Is Sales more Important than Operations?

I took this picture in NH by the way.

I’ve worked in both sales and non-sales roles, but have spent most of my career thus far in an B2B sales capacity. I have seen that for whatever reason, there is often a butting of heads between the sales arm of a company and the operational and support portion of a business. But there shouldn’t be. Why? Because you cannot have one without the other.

The Sales Perspective

There may be a tendency at times for those in sales to think… “I drive revenue up, I’m the most important, I should be prioritized, etc.” Sales is essential to any business of course. I worked with a gentleman that loved to say, “nothing happens until something gets sold.” In reality he is right. A business without sales is dying if not already dead. 

So sales is the most important? Well kind of sort of if you realize that without revenue a business cannot thrive. But that is not the whole story. How does a business get recurring revenue? How is a product or service delivered and supported after the sale? Businesses need a skilled operations and support team to continue to succeed. Without the support system necessary to deliver on a deal, sales become unobtainable, thereby sending businesses spiraling downward.

The Operational Perspective

Just as sales teams can drift into thinking they are the most important wing of a business, so too can operational teams let this thinking rule their departments. There can be a stigma against “sales people.” Sales people go home early, don’t work long hours, and have flexible schedules. Sales people just go out to company paid lunches and get hefty commission checks while the operations team works hard in the background to support the sale that the lazy sales person fell into. Must be easy. Must be nice.

It is true, that without a good support team, sale professionals simply could not sell. If you sell a product or service that cannot be supported or delivered on time, then sales will decline. Operations is essential. But without sales coming in, and revenue being generated, there really is no need for an operations team. 

My Experience

When I worked as a rental manager in the heavy duty truck rental and leasing industry, I learned the importance of synergy between sales and operations firsthand. I was responsible for the revenue and asset utilization within my rental department. That being said, focusing on selling was key to growth. While I worked to rent out as many trucks as I could, I had to rely on the support of my service department to maintain and repair all vehicles in a systematic, timely, and cost effective manner. Without them, I would have angry customers. Without them, I would have uncontrolled maintenance costs. And without them I simply could not sell effectively. But without rental revenue, they would have no trucks to maintain. Without trucks, they would not have to have as large a staff as they had. 

My last full year in this role was my best in regards to financial performance. I can honestly say that the service manager and foreman team that supported my sales helped improve the overall gross margin and revenue performance of the department. They understood why synergy between sales and operations was vital to the health of the business. We worked together as a team. They changed their schedules to prioritize me at times when a customer had an unforeseen issue. I on the other hand tried my best to be patient and understand that sometimes resources were limited and other issues took priority. But through kind and continuous communication, we were able to work together to benefit the company as a whole. We understood our roles and how our relationships intertwined. And because of this understanding we were able to perform well and build strong relationships through it all.

So What is the Most Important Thing?

The ultimate answer is that the most important thing in business may not be one department. What is truly important is a mutually beneficial relationship between the sales staff and the support team. You cannot have one department thrive without a skilled team on the other end. It is important to remember the big picture, and to put aside selfishness and pride in order to form a team that serves and supports the customers whose dollars actually fund the business you are in.


Publishing Your First Podcast Episode

If you haven’t already, check out my previous posts in this Journey to Starting a Podcast mini series.

Career Yak podcast logo

Getting Podcast Guests

So as I mentioned in my last post, I dragged my feet a bit in actually getting this podcast off the ground. But finally I decided to start reaching out to some guest options that had said they would be interested but hadn’t scheduled yet. By way of LinkedIn messages, texts, emails, etc. I scheduled my first interview in October of 2019 and within a span of a month I had recorded three talks. These were people in my network who had inspirational and noteworthy career stories. They were nice enough to help me at the start, and it reminded me not to be afraid to reach out to my immediate connections. You don’t need a famous guest to get started. There are so many amazing stories right under our noses, we must simply be observant.

You don’t need a famous guest to get started.

