Joe Paranteau is a leading expert on sales, generating more than $1B in just five years, an uncommon accomplishment. He has led nearly 30K sales meetings in his 28-year career with Fortune 500, SMBs, and startup businesses. In his first book, Billion Dollar Sales Secrets, he shares fifteen secrets to help inspire salespeople to rise to meet today’s challenges, ignite their dreams and success.
Most passionate about
- My book is coming out. That has been three years in the making.
- I’ve also completed my MBA. I went back to school during this time, something that I wanted to do, and I’m so happy that I did.
- I’m most passionate about helping everyone increase their sales IQ and really execute so that they can provide the things they need for their families and their companies.
- Our company motto is to help people and businesses throughout the world achieve their full potential. It says nothing about technology but that’s what I love to do: help people.
Joe’s career and story
- I’m the first generation in my family to grow up off the Indian reservation. So, I’m a member of a tribe.
- I was the first one to grow up in suburbia. I have these two worlds that I grew up in. I grew up poor and didn’t have a lot.
- To help the family, my brother, sister, and I would paint rocks and go door to door to sell them. So, I guess my career really started when I was eight years old.
- I served in the military as a way to do something to better my life.
- I went to college, graduated, and then I had an opportunity to get into sales. I thought I wanted to go into politics. That was my thinking at the time. Then I met someone who said, “Joe, you have a technical background and a background in communication. Very interesting. Why don’t you want to go into sales?”
- She explained to me what I just shared with you earlier: That selling is all about helping people get what they want or need. If you can look yourself in the mirror every day and say to yourself, “Today, I helped somebody,” then you’re doing all right.
- The company that I worked for was a technology company that was a Microsoft partner, 28 years ago. So, I started there and worked through a series of startups. Some of them were super successful, some of them were not. Many of them got merged and acquired by other companies, but my path at Microsoft has been interesting.
- I’ve been here 16 years, and this is the sixth role and fourth startup that I’ve been in inside the company. I’ve helped start different businesses inside the company. The basis for my book was a startup in our health industry team that I was able to help grow to a billion dollars in five years.
Best advice for entrepreneurs
- A pretty good one is to focus. Be comfortable and openly search for ways to fail. Don’t be afraid of failure. I’ve come to a place in my sales and business career where I don’t see obstacles. I don’t see a sale that could be unwinnable.
- Be open to shifting and being honest with yourself. The only thing that’s going against us is time. If we can change the way we approach things, that’s really what has to change. If we learn something new, we can approach the situation differently. Then we’re one step closer.
The biggest, most critical failure with customers
- The biggest failure that I’ve had in sales is not listening well and not aligning myself with what the customer wanted. When I’ve looked at it from a selfish ambition standpoint, that’s a surefire way to fail.
- I had a customer with a very specific set of criteria. At first, it sounded like I knew exactly what they needed, so I rushed that. I went directly into, “Okay, this will be easy to sell.” I missed the mark completely. The customer felt awkward. They told me, “We like you as a person, Joe, but we’re going to go with this other company because they met our needs more completely.” It was a tough loss.
Biggest success with customers
- One of the companies that I got to work with was American Airlines. At the time, they were starting to develop a .com, which is their flagship. They saw potential in it, but it hadn’t been that strong of a revenue generator. They wanted to put a lot of effort and energy into making it exceptional.
- It was the same sort of story as before. They approached us and said, “Hey, we really like this part of what you can offer to help us on the creative design and information architecture.” So, as a salesperson, I said, “Okay, what are you comfortable with at this time?” They said, “We’re really comfortable with March 1.”
- They also said, “We’d like you to do the creative design and work with March 1 to make it happen.” So, I went back and talked to all of our partners. We invited our competitor to collaborate with us on the deal. We agreed to go forward as competitors, teaming together on this one project. And we won the business. Everyone won. American Airlines won.
Joe’s recommendation of a tool
- A note-taking application.
- I take all my notes in OneNote. I recently got a Rocketbook. They have a special pen. You can write on them and then you can take a picture. It will scan and go up into the cloud, into your OneNote.
- It helps me remember things I’ve committed to.
- I put my goals, objectives, and dreams in there. A lot of the book that I wrote, I framed my thoughts in there.
Joe’s one key success factor
- That’s easy: I never give up.
- One thing that’s somewhat motivating for me is when people bet against me or doubt that I can do something. That gives me an extra source of motivation.
Since we believe that the best way for entrepreneurs to get fast, big, and sustainable success is by leading your (new) market category, and the entire entrepreneurial journey reminds me of mountaineering, I want to ask you: Is there a mountain you dream of climbing or a mountain you have already climbed?
- I love mountains. One of my favorite hobbies is hiking. I woke up early one morning and decided that I was going to climb a mountain. No one else wanted to come with me. So, I had to go it alone. It was a hike, and it was a fairly challenging hike that would take me from no snow up into the snowpack. The only thing that I had to worry about was animals and snow and different things. But I had my hiking gear and I went at it.
- The thing that I like, and that I think people miss about life and the journeys that we take, is that it’s very much like a mountain. You can start off enjoying the beauty while you’re doing your job.
- I don’t really believe in work-life balance. I think your life is either balanced or it’s not. It’s the same as on a mountain: Either you look at it as work or you see the beauty and take it all in. That’s the way I like to see it.
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