How Entrepreneurs Can Nail Sales
Mark: Welcome to the Negotiations Ninja podcast, where we develop and deliver the most engaging negotiation content and training in the world. We host negotiation experts, business people and entrepreneurs, and discuss what works, what doesn't work, and how we can improve our negotiation skills. We've got Marty Park back on the show again. And, of course, he delivers the goods. Welcome to this special edition of the Negotiations Ninja podcast, where Marty Park tells us all about what's required to be great at sales as an entrepreneur. Something that I had to learn, certainly when I started out. And in fact, Marty was the one who coached me along the way. There's a big difference between wanting to be a good sales person and actually executing on the strategies and practices to becoming a good sales person. Marty knows all about that. And we had a great conversation today, talking all about it. Marty Park, we're here. We made it. This is round two, right?
Marty Park: Round two, yeah. Absolutely. I can't believe it's taken this long for round two. I feel like there's been 15 or 20 people you've invited back, and finally, it's my turn.
Mark: Wow, they are more important than you. For the people that are listening, I'm giving Marty hell, because Marty and I have a very good relationship. We're very good friends and Marty is actually my business coach. For those of you that are listening in right now, you may have heard the first conversation that Marty and I had, which was around the biggest troubles and issues that entrepreneurs have around negotiation. Marty's in the unique position of speaking to and chatting with a lot of entrepreneurs. He gets to see a lot of it happen real- time and chat with people that have issues. And today, we're going to be chatting with him again. But before I get too deep into the weeds, Marty, maybe you could tell the listeners about who you are, what you do, the entrepreneurs that you help, maybe the people that you speak to on an ongoing basis.
Marty Park: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm a serial entrepreneur myself. I started my first software company at 21, and with that, had 13 different businesses in seven different industries. And one of the things I got started in, now 18 years ago, was the coaching space before anybody had even heard of coaching. Coaching was only in sports back then. And I, with all of that, deal across business. So we're dealing in all aspects of business finance. But a lot of our focus was most entrepreneurs where a lot of our clients are, business that's anywhere from a million to 10 or $ 15 million. With most markets, small to maybe into the medium- sized business, and a lot of that is companies where they have grown to a certain level. They've got two million bucks and now they're like, " We want to get to five, but we don't know how to do that," or" We're at five, we want to get the 10," and it's always that next milestone. And so a lot of our work is always around sales and marketing. And so sales negotiation is a place where, like you, I spend a lot of time discussing that with people and having that conversation.
Mark: Yeah. I can tell you listeners that many of the sessions that Marty and I have, and we chat on a weekly basis, turn into therapy sessions more than anything else for me to get over myself, first of all, and basically remove the BS and the excuses, but also to chat about, " Hey, how could we approach this differently? How could we think differently about this problem? How could we reframe perspectives?" And one of the unique benefits that I've had in working with Marty is that I met Marty pre- revenue. So before I actually pulled in any money for Negotiations Ninja or Content Call- out, that's when I met Marty. And we had a meeting at, shout out to The Commons, we had a meeting at The Commons coworking space in the city where I am, and basically, the pitch was, " Here's what you're going to get out of meeting with me on an ongoing basis and here's how much it costs, but you're going to have to make the decision. It's up to you. You know what you need to fix and you need someone to help you," and that's where he left it. And before I pulled in any money, I started spending money on Marty, at which people told me was the worst financial decision.
Marty Park: Genius.
Mark: I got told it was the worst financial decision ever.
Marty Park: Did you really? That's hilarious.
Mark: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I got told it was the worst.
Marty Park: Clearly, I think that's one of the smartest decisions ever. Because what happens is the opposite. People get, they start a business, they're pre- revenue, they burn through way more cash than they need to, because they don't know what they're doing.
Mark: They don't know what to do.
Marty Park: They spend the first 500,000 or a million bucks making all these mistakes, and then they go, " Maybe I should get some help with this." Oh, well now, sure, "Hey, I could have saved you 700 of that million bucks that you've just used." It's funny, there's a courageousness in that, though, that I think you're unusual, because most people really do work through the business. Most clients, we don't work with a lot of startups. A lot of times we work with the established entrepreneur who's already reached that stability in their business and are open to ideas and different ways to do it. But you are unique, Mark, and I remember that meeting very well. You're me throwing it to you saying, " It's your decision," and you saying, " All right, let's go. What do we do?" I was like, " Wow. I like this guy. That was fast. That was the worst negotiation ever.
