Which words come to mind when you think of a salesman? Car sales? Aggressive? Annoying? Sneaky? On today’s episode of the Rebel leadership Podcast, we’re talking to someone we consider to be a Caring Salesman. Yep, it’s possible. Scott Donofrio is one of our senior business development leads at Rebel Interactive Group and has built a reputation of authenticity, honesty, kindness, trust, and compassion for both his peers and his clients. He not only crushes it from a new business standpoint, but he builds relationships that are real and flourish over time.
Allison Minutillo 0:04
The Rebel Leadership Podcast. A refreshing take on authentic leadership told through real stories. Let's smash the status quo and change how leaders lead once and for all.
Which words come to mind when you think of a Salesman? Car sales? Aggressive, annoying? Sneaky. On today's episode of the Rebel Leadership Podcast, we're talking to someone we consider to be a caring salesman. Yep, it's possible. Scott Donofrio is one of our senior business development leads at Rebel Interactive Group, and has built a reputation of authenticity, honesty, kindness, trust and compassion for both his peers and his clients. He not only crushes it from a new business standpoint, but he builds real relationships that flourish over time. Listen, reflect and embrace your next aha moment. Coffee every morning is that part of the secret?
Scott Donofrio 1:09
It might be.
Allison Minutillo 1:12
So when's the first time you have food?
Scott Donofrio 1:14
Allison Minutillo 1:15
Scott Donofrio 1:16
Allison Minutillo 1:16
This is mind boggling.
Scott Donofrio 1:17
I know, unless I'm here I'll snack on something.
Allison Minutillo 1:19
Is this like an intentional fasting type of thing?
Scott Donofrio 1:22
No, it's just I was never a breakfast person unless it's like the weekend where like I could sleep in till eight.
Allison Minutillo 1:28
Scott Donofrio 1:30
I'm in sales, right? So that's what I do. But I deal with clients every single day. My goal here and my position is really to kind of work with clients on the day to day - any new client that comes to Rebel or through my own work or someone else's is to work with them very closely figure out you know, what are they trying to accomplish with their marketing efforts or business objectives and working with the team that we have at Rebel to come up with the right solutions to get them where they need to go.
Allison Minutillo 1:55
Did you always have a knack for sales? Or how did you get into it in the first place?
Scott Donofrio 1:58
No, not really. I started coming out of college working in sports. Stadium operations to be specific.
Allison Minutillo 2:06
Scott Donofrio 2:07
Yeah, so that was a lot of fun. I realized that it wasn't the most lucrative job, especially in working in minor league sports and professional sports. I mean, it's a grind until you get to the higher higher levels,
Allison Minutillo 2:19
Scott Donofrio 2:20
And somebody reached out to me that they knew and they said, Hey, you'd be great, you know, talking to people and you know, being in sales and we have this opportunity for you and I was like, I might as well make the jump. I want to move out of my parents house. So.
Allison Minutillo 2:33
I need to pay for somehow.
Scott Donofrio 2:34
Allison Minutillo 2:36
So what do you think it was that they saw in you then? That makes a great salesperson?
Scott Donofrio 2:43
You know, I get it a lot that I'm just kind of likable and charismatic. You know, I'm easygoing. People like to have conversations with me I can talk to them as in they're like my best friend or a close friend after just meeting you. So I think that's what they might have saw in me other night, you might have to go ask them because I don't know.
Allison Minutillo 3:04
Because there's your humility coming through. Yeah. Well, we talk about it all the time here. Like there's a difference in a typical sales person and someone who - you guys are strategists, you're strategists on their business first and foremost and actually listening. So a big part about sales is great listeners. People who really like attach themselves to the details of what the client saying and what they're not saying and helping them solve problems. What's your experience like? With solving problems, like how do you learn that?
Scott Donofrio 3:38
Well, I mean, when I am on calls with clients, right, there's two aspects of it. For me, it's like understanding why are they coming to us and what are their business problems or marketing problems or what can Rebel solve, but it's also the little things right? It's like, who is that person? Right? Doing research on the person understand, like, what they like what they don't like, you know, are they are they from the south? Are they from the northeast, just little things like that. And when you're on when you were in person meetings, it's like when you're in person when you're in a meeting, like take a look around that room, right? Do they have pictures on the walls? Do they have family photos? Do they have are they like have like a specific sports team or whatever it is, and gathering all these details as you're discussing with them because learning not only about their marketing business objectives is very important and obviously the key factor there but when you start to really kind of piece things together about who they are as a person, and you're able to connect with them on that level, in that relationship, just goes right that's, that's a key, in my opinion.
