“A greater weight being placed on the value of relationships”

A greater weight being placed on the value of relationships.- With all this time at home, we have been able to spend more time with loved ones and friends. Because of this, we value relationships much more. We understand that it is possible to have a much greater work-life balance. Like I stated above, this goes for customers, as well. Customers, employees, and even senior leadership, all need to be looking for new and innovative ways to ensure they are placing as much stock into actual relationships as they can.

There have been major disruptions in recent years that promise to change the very nature of work. From the ongoing shifts caused by the COVID19 pandemic, the impacts caused by automation, and other possible disruptions to the status quo, many wonder what the future holds in terms of employment. For example, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute that estimated automation will eliminate 73 million jobs by 2030.

To address this open question, we reached out to successful leaders in business, government, and labor, as well as thought leaders about the future of work to glean their insights and predictions on the future of work and the workplace.

As a part of this interview series called “Preparing For The Future Of Work”, we had the pleasure to interview Kyle Slaymaker.

Kyle is the founder and owner of The Slaymaker Method, a renowned sales-strategy firm that provides custom-made sales strategies designed specifically to the company’s needs to ensure they are set up with a winning strategy to capitalize on the new way of selling that has been ushered in by Covid-19. He is also a 2-time bestselling author of So, You Think You Can Sell and Creating Dynamic Demand. Kyle lives in Lancaster, PA with his wife, Elizabeth, and 3 children.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?

Thank you! It is an honor to be interviewed and I’m happy to bring my experience to your audience! I was born and raised in Lancaster, PA and spent four years in the Navy, deploying in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. I was able to travel the world and then came back home to be with my daughter who was born when I was 18. That was the most formative moment of my life, clearly, as becoming a father at such a young age and then being in the military made me grow up quickly. Other incredibly defining moments for me were when I decided to go into sales, a complete career switch at the request of my girlfriend, who is now my wife, and when I realized how incredibly important it is to put the customer before the commission. A sweet old woman came in to buy a car and was incredibly upset to be doing so. When I asked what was wrong, she explained that the only reason she was buying a car is because her husband of nearly 60 years had passed away two weeks earlier in a car accident and totaled their only car. It was at that very moment where I realized the people buying from me were more than a paycheck, they were real people with real emotions. I told my manager to sell the car at cost, which he agreed to do. I walked out and explained I wasn’t going to put her through negotiation as she didn’t need the stress, and I gave her the car at cost. Her daughter, who was with her, after taking her back to the car, walked back in and said “I have never seen any person in sales ever treat my mother the way you just did. I want the same car she just got and I want it at full price.” I was floored, but I realized then that I could break the sales stigma by just being a decent human being. That is when I started down the path that has led me to where I am today.

What do you expect to be the major disruptions for employers in the next 10–15 years? How should employers pivot to adapt to these disruptions?

Covid has placed the world in a unique position. I have long maintained that Covid set business ahead by ten years. We are now, where we would be in ten years, had it not been for Covid. This has led to some interesting dynamics. As my forte is sales strategy, buyers are buying completely differently, and sales professionals need to be prepared to sell in a way that is not only ethical but speaks to the things that are important to their prospects. Transactional sales have been pushed to the, almost, nonexistent side, while we see buyers buying from much more emotional, relational, and solutions-based motivators. How does this relate to work disruptions? It is simple.

We are in the midst of the aptly dubbed Great Resignation. Companies and workers have been working remote, or hybrid, for so long now, that people have been able to enjoy the freedom that these types of environments bring. They really weren’t relying on the employers for their well-being while working. They were relying on themselves and what they found was something that reshaped the business world, potentially forever. I truly believe that when people started to realize they could not only take care of themselves but discovered just how easy it is to start a business in America, the power dynamic shifted. People blamed the unemployment benefits and the government for people not wanting to work, but in reality, they didn’t want to go back to work because they were flooded with opportunities to go after their dreams. Ask yourself, if you spent nearly two years working from home or hybrid and you saw the chance to finally start your own business, would you? You already know how to work from home and do it successfully, so why not do it for yourself? This is only going to increase.

