115: Steve Nudelberg: Confessions of a Serial Salesman

In this episode, Steve Nudelberg, sales trainer and author, tells us about his new book, Confessions of a Serial Salesman. Tune in to learn how you can adapt his 60-30-10 sales rule to your own career and how you can transform networking into a lifestyle choice, rather than an event. Listen now!

Connect with Steve Nudelberg on LinkedIn

A wealth of experience, shared

George: It’s another edition of the Conquer Local Podcast joining us all the way from sunny Florida, Steve Nudelberg. We’re gonna talk about Steve’s new book, “Confessions of a Serial Salesman”. Hello, my friend. How are you, Steve?

Steve: It is wonderful to speak to you, and you are correct. It is wonderful to be living in the sun.

George: I saw that you were attending a golf game, I think that’s an ongoing thing for you because you do live in a beautiful Florida. We’re gonna talk…maybe we’ll talk about golf, but we’re definitely gonna talk about sales today. Steve and I were introduced through a mutual acquaintance and he said, “You know, you gotta get Steve on the phone and on the podcast, and talk to him about his new book, “Confessions of a Serial Salesman”. But before we do that, let’s get a little bit of background on Steve Nudelberg, and your career training high-performance sales organizations all over the world.

Steve: So it’s really been a fantastic ride for me. My career is really more of an entrepreneur building out my own sales teams, and it wasn’t until college five years ago that somebody reached out and said, “Hey, I see you’ve done this amazing job with your own businesses. Would you come in and talk to my group? I’ve got about 100 bankers that are getting together.” And in all candidness I said, “I don’t really do that.” And he said, “Well, come on, we can figure it out.” And I said, “I wouldn’t even know what to charge you.” And he says, “Come on, we’ll figure it out.” And long story short, I got in front of the group and in 90 days, gave them actionable steps that created measurable results.

And well now, wouldn’t you know I’m spending my time, you know, visiting sales teams all over the country, all over the world, adding to a measurable activity that can create results. So I’m having the time of my life, I so enjoy to give that portion. There’s a part of this that I never thought I would really enjoy as much as I am, and that is really being able to affect other people’s lives by information that I own and possess and have worked on my whole life.

27 Rules

George: Yeah, I remember the day when I realized that I was helping other people be successful in training salespeople, it was a huge epiphany that, you know, all those years of toil out on the street, calling on clients, working with organizations and you realize, yeah, I actually have something of value. So the book that you’ve come out with, “Confessions of a Serial Salesman”, 27 Rules for influencers and leaders, I’ve had a chance to power through it in the last 24 hours. And I found that it just validated things that I’ve known for quite some time. But also it was a bit of a reminder.

Steve: For me this was my system, my process that I put together years, and years, and years ago on how to deal with living in a sales environment. You know, candidly it’s the number one profession where you’re gonna deal with rejection. And unless you have a process to deal with it, so some of it is mind, some of it is body, a lot of it is spirit. And then for me, when I’m not getting the results I want, it gives me that format to go back to, just the way great teams look at film, I look at it and say, “What am I not executing? What parts of these 27 rules? And so people have read the book and given me similar feedback to you by saying, “Hey, you know, this one works for me, this one didn’t work,” and so I shared it as my manifesto.

I think the proudest moment for me is that my oldest son who’s a college football coach, wrote the foreword. And him and my other son obviously grew up in the light of those 27 rules. So they had taken it, applied it to their lives and I think, you know, what’s great for me is when people give me feedback and say, “Well, what happens if I do this, or I do that or I remove this and add something?” And I love that constant back and forth because whatever it is, whatever process you create, the closer you stick to it, the greater the results are going to be. So it’s really, you know, one of those students of the game. I like paying attention to success, I’ve been fortunate to have worked around other great sales professionals, and so I don’t think there’s a lot of new ideas. I think it’s sort of putting it together in a format and then executing it.

George: Well, your son Mark in the forward he said, you know, I’ve been following these rules because you had really forced the mind of the boys these things that they should have a look at and they both have been very successful.

Steve: Yes, you know, no surprise that they wound up in coaching because they have this value proposition that they’re willing to share and, you know, give 1 of my rules, rule 27, and maybe one of the most significant ones is that if you develop a mindset that you’re willing to give well, then the universe gives back. And I give specific examples of how that works in the business world but, you know, listen, they are products of my upbringing. I am fortunate that they took to it, that they have discipline, and now they have their own set of principles that they delivered to young minds, you know, in college football.

