Chattin’ with Rob Cornilles
When Rob saw his mother sell dog treats door to door to make ends meet, he was inspired. At that early early age, he saw the value of being a self-starter and going into business for yourself. He saw the value of sales. Years later, after finding himself at a crossroads in LA when his acting career came to a halt, his friend invited him to interview for a sales position for the LA Clippers. Rob got the job and completely failed at it. Couldn’t land a single sale.
Feeling dejected, he came home to his wife, who suggested that he stick it out for one more week. The season was about to start, and he should at least watch a game. That next week proved to be as lousy as his previous weeks, but while at the game, everything changed. At the game he saw many people enjoying themselves, regardless if the Clippers won or lost. He realized that he had been looking at sales completely wrong. Instead of focusing solely on the product, he realized that if he could focus on the results of the product, he may prove successful.
Excited and motivated, he put his theory to the test and in one month went from being the lowest-selling salesperson to the highest-selling one. Rob has redefined sales, and his company Game Face has been around for 25 years, coaching thousands and thousands of clients. A pleasure chatting with Rob today! Hope you enjoy the podcast!
Check out gamefaceinc.com for more info!
Who Is Rob Cornilles?
Rob Cornilles grew up in Portland, Oregon, and studied at Newberg High School. Following his BA degree in theater and cinematics arts, he began his career as an actor. Later he took a sales job with the LA Clippers basketball organization—and failed miserably. After finally watching a game, he concluded that whether the Clippers won the game or lost, the crowd’s enjoyment was the same. This led him to realize that sales didn’t have to be made as difficult as he thought. When taking the focus off the sale itself and onto the product, he began to find that his mind shifted, and in one month alone, he went from being the lowest-selling salesperson to the highest-selling salesperson.
His company, Game Face, is further proof of that success. Rob’s talent and expertise have seen his company grow to enormous heights. Centered with the sports and entertainment industries, he has devoted his time to coaching thousands of clients. Many companies use professional coaching to optimize turnover, increase productivity, and effectively achieve set goals. This process meets the needs of companies and can help them increase their success. Professional coaching can help an employee, a manager, or all the company staff to achieve one or more objectives.
Rob and his team have been able to assist many businesses to hit the targets that they genuinely want to. They put a new spin on the traditional teaching services available. Professional coaching also allows the coach to adapt to real cases that could concern the company and improve the working atmosphere within a team. Rob appreciates the importance of teamwork; he has spent many years working with his coworkers, creating something extraordinary. His team of workers at Game Face is all dedicated to the craft with Rob’s same vision.
For over twenty-five years Rob’s company has continued to grow, and on his podcast every Friday, he offers up invaluable information for entrepreneurs and businesses alike to help them achieve their goals. Rob appreciates that results speak volumes, not only to your team but to the outside world, and this contributes to the morale of your business and the corporate image attached to the company. With this comes confidence and inevitably elevated sales results. Rob has worked tirelessly to train people on all levels from every major sports league in North America and has a passion for his work. His testimonials and successes speak for themselves.
If you’re looking to take your business to the next level, Rob and his team are most likely exactly what you need.
Rob Cornilles Podcast Transcription
Charan: Hey guys, welcome to Lemonade Stand podcast. I am here with Rob Cornilles and we’ve just been playing catch-up here. And his story is incredible. I am so grateful, Rob, that you decided to come on board and be a part of this podcast. The Lemonade Stand podcast is all about telling the lemonade stand stories of entrepreneurs or creators, how they started their beginnings from just starting their first lemonade stand to where they’re at currently.
Charan: And honestly, as we’ve been catching up, we both realized we have similarities in our paths, and it’s very interesting to see how some of the skillsets you learned from before, because we discovered, and you were telling me that you actually went into acting, how some of those skills actually helped you to become where you’re at right now. So think it’s super fascinating. I love it. So, yeah. Thanks, Rob. Thanks so much for being on here with me. I appreciate it.
Rob: Thanks Charan, I’m looking forward to this conversation.
Charan: Absolutely. So just want to get started. Everyone that comes on this podcast has a lemonade stand story. The time when they first got into being an entrepreneur or into business or decided yeah, this is kind of cool. Do you have anything like that? Like when you were a kid, when you’re like yeah, I want to maybe mow lawns or I guess sell lemonade, anything specific coming to your mind?
Rob: Yeah, I did mow lawns. I remember putting lawns into the back in my hatchback Toyota when I was old enough to drive. And I remember my mom driving me around before I could drive and making sure I did my lawn mowing jobs. I had a paper route. In a lot of those early jobs, I didn’t really recognize how important it was to learn independence and that being a self-starter, but I will tell you that one of my inspirations and I don’t even know if she knows this quite frankly. But one of my inspirations was my mom, because my parents were divorced when I was as a young man, and that was, as you can imagine for anyone who’s gone through that, it’s a very, very trying experience.
Charan: Yeah, I went through it. Yeah.
Rob: Did you?
