How can selling different help you win more business?
Lee Salz, author of "Sell Different", joins the program to show how being authentic, asking the right types of questions, and making your buyer a superstar can help you differentiate your way to success!
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faced with an uncertain future many business owners and technology professionals don't have time needed to invest in their business technology strategies and as a result are afraid of their technology getting outdated and putting their company and customers information at risk. The digital future is already here. But with all different choices in the marketplace, it's difficult to know which one will be the best fit for you and your strategic vision. Imagine having the peace of mind that your business is backed by the right technology investments that are tailored for your specific needs. Hi, I'm Brian Nichols and I've helped countless business owners and technology professionals just like you helping you make informed decisions about what technologies are best to invest in for your business. Voice bandwidth, cybersecurity, business continuity, juggling all the aspects of business technology is messy. Let me help at the Brian Nichols show.com forward slash help and sign up for a free one on one consultation with yours truly to dig deep into where you see your company headed and how we can align your business technology towards those goals. Again, that's Brian Nichols show.com, forward slash help to get your simplified business technology started today. Instead of focusing on winning arguments, we're teaching the basic fundamentals of sales and marketing and how we can use them to win in the world of politics, teaching you how to meet people where they're at on the issues they care about. Welcome to The Brian Nichols Show. Well, hey there, folks, happy Monday. And thank you for joining us on of course, another fun filled episode of The Brian Nichols Show. I am as always your humble host. And today, we are joined by sales legend and author of sell differently sales. Welcome to The Brian Nichols Show.
Thanks, Brian. Great to be here.
Absolutely. I'm so excited to have you here. Especially after I just went through I thumb through back again, my addition of cell different this poor book, so much notes that have been written in here highlights dog ears, on the paper, and it's all great stuff. And that's exactly why I wanted to have you on the show today because you're helping us focus on selling different which is something we talk about in sales, the idea of differentiation, but you dig even more beyond just the ideas of differentiation. So I want to dig into as well. But before we get there early, I want the audience to get to know you. And maybe specifically why I've been seeing photos of you and LinkedIn bench pressing was it 330 pounds?
Yeah, that's that's my hobby. When I'm not working around sales differentiation. I'm in the gym, I compete in powerlifting. I've done it now let's see about 22 years. And I won the Minnesota State Championships just last last year 2021. And I'm gearing up for 2023 Now, there you
go. You love to see it. Yeah, I always do my morning sales funnels, where I'll send out an email to my my subscribers in the morning. And it's usually just about an hour or so after I finish up my morning workout. So I'm right there with you. It makes you feel good. It makes you feel like you're ready to conquer the day. And it also I think it helps us build something beyond just you know, what we do for our day jobs, what we do for our careers, but rather something we can focus on as an individual milestone that we can set to accomplish. And the idea of goal setting. I love that. And I want to maybe focus on how we as individuals become who we are right. And it starts with and this is one of the areas you focus on in the book is just being authentic being your authentic self. And there was a story you told in Insell different which I want to have you share with the audience because it was the authenticity of the college your son was was being recruited for baseball, and how they treated him and in return what you thought of the school. Could you share that story with us, Lee?
Absolutely. So I've got two sons that both play baseball. My older son Steven was a junior in high school. My wife Sharon, and I will say you know, Stevie, you need to set up college visits is a little slow in doing so. And I've come to find a lot of kids are a little slow in scheduling those tours. But he had aspirations of playing baseball in college. And that summer, he was asked to play on our city's American Legion baseball team. And if you're not familiar with American Legion, this is where the college scouts come looking for top talent. And in a one week tournament, he hit four home runs and three doubles. And I gotta tell you, Brian, he wasn't having to go to colleges anymore. They were now coming to us. And if you've ever been through a college recruiting experience before, you know it's a sale, these coaches are trying to sell you on their institution. But they can't differentiate what they sell. Right? They can't add a major they can't build a dorm cost. They can't even change the meal plan, all fixed assets, but they're competing for top talent. So how do you do that? How do you stand out? What's the way that you sell or as my book is titled, you sell different and some coaches were absolutely fantastic at it and some failed miserably. The brain you know when you first Go onto a college campus. As soon as you cross onto the border, your blood pressure jumps about 30 points. Do you know why that is?
