Leadership Qualities

Shark Tank's Robert Herjavec on Great Business Pitches and Why Sales Reps Need to Be Chameleons

Guest Writer
3 min read
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Earlier this month entrepreneur Robert Herjavec, an investor on Shark Tank, served as a keynote speaker for CallidusCloud's annual meeting. He shared some of his ideas about entrepreneurial success during a fireside chat with CEO Leslie Stretch, as well as by email -- which have been compiled to create this post.

What should we look for in entrepreneurs, I'm sometimes asked.

The first thing all of us look for is you've got to engage me. I've been sitting in that chair for 12 hours and you come out and you start with this boring pitch?

I don't care how good it is. I don't care if you've invented the better mousetrap. You've already lost me.

A friend of mine runs a very large VC company called Greylock. He has a list of things he looks for in entrepreneurs, from the time they walk through the door to when they sit down, to determine whether he's going to invest in them.

Related: Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran: 4 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Do

Customer value should always be at the forefront of an entrepreneur's mind. Listen to what your customers are saying and more importantly, to what they are not saying. Take these cues and adjust your plan.

Find a customer with a true need then build your business plan around solving this gap. Developing a business and then trying to find a customer is the wrong way around and will make an entrepreneur destined to fail.

And when it comes to salespeople, there are a lot of things that can make them great. But I think one of the most critical factors is adaptability. I look for sales reps who could be blindfolded, tied up, put on an airplane, dropped in any location in the world and not only figure out the rules of the game but how to win. I think that this chameleon-like adaptability, the ability to change your colors depending on your environment, is the most crucial thing.

Speaking generally about people in business, success starts with sacrifice. If you set goals for yourself and intend to meet them, sacrifices will have to be made. But when you finally meet your goals and achieve the success you set out for, the satisfaction always exceeds the sacrifice. Always. 

My sartorial choices are a little more formal than other people's. In my company's culture, at the Herjavec Group, we believe that we're a little different. People always make fun of us and say, "Oh, do you guys not have casual days?" and I always say, "Really? Our customers don't buy on Fridays?" Every day is a professional day in our world.
 

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