Tony Ausick is an SVP of Sales at Courtroom Animation, a company that creates demonstrative exhibits for legal proceedings. We interviewed Tony about what it’s like to sell such a niche product, his background running golf tournaments, and what he’s learned after nearly ten years in sales.
You’ve been selling for nearly a decade. How did you get your start in sales? When did you know it would be your career?
Growing up and all during college I never seriously considered pursuing a career in sales. However, things took an interesting turn when I assumed the role of Marketing and Field Representative for a shoe company that was making inroads in the golf market. My supervisor at the time was aware of my previous experience within the golf industry, which led to his invitation for me to attend the PGA Show (the largest premier annual event in the golfing world).
During the PGA Show, I engaged in numerous conversations, eavesdropped on countless pitches for various shoe products, and learned how the sales reps adeptly highlighted that year's shoe line. In fact, the VP of Sales requested that I entertain a client during a particularly busy period. To my surprise, he expressed an interest in placing an order right then and there. It was at that very moment that I had my epiphany, realizing that my calling lay in the dynamic world of sales.
You used to run golf tournaments and sell golf products (you must have a pretty nice handicap). Many business deals are closed on the golf course. As a salesperson who has worked in the golf industry, what are some of the faux pas that salespeople should avoid when golfing on business?
I was introduced to golf at a very young age. My dad introduced me to the game when I was just three years old, and I've been an avid player ever since. I cannot emphasize enough how vital golf is at all levels of sales. Establishing a connection with a fellow golfer, let alone having the opportunity to play with a valued or potential client, can provide a significant advantage over competitors. To fully leverage this advantage, it's important to avoid certain faux pas that could jeopardize these opportunities:
1) Over-Competitiveness or Taking the Game Too Seriously: While healthy competition can enhance the experience, excessive competitiveness can create an uncomfortable atmosphere. It's crucial to remember that the primary objective is relationship-building, not winning a bet or showcasing one's golf skills.
2) Disregarding Golf Etiquette and Failing to Display Courtesy: A solid grasp of basic golf etiquette is important. Ensuring that divots are repaired, ball marks on greens are promptly addressed, and bunkers are raked demonstrates respect for the course and fellow players. Clients often notice these things and will draw conclusions about one's character.
3) Neglecting Business Discussions: While golf is a social game, it's important to keep in mind that the primary purpose of the outing is to discuss business or to close a deal. Avoid the mistake of completely sidelining business discussions in favor of casual conversation or an intense focus on the game itself.
4) Excessive Indulgence: It's well-known that golf and alcohol often go hand in hand. But overindulgence can potentially harm a business relationship. It's important to strike a balance and maintain a level of professionalism throughout the round. Remember, at the end of the day you’re representing more than just yourself.
You now sell something we didn’t even know existed - courtroom animation software. Tell us a little about what exactly you sell and what the sales process is like.
Courtroom Animation (my company) operates as a specialized forensic animation studio, collaborating closely with attorneys and forensic experts to craft compelling exhibits that visualize their clients' arguments through demonstrative exhibits. Our mission is to convey complex arguments in an understandable format for juries or mediators to see.
What does a typical work day look like for you? Walk us through it.
Typically, my mornings are busy with catching up on emails and preparing for any client meetings scheduled for the day. Since our team is spread across the country, we have the flexibility to coordinate schedules as needed with different teams. In between, there are often team meetings with our Sales staff or the Executive Team. Early afternoons are usually dedicated to following up on ongoing deals with clients. As I move into the mid to late afternoon, things tend to quiet down a bit. This is when I can focus on Executive initiatives or delve into the Development side of the business, exploring potential new verticals for the sales team to explore. If I have a chance I may sneak out for evening 9 or go hit the range.
What are your long term career goals? Early retirement (on a golf course) or future CRO?
While thinking about retirement is awesome, it's a bit ahead of the game for me right now. My immediate career goal is to climb the corporate ladder and hit that executive level someday. I want to be part of the team that steers the ship, you know?
Now, apart from the corporate world, I've always been interested in running my own company. I'm all about seizing opportunities, so who knows, I might just venture into entrepreneurship down the line.
Regardless, no matter where my career takes me, golf will always be in the picture!
What is your favorite sales movie?
How can you not go with Wolf of Wall Street?