Bill La Peer joins CWT as Vice President, Enterprise Vertical Sales. With over 25 years of industry experience behind him, Bill takes the helm leading CWT’s strategy in winning new global accounts in the financial services market.
We chat to the sales heavyweight from Michigan about his new role, the value of becoming a trusted advisor and how he recharges after a busy week.
What gets you excited about sales?
There are several aspects of sales that excite me, and I can divide them into 3 areas; challenging, rewarding, and varied. If you break down the sales lifecycle each stage represents a challenge, and if executed properly your reward is advancing to the next stage. The ultimate reward is having a corporate buyer put their trust in CWT to partner in managing some of their great assets, namely people and working capital. Each day brings multiple opportunities at different stages of the lifecycle and might include activities ranging from research and writing to creating presentations and pricing.
What will be your first focus in your new role at CWT?
To be successful in sales requires being both strategic and tactical approaches.
I am a big proponent of the Challenger Sale focusing on educating vs. selling. Creating constructive tension is about introducing new ideas and concepts to the corporate buyer and challenging them to think differently. As I familiarize myself with CWT and my prospects, my areas of focus will be acquiring the knowledge of both organization and client so I can find clients for whom we are the right fit, and they are the right fit for CWT.
Best client achievement?
I have worked in several different roles during my career including operations, account management, and sales – as an individual contributor and in leadership positions. It’s difficult to single out just one achievement. What they all have in common is becoming a trusted advisor to corporate buyers. That is a person who has both the power and responsibility to direct or advise, and become an asset for the organization to reach its goals. In every sales opportunity one of my goals is to become a trusted advisor.
The term trusted advisor is frequently overused, however if achieved this status is invaluable. You can be a real asset to the client, organization and to the business relationship. Even if you don’t win the account becoming a trusted advisor can position you for future success.
Biggest disaster of your career?
I’m not sure if this would be considered a disaster, however it has had a significant impact on me: Early in my career I was speaking on the phone to one of my direct reports and reviewing an email at the same time. She kindly asked if I could call her back when I could give her my full attention. I am so thankful to this day that she was confident enough to tell me that. Although some interruptions cannot be avoided, when I am engaging with others in person, via phone or virtually I make an effort to give everybody my full attention. It is respectful and prevents you from missing a detail that may appear minor, but in the end can be crucial
What do you like to do to relax after a busy working day?
At an early age I caught the fitness bug and still have it today. I usually hit the gym before starting my workday (even when on the road). It helps me stay sharp physically and mentally – especially important during busy and stressful times. I enjoy reading as well and do most of my reading in the evenings and when traveling. I’m usually bouncing between 2 books at a time (one fiction and the other non-fiction).
I am an avid reader with an interest in a wide range of topics from business, history, biographies, and fiction (in addition to a variety of news sources). A wide range of interests keeps you current on industry and world events, trends, and more. Someone advised me early in my career to incorporate fiction into my reading – it helps develop your vocabulary and provides you with a break from your busy professional and personal life.
To select one book as a favorite is challenging. However, if I have to pick one it would be “When Lions Roar/The Churchills and the Kennedys”. It was fascinating to read about two powerful families, and to compare and contrast how they led their families, and countries (especially in challenging times), and dealt with success as well as failures over the years.
What advice would you give to businesses looking out for a new TMC?
Education and building relationships are important for buyers and suppliers. Buyers should have a sense of the travel management companies that can service their business and be open to meeting and sharing information well in advance of an RFP. The RFP process should be focused on understanding the details of the offering and determining which TMC has provided the best solutions and value.