Q&A with Jeff Gabonay

What are most people surprised about when they get to know you for the first time?

I’m extremely open and probably to a fault. I very rarely hold my tongue regarding any topic.

I also know what I don’t know and won’t pretend to speak to something unfamiliar to me.

I would also say I’m a more thoughtful advice giver than a “pitch man.”

You’ve been at IVM seven years now, what changes have you seen in that time?

A ton. The first six months, we had just begun our relationship with Facebook. We had five machines doing IT peripheral vending. I was spending a lot of time traveling and educating people on how to sell this type of solution. Once we had this relationship with Facebook, it became apparent we needed to take the same solutions into different industries. That meant I was talking to a completely different audience. We did a lot of web exchange meetings versus on-site customer visits. The tools then are nothing like what we’re using now. We can target in a more efficient and specific manner and maximize more opportunities.

How big is your sales team? Five people.

What have you found motivates sales people the most?I’m a very hands-off manager. I like to provide my team with the tools they need, but not stand over them while they do the job. In sales, you have to have metrics and statistics to point to and drive success stories. I communicate to my sales people in a helpful way, as opposed to negative reinforcement or holding a quota over their heads. I’m a glass-half-full person. It’s not a challenge for me to be positive. So, it’s really about communicating to the team in a well enough manner. You need to be authentic. People can see right through when you have ulterior motives.

What’s the most important factor you consider when hiring someone?There are a lot of different things. Hiring is always challenging. You’re trying to uncover what motivates a person and you’re attempting to do this in a 60-minute session. A majority of sales people can do well enough in 60 minutes. But how will that translate over the next 24 months? I look for, not statistics on a resume — you can spin numbers a million different ways to look good on a resume. I want to have a conversation, and I don’t want to see someone sell themselves. I want to see how you operate in a Q&A. We sell solutions, not a jacket or a pair of pants. Rapport and personality is big with me. Work ethic of course is critical, although it’s also hard to tell that in an interview. I get a sense based on personality and our discussion. And that should be a two-way street. But ultimately, I need people that are driven internally as opposed to needing someone to motivate them.

Explain the process once you have a sales lead? Leads come in through the contact page of our website. I find out what the prospect is essentially looking for. Then, I assign the lead to a sales person based on a rotation. That’s if nobody has contacted that person in the past. We don’t have territories per se because some geographic areas naturally perform better than others. On the West Coast, for example, a sales person would not have to work very hard. That’s where a lot of the tech companies we work with reside. Many times, they come to us. They’ve seen our equipment in other companies. Which is great for us because they’re not seeing our solution for the first time.

How much do you sell internationally? A lot of what we do internationally is an extension of the work we’ve done domestically. So, we’ve got a U.S. client with global locations and they want to scale this program out to their subsidiaries or other locations. We can absolutely take this to Dublin, London, wherever. It doesn’t matter where the physical footprint of the machine is, so much of what we do is in the cloud. We’re in 40 countries now. We recently took our first machine to South Africa. We really don’t have restrictions. We will continue to grow. We have a strong foundation. Maybe 20 or 30 new countries next year.

What’s usually the first question potential customers want to know from you about a Smart Station or locker? Is it cost? Actually no, well yes. Cost is part of the first conversation, but it’s usually not the first question. That also depends on whether we’re pursuing an opportunity or someone is contacting us. If they’re contacting us, they’ve done the homework. One of the first questions we get is related to the capability of these machines. How many items can I fit in one? Can I check items in and out? That sort of thing.

How many items can a machine hold?The short answer is 250 pieces of product in a machine.

What’s a common sales hurdle? Educating people on the difference between a straight vending machine and a full-scale solution. Our competitors offer a vending machine that’s a one-time transaction with a light warranty. We’re actually selling a solution that explores the things they’re interested in and tying that back to our uniqueness. You can see that by the clients we have. Once we’re able to demonstrate the difference in our solutions prices is not an obstacle.

What’s the sales cycle for a smart station or locker and why?80 days. We just get a lot more questions these days related to security and privacy issues that we’ve had in the past, but our solutions are actually quite secure.

What are your sales goals for next year?2018 has been a big year and will be our highest sales volume year so far. Looking at next year, we have a couple of new developments that will allow us to target new industries. One of those new industries is car dealerships, but that’s about all I can say right now. We’ll continue to enhance the solutions we have and go after new business.

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