Probably because you're waiting for that moment of the sale to start. No, no, no, no,
you can't find a place to park. Oh, okay.
Yeah, I guess that makes more sense, doesn't it? Yeah,
every parking lot on a college campus says park here, we're going to tell you, but welcome to our fine institution. Well, this one school we visited, we pull into the parking lot. There's a spot with Stephens name on it stop to step in their tracks. Then we go inside, there's an agenda for the day, Siemens name printed right at the top. What did it cost us university to do these two things, time editing paper and ink. But think about what they did. They made us feel like Stephen was the only athlete to recruiting anywhere on the planet. For any sport that they offered, of course, that wasn't the case. But that's how they made us feel. And every one of you has the opportunity, I don't care what you're selling, has the opportunity to make people feel special. But you know what happens? Brian? All day long. We're on calls, we have meetings, demos, presentations, writing proposals. And we may have 1015 20 contacts throughout the day regarding our services. But if you think about it, the people on the other end of the zoom, the other end of the phone, the other side of the desk, how many have they having with your company today, just one. And we forget to make people feel special. But I'll tell you about who really understands and who gets this better than anybody. Tell me professional actors. Right, professional actors still do the same show twice a day, for weeks, months, some of them even years reciting the same lines having the same actions. And what they understand is, while they're doing it repetitively, each member of that audience sees it once. So they have to make that experience the experience, feel as if they've never done it before. And that's the opportunity that all of you have that's watching this podcast, what you have to do is take a step back and look at every touchpoint every interaction that you have with a buyer and ask yourself this question. What is it that I can do different than the competition that my buyer will find meaningful? So Brian, I could have shown up today wearing a pink outfit, a yellow hat, it would have been different, right or whatever, not necessarily meaningful. And that's the thing, we got to think about what's meaningful, you know, we like to go in and boast of the awards that our company has received and the accolades. But if you ask yourself, why does this matter? Why should they care about it? Oftentimes, the answer is, it doesn't matter them. So why are we wasting valuable minutes talking about something that doesn't matter to them? But again, come back to that question, what is it that we can do different, different in every interaction, every touchpoint, that our buyers will find meaningful, you're gonna find there's lots of opportunities that you're not taking advantage of today. And they're really not hard to implement. It just takes a moment to have some thought, care, and then you can take advantage of it.
And how important is it to the fact that you make the person understand that you do care, and it's not by you tricking them or by doing some secret magic act? I always, I always laugh at my personal journey. I used to weigh 385 pounds, I was a big boy. And I lost about 200 pounds or so of that survey that over Yeah, it was it was intense. And it was exhausting. Everybody asked me you know, did you do that? Did you do the surgery? What pills were you taking? And and the reality is there is no secret pill. Now I did not take a surgery or anything like that. No, this was all two years worth of hard blood, sweat and tears I would put forth at the gym. I mean, goodness, I would go out to my family's empty barn and walk up and down the the middle of the barn every single night just because I was so embarrassed to go to the gym to start off. But just doing that and being able to build that up. I mean, that alone, you see the the energy that goes into it. And I think your average person, sometimes they want that easy fix Lee, they want it to be so easy, but it's not. And the reality I think that a lot of the top sales pros understand and more and more people are starting to realize as well is that when you are your authentic self, and you stop trying to almost trick your customer into buying your solution or buying your product that not only you're going to have a more real authentic relationship with them. But this goes to the next question. And this is the area that you were focusing on in the book about referrals and this just blew me away. 73% of buyers say that they prefer getting other referrals and that right there speaks volumes in terms of If you can build that real, authentic relationship, you will be not just the the trusted advisor for them, they're going to leverage you with their network and they say, look at this person, they can bring such value to your organization to you as an individual. I think that is an important part. Could you dig more into the referral side of things?
