2011 Sales Leaders: Smooth And Groovy
People living in western Pennsylvania work hard and seldom get thanked for it. These same blue-collar workers also don’t feel like their professions matter.
Bill Allen, sales rep for Fagan Sanitary Supply, in West Elizabeth, Pa., is out to change that by getting a smile or a laugh out of every new person he meets by dropping a nifty catchphrase.
It goes a little like this: When someone asks Allen how he is doing, he’ll respond with an energetic “smooth and groovy!” In his eight years as a sales rep in the jan/san industry, it’s worked just about every time.
“It’s come to the point where many people don’t even know me as Bill,” says Allen. “Customers either call me Smoothy or Smooth or S&G.”
Very few customers view Allen as a salesperson. They consider him to be an educator and a problem solver, but most importantly, a guy that brings fun and encouragement to their staff.
So, when Allen is asked what he does for a living, he replies, “I drive around and visit friends all day.”
Because Allen himself comes from humble beginnings and worked as a maintenance man, Fagan says he can relate to customers in the jan/san industry. Unlike a salesperson who was hired from selling something else and coming to the cleaning industry, Allen was a blue collar worker who came with the familiarity of how to clean.
In fact, Allen was noticed by Fagan Sanitary Supply’s CEO Larry Fagan eight years ago while recoating gym floors at Thiel College. Fagan thought Allen would be a valuable asset to his company after noticing his charisma and leadership abilities and offered him a job as a sales rep.
“I didn’t even know I was going to be a salesperson,” says Allen. “I honestly thought I was going to be a guy that went around and did floor work."
Ryan Fagan, the company’s service coordinator says Allen never missed a step in transitioning into a sales role from the frontlines. Allen says he credits Larry Fagan’s mentorship for helping him learn the ropes of the industry in the beginning. Allen says he took everything Larry Fagan taught him to heart, especially the importance of being yourself.
For Allen, this means removing negativity from the equation and turning everything into a positive.
“There’s plenty of negativity where people look at salesman and they got this Charlie Brown black cloud where they think the salesman is going to pull the football from under them and they’re going to fall on their back. They’ve experienced so much of that,” says Allen.
Allen says the only agenda he has as a salesman is to help people succeed.
“I feel I have natural god given gifts of being an encourager and a leader and I just so happen to be put in this spot to use it with people I see,” says Allen. “I can only help people who want me to help them and I can only serve people who want me to serve them, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re going to get a genuine picture of somebody who really wants to be positive for them, not for me.”
Allen’s positive outlook has granted him great success with customers. In fact, Ryan Fagan says the company will give Allen a yearly sales goal to achieve and he always exceeds it.
“He’ll make a list of personal goals for himself,” says Ryan Fagan. “One which was interesting, was meet X amount of new people. He just really wants to meet new people and befriend them, not really on a sales level, but if the sale happens, that’s great, but if not, he’s met a new contact. By doing that and expanding his own personal network, it’s really benefited him.”
Allen’s smooth and groovy catchphrase has evolved into something on a life of its own outside of selling, too. After Allen and his wife, Shari, purchased their house a few years ago, they transformed the basement into a 1970s-themed man cave. Decked out with record album artwork, Pittsburgh-related sports memorabilia and furniture from the 70s, it wasn’t complete until his wife painted Allen’s catchphrase for all visitors to see as they go down the stairs into the man cave — “Welcome to Smooth & Groovy’s.”
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