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Topics Covered: <a href='/resources/search/?query=sales advice'>sales advice</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Leadership'>Leadership</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Sales Leadership'>Sales Leadership</a>
Sales Leadership
Sep 9, 2016 | Mike Figliuolo lock

The CPSA is lucky to have many of the top Sales and Leadership experts as guest bloggers and supporters. One such well-known thought leader is Mike Figliuolo. 

Mike Figliuolo is the Founder and Managing Director of ThoughtLeadersLLC. Before founding ThoughtLeaders LLC, he had worked as an executive and consultant to some of the biggest and best companies around.  Mike writes clearly and concisely to ensure readers will be able to apply his writing to better both their professional and personal life.

Let’s hear from Mike Figliuolo.

Question 1: Tell us about yourself; your career path and expertise.
Answer 1: I graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. I spent five years in the US Army as an armor officer. After that, I spent a few years as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. serving clients in healthcare, banking, manufacturing, technology, and retail on issues of strategy, M&A, cost cutting, and business building. I then had a couple of corporate executive roles at Capital One Financial and Scotts Miracle-Gro. Then after that, I started thoughtLEADERS, LLC – a leadership development and training firm. We serve corporations by training their managers to be great leaders. (

Question 2: You’re quite popular within the sales community, and you write some great content. How long has your blog been going now?
Answer 2: I’ve been writing the blog since 2008, and it grows every month. We get some awesome contributions from other authors and leaders. I’m thrilled with the thoughts I get to share there as well as the articles written by others that I post every week.

Question 3: How does innovation help salespeople become more successful?Answer 3: I think if you’re not innovating, you’re dying. The world changes every day. Your business will change too. Either you can change your business or the world will change it for you. The latter option is much more unpleasant than the former. Customers always want “new”, and it doesn’t always have to be a new product. It just needs to be a new way of thinking of things.

A new approach to selling it. A new application for an old product. A new way to have a sales conversation. For my firm, we’ve traditionally done the one on one blocking and tackling relationship-based selling. This year we’re trying a major innovation. We’re holding Executive Insight 16 – a leadership conference featuring many of our programs ( We’re sharing all our content at that event with a goal of making people smarter. Hopefully, they’ll be so excited by the content that they’ll want to bring us into their organization after the event. This is a significant risk for us, but it’s also a huge innovation in how we connect with our clients.

Question 4: What are the top 3 qualities of a successful manager of Sales teams?Answer 4: First is understanding your people as individuals. They’re all motivated by different things. The better you understand that, the better they’ll perform. Second, you’ve got to be an expert in goal setting. They need clear direction on what your expectations are. Third, you’ve got to be flexible. No plan survives first contact with the enemy. Be ready to shift as the market shifts around you.

Question 5: Leaders have lots of influence over a Salesforce or workplace. If you can get them to help change one thing, what would it be?
Answer 5: These days I’m seeing a lot of stress and anger out there in the world. Have you tried driving on the highway lately? Have you read a newspaper? People are high strung. Now imagine how tightly wound top performers in high-stress roles are. I think it's incumbent upon the leader to reduce that stress, focus on the positive, to create a healthy culture, and keeping things in perspective for everyone. Happier and healthier people perform better (and they get in fewer road rage induced car accidents!).

Question 6: How important is process and procedures in developing an effective sales team?
Answer 6: I think you need process and procedure to drive some consistency and to manage compliance with regulations. But I think it’s a mistake to focus rigidly on a process to the point of squashing any deviations regardless of the situation. There will always be exceptions and innovations. If a leader is constantly driving process and isn’t willing to accept variances, the team will wither and die.

Question 7: How do you see social selling evolving over the next few years?
Answer 7: It will continue to be about the conversation. I love when blog readers comment on our posts or engage me in a dialog about our perspectives. Those discussions often lead to more sales than the typical door knocking/phone calling approach does. I’ve built some great relationships both online and in “idle conversations” on planes – both being social environments. I think as the tools get better (e.g., podcasts, videocasts, etc.) you’ll see social become even more powerful.

Question 8: What’s the greatest piece of advice you can give to salespeople?Answer 8: Relax and remember the relationship. Your customers are stressed out too. When you push product at them, it increases their anxiety and stress levels. It puts them in fight/flight mode. In either mode, you don’t make the sale. When I sense a client is stressed, I’ll step back, tell them I am going to give them some time to focus on other things, and that I’ll follow up when things are calmer for them. They always appreciate it. And when I do call them during that calmer time, they’re much more receptive to having the conversation with me at that point.

About the author:

mike fMike Figliuolo is the Founder and Managing Director of ThoughtLeadersLLC. Before founding ThoughtLeaders LLC, he had worked as an executive and consultant to some of the biggest and best companies around.  Mike writes clearly and concisely to ensure readers will be able to apply his writing to better both their professional and personal life.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.

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