You know, let me let me just finish up that other story about authenticity for sure. As a portrait, not in the book. Remember, I mentioned I have two sons? Yes. So my younger son, David, he's now a freshman in college Stephens, now a junior in college, when he went through the recruiting process, he's a national recognized pitcher. He had watched the entire process, he was at several of the meetings that Stephen went through there during the recruiting process. See, there was seven schools that were recruiting Stephen, the one that was on the top of his list, bagpack, this is where he was going, was at the bottom of the list. At the end of the process, they didn't get rid of a major, they didn't move the campus, they didn't change the meal plan. It was the recruiting process, how he was being sold, that completely changed the perception. So much so that when David went through the recruiting process, that school wasn't even on his list to consider. So it's not just blowing this deal. It's like the old shampoo commercial. And they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on. But here's an example that I think really helped the audience see what we're talking about. So I have two wonderful dogs. I'm a huge animal lover. Vir, do you have a dog? No, I
have a cat. Okay, cats. Yes. Got it.
So if you ever go to a kennel, and you see the dogs play outside 25 of them, let's say you just see this mass of dogs out there. But every one of them has, has a home and has someone that loves them dearly. For them. They're special, they're the only ones there. So when you look at this, from the outside, you see 25 dogs running around. But for that individual dog owner, they see one dog out there, there's their pet. And what they want to make sure of is that that kennel doesn't see a massive 25 dogs, they see 25 individual pets, and treat them with the love caring and compassion that they're looking for. And if you think about it from the sales experience that you want, nobody wants to be treated like a number no one wants to be treated. In mass, you know, we also experienced this, if you ever, ever call an 800 number for customer service, you're just the call of the moment. And those agents all day long. All they do is feel these calls. And it's just the next call. That's who you are to them. Think about the experiences where someone made you feel special, and how much you want to continue doing business with that organization? And more specifically, that individual.
Yeah, yeah, well, and not only do you build up that, that strong network of people that you'd want to do the business with, but to the point, and we see this also in the world of sales, that especially the champion, that you build that champion, because you're not just helping them, you internally sell your solution, but you're also making them a superstar. And I think sometimes we forget that if we're dealing with a larger b2b solution. It's not just the problem that you're helping solve, but it's the emotional tie that you're bringing to the person that you're helping sell this internally to make them look like that superstar, because then they'll put forth that effort of helping you go ahead and get this solution in place. Now, you refer to this person as the mentor, can you talk about the importance of that mentor relationship, Lee.
And that's usually important in selling, you may have heard the expression of a sales coach, right, somebody helped coach the deal. And I found that it was just too vague, wasn't specific enough to really help salespeople. And so there's this concept that I put in place. Gosh, I can't tell you how many years now I just turned 53. So it's at least 25. And it's this entity called a mentor. And a mentor has two evaluation scores associated with them. The first is their level of commitment to your solution being the one that's selected. And the other is the level of influence in the decision making process for what you sell. So level of commitment on one side, level of influence on the other. And each one of them you're giving a zero to five score. So I work with coaching clients is one organization I work with. Every week we meet and the salespeople bring forward deals or deal strategy sessions. My first question for them always, is tell me about your strongest mentor and their two scores, their level of commitment and level of influence. Anything less than a five means that you have vulnerabilities in your deal. And that helps you when is vulnerable nobody's, that's not bad news, it's good news, you see where the vulnerabilities are, and then you can take action on them. And I'll tell you that has helped so much with salespeople to have clarity on their deal pursuits, because they would just go into it moving along. And then when you start asking them about level of commitment, so if a competitor came along, you simply they really committed to us and offered the solution for 15%. Less, would they still be in your account? Oh, that's a good question. I don't know. Well, maybe that commitments, not as strong as you thought it was. level of influence. If you're not dealing with the person who signs the check, then you're again, you have some vulnerabilities, and understanding those allows you to then work internally and navigate the deal and remove those.
He talked about horizontal and vertical questions, Lee. And we see sometimes in I talk about this a Tim Wakil it's important to ask great questions. But it's specific types of questions. And again, you you define those as horizontal and vertical, Could you outline to the audience what a horizontal versus vertical question is, and how we can use that in the world of sales?