Allison Minutillo 4:42
So true. And it's really the as you're describing him thinking that's the same as any relationship once you once you break it down to that fundamental level, sales becomes incredibly easy. Yeah. I mean, it's incredibly difficult but the fundamental of it is very simple when you are paying attention though, because like, especially on the Zoom world, it's so easy to be distracted or multitask or pretend to pay attention and you just completely missed the opportunity ahead of you. Yeah. But there's all sorts of cues just like you're saying behind their head and what they choose to put in the screen. And if a kid walks into the frame and being a human, for that person is a is an enormous part of it.
Scott Donofrio 5:24
Yeah. I mean, you have to be a human at the end of the day. I mean, these people who we're talking to are, they have lives outside of work, right, just like you and I do. And it's just being relatable with them. You know, even if you don't have anything in common with them, try to find that middle ground that you guys can connect on. And if you can do that, and then still understand their business and why are they coming to you, you're setting yourself up for success with them. And it actually shows that like you care about them as a person and you care about their business.
Allison Minutillo 5:51
So speaking of caring, like what is it that drives you to do this job every day because it is a grind and you guys work so so hard around the clock?
Scott Donofrio 6:03
Allison Minutillo 6:03
But is it that thing or what - what is it that motivates you most.
Scott Donofrio 6:08
Yeah, I think my background has a lot to do with it. Same thing with you know, our my colleague Joe right. We come from a competitive background. And what I mean by that is like, look, I played sports my whole entire life. I'm very competitive, I want to win. And I enjoy challenges this industry, with how it's just rapidly growing and evolving. You know, there's more competitors in the space that we have to compete with at an agency level. Which makes me want to win, right, more and more. So it's waking up every morning. Why to have these conversations, being faced with challenges and being able to really kind of be persistent and achieve those wins or achieve the goals that you know we kind of set forth in the beginning. But I mean, I love talking to people, right? So that's what I do. So the more meetings I have with clients and being client facing, the better you know, the more I'm a relationship seller, I'm not a I'm a numbers guy of course. But if I can understand and and talk to these individuals on a constant basis, that just opens the door for more opportunities for Rebel and also more opportunities to help us let them grow.
Allison Minutillo 7:21
What role has leadership had in in your journey towards becoming the caring salesman that you are today?
Scott Donofrio 7:30
Yeah, I mean, I've definitely grown a lot since I've gotten to Rebel. Right. Um, that was one of the first things when I came to Rebel. You know, Bryn had conversation with me and, you know, I knew a little bit about digital. I knew a lot about traditional media. But leadership is just you know, I've learned so much about like, web site development, which I had no clue about. Now. I can actually say certain things where I'm like, Wow, a year ago, two years ago, I didn't even know what the heck that was. But just, you know, leadership pushed me a lot. It was challenging the beginning. You know, it's, you know, you hit the ground running here, which is great because you learn so fast. So, leadership pushed me to get where I really wanted to go and just learn and absorb from people who know these specific areas of the digital media world. You know, every day I get to work with some of the smartest people in the world, in my opinion, right? From digital specialists to, you know, strategists on our strategy side, like just seeing, yeah, seeing what they're doing and just like learning and listening to them, and just getting those tidbits of information from them just is it's exciting and it's easy to learn and grasp and it's also when I learned that I'm able to kind of, you know, say that to my clients, which you know, levels up my game and the continued push from you and Bryn, and the team just, you know, it's a it's a growing environment.
Allison Minutillo 8:52
Well, it goes back to your point about like paying attention to those details around that person's head in the Zoom background or what's happening in their life. And as long as you keep that caring about the details of what you're doing, not just who you're doing it with, you can be exceptional in your role. If you really dig deep and lean in and listen to the expertise around you and I've I find that people who are frustrated with their, their path are not actually listening around them fully. And even, even myself back in the day, like I knew that I wasn't doing that fully. And once you start realizing like you don't know everything, you can't possibly know everything. And you actually look silly if you come into a room thinking you know everything. And you start being more humble and listening and asking good questions and like really understanding the answer because that's another thing about you that you do, you probably don't even realize it is how many good questions you ask. And you're not afraid. And I don't know if that was how you were in the beginning to ask, what is perceived as like the dumb question is like, it's probably not a dumb question. There's probably three other people in that room who just don't have the courage to ask that question.
Scott Donofrio 10:04
Allison Minutillo 10:04
So what was it like coming to a place this fast and having so much to learn and not knowing when to put the pieces together and who to ask?
Scott Donofrio 10:15
Yeah, that's, that's a tough question. So in the beginning, obviously, I was like, afraid to kind of like speak up at certain times, because you were kind of, you know, self aware of like, is this a stupid question, but, you know, at a point, you know, you kind of have to realize, you know, you kind of have to fall on your face, right, you have to fail to succeed. So, even if it's small questions that you know, you might not sound as intelligent. You got to ask them, it's okay. Even the people who we work with the clients we work with, they understand that and although we have a - we're agnostic - with what kind of verticals or clients we work with, like, they understand, we don't know their business, like, you know, they know their business. So it's just, I'm okay with it now. Just ask them those, I guess, dumb questions in the beginning, but you know, obviously, over time, you know, you level up and you understand these verticals. You understand the industry trends that they're focused on and you become a little bit more intelligent, right.