Charan: I did.
Rob: So my mom had to go find a way to kind of support a family and we had seven kids, by the way.
Rob: I’m one of seven. So what she did, and she only did it for a short time, but it’s always been embedded in my mind, is she actually went door to door with a little cart that had a basket on it, full of sample dog food packets.
Charan: No way.
Rob: And she would go door to door trying to convince people who had a pet that this was the dog food they needed to buy. Now, my mom is not a sales person, okay? To this day, I don’t know of any job she’s had that’s been a stereotypical sales job. In fact, she never worked out of the home, but during this critical time in our lives, when you just have to eat, you got to find a way to sustain yourself, that’s what she did. And I’ll never forget that.
Rob: And so it inspired me when I was a young boy watching this, if my mom can do that, I can go door-knocking, trying to get a new lawn-mowing job or get a paper route. And another job that I had that I think really taught me how to be a self-starter was when I was a Cub Scout. Back in those days we had what they called a “Scout Capades.” And it was basically a big trade show for Scouts, and at the convention center in town. And I grew up in Portland, Oregon, by the way. So all of us Scouts we were told to go door to door and sell tickets to Scout Capades. Now, who would want to go to Scout Capades unless you’re … no, right?
Charan: Yeah, of course.
Rob: Or parents of a Scout. But nevertheless for a dollar people could buy a ticket and people, obviously I didn’t recognize it, but when I was a young man, people were just buying one just to help me out because they had no intention of driving downtown to go to a Scout Capades convention show. But I remember that there were prizes for first, second and third. If you could sell the most tickets to Scout Capades out of the entire Portland–Vancouver market. And so I made a commitment. I was going to, doggone it, I was going to win that 10-speed, which was first prize. I didn’t win the 10-speed, Charan-
Rob: I came in second place.
Charan: Oh, okay. Was there a price for that or?
Rob: Well yeah, they gave me a backpack, so that was cool. And so, but boy, I really had a drive to sell those Scout Capade tickets. And those are the types of opportunities that, unfortunately, I don’t know if kids have any more today. And so we as adults need to create those kinds of opportunities for kids because those are life lessons that served me well, I’m sure they’d serve all kids well.
Charan: No, I think that’s a beautiful thing. I mean, especially when you’re like kind of driven by a cause and you’re able to go forth and find meaning behind it. I mean, I remember as you were telling the story, something that came to my mind in high school, we did a “Sub for Santa,” right? And I think, I don’t know if they did that when you were younger, but we would raise money for the poor families and buy Christmas gifts and whatnot. And so every year we used to do this, every year we used to do this, and it was always our second period.
Charan: And I remember this one day I put in a little bit of money, but inspired of the rest of the class to put in some more money and we just kind of rallied behind this cause. And then there was like some healthy competition between other classes. Like who’s going to get the most money, who’s going to get the most money? And I remember our last day, our second-to-last day, we counted it. And we were like at $1,200, which was a pretty high amount for this high school class to put all this money in. And this other class was also neck-and-neck.
Charan: And so we were like, okay guys, tonight’s the tonight. Everyone go out, everyone go do something to get money. And I couldn’t believe how everyone participated. Some people went caroling. Some people went door to door, whatever it was. And in one night we raised $1,300.
Rob: Oh, wow!
Charan: So we ended up having like $2,500, it was crazy. But it really taught me the power of getting behind that cause and going for it. So I’m sure Scout Capades was probably the same thing for you to say, yeah, we can go and do some really good things, and it’s very important for kids to have those type of opportunities to go do stuff like that. So, yeah. That’s awesome.
Rob: Absolutely. And I think cause is so important because whatever you’re selling, you have to believe. In fact, I was having this conversation just with a relative literally last night, who was asking me if they could ever be in sales because they don’t see themselves being a salesperson. And I said, it sounds kind of cliché and almost trite, but if you believe that what you’re selling or representing actually will benefit another person, it makes it so much easier. If you don’t believe that, then it’s just a job. And you’re going to punch in, punch out every day and it’s not going to mean anything to you. But if you really believe that you’re doing good in the world, boy, it makes every house that you have to visit, every phone call you have to make just a little bit easier.
Rob Cornilles Talks About Acting
Charan: Yeah, absolutely. That’s amazing, man. It’s so good that you learn some of these incredible lessons at such a young age. So let’s fast-forward a little bit. And you got older and you were mentioning to me that you got into the arts, specifically acting, is that right? So how did that go for you?
Rob: Well, like everybody in high school, you kind of experiment with different things to see really what you’re interested in. And I was interested in sports. I was interested in drama. I was interested in student government. Those are the three main things that kind of kept me occupied. And again, because of the situation at home, I kind of found those activities as my escape. And so in hindsight, it was very healthy for me to be very active in extracurricular activities.