Mark: And it worked out to be probably one of the best decisions that I've ever made in business. I got a lot of heat from a lot of people in my circle of friends and family and influence saying, " Hey, how could you be making this kind of... This is a poor financial decision." Worked out to be the best decision ever. Because the truth is, I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I was starting a business. I had no idea where to go, no idea how to scale and what to do and all the rest of it, and I needed some guidance and I needed some help. And so, that's what we're here to do today. We're here to provide guidance. We're here to provide help to the people that are listening right now. So maybe you're like me, maybe you are on the verge of starting a business, or maybe you're an entrepreneur that's already started a business and you want to know how to get to the next level. And I can tell you that working with a guy like Marty, Marty specifically is going to help you. And we're going to talk about sales today with respect to entrepreneurs, and the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make in sales. So maybe I will start there, Marty. Let's start with an open- ended question and say, what are the biggest mistakes that you see entrepreneurs making with respect to sales?
Marty Park: Wow. I mean, that could be a topic we could probably talk for six hours on. But the first couple that come to mind are, the first one is probably the idea that, " I know a whole lot about my widget or about my product or my service, and therefore I should be good at sales." And they take the knowledge and their confidence in what they have or what they offer, and they presume that they really don't need a selling process. They really don't need a methodology or a step- by- step way to explain it to people. And because of that, they're almost overconfident with, " Well, we've got a great product." They then fumble and they forget, and I think all salespeople forget, that most people haven't bought your product or service before, so they have no idea how to buy a timeshare. They have no idea how to book an Airbnb until they do it. If you're selling coffee, people know how to buy coffee, but for so many products and services or training or anything, they don't know how to buy it. And so people get over confident with their product or service, and then, inevitably, they don't guide people through a method, or they just don't know anything about how selling should go. They lay it on the table and then can't figure out why people don't turn around and say, " Okay." I was just dealing with a guy last week and he lays out, " Well, here's what we do." And it was really vague, and I was like, " Well, does it come in different sizes? Is there different packages?" He was like, " Oh, well, I mean, I could create a package for you." So I actually stopped him and said, " You understand if there was a small, medium, large, or three different packages, this would make it way easier for me to choose. Because right now you're asking me to agree to a concept." He was like, " Oh." But he's an expert at what he does. So that's the first thing for me is translating that into, " Well, I know a whole lot about mufflers, and so therefore I must be a great muffler salesman." And then the second thing is probably much like you and I have talked about in negotiation. So much of the sale is done in your mind before you even show up, and it is a combination of getting out of your own way, being aware of your own beliefs, and then understanding how that's influencing the selling process. And that can range from, " I think sales is dirty." Well that can't be helping you when you get into the sales role. It's actually funny to watch somebody physically change. I mean, you watch their body language and everything, and they go from being, " I want you to think about you as the president of a company. You're doing eight and a half million in sales this year. How you feel about that?" And they're put their chest out, they're proud. And then, you say, " Now let's talk about selling," and you watch them literally just shrink and wilt like a flower. And you're like, okay, what just happened there?" Well, I mean, sales is such, I hate the pressure of it. I hate the..." And you're like, " Right. And this is how you show up to represent your product now that you're in" sales." So I think that being aware of your head trash and how you approach things. I mean, there's so many layers I can think of here, but it really is some element of, how do you feel about sales? How do you feel about your pricing? How do you feel about the quality of your product? Are you comfortable with the steps you're going to take somebody through? Are you comfortable with being able to say, " Hey, do you want to buy this?" If you can get all that sorted out. So many entrepreneurs I come across really do a great job at the presenting piece, and then transition to" the peak of anxiety called closing," and then it all crumbles and it doesn't go, and they get all awkward and twitchy, and it just doesn't go well. And some of it is just, from the moment they started, you're like, whoa, whoa, whoa, I wish you could stop that scene and go, " Okay, let's go through what you're thinking right now." And they would go through all the... And you'd be like, " Right, so that's a negative." And so, I always think that much like rehearsing a golf shot or a putt, you've got to watch it in your mind's eye. Selling is so much like that. And so many entrepreneurs are, I guess, in their minds eye, " missing the putt," and then can't figure out why then I show up and it happens in real life. So those are two of the starting points and I throw it back to you, because I could keep going on. But there's two places that I think are really dramatic.
