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Edwin P Baldry of EPBComms: How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesy

An Interview With Tyler Gallagher

As a part of my series about how to be great at closing sales without seeming pushy, obnoxious, or salesy, I had the pleasure of interviewing Edwin P. Baldry, Author of It Begins with Please and Doesn’t End with Thank You.

Mr. Baldry has over 30 years of financial industry and sales experience. Ed’s career has covered both the fixed income asset management space and the FinTech universe of portals and distribution. In addition to being an entrepreneur, an author, and keynote speaker, Ed has held positions from sales, management, Co-Founder and CEO along the way.

Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this career path?

Currently, I am CEO and co-founder of EPBComms, an international enterprise that connects the worlds of business communications and financial technology. Previously, I was a pioneer in the fintech sector, as a co-founder and the head of Global Sales for Institutional Cash Distributors (ICD), a SaaS-based liquidity trading platform providing services to many of the biggest corporations worldwide. Along with my partners, I propelled ICD to the top of the institutional marketplace, making it the world’s largest independent money-market fund portal with over $200 billion in assets under management. Prior to ICD, I served as director of the Institutional Money Fund business at Deutsche Bank/Scudder.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

There is a story in my new book, It Begins with Please but Doesn’t End with Thank You, that references,

Fires your loins: A cautionary tale. In this embarrassing, ridiculous situation, I chose to use a “borderline inappropriate” line to make light of the customer’s decision-making process. Basically, I said, “chose whatever fires your loins”, followed with an awkward silence and my imminent departure.

In this situation, not only did I manage to offend the prospect, but I also made a fool of myself. Fortunately, I did not lose my job and lived to fight another day.

However, it was clearly a case of acting too familiar and in a flippant way too early in a relationship. I lost that deal but learned a valuable lesson from the wipe-out.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

My firm is currently working on several projects with small companies and start-ups. Our Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) program allows us to help guide young companies with new, innovative technology who need help productizing or marketing their solutions. We like to say, we help young entrepreneurs, designers, and engineers “translate their products’ value proposition from Vulcan into Human”.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

At the age of 22, one of my earliest and most memorable mentors was Chuck Maguire. Mr. Maguire was my manager at my first sales job with Minolta Business Systems. He is featured in my book as the epitome of an early mentor in my career. He took tremendous pride in mentoring and coaching young adults and that has always stayed with me. Chuck was more focused on other employee’s success than his own. That is a rare quality in the narcissistic world of sales.

Once during a demo with Chuck, I was so excited to show off all my knowledge of what our copier could do; color, collate, sort, and staple, none of which mattered to the customer. Chuck simply kept going back to how easy it was to add paper to the copier. That is what the customer cared about. Sold the copier, thanks to Chuck.

For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit why you are an authority on the topic of sales?

Over the last 30 years, I have been selling or managing salespeople all over the world for very successful organizations. I have sold tangible products like copiers, concept sales like financial instruments and software as a service. These all require nuanced sales techniques.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know, nearly any business a person will enter, will involve some form of sales. At the same time, most people have never received any formal education about how to be effective at selling. Why do you think our education system teaches nearly every other arcane subject, but sales, one of the most useful and versatile topics, is totally ignored?

That is a very interesting point. I think Sales is often looked at as a dirty word. In the real world, no one wants to feel they are “being sold” anything. People prefer to feel like they are choosing or being the buyer. Professional sales should not be about tricking someone into your product but rather, engaging in a mutually beneficial relationship that will serve both parties for the long haul.

The topics of due diligence, rapport building, earning, and maintaining relationships should all be taught to those entering the sales realm.

This discussion, entitled, “How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesy”, is making an assumption that seeming salesy or pushy is something to be avoided. Do you agree with this assumption? Whether yes, or no, can you articulate why you feel the way you do?

Appearing salesy or pushy would not benefit anyone’s career. These can be avoided with proper training and guidance. If the sales process is treated like the beginning of a long-term relationship, people will rarely find you salesy or pushy.

The concepts of respect, appreciation and gratitude can lead to a very rewarding career in sales.

The seven stages of a sales cycle are usually broken down to versions of Prospecting, Preparation, Approach, Presentation, Handling objections, Closing, and Follow-up. Which stage do you feel that you are best at? What is your unique approach, your “secret sauce”, to that particular skill? Can you explain or give a story?

