Masterclass on the Perfect Sales Call

I have always admired those who are experts in the chosen profession.

Whether that’s in the business world, entertainment, sport, movies or construction, watching a skilled individual do their job with confidence and proficiency is a thing of beauty. It just flows and they make it look and feel so easy, as if we all could do it - and we probably could, had we put in the hard work and hours of practice to get that accomplished.

In my world of sales management, I am generally on the selling side. Very occasionally I get to be on the other side of the transaction, the person buying the service, and recently I had the good fortune to have been giving a master class on how to sell by someone who was an expert in their profession, salesmanship.

At CompTIA we are exploring some options to develop our sales team and to ensure we are all maintaining our sales discipline and keeping to those good habits.

We got a lead from one of my peers and set up a call to discuss their services. The organization we were speaking with was Habits at Work and we were fortunate to have the CEO Andrew Sykes attend the meeting.

Prior to the call we got an agenda from Andrew, which in itself is not unusual but how often have you not received an agenda for a meeting? Increasingly I am seeing less and less structure to meetings with agendas unfortunately becoming a rare thing.

The agenda gave us a great insight to what we were about to experience. It set out the purpose of the meeting, the benefit to having the meeting, the attendees, all with their names hyperlinked to their LinkedIn profiles.

Andrew had done his research prior to the call and knew his audience. The agenda also broke down the meeting into time slots, identifying what we were going to discuss. Finally, it had next steps, a next meeting date and feedback. The process was very much aligned to my post “A super system for the salesman” .

It was clear this was shaping up to be an interesting call.

When we joined the call, Andrew opened up with confidence and charisma making us feel relaxed and had us buying into him as a person long before we even discussed his company.

Before we moved onto the business element of the call, he asked us to give him feedback after the call. He wanted us to tell him what he did well but also asked us to give him feedback on what he didn’t do so well. It was the first time anyone has ever asked me for that type of feedback after a sales call or any call or meeting for that matter.

It was truly refreshing, and gave us an insight into his thought process. He definitely had a growth mindset. We gave him his feedback on what he did well but we really struggled to find anything he didn’t do so well.

As you can imagine Andrew had us eating out of his hand and the call went extremely well, exactly as he would have imagined it. His next steps were to set up another meeting at his office where we could continue our discussions. We finished the call and as promised, he followed up within the hour with the action items.

A few days later one of my colleagues received a delivery to her office.

It had three books, authored by Andrew, one for each one of us on the call. Inside each book was a hand written note thanking us for our time on the call.

Oh, and the book’s title, “The 11th Habit: Design Your Company Culture to Foster the Habits of High Performance”.

Now, very few of us have written a book on improving performance in the workplace but sending a hand written note after a call or meeting is a great way to build a relationship and should be standard practice. Sadly, like agendas, hand written notes are no longer a regular occurrence but they can be a clever way of  differentiating you from all the competition.

Andrew was a true expert in his field, and it was a pleasure to be sold to in that manner. He was slick, polished and accomplished.

I am not in the field selling as much as I used to be but when I am, I am going to make sure I adhere to all those disciplines and habits that make the experience so much better for everyone.

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Global Sales Leader, Executive Vice President of  CompTIA


Life before and after – Part 2, The Final Journey

The first time I saw her, I was captivated by her smile.

It seemed to display the beauty that was inside her heart, it was truly breathtaking. I was lost at sea until I found Fiona, stumbling around trying to find success personally and professionally. A quote from Lao Tzu sums it up so well, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

In my post on June 1 2017 I talked about the news we received about Fiona and I mentioned the cancer hospital.

From the outside it appears inconspicuous, but inside doctors and nurses are doing a remarkable job saving people’s lives, while patients are fighting for theirs and coping with remarkable adversity.

I recently drove past that same cancer hospital in a taxi, but on this occasion, I had Fiona’s ashes in the back seat with me.

It was her final journey to her resting place in the graveyard in my home town of Glenties, Co. Donegal. It was a surreal moment and one that hammered home the fact that life would never be the same again.

Fiona had spent two years attending that cancer center and received almost ninety days of chemotherapy. Her doctors called her “the special one” – she had surpassed their wildest expectations beating every statistic, she was a miracle!