Editing and Publishing

I made the excuse that no one would listen during the week of Thanksgiving so I set myself up for more procrastination. But I then realized that there would never be a perfect time. So just before the holiday I released the intro and my first two interviews, one with two guests and the other with one. I additionally scheduled my third episode for the first week in December.

Prior to this I definitely had to spend time learning how to properly use GarageBand for podcasts, which took some reading and watching YouTube videos. I’m no audio engineer, but I now feel pretty comfortable recording and editing. Don’t be afraid to learn new things!

One caveat! Make sure that your show is approved in at least Apple Podcasts prior to announcing your new pod. I actually published one episode, submitted it to Apple Podcasts for approval, then waited for confirmation. Once confirmed I scheduled the rest of the episodes I had ready, and then announced it all via social media, etc. Apple Podcasts is the most popular place that people listen to podcasts, so make sure a new show is approved there before you tell people to go listen.

9 Tools I Use for Podcasting

  1. Computer: MacBook Pro
    • My Cost: Around $1300 (on a plus side it is our family computer)
  2. Editing Software: GarageBand
    • My Cost: Free on a Mac
  3. Remote Recording Software: Zoom primarily but sometimes Zencastr
    • Cost: Free or $15 per month
  4. CRM software to track guest invitation activity: Zoho CRM
    • My Cost: Free
  5. Appointment Scheduling Software: Calendly
    • My Cost: Free
  6. Time Tracking Tool: Toggl
    • My Cost: Free
  7. Logo Creation Tool: Canva
    • My Cost: My logo was $2
  8. Mic: Logitech USB H390
    • My Cost: $29.99
  9. Podcast Hosting Service: Buzzsprout
    • My Cost: $12 per month (I started with Anchor, a free service)

Keep it Cheap and Spend More Later

As you can see above, besides the computer, which honestly we needed for personal family use anyway (our existing computer was almost a decade old), you can start and maintain a podcast for a relatively low dollar amount. One cost I did not include was this website, which comes out to about $4 per month (obviously you can spend a lot more), but in all reality you don’t necessarily need a site to get started. Long story short. Don’t overcomplicate it, keep it simple, you can do it cheap at the start, grow from there.

Marketing and Awareness is the Hardest Thing

For me, creating awareness around the show has been one of the most time consuming and difficult aspects of podcasting. Build it and they will come is not really a true statement.

5 Things I’ve Done to Help Market My Podcast

  1. Join and be active in relevant Facebook Groups
  2. Tell friends and family
  3. Be a guest on another podcast
  4. Have guests on that host other podcasts
  5. Edit each episode so you produce a product you’re proud of

Conclusion: Just Start!

If you have an idea, and want to start podcasting, then create a plan and do it. Worst case scenario, no one listens and you stop doing it. Obviously that is not ideal but there are a lot of other aspects of life that are important besides podcasting.

I’ve had the chance to talk to some amazing people I probably would not have without a podcast

In all seriousness, just start. I dragged my feet for a long time. I’m still new in all this. I still have so much to learn! But I’m glad I started. I’ve managed to get some listeners, I’ve had the chance to talk to some amazing people I probably would not have without a podcast, and I sincerely enjoy the process of producing a podcast. Start now! Oh and listen to mine too!

Career Yak podcast logo

One Way to Test an Idea

If I have an idea for a business or something else, I try to write it down, or record it in my notes app on my iPhone. One thing I had written down at one point was to write a book about the career paths of various business professionals and entrepreneurs. Additionally, I had begun to compile a list of short and succinct pieces of career advice that I had received from those I had interacted with in my work life. Some were customers, some were coworkers. I didn’t necessarily know what I was going to do with this information but I didn’t want to forget it.

Gradual Progression

So naturally I decided to blog about some of these quotes. In July of 2019, I decided to transition from a free Wix site with a long url to a WordPress.com blog site, which allowed me to have an real looking web address. Ablogaboutbusiness.com is still live today! In fact my fourth post, titled Be a Farmer, was structured around a piece of sales advice I had received from my boss’ boss at a sales training. But in addition to getting quick one liner advice, I really had a desire to sit down with others and learn their stories in an interview type setting.

