way
- Caring in sales and leadership
Eric Malka is a renowned serial entrepreneur, business operator and published author with more than 30 years’ experience in the luxury Branded Consumer-Packaged Goods arena.
As co-founder and former CEO of The Art of Shaving he is one of the world’s foremost experts on men’s shaving and grooming, having developed the company from start-up to an internationally recognized men’s grooming brand leader sold in over 1000 prestigious stores worldwide and 150 company-operated US retail shops.
In 2009, The Art of Shaving was acquired by Gillette/Procter & Gamble – Eric was tapped by P&G to continue in his role as CEO through the end of 2010.
Today, as SBI’s Managing Partner Eric shares his vision and experience with his partners and their management teams, working closely with them to pioneer and develop winning strategies that build iconic brands and grow businesses.
E149 – Transcript
Jason: Welcome back to the sales experience podcast. Welcome back to part three of my guest conversation with Eric Malka. My name is Jason Cutter. I’m so glad that you’re here. You know it’s interesting cause I was thinking about my outro and what I say at the end where everything in life is sales and people will remember the experience you gave them and it’s really important. You know, I just want to bring it up and have a reminder that while I say that and it might just seem like something I say each time it’s so very true. People remember the experience, people remember how you made them feel way more than what you said. What you say can come and go and our brains aren’t going to hold that. But our brains, our minds, we will keep feelings, we will keep experiences much longer than we will anything else as far as particulars.
Jason: And so the sales experience in this podcast and my mission and focus is really on helping you, the salesperson, the manager, the leader of the coach, the business owner, create a sales experience for yourself as well as your customers. And this is an interesting conversation that Eric and I had because he is all about the customer experience, but that sales experience in a retail environment with his brands, art of shaving that he created, he and his wife, and it’s just a fun story that he gets into, but it’s all about the customer. It’s all about doing the right thing. It’s all about empowering the sales people. And so that their experience from the sales side is one where people are excited to come to work every day. They’re happy with what they do, they know they’re making a difference. And there is no judgment. It’s not like saving lives, like he was selling shaving and personal grooming items to men, but there was a gap in the market, but it was education and he was helping people feel better, look better, take care of themselves, be healthy, using the proper ingredients. And so it’s a really interesting reminder listening to him about creating that experience for your customers as well as yourself. So without further ado, here is part three where Eric and I keep on going about our conversation.
Eric: I remember my wife, we’re about a week away from opening the first store and I’m banging on this wood to create a display case. And she turns to me and she says, shouldn’t we be looking for an employee to work in the store? And I said, that’s you employee. What are you talking about? You know? So it didn’t take long before we realized we had, we were onto something interesting that had some serious wings and that’s when I became more serious about planning and executing on a bigger strategy.
Jason: Yeah. I’m just super curious. How long was that, you know, let’s say till when you hired that first person?
Eric: Well, first of all, within three months of opening the store, we, I think the store that 37,000 in sales for December and we were so excited. You would think we had won the lottery. We hired a broker to find a location on Madison Avenue.
Eric: So delusional, you know, that is the key. You know, being young, delusional and determined is a lethal combination because there is no, you know, if I knew then what I know now, I would have never done half of it
Jason: And you wouldn’t have done half of it and you would have ended up better off or you wouldn’t have done?
Eric: I wouldn’t have even been gone to stage one. Got it. You know back then guys wanted to have a shaving cream tube and a plastic razor thrown in their gym bag and we went out and made like shaving systems with glass bottles and steps. We were completely off the Mark.
Jason: Yeah, that’s hilarious. So with your salespeople, like we talked about it a little bit, but what do you think just in general, cause you’ve been in sales for a long time, it’s just in business and sales life. What do you think makes a top salesperson successful? Like a successful salespeople? Like what do they do?
Eric: Successful people, they’re on top of their numbers, first of all, I believe in that wholeheartedly. They are not just coasting to see where they end up. They have a plan, they know that they have this target for this month and they break it down to the week and we help them do that. You know, we help them, we give them that structure, but I’ve always found that great managers and great salespeople are on top of their numbers and they try to overshoot that. They don’t try to hit them. They’d try to go way beyond that. That’s how they make their targets consistently. There is also a pre wiring that comes with a salesman, not a manager automatically, but a salesperson, right? Somebody that is outgoing that just as a people person, you have to enjoy people.
Eric: You know, if you don’t really want to interact with a lot of individual sales, it’s probably not your area that you should be focused on. You have to love people and you know people like this, right? You know, people that just want to, they get their batteries recharge when they’re in front of others and they talk to others and then pleasers, you know there are certain things you can’t train. You can’t train someone not to be a jerk. There are certain things that need to come with someone that is, you know, that wants to win winning attitude because sales is about winning the race every day. You know, every day you have to have a strong mental state to reset the bar back to zero. You’re as good as your last sale basically, and you made this month, tomorrow morning you’re back at zero. You have a new month to hit.
Eric: That could be draining for some people. Rejection can be draining. So people that are pleasers, they’re not self centered, they enjoy being around people, they’re on top of their numbers and then the company can do things to make them better. We can teach them proven sales techniques that work for our brand, which we’ve developed. Being in the store early on, customers are not the same. You know, the art of sharing customer is not the same as the Walmart customer. So how do you interact best with that customer? How do you empower that customer product knowledge you need to your people with expertise. You know, a salesperson should be an expert in their area. That’s what I look for in people. And really until the very end, I would interview every salesperson that worked in the company. Of course in the beginning I used to look for them and interview them and hire them, but at the end I would just ask for one minute conversation.
