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Mentor Interview: Chuck Marcouiller

Chuck Marcouiller, Upnotch Mentor, is the Senior Director of Revenue Enablement at Jobvite. A former Army officer of the military, his background also includes over 20 years of experience with ADP.

Chuck is an absolute master of sales and has built out world-class field enablement programs to give sales and customer success teams the right skills, knowledge, processes, and tools to maximize growth and customer success.

What is your superpower & why?

My superpower is coaching salespeople. I've been a sales leader off and on for the past 16 years. I found that my real passion is helping and coaching salespeople to sell better. I've been a student of the sales process and had the fortunate opportunity to spend a lot of time with a lot of different salespeople and watch how they sell. My superpower is taking those traits, processes, habits and sharing them with the next salesperson so they can repeat them and allow them to be just as successful.

How do you view mentorships?

The best way that I look at mentorship is to look at yourself as your own company. Just as companies have a board of directors, your most valuable asset is you. You should probably have a board of directors to help guide you, just as a company has a board of directors to guide them. And those would be your mentors.

What I advise people to do is to have two internal mentors, and maybe three outside mentors. Your internal mentors shouldn't be someone that you directly report to, because you're working for them so your job is to make them look good. What you're looking for internally is someone who has a perspective on who you're working for, and the job that you're doing. Someone who can be objective and look at you and tell you that you're doing a good job or that you’re a little off and how you're perceived within the organization. Someone that can help you with your skills inside the company and know how you're performing inside the company.

Outside the company is where things get really cool. That's the place that you should be looking for somebody who has the skills that you aspire to have or be. Find two to three people that have those skills that you know that you need, strategic skills, sales skills, or creative skills, and spend some time with those people so that they can share with you how they did it.

Tell us a little bit about your own mentors - who they are or what topics you like to cover with them?

In my case, I have a couple of different mentors. I have an internal mentor who helps me with my strategic process. I'm a senior director within my organization, and I believe that every leader should be, or aspire to, be three crucial things:

1. operationally excellent

2. inspirational

3. strategic.

Now, I'm pretty good operationally. And I think I'm pretty good inspirationally. But I knew that my weakest area was being strategic. So I reached out to the senior leader who is the best at strategy and asked him to be my mentor. We talk strategy; what's going on within the organization, how he looks at strategy, how he developed strategy versus organization. That has given me a whole new insight into our organization. That's invaluable.

Then I found some people on the outside to help me with other things, such as public speaking or presentation skills, and in sales enablement, who I consider some of the best in the industry. I have them mentor me on what they're doing that's helped them be successful in their own organizations.

Tell me about a time a mentor has helped you accomplish a specific goal.

I was at a critical point within my career. I'd spent 20 years at ADP and reached a point within ADP where I was sitting there, struggling. My mentor had come to me and said, “Hey Chuck, you've proven yourself within this organization, but the organization sees you in a certain way. Now, you can always have a home here at ADP, you've earned your stripes, you've been here for 20 years. But if you were ever going to step outside and try something different, this is got to be the time to do it. Because if you don't do it now, at the 20-year mark, all people are ever going to see is an ADP guy.”

I thought about it, it made sense. I took a leap of faith and I jumped outside of ADP. I started a new career in sales enablement, in a startup with only 40 salespeople that all of a sudden, we helped grow to 500 salespeople, which really launched my enablement career. If I wouldn't have taken that leap of faith, I probably would still be within ADP in the same sort of vertical that I had been for such a long period of time.

Any advice that your mentor has given you that you would like to share with us today?

My mentor once told me, “Hey, Chuck, when you look at a leader, every great leader has an iOS” and I said, “iOS - you mean like the internal operating system?”

He said yes and no. He said that great leaders have 3 key skills. And I think you can guess what they are based on my previous answer!

He said, if you want to be a senior leader, you've got to master three key skills; inspirational, operational, and strategic. Great leaders have the ability to play in all three areas. They can be strategic, yet they can be operationally excellent, and they can inspire their people.

Most leaders can do two. If you want to be a great leader, you're going to have to dedicate time to learning aspects and skills in each one of those different areas. I never really thought about that before. After learning and listening to that, I stepped back and I started to study each one of those areas. I started to assess the leaders around me and myself as far as where my abilities were at. All of a sudden I realized that I had to take some time and start to build a plan around the areas that I wanted to shore up in my own leadership skills, to be a better leader for my team and my organization.

What is the weirdest, funniest, strangest thing you have ever asked your mentor?

I once asked my mentor, “How am I coming across? How am I being perceived? I'm really struggling right here. I'm just not connecting with this group.”

They said, “Chuck, honestly, you're a bull in a china shop! You have a tendency to pick the ball up and run over small kittens and puppies in order to get things done. Sometimes you just gotta slow down and listen first. If the project really means more to you than your ego, then you're going to have to find a way in order to soften your approach, make it not your idea. Let somebody else take the credit for you. If you can’t do that, you're going to struggle. You're going to continue to have this head-butting process.”

That was one of the hardest things that I had to do in order to get a project that was dear to me through. They were absolutely right. It's helped me a lot to be more self-aware of how I'm being perceived.