Using Family as a Guinea Pig for an Idea

Who better to make a guinea pig than a family member? My family and I were visiting my parents at their place in Arizona, and since my Dad owns his own business and I have a lot of respect for him, I asked him if he’d be willing to be interviewed by me. He agreed, being the good obliging father that he is (I think he genuinely wanted to!), and sat down with me for what I guess you could say would be the precursor to Career Yak! The equipment consisted of me using the recording app and built in mic on my iPhone, us talking in an echo filled and tile floored room, and me asking him some questions that I had previously jotted down in my journal. We then were interrupted, moved our conversation out to the patio, and encountered a Tucson thunderstorm (it was monsoon season!) that caused a bit of background noise. Needless to say the production part of the recording was professional grade.

Long story short, we finished our talk, I went back and edited it on my phone, my Dad and I both listened to it, and he gave me some feedback on the pros and the cons and what he’d do differently. I recorded it back during the summer of 2018, I blogged about it initially in February 2019 (you can still read my write up), and if you’ve listened to my podcast you’ll know that I didn’t publish my first full episode until November of 2019. So there was a gap of over a year between the trial interview and my podcast being published. But that was okay.

A Clip of My First Interview (Enjoy the Calming Rain)

Interview with Ken Goodwillie of Divine Design

Test the Waters and Continuously Learn

Could I have started my podcast sooner? Sure. But regardless of when I started it, the lessons I learned doing this real but casual interview with my Dad taught me so much. It gave me a taste of what interviewing someone was like. It gave me experience in prepping an outline. It helped me learn a bit about asking follow up questions. It taught me not to record podcast episodes in an open floorpan tile living room or during a thunderstorm. It taught me that I enjoy interviewing entrepreneurs and talking to them about business.

Sometimes people have an idea, and want to execute on that idea right away. Sometimes that is the right plan of action. But maybe you should consider testing the waters first in order to see if it is something you’d like to pursue. I started a business journal on a Word document to record ideas so they wouldn’t be forgotten. I enjoyed doing it, and later I started a simple blog online. I wanted to compile interviews with business people in some way. Did I get out of bed the next morning and call a book publisher or radio station to discuss my idea of interviewing professionals to learn career lessons? No… Instead I took a few hours during a day on my vacation to interview my Dad. The point is this: chew on and test out your idea in a small way first. Determine how realistic an idea is, and if it is something worth your time and that you actually want to do. And if it is, then keep pursuing it, keep learning, and continuously evaluate yourself and the idea as you progress. Maybe it will turn into something, maybe it won’t, but either way you will have hopefully learned valuable lessons during the process. The time spent is not wasted.

Check out the Career Yak Podcast!

Should You Become a Realtor?

In my latest episode I interview Chris Powles, who was my realtor just last year. He shares how he drastically switched careers from working in the agricultural world to become a realtor in his 30s. What does it take to be a realtor, and why should you consider it?

Listen to find out! 

And if you want to listen to our premium episode, where Chris goes in depth on earning potential and percentages associated with realtor commission and working for a team, then become a premium subscriber and the additional episode will show up in your feed. 

Check out Hvizda Realty online!

Why is All Marketing the Same?

I currently sell construction accounting software. Don’t get me wrong, I think our solutions help companies a lot. And our marketing message aligns with what we sell.

Any company will have competitors. I run into them all the time. But are they really different from us? Or are they the same with a different logo?

I think they’re different. I think we’re better. But at first glance you begin to see that so much of the messaging between competitors is the same. Why? I’m genuinely contemplating this question.

Here are some buzzwords and phrases I run into internally and externally when it comes to cloud based construction software.

  • Connected
  • Disconnected
  • Disparate
  • Silos
  • Leverage data
  • Single source of truth
  • Integrated
  • Seamless
  • Platform

So much of the verbiage is so similar across companies that are trying to sell to the same prospects.

