5 Things I Learned From
Robert Herjavec

By Charles Henson


I had the honor of meeting Robert Herjavec of the TV show Shark Tank©. Robert was a really down to earth guy and I can tell his love of country music as the topic came up about being in Music City. After our breakfast, Robert spoke to an audience of IT professionals who had assembled in Nashville for an IT event. Here are the 5 big takeaways that he taught me.

Marketing: Robert has been asked many times over the years, why he believes his company is so successful while others stay dormant or never grow. He answered this with the single word, "marketing". He went on to say that marketing is situational to each niche and company. Many companies have the arrogance of thinking, “We are so good, we don't need to do marketing. Customers will come to us.” Other companies fail to focus on self-promotion. Companies that are small think that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will find you. He stated "there is no genius in darkness; genius is only genius when someone discovers it." You have to put yourself out there, because if customers don't know what you do, they will never find you. The Herjavec Group does a lot of outbound marketing and this is how they have grown the company to over $200M, simply by being found through their marketing efforts.

Sales: Another thing to learn about larger companies is that they are sales driven. People that grow companies understand that you have to sell something in order to grow. The best sales rep in his opinion is the CEO. No one knows your business better than you and no one has the credibility that you do. Fundamentally, you've got to go out there and sell it yourself. A CEO of a company should only have one function and that is to drive sales.

You also have to know that as a CEO, you also have to delegate. No one can ever do everything as well as you think you can but you have to relinquish that mindset. Everyone in the business has to be sales oriented and your middle management has to be focused on sales numbers. Everyone in the organization has to be held accountable for a portion of those sales, not directly but through how they work with the clients.

He went on to say that service and quality are not differentiators; everyone that walks through the door says they have the best quality and service. Know what you do better. And, since the first 30 seconds of your elevator pitch is the most important part of your sale, know it and master it.

Risk: Small companies are afraid to take on risk. They feel that it’s like jumping off a cliff into the unknown water below. Why not climb down the cliff and see how deep the water is first? Risk doesn't mean that you have to go "all in" or nothing, it's as simple as taking smaller risks, one at a time. He stated that most small businesses will stay small because they get into a comfort zone and fear the unknown; instead they should make small changes and change course if needed. Success doesn't see color, shape, age, gender or anything else. You have to have a vision, qualities and sometimes take the risk in order to grow.

Price: The price of anything in life is relative to something else. Robert said he teaches his sales people this by using a picture of a $500k Ferrari. He asks them if they think it is expensive and of course they think it is. Then he shows them a picture of a $2.4M Bugatti and asks if they still feel the Ferrari is expensive." One of the biggest problems salespeople face is getting in their own way by believing their product or service is expensive. They should get out of the way of the price and stop selling the product because every salesperson after them will be selling the same product. Instead, they should focus on the comfort and the benefits of how their product can help the client focus on running their own business and not what all the bells and whistles will do. The price then becomes relative to how important the prospect’s business is to them. The price of anything is relative to something else." A salesperson having a comfortable relationship with money will charge the right amount.

Laser Focused Goals: You must have measurable goals and be focused on them quarterly. As you start growing your business, you have to make adjustments or you will fail at your goals. Driving a racecar at 200mph is the same as driving a business; you have to have extreme focus. There are a lot of distractions, but you should always keep your eye on where you are going and what surrounds you. You have to get laser focused and make a decision that you are going to grow or die. Goals must be measured and checked along the way. Like taking a road trip, you don’t just keep driving for hours on end without looking at the fuel gauge, speedometer, direction you’re traveling and just wondering if/when you’re going to get to your destination. You check your numbers along the way and make adjustments so you know if you are on track and if not, make changes along the way so you can get to the end goal successfully.

In closing, Robert also talked about desire and the need of being persistent in everything you do. He said every time you get knocked down, get back up right away. Have the ability to just let it go. You need to have the desire that is greater than the fear of rejection. If you are afraid of “no,” you haven't suffered enough. You have to have desire! Now, get out there and set some goals, get laser focused, start marketing, close some sales, and grow your business!