The NCI Sales Race has come to a close. After nine plus months of intense and close competition NCI is proud to announce the winner of both the Salesperson of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards is one and the same, Mr. Brant Lowrey of Accurate Accounting DP out of Hurst, Texas. Interestingly enough and a testament to both the NCI system and Brant’s resolve and willingness to follow said system, Brant has no prior sales experience. It was also a very tight race, with Joshua Villela of Suma Financial Solutions out of Los Angeles, CA coming in a very close second. The difference in annualized billings produced by Joshua and Brant was a mere $3,707. A very close race indeed! The following is my interview with Brant discussing his great success and he has a few very good tips for sales and practice success.
How does it feel being NCI’s Salesperson and Rookie of the year?
Oh, it’s just awesome. It’s so funny; it’s really surreal to me because I don’t have any sales training or anything like that. The only thing I had was what NCI has presented to us. That’s the only official sales training that I have so it’s a little surreal the fact that we actually did win. It’s exciting, I’m thrilled to death, I’ve got a big permanent smile on my face. It’s ironic and surreal all in the same breath, it’s a great honor and I’m pleased and I know that we couldn’t have done it without you guys and so we’re very grateful for all of that too.
How much growth did you add and in what time frame to win the contest?
All together we had 89 clients. If you want exact numbers of clients that the NCI system provided for us, it’s 89. [Editor's Note: The total annualized billings that those clients will generate for the firm according to the weekly reports Brant sent in is about $170,000 in annualized billings added in only nine months!]
What do you attribute your success to?
[Laughs] Oh man, to be honest with you, if it wasn’t for the direction that we got from NCI, the direction that we received where you spelled it all out for me [we couldn't have done it.] Not only did you provide us with agreements and paperwork and things in order to make my job easy, you also provided us with information on billing and so forth that made structuring our new business easy. If we were to have had to spend the man hours on developing the things that you guys had already developed and presented to us as part of our marketing package that we bought into with you guys, I don’t know that we would have had that success. I get a lot of feedback from my appointment setters, and everything from the system is just great. I just go by what we’ve been able to produce and if it wasn’t the structure that NCI gave us I don’t know that we’d be anywhere near where we’re at. You’ve allowed us to concentrate on the facets that we have to concentrate on and you’ve allowed us to basically take your brainchild and you allowed us to use it in our firm and that’s the reasons why we were able to be successful with it.
Can you offer any tips to other CSRs and Accountants running this system?
Well I have a vested interest in this business so that’s part of it, you know since we’re a family organization. But even if [that wasn't the case] I think the number one thing that drives me is that I believe in our product. I know that when I’m out in front of somebody, no matter how big or small they are, I know what we’re offering them is going to help them ten fold and eliminate all this extra work that they’ve had to do in the past for their accounting. So believing in my product I think is number one. And number 2 is, I don’t have any formal sales training [aside from the training provided by NCI] so I’m out there and I’m just myself. I act like a comedian at times and I act serious sometimes and it all just pretty much depends on the person I’m talking to. I always make sure that I appeal to the individual and focus on what it is that they actually need. Everything I say, I try to structure that around what it is they truly need. Wayne Minks put it very well when he said “find the hurt.” I want to let them know that we’re there for them and I care, I genuinely care. When I’m on a presentation the last thing on my mind is money, the first thing on my mind is making sure that I’m sharing with them what I can do to help them. I guess that’s it, just focusing on helping the individual and they see that as a true emotion coming across from me and it helps a lot. You guys are a testimony to that too, I’ve talked to Todd [Steinberg, NCI Senior Account Executive] a few times and I could tell that he was concerned when our first Client Service Rep. that we picked didn’t work out. [Todd] was concerned and he basically told me in more politically correct terms that if I didn’t work out, NCI would have to fire me. Because [NCI's] main goal is to make sure that we achieve what they promised us we’d achieve. And I respected that wholeheartedly because they had the guts to sit there and tell me, who was a partner in the firm, dude, you’re either going to do it or I’m firing you [from the sales position.] I liked that, it’s put your money where your mouth is kind of stuff and I’m a big believer in that so I was very grateful for that kind of approach and it’s been that way ever since.
And as a partner I’d imagine, if you were failing at the sales, you wouldn’t want yourself in that position either.
Hell no. [Laughs.] I do have one more suggestion for new CSRs out there and that is to follow the presentation book every single time they go out on appointments. That thing comes with me everywhere I go; I use it to cover every single presentation. So that’s my other suggestion, you’ve got to use that presentation binder. Almost every presentation I go on, [the business owner] tells me how wonderfully I have presented my material. I like to think I’m a knowledgeable guy and I know what I’m talking about but if it wasn’t for that binder I’d be all over the place every single appointment.
Tell me a little about your background and how you ended up where you are now.
