TWII's and Print4Pay Hotel's Top Sales Reps of 2014: Nate Robinson
June 19, 2014
He could have been a drummer in a rock or jazz band, but instead Nate Robinson is one of Impact Networking's top sales people.
Name: Nate Robinson
Title: Document Solutions Account Executive
Company: Impact Networking LLC, Waukegan, IL
Years in industry: 16
New business revenue: $737,238
Gross revenue: $2,457,459 (Revenue figures include equipment, software and maintenance)
Units placed: 213
What they're saying about Nate: "Nate is one of the most selfless, loyal, dedicated, hardest working professionals that any business partner could ask for. He has never uttered the phrase "that's not my job"—he would do just about anything to help Impact and his co-workers succeed. He was the first employee/sales rep at Impact when we started the business in the CEO's basement in September 1999, and has been an integral part in our growth over the last 14 years to becoming a $37 million dealership in 2013."
If it weren't for some well-timed words of wisdom from his father years ago, Nate Robinson might still be driving an ice cream truck selling cool treats instead of making cold calls to prospective copier buyers. Or he might have pursued a degree in music and been playing drums in rock and jazz bands as he did during high school and college. Instead, he took his father's advice and earned a degree in business administration.
"I was torn as to whether follow the business track or music," recalls Robinson. "My dad encouraged me to make music my hobby and focus on business and use business to drive my hobby."
The drummer turned document solutions account executive still keeps the beat, playing in different bands and with a group at his church. He even collects drum sets. However, becoming one of the top sales reps at Impact Networking LLC in Waukegan, IL, has given him the freedom to play for fun and invest in his hobby while also earning a good living to take care of his family.
"I always knew sales was in my blood," says Robinson who's first sales experience was selling newspapers door to door in high school.
Prior to joining Impact he worked with Impact's founder Frank Cucco at another company before joining Cucco's new venture. Although Robinson was a natural at selling newspapers and ice cream, the transition to office technology was a culture shock. "I wasn't used to hitting the phones and making cold calls, but I enjoyed the challenge," states Robinson.
He found his first job in the industry in the classifieds after returning home to the Chicago area from Nashville. He was lucky; the sales manager of the dealership where he applied was short staffed and desperate and when he asked the shaggy haired drummer if he thought he could sell copiers, Robinson said yes and was hired on the spot. The only caveat was that after a couple of weeks the manager took him aside and told him he had to cut his hair and shave his goatee. It wasn't an easy decision and the independent-minded Robinson thought about bagging the job, but his father once again talked some sense into him and he showed up at work the next day trimmed, clean shaven, and ready to sell.
He concedes that he wasn't a fan of his manager at the time, which inspired him to get out of the office and pound the pavement. "That's one of the reasons I was successful," notes Robinson. "I didn't want to be in the office; I wanted to meet with clients. By taking the time and putting my effort towards learning the equipment, how to prospect, about the company [I was selling to], that helped me get my feet underneath me and learn the business."
Within three months he was getting the hang of copier sales and a few months later he left to join Impact Networking.
One of his first sales for Impact was a small church on the south side of Chicago. "This was back when we delivered the machines ourselves," recalls Robinson. "We did the installation at 7 p.m. at night. We arrived at the church and there was a church service going on. The minister stopped the church service and said 'Praise the Lord the copier has arrived.'"
The office technology industry suits Robinson just fine. "I like working with technology, working with customers, negotiating, and helping people solve the challenges they have in their offices. I'm not a person that can sit behind a desk all day and work on a computer, I enjoy being out with people."
He's making the most of the transition to solutions selling, acknowledging that sales reps can't be box movers anymore. "There's so much more we can offer a client and it's much more rewarding. We're not just replacing a copier with a copier or giving them a new copier with a faster document feeder; we can actually make an impact on people's businesses and completely change the way they're operating as a company."
Recalling his biggest sale, Robinson talks about his early days at Impact when he was single and had the flexibility to make sales calls from 5-9 in the evening. "I often met with the business owners because they were the only ones still in their offices at that time of night."
One Thursday night around 7 p.m. he struck gold when he made a cold call at a telephone card company. It had to be his lucky day, because the owner was in the office researching printers and was looking for the fastest printer he could find. At that time digital technology was still in its infancy, but Impact had a 65-ppm machine that sold in the $75-$100,000 range. The owner wanted three.
"I couldn't believe it," exclaims Robinson. "We did the deal and I walked away with a couple hundred thousand dollar deal."
Robinson's clients are extremely loyal because of his excellent customer service skills. "His sales skills, industry knowledge, and sales activities are second to none, and he always has a positive outlook," says Cucco.
Some of his sales achievements include six consecutive years in the Million Dollar Club (over $1 million in annual equipment revenue sales), 24 sales contest trips achieved in 14 years, and 31 quarterly partners' awards. In addition to his individual results, he has always been a team player and leader. He helped launch and manage Impact's KIP and Riso initiatives, and mentors, trains and supports Impact's sales reps while leading by example.
Robinson is also actively involved in the community, including Impact's "Letters for Santa" program where he plays the role of Santa. He's also an active member in his church.
When not selling, you'll find Robinson spending time with his wife and three kids, ages 1, 4, and 6. He enjoys traveling with his family too, and thanks to his sales success has earned some sweet travel awards from his manufacturers.
"That's another nice perk of doing what I do," he says.
And for Impact Networking, having Robinson on staff a great perk as well.