The next disruption that I see coming is going to come from the employees who are staying with their employers. Due to the intense reliance on emotional connections that have been cultivated from their time at home or away from the office, these employees are going to be looking to their employers to foster these emotional connections as life returns to “normal,” if there is such a thing. They are going to want to see increased time off, increased time working from home, and for the employer to facilitate this.

This provides the employers a unique opportunity. Clearly, a new era is being ushered in and there is an opening for a massive disruptor. That title is going to go to the first company that can truly give not just their employees but their customers as well, the true focus on the relationships that are important to them. This company will have to provide their workers with the ability to work from anywhere they are able, help them foster better relationships between their coworkers, their leadership, and their customers, and truly make a difference in the lives of employees and customers. This company, the company that writes the book on how to do this, is going to go down in history and will quickly become the most sought-after company when it comes to employment.

There is one thing that I am most excited about. Due to the shift to remote and virtual work, I believe this creates an opportunity for a company to become a leader in not only their industry but business as a whole. The opportunity lies in being able to provide meaningful employment to those who are medically disabled, from a less-severe disability to a very serious disability, the shift to hybrid and virtual environments allows employers to let these people shine and bring a great purpose to people. The employer has the unique opportunity to not only provide a fantastic job for a disabled worker but can also provide meaningful benefits that are so desperately needed. I am incredibly excited to see which company seizes this opportunity.

The choice as to whether or not a young person should pursue a college degree was once a “no-brainer”. But with the existence of many high profile millionaires (and billionaires) who did not earn degrees, as well as the fact that many graduates are saddled with crushing student loan debt and unable to find jobs it has become a much more complex question. What advice would you give to young adults considering whether or not to go to college?

I can’t say I ever saw myself saying what I am about to say. I went to Penn State for Organizational leadership and I did so because I simply wanted to say I earned a degree, which is not something that people often say in my family. To their credit, we all define “success” differently and we all prioritize differently as well. I thought that the degree would open so many more doors for me, even this late in life. Something miraculous happened, though. I found success without a degree. Did it help? Of course, it helped, as I had some formal education, but ultimately, it wasn’t the deciding factor for getting me to this stage.

Therein lies my advice to young adults and future entrepreneurs. Get a degree because you want to, not because you think it will give you a leg up. Now, if you want to be a doctor or lawyer, obviously get a degree. Any career that requires a degree, then you get the degree. But if you want to excel, especially as an entrepreneur or business owner, the absolute best thing you can do is to work hard. I don’t mean put in a few extra hours, I mean view every single task, every single client, as a career-defining moment. I can spout cliché after cliché, or regurgitate my favorite saying to my now teenage daughter, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right,” but at the end of the day, if you want to excel, really be viewed as a leader in your field, then you need to outwork absolutely everyone. Do you want a degree? Go get it. Everything you achieve, every goal you have, needs to be something you WANT to do.

Despite the doom and gloom predictions, there are, and likely still will be, jobs available. How do you see job seekers having to change their approaches to finding not only employment but employment that fits their talents and interests?

This is such an awesome question. I relate this heavily to sales, as to land a job, you have to sell yourself. We have seen people take billboards out on themselves, we have heard people take radio ads out on themselves, and some cool and unique ideas. How does that evolve moving forward? Video resumes! How awesome would it be if you were a recruiter or an HR manager and you got a resume with a video of a person who wanted to work for you? You can’t see tone and excitement through a paper or email resume. If a candidate would reach out to me and go out of their way to record a video detailing their background and why they want to work for The Slaymaker Method, I would be thoroughly impressed. While there will, most likely, be a plethora of jobs available out there, there will also be a plethora of people who don’t fit or are just going with the status quo. Set yourself apart, do something unique?

I also still take stock in people doing things the old-school way. Go into the businesses directly. Go door-knocking and hand-deliver your resume! Just show the employer that you care and want to be an employee of the company!