What would you tell your mentor if they were listening to you right now?

Thank You! Thank you for taking the time, having the patience, and being open to just sharing your experience. Sharing your thoughts, and sharing the truth of how you perceive and what you saw in me. So that I could listen and learn and then apply those things. And for giving me feedback on what you saw and how I was doing from your own eyes and your own perception. That's invaluable, to have someone in your life who can be objective, tell you the truth, good, bad, or indifferent, whether it's something that you want to hear or not - so that you have the information you need in order to be able to make the best decision for yourself.

What makes a great mentee in your opinion?

The mentee has to come to the relationship prepared with what they want to get out of it. They've got to come to each session, curious or with a question. Don't look to the mentor to drive the relationship. It should be the mentee coming in and asking and pushing in the areas that they want to grow. The mentor is the person with the experience, they're the open book. The mentee should be the one coming in and asking the questions.

Why do you mentor?

I've recognized having a mentor has been a life-changing experience for me. I love mentoring and developing people. I realized that as I was getting that input from others, having the chance to then pay that forward and give to other people, was such an important part of my own process, of my own development. I realized how much energy and how much satisfaction I get in return.

As a mentor, what topics do you like to mentor on?

Business and sales. I am a big business and sales geek. Anything to do with the sales process, psychology, or business. I love mentoring about those things. I also love to mentor around leadership. I've been very fortunate in my career to work with some fantastic leaders. I love working with new frontline managers and new leaders, helping guide them in a way to help them be successful with their teams.

What is the strangest, weirdest thing that a mentee has ever asked you?

The strangest thing that a mentee asked was, “How do I get my employee to quit?'' They had a very problematic employee who was just driving them absolutely crazy. They wanted to get this employee to quit and have it be of their own idea. We strategized on a way to have this person quit. They couldn't make their life so miserable, but at the same time, could not keep this person in the organization because they were absolutely toxic. Surprisingly, this is not an uncommon dilemma for some leaders.

What would a mentee say to you or praise you?

I mentored this person when they were a new salesperson and helped them get their first couple of sales together. We'd worked early on in their career and then lost touch with them. Last year, I saw them at the airport. They came up to me and they said, “I'm now president's club. I'm doing really well in sales. I use more of the stuff that you taught me than any other sales leader that I've ever worked with.” The greatest praise that they could ever do is to say that they're still using what I taught them years later and that it was a foundation for a successful career for them.

When was a time when you helped a mentee solve a big challenge?

I once helped a mentee with sales calls and helped them figure out processes or how to get through difficult customer interaction. One of the more difficult ones was a large Fortune 100 company, that was really stuck on a price issue. I advised the mentee, “Why don't you take a step back and ask the person what it is really about for them. The problem seems so much bigger than just the price.” We broke it down into that human-to-human interaction, we put the whole business-to-business piece aside. I helped create a human interaction with the buyer. It turned out to be their biggest sales. That was a lot of fun.

What does success mean to you?

Success means to me having the access, influence, and authority to be able to do something that you love, getting paid for it, and making a living off of it. I'm being successful as a senior director of revenue enablement, because I have the access, influence, and authority to direct my own work in something that I'm passionate about, doing something I’m pretty good at, and having a positive effect on other people's lives. If I can do that day in and day out, that's a lot of fun. And to me, that's the definition of success.

When did you know you achieved career success?

When people stopped telling me what I had to do and started asking me what I was going to do. That's when I knew I had pivoted from being an order receiver, to really determining the fate of my own work. Success for me was working for the chief revenue officer, listening to what they wanted to achieve, and then coming back with advice on the strategic programs, the processes, and the tools in order to be able to help them be successful. That's where it really got fun. That's when I felt like I was having success.

What's the secret behind your success?

The secret behind my success is to know that I'm always accountable to someone. That I always have to deliver a result, if I don't deliver a result, they will find somebody else who will. That little bit of running scared has helped me to recognize and realize that I always have to keep on my toes, to make sure that I'm continually delivering.

Describe a time you've had a breakdown that has led to a success or breakthrough.

Not everything in a career, no matter how well planned out, is going to work out in your favor. I have been working really hard but I got caught up in a shake-up within an organization. I was backing the wrong course, I was in favor of the wrong senior leader who fell out of favor with the CEO. His leadership team was let go, including me. I had to find another organization and took a step back in my career a little bit. It was a period of biding my time until another organization found me and gave me another lead role. One of the things that I've learned in my career is that you should always have connections with people outside your organization so that you can get a pulse check as to where your next opportunity could lie.

Any embarrassing moments early in your career when you were thinking, “Oh, no, this might be it.”?

As a rookie salesman, I had a big proposal that I was sending out to client B. I wasn't paying attention. I still had the pricing template from client A, which was a competitor of client B. I sent the wrong pricing out to the wrong client with the data from a competitor, the closest competitor in their proposal. That could have been the end of my career. Lucky for me, the prospect on the other side was very gracious. They saw the mistake that I made, notified me immediately, and said, “You might want to take this back, I'll pretend like I never saw it.” I was sweating so hard when I saw that. I shared it with my boss. My boss laughed and said, “Yeah, don't ever do that again.”


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