Rob: Well, one of those activities, as I said, and as you mentioned, was drama. And so in high school, I did pretty well. I got a lot of those roles and awards. And then one day and I was applying for universities, mostly up and down the West Coast, including Brigham Young University. But somewhere where you’re very familiar, I applied to USC thinking that might be a good place to go if you want to pursue the arts. And so I hadn’t quite decided exactly what I wanted to do, but I got a letter in the mail totally unexpected. It was from Brigham Young University and they told me that I had won a scholarship.
Rob: To BYU, yeah. And I’m going, I didn’t even apply for a scholarship.
Charan: That’s amazing.
Rob: What is this?
Charan: Yeah, good.
Rob: So I read the fine print and it basically said that the Theater and Cinematic Arts Department at BYU was giving me a scholarship. And because of my financial situation, our family’s financial situation at that time, it was like, wait a minute, they’re going to pay me to go to school there, as opposed to some of these other universities where I’m going to go far into debt if I can even get in. And so for me, it was a no brainer, I’m going to BYU. So I’m so glad I did. And so I guess I would say to your viewers that if they wonder, why did you go get a theater arts degree, it’s because I was paid to do so.
Charan: That’s a good motivation.
Rob: And when you’re financially strapped and it’s kind of like, okay, that’s the path I’m going to pursue, and so I did. And I got a four-year degree at BYU and I did pretty well in the cinematic arts and theatrical department there. And then I figured, well, I’m just going to keep pursuing this because it seems to be a good path for me. And that’s what took me to Los Angeles. And by now I’m married and my wife and I are … I wouldn’t say we’re starving actors. She’s actually a fashion designer. And so she did some of that in Los Angeles, mostly for private individuals. And I pursued this acting career. And I can tell you this, Charan, I’m very proud of the following statement: I never waited a single table.
Charan: Oh man. I can say I have waited a table, but it was for a film, so that couldn’t count. Yeah, I was an actor. That’s amazing. That’s amazing that you were able to live in Los Angeles, married, and not have to wait a table. That’s incredible.
Rob: Yeah. This is the late 80s and as you and I have talked about previously, there’s so much more content being produced today for all kinds of media, right?
Rob: I mean, there’s apps on your phone that need content. And so the opportunity for performers, for actors is much greater today, I think, than it was back in the late 80s. They basically had three main networks. ESPN wasn’t really even in vogue, CNN was just starting, so.
Charan: Yeah, it’s like CBS, I think was one of them, right?
Charan: It must have been like … yeah, back in the day.
Rob: Yeah, CBS, NBC, ABC — basically those were the networks that were producing content and that’s it. And so the opportunities were limited, but I was doing a lot of small-bit television, movie, theater. But then I did get a role in a movie that was always intended to go straight to video. And you know about those and how those work. And I got a role that I was very excited about. It was going to pay me some really good money, not star money, but really good money to live off of.
Rob: And unfortunately, when they called me back the next day to read against some other actors who they were considering for some of the supporting comedic roles. As I read that script, pages that I had not yet seen, it became very apparent to me — in fact, immediately apparent to me — that I can’t do this. I cannot participate in this production. I mean, it was just kind of vile and foul and just kind of stuff that I did not want to depict per se. And so I made a decision right there on the spot, which I knew was one of those pivot moments in your life that this is either going to make me or break me, so I handed the script back to the director, who’s sitting there with the writer and the producers. And I just said, “I really appreciate this, but I’m not the right guy for this role.”
Charan: That’s a tough decision to make.
Rob: And literally walked out, yeah.
Charan: That’s a tough decision to make when you’re going for your dream. You’ve spent so many years going for this thing. You finally land the lead role and good money. And it’s like, I can support my family. I can do all these things, but it was a very pivotal moment, right?
Rob: It was. And I know that, Charan, you’ve had an agent or two. And so I called my agent as I was walking to my car in the parking lot. And I told him that, “Look, you’re not going to like what I’m about to tell you, but here’s what just happened.” And the old, stereotypical “you’ll never work in this town again” line came out of his mouth. And so I had a decision to make at that point. Well, do I restore and rebuild the reputation and get a new agent and all those types of things? But fortunately, I got an opportunity to move into a different industry, which totally changed my life. That’s a teaser.
Rob Cornilles Talks About the LA Clippers
Charan: That’s a teaser. All right. Well, we’re ready for that tease. So what happened after that? You decided you’re going to switch over to something completely different and you found yourself working with the Los Angeles Clippers. Is that right?
Charan: So immediately.
Rob: So what happened was, in one of the roles that I had, had previously in Los Angeles, I had an understudy. So for those who don’t know what an understudy is, it’s someone who’s cast to take your place should you ever get sick or end up in a hospital or something happens to you. They’ve got someone who could immediately step in either that night if it’s a theatrical production or what have you. So I had an understudy for a particular theatrical role in Los Angeles that I was in at one time.