Sadly, Fiona’s fight came to an end.

In February of this year, we received the news that her treatment had stopped working and we scrambled desperately for other options.

It seemed that the only option was a clinical trial at the University of Chicago. The doctors heading up the trial accepted her pending a final medical. Because her type of cancer was so rare, they were excited to have her on the trial.

Fiona had small cell cervical cancer with about 100 cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Because these tumors are so rare, the cause is not yet fully understood. This was an exciting opportunity for the doctors to understand more about this uncommon cancer.

For Fiona, she was hoping it would give her more time but more importantly, she wanted to give others with the disease a better chance of survival.

The treatment was about a ninety-minute drive from where we lived, depending on traffic, so this was possibly a three or four hour return journey on top of an eight hour treatment day.

We were a family, Fiona, Josie our dog and I.

We had to consider how we were going to look after Josie as I was working, and Fiona would be spending a lot time in hospital. After many conversations and tears we decided that we needed to find Josie a new home.

An acquaintance was looking for a dog as her own had died several months prior. We introduced her to Josie and they immediately bonded. They spent a few weeks getting to know each other and then we dropped Josie off at her new home. It was extremely sad and distressing to come home without Josie but we knew it was the best thing to do for her.

In life there are certain moments, that while they are playing out, you sense something life changing is happening.

For us, that moment was the phone call Fiona received about an hour after we got home from her medical at the University of Chicago. It turned out that her liver was so badly damaged from all the chemo that she was unfit to attend the trial. We were both devastated.

Ironically that day was April 1st.

A few days later, we met with our local doctors at the cancer center and they wanted to try one more throw of the dice and they prescribed an oral chemo drug. Fiona was starting to have more severe issues with her liver around the same time, but with her zest for life and her positivity she wanted to try everything she could to continue to live.

The doctors told us that we would know quickly if the drug was working. With her liver deteriorating very quickly and in a lot of discomfort, they stopped the chemo drug after only a week. They gave her one, maybe two weeks to live and recommended we find suitable hospice care.

We interviewed several hospice organizations, but settled with Northwestern who had provided Fiona with such excellent treatment and care for over two years. Fiona wanted to die at home, so they came and prepared our home and us mentally and spiritually for Fiona’s passing. They are remarkable people who do an amazing job.

As difficult as this time was, they helped us cope with this excruciating situation. Very quickly, Fiona’s condition deteriorated and she became bedridden three days after the final diagnosis from the doctor.

As the news spread about her condition, her friends and neighbors rallied round. They all came to see her and although she was weak, in and out of consciousness, she recognized them. She had a smile and positive words to share with them as they recalled happier times. They were exceptionally supportive as were all my colleagues and my employer.

On the afternoon of Sunday April 28th Fiona passed.

That morning she seemed agitated, and while trying to make her comfortable in bed she whispered to me, “I don’t see the point in this”. She was having difficulty just lying in bed, not her normal positive self.

Later, three of her friends called around, all independently of each other. As the afternoon progressed, Fiona’s breathing became irregular. Her friends were gathered around the bed and I was sitting by her side, holding her hand.

She looked around the room, then back into my eyes and took her final breath.

It was a beautiful moment, one that will stay with me until the time comes to take my final breath. Her passing into her next life was as beautiful as the life she lived here on earth.

As I made the calls to the hospice and dealt with the funeral director, I felt Fiona’s spirit guide and support me. She was still there calling the shots.

We had a beautiful memorial service for her at our local golf club, Cress Creek.

Golf was a big part of Fiona’s life, and she loved spending time with her friends whilst hitting the wee white ball around. Even through her treatment she would not let her condition dictate how she lived her life. Regardless of the challenges, she was on the golf course enjoying golf and nature all around her.

Fiona’s other love was fitness and Orange Theory Fitness. She treasured their support, and encouragement during her illness.

Throughout the two years of treatment, she always joked about spreading her ashes in one of the ponds at the golf course. She would comment that most of her golf balls are in the pond on hole number nine and that’s where she would want to be when she eventually passed.

