The night before he was scheduled to speak to Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) members, Florida businessman Victor Arocho felt anxious. The subject was sales, and Arocho feared he had little to offer this smart group of businesspeople.
“What am I going to teach a bunch of entrepreneurs, especially in our group?” Arocho recalls thinking. “Some of them are serial entrepreneurs, they’ve built businesses, and they’ve sold businesses. I was thinking, Doesn’t every entrepreneur know how to sell?”
That 2010 presentation went surprisingly well. Originally scheduled for 45 minutes, Arocho’s audience kept him for an additional 45 minutes. “These entrepreneurs were taking pages of notes and listening and asking questions,” Arocho says. “It blew my mind. The lights just turned on.”
What Arocho learned was that entrepreneurs may have certain strengths as innovators, but many of them can use help when it comes to developing effective sales staff. And he turned the experience into the inspiration for his next business, Potential Sales & Consulting Group, the suburban Miami-Fort Lauderdale firm he founded in 2011 to help companies develop top sales teams. “It was my aha moment,” he says.
Having spent a career selling everything from computer hardware to commercial pest control, Arocho tapped into his strength as a sales team builder for that nerve-racking sales talk and his new business. He learned to assemble elite sales teams while he was co-owner of a Florida-based car-insurance company, a company that he and a partner created after raising $14 million. (He sold his stake in that business to start the consulting group.)
All new employees of his insurance firm were required to go through a six-week boot camp training program in which they were taught every aspect of the business, regardless of their position with the company. They also had homework and quizzes each day.
“Usually after about four weeks, you’d see people fall out. The rest became really close and became the talent of the company,” says Arocho, an EO member.
Through the boot camps, Arocho learned a lot about his employees. “It taught you what their work ethic was like. It taught you whether they were team players. We had to let some people go. It was almost like Survivor. We felt if 100 percent came through, it wasn’t tough enough.”
As he conceived of his new sales consulting company, Arocho thought the same approach would work well in building sales teams for other companies. He compares it to becoming a member of the Navy SEALs or a member of a football team.
A former college football player from New Jersey, Arocho readily applies sports analogies to business and believes his athletic experience influences his approach. “One, you want to win. Two, you have to do the fundamentals every day. People have to train hard and apply the same kind of discipline.”
Those principles convinced Arocho the consulting firm would fly. “There is something here. It had viability. I thought, What do you bring to the table? What problem do you solve? I found the problem was building the infrastructure of sales from A to Z, from the operations side to the distribution side.”
While preparing a business plan, Arocho talked to friends in academics and learned that sales is not a part of most MBA curriculums. That became the gap he sought to fill with his consulting business. “Entrepreneurs get to a certain level, and they can’t scale the business” because they can’t increase their sales enough to do so, he explains, even though their expertise in other areas—“in their vision and ideas and innovation”—exceed his own. Arocho likes to say he runs his company like a talent agency in which the clients are the talent, and his company is trying to help them generate box office sales.
Like doctors and lawyers, salespeople need to pay their dues, to practice and have continuing education, Arocho says. “It takes times to build a winning team”—and to fix a broken sales process, he says. “The whole culture has to be about sales.”
Getting his consulting business moving had its obstacles and challenges. Arocho admits he was slow to embrace the idea of spending time on social media, such as blogging, writing articles for websites or using LinkedIn. It felt alien to Arocho, who was accustomed to real-life networking on the road and meeting people in person. “It was a regimen I had to get used to. If I was in front of the computer, it felt like I wasn’t doing anything. I started to write and find an audience; I started to get out a message. I realized it’s OK to be in front of the computer for an hour.”
The result is a wide network of contacts and potential clients bringing in assignments across the United States as well as in South America.