Mark: Let's talk about the expert, because I find that this is probably where most people may end up if they decide to take the route of entrepreneur, and if they decide to take the route of building their own business. They may be an expert in their thing, whatever their thing is. Maybe it's in engineering or maybe it's in marketing or whatever it is. They've decided that they want to take this route and they are brilliant at that thing, or they are brilliant at producing that thing. But now, they have to sell, and they may be have gotten themselves to a certain point because they're well- recognized within the field. But now to get to that next level, they have to be able to take on more and be able to do more selling. How do you transition someone from the expert mentality of, " This is my job. This is how I do my work," to, " This is how I should be thinking about scaling the business." Is it a transformative process or is it more of a, " Here's the roadmap, just follow the process."
Marty Park: It's a little bit of a different roadmap for everybody, but I think it's got some of the same stops along the road. And you touched on it. I always think that the role of the entrepreneur, you have to have in your mind the role of Mark the president. And there's times where you show up as Mark the president, and then there's times where, like in your case, you're actually training people in negotiation or in selling, you are showing up as the trainer, as the expert. And so, you are now in the curriculum, you are that expert and everything you present is from that perspective. And the role that people forget to adopt is that the role of sales professional for their business is a whole nother role and a set of skills. And so, too often, yeah, you show up thinking, " Well, I can answer any question about this widget," but if you don't appreciate that, here's some of the things that people need. They need to trust you, they need to know a little bit about you. And if you don't take into consideration and you just jump into features and benefits of the product, then you've missed that piece. And so, it becomes a failing where it seems like a good product, but I don't know much about this company or this guy, so we decided not to go ahead with it. And so, in becoming a bit of a student about sales and starting to understand what variables, what influences somebody to buy, what are good steps? How do you walk them through the explanation of your product or service without overwhelming them? Because that's what the expert always wants to do is give a thousand things. And it's like, " Wait, wait, can you just give this to me in the Coles Notes version?" So I think if you walk people through that, oftentimes they don't control a sales process. They show up, they talk about the product, they hand it back to somebody to and go, " So, yeah." And because they don't know what to do, they often, again, sabotage themselves by saying things like, " Funny, just had this same conversation with this guy earlier this week. Well, I mean, I can see, you're probably going to need more time to think about this." I was like, " Sorry, are you telling me I should go take more time?" He's like, " Well, you need more time." I was like, " I don't think I do." He's like, " Oh." I said, " Do you say this to everybody? Because this is a terrible transition piece." But his method was, he didn't want to be pushy, because nobody wants to be that pushy salesman. So his approach was, he told everybody to go take time, and then he would set up another meeting, but he's a perpetual meeting guy. He said, " Oh, I got to meet with guys two, three, four, sometimes five times." It's not that big a purchase. It shouldn't take somebody five meetings. But there's a form of him not learning or becoming that sales professional, him still being the expert, him still being the president in those different roles. Sure they help, but those are now supporting roles for you really becoming a capable sales person. There's no shortage of sales books. And as you read enough of them and you start to be like, okay, there's some themes here and some steps. But I think that becomes the big one is really embracing the idea of, okay, I've got to become a bit of a sales professional. And when you add people to your team, as your company starts to scale, the other thing I found as a president sometimes, and you've met entrepreneurs like this, they are just so passionate about what they do, it's infectious. And you can't help but think, " Oh my God, I want to work with you." And they are great at being that rainmaker. And then, the business gets big enough, they hire" some sales professionals" and things start to fall apart. And it's like, " Well, what were you doing?" " I don't know. I just go tell people that my product's unbelievable." And they don't realize that they embody the expert, they embody the president, and they also embody an enthusiastic salesperson, and they're just doing it naturally. And one of the things we try to do with clients is be able to say, okay, if there's somebody who sells great, if Mark is an exceptional salesman, in addition to being a president and negotiator and expert, and then you bring in a couple of other people, how could we really break down the secret sauce that Mark has? Which pieces are solely Mark and we can't duplicate? But where can we maybe videotape you and a sales person could use that? And then, they could map some of the same steps. And so we're breaking it down like a bit of a science, a step- by- step, so that when you scale an organization, that's the way you've got to do it. Where, over time, it gets to the place if you had 50 salespeople, there's going to be too much variance. But certainly in that early stage of moving from a small sales person or sales team to growing it out, we really look at what's working for each individual. Because with a small sales team, I've also found that there could be one guy who's great at closing. And everybody's like, " Well, what's Carl doing?" I was like, " Does anybody actually know? Because his closing rate is three times what other guys are. Let's all find out what he does and we'll duplicate it." And usually, there's somebody's having really good success in part of their selling. And so, it's maybe the enthusiasm of the boss and closing from Carl, and Dougie's really good at overcoming this objection. Also, almost creating a bit of a mastermind to figure out, okay, within our own organization, what are the best practices that are working in sales now?
