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Connect4Confidence with Jack Aldridge

Jack Aldridge, Account Development Consultant at a Fortune 100 Financial Institution and former USA National Shotgun Team member, shares his surefire way to build confidence and trust among extended teams.

Episode Transcript

Andrew Phelps: Today my guest is Jack Aldridge. He is an Account Development Consultant at a Fortune 100 Financial Institution. He leads a team focused on selling to small businesses with one million to ten million dollars in revenue. Before that, he designed and sold multi-million-dollar homes and he's also a former member of the USA National Shotgun Team. Jack, thanks so much for being on the show.

Jack Aldridge: Thank you. Thank you. I'm really glad to be here.

Andrew Phelps: You and I both come from the design world. And I've had so much fun bridging the gap. Learning the world of sales, especially enterprise sales teams. And seeing how different things are shared in both worlds. What's your experience about bridging that gap and what do you think the world of sales can learn from the world of design?

Jack Aldridge: That's an absolutely fantastic question. Bridging the gap between sales and design are also very one and the same. Because if you're in design, you have to think outside of the box. You have to be creative. Or you can just Google something online and put a very cookie-cutter answer in. Which is the easy way out. If you really want to deliver a strong design, you have to go out and do your research. You have to look into the markets. You have to see what's going on in the industry. Understanding where your materials are coming from.

Jack Aldridge: And then in the design phase, I'm sure you're very familiar with this. You're writing out your process. You're writing out your steps. Because if things go wrong, the schedule also gets pushed back. Setting expectations upfront. Coming from the design world. One of the biggest features I really want to make sure I put on everybody's radar is. Set the expectation up front and then deliver on your promise. As soon as you tell a customer, "I'm going to give you a call back on Tuesday next week around 2:00 PM," just shoot an email or give a call.

Jack Aldridge: If you don't get it to them around that time, just make sure you always keep that open line of communication. And just keep delivering. But going back to the processes. When you're able to really dive into the processes. As an architect, I was able to write down my steps. I've had a flow. I had a call flow. What was I going to do? This is the first thing I need to do when I'm doing a design. I need to make sure I have the 'midi-in-the-middle-line.' Where I need to know where I have to focus my access offs.

Jack Aldridge: I know exactly where my parameters are, my setbacks, and my height restrictions. I go into this design with a plan. The same thing when it comes to sales. And you're speaking, whether it be through the phone. Which is a lot more challenging than it would be face-to-face. Because the people on the other side are not engaged in the beginning. They don't see you. They don't see how chirpy and how happy you are to get in there. When you're able to really design and you're presenting these deals, and you're on the phone, have a plan.

Jack Aldridge: Know what your outcome is, before entering into that conversation. Have a talking point before you even pick up the phone, as a reason to call. Why am I calling this person today? Am I just calling to talk about the weather? No, I'm calling to talk about this, and here is why. And my tone and my voice are going to portray that. It's going to be the driving factor. Really, what's going to set the tone apart is your voice and your delivery. And your opening needs to be short, sweet, and clean. You have to draw the hook, just like a designer would when they open up the papers.

Andrew Phelps: A lot of foresight and planning. And bringing new ideas to the table, to bring things along. I think the other thing that hit me over the head when I started working in the sales world was. How much designers and sales folks have in common with the amount of rejection that they deal with. And there are similarities and differences. But I think designers and salespeople are uniquely equipped to handle difficult problems. Because they're used to their ideas and their pitches, being shot down.

Jack Aldridge: Yeah, absolutely. And when you create a design. You created a design that you think the person is going to love, and they are going to enjoy. You put a lot of time into it and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. And sometimes hearing feedback from somebody saying, "I just don't like this," it hurts. The rejection. It's definitely something you need to brush off. But it also doesn't matter what I like. It doesn't matter if I like this design. It matters if they like the design. That's what it comes down to, a strong design. And in the end, the strong sales.

