Taking a Leap of Faith with David Inman

About This Episode

With a beautiful new home, a growing family, and a six-figure sales job, David Inman decided to join the military. It was something he knew he needed to do, even if there was no real strategy involved. As it turned out, his time serving with the United States Air Force prepared David for the next chapter in his career and helped him learn some valuable lessons in becoming a better father, husband, friend, and sales leader.

We spoke with David on the latest episode of Decision Point about his journey and his return to Sandler Training as a Sales Coach. He shared some of his passions when it comes to sales training and how technology advancements are changing the game for high-performing salespeople in 2020. Take a listen!

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Decision Point: Taking a Leap of Faith with David Inman

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] David: [00:00:00] And I laid down and thought, “What have I done?” I’ve got a son at home. My beautiful wife is five months pregnant and I left them and I left a six figure career that I was very happy in. And I’m laying here getting yelled at by a staff sergeant who doesn’t know or care about me. 

[00:00:19] Brad: [00:00:19] Welcome to Decision Point, a podcast about mental toughness and overcoming adversity in sales. I’m Brad Seaman.

[00:00:28] I am excited to have today on Decision Point, David Inman, who has a fascinating story. He had started out in retail, he then decided to hire a Sandler Sales Trainer to help him sell at his retail job. He quickly became one of the top salespeople and then makes a serious career change by entering the military.

[00:00:51] And spends four years in the military. And then he comes back and joins Sandler and begins to sell Sandler Sales Training because [00:01:00] he had had such a good experience. So I’m excited to have on David this morning. I think you’re going to have an exciting listen.

[00:01:08] Probably a good place to start would be walk me through kind of the background. I know you had a sale, you worked at the air force and then you make a transition to Sandler. So tell me how that all, how that all starts. 

[00:01:21] David: [00:01:21] Yeah, absolutely. So I actually started off as a client of Sandler’s. This was shoot pushing eight or nine years ago.

[00:01:30] Now it was out of college. I started working at a retail sales job. I was, I was working at a store in the mall and I thought there was probably someone out there that could teach me how to do better than I was doing. So I got on Google. I found Sandler and I hired them against my sales manager’s wishes.

[00:01:50] They pushed pretty hard for me not to, uh, mainly because my sales manager cared about me and it was. Half of my income to hire them, to train me, but it was [00:02:00] an awesome decision. Within, within a month to two months, I became the top selling, uh, associate for the company in the country, my income doubled within a short time, after that, it, it tripled and then quadrupled.

[00:02:15] So I, I fell in love with the process. I fell in love with the st Louis system. Um, ended up transitioning from that into more of a consultative B2B position with a local company called flex back. And I spent three years with them, loved it and incredible experience, wonderful company. And a book ended up getting me in trouble.

[00:02:36] I sat down, I I’ve, I’ve got a habit of waking up pretty early and I always start the day by reading. And I was reading a book called team of rivals. And you know, it’s not necessarily a patriotic book, but for some reason it hit me and I quit my job and I joined the air force. 

[00:02:54] Brad: [00:02:54] Hold on, let me get this straight.

[00:02:55] So you’re, you’re working in the retail job because I think in my mind, I thought, Hey, you were [00:03:00] doing the air force and you’d get out of the air force. You’re doing retail. And then you decide that, and then you get connected with Sandler, but it was actually the reverse happens. You’re working retail, you get connected with Sandler and then you step into the air force.

[00:03:12] Yeah, super fascinating. Okay. So you’re reading this book and you decide, Hey, I’m going to go, I’m going to go into the air force. So tell me about that. 

[00:03:19] David: [00:03:19] Yeah. So it was a crazy transition. We had, I, I was and still am married and we were pregnant with our second. And we, we felt like we were living the dream life.

[00:03:33] We were up in Northern Indiana. We had recently purchased just a beautiful home. It felt like a dream home. And, and when I told my wife, Hey, I really feel like I need to join the military. And she, she told me to go back to sleep, but I was too tired and it just kept coming up. So we ended up praying about it.