But again, there’s so much to be said for process and, you know, again, when I see people that are not successful, I can look at their process and say here’s where you have opportunity to grow, to change, and you know, certainly change is happening in our world at a frantic pace. And so to keep up you have to hold on to some, you know, values for your own self. And this has really been my life’s work and so proud to share it.

60-30-10 Rule

George: Steve, one of the things that I have as a takeaway from reading your book and meeting you in person was the 60, 30, 10 rule. Can you go through the 60-30-10 rule for salespeople? It was one thing that just, boom right between the eyes it just hit me that this is…and it’s so simple. I want you to explain it because I think it really can help some people.

Steve: So for me when I’m consulting one person or an entire team, I can look at someone’s calendar and basically gauge their success from their calendar. And in that particular, you know, in that chapter I speak about the 60-30-10 rule which is how to break up where you’re spending time. And so I believe 60% of your time should be forward facing, in front of clients or client opportunities. We developed a term called RPOs, revenue producing opportunities, and 60% of your time needs to be out there, 30% is in research and development. And development means developing yourself, developing your product, developing, you know, there’s so much learning that takes place to be good in sales and to learn about your prospects, to learn about their business, to be educated about many things so that you can have rich conversations. And then 10% should be spent on admin. And where I think most of the salespeople that are struggling they have that formula upside down.

So by breaking it down and showing people that you can manage your day, and again, it becomes a process, how you manage your life, how you manage your day, how you…all of these things, that particular formula can be used as a snapshot for a day, a week, a month. And life is a game of adjustments just like sales is a game of adjustments. And it gives you sort of the borders to look at where you’re spending your time, and teams and people that manage the clock better than others win. So, you know, it shows up at the end and so the rules sort of interact with each other, but pulling something like that any one of them out they all make sense. And so I’m thrilled that you took that away as something that was a bull’s eye for you, and I specifically write about Tony Nugent, who was the…he just retired, he is the number two guy at Met Life and he has trained thousands and thousands of salespeople. And so by being around great sales professionals you pick up best practices.

Networking… or not working?

George: Let’s talk about networking. I don’t think you can be an effective salesperson if you’re not able to network, and that was the one thing that I noticed, you know, you and I met through networking. We met through not just one, not just two, three people who had said to you, you know, you need to talk to this George guy from Vendasta, and vice versa was, you need to talk to my friend Steve Nudelberg. Networking is the lifeblood of any business and of any great salesperson.

Steve: So, you know, the way I phrase it, we came up with a term which is one of the rules in the book is that networking is only one letter away from not working, and we came up with that because in studying people’s habits, they look at networking as an event rather than a lifestyle. So people will say, yes I have a networking event tonight, I’m gonna show up at 5:00 o’clock, I’m going to have two drinks, some bad hordeurves, I’m gonna hand out some business cards and then the networking is over. And when I train, I try and tell them that networking actually starts when you’re waiting in line at valet because people buy people they know, like, and trust. And when you go to a networking event, people have their guard up and have different agendas. But if you meet people just on the value of who they are, what they are, we’re doing an open event bootcamp if you will, sales bootcamp next month. And somebody I know that lives in Idaho that I met on a plane is coming with a couple of his salespeople. So, you know, I’ve met him on a personal level, we engaged on a personal level, and then business tends to happen in the steps that follow.

So one of the biggest rewards for me about my business in general has always been the value of the people I know, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. So my passion for networking is I’ve always been a very curious person and I genuinely connect with people to listen to who they are, what they are, how they’ve done it, how they’ve gotten there and I think when you and I finally did meet the reason why we spent three hours together is our ladies connected you, and I connected. And I believe that we will be friends for much longer than we could potentially do business. So I didn’t go there to show up and make a transaction. I went there to make a friend and then hopefully somehow, some way we will either do business or you will refer me business, or if none of that happens I still made a friend and there’s a real value in that.

Connecting with your personal style

George: I do have to tell you, you know, we’re sitting in the Conrad hotel in beautiful downtown Miami on Brickell Avenue, and we’re waiting. I was there with Nance and we just had finished a holiday and I said, “Hey, we have this lunch meeting with Steve and his wife.” And in walks this very confident man with this beautiful woman who is equally as confident. And we sat down, we started to have a conversation, and I know that I read a couple of places that you credit Michelle with your personal style. And, you know, you always come ready to ready to get the job done. You look great, you know, you’re up early, you’re living the life. And it could just be living in West Palm Beach just has that effect on people, but you know, in your book you do talk about Michelle kind of helped you connect with your personal style.