This brings up a few questions in my mind.

First, in a world where messages are so similar, what is my differentiating value proposition?

Next, are marketing messages similar because smart marketing people know that these are the words and messages that resonate with the target audience… therefore the messaging is still advantageous and beneficial? It’s almost like coming out with a product that has already been successfully made and sold by someone else. This may seem unfortunate that you were not first to market, but the other product provided proof of concept, so it’s not all bad.

OR, are marketing messages so similar because industries get stuck in their own bubble and fail to think outside the box and truly stand out and differentiate? Maybe the product is different and unique… but the marketing message is not.

These are genuine questions I’m asking of myself and wondering what the right answers are. My worry is that in a world of common messages, prospects become calloused and begin to tune out when they hear buzzwords.

But that’s where I can try to captain my own ship as an Account Executive. I cannot necessarily change corporate marketing, nor should I. But once I get a qualified prospect to sit down and chat, it’s then up to me to show them why we’re different… in a good way of course.

Learning How to Start a Podcast

In July of 2019 I took another step toward starting a podcast by listening to podcasts about podcasts. Wow there’s a lot of podcast references in that sentence. That may sound boring to you, but I found two shows in particular that walked listeners step by step through the actual logistics of starting.

The first show I worked through was Free Podcast Course by John Lee Dumas, who also hosts the popular Entrepreneurs on Fire podcast. John also did video versions of this mini course on his website that I watched as well.

Additionally, I listened to How to Podcast Step by Step by Carey Green.

Both of these short series helped me get my head around what needed to be done to get a show off the ground. I listened to these while driving around making sales calls for my real job. In the end I also ended up spending time at home digging deeper, reading and watching videos about these topics.

Starting a Podcast Topics

  • How to publish your podcast
  • Creating a podcast logo
  • What “host” to list your podcast with
  • Equipment suggestions
  • How to record a podcast
  • Topics and types of podcasts
  • Figuring out what to podcast about
  • Identifying your listener

So I proceeded to make a list of to dos, and also a list of guest targets that I wanted to interview in the future. What happened next was… I dragged my feet. In next week’s post, the final in My Journey to Starting a Podcast series, I’ll go over how I finally started and published my podcast, how I got my first few guests to agree to come on, and what tools I used to start.

Career Yak podcast logo

Success! You're on the list.

When I Decided to Start Documenting Ideas

Don’t Waste Your Thoughts

I had recently accepted a promotion, moved with my wife to a new city, and was enjoying learning and growing in my new role. During work, I kept having ideas about what could be improved, or lessons I learned, etc. Sometimes I’d write the idea or thought down quickly on a sticky note, then put it somewhere on or around my desk, then quickly misplace it, forget about it, or throw it in the garbage. Maybe the idea was a great idea! Maybe a simple lesson would help me be more productive. It didn’t matter. I didn’t do anything with the thoughts. They were concocted in my head, then passed over and wasted.

The Importance of Documenting

Documenting helps you to remember. Even if you don’t go back and read something, writing something down can be worth it. I had had enough of wasting my thoughts. I wanted to somehow keep track of them. I wanted the lessons I learned from work to be made permanent (at least to me). I also wanted to have a piece of work that down the road, when I had hopefully progressed in my own career or started my own business, I could reference back to and see my journey from early career until present day. So on September 24th, 2017 that’s what I did. Originally I started it as a precursor to hopefully starting my own business someday. I dubbed the document, “Journey to business journal.” It wasn’t shared, it wasn’t online, it wasn’t meant to grow an audience. No… it was private, saved on my personal computer, read and written by me. Sure I told my wife and some close family about it in conversation. But overall it was meant to record ideas and lessons that could be remembered and referenced back to as I grew in my professional life.

Below is my second day’s worth of “entries” to this personal journal back more than two years ago. When it was all said and done, I wrote this personal and private journal for almost exactly one full year. Over the course of the year I had compiled 19 pages worth of material. Look out for my next post in the “My Journey to Starting a Podcast Series” to see why I stopped and what I decided to do instead.