Rob: And we first met at a party. So we stayed in touch. He was a great guy. I really liked him. By the way, he never had to step in for me, because I never got sick during that show’s run. But he called me up one day shortly after all of this happened and which obviously it was a blessing and he said, “Hey, Rob, what are you doing now?” And I said, “Well, Charles, it’s funny you ask, I’m not sure what I’m going to do right now.” And he goes, “Well, hey I got a job as a sales manager for the LA Clippers, and I think you’d be great for our department. I’d love you to come interview with us.” I said, “Well, wait, wait a minute. First of all you know nothing about my affinity to sports, so why would you say that? Second, salesman? You want me to be a salesman? I mean, come on, Charles, I thought we were friends, right?”
Rob: What an insult, because I grew up thinking that all salespeople were knuckleheads and scoundrels, and so he was very persuasive. He says, “Rob, I think you would enjoy this. I think you’d be really good at it. I think you’ve got kind of the makeup for a good salesperson, so why don’t you come interview with us?” So I did. And I’ll admit after the first interview I was intrigued. He brought me back for a second interview to meet his boss, the VP, and now I’m interested. And then they brought me back for a third interview and I really wanted the job. And the VP who eventually hired me said to me, “You know what? We almost didn’t hire you because you were so different than the makeup of the rest of the sales team, because-“
Charan: In what way? Yeah, in what way?
Rob: He said, “You’re …” First of all, he sensed that perhaps I wasn’t the kind of guy who was going to go out after work and drink with everybody. That’s just not my style, it’s not what I do.
Rob: It’s not really my belief system, plus I was married and nobody else on the staff, including the VP and including my manager, Charles, nobody was married. So it was just a bunch of single guys. And on top of that, my wife, Alison, was expecting our first child. So he said, “I just didn’t know if you would fit in, but because you are married, because you are expecting a child,” he said, “I decided to take a chance on you because I figured you are motivated to sell something.” Right?
Charan: Yeah, totally different mindset. You have a totally different cause behind why you want to sell, so.
Rob: That’s right. I have to pay the bills. I got to buy diapers and baby formula, right?
Rob: And so I was motivated and so I started the job and I don’t mind telling you, I stunk at it. Nothing was going well for me. By the way, they didn’t really provide me any training, bless their hearts. So I just kind of fumbled my way through it. And I was making a fool out of myself, and it was a knock to my confidence because I had just come from a profession where I was doing okay, I was doing pretty well. I was making a living at it and now I can’t even make a sale, and I’m a commission-only salesperson.
Rob: And then something happened that about three months into it, I come home one night and I said to Alison, “You know what? I apologize. I’ve made a terrible mistake, this was a bad move. I’ll go get a job at Oil Can Henry’s or, well, Burger King’s always hiring, I’ll find something.” And she said to me, “Rob, why don’t you work one more week at the Clippers?” Which turned out to be just a providential statement. I said, “What do you mean? Why would I do that?”
Rob: She said, “Well, don’t the Clippers open a week from now, their season?” I said, “Well, yeah.” She says, “Well, you’ve worked hard all summer,” because I was hired in the summer. She says, “Why don’t you work one more week and at least enjoy one game as a Clippers employee.” And I thought, okay, that’s a fair deal. So I did. And then when I came back for that one game thinking I was going to resign the next morning, that one game totally changed my career, Charan.
Charan: So, okay. The week before the game, the week before the game, how did the sales go? Anything happen that week?
Rob: No, no. I was just kind of stumbling through it.
Charan: Yes. Checking in, checking out, trying to figure it out. And you’re like, all right, well at least I got this game to look forward to. The game happens.
Charan: So how does the game completely change everything?
Rob: Well, first of all, I should say to answer your question just now, one of the reasons in hindsight I was struggling so much is because I thought people in Los Angeles wanted to talk basketball, whenever I’d be calling them. Well, if they want to talk basketball back then, they want to talk about the LA Lakers, not the LA Clippers.
Charan: Yeah, exactly.
Rob: So I was talking about stuff nobody cared about, and that’s why I get either laughter like, “Are you serious? You’re calling me from the Clippers. Is this a joke?” Or I get people hanging up on me. So here’s what happened that night, Charan. As the game began, my colleagues all took a seat to watch the game. We figured we’ve worked hard all summer, let’s enjoy the game. That’s the wrong attitude, I’ve since discovered. What we did and what I did instead is I stood in the arena and I looked around the building and I roamed around the building, in fact, throughout the game, watching people who were there and there were a few people there, I’ll tell you that.
Rob: And here’s what I noticed, and without getting into all the details, here’s generally what I observed. I observed families who were there to enjoy quality time, to build memories, to build better communication between each other. I saw dads teaching their boys about the finer points of basketball, about the hard work, about discipline, about sportsmanship, about fair play, about teamwork.
Charan: Yeah. It was the meaning behind everything. It wasn’t just the thing itself, it was the meaning behind things as you started noticing.