Steve: So I think one of the most significant changes in the selling world is that people buy people first and then whatever brand they represent second. And so your personal brand is a very significant thing to understand and develop. And I think when I talk to salespeople all over the globe, that’s a point of confusion. They don’t understand, what do you mean my personal brand? How do I develop it? And so I was very intrigued with it. I had very deep conversations with Michelle, she has a fashion background, and she helped me identify a place that was very comfortable for me.

And so developing my personal style is something that is memorable to people and they wind up either buying that or not buying that, in very quick fashion. So for you, you saw us walk in and you reacted positively to it. Equally it could have been reacted negatively to it and that’s okay because I don’t think, you know, that brands are for everybody. And I think the more you align with the people that you’re supposed to connect with on that personal level, that opens up the gamut of opportunities that you may not be subject to if you’re just trying to be there for a transaction.

So we had a wonderful afternoon that day, listened, learned, we talked about everything under the sun and, you know, what could possibly be bad about that? And so, you know, it’s funny because one of the things we talk about is working on the weekend. And, you know, to me everyday is a day that I can develop relationships and do all the things that I like to do. And then those turn into business, so it was a very productive day on so many levels. And look, you know, we’ve invited you to come do to Palm Beach and I know that the next time we’re together we will have a blast. And how great is that as a takeaway? Oh, and by the way we’re doing a podcast and we might do some, you know, networking together, or business together. But I think if you develop your priorities in the correct way the business happens to come to you.

People-first philosophy

George: We’re speaking to Steve Nudelberg, “Confessions of a Serial Salesman” is the name of the book, and we’re going to share inside the notes from the podcast the way that you can get access to Steve. And let’s talk a little bit about your company and the work that you’re doing with some of those major organizations that are out there.

Steve: So, you know, I think what we’re understanding is that, you know, sales leaders are frustrated. They are using typical training modules which are product and service and price-based. And, you know, our philosophy is people-based. And so, you know, we’re talking about this new phenomenon called social selling which is actually using social media as a stage or a broadcast channel for you to tell your own story. And I think the fear is that in order to be successful in these channels, you have to open up and be genuine and find out who you are. And so we’re helping professionals across categories, across, you know, geographic boundaries, anywhere, any time, people are developing this connection with who they are, what they represent. And then we’re giving them access to these tools that allow you to expand upon that, and certainly Vendasta does an amazing job, you know, in the social media world and the social digital world.

So they all interconnect, so the rules are different, the playing field is different, and we’re helping people understand the possibilities. And by creating these, you know, metrics, and these plans, that deliver results, we’ve been highly successful and developing great friends and great relationships everywhere. So, you know, the name of my company is On The Ball Ventures. I think one of the differences with who we are and what we are is that we genuinely develop new business as a core value proposition for ourselves.

And so when we talk to other salespeople, we’re able to develop sort of a camaraderie because we’re not just training it, we’re doing it. And George, you and I, when we got together, you heard specific examples of companies that we’ve connected to other people that they would have never met before that that connection has developed new business opportunities. And so that’s how we’re programmed, that’s how we’ve always been programmed. We live and breathe the philosophy of how sales organizations should do it, so we don’t just come in and train, we actually do. And I think the takeaway that most sales leaders are getting from us is that once we are engaged, we are delivering them relationship capital that should turn into new business and pay for whatever investment they’ve made in us. And that’s a mind boggling concept.

George: Well, Steve, thanks. It’s exactly what we’re trying to do here with Conquer Local, is open up our listeners’ worlds. And with that, we’re gonna wrap it up. And the book again is “Confessions of a Serial Salesman”, the author, Mr. Steve Nudelberg from On the Ball, and thank you for joining us today, we really appreciate it.


Steve Nudelberg wrote this new book called “Confessions of a Serial Salesman”. I read it in about eight hours, it really didn’t take that long. And probably was only about two and a half hours of nonstop reading. And what it is it’s validation, it reminds you of things that you need to be doing. The other thing that I find from Steve, he’s been there, and he’s done that, and he’s doing it on a daily basis. And he actually has changed his tactics over the years to match the way that sales is changing. And he’s a real big believer that you need to do that too to be successful. We really appreciate having him on the Conquer Local Podcast, my name is George Leith, I’ll see when I see you.