[00:03:54] Um, we’re, we’re a pretty spiritual family. So we, we prayed and we felt like it was the right decision [00:04:00] without knowing why. And, and we jumped into it. Um, And then in the air force, they ended up, they, they needed people to work in mental health. My test results showed that I was going to be a good fit for it.

[00:04:13] So that’s where they put me. So four years I spent working in psychology in the area. 

[00:04:18] Brad: [00:04:18] Um, okay. So tons of questions. So where do you, where do you grow up? 

[00:04:22] David: [00:04:22] All over the place. Uh, my, and weirdly enough, not a military background in that aspect. My dad’s an artist ruler. And so what that means is we lived where, where he wanted to live and, uh, were just opportunities, took him.

[00:04:37] So, I mean, Colorado, Kansas… 

[00:04:40] Brad: [00:04:40] That’s so crazy. So what’s the, what’s the life of an artist kid? Like how do you decide or, or w like what’s the work look like? Like I’m assuming the art is not maybe canvas art based on your comments. 

[00:04:51] David: [00:04:51] It is canvas. Sorry. He was a, and still is a professional oil painter. 

[00:04:56] Brad: [00:04:56] Really awesome.

[00:04:57] That’s uh, that’s so cool. So you grow up in a [00:05:00] family where your dad’s an oil painter. What’s your mom. 

[00:05:02] David: [00:05:02] She’s a stay at home mom for speech pathology, but I didn’t mention this. I’m the oldest of seven kids. 

[00:05:10] Brad: [00:05:10] So seven kids. Dad’s a painter and you guys are, you guys are, are traveling. This is a, this story.

[00:05:16] This is, this is amazing. 

[00:05:17] David: [00:05:17] Yeah, we were all over the place. 

[00:05:19] Brad: [00:05:19] Yeah. That’s uh, that’s. That’s uh, that’s so cool. So your, so your dad’s an artist you’re kind of all over the, you you’ve traveled, moved around, you doing retail, you get connected with Sandler, and then you decided to step into the air force. Were you in reserves or were you full-time? Were you full-time military now? 

[00:05:38] David: [00:05:38] I dove in all the way.

[00:05:42] Brad: [00:05:42] Um, and then you do you do four years of military service and then how do you get back to Sandler? 

[00:05:47] David: [00:05:47] Yeah, so that was about six months before my contract ended. I called up a couple of my mentors that I had semi kept in contact with while I was active duty. And I said, [00:06:00] Hey, I I’ve got six months until I’m out.

[00:06:02] Can I fly up, buy you lunch? And you can, you can help me figure out what I’m going to be doing with my life now. Cause I’ve got a very eclectic background. Um, I, I didn’t mention it, but while I was active duty, I also helped start two small companies. And so it was just, it was a crazy looking resume by that time.

[00:06:20] So, uh, flew up and I met with several mentors and I was blessed at each of them, ended up inviting me and giving me opportunities to join their team. And I, I couldn’t pass up. I don’t know if you know much about, uh, Sandler, TrustPoint where I’m at, but Tim Roberts is one of the best sales trainers in the world.

[00:06:39] In fact, he was recently voted as the best, uh, sales trainer in the world. Um, Within Sandler. And 

[00:06:46] Brad: [00:06:46] So all the Sandlers are independent. When you were going to Sandler as a retail sales person, is, is he, is, are you getting that through TrustPoint? 

[00:06:55] David: [00:06:55] I spent three years training with TrustPoint before going into the military and [00:07:00] kind of kept in contact with Tim.

[00:07:01] So he’s one of the mentors I sat down with and when he offered me a job, invited me onto his team. I, I couldn’t pass it up when, I mean, he’s, he’s one of the absolute best, like gonna pass up, working with them. 

[00:07:13] Brad: [00:07:13] Two questions for you. The first question is what was going through your mind when you decided to make the transition, was there a strategy or it was, it was in your case, was it a, it was a step of faith.

[00:07:26] David: [00:07:26] Man. I wish I had more of a strategy, but 

[00:07:30] Brad: [00:07:30] you just said, Hey, this is where I feel like I got to go. And you, and you jumped. 