Rob: Exactly. And it wasn’t just people, it was businesspeople, businesses as well. For example, I saw presumably bosses who were there with their staff, giving their staff a reward for performance. They hit a quota, they won a new account. Whatever it may have been. So the boss was saying, let’s celebrate. Let’s reward your effort, because the boss knows if you want anything repeated, you got to reward it. Or maybe the boss had their staff there because things were not going well in the office, we need to motivate you. We need to build more communication and collaboration and teamwork within our office. So that tomorrow when we get back to the office, there’s more productivity.
Charan: Sure. Yeah.
Rob: Or I noticed that we had individuals there with clients who were thanking them for their business or with prospects trying to win them and win their business or there with a good recruit saying, “Hey, if you join our firm, these are the kinds of perks you’ll enjoy all the time.” And I saw non-profits who were there, who were trying to promote their cause by putting their name on the big screen or by performing at halftime and who were trying to get more donations and increase their membership, or simply bringing their volunteers to thank them for their efforts and the list goes on.
Rob: And so, as you were saying, what I recognized that one night, Charan, was that I had been selling the wrong thing all summer. Instead of selling basketball or Xs and Os, and Ws and Ls, I need to sell the results that people can accomplish or achieve or obtain by using our games, by using our venue, by associating with our brand. And so I got home that night, couldn’t wait to get home that night. I told Alison, “I think I figured this thing out.” It’s like an epiphany. It’s like, I got to stop talking my product and I got to start talking about the results people will get from my product, because-
Charan: The experience, the whole … the feelings, a euphoria, like the learning lessons from it.
Rob: And, if I may, it’s not just the experience, even though you’re absolutely right. It’s the results from the experience. Because the experience only lasts about two and a half, three hours a night, but the results from that experience could be lasting you the rest of the year, the rest of your life. And that’s much more attractive to people than wanting to talk about Clippers basketball, circa 1990 when we stunk. So the next day, and Allison did allow me to go back to work the next day.
Rob: The next day, I started to have different conversations on the phone. And you know what? By the end of that month, this was October from day one. And that was early in that month when that game was played by the end of the month, Halloween night, I had already set a record for the number of season tickets sold in one month for the LA Clippers.
Charan: Oh my gosh. That’s amazing, yeah.
Rob: I know, it was amazing. And I went from zero to selling 85 season tickets in one month.
Rob: And we didn’t have a new player. We didn’t have a winning streak of two games. We didn’t announce a new arena. Nothing really changed except my approach and the way I talk to people. And the way I try to gather information from them about “what results are important to you this month, this quarter, this year, and you know what? I think the Clippers could actually be a vehicle or a resource, a tool for you to get those results.” And that’s what led to sales.
Charan: My gosh, it’s so incredible. And I know you were mentioning to me earlier on that, because of those discoveries other NBA teams and places in the league were like, “What are you doing and how are you doing what you’re doing?” So tell me a little bit about that whole aspect of things.
Rob: Well, you’re right. I started getting phone calls. I mean, it wasn’t immediate. I had to demonstrate that this was a consistent, sustainable pattern. And so by the end of the season that year, I had set records, multiple records for the Clippers. I had actually been promoted into a management position now with the Clippers, I actually took Charles’s place because as you can appreciate, he was a part-time actor. And I told you that earlier, he got a job at a soap opera, so he’s out of here. And so they promoted me into his position. And so I tried to teach my staff this new approach. And we collectively started to see success, which is in sports is measured by sellouts. Even when your team still doesn’t deserve to be sold out, we were selling out games, record number of games that year for the Clippers.
Rob: And so the league asked me to present our approach at the next league meeting, which was that summer, that next summer. And I did, and following that very awkward presentation, because I wasn’t on the business of presenting back then, I had a transparency. I had an overhead projector, if you remember what those look like.
Charan: Of course, yeah.
Rob: So anyway, a couple of teams, a few teams said, “Hey, could we call you or could you come to our office and be more specific? We’d like to drill down into your approach.” And so I did, and then other teams from other sports began calling and this persisted for about the next three years of my life, I was serving as a kind of a consultant. And I finally decided that, hey, there’s a business in this thing. And so my entrepreneurial-
Rob: … DNA, yeah spirit, started to bubble up and I realized, hey, I think I could do this for a living. I think I could help sports teams. And so I formed Game Face in 1995. That’s the name of my business. And moved it up to Portland, Oregon, because my wife and I are from Portland. And we knew that I could run a business anywhere based on the nature of what I was going to be doing. And so we’ve been in business for 25 years. We’ve worked with about 300 sports teams around the world, including Brigham Young athletics.
Rob: And so intercollegiate athletic departments, professional sports teams, major and minor, even teams over in overseas. And then also over the last 15 years especially, we’ve been invited to bring our ideas to keynote addresses and to conferences and conventions, and a lot of corporate America is now using the Game Face approach.
Charan: That’s incredible, man. I mean, congrats. Well, first-off, being in business or having your own company for 25 years is unbelievable. So you can already attest to how well it works and the fact that you’ve kind of taken your same approach to all these different industries or to different athletics and being able to get them to duplicate the results is fantastic. So congrats to you, man. I mean, because at the end of the day, when it comes to any sort of business venture or anything like that, sales is so important.