Allison Minutillo 11:09
You put that massive puzzle together exactly. Like so every time you think about it, like that 1000 piece, jigsaw puzzle. Yeah. And every little piece of information is building this whole picture. All of a sudden you, like you said, you look back a year and you're like oh, my gosh, I did that. I learned that. You know, it's amazing to look back at how far you grow when you allow yourself to care.
Scott Donofrio 11:33
Yeah, and be vulnerable, right? One thing too, when we're talking to these clients, if you can get excited, or just intrigued about a company's business, or product or service or offering and just dive in deep on that, I mean, that is what gets it like, you know, you get some brownie points with a client of course, but like if you can actually be intrigued by something of their business, like that's, that's a winner. Right there.
Allison Minutillo 11:59
Why do you think that is?
Scott Donofrio 12:01
It shows that I know this is, you know, the care but it actually shows that you care, right? You know, get fascinated by the little things that you don't know about. Be curious. If you can be curious and fascinated by the client's product offerings or what they provide, you know, they they love it. It's also something for me on a personal level. Just understanding about different businesses just makes it...
Allison Minutillo 12:29
Windows. Talk to Scott about windows. For like an hour.
Scott Donofrio 12:34
I mean, yeah.
Allison Minutillo 12:35
Scott Donofrio 12:36
It is, I mean, you think about a huge skyscraper. I mean, you don't think about all those millions of windows that are attached to it and the technology behind it. I mean, it's fascinating. And it's just
Allison Minutillo 12:46
But think about these, just back to the human thing, like they've centered their lives around these jobs, just like we have so when you talk to us about digital marketing, we'll geek out for as long as you want to talk to us. And it's the same thing with client service. Like they care about that. And so when you care about that, too, it builds a real relationship, not a fake one. You're not pretending to care, you genuinely are asking questions, because it's something you don't know. And all of a sudden, you look, a week, two weeks a month, a year down the road, that's a real meaningful relationship, even if they've never bought from you one time.
Scott Donofrio 12:54
Allison Minutillo 13:00
The hope is that when the time is right, they know the people that they trust, to take great care of their business from a marketing perspective, and they'll come back to you.
Scott Donofrio 13:32
Exactly. Even if you lose that piece of business, right? It's still just being curious about who they are having those real conversations. And you know, if you don't want it, it's okay. You know what I mean? I mean, there's gonna be there's plenty of fish in the sea. I mean, you talk to that person, you might run across them six months from now, you might switch jobs, but he realized, you know what, that guy or that woman cared about my business, and they're passionate about this specific industry, like let me give that person a call. And you just keep those doors open and keep that curiosity still going and it's, you know, helps.
Allison Minutillo 14:07
Let's talk about the loss. What does it feel like when you've been working for something working at something for months? And you find out we didn't win it?
Scott Donofrio 14:18
Yeah, that's - it's tough. Because there's so much there's so much energy and hours that we put in from a pre sale standpoint, whether that is from strategy meetings, writing proposals, just a direction and creating these presentations, just researching their business and it's just so many hours that I think, you know, some people don't realize how much time goes in to sales, right? Especially in the pre sale you only see like the signed contract or the lost contract. But it's it's very, very painful. It's tough, especially when you've worked like a few months or even, you know, a year trying to get something with a client and you finally don't get it, it's tough. But, you know, it's just something you have to kind of swallow and you kinda, you have to just, you know, deal with it and just be nice and professional and, you know, keep that door open even though you're really angered inside that you didn't get that piece of business. Going back to that competitive nature, right. It's like we want to win, we want to win. Sometimes you don't.
Allison Minutillo 15:23
And understanding why.
Scott Donofrio 15:25
Allison Minutillo 15:25
You know, talk about how we debrief after a loss or even after a call that doesn't go well on the new business team.
Scott Donofrio 15:32
Yeah, I mean, you know, whether even when you win a business, we debrief too on certain things or a call, but it's very important because when when I'm in a room with with you, or Bryn or Joe or Greg or anybody on our team or Carly, everybody in those meetings, hears little things differently. I think there's one approach and somebody thinks there's another approach or they've heard this little tidbit information that I didn't so aligning on all those little things are very important to make sure that we're giving the right solution. Or if you know, from a lost piece of business, right debriefing on what we could have done better that's extremely important, right? Because if we don't do that, then we're stuck at that same spot. Yeah, if that that challenge ever arises again. And if that does happen, again, we're going to be prepared. We understood it. We dealt with that kind of issue before that challenge. And we're going to come up with a new solution or a new way to get around that barrier that we couldn't before.