I love those Stages, very well stated! As a public speaker and a lifelong ham, I would have to say my favorite stage would be presenting. Over the years, I have been a part of over 1,000 presentations by myself or with my team. I have 5 Tactical presentations skills that I refer to in my book and training sessions:

  1. Setting the Stage
  2. Clarity of Message
  3. Active Listening
  4. Effective Tie-Downs
  5. Call to Action

These skills each have a purpose and bring you closer to the close. I share a couple of stories in the book of successes as well as extreme wipeouts…both are part of the process.

Lead generation, or prospecting, is one of the basic steps of the sales cycle. Obviously, every industry will be different, but can you share some of the fundamental strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

Lead Generation has evolved over the years with the aid of the internet (LinkedIn and social media platforms) and other technologies such as CRM systems. We used to work from a variety of lists generated by the firm with paper and pencil. Today, with adequate due diligence and research you can take a much more targeted approach. Committing to quality prospecting and continuing to evolve your prospecting skills are all a part of improving your conversion ratio of leads to deals. Continuously improving your conversion ratio is the holy grail of sales.

In my experience, I think the final stages of Handling Objections, Closing, and Follow-up, are the most difficult parts for many people. Why do you think ‘Handling Objections’ is so hard for people? What would you recommend for one to do, to be better at ‘Handling Objections’?

The first and most important aspect to overcoming objections, is to operate with empathy. You must understand what problem you are there to solve and how that decision could impact your client’s career or position in their firm. In many cases, product or vendor decisions can be career impacting. So, you really need to understand why you are there in the first place.

Will you and your solution be saving the customer time, money or improving their efficiency? Once you understand that, you are better positioned to overcome objections on behalf of your customer.

‘Closing’ is of course the proverbial Holy Grail. Can you suggest 5 things one can do to successfully close a sale without being perceived as pushy? If you can, please share a story or example, ideally from your experience, for each.

In my sales coaching and training, I like to use the phrase: lead your prospect down the logical path to which your product is the conclusion.

This logical path usually has several steps:

  1. Proper qualifying and due diligence: Example — National Grid
  2. Establishing rapport and earning the relationship: Example — Coca Cola
  3. Active listening: Example -Home Depot
  4. Help solve the customers problem: Example — Freddie Mac
  5. Transfer of Enthusiasm around your product: Example — McDonalds

In each of these deals, the particular step had critical influence with the prospect becoming a client.

Finally, what are your thoughts about ‘Follow up’? Many businesses get leads who might be interested but things never seem to close. What are some good tips for a business leader to successfully follow up and bring things to a conclusion, without appearing overly pushy or overeager?

I believe that following up and how you do so is another opportunity to set yourself apart from the field. I have a chapter in my book dedicated to handwritten notes. This simple gesture, that requires very little time, is a lost art and has assisted me in countless deals over the years. On many occasions, I have had clients and or prospects say it was the first such note they have ever received in their entire career. I do consider this a “not-so-secret” weapon that most competitors will never take the time to do.

As you know there are so many modes of communication today. For example, In-person, phone calls, video calls, emails, and text messages. In your opinion, which of these communication methods should be avoided when attempting to close a sale or follow up? Which are the best ones? Can you explain or give a story?

All the above modes of communication are viable. I don’t rule any out but certainly prefer in-person above all. It is much more difficult for someone to give you a hard no or end a relationship in person. I believe you must take the cues from your client and utilize the mode of communication that best suits them while also staying in control of the dialogue. It is a balancing act that requires active listening and strategic communications.

With that being said, I suggest against texting too early in the relationship as it is simply too informal and unprofessional.

Ok, we are nearly done. Here is our final “meaty” question. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

We live in a world where respect, gratitude, and appreciation have been replaced by efficiency, dismissiveness, and even fear of genuine connection. One thing is for sure: this speed of life has taken a toll on our basic use of good manners and etiquette. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the decline of professional business communications. But manners and etiquette can be a powerful tool for business and sales success. My book: It Begins with Please and Doesn’t End with Thank You will show you how to regain those tools and techniques of bygone eras and update them for today’s digital world.

The book is a how-to guide and a go-to resource which takes the concepts of “please” and “thank you” into every realm where you engage with clients and prospects — from your first hellos and emails, phone, and video calls, to conference rooms and restaurants. With my “return to the personal” philosophy, I break down the practices, principles, and protocols for successful business dealings and relationship-building. Via tips, tools, and humorous tales, I show how to tap into the often-overlooked power of manners to improve your business relationships, and how to transfer etiquette into sales performance.

How can our readers follow you online?

Please link to my Author Splash Page to follow me online: Home — Edwin Baldry

Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!

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