Rob Cornilles Talks About the Power of Sales
Charan: We don’t realize like how important sales is. I mean, I think about like even making movies, you can make the best movie in the world, but if you have no way to sell it, if you have no way to market or sell it, it’s not going to do any good. And you’re not going to repeat that movie, right? And so you want to be able to get it to the audience and get people to enjoy it. And kind of like what you were saying, I love going back to the movie analogy, because that’s what I know, that’s my world. Helping people learn lifelong lessons and things from the movies they’re watching, gets them to come back, gets them to say, “Yeah, we want to keep doing this more and more and more.” So I appreciate the same principles that you were using in Game Face. So congrats to you.
Rob: Thank you, Charan. I’m sincerely appreciative of that. It’s not just me. I’ve had wonderful co-workers over the years. Fantastic and trusting clients from like you say, a host of industries and markets. But speaking of movies, you remind me of something that I think is worth noting. And that is that a good movie is one that inspires us. It’s one that motivates us. It influences our thinking, right? Or a good movie, I love a good documentary. It’s one that educates us. And if you think about those words, to inspire, to motivate, to influence our thinking, to educate us, even to persuade us, if that’s the essence of good entertainment or good movies, to me that is also the definition of good selling. Because that’s all selling is.
Rob: I used to think that selling was just, hey, pitch your product and whatever you have to do, get them to say yes, right? And then move on to the next one. Just close that person and move on. Well, my experience over the last 30 years of being in sales is that sales done right is a noble profession. Sales done incorrectly or sales done out of a self-serving motive is actually stereotypical selling that deserves all of the garbage we throw at it, and all of the criticisms that we usually use when we talk about sales and salespeople.
Rob: But as a salesperson and as a sales consultant and a sales trainer and a sales author, I’m constantly trying to impress upon my clients to look at sales differently. It is inspiring people. It’s motivating them. It’s persuading them to do good things for themselves, for their family, for their business, for their community. So if we can adopt that new outlook on sales, I think sales can become the type of respected profession that deserves to be because as you know, I teach, I’m an adjunct professor now at Brigham Young University. I teach in the MBA program and I teach those MBA students. And I’m not the first one to say it, so don’t get me wrong. But I remind them that nothing happens in business, nothing happens in the non-profit world, nothing even happens at home until somebody sells something.
Charan: Yeah, no, absolutely. Yeah. And the thing is, you have that saying, it’s like “people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care” type of thing. Same thing with selling, I believe. If people know and they can feel that you genuinely care about someone when you’re advertising a product, then it’s like, “Oh yeah, I want to buy it.” And it’s funny because people, I guess I’m a salesman in the sense of like, I try to sell myself as an actor, right? I try to impress upon people, hey, you should hire me to be in your movie or TV show or whatnot.
Charan: But it is funny. I get very passionate about things and if I see a good movie or if I have like a cool product, I will advocate it so hard. And people are like, are you working for this company? I’m like, I really don’t, I have no affiliation with this company. I just think it’s amazing what it’s done for me, right? And people can attribute it to that, so I agree. Like I think if you really genuinely care about the person, you care about the experience and wanting to help them out, then yeah, I definitely think that sales becomes a very noble profession because you are really promoting good out in the world.
Rob: And here’s the sad part about sales traditionally. If you and I were hired by a company as members of their sales team, invariably, they would spend some time training us. What didn’t happen for me 30 years ago, but it’s pretty common today that you would get that new salesperson as much training as necessary. Now, what kind of training would you give them? Traditionally, 95% of training in corporate America isn’t sales training at all, it’s product training. So what does product training teach the salesperson to do? It teaches them to talk about their product.
Rob: So when I start a sales call, if you will, or when I start a sales meeting or presentation, I have been trained to talk about my product, because that’s what I know best. And that’s when I become the stereotypical salesperson that people want to stiff on. So instead, the Game Face approach is, yes, you have to understand your product. You need to know what your differentiators are and what the value proposition is for your product, that’s a given. But you have to spend equal amount of time, maybe even more time training your people on how to learn what’s important to the person that you’re speaking with.
Rob: What are the results they’re trying to achieve? What are the outcomes they’re looking for, for their business, irrespective of your product or service? And once you learn how to query them on those things and be able to match their needs, their wants, their preferences, their budget, their timeframe, all of those factors. Once you can match those with your product, then when you present your product or service, it fits them like a glove. It’s like, wow, this is tailor-made for me.
Rob: And that’s where we typically go wrong as salespeople. We start with product first, where we should be starting with results first. What are the results you’re going to get if we work together, if we’re partners? If we become your vendor or your supplier, what are the results you’ll get from us? Because results are not objectionable, Charan, product always is, right?