Jack Aldridge: Going back into having common rejections. We always want to make sure that we're focusing on revenue-generating leads. Quantifying the lead. Really making sure that your opportunity is as true as you believe. Because in the sales world, if you have a hot opportunity, that is something that needs to be actioned upon it. And It needs to be actioned upon now. If you're not fast, you're last. And when it comes to the design world, the same thing. You have to be fast. You have to be accurate. And you have to deliver on your schedule.

Jack Aldridge: Or this next person is going to come in. And they can either take your design or they can have another designer do it for them. But you have to be fast when you're reacting. And, one of the things I've always strived myself on. And I even strive and instill in my team is that. When I used to do pipeline management. I wanted to make sure that I shifted my pipeline to be the first thing in the morning. The reason I always shifted my pipeline outreach to the first thing in the morning is so that I can give the customer the entire day. To call me back with an issue, an alert, a problem, or whatever it may be. But I give them the day for that.

Jack Aldridge: Now, if I give them a call at the end of the day. We don't know what happened throughout the course of the day. Things could have gone wire at the office. And I'm just a memory now. But if I'm able to shift it in the morning. Again, an email, a phone call, a voicemail, or a quick text. That is all that we need to do as a follow-up. Think about those really short five-second ads that we see on YouTube. I'm sure we can all picture a whole bunch of those ads right now on the top of our heads. And they're only five seconds long. So, injecting with a follow-up, very early in the morning. You are going to see an increase in the number of leads that are actually going to take the next step.

Andrew Phelps: Yeah. Going back to those ideas about rejection. One of the most important tools to deal with that is a feeling of confidence. And not fake confidence, but real, genuine, deep confidence. And that's why I was so excited to have you on the show today. Because you have a game called, Connect for Confidence. And I'd love to hear all about it.

Jack Aldridge: I do, yes. I'll be happy to dive into it. We use this game quite frequently. And, the design behind the game. And basically, what it is. It's a leadership exercise designed to instill confidence in employees with leadership aspirations. It provides leadership exposure to employees with low stakes and a very low risk of failure. Just to break through, how it works. Each manager nominates one person from their team to be a Team Captain. Usually, this person is somebody that is showing informal leadership. They're dabbing their feet into mentorships.

Jack Aldridge: And this is the next step that they would like to take, be a people leader. Someone with very strong leadership potential. Each Team Captain is then assigned a group of employees that will informally report to them during the duration of the contest. The contest itself is roughly anywhere between one to two weeks. Preferably two, because you can get better sample tasks on a two-week pilot. The teams compete against each other to have the best, we'll call it the XYZ metrics. And to win a prize like a little carrot on the end.

Jack Aldridge: For example, we're going off of your metrics. Whatever your metrics may be, we want to increase productivity. That's already an expectation for their job. For example, the team with the highest increase in dials wins a gift card. The team with the highest number of deals closed by the end of the two weeks gets a half-day vacation on Friday. You take the day off. Or maybe just a food truck voucher if you have a truck that comes through the neighborhood. There's just a little bit of a carrot on the end to keep it competitive. But also keep it friendly, as well.

Jack Aldridge: The managers are monitoring the process and progress. And journaling the feedback on how their Team Captains are performing. From there, the leaders will actually provide timely, actionable feedback to the Captains. On what they're doing well and what they can improve on. Again, we're looking to focus on their strengths. We're looking to see how they naturally lead, how they naturally move. And going off of what they naturally bring to the table. We're able to coach the confidence into them and focus on those strengths. And we're going to eliminate the steps where maybe they're just not the most exposed into it yet. But we're able to harness in on what they're doing fantastic right now. And, that is the basic definition of the game. Do you have any questions regarding that?

Andrew Phelps: Yeah, absolutely. About how big are the teams and how many teams do you have competing with one another?

Jack Aldridge: Sure. There are, and we'll just say in this scenario, typically it's a department-wide contest. And in this example, we'll say there are forty people in the same role, across four different managers. They're broken up to ten people per manager, as it currently sits. Each manager nominates one Captain and then the Team Captains continue to do their job as well. And also run the meetings. They don't just stop to switch to managing. It's about ten people per team, anywhere between five to ten would be the sample size per team.
Andrew Phelps: Gotcha. And how often are the managers who are monitoring the captain's performance, checking in with them and coaching them?

