[MVP] Linda Stimac: From Finance to Facilitate

Linda Stimac

Pregame MVP Linda Stimac has dedicated her career to helping business leaders close the gap between actual and potential performance in client acquisition, talent acquisition and high performing teams.

She has helped thousands of seasoned and next generation professionals to change habits and beliefs as well as acquire the unique facilitation skills and techniques that translate into sustainable gains in productivity.

Her program Facilitate was recently selected as the centerpiece for an industry-wide learning program offered by Texas Tech University’s Center for Financial Responsibility. Facilitate comes to Pregame HQ this September.

How do people sabotage themselves in their approach to sales?
My take is that many people “get in their own way,” and often it’s not their fault.

If they had formal sales training, it was probably an outdated version of “power selling” where you learn a pitch (a list of positive adjectives about a product or service, delivered with enthusiasm) or you believe that prospective clients exist to be educated. Neither of those ways work anymore because the client has changed dramatically.

I care a lot about helping fellow small business/entrepreneurial leaders who must sell but have not had any training whatsoever. They must rely on their street smarts and end up having to “wing it” on appointments or meetings. It’s exhausting not to have a system that works.

How did you develop your Facilitate methodology?
My own career in sales paralleled a time of great change in consumer behavior. People who were delegators by nature became information seekers with the rise of the internet. Successfully working with information seekers is not easy. I had to change my own approach in order to survive and thrive. Later, I joined the ranks of Corporate America as an “intra-preneur,” coming in to help change sales practices (from transactional to consultative) with innovative ideas that worked.

The first version of Facilitate was introduced in 1996, and what set it apart was that it is an Expert Performance System, not a training program.  An assessment tells you where the gaps are and the multi-dimensional learning program closes those gaps and gives you the techniques and process to be an expert facilitator.

It’s important to add that the benchmark for the assessment is based on the actual results of more than 5,000 sales professionals with whom I have worked personally – their qualities, skills and beliefs – the things that set them apart as highly successful.  How do you compare?  That’s the question.

The concept in Facilitate is totally different than the conventional sales process – linear steps to make a sale, geared to the sales professional and what she or he should do.  Keeping up with research on consumer behavior enabled us to reveal the emotional buying process that prospective clients really want to use – what they want to talk about and what matters most.  It is a series of Conversations that the facilitator learns to lead.

Who would benefit most from Facilitate?
Anyone who has responsibility for bringing new clients to their company.  That might be a small business owner who must build the client base in addition to a number of other roles.  It might be someone in a dedicated sales role within an organization – an individual or a team.

The other qualifier is what is the nature of your client relationship?  Facilitate is designed for professionals who establish, cultivate and maintain client relationships over time.  That might describe an attorney, an accountant, a management consultant, a graphic designer, a financial advisor.  It’s probably not the owner of a retail store.

Why is decision making a vital skill in business?
No one has done a better job of answering that question than George Connolly, a Facilitate student when he was a financial advisor and the guy who went on to become the president of a national insurance company’s broker dealer and hired me to help him transform sales for the field force, more than fifty general agents and their producers.

George said, “The price of admission in business is the ability to frame questions that lead to getting a decision, whether it is a Yes or a No. In any profession, it is an essential part of ‘selling yourself,’ whether you’re in a corporate role or a sales role. Learning this one thing transformed my career.”

How do you balance being a business consultant with being a business owner?
I call myself a “double agent.”  My daughter Sara and I own Firebrand Sports, a boutique fitness studio that is all about fast forward fitness.  At Firebrand, you find workouts that are completely unique in our city – like Lagree Fitness and Urban Row – for members who believe, like us, that you don’t need more time, you need more intensity.

Sara and I were both corporate warriors at the same time in Los Angeles in 2010. She was a fast-rising entertainment lawyer when I was head of Practice Management for the ING broker-dealers. We discovered Lagree Fitness together and wanted to build a unique business around it. In 2012, we chose Portland as the place to make it all happen.

Now that Firebrand is a viable and vibrant business venture, I am able to devote more time to my consulting practice and can finally make good on my goal to work with other entrepreneurial business leaders in my chosen city of Portland, like the people I have had the good fortune to meet through my membership at Pregame.

How has your passion for fitness influenced your consulting practice?
One of the things I help my clients understand is the importance of having high self-esteem and being open to change.

When I am in a Lagree Fitness group class at Firebrand, I find that it is always challenging – actually really hard, not just for me but also for much younger members who are on Megaformers right next to me.  If I have a class that leaves me feeling euphoric, then I practically sail out the front door. But sometimes I won’t have done an exercise or series to my high standards.  I must realize that I am not what I do – or don’t do. Self-esteem keeps us getting back up on the horse, even when its hard to do.  It keeps us saying, “Next!” and being excited about new possibilities.

I find that if someone is not open to change, she or he won’t want to participate in Facilitate. And shouldn’t participate!  At Firebrand Sports, we are opening a second studio in Lake Oswego this fall. That means new Lagree Fitness equipment for that location and for the Pearl studio. The new M3K+ looks futuristic and a bid formidable.  It has electric ramping capability that will make the workout harder, and therefore more efficient and effective. But I will be open to change.

How do you define success?
I subscribe to my friend and mentor Kathy Kolbe’s definition: “The freedom to be yourself.” In becoming a Kolbe Master Team Consultant, one of my other consulting areas, I learned that my instinctive way of taking action is to originate, lead the way and yes, bet the farm. This knowledge steered me away from the confines of corporate life, which always disappointed me, and opened up a life that I love as an entrepreneur. I wish for everyone the freedom to be yourself, to find your own striving zone and go for it!

Learn more about Linda on her Pregame MVP Profile and her website

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