As far as finding something that fits their interests, we have seen that we can be selective at this point. New opportunities are popping up, literally, every day. Spend some time to figure out exactly what it is that you want to do, and then go after it. Dana White, president of the UFC said a quote that I loved hearing. “Believe in yourself, believe in what you do, and just go for it. It is that simple.”

The statistics of artificial intelligence and automation eliminating millions of jobs, appear frightening to some. For example, Walmart aims to eliminate cashiers altogether and Dominos is instituting pizza delivery via driverless vehicles. How should people plan their careers such that they can hedge their bets against being replaced by automation or robots?

This is another incredibly thought-provoking question. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be doing what I am doing in teaching as many people as I can how to sell and sell like champions. I don’t see, generally speaking, truly gifted sales professionals being replaced by automation, simply because there is always going to be that subset of people who prefer person-to-person interaction instead of automated chatbots and digital funnels. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, I just see the benefit in having a human sales professional to talk to you and ensure your needs are being met by the products they are selling.

The best way to answer how to battle automation in your field is to be multifaceted. Be a superb leader. Be the person whom your company can’t live without because you are the best at what you do. Take each task as I referenced above and this will be a no-brainer. Constantly come up with new ideas and innovative ways to accomplish your job, and you will soon be viewed as indispensable. There is one thing that AI can’t do better than you, and that cares about your customers and job like only you can.

Automation and technology, in my opinion, also can create a ton of jobs and opportunities. I am part owner of an app company and we are very shortly releasing our app, Izitin. The app is designed specifically to guide consumers to small businesses. You type in whatever item you are looking for, say bacon or a specific wine, and the app pulls up any business around that has your specific item, currently in inventory. The kicker is, we can do it faster than Google can return results. The app, we hope, will push serious traffic to the small businesses who list their products and services on the apps, whether they are craft stores or roadside stands and everything in between, so, we hope, the increased demand creates the need for more workers, and we can create gainful employment from it.

Technological advances and pandemic restrictions hastened the move to working from home. Do you see this trend continuing? Why or why not?

I absolutely see this continuing. How could it not? I mentioned already that so much stock is now being placed on the time at home that employees are lobbying for their companies to allow them at least a hybrid work environment. It is incredibly important for employers to understand that this has created a significant change in the buying trends and motivators of their customers as well.

As technology continues to push forward, especially at the ever so blinding speed that it does, it stands to surmise that this trend will grow and grow quickly. I am a huge supporter of hybrid and remote work due to the massive benefits of overall happiness and fulfillment from a personal standpoint, and the big benefits of that happiness spilling over into the professional world, as well. It is almost difficult to imagine technology for working from home getting any better than it already is, but hey we said nothing would come along better and more innovative than Myspace, right?!

What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support the fundamental changes to work?

Understanding, leniency, and compassion. Technological help and resources are a must, but there is so much more to the true well-being and success of employees than technology assets. I firmly believe that with the aforementioned things, understanding, leniency, and compassion, an employer can truly set their entire company, every single remote employee, and all employees, up for the best life they can have.

Understanding- Employers must have the understanding that there is undoubtedly going to be a learning curve as more roles transition to a remote function. While there must be limits, providing your employees with the understanding they may struggle or encounter roadblocks at first, will be crucial to fostering a culture that cultivates trust between employer and employee.

Leniency- Employers are going to have to be lenient when it comes to newer remote workers getting the true hang of time management. The employer should provide resources for the employee to maximize their time and effort, but you want your team and the rest of your company to see that you are willing to accept faults, albeit to a certain point, if it means growing better employees.

Compassion-This is, maybe, the most important one of the three. Things are going to happen. Emergencies happen. Schedule changes happen. Anything can happen. An employer must be ready to stand by their employees in most situations, as long as they do not reflect overly poorly on the company. A remote employee who knows their employer is compassionate towards the things that are going on in their lives is an employee who will work hard and efficiently and be happy doing it.