Rob: I mean, when you talk to me about the result of, I can speed up your manufacturing process. I can make your workplace safer for your people. Who’s going to object to those results? But once you start introducing to me product XYZ or ABC, I can tell you, ah, that’s too expensive. I don’t like the model. I don’t like the color. I don’t like the size. Objection, objection, objection. And that’s what I learned to do with the Clippers. Stop talking about my product which was very objectionable, talk about the results you’ll get from my product, and that opened up a conversation.
Rob Cornilles Talks About Pivoting
Charan: Oh, I love it. And it’s awesome, it’s great. We could listen all day about this type of stuff, it’s awesome. I do want to switch topics just a little bit here. We were mentioning earlier about entrepreneurs when they’re going through building their business. Everyone faces their struggles, right? I know you were in LA, you had no idea what to do. You had a family. You were trying to figure out, how do I pivot? You were in the Clippers, couldn’t sell anything because you were focused on the wrong thing. Would you say your lemons-to-lemonade story, like the most active one you can remember was when your wife said, “Stay one more week.” Would you say that was the moment where you’re like, you know what? This is the moment where I need to like hang out and like switch and learn something new. Would that be it?
Rob: Yes. I’ve told people that when she said, “Stay one more week,” she didn’t have to say that. She could have just accepted my hammer to quit tomorrow. Fine. She could’ve said, “Finally, my prayers were answered.” But she perhaps was inspired to say, “Why don’t you just give it one more week?” or “You deserve one more week because the reward is to watch a game as a Clippers employee.” But I also think my lemonade stand moment was when I stopped looking at what was right in front of me, which is the game and I focused on what was behind me, which were the fans in the stands.
Rob: And really did literally turn 180 and said, “Why are people here? Why are people coming to watch this terrible product?” And when I realized they’re not coming to watch a win, they’re coming for some other outcome, which by the way, anyone who likes sports will know that your favorite sports team is not your favorite sports team just because they win championships every year. That doesn’t happen to anybody. The reason why you stick with them is because you love the results that come from that association. So that was my aha moment and literally changed my life when I figured that out or when that was finally, if you’ll excuse the term, revealed to me or shown to me.
Charan: Sure. And I think that’s a beautiful thing, because when you start realizing people come for different reasons and for the experience of being together as a family and celebrating this euphoric moment, like maybe they just love basketball, and they’re able to go and celebrate what their family and kids and teach them the fundamentals of the sport. I think it’s beautiful. So I want to kind of move on to a little bit more of a personal topic.
Rob Cornilles Talks About Finding Joy
Charan: So this year has been tough for many people, right? We’ve faced this pandemic that’s really changed the nature of everyone’s lives globally, which I never thought was possible, but here we are. How do you find joy during this time? What do you personally do, Rob, to say, “Hey, you know what? I’m going to get up. I’m going to keep smiling. I’m going to keep going even though life seems very uncertain right now.”
Rob: That is, it’s a loaded question and obviously that’s why you ask it. And so I appreciate the question. How I find joy. First of all, at the risk of sounding like a workaholic, I do enjoy work. Because work is what stretches me. Work is what keeps me fresh. And work is, I love the challenge of work, because I recognize and as the old saying goes, the more I know, the more I realize I don’t know. So I really enjoy new discoveries and it keeps me young, keeps me humble. So I love work. And I could be accused of working too much and that would probably be an accusation that’s correct, I wouldn’t deflect it.
Rob: But also what brings me joy is, frankly, the outcome of work. And for me in my career, it’s being able to help other people make a better career for themselves. Because if we’re all working and being productive, producing, then it gives us a sense of worth and value. And we are in turn happier as individuals. We’re happier as spouses, as significant others, as brothers and sisters, as parents. And so if I can, through my service, through my contributions, help other people become more successful, which means more happy and better contributors to their society or their community, that gives me great joy.
Rob: And to be able to see that with the tens of thousands of people that I’ve been able to work with and personally train over the years, to say that I can actually point to individuals and say they have a wonderful life and a happy family, because they’re successful at work. That brings me a lot of joy. But I will also say just for me personally, if none of those people existed, what brings me joy is, I begin every day with spiritual contemplation, my day begins by reading scripture. And not just reading, but studying, digging into, trying to read between the lines of words, what’s really underneath it? Toward why was this word chosen again in holy writ? What does this word mean to me today in my current circumstances? And the more I really dedicate myself to that exercise and then contemplate about what I’m reading and studying, the more joy comes to me because I realize that, and this is where if you don’t mind me getting very personal.
Rob: I realized that there is a Maker out there that knows me and has a love and regard and concern for me personally, insomuch that they are opening up my understanding and letting me see a little bit more than I did yesterday. And hopefully that’s a daily helping of joy that I start off every day with. And that just powers me and fuels me to do my secular job even better so that I can try to give even a piece of that joy to the people that I work with, through making them more successful and more productive.