Mark: Yeah. And I find that for a lot of people, it's about developing that process, as you mentioned. Whatever that process is for you, take a process and apply it to your situation. But then, also, the consistency that's required to repeatedly hit that process to be able to determine is this working, where is it working? Where are we converting, where are we not converting? And what I find with a lot of people that I speak to that are on the road to building their businesses, that have become entrepreneurs, is they'll say something like, " Wow, this isn't working." And I'll say, " Well, how many prospecting calls did you make today?" And they'll say, " Well, none." And I'll say, " Well, that's probably why it isn't working." Right? If you're not doing it, it's not going to work. You can't expect it to work if you're not doing it. And you're only going to find out where things are working and where things are not working if you don't follow that process. How do you get people to overcome that consistency piece and apply it to what they're doing on... Is it as good as, or as simple as putting it in your calendar and committing to it, or is there some coaching aspect to that?
Marty Park: It still comes back to having some discussion about the mindset around that. Because you're exactly right. " So Mark, you haven't been to the gym all month, but now on the last day of the month, you're going to go for seven hours to try and make it up. Does this seem like a good strategy for health?" People are like, " Well, that's ridiculous. That wouldn't work. You'd be so sore, you couldn't work out for weeks." I'm like, " Exactly." But yet, that's what we're doing in sales, right? You don't want to make any calls, and then you're going to panic on the 30th of the month and be like, "But we're going to make 200 calls on that day." I try to relate it to some other area of life where you go, " Would this be a successful pattern?" " No." " But this is. What is successful in health?" " Well, going to the gym regularly." " Right. Eating pretty well, regular." " Right, so regular and consistency. So let's talk about that." And I start with people to say, " Hey, how many calls could you make in a day?" " Oh, like 50." " Yeah, yeah, but every day." " Oh, 20." " Let's just start with five." And I always set the bar low so that they can start to have that success habit of doing some activity. But you're absolutely right, I say to people you've got to presume that not every single person you talk to is going to want to buy your product or service. So it's just a function of maybe where they're at in their business or their life, or other things that are going on or your price. I mean, there's so many variables, but we just know that's the case. So you've got to presume that in order to get a sale, you're going to have to talk to more than one person. And so, getting people set with a framework so they go, " Yeah, okay, that makes sense. Yeah. I'm thinking about the numbers." And then, I like to play out, " Listen, so it's Tuesday morning and we've got to make five calls." And going through the practicalness of, " Who are you going to call? Do you have a list yet?" And funny enough, it's the most basic things that stall. I see businesses all the time that, " What are you delaying you from hiring that person?" " Nobody in our office knows how to use Indeed." It's like, " Okay, well it's not complicated. You could log in, set up an account and post an ad." " Oh really?" And so the same thing you see in sales is like, " Why aren't you making any phone calls?" " We need a list." " Oh, okay." Well, this is the simplest barrier. And so I find that getting to that consistency is usually overcoming the most basic human behavior barriers. Much like, " Why don't you get out of bed?" " Well, I keep hitting the snooze button." Okay, there's about a thousand ways we could correct that. Move the alarm clock across the room, buy another alarm clock, crank up the volume on this one, break the snooze button. And it was like, " Oh yeah." I find, if I ask somebody, " Listen, what's going to short circuit your sales efforts in the coming weeks?" They instantly know, " Oh, you know what it's going to be?" And so, it is all of those things. Yes, you have committed sales time in your calendar. Yes, you have targets on the week and a bit of a scorecard. You have an accountability back to a coach or back to a buddy or back, and their business owner, somebody. Salespeople always do better when you team them up, and you've got a sales buddy within an organization. And what I find that we think it's something big and it is not. It is the smallest things, where, " Why couldn't you get on the phone today? Oh, because, well, there was a lot of forest fires, and so with the smoke blowing in." " I'm sorry, what does that got to do with it?" And they're literally like, most of it came back to, " Well, I just didn't make the time." " Right, so let me help you with that." And because it's a habit. Great sales, the most successful salespeople, and I've talked to them over and over again. When I look at an organization and we've got 15 people and we go, " Who are the top two guys? What do they do differently?" You analyze it, and it is consistency of new effort, new sales. It is consistency in going back to their existing clients, consistency in asking for referrals regularly. It is hands down, just small efforts every day and week. It is not the guy who says on the 30th of the month, " I did 250 calls. That guy's doomed maybe.