Allison Minutillo 16:30
And it's just like sports, like if you waited till the end of the game, to debrief on a play. It goes in one ear and out the other. It's not as meaningful because you're not in the thick of the emotion of the moment. And the nuance of the moment. You can't you can't rely only on your memory to coach and lead. And I think that's one of the big things that makes our new business team different is like this mutual understanding of the expectation that we coach in real time we expect to debrief in real time and that is above all, the biggest priority and lifting the whole ship. Like rising the whole team together. Because if you're not doing that, then you're bottling up opportunities that you could have learned from and you miss it. Yeah. Did was that always the case in your coming up through sales?
Scott Donofrio 17:25
No, because most of the sales I was working with before was you know, it was different. I mean, we offer very customized solutions, right. So we try to fit our product or our services to a specific businesses' issues. In the past it was just more like hey, you know, you know, you're missing out you're missing 30% of the market without utilizing our service right cable advertising or broadcast television or whatever it may be.
Allison Minutillo 17:54
There's no customization.
Scott Donofrio 17:55
There's no really customization. I mean, yeah, you can pick like different time of days, or networks are programs that you could buy on network television or cable, but it wasn't like truly customized solutions. So it's very different. And you know, you really didn't debrief because you know what, at that level, you're, you know, here we're a team, right? We're a true team. You know, in past work, it's like you're by yourself, you know. If you don't, you know, learn from your own mistakes. And if you don't make those changes as in game changes, you know, you're failing or you're gonna lose. Here. It's different, right? Because we're a team effort from the beginning to the end. So we're constantly changing, evolving, having those conversations versus, you know, the past sales experience.
Allison Minutillo 18:41
What impact does that team feeling here have on you the culture of that new business team?
Scott Donofrio 18:47
Allison Minutillo 18:48
In being the best version of yourself?
Scott Donofrio 18:50
Yeah, I mean, there's no team like I mean, I've never had an experience like this. Because it's, it's one at higher energy. Right. And I think
Allison Minutillo 18:57
That's an understatement.
Scott Donofrio 18:58
Yeah, it is. Well, especially with Joe he's, it's, he's funny. But yeah, we're very high energy. We're collaborative. Everybody works together. Nobody kind of says you know what you're out on your own like we're always jumping in to help each other out. And we truly think every win is a team win. Either, even if, you know one person led this whole thing the whole way. It's a team win, right? We all get input and we get strategy and we collaborate on everything till that point that that contract is signed. And it's not just an individual win, like previous opportunities that I've had. So it's fun.
Allison Minutillo 19:37
It feels bigger. It feels bigger when you win. Yeah, when you're selling, you're genuinely celebrating with everybody.
Scott Donofrio 19:43
Allison Minutillo 19:44
And there's a lot of subtleties to it, you know, like the emojis in Slack and the way you guys talk to each other in the true honesty, and authenticity of who each person is because you could all not be more different. It's not possible for this whole team to be a more eclectic group of backgrounds and people. And yet, you all see eye to eye and each other's perspectives and talk things through and have hard conversations and you all genuinely care.
Scott Donofrio 20:14
Yeah. And we have that like almost that friendship, communication at work, and it doesn't translate when we're out of work either. Like, Joe and I are very close, obviously. And you know, that like, we'll text beyond work just about sports or little things, but we'll still do that during work but still get our job done too. So you know, we are very different. And that's funny that you can notice that because it's like all these little pieces of a puzzle that just meshed so well. And then obviously with the leadership, which is like that perfect marriage of just, you know, getting things done.
Allison Minutillo 20:46
So last question. Okay, if you think back on, little Scotty, way back in the day, what do you - what are you most proud of of your journey to becoming this exceptionally talented person that you are today?
Scott Donofrio 21:05
Jeez, that's a tough one. You know, I'd have to say I'm I'm very proud in what I've accomplished in my whole entire, my young career, as I would say right now, you know, starting in sports, going into traditional media, finding a passion for digital media, and I knew I had that passion for digital media around 2016. And I took that passion and I just grew it and grew it and grew it and I've evolved my, my digital, you know, education to a new level. I've come in here and I've exceeded my own expectations of what I could learn in digital. But just the I would say, I'm proud of the fact that I've learned a lot and I'm continuing to learn and I'm not just okay with what I know now. Right? So like loving digital media and what it can do for businesses or, you know, small, medium sized businesses, local owners and helping them it's huge and I'm proud of just like the continued passion that I have for this. And I don't want to stop
Allison Minutillo 22:15
You shouldn't. Thanks for talking with us today.
Scott Donofrio 22:18
Of course. Thank you.