Eric: When you’re ready to hire this person, I want to speak to them for one minute. First of all, it made them really feel good. You know, CEO of this company that’s fairly well known that they’re aspiring to work for is taking the time to speak to them even though they’re going to work in a store in Dallas, that gives them a jolt of like, I love this company. Secondly, it gives me a blink of an eye moment where I can veto this decision, which rarely happens, but if I hear something and if I hear a red flag, I don’t want this person in front of my customer. When you interview salespeople, it’s basically do I like hanging out with this person or do I want this interview to be over as soon as possible? Do you want to continue talking to them? Your customers will enjoy them most likely.
Jason: Yeah. And I’ve, I’ve found that too is I have a very random interview style, not like a, you know, a hiring, recruiting style where it’s not about going through the resume, line by line, tell me all this stuff. It’s really just getting to know them, their information, just having a conversation and like you said, I mean, you know, does the time fly by where you look down at the clock and you’re late for the next meeting or the next phone call and it was super easy and fun and it’s going to be amazing. Or was it like pulling teeth or talking to someone you don’t enjoy talking to? And was it terrible because they might be a more nervous version of themselves during the recruiting process, but they’re still themselves. There’s still the underlying truth magnified by the nurses. So in that one minute, what was that like? Cause I’ve never heard anyone talk about that and I think that’s fascinating. So you’d call them up one minute, start the clock.
Eric: Yeah. I try to make them feel super at ease because when people are more comfortable, they’re more likely to say what’s on their mind. So, you know, it’s not like you’re calling the CEO and I’ll be like, hello, my name is, you know, what’s up dude? What’s going on? So you want to work with this company? You know, I, I try to get them like really off kilt and you know, that was my little strategy actually one of my greatest hire told me that I had her at hello because you know, when I picked up the phone and said I don’t, I think I said, what’s up? You know? And she was like, what? That just didn’t happen. Right? So she loved that, that comfortable. We’re all in this thing together. I’m not coming at you from, you know, top of the mountains. We’re all the same and we’re all here to do, you know what’s best for the company.
Jason: And what I’ll say too is because I really believe that is also authentically you, because for the time that we spoke before hitting the record button for this, that’s literally how you answered the call. Well, for this and uh, you know, I, I can tell from, you know, our interaction and then your personality that just comes through this where it is that, you know, you want to help other people be successful and uh, you’re just in it for this game of life, right? For this, uh, you know, make the most of this, most of those things.
Eric: Listen, it’s about caring. You know, you can’t fake caring, right? It can’t be a Strat. The caring for your people and when I mean people that it’s employees, customers, vendors, partners, if you don’t truly care about people and surround yourself with people that you enjoy being around, it’s going to show. And that’s, I truly care about people. I want to see my, my staff being successful in my company. I want to promote from within. I want them to feel like we’re all in this thing together. I think that’s been one of the elements that helped me be successful, gaining people’s trust, whether it’s an investor or hiring talent, really. Because if you don’t, you know, you can’t do it. Extraordinary things with ordinary people. You need to attract extraordinary people. And if you’re, if you’re a magnet, you’re going to do that. And if you’re a repellent, you know things are going to be tough in your company.
Jason: And I think that’s interesting. And, and there’s obviously the balance, well not a balance, so always care, right? Which has always been my thing. And I think that’s what’s made me successful in sales management, leadership and getting the trust of other people above me or below me, wherever I’m at in the whole process. And, but you know, sometimes caring is, Hey, this isn’t a good fit and you should go do something else. Right? Like, you know, I care about you so much, I’m going to fire you or help you go somewhere else because this, you know, there’s more to your life than struggling. And I’ve seen lots of salespeople struggle and lots of managers who don’t want to let them go or don’t, you know, want to have those tough conversations.
Eric: Yeah. I had, I struggled with that for many years until one of my VPs taught me how to do this. He would fire people and they would hug him and thank him. Yeah. And that was like, how do you do that? And he’s basically, he had a different lens than I did. His lens was that person will never succeed in this organization. Let them go find their place in the world.
Jason: You’re doing them a favor because they haven’t done it yet. But like they haven’t made the leap. But you know it to be true. And every day like this is what I tell people too, every day that person is going home. Miserable, unhappy, feeling like a failure.
Eric: Struggling in life can be dangerous in your organization. That’s a cancer within the organization and they can be a gem in another world.
Jason: Yeah. And life is too short. Life is too short to do shit that you hate and you know things that just you don’t feel good with.
Eric: Look, don’t get the wrong impression when I say I’m a nice guy, that if you’re an awesome, extraordinary employee, I’ll be your best friend. I love you. You love me. It’s a love. But beware if you stand in my way or the customer’s or the company’s, that way I will be your worst nightmare, you know? Yeah. Which makes sense, right? Yeah. It’s gotta be a long term relationship or an extremely short one in my world.
Jason: That’s it. Make sure to go to cuttterconsultinggroup.com. Check out the transcript. Checkout Eric’s links. Thank you for listening to the show. Please make sure to subscribe. As always, keep in mind that everything in life is sales and people remember the experience you gave them.