From a societal standpoint, we need to quickly usher in the new guard or new way of thinking. We need to accept the fact that a job is no longer something that we do to just pay the bills and that dead-end jobs need to become a thing of the past. We need to know, and demand, that a job be something that not only provides us with financial stability and security but opportunity in our personal and professional lives.

What changes do you think will be the most difficult for employers to accept? What changes do you think will be the most difficult for employees to accept?

I feel that the most difficult change to accept for most employers is going to be the remote work influx. We have been conditioned for so long that work, generally speaking, must be done in an office or whatever medium you prefer to use, and now that employees are increasingly demanding work from home jobs, those of the “old-school” mentality is going to have serious trouble figuring out how to make that happen so they don’t run into a staffing issue.

From an employee standpoint, due to the employee-centered business environment that we have experienced during Covid, they must be willing and understanding that there will need to be a healthy mutual relationship that will require them to be in the office sometimes. At the end of the day, an employer is still an employer and an employee is still an employee. The sweet spot, as I have stated, is both employee and employer working in balance to ensure each party is receiving maximum benefit from whatever work environment and culture is enacted.

The COVID-19 pandemic helped highlight the inadequate social safety net that many workers at all pay levels have. Is this something that you think should be addressed? In your opinion how should this be addressed?

I do think that this is something that needs to be addressed. As you stated in your question, the pandemic exposed a lack of adequate safety nets for all pay levels. It isn’t like we don’t have the resources necessary to help out our people and our workers, we just didn’t have a plan in place for something like the pandemic, or at least not that I have seen.

I live with the abundance theory. There is enough success to go around, and it is up to us, meaning we have a moral obligation, to ensure that we are taking care of those workers, people, and families in true need when times are tough. If we are not using our talents, gifts, and resources to truly take care of the world around us, are we being the best version of ourselves that we can be?

Despite all that we have said earlier, what is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

That is going to be the opportunity. As more people embrace the work-from-home environments and more companies do the same, you are going to see the job market break open. You can move to your dream location, whether it is domestic or abroad, and do your job in the US, or vice versa. That is a massive opportunity that is also going to significantly boost happiness. We all know that happier employees are more productive and efficient so that I always a good thing.

Just talking about this opportunity feels electrifying. Can you imagine that you are fresh out of school and instead of having to relocate for your dream job, you can do it at home? Or you decide to go on a travel year but can do your job from anywhere as you travel? I mean, come on, it won’t get much better than that…..as long as you love what you do, of course.

The fact that we are on the cusp of a professional generation that can have much more happiness than before, is an awesome thing to be a part of.

Historically, major disruptions to the status quo in employment, particularly disruptions that result in fewer jobs, are temporary with new jobs replacing the jobs lost. Unfortunately, there has often been a gap between job losses and the growth of new jobs. What do you think we can do to reduce the length of this gap?

I think we are in an unprecedented time. Like I stated previously, we are in the Great Resignation and have seen a huge influx in new businesses. It seems that so many people have chosen to go that route due to the ease of being able to start their own business. I expect this to drastically reduce the gap that is mentioned above. Cyclically, as those who lose their jobs start their own companies and grow, we will see more job openings. I believe that, if the trend continues and people continue to start their businesses, you are going to see this gap shrink significantly.

Gaps like this will always exist, just due to the cyclical nature of the job market, but the trends that we are seeing should greatly help the battle against them.