As the time got closer, she became more considered on exactly where she would want to be laid to rest. Shortly after the disappointing news regarding the trial, she told me that she wanted to be buried in our family grave in Glenties. I was surprised by her request but deeply touched.

So, we began that final journey, passing the cancer hospital and to the airport.

Along the way there were some strange moments, going through security at O’Hare and Dublin for instance. Normally impatient and busy border police became very accommodating once they understood what was in the small wooden box I was carrying. Having the urn in the overhead bin while we were flying across the Atlantic was another surreal moment.

Once back home in Glenties, family and friends gathered around and we had another beautiful ceremony in the chapel.

Our priest Father Gerard and the amazing music made it a special occasion. So many friends and family were there to help and share their memories of Fiona. She made a lasting impression on so many people without even realizing.

Laying her remains in the grave was one of the hardest things I have ever done. The Irish do funerals probably better than anybody and this funeral was no exception. In true Irish fashion, we had a few drinks in her memory and sang a few songs, just as Fiona would have wanted.

They say you should live your life the way you want to be remembered - Fiona truly did.

Her positive attitude, energy and zest for life never wavered. We should all aspire to live our lives as she did.

Fiona was one of those special people that uplifted everyone.

I will miss her and her beautiful smile and contagious laugh. Just being in her presence changed my life for the better. She saw something in me as she saw in everyone she met; she saw their light. Even when her body grew weak, her spirit increased each day, there was a light in her heart. She loved her culture and tradition and regardless of how the day was, Fiona had her million- dollar smile.

I think back to the first time that I saw that smile, the treasured time that we had together and how it has gone by in a flash. Treasure your time with loved ones, it can be snatched from you so very quickly.

John McGlinchey - CompTIAFiona, thank you for each and every single precious moment.

John x

My Path to a Job in IT

I work in the tech industry and like so many more in our industry, I am not a techy.

We all have different stories as to how we got here and I would like to share my unconventional story with you, how I got from a small village in Co. Donegal, Ireland, called Glenties to Chicago via Scotland and the UK.

We all have significant moments in our lives where we make decisions that may affect our future and our journey through life.

Mine was during August 1980 - I was seventeen years old and working in the family grocery shop during summer holidays while my parents were away on a summer break.

One of my customers that day worked for an organization who placed students into work based apprenticeship programs and he offered me an opportunity to join an electrical apprenticeship program starting a few weeks later.

Apparently, during a Career Guidance class earlier that year I had ticked a box confirming that I was interested in becoming an electrician!

I did remember the form and there were many other careers on the list but I am certain that becoming an electrician was not my first choice. In fact I do believe my first choice was to play football for Manchester United!!

He needed an answer that day and although I felt pressurized, I accepted his offer.

I  was convinced that my aspirations to play professional football were doomed and I also knew that this was the right move for me. When my parents returned from their break, they were none too happy at my career choice. as previously we had discussed university or working in the family business and expanding it, but being a stubborn teenager I stuck to my guns and joined the four year program.

For the first year I was in a training center with a three month block release to a college.

During that time I spent my weeks away from home and lived in a boarding house. I was seventeen and it was the first time I had lived away from my family learning a lot of valuable life skills that were critical to my development as a person.

After the first year, I was placed with a local employer where I was to serve out the remainder of my apprenticeship.

I spent three months each year at college and after a year in the workplace, I realized that I had made a mistake and that being an electrician was not for me. However, I also understood that I needed to continue and get my qualifications, which I did.

Once I finished my apprenticeship I started to consider other options and recognized that I had gained a lot of sales and customer service experience from working in the family grocery shop - check out one of my earlier blog posts, Lessons I learned from my first job.

So, using my electrical knowledge I got a job selling CCTV, intruder alarms, door entry systems and fire alarms.

I really enjoyed the sales aspect of the job a lot, I honed my skills and loved the face to face engagement with building contractors, engineers, architects and building managers.

As computers were becoming more common in the workplace I was offered a job selling computer consumables, specifically re-manufactured toner cartridges. We were one of the first in the UK to have a quality re-manufacturing process and our customers loved our products and our service and as a result we became very successful.