Jack Aldridge: Yes. Checking in specifically. I would like to say roughly every two days, mainly every three. Again, we want to instill that confidence. We want to have the trust in them to work on their own. They don't need to come back for coaching. We're not a crutch, we're a coach. Coming back, "Hey, did I do this right? How did that meeting go?" You tell me, how do you feel like it went? Where can you improve next time? One of the things I also want to mention is, we also can listen to the conversations.

Jack Aldridge: Everything is remote now. We do have access to just live listening but provide no feedback. So, we can see how and hear how engaged the teams are. We're able to view how the meeting is run. How it's structured. What the takeaways are. Where are the best practices are being shared? Who's not having the engagement? We're able to see that on the backend. But during the test, we want to make sure that we're giving our NCO or our, Informal Leader, the confidence to run the team. I completely trust you, to take this to the next level. And come back to me with anything that we want to work through. Knowing that we are on the back-end recording jotting down. We can also discuss that at a later date as well. But letting them fly on their own.

Andrew Phelps: Beyond giving them more control and checking in with them and providing the coaching. What do you think it is that, contributes to, this accelerated building of confidence?

Jack Aldridge: An accelerated building of confidence. It comes when you provide ownership into a task. And if you deliver ownership into a task, you're going to see somebody take a foothold into it. They're going to drive it a lot stronger as they were if it was just delegated to them. This is their project. This is their pet. This is their way to be more confident. Go into that meeting saying, "we have a 15-minute meeting. These are the topics I want to go through. Let's address them one by one." Having that ability to stop somebody and say, "we need to take this offline."

Jack Aldridge: Just making sure you're in instilling the confidence into them that they are a leader. They are somebody that people can come to. And then somebody that you can also trust. Am I going to listen to somebody that I know is not going to positively affect my paycheck? I probably wouldn't. But if I can go into a meeting and I can have somebody be, "This is what we're going to do today. This is how we're going to do it. This is the expectation I want to have by two o'clock today. Does anybody have any questions?" Just giving them the confidence to take charge. I believe it's going to have a real increase in productivity. It's got to have a real increase in motivation, and you're going to see a stronger team cohesion. Being that the person that is leading is leading by example.

Andrew Phelps: This is obviously a great way to test out folks you think might be ready for the next step in their career. Those who might make good managers moving forward. What if you're not in the position of promoting others. Would you recommend this game just for general, team connectedness, and confidence-building?

Jack Aldridge: I would a hundred percent recommend this test and this game across all different platforms. It doesn't even specifically have to work in the corporate space. It can work in the construction space as well. Do I have a job foreman who's really stepping up? That I believe he can step into a project manager, stews if I need him? We need to put the tests out there to see where our baseline is. And to see where I need to coach to. One of the biggest benefits of this training itself is that it allows top performers to share best practices with each other.

Jack Aldridge: And people that they might not work with on a regular basis. We want to make sure we're also showing support to the new people we enroll. Especially during this really weird time of working from home. If we have new hires that come in, we don't have the luxury of hearing the top performers across the office. Or listening to different conversations in people's offices anymore. We want to make sure that we surround them with people who are top performers, who are giving that strong advice. And are sharing their best practices. And this is one of those drills, that is really able to do it. The increased level of networking. It just encourages all members of the teams to increase their metrics. So that they can win whichever prize, they feel personally attached to. This increases personal productivity. But I highly recommend this for any situation. And for anybody, if you wanted to put a test together, to see what the next steps are going to be for that candidate.

Andrew Phelps: Great. And, we know on this podcast, that fun is more important than funds. It really is the experience of the game that people buy into. You mentioned that the prize really doesn't matter. But if I put you on the spot, what is one of your favorite prizes with these sorts of contests?

Jack Aldridge: My team actually won best name. I really liked to do the fun creative aspects of the prizes. We actually really introduced The Slack Program as our internal messaging system. And our team name was, Orange Is the New Slack. We do have contests with funny names and just thinking outside the box. And if you also have a funny name, it's also going to lower down barriers. And it's also not going to come across as, "Hey, this is a really focused group we're doing." Where that really is not the case because it's focused on geometrics.