Okay, wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Watch In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. A major shift out of the office.- Since the pandemic hit, businesses had to switch to all virtual or mostly virtual to stay afloat. The sales industry switched to almost all virtual selling for the majority of the pandemic and that trend has stayed the course, as virtual selling has been continuing, along with a new hybrid style of selling. If this trend tells us anything, it is that employers and companies must be ready to capitalize on new strategies and processes that ensure their workforce is ready and taken care of.
  2. A greater weight being placed on the value of relationships.- With all this time at home, we have been able to spend more time with loved ones and friends. Because of this, we value relationships much more. We understand that it is possible to have a much greater work-life balance. Like I stated above, this goes for customers, as well. Customers, employees, and even senior leadership, all need to be looking for new and innovative ways to ensure they are placing as much stock into actual relationships as they can.
  3. A new trend in brand awareness.- As we have increasingly seen throughout the past decade or so, socially aware consumers and employees have really been at the forefront of changes in the business world. We have routinely seen companies drop slogans and advertising plans due to social reactions from the public. We have seen the public also become aware of internal company culture as of late, due to the ease of access to information on companies large and small. It is undoubted that as the world climbs towards this relationship-based work-life harmony, this will be heavily scrutinized by the public. Employers must be fully committed to following through with what they say they are going to do, especially when it comes to the treatment of their employees.
  4. Harmony between employee and employer.- Perhaps the most impactful of the trends I see coming is the new relationships between employee and employer. While I could easily rehash the mantra of. Happy employees being more productive, I want to take a different route. Employees having a greater affinity for their employees, truly enjoying working for a company because that company actually cares about them and their well-being, a company that cares for the relationships the employee has, is going to become the go to authority for how to truly run a successful company in the post-pandemic world. This will all but guarantee to stop any staffing issues as these companies will be ushered quickly to the top of the “best companies to work for” lists.
  5. Buying trends.- I know I have mentioned this multiple times in the interview, but this is immensely important. Take everything I have said and you can see a common theme. Relationships. This is how customers are not only buying but how they also want to be sold to. The times of transactional sales, generally speaking, are going the way of the past. Buyers want to buy from sales professionals, stores, and companies who are using a hybrid relational and strategic sales approach. They want to know that their seller understands their individual problems and situations and that the sales rep genuinely cares about them, from more than just a commission standpoint. Like I train all of the people and teams that I work with, always place the customer before the commission.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how this quote has shaped your perspective?

I have so many different quotes that have impacted me throughout my life, but I think I have to go with one that I just read recently. It comes by way of one of the greatest storytellers in the world, Matthew McConaughey. “We are all made for every moment we encounter.” It is so simple, yet so incredibly powerful. Far too often, you see up-and-coming entrepreneurs struggling with accepting the levels they are operating at. Some of these people are even shying away from being business owners because they don’t feel worthy. In reality, you ARE worthy. You are worthy of being on that level. If you think you are, then you are. You are going to be tested daily when you are in business. Whether you are an employee, entrepreneur, CEO, or executive, you are going to constantly find yourself in situations that test your resolve and your instinct and will test your commitment. You are in that exact situation for a reason, and that is because you are ready. I am a firm believer that even if you make a decision that may hurt in the short term, it provides a great learning experience, so do not be afraid and handle the situation as only you can!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Oh, that is an easy one. Mark Cuban. I have always been awe-struck by some of the things he says. I remember seeing him on Shark Tank say “I would rather work 80 hours a week to make 50K and work for myself than have a 75–100-thousand-dollar job working for somebody else.” The greatest thing I have seen from him, though, the most impressive, was when he told a story about taking over the Mavericks. He mentioned how he sat down and cold-called people to sell season tickets. That was so insanely powerful to me. Here is, arguably, the most respected and known businessman in current culture, and he is making cold calls. As a sales strategist and trainer, this gave me goosebumps. Far too often, people aren’t willing to get in the trenches, go back to basics, and just work their butts off to make the money. Cuban knows the benefits of working as hard as you can. Man, could you imagine a breakfast between Mark Cuban and The Slaymaker Method? The world may not be ready!

Our readers often like to follow our interview subjects’ careers. How can they further follow your work online?

I can be found all over the place! The books are available on Amazon, just search my name, So, You Think You Can Sell, or Creating Dynamic Demand! I always have tons of content on my website www.theslaymakermethod.com. My YouTube channel, which is titled, you guessed it, The Slaymaker Method, and most social media outlets!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.

A huge thank you to you and all of the readers, as well. I am always pleased and excited to bring what I have to share to those who are willing to listen!

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