I had a happy childhood always doing something. I’m the middle one of three boys. We were outdoorsy kids and fiercely competitive, especially me; middle child syndrome? You bet!
Unlike my brothers, school was not my thing. To me, ‘winning at school’ didn’t seem worth the effort. I couldn’t see what it looked like and couldn’t visualise the prize. If I couldn’t win, I didn’t want to play. Rugby and fishing, different story – I loved these.
As my rebellious years set in, I spent a lot of time with my late uncle John who wrote and photographed for fishing and hunting magazines. I loved him and credit him with being my first real mentor, he was at the top of his game and I really looked up to him. Looking at how he worked made me realise that what they were teaching at school wasn’t necessarily what I needed to succeed in my life.
Much to my family’s disappointment I left school the minute I could. At 16, I signed up to a Youth Training Scheme to be a commercial fisherman. Even at that early stage I don’t think I ever intended it to be my long-term future, but the physicality, the outdoor life and being part of a team was hard to resist. Of course it was an illusion of freedom but I didn’t know that yet.
Enough is enough
When the insanity of getting up at 4am, working 7 days a week, and the injustice of being on the bottom rung of a very short ladder, going nowhere, frustrated the hell out of me, so I jacked it in. The one and only question was: ‘What now?’ I knew I’d tucked a lot of experiences under my belt and learned some pretty hard lessons. The list of what I didn’t want to do had grown but I was still no closer to what I did want.
Falling into Sales
I answered an ad to sell Life Insurance because they offered sales training and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Going to the seminar impressed the hell out of me. I was an experienced worker by this time but the physical stuff I’d been doing was a far cry from the collar and tie world I was entering. The training was good and it didn’t take me long to realise I was good at sales – hated cold calling, hated life insurance, but I knew how to work it, knew how to motivate myself, knew how to be a success within the parameters of the job. My experience on the trawler, at the mercy of the weather and the English Channel, gave me a confidence that I really appreciated in this safe on dry land work.
Through a great friend I got a ‘real sales job’ in IT, it was still commission only – but I loved it, applied what I’d learnt, and started mapping out how to achieve the future I wanted.
I studied, picked up experience and found new and better ways of doing things. By the time I was 30, I owned and ran the company and after increasing its sales and profits, I realised I’d reached the highest level I could with the set up at the time. The business had two divisions: software and IT, which I split into two companies. I sold the IT side and kept the software business, which I merged with another software company. I applied what I’d learnt and again after increasing the sales and profits, it was sold it to a company backed by Private Equity in 2012.
I’d always worked so when I stopped to consider my next move, I felt like I’d lost my purpose. I’d achieved success but where was I and why didn’t it feel as good as I’d thought it would?
Help arrived unexpectedly when an ex-client rang me up and asked me to ‘come and beat up my sales team’ – I didn’t know anything about their products but he was insistent: ‘No Matt, but you bloody know how to run a sales team’. And I did.
The year was 2013 and Sales Plus Profit was born. Now five years on, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and last year secured our first overseas clients in Sydney, Australia.
Sales Plus Profit is maturing and expanding. Our clients are becoming our advocates and we’re building on our solid reputation in the market place and expanding into overseas markets.
I’m running CEO/MD workshops and am active as a speaker to business groups. I have also embarked on a journey to create a SaaS based sales platform (www.salesenabla.com) for those who need help to simply roll out a Sales Playbook, rather than an agile sales director in their business.
My first book: Learning the Ropes – Achieving Sustainable Sales Performance Regardless of Changes in Personnel, was launched in March 2018 and can’t help having a little chuckle, when I think of my teachers at school, who would have bet their hard earned salary against me ever achieving much of anything at all!