More importantly I had made that leap into the IT Industry.

Like so many industries over the years, the toner cartridge business was disrupted by entrepreneurs back in the early 90’s and the printer vendors did not like it. As the recycled cartridge became more in demand a lot more providers entered the market. Most of these latecomers were using unsophisticated processes and unfortunately the industry as a whole got a bad reputation from these “Drill and Fill” merchants.

The next step in my journey took me into IT training where I spent sixteen years getting a wider understanding of IT skills, assessments and the training industry. The IT industry was in its infancy and growing so fast and the demands for a skilled workforce were as challenging back then as they are today.

I joined my current employer, CompTIA over eight years ago.

During my journey I did not realize that I was on an intended path or if any of it made sense. As I look back now, everything seemed to happen for a reason and it was moving me along in an intended manner, working towards my goals and aspirations.

There were many bumps along the road (like most roads!) but all the skills I learned along the way have helped make the journey so interesting and rewarding.

Being in the IT industry, doesn’t have to mean you are a techy or that you need a degree to have a wonderful successful career.

I am a true product of the apprenticeship model and the skills I learned as an apprentice, the sales skills and the life skills I picked up along the way have all contributed to who I am and what I do.

On that warm summers day in Glenties, back in August 1980, I never once dreamt that my impulsive decision to become an electrician would have been so influential in crafting my journey. When I started working in 1980 I thought there was a destination somewhere but have come to realize that there isn’t a destination....just a wonderful journey!

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Executive Vice President of Global Certification for CompTIA



Five Minute Interview with Yours Truly!

I stumbled upon this interview that I did a few years ago in Microscope magazine and I thought it would be interesting to share with people so they get a better sense of who this Irishman from Donegal is!

Tell us what you do for a living.

I am senior vice president, responsible for leading the global business development team in the promotion and sales of CompTIA Certifications.

I have since changed roles and am now the Executive Vice President for Global Certification at CompTIA.

Why are you the right person for this job?

Because I was willing to live on an airplane, or in a hotel for 80% of my working life!!

What gets you up in the morning?

Apart from my alarm clock?

Knowing that I have a busy day ahead, doing a job I love in an industry I am passionate about and can add value to, gives me my motivation and drive – you've got to love what you do and give it 100% otherwise, no one benefits.

Who helped you get to where you are today?

Several people through my life have been a great help – my parents for instilling in me my work ethic, my wife for her support through the years and several colleagues and peers who I have taken advice from, been mentored by and admired.

What is the best or worst business advice you have received and from whom?

My father always taught me to choose a career I enjoy, be happy and have fun. He said, when you enjoy your work you are generally successful at it. And always be truthful to your colleagues and in life in general.

What advice would you give to someone starting out today in IT?

Take the CompTIA A+ certification J and specialise in cyber security!

What’s running on your smartphone?

As I travel a lot, I just love my iPhone. It helps me communicate, get me from A to B without getting lost (well most of the time), keeps me up to speed on what happening in the world and I can listen to my music.

What did we do before iPhones were invented? Looking forward to the new iWatch!

Tell us something most people do not know about you.

I come from a small village in the Republic of Ireland called Glenties in County Donegal, with a population of less than 900 people – in my teenage years, I owned a mobile disco unit and used to run discos all round the local area.

What goal do you have to achieve before you die, and why?

Personally, to play a round of golf under par without any handicap shots then play against Phil Mickleson and Tiger Woods!

What is the best book you've ever read?

There has been many wonderful books but the most recent I really like is Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

He talks about how important it is that leaders and organisations inspire people. His bold goal is to help build a world in which the vast majority of people go home every day feeling fulfilled by their work. Something I try to emulate in at least some small way.

Simon is leading a movement to inspire people to do the things that inspire them.

And the worst film you’ve ever seen?

There have been several, but the one I think was the worst to me was Kill Bill.... Just awful.

What would be your Desert Island MP3s?

I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of a rocker, so some Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Coldplay and a bit of Rihanna to spice it up!

What temptation can you not resist?

It’s hard to say no to a good glass of red wine. A dark, fruity deep red would always win for me accompanied by a decent bar of chocolate.

