So the other day the LinkedIn app on my phone just started blowing up with messages. People were saying ’congrats’, congratulations! Way to go! And I’m like What’s going on?? Turns out LinkedIn had shared my 20-year milestone at SOCO Sales Training. It’s been 20 years since I started this company!
That’s just mind-blowing.
And you know what, it hasn’t been easy. It’s been a long journey. And it’s funny because when I was interviewing someone for a sales position the other day they said to me “It’s amazing how big you’ve gotten. You just came out of nowhere.” And I was shocked. I mean it’s neat how many people tell me ‘hey we’re connected on LinkedIn’ and I have no idea who they are (I’m sorry but there’s over 20,000 of you), but I’m only getting started AND I definitely didn’t come out of nowhere.
I’ve been working at this for 20 years! Now the first 10 years were really tough, back then I was in Canada and did a combination of sales coaching and trained a variety of topics. I wasn’t really focused and hadn’t found my groove.
Then in 2008, I followed my then-girlfriend to the other side of the world to Singapore so she could follow her career in Interior Design. It wasn’t until I got to Singapore that things really started to take off. I had that immigrant mentality and I had no ties, no expectations, no judgment and nothing holding me back.
I had to start from scratch, letting people know who I was and what I do. But I hit the ground running, I took every speaking gig I could free or paid. A big turning point for me was when I did a public workshop for Singapore’s Straits Times Newspaper back in 2009. It was great exposure because my face was everywhere in the paper and at the workshop I met a sales director for Global Beauty, the head company for brands like Marie France Body Line and others. She loved my training so much she engaged me to deliver my Social Selling workshop to all of their locations across Asia which was in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia at the time. And I remember getting a deposit check from them which wasn’t even half of the whole sale value that was more money than I’d ever seen on a cheque addressed to me in my lifetime.
I still have a photo of me smiling holding the cheque on my balcony somewhere.
And that was when things started to take off. I got so busy that in 2010 after I married my girlfriend who brought me to Singapore, she left her job in Interior Design to help grow SOCO. With her passion for branding, marketing and design added to the company we grew even more and started working more and more across Asia. I found myself training trainers in Indonesia and Thailand to deliver the SOCO Selling methodology because there was demand from those markets too. I’ll let you in on a little secret, our trainer in Thailand is one of the sales managers from Marie France Bodyline that I trained, and she’s an awesome trainer.
As we grew we had to add more staff and with the addition of more staff we had the capacity to continue to grow faster and faster. We’ve gotten so good at what we do we’re now applying the same strategies we’ve used to grow SOCO to grow AMC NPO Solutions in Canada. A training company that services not-for-profits that I bought from my father 7 years ago before he passed away.
So while it’s been 20 years and one heck of a ride, I’m only getting started. We have a new sales trainer starting with us next month and are currently hiring for sales reps. The company is growing so fast and we’re serving some of the biggest brands in Asia, I can’t wait to share with you the lessons I learn from the next 5 years in business.
If you haven’t seen my slide deck on 20 Lessons from 20 years in Business on LinkedIn, check it out (below) and let me know what you think.
Take care guys!
- Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.