[00:07:33] David: [00:07:33] I had sat down with all my mentors before making that decision. Obviously a life-changing major decision. And for the most part, what I heard is you’re doing really well in your career.

[00:07:44] You’re growing very quickly. This is, this is career suicide. This doesn’t make sense. Military is not something you suddenly jump into when you’re 25 and I didn’t have a career. It just, it just felt right. And I felt like I needed to serve I at the time I thought, you know what, [00:08:00] I, I either need to join the military and go into politics because I want to do something for the country.

[00:08:05] And I thought I wasn’t smart enough for politics. So I went into the military I’ve I’ve since come to the realization that. Politicians aren’t as smart as I thought, but either way it was the right decision at the time. 

[00:08:14] It was, it was the right. And do you look back on that decision and feel like that was the right that right thing to do 

[00:08:20] for myself and my family, the growth that my family went through and the challenges that we learned from, and the SAC, everything about it was the right decision.

[00:08:31] Brad: [00:08:31] So the transition back, it was harder to transition from sales to the military, or was it harder to transition from the military back into sales? 

[00:08:40] David: [00:08:40] And so, so probably going into the military for a couple of reasons, one is basic training that is, they don’t make it an easy transition. They, they very purposefully make it difficult.

[00:08:51] And I remember this is probably getting more personal than you were anticipating, but I remember in basic training. It was the second day. I [00:09:00] wasn’t able to sleep the first night and we didn’t get to bed until two, 3:00 AM the second night. So I’m, I’m at this point almost delusional. I, I, I was walking and falling asleep while walking.

[00:09:13] And so when we finally were allowed to lie down, I laid there thinking and, and I’ve been getting yelled at by my. Um, uh, staff Sergeant that was in charge, um, yelled at over and over and over again, this guy is huge, very intimidating. And I laid down and thought, what have I done? Like I I’ve got a son at home.

[00:09:36] My, my beautiful wife is five months pregnant. And I left them and I left a six figure career that I was very happy and, and I’m laying here getting yelled at, by a staff Sergeant who doesn’t know or care about me and I I’ve ruined our life. And I just, I, I broke down in tears. It’s one of the only times I’ve done that.

[00:09:58] And. Finally [00:10:00] fell asleep, woke up and loved every part of it since then. I mean, there’s been absolutely challenging parts and I, and a lot of challenges through it, but it just, it felt right from then on. 

[00:10:13] Brad: [00:10:13] What were the big lessons that you, if you had to summarize the two or three things that you feel like you took from the military, that you were able to step back and apply to sales, what do you feel like those things were.

[00:10:27] David: [00:10:27] Yeah. So there’s man, there’s a lot, but one of the ones that sticks out initially, and I don’t think this is typically what someone learns coming out of the military, but empathy. I, I think it’s something that I challenged. I had a challenge with. A lot of my life is looking at someone and realizing that they’ve got a different life than me.

[00:10:51] So the decisions they make. They may not be the decisions I make in my situation, but I don’t know what it would be like in their shoes and working [00:11:00] in mental health, specializing in psychology. And I was very involved in treatment, um, including there was a, uh, a period of time that I was doing, um, addiction, recovery treatment for people coming from very different places in life and realizing that.

[00:11:18] That I don’t know what I would do if I was them. And that a lot of the decisions these people are making are probably what they think are the best decisions. Even if it doesn’t look like it from, from where I’m standing. So, oddly enough, I came out of the military with a lot more empathy than I w than what I went in with, which is ms.

[00:11:38] Is making me a better trainer. It’s making me a better father, a better husband. I think just, just a better, better human being. 

[00:11:45] Brad: [00:11:45] Well, I think particularly, so what’s been interesting here is over the last couple of weeks as we’ve been doing the interviews, just sort of, there’s been this kind of general flow of people who have had career transition.

[00:11:55] And so I’m just kind of fascinated with, I think it’s [00:12:00] interesting to think about like, Hey, I’m a nurse and now I’m going to be a salesperson or, Hey, I’m a teacher now I’m going to be a sales person or in your case, I’m a salesperson and now I’m going to be in the air force. And so it’s really, it’s just, it’s, it’s, it’s interesting that people make these big career transitions.

