Simon chats with Petar Lackovic, Director of Sales and Entrepreneur Development at the Entourage.

Show Notes

The Entourage is a business training program which places more emphasis on practical real world skills, emotional intelligence, creativity and innovation propelling entrepreneurs from a 6 to 7 figure income.

You can contact Petar here:


Simon Dell: So, welcome to the show, Petar Lackovic. How are you?

Petar Lackovic: I’m very well. Thank you, Simon.

Simon Dell: Good, and you’re in Perth, you’ve just revealed to me, I believe.

Petar Lackovic: I am, yeah. I’ve relocated here in December, so I’ve been here now 6 months. Perth is my home town. I started a family and my son’s ready to go to pre-primary. I’ve got a bigger family imprint here in Perth and want him to grow up around his cousins. I’ve got three brothers, so we’re very family-oriented, and this is the best environment for him to do that. I’m in the lifestyle stage of my life.

Simon Dell: You might be my very first Perth person on the show.

Petar Lackovic: I’m glad that I’m the first.

Simon Dell: You are my Perth virgin.

Petar Lackovic: There you go. You always remember your first.

Simon Dell: Give everybody a bit of an overview about what you do. You’ve got two roles that you work in at the moment. Let’s get the elevator pitch for those.

Petar Lackovic: Absolutely. If I go back to 2012, I joined Jack Delosa in the early stages of The Entourage. The Entourage is Australia’s leading training education institution for entrepreneurs and innovators. We help six-figure business owners go to seven figures or seven-figure business owners go to eight figures. We’ve built a really solid team around doing that.

It’s been really fun, and exciting, and a rapid journey. We’ve got an audience of hundreds of thousands of people that we help every single year. It’s so rewarding in seeing business owners take off and create the life they want by building the business that they want. That’s enabled me now with the businesses sold as it is, and making the lifestyle change that I had moving back to Perth.

I now do that three times a week, fly over and spend time with the members, presenting, training, educating, doing all those types of things, helping drive the organization. As well as my passion, which I guess The Entourage makes use exclusively for, and that’s building sales processes for businesses to create replicable sales models.

Working three days a week has given me two days a week, and I’m creating specialized sales plans for organizations where there’s tailoring for them, or doing a program which helps you build your own scalable sales system. It enables me to do that a couple days a week. Everything really comes on the banner around business growth, revenue, profitability, and scalability is my sweet spot.

Simon Dell: Tell everybody Jack Delosa. You’re on Entourage with him. Is he a shareholder?

Petar Lackovic: Jack is the founder of The Entourage. We’ve known each other for 14 years now, since he was a teenager, and he was in early-30s doing amazing things. We’ve worked together a number of years. I’ve co-founded Australia’s first national sales academy in 2005, which is like an academy. Like university, you go get an education in sales. Although, nobody wants you to take three years into a sales degree. 

They’re quick, short courses to build up your sales acumen and get results as quick as you can. I met Jack in the early days through there, working with me and Mat, and then he went and built a couple of his own businesses. His first home-run business was MB Education, which is really helping businesses raise capital, do acquisitions, do exits, that backend of business very, very well. That was his first home-run, seven-figure business. On the back of that, he started The Entourage, and that was his real, true passion.

I come on board as an advisor to help him build that initial stage, and I came on board as an early-CEO through 2012-2015. I then started my family. We’re a very fast growth organization, and my ability and desire to work 18-20 hours a day, which is what we’re doing in a fast-growth business, and step back to be more of a father role. I step back and now I’ve driven the education team. I’ve driven the sales team, the business development team, strategically help the business grow in that capacity.

Jack is the founder. I’m a shareholder of The Entourage, but Jack is the head figure. He really is the mastermind of The Entourage. His personal life vision is the vision of the business. He’s one of these unique individuals where his life purpose is his business. He’s built his business around his life purpose. It’s really rewarding to be able to help build a business and be part of building the business to what  The Entourage is today. I’ve taken those same philosophies into my business in building a scalable ales system.

Simon Dell: There’s a lot of people out there who would present themselves as business coaches, business advisor, business consultants, et cetera, and some of them very good, some of them not so good. Probably more of them not so good than are actually good. What made you guys different when it started, and what makes you different today? That may be the same thing, but I’m interested, as you guys have evolved, and the marketplace for what you do has evolved, whether you’ve changed how you present yourselves.

Petar Lackovic: It’s interesting. As we’re a startup business, usually, what your biggest strengths were that enabled you to startup and start through growth phase becomes your biggest anchor that weighs you back when you want to go from startup into growth and scale. Often, the biggest detriment of someone going into the seven figures or seven into eight, is what got you to where you are is not what’s going to get you to the next stage.