Jack Aldridge: There's only positive that can come from a training like this. Because it's designed around their metrics. The more they put into the contest, the more it's only going to help them in their productivity. Which would only more in turn, help them with their overall goal and their paycheck, and their commission structure. It's a win-win. We have absolutely fantastic news from it. This has taken fire. This has been going around like a beach ball at a Nickelback concert at our firm. And, we're going to be doing a lot larger scale of this.

Jack Aldridge: Where we're going to be branching off into different departments. Because like you mentioned earlier, in my introduction, we specifically handle the small business aspect of customers. We handle all open cards. And there is, I'm sure you're aware, a corporate section. We want to instill cross team collaboration into corporate structures. So, our Business Teams can share insights into the business world. And our Corporate Teams can share insights into the Corporate World. We're going to be able to share best practices on a larger scale. And get a little bit more feet wet. Again, instill a little bit more confidence into people who are aspiring to be leaders. You can take these exercises and you can bring them into an interview. You can bring them into a resume. And, this is how that you go about managing the day. These are the feedback. And these are the results-driven based on when I was running my team based on these steps of action. It's a great way to use it across all different platforms.

Andrew Phelps: Awesome. I'm going to kind of give you my big takeaways. I think one of the things you said early on that I loved is the short timeframe of two weeks. And there's a low risk of failure, right? Because it's being monitored and there's not really much that can go wrong. If you want to just try out who might be a good pick for a manager. Or you might say, "let's accelerate confidence in this team." The risk is really low.

Jack Aldridge: Absolutely.

Andrew Phelps: I love it. This is great for remote teams. And that you're connecting people who wouldn't normally be connected. Coming from the design world, we know collaboration is everything. And effective collaboration is better than anything else, hands down. The reason people don't do it is that it's hard. And if you can learn to collaborate, well, literally nothing can get in your way. I love that you're connecting people with one another and building all of their confidence together. And then finally, I love that you are focusing on the strengths. And the managers who are monitoring the Team Captains focus on strengths. And, and that does a couple things. One it's really good for the confidence boost of the individuals themselves. But the other thing that's so wonderful about it is that. It teaches us as managers and us as team members to focus on one another strengths. Because it doesn't make sense to have anybody in the wrong seat doing the wrong thing. And the more we learn about, what one another's good at, the better our teams become.

Jack Aldridge: Yeah, you nailed it right on the head. Just adding in. Just the additional amount of networking that you're able to gain from this. Going further down in the sales world, sometimes things don't really happen to plan. You need somebody that's going to be able to support you. Sometimes your leader is not available. Sometimes a person that's your go-to in that specific thing is not available. But knowing somebody through this collaboration. That we had a great two weeks together, we became friends. And I'd be like, " I know that he handles risks specifically, let me reach out to them directly." It's, it's just a way to extend your ecosystems. And really make sure you're using your partnerships.

Jack Aldridge: And just setting yourself up as somebody that they can also coach. And be a self-coach because true leaders are not crutches. The good leaders instruct. Great leaders demonstrate. But true leaders inspire. And that’s what I strive to be as the inspiration. And instill that confidence into the team. Provide absolutely fantastic timely and actionable feedback. Where they're able to apply that feedback directly into the next set of meetings. And then we can learn from that. Focusing truly on their strengths. Really focused on how they work the best. Maximizing it to its fullest potential.

Andrew Phelps: Well, I really appreciate you coming on the show today. I love the game. I love the passion that you bring to this world. And will you come back on the show? Once you guys have really scaled this out to share what the results were?

Jack Aldridge: Yeah, absolutely. Andrew, I would absolutely love to. I believe things are going to be kicking off in the new year with the cross-department collaboration. Once we have that, up and running and finalized, I would absolutely love for you to join in on that as well.

Andrew Phelps: Thanks so much. I'll talk to you then.

Jack Aldridge: Thank you. Have a great day.