[00:12:19] I think typically, you know, they’re happening early on at like 24, 25, 26 is at least people that I’ve been talking to that kind of have this fork in the road where they realize that whatever they’re doing is not satisfying. Um, not satisfying them or they get some itch and try and make the transition.

[00:12:35] David: [00:12:35] But, um, concept that we teach in Sandler called the I R theory and I won’t dive too, too, in-depth into it, but. It is incredibly helpful for people to understand. I, our theory is in reference to you’ve got your identity and you have your role and really you’ve got tons of roles, right? W we’ll we’ll have them sit down and write these out.

[00:12:59] You’ve [00:13:00] got your role as a salesperson, your role as an employee. Your role as a husband, your role as a child, your role as a, um, a citizen, all of these different roles, and then helping them understand that that role is not them, that their identity is completely different than if you were on an Island, surrounded by nobody and nothing.

[00:13:22] That that is who you are, your identity is not attached to anything else. And that if, if on that Island, you don’t feel good about who you are. That’s going to affect every role that you’re a part of. Uh, so, and that, that actually goes very strongly in hand with man’s search for meaning and the idea of, you know, so many people dealing with these existential vacuums, where, where they just don’t feel good about who they are.

[00:13:47] And then if that’s the situation you’re in, it really doesn’t matter what’s going on in your life. It doesn’t matter what, what job you’re a part of or what roles you’re you’re involved in. You won’t feel good. You’ve got to work on the I before the R. 

[00:14:00] [00:14:00] Brad: [00:14:00] That’s awesome. I didn’t realize you guys covered that in Sandler. I think that’s, I think that’s great. I mean, you’ve got to have, you’ve got to really understand who you are, the tasks that you’re doing are going to make, or not, definitely not going to fulfill you. 

[00:14:11] David: [00:14:11] Um, it’s um, we’ve called it the success triangle, but behaviors, attitudes, and techniques. And if, if, if we can’t work on all of those things, you’re going to see either temporary success.

[00:14:26] Or no success. So yeah, we’re, we’re working on, on all of those with our clients. 

[00:14:32] Brad: [00:14:32] Um, as a sales trainer, what’s the one thing that you’re the most passionate about? 

[00:14:37] David: [00:14:37] So, I mean, I’ve got the, it’s probably a cheesy answer, but, but seeing change, uh, being able to coming into it as. A young person who had hired Sandler and seen my life changed.

[00:14:51] And it is so cool to be on the other side of that. And now seeing my own clients, companies transitioning and people’s lives changing. So that is the [00:15:00] passion. Is there. On the other side of the thing that I nerd out the most on, which is, I don’t know if that’s exactly where you’re going, but the thing that I get really excited about right now is technology’s role in sales and, and how it’s really changing the field.

[00:15:17] Brad: [00:15:17] Yeah. Well, obviously we’re in the technology space. We’re in sales. Tell me, tell me a little bit about that. I mean, what’s your, how do you see technology changing sales? What’s your general thought about the unpack, some of that. 

[00:15:30] David: [00:15:30] Yeah, you guys, you guys are an awesome example of the impact that technology can have on, I mean, you you’re in a field where we’re typically seeing a three to 5% connection rate with cold calls and you guys can absolutely turn that around and get rid of one of the worst parts of sales.

[00:15:44] So you guys are an amazing example of this. One of the things that I’ve been spending a lot of time on lately is the impact of video. And I’m not talking like zoom videos. So I am really excited that that’s becoming more of a typical tool that’s used in the [00:16:00] field, but more the personalized video through email or through LinkedIn messaging.

[00:16:05] Uh, in fact, I, I flew out to Baltimore to present on this a couple of weeks ago and the impact that. Real real quick background. So, so video is the most powerful communication tool we have right now. Most people are still reliant on, on a written text on typing out an email or a LinkedIn message. One of the things we teach in the end, really that a lot of people teach is that communication has three elements.