There’s two things businesses only ever do. If you really simplify it, there’s only two things that we do at the heart and soul. You’re either driving growth, sales, marketing, delivering great products, or you’re enabling the growth through operations, systems, finance, people culture. You’re playing this role of drive growth, enable growth to sustain consistent growth patterns. What we’ve done very well in the early stages is that we’re very fortunate.

A lot of people attribute a lot of the entrepreneurial growth in Australia to The Entourage. We really started this movement going back 10 years ago, now with it’s okay to get out and not be a full-time employee, and go through the production line, and actually work to your vision of wanting to build something that you want to build. For us, it was really standing up for the individuals who needed a guiding light to enable them to penetrate the marketplace and take the vision and their passions and make a lifestyle out of it. We’re very drive growth-orientated. Creating movement, building an audience, building a database, and really being the leader for the audience.

They enabled us. And I think one thing I’ve really admire, if I’m going to blow my own trumpet for a minute, is our ability to iterate very quickly. The great advantage of a small business is we can move on the dot. We’re like a speed boat, where the big corporate organizations are a bit like a cruise line that takes them two hours to get out of Sydney Harbor. If you want to change direction, you’ve got to take the messages down. By the time it gets back to you, you’re 9 hours past. We can be quick and nimble.

What’s made us very successful in enabling our models to achieve the results they have is the ability to pivot, and change, and learn what our members are wanting from us and innovating. For example, we used to run a two-day workshop every 2 months. And we had a set curriculum. You would start a workshop one, and go all the way through to workshop 12 over a 12-month period of a 24-month period. What we’ve realized now is, sometimes, you need something different than workshop 1 right now.

Now, we do three or four workshops every single month, and we tailor the curriculum for you. We’re very good at listening to our audience, listening to our consumer, and then giving them what they need to get that great result. I believe the business world has gotten extremely specialized in the last few years. And this is probably why business coaches aren’t getting the great results they used to get in the timeframes they used to get, because there’s so much width and depth.

You can’t be a 10/10 in all things digital marketing and offline marketing. You can’t be a 10/10 in all sales processes. You can’t be a 10/10 in all financial acumen, or operational systems, or structures, or technology, or HR, or legal issues. There’s too much width, and depth, and breadth in business today. We’ve pulled together a team of over 25 different experts that are really good at one thing and one thing only. So, you know when you’re speaking to a coach, you’re speaking to someone who is obsessed about being great at one thing. So, you’re getting the most relevant, up-to-date information.

We just constantly innovating, and iterating, and finding out what does our audience want? What does our audience need? Jack and I are often on the forefront speaking to members. We don’t sit at an ivory tower. Jack doesn’t sit at an ivory tower trying to run a business. We’re doing calls. We’re on stage speaking to members. We’re speaking at our workshops. We’re understanding what they want. I think iterating effectively and speaking to the hearts and minds of our audience has probably been our biggest asset that we started with and we keep innovating in on a regular basis. I think that’s probably what’s kept us ahead of the curve for so long.

Simon Dell: It’s so true, because I’m on a government panel up in Queensland that does mentoring for small businesses, similar to what you do. It’s government-run, so it’s slightly different. But they still do some great stuff, and they have a group of mentors come into a room, six or seven, who sit for 90 minutes with a business and give them ideas and advice. But it’s amazing. Every time I’ve been in one of these, the challenges that the business are facing is every single one of them is completely different. They’ve all got three or four kind of pain points.

There’s some similarities. A lot of them are struggling with digital marketing, which is why I go there. But above and beyond that, they’re all so different in the challenges that they face.

Petar Lackovic: We started a secondary product 18 months ago purely and simply because the demand of our consumer… Predominantly, we were helping six-figure business owners go into seven-figures. We got so good at doing that. Members would stay with us in The Entourage membership for 2-4 years. We realized once they got to that seven-figure mark, they needed something different, and what we were delivering was great, but they needed more. So we create our Elevate program where they needed more one-on-one advisory. They needed more strategic stuff, not the micro stuff on how to do a Facebook ad, or how to do a sales funnel, or a digital marketing campaign.

They needed the strategic value that you need to bring. How do you scale your team? How do you become a better leader? What’s the best decision to make today to increase profitability, not just revenue? How does your business need to look in a year’s time, and how do we start building that now? Whereas in startup phase, you’re looking at 60 days at a time, 90 days at a time at the most because you haven’t got time to look at the future, because things are changing so quickly.