Absolutely. So I'm going to take the audience to a very scary place, very scary. Queue up the Eerie music. This is a place none of us wants to go. But we all go there, usually twice a year, and it's the dentist chair. Yep, we go there for a routine cleaning. And then the dentist comes in big metal hook. Now you've been told since you were a child, don't ever put metal in your mouth. Except of course, if you're a dentist, then you can take metal and put it in someone's mouth. And what they do is they take this big metal hook, and they go tooth by tooth scanning each one. And of course, Brian, you know, we're doing the whole time, right? We're praying, oh, God, please don't stick, please don't stick. And then it happens. The hook sticks in the tooth. And the dentist sets up camp right there to figure out what's going on with that specific tooth. And there's a parallel with discovery questions. What salespeople often do is we ask scan questions, which I call horizontal questions to surface level questions. So we get a piece of data, we write it down, and we move on to the next horizontal question. And we write that down too. And we don't take the time to get a complete picture, just like the dentist does around that data point. And that's done through vertical questions. So for example, someone says I want to be implemented. On June 1, we rent it Okay, June 1. Why first? Right. Why don't you in first, horizontal questions, answer the what? Vertical questions give us the why. And when you look at issues that you run into at the end of the process, commonly called closing issues, deal stall out, all of a sudden price is a big issue. They ghost you, let's see expression today. Apparently, when they stop talking with you. Most common reason is lack of vertical questions. We don't understand enough about them. The data, the information they've shared to keep the deal energized and moving with us. And it's funny, I asked salespeople all the time Jews fault it is that you don't ask enough vertical questions. I guess it's mine. Like no, no, it's not your fault. It's not It's okay. Not really that whose fault is it? It's your parents fault. See, we all come into this world naturally inquisitive. Why is this guy so blue? Why is this so big? Why is this so round? And what a parents do? It just is no more questions. So we've been conditioned not to ask a lot of questions, because it's going to irritate someone. But study after study reveals the key to sales success is asking thoughtful, insightful questions. So we got this one side where you've been conditioned to say, Oh, I can't ask a lot of questions, someone's gonna get mad at me. And then sales successes, you need to ask a lot of questions, or you're never going to get the deal. So I do these exercises with salespeople to recondition them to retrain them. And why do I say retrain? Because you came into this world naturally inquisitive. Your parents ruined it. So I'll do something like I'll share a horizontal questions. Let's forget about your own industry. And the question is, is where would you like to go on vacation? And the response back is I want to go to Florida. And I just did this with a keynote a week ago. And I gave them 60 seconds to come up with as many vertical questions as they could. Based on that one data point. I want to go to Florida. So if you think about the questions have you ever been to Florida, you for the East Coast to the West Coast? How you going to get there? What do you like to do on vacation? I mean, infinite number of questions. And then I brought it around to their own industry, same concept. But there's some retraining we have to do with our brains to rediscover what I call being insatiably inquisitive, insatiably inquisitive. We don't just take a data point and write it down. We need to do is fully understand the big picture just like that dentist. When that hook sticks, you got a piece of data, you get that hook in there, you need to understand everything that's going on around that data point.
What a great analogy to and by the way, I was laughing. It's great. Yeah. And I was laughing. By the way, I'm not sure if you're good ole Robin Williams stand up fan. He did a phenomenal bit live at the Met. And it was, it was at the end of the skit, and his talk was kid in the backseat of the car. And why is the sky blue? Is because of the atmosphere. Atmosphere? Who are you Carl Sagan, and he scraped all my classic Robin Williams standard as some of the best but I'm going back to when we're talking about building up and you mentioned before, showing the the tangible outcomes. And you mentioned something in the book called The total cost of ownership. And we in the sales world are probably familiar more with like the ROI showing that discrepancy between where you are and where you can be or if you're comparing two different solutions, more getting an apples to apples comparison. But I like the way that you reframe it Lee as the total cost of ownership. Can you explain to the audience why you frame it that way?