[00:16:31] You’ve, you’ve got the words, which is what we’re typing out, but you also have tonality and body language. Words are only about 7% of the communication though, which means when we’re sending these texts only messages, we’re a hundred percent reliant on the least effective element of communication, which is, is just crazy that we’re, we’re still in today’s.

[00:16:53] Uh, Technological age, we’re still reliant on that. So what I was presenting on, what I’ve [00:17:00] really been getting excited about lately is that we now have such easy technology to be able to send videos to our prospects and clients and coworkers, to be able to communicate messages more effectively and more memorably.

[00:17:14] Then what most people are doing. In fact, most recent polls are showing that only about 6% of salespeople are regularly using personalized video in their process, which means we’ve got the most powerful tool we’ve had, but only 6% are using it. It’s one in the area of a lot of opportunity. Uh, but, but also just an area that everybody should be using already.

[00:17:36] And most aren’t. 

[00:17:38] Brad: [00:17:38] Um, you sent me a video email and it kind of broke that it broke the ice and it actually puts you like continually on my radar to want to reach out to you. Um, cause it forced me onto your LinkedIn page. I saw that you had the air force background. That’s all you have. Uh, the, um, The psychology background, you were in sales, super fascinating.

[00:18:00] [00:18:00] And it got there. And I think the one thing that video does, and I think we forget this just in sales in general is that sales is human and you’re ultimately have to make a human connection with somebody down to the sale. And not only that, but sales is complex and it takes multiple touches to get somebody not only on your radar, but to engage with you.

[00:18:25] And you’ve got us. You just never know what’s I call it breaking the glass ceiling. It’s you just don’t, which is getting somebody’s attention. You just don’t know what, what scenario or group of scenarios are going to exist to get somebody’s attention. So it might be a postcard. It might be a video email.

[00:18:41] It might be, you know, it might be a gift or a text, or you just don’t know what it is, but you gotta, you gotta get, at some point you gotta get somebody, you got to get somebody’s attention. 

[00:18:50] David: [00:18:50] I, I completely agree, and at a, at a time when attention is getting harder and harder to get it. It just seems crazy for not using such [00:19:00] useful and available tools.

[00:19:01] Uh, one of the, one of the interesting things with this, you brought up how memorable that that email was with the video. They’ve done some recent studies and, and when somebody reads about a topic. They typically retain about 10% of what they read when they watch a video about that same topic that increases the 90 or 95% retention rate.

[00:19:24] So if we’re wanting to not only catch attention, but also be remembered, video is definitely something that needs to be investigated more. 

[00:19:33] Brad: [00:19:33] Why, why do you think people are, why are only 6% of people use a video? 

[00:19:38] David: [00:19:38] So I’ve actually asked this question a lot and I was, I was doing training this morning on it and I asked them as well, and I’m consistently getting some of the same answers.

[00:19:47] One is that they don’t know how, which I’m happy to help if somebody needs help figuring out how the, the other is that they’re scared. A lot of people are just worried about being in [00:20:00] front of the camera. They. I think they’re going to look or sound stupid. If, if that is your concern, you are going to look and sound stupid.

[00:20:09] That’s totally fine. We, the average person in America is bombarded with over 5,000 advertisements a day. We’re used to seeing very professional and put together videos and advertisements, and most people are sick of it. What they want is for someone to reach out and not look perfect. And, and go back to what you were talking about.

[00:20:29] Brad, they want a human. They want some actual human interaction video is going to lead to that better than, than most anything else that we have available right now. And then the last part of it is. Oh, several people I’ve talked to that have initially tried video and then given up is that they weren’t seeing the results they were wanting.

[00:20:50] Usually that’s because they’re measuring the wrong thing that so many people, when they get into starting to use video, they’re obsessed with one metric. And that is how many people are viewing my [00:21:00] video. One of the things that’s important and, and it, anybody that’s listening to this, if you want to get one really big thing out of out a video use.