That’s two temptations I know, but I can’t have one without the other.

What was your first car and how does it compare with what you drive now?

A 1977 Ford Escort Van, yellow and I got a “Dukes of Hazard” stripe on it. In my eyes it was the best car I ever had. Fun and multi-purpose. I now have an E-Class Mercedes but the Escort van holds many fond memories.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with? Why, what did they do?

Can’t think of one specific person. But imagine as you are about to close the lift doors, you saw this guy coming and you were kind enough to hold it for him.

Then, you’re stuck for what could be hours and the guy will not stop singing and whistling I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas. That song is annoying as is, but could you imagine if you were forced to listen to this guy over and over again?

If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be and why?

A golden eagle. I think being able to fly anywhere I wanted with no traffic to contend with is one reason, but also because I think it’s a magnificent species and king of the skies.

If you could take part in one event in the Olympics, which would you choose and why?

Although it’s not officially in the Olympics yet but will be from 2016, it has to be golf for me.  I see myself and Rory McIlroy teeing it up together and ripping up the course!!!

If I had to pick a current sport in the Olympics, the 100 metres – it’s over so quickly and I guess that 10 seconds effort would be more than enough for me.

If you were facing awesome peril and impossible odds, which real or fictional person would you most want on your side and why?

This has to be two people.

Firstly my wife. If there is a chance that this would be my last day on earth, I’d want to spend it with her; knowing someone loves you right at the end would help me face what was ahead.

Secondly, my hero, Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies) – this guy can get you out of anything single-handedly!

And finally, a grizzly bear and a silverback gorilla are getting ready for a no-holds-barred rumble. Who is your money on and why?

The silverback – I think he would have a strategy of knocking the grizzly out with a well-timed heavy blow while the grizzly would just hope for the best – one swift thump from the silverback and the grizzly would be down and out!

Thanks for reading ...time to train for the 100 meters!

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Executive Vice President of Global Certification for CompTIA

Busting Myths about a Career in IT

As I was looking back at some of my earlier posts, I was amazed how we are still failing to attract enough new talent  to the IT industry - this post from over three years ago about the skills shortage in the UK, particularly caught my attention.

There are still many myths that we need to smash to help build the pipeline of people coming into our industry.

There are three common contradictions I see that prevent people selecting a job in our industry:

  1. All the jobs are in coding
  2. You need to be a STEM genius
  3. You need a four-year degree

Coding - Only 25% of the jobs are in coding, 75% are in infrastructure - in networking, cybersecurity, IT support, and database administration.

However, those looking at a career in IT hear a lot about coding and are not attracted to that role. Yet coding gets all the limelight and is assumed to represent the “T” in STEM.

There are many other options to choose from, in both the tech industry and working in a tech occupation role.

There are over 7.29m tech occupation jobs and 6.89m jobs in the tech industry. Over 49% of tech industry jobs are in tech occupations.

STEM Genius - You don't have to be a math and science genius to have a really great career in IT.

But what you do need are skills, industry recognized skills that are mapped to job roles that allow you to make an impact with your employer from day one. CompTIA’s vendor neutral certifications do exactly that.

Less knowledge and a more skills-based education system is what we require to improve the pipeline of students coming into our industry.

Four year Degree - The IT industry has changed drastically over recent years, and as a result a B.A. doesn’t necessarily guarantee you success.

A bachelor’s degree has typically served as the first step into a career in the IT industry, but today’s organizations demand a different mix of skills and experiences.

As a result, hiring leaders are increasingly focused on identifying candidates with specific talents, regardless of where they were acquired.

98 % of HR and hiring managers are willing to consider qualifications outside of college on an applicant’s resume.

When we took a closer look at the 92% of tech jobs that are advertised and listed as requiring a college degree, less than half that number, 40% actually,  need a college degree to carry out the role.

Even still, a majority of students and parents view a college degree as a necessary credential within the IT industry.

College will always be a beneficial opportunity for millions of students to hone their critical thinking and research skills, but skills and experience are the new currency for budding careers in technology.

So, at your next dinner party or your next networking meeting or conference, Bust those Myths!

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Executive Vice President of Global Certification for CompTIA