Career Yak podcast logo

My Journey to Starting a Podcast Series: Introduction

I Love Podcasts

I’ve loved podcasting as a medium for a long time. Podcasting has helped me:

  • Learn new skills
  • Grow in my Christian faith
  • Keep up on the latest current events
  • Be entertained

I also love talking about business. Learning people’s stories and what career paths they took has always been fascinating to me. So here I am now, with a fairly new podcast where I interview others about their work lives. But it took me awhile to start. In fact the process of starting a podcast was a gradual multi year journey.

Key Moments that Led Me to Start a Podcast

When I think back over the past few years, I recognize some key moments that drove me toward starting the Career Yak podcast. Yes, I relate these moments to starting a podcast, but the truth is, this process has been instrumental in teaching me how to start anything, how to learn new things, and where to seek resources when figuring out how to do something you’ve never done.

So… with the following posts I want to share the chronological progression of what led me to yakking on Career Yak. Again, sometimes these types of processes are gradual. But throughout it all I’ve learned that you must continue to be intentional, decide to execute, and always be willing to learn new things. Check out my first post here and subscribe to my email list today to get future updates!

Career Yak podcast logo

Monetizing My Podcast

Various Monetization Methods

I’ve listened and read quite a bit about the variety of methods out there for monetizing a podcast. Do I want to monetize mine? Eventually, yes. Did I start it to get rich? Absolutely not. I love everything about podcasts. From listening to creating and everything in between, podcasts are the best. So I started mine out of a desire to share truly valuable career stories. But I’m a business guy, so monetizing it down the road only makes sense… right?

Podcast Monetizing Methods Include:

  1. Donations (through something like Patreon)
  2. Affiliate marketing (referring people to other products, and receiving a commission)
  3. Selling your own products (informational products or physical goods)
  4. Selling ads and sponsorships
  5. Selling exclusive premium content

This list does not cover everything, but it highlights some of the big ones. Multiple sources that I have listened to recommend affiliate marketing as the best route to monetization. Other sources say otherwise. You can find pros and cons with most options. With affiliate marketing, essentially you provide your audience with a customized link to purchase an item on a different website. If someone clicks your link, then makes a purchase, you would receive a percentage of the sale as compensation for your efforts referring that buyer. Commission percentages and agreements with companies vary widely, but you can at least get the gist of it.

Where to Start Monetizing?

With all this being said, I’ve thought… well maybe affiliate marketing is the best route. But where would I start? Maybe you know or maybe you don’t, but Amazon actually has their own affiliate program. Essentially anyone can sign up, and you can refer others to Amazon product pages using your link. And if they buy, you get paid. Just search and you can find helpful videos and articles on how to do it exactly.

So I figured… why not? I’ll sign up, and post links when it makes sense. Long story short…

I made my first affiliate commission yesterday!

I can’t wait to spend the $0.47 burning a hole in my pocket! My lesson to myself in all this? Affiliate marketing is a real thing that people use to sell their products, and others use to make commission money for themselves or their business. Crazy stuff right?

Using Facebook Groups

My first monetized affiliate link was a post that I made in a podcasting related Facebook Group. I’m listening to a book about podcasting right now, thought it’d be helpful to post about it, did so, got engagement from the group, and I guess someone ended up buying the Kindle version. Crazy.

Trying New Things to See What Works

Will this $0.47 be what I need to retire in 12 months on some Caribbean Island? Probably not, it seems a bit lower than what I would need to do that. But until recently, affiliate marketing was a foreign concept to me. Now I understand the basic theory behind it, and getting a real transaction (though it really wasn’t connected to my actual podcast) under my belt seems like a neat milestone that hopefully sets the stage for me to monetize my podcast in the future. I’ve learned a lot in the last few months. I’ve engaged with Facebook Groups for the first time, I’ve put myself out there in asking people to be on my show, I’ve posted affiliate links for the first time. I’ve tried new things. And so far I’m glad I have!