Charan: I love that. I love that. Like I was talking to someone about their morning routine and part of it involved spiritual study as well. And it’s so interesting. Everyone has like their different paths for gaining joy for themselves and like you, I’m a spiritual person. And I tend to seek more, I guess, guidance through prayer. That’s kind of what I like to do. And it’s so interesting how you mentioned this joy just kind of floods within you and you can’t help but share with the people around you, right?
Charan: And I really believe that joy, that spirit, it helps you in every facet of your life, in every facet of your career. And then you can, through the means of teaching people how to become successful at their own work, I really believe you’re also sharing a bit of that love and that joy with them as well. And I think it’s just a beautiful thing, because when I first asked you this question, the first thing that you said was not about you, it was about like helping all these other people gain success and joy, and that brought you a lot of joy. So already I can think like, wow, that’s a really insightful answer. So I appreciate you sharing what you did. It’s great.
Rob: Well, and Charan, if I may.
Rob: Just this morning in my individual spiritual study and contemplation, I read a word in my holy writ, my scripture that I believe in, and it was actually a phrase. And I am a believer in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ gave this phrase: “go to work.” Literally those three words, “go to work.” And so when we’re talking today about one of the things that brings me joy is work. I really do enjoy it. When people ask, so when are you going to retire? What? If I retire you’re taking my joy away from me.
Charan: You got to keep going.
Rob: Yeah. I’ll only retire when I’m incapable of really helping other people anymore. And I think that’s my retirement day. But I just love that. I believe work is an eternal principle. I believe it’s something that’s required of us. And that’s why my heart goes out to those people who can’t find work or who are perhaps physically or intellectually, even mentally incapable of work for whatever reason, no fault of their own. And so if we can help everybody feel productive and valuable in whatever small way we could produce for them or create for them, I think we’re helping mankind.
Rob: And so to see people who don’t want to work, I think that is, I think that’s dangerous for them as an individual. That’s dangerous for their family, their friends, and it’s dangerous for our society. You’ve got to have work, meaningful tasks that produce good and value for everybody to perform.
Rob Cornilles’s Advice to His Younger Self
Charan: That’s amazing. That’s great, great advice. Just wanted to wrap things up because we’re running out of time. The last question I wanted to ask you has to do with what advice you would give your younger self, the self that’s about to go to LA, the self that’s like, I got my dreams ahead of me, and now I’m going to go and do.
Rob: I guess what I would say, in retrospect, as I look back at my career, I would advise my younger self to be humble and seek the advice of people who are qualified to give it.
Charan: I love that.
Rob: And I try to be a self-starter so much that I figured I could also be a self-finisher. Like I can do this myself. I pride myself on starting everything on my own. I’m going to finish it on my own, but I think starting on your own is fantastic. But along the journey, you’ve got to be able to rely on people who see your blind spots and can provide you guidance and counsel. You don’t have to take it all, but you should at least make it available to you.
Rob: And as I began my company, it took me a few years to accept that. I was too suspicious of people who wanted to give me advice. I didn’t trust their motives. I didn’t think they qualify, but in hindsight, that’s where I made my mistake. And so as I’ve gotten older, it’s funny, as I’ve gotten older and more experienced and hopefully a little bit wiser, I actually seek more advice even from people who are half my age, my interns. I say to my interns, if you’ve got something you need to say, don’t you dare hold it back. That’s why you’re here is to make us better, so that would be the best advice I can give anyone who’s starting out their first lemonade stand.
Charan: Yeah, I know, it’s great. I think a good word for that is being meek. Being able to just really learn and keep your heart open and take advice from anyone and everyone. I think that’s a beautiful thing. It’s interesting because I didn’t really grow up with social media. When I was in high school, social media really wasn’t a thing, and now it really is. And so I’m constantly asking questions from the younger generation. Like I don’t know how this works. Like I have no clue. So it’s really great that we’re constantly learning from everyone around us, because every one of us has like great values and insights to offer.
Charan: So Rob, gosh, I really appreciate you taking the time. This has been an awesome, awesome conversation all about, not just about selling, but like about life, honestly and how to like really communicate and persuade people in the best way possible. So I appreciate you taking the time to be on the Lemonade Stand podcast. Any last final things you’d like to say before we wrap up?
Rob: Well, thank you for doing this. For having this platform where we can talk about some of these first decisions that we make or first inspiration. So this is a valuable podcast. I was privileged to be a part of it. If people want to learn more about my approach, gamefaceinc.com is my website. We have a new book coming out as well called “The Sales Game Changer: How to Become the Salesperson People Love.” So I’d invite your viewers and listeners to check that out if they would.
Charan: Absolutely. All right. Well, thanks again, Rob. And we will go ahead and put those links and stuff in the bio as well. Okay?
Rob: Awesome. Thanks so much, Charan.
Charan: Take care. Have a great day.
Charan: Thanks so much for listening to the Lemonade Stand podcast, and we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback and reviews, and if you or someone you know has an awesome Lemonade Stand story, please reach out to us on social media and let us know. Thanks so much and have a great day.