I did some community college in California as well as in Florida. I went to ITT tech for computer repair as well. I did two years of community college and that was the end of that. I’d never done sales in my life other than selling newspaper subscriptions when I was a kid. I’ve been a computer technician pretty much my entire young life. I was an accountant for a plumbing company in California for a short period of time. I worked for an Enrolled Agent for over a year in California. He specialized in taxes as well as helping people who were struggling with the IRS and other tax agencies. That was a real eye opener for me to the real accounting world. That’s what gave me the little bit of background that I have, and really Chris, that’s about it. Of all the different jobs I’ve had in my life, this is by far the best job I’ve ever had. I have never had more fun in my life at a career than this. I get to go out and meet with people every day, I get to learn about their triumphs and I get to learn about their failures and it’s a great motivator for me in life. To be grateful for what I have and to take what other people have done and either a. magnify it or b. never touch it with a ten foot pole. I learn so much out there everyday in business. I’m also very grateful to you guys to be able to present the plan to us and help us be successful like this, it’s been awesome.
What brought you and your mom to NCI in the first place?
We were looking at buying an existing business, an existing firm. So we stumbled on your website and I spoke with Todd Steinberg because you guys do accounting business brokerage as well. We couldn’t find anything that was in our price range and we got frustrated. We didn’t only use NCI to find businesses. We were all over the internet, all over the newspapers; we were looking for accounting practices for sale through every possible medium we could find. I couldn’t find anything, everything was ridiculously priced. Todd got back to me and said hey look if you can’t find a business for sale, have you ever thought about starting one from scratch? And my mom presented it to me and I said look if you want me to come out there, I need to hit the ground running making money. I have child support I have to pay, expenses, I can’t just come out there and be working for free. So I wasn’t sure if getting involved with a new start up business was going to work for me. Then Todd sent us some literature and she sent it to me and it sold me. I said if they’re willing to guarantee this much gross profit then I’m in.
What was your major concern before you did sign up to do Plan 2?
Staying power for me, my mom was pretty gung ho about having the money to keep us afloat. I questioned that repeatedly and she kept telling me that we weren’t going to have any problem in that aspect. Unfortunately we are now and the reason why were having that trouble is we didn’t set our minimum price as the correct rate. We’re reconciling that now, we’re fixing that. My biggest concern was staying power, but I think that if you price it right and set your minimum rate correctly and get ready to hang on. Because not being ready to get all that work done is another problem that we ran into. My mother felt that she was going to be able to do this on a part time basis. Within three months it was obvious that that was not going to work.
And now your using GKM for outsourcing to help keep up with all those clients, how has that been?
…the bottom line is we will always use them. And if we open up a second location we will use them again and use them from the beginning, instead of screwing around waiting until four or five months goes by and we’re running into a brick wall. They’re a great company and for what they do, you can’t beat it financially.
What advice would you give to someone who’s considering the program?
Oh my goodness gracious, well first of all, don’t ever hesitate, go ahead and do it. And secondly I’d tell them that when picking a CSR get someone who cares, they have to care and they have to believe in the product. More than anything though, get ready to hang on, because your program works, and anybody who’s not living up to what they’re supposed to as far as adding at least two new clients a week, that’s because something’s broken in their aspect. So number one, do it and follow it, and number two, get ready to hang on and be able to get the work done. So I would suggest to anybody to go ahead and review with Viji at GKM what they can do with outsourcing. We’re talking about eight clients a month, man, eight clients a month.
Can you sum up your feelings on the NCI program and the NCI staff?
I love all you guys, you’ve been fantastic, you’ve always been there for us. You’ve got great customer support, I love Todd, I love Dave, your Dad’s great, you’re great. Great customer support, you’ve always been there for us, you’ve checked on us and we couldn’t have done it without you, man. We could not have done it without you. If it hadn’t have been for you guys we wouldn’t be where were at and we’re very grateful for what we’ve accomplished and attest our success to your program, your father [Bruce Clark, founder and CEO of NCI], Todd Steinberg [Senior Account Executive] and Dave Powell [Program recruiter and trainer.] Dave was fantastic, he came out and did a fantastic job of training our folks and implementing the whole program and I was very, very grateful for that.
Brant, all of us here at NCI would liket to congratulate you on winning the NCI Salesperson of the Year award. I also want to say thank you for taking time from your obviously busy schedule to do this interview. You certainly are an inspiration for other Salespeople and NCI clients alike. Keep up the good work!
Chris Clark is the oldest son of New Clients Inc. founder and CEO Bruce Clark. He has worked as a Senior Account Executive at NCI for the past four years. During that time he has presented at the Practice Development Seminar on Internet and E-mail marketing and he also plays the prospective client during the seminar role play sessions. Chris also edits and contributes to the NCI newsletter, New Client News.