Mark: I love this.
Marty Park: Maybe not doomed, but he's struggling.
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Marty Park: That's a great question, Mark, because here's the split. And we actually, I can think of a couple of organizations, but I always break it down for every 10 salespeople you have. So let's say you're a business owner and you're doubling as the sales manager, and you've got a team of 10 salespeople across a few different states or across the country. And I would say that out of the 10 salespeople, you've got two that are killing it, that just seem to be the unicorns. I don't know, they just produce results every month. And there is a special chip with some people. And by special chip, I mean, they're the ones that say things like, " I love cold calling." " What? Oh, you're one of those people, right?" " I love being rejected because I know I'm one step closer to a sale." And to adopt that mindset, there are people who have had previous experience, maybe a great upbringing, like me, where I was surrounded by great examples of selling professionals. So there's an enthusiasm there towards the idea of selling. And they're the top two out of 10. Then, you've got the bottom two out of the 10, where you should just fire those people. They are not interested in changing. They can tell you all the reasons externally why this isn't working, " My product stinks," " It's everything else," " I'm not getting the support," " I don't have the budget" excuse. But there's no number of magic formulas you could put in front of them that they're going to adopt, because they're really comfortable in where they're at and that element of victimhood. And so, I would say, " Listen, whoever your last two salespeople are, you should lob them off, because they're just costing the business time and money." But the big piece is those six people that are left in the middle, and the six people are usually people who have a little bit of head trash. They're the salespeople when we ask them, " Hey, what are the first three things that come to mind when I say salesperson?" That oftentimes, they're still in pushy, overbearing, untrustworthy, and they've got a negative connotation. Yet they're in sales every day. And so some of it is shifting their mindset. And then the other thing is, often they don't have just a healthy habit. Nobody's ever talked to them about, " When do you do your prospecting?" And they answer it with things like, " Well, whenever I can." " Okay, let's just give you some structure and some tools. What do you say to people? Is it always the same thing?" " Well kind of is." " Okay, let's really work on your scripting and craft that." And those six people, between looking at their mindset and making sure that there's nothing they're uncomfortable with, price, warranty, quality, any of the aspects to their product or service, that they are comfortable with their role as a sales professional. And I'm really specific about that word, not a salesman or a saleswoman, but you're a sales professional. There's a level of nobility to what you're doing. When we get through their head trash, we give them a little bit of structure. We provide some accountability and measurement in terms of helping them with the habit. And it's from a place of help, not just a, " You better make your calls or you're going to get fired." And those people, those six, can make a real shift to now starting to be like the top two people, the top 20%. And those are the people I love, because they're the ones that change an organization. Your top two people are going to continue to kill it. You get rid of the dead weight, you move the six in the middle up so they become maybe not the top performer, but a higher performer. And now, all of a sudden, you have eight salespeople left who are really producing. And unfortunately, in the entrepreneur space, I mentioned the sales manager role often gets neglected, too. And I know you see this a lot where somebody moved in and now they were the top salesperson, now they're the sales manager, totally different function. And you say, " What are you doing with your sales management?" " Mondays, we get together, and I go around the room and see where everybody's at. Yeah, and then I just check in with people through the week, how they're doing." And you're like, " Right." And it's pretty vague and pretty routine, and there's very little in terms of strategizing or learning a new skills and cross- cooperation or any of these things. So that would be the second place after I've tried to reform my 10 salespeople. For every 10, you've got that's the breakdown. And then the sales management is another big piece, the motivation. But you've got to become... My grandfather, this is who I think of. He's from Kentucky. He sold cars for 27 years. He said, " I spent 10 years as a salesperson, and I really felt like I was mastering that. Then they promoted me to sales manager." And he said, " Then I spent 10 years as a sales manager, and as I was really just getting the hang of that, they promoted me to general manager." And he said, " I was just getting the hang of that, and they said, 'Hey, it's time for you to retire.'" And so it always makes me think of being promoted to your level of incompetence, that element of, okay, all of a sudden I've introduced to the entrepreneur organization, another role. You're the president, you're the expert, you're the salesman. And then, you have to move from that to the sales manager. And I think that's why entrepreneurship is sometimes so challenging, because nothing forces you to become incapable in four different roles in a business.