Yeah, and I wish I didn't take credit for it. I mean, that's an industry expression, you have TCO, you have ROI. And the story I share in the book is regarding my daughter when she was looking for an apartment in college. And there's this one that she considered an absolute power suit, gorgeous building at a fitness facility in it in the apartment itself flatscreen TVs on the wall, fully furnished, including beds. And it was pricey. And that's how she described it to me. But then there was this other place that she found was about $100 a month cheaper than this one. And she was telling me about this and she was resigned to having to go with the lower price option. They said, well tell me about that. And she says, Well, it's also nice, not as nice as this other one said, Okay, um, furnished? No, no, no, it's not furnished. Okay, so we got to buy furniture, they have a workout facility. No, they don't have a workout facility. And then we ran the numbers. And we said, Okay, here's what it's going to cost you. If you take the lower price option, versus the gorgeous palace that you told me about. And very quickly, the numbers revealed the better deal was the more expensive choice. When you factored in total cost of ownership, we'd have to buy furniture and televisions, she wants to work out. So you needed a gym membership relative to the other one. And I thought about going back to the property manager and say you owe me a commission check because I did your homework for you. And so often with salespeople, they'll give this high level electrode expressions, oh, there's great ROI on this a TCO. And this is just fantastic. No one buys into it. You've got to develop models, where people can actually see the numbers, over two thirds of the population is visual, if you don't put it on paper, they're never going to get it. And that's an opportunity. So many salespeople miss out on we just give these high level although it's a great investment. It's a great deal. We use those expressions, but we don't make it tangible. Build the models take him through the numbers so that they can see just like with this apartment, what the better deal truly is. Yeah,
well, and we see this I think a lot where we're focusing on the emotions because we know emotions will sell and also emotions will help pique a lot of interest. But to your point lead the numbers help tell the real story. And we need to have that to help make sure we're bringing our buyers on the best path it because we are that trusted advisor. So that goes to my final question, which was when we got everything mapped out, right, we've gone through, we've built authenticity and going through my notes built authenticity, we've leveraged referrals, we've got our mentor ready to rock and roll. We've asked the horizontal, we've asked the vertical questions. We've helped outline the total cost of ownership and return of investment. And now we have to help make it real. And I think this is where we have a lot of sales folks. They just they stop. They're like okay, I'm going to offer the solution. And I'll be 1,000% transparent and humble here because this is how I lost one of the biggest deals I was ever working on was because I didn't help make it real and reading books like sell different just help reaffirm why that is so important to focus on. So let's make it real. How can we help with the army? onboarding onboarding process making our buyers comfortable not just with the solution, but seeing that this solution will work for them.
Yes. And what you're referring to is the fear of change. It's in every single deal. Don't expect the buyer to go, Oh my gosh, I'm afraid to change to you, that's not going to happen. It's their actions that speak volumes, where you say, Boy, here's a great TCO, you're going to save so much money, and they're still not turning their keys and saying, Let's go forward. And the reason is this, they can't visualize how they go from doing whatever they're doing today, if they're doing something themselves, or buying for another supplier, to switching over to you, they can't visualize it. And when they can't visualize it, it appears painful, not only painful, it's risky. And when I sign off on a deal, and to make a change and what the business is doing, I got risk, because I signed off on it. And if that goes wrong, particularly during that transition, someone's going to be looking for a scapegoat. And it's going to be me because my inks on the paper. So the opportunity that so many of us miss out on is productizing Client Onboarding, well, what does that mean? I'm not an operations guy, I'm not going to get into the operations of how you bring on new clients. But what's missing is when we start getting buying signs, proactively bringing up the conversation by saying, I'm sure you're wondering how you go from what you're doing today to fully working with us. We have a fully defined Client Onboarding program that will guide you step by step from where you are today, to working with us. Would you like me to walk you through that? And that's a great test question. Here's why. If they say yes, that would be outstanding, you know, you're reading the buying signals correctly, if they say no, and we don't need to get into that red flags that feels not as strong as you think it is. Because of course, they would want to know how they go from point A to point B when there's so much risk, so much at stake. So what I mean by productizing Client Onboarding, is developing a one pager, just a one page document that summarizes the phases that they're going to undergo during that transition. So they can visualize Remember, I said two thirds of the population is visual, can't just talk about it, you got to show it, walk them through the phases in how they go from their current state, to the future state so that they have full confidence that they are going to enjoy the benefits that you just described, without the headaches of the transition.
This was the tip of the iceburg sell different I cannot recommend it enough, you can order it on Amazon. Or you can I think find it pretty much where you can find any books out there, folks. So I cannot encourage you enough. And yes, you should just like I go through highlighter and pen in hand because it is full of just so many useful nuggets that to back when we said earlier, they're not the secret pills, they're not the secret sauce, but rather it's real things you can start to implement into your every single conversation interaction you have with a prospective buyer, and it's gonna help make you better. So with that being said, Lee, we want folks that they want to continue the conversation to be able to do so. So where can folks go ahead and find you and reach out.