[00:21:07] It’s it really doesn’t matter as much if they watched it, it matters that they saw that you had it. The average person is getting between one and 500 emails every single day. Almost none of those emails have a video in the, and if there is a video it’s probably not personalized. So somebody suddenly seeing an email come in with a personalized email or a personalized video is going to remember that whether or not they watch it.

[00:21:36] So. When people aren’t seeing the results they’re wanting, it’s typically because they’re measuring the wrong results. 

[00:21:44] Brad: [00:21:44] I’m very curious. I mean, it’s just, it’s a question mark. It’s like, why is it so hard? I think a lot of times people just don’t give stuff enough time. They’re impatient or they measure the wrong metrics.

[00:21:55] I think that’s a good, I think that’s, that’s true too, is they’re looking at, if you’re looking at how many people watched the video. [00:22:00] Um, and you might be missing out on what, what you’re really trying to accomplish. 

[00:22:04] David: [00:22:04] Yeah. And, and like you said, not giving it enough time. I think this is going to be the same across most behaviors.

[00:22:13] If not all, if it’s not a consistent, planned behavior, you’re not going to see very strong results. I can go work out really hard for one week and I’ll be really sore, but I probably won’t see a six-pack popping in. And it’s, it’s the same with video use. If you go do a ton of video than one week, you’re probably going to be really tired at the end of the week.

[00:22:33] And you might have some interesting replies, but until you’re consistent with this, you won’t get comfortable with it. And you won’t start seeing the results that you were hoping for. 

[00:22:42] Brad: [00:22:42] Right. It’s like with phone prospecting, it takes a good 12. It takes a good 12 months to build a good strong sales pipeline through phone prospecting.

[00:22:50] And then people, people don’t like that. That’s what I mean. It just takes that long. I mean, you’ve gotta, I think Trish for choosy, I heard her, I read, she told somebody at some big [00:23:00] company, came to her and said, Hey. We’ve got this problem. We’re not getting the return. She’s like, how long have you been doing it?

[00:23:04] And they’re like six months. She’s like, give it a year. It’ll work out. You know, you just got to keep, you just got to keep at it. 

[00:23:10] David: [00:23:10] Yeah. I’ve seen that come true over and over again. 

[00:23:15] Brad: [00:23:15] What a great interview with David Inman and what a life story. One of seven children traveled around the country. Um, he starts selling and retail.

[00:23:25] Hi hires a Sandler Sales Trainer to help him his retail job. He becomes one of the number one salesman in his trade. And then something interesting happens. He gets the itch or the conviction that he needs to join the military and against everyone else’s advice and good sense. He decides he’s going to do it.

[00:23:42] He says, it’s one of the greatest experience that had his life. I think one of the takeaways there is if you have something in your gut or you have a conviction and you feel like you need to do something, act now do it right away. Um, the other thing is I liked his definition, um, or how he talked about his experience in the military [00:24:00] and how they defined mental toughness as the ability to overcome adversity, just simply as that, you gotta be able to get up and keep going.

[00:24:08] And so, um, I thought that was great. I thought it was great how he talked about how that experience has impacted his. His teaching is sales training. Um, if you want to learn more about, uh, David Enman, you can go to Sandler sales training at TrustPoint. If you want to learn more about MonsterConnect and get more of these great stories and podcasts about overcoming adversity and sales and life, go to monsterconnect.com/podcast. And don’t forget to give us a five star review on Apple podcasts. Until next time don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can. .

[00:00:00] David: [00:00:00] And I laid down and thought, “What have I done?” I’ve got a son at home. My beautiful wife is five months pregnant and I left them and I left a six figure career that I was very happy in. And I’m laying here getting yelled at by a staff sergeant who doesn’t know or care about me. 

[00:00:19] Brad: [00:00:19] Welcome to Decision Point, a podcast about mental toughness and overcoming adversity in sales. I’m Brad Seaman.

[00:00:28] I am excited to have today on Decision Point, David Inman, who has a fascinating story. He had started out in retail, he then decided to hire a Sandler Sales Trainer to help him sell at his retail job. He quickly became one of the top salespeople and then makes a serious career change by entering the military.

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