Mark: Yeah. And I think this is the thing where I'd like to maybe wrap up, is there's a level of dedication that's required to learning the skill of sales, regardless of where you're at in your business right now. You may be listening to yourself, or listening to this and saying, " Well, I am well recognized as an expert in this thing." The question I want you to ask yourself, " And how did you get there?" You've developed a level of expertise, you've developed a level of excellence around that thing, because you dedicated yourself to the development of that thing. But then, for whatever reason, we think that other parts of the business are different. Whether it's finance or marketing or sales, there is a level of excellence that you have to continue to develop. And when you're running a business, the unfortunate truth of the matter is that there are many times where you have to fill those roles before you get to scale and before you can bring on people who can help you in those roles. So you have to fill out the excellence role in each of those categories, but it requires you to focus on the building of that skillset. And listeners, if there's one thing that you're going to take away from this, it's to focus on the building of the excellence of that skill set. So please, if you are an entrepreneur and you are building your business and you're thinking to yourself, " I don't really know how, I don't know how to get to that next level. I need someone to guide me along the way," do yourself a favor, find yourself a business coach. It was the best decision that I've made in my business. It's helped me a great deal in what I've done. Better yet, give Marty a call so that maybe there's something there that he's got a coach that he can say, " Hey, this is a coach in our business that I think could really help you." Or maybe, you're at a level in your business where even Marty could help you in your business. Whatever you decide to do, get the help that's required, whether it's reading the books, taking the coaching, doing the training and focusing on the building of that skillset. Marty, with that, if people want to reach out to you and they want to say hi and say, Hey, how do I get to this next level, how do they do that?
Marty Park: So I'm on social, most of the platforms on social at themartypark, and then, you can visit my website. My personal one is martypark. com. And so, there's information about my coaching, my speaking, just about me, my book. And then, my coaching company is called Evolve Business Group, which is evolvebusinessgroup. com, and has profile of all our coaches on there, and a little bit more about the work we do. So yeah, in fact, if you just Google Marty Park, I should show up pretty high. If I didn't, then my team's doing something wrong.
Mark: And it does show up. So I will attest to that. Listeners, get the help that you need, get the coaching that you need, get the advice that you need. Marty, thank you so much for being here today. I do appreciate all that you do, not only for me, but for the business world, everything that you've written in your book and the coaching that you continue to deliver. Thank you for being here.
Marty Park: Mark, thanks so much. I always enjoy this.
Mark: Hey friends, thanks so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, please share it with friends and colleagues so that they can benefit from it as well. If you find Negotiations Ninja podcast- worthy, please go on to iTunes and give us a cool rating with a nice review. We certainly appreciate every single one that we get, because it helps us to understand who is listening, how they're listening, and what it is they like. If there's something that you would like me to discuss around negotiation, influence or persuasion, give me a shout. You know how to reach me on social media or you can get me on my website, which is www. negotiations. ninja.
If someone builds their own business, they’re likely an expert in their thing. They are brilliant at that one thing. But now—to get to the next level—they have to sell. How do they make the transition? In this episode of Negotiations Ninja, Marty Park shares what’s required to be great at sales as an entrepreneur.
Marty started his first software company at 21. Since then, he’s operated 13 different businesses in seven different industries. Eighteen years ago, he got started in the coaching space. Marty is actually my business coach. He helps entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level. Don’t miss his expert insight!