So first of all, wherever you buy the book, or if you're interested in learning more about the subject, go to sell different book.com sell different book.com On that page of my website, you can download the first chapter, either to read or even the audio book, you can add that sample as well. And then when you purchase the book, come back to sell different books calm and register for my video series. Every week for a year you'll get a link to a video that will help you implement what you've read about.
You'd love to see it because right now I think people are looking for ways of doing things different and why not start selling things different as well. Least sales the book is sell different. Thanks for joining The Brian Nichols Show. Thanks for listening to The Brian Nichols Show. Find more episodes at the Brian Nichols show.com If you enjoyed today's episode, don't forget to subscribe. Want to help us reach more people? Give the show a five star review and tell your friends to subscribe to find us at Brian Nichols show.com and download the show on Apple podcast, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow me on social media at V. Nichols liberty and consider donating to the show at Brian Nichols show.com forward slash support. The Brian Nichols Show is supported by viewers like you. Thank you to our patrons Darryl Schmitz, Michael Lima, Michel Mankiewicz hodi John's credit caster and the we're libertarians network
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Lee Salz is a leading sales management strategist specializing in building sales processes in companies. He has helped hundreds of companies, in various industries and sizes, create marketplace disruption – leading to explosive, profitable growth. Lee challenges executives to blast through the artificial barriers that impede their success. He is an entrepreneur, results-driven consultant and dynamic keynote speaker. Clients say he has a gift for architecting sales success by helping them:
Hire the right salespeople
Onboard them effectively into the roles
Ensure their sales strategy is aligned with business objectives
Formulate their sales differentiation strategy to win more deals at the prices they want
Develop their sales architecture® framework which defines each step of the process
Track process performance through metrics
Compensate to reinforce the process and drive desired behaviors
In addition to Sales Architects, he launched The Revenue Accelerator which is his sales onboarding and enablement technology firm. This system structures and automates the onboarding experience. The methodology embedded in the system comes from his book “Hire Right, Higher Profits." His entrepreneur experience gives him unique insight to the challenges executives face during growth phases.
He’s also a bestselling, award-winning author of several books. His latest book “Sales Differentiation – 19 Powerful Strategies to Win More Deals at the Prices You Want" is the hottest sales book on Amazon! His prior book, “Hire Right, Higher Profits,” is also an Amazon bestseller and was the #1-rated sales management book on Amazon for 2014.
He is frequently sought by the media for interviews on sales and sales management issues. He has been quoted and featured The Wall Street Journal, CNN, The New York Times, MSNBC, ABC News and several other media outlets.
He’s also received several awards and accolades for his work in sales force development.
Featured columnist - Business Journals
Program Advisor and Strategy Coach - Kansas State University’s National Strategic Sales Institute
Editorial Advisory Board Member - Sales & Marketing Management magazine
Advisory Board Member - Sales Education Foundation
Board Member - Workforce Management Business Intelligence
"Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager" named by Amazon as one of the top 20 most highly-rated sales books of all time - 2016
Named to Top 50 Sales Management Blogs by Docurated - 2016
Named to Top 25 Inside Sales Influencers by American Association of Inside Sales Professionals - 2015
Named to Top 100 Most Innovative Sales Bloggers by iSEEit - 2015
hand“Hire Right, Higher Profits” wins silver medal for Top Sales Book of the Year by Top Sales World - 2014
Named to Top 25 Sales Influencers by OpenView Labs - 2014, 2013, 2012
Named to Top Sales Influencers by WittyParrot - 2014
Named to Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blogs - “Sales Management Challenge” - by Top Sales World - 2014
hand“Sales Management Executives” LinkedIn group wins silver medal for Top LinkedIn Sales Group - 2014
Named to Top 25 Online Influences in Talent Management by HR Examiner - 2011
hand“Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager” wins the Silver Medal in Top Sales Book Awards - 2008
Lee is originally from New York and New Jersey and spent ten years in the Washington D.C. Metro area. He now calls Minneapolis home, along with his wife, three children, and two dogs.
When he isn’t on the baseball field coaching his kids, Lee is in the gym preparing for his next powerlifting meet. He’s been competing in the bench press since 2000 and most recently won the 2014 Minnesota State Powerlifting Championships.