We created a whole new product line, and the results of those, it’s for seven-figure business owners who want to go to eight figures or beyond or exit, because they need different things. When you’re obsessed about what your customer wants and truly live that, you’ll start creating what they need. What you don’t have to do is sell it. It’s something that people want because you built what they need. you haven’t built something that you think they need and trying to sell the shit out of it. You’re building this attraction model by having this mindset.

Simon Dell: One of the things that I found attractive when I was reading The Entourage’s website, and you were very clear to say, there’s no quick fix. You’re not going to turn up a motivational show and walk out having walked over coals, or fire, or whatever, and suddenly, your life is better. And no disrespect to the Tony Robbins of this world. They’re focusing on a mindset aspect rather than fixing specific problems. But I think one of the things I liked was that it’s not a quick fix. 

But what I’m going to ask there is: What are some of the common things that you see are wrong with businesses when you first open the door and go, “Right, let’s have a look. Lift the bonnet and look under the hood.” What are some of the common things that you see that are wrong with businesses?

Petar Lackovic: You’re dead right. There is no silver bullet. There is no magic pill or tablet you’re going to take. I remember the makers of Underbelly did a series on In Excess, the band, a couple of years ago. I really loved watching that. My favorite genre of movies are true stories. I love the fact that you see them playing at Wembley Stadium in front of 70,000 people, and you think, “Wow, that’s amazing.” But what you don’t see is the 7 years playing to three drunks and a dog in a pub in the outskirts in Kalgoorlie crafting their tune. They’re a 7-year overnight success.

We don’t see the work that goes on behind the scenes, and business is very similar. We see them successful now. Jane Lu from Showpo will do $100 million in the next 12 months. She started with us 6 years ago with three shops, one losing money, one breaking even, and one just making a little bit of profit and no online presence whatsoever. We structured her business accordingly, gather the support, to build the foundations of what she has today. But look at her today going, “Oh my god, she’s on buses. She’s on TV. Honda’s sponsoring.” All these types of things.

But you don’t see all the work she’s putting for the last 6 or 7 years to get to that stage. There is no overnight success. The biggest thing that I think that we tend to see when we unlock the doors of a business and they first come to us and say, “Where do I go to? What’s next?” is looking at their business growth path that they’ve set up for themselves, and almost the lack of structure or operational plan to execute what they want to execute. 

It’s similar to what I said before. Obviously, we’re hustling. We’re trying to do as much as we can, as quick as we can. We often aren’t looking at what do we need to become as opposed to who we are. If we set a target, your target you set should be so strong, and powerful, and stretching. You are not the person that can achieve it being who you are today. You need to set a target and you need to become the person you need to be to achieve the target that you want to achieve.

Often, our goals aren’t set high enough. Three weeks ago, I did a 2-day sales workshop for our members who are crafting their sales process. Something we pride ourselves on being very practical and hands on. I challenged everybody to use something over those 2 days in an email, change the subject, heading, change an EDM you’re sending out, electronic direct mail, proposal, make a follow-up phone call. Just do something that you’ve learned on those 2 days. I kept a whiteboard up, and I said, if they made a conversion or booked an appointment, they put it straight for an appointment or a dollar value of sale they’ve made from using something they learned. There was about 90 people in the room. It wasn’t hundreds and hundreds. 

What blew them away was collectively, the room made $2.139 million worth of sales in 2 days. The challenge is, we often don’t know what to do when, and with what resource. On the surface, things are always cool. You go to a networking event and someone says, “How’s business?” What do we always say? “Oh, things are great. Things are good. I’m doing a bit of customer research, getting my marketing organized, and getting a bit of traction here.” Where underwater, your legs are going 100 miles an hour and you’re struggling to pay your wages, you’ve got your rent going up, you go to work out your taxes, and you’ve got a bill for them.

You’ve got lots of leads in there. You’ve got to try and sell them. When you sell them, they’re not paying your invoices. You’ve got debtors.  There’s all these things that are happening. You’re starting to hire a team, but when you hire a team, you’re losing profitability, because you used to do it all and now you’ve got more wages. And then you’ve got HR responsibilities. All these things tend to unravel. I think a couple of things: One, having a good structure of understanding is only six things every business does.

I talked about overarching philosophies of drive growth, enable growth. Within that, there’s six key elements. The first element is marketing, and that’s having a tap that you can control, that you turn the leads on and off. Not sporadically, not it controls you, but you can stem the flow or increase the tide of leads that come through. The second philosophy is in converting those leads into customers. That’s sales. We need to have a replicable sales process. And you know you’ve got a good replicable sales process when it does three things.

One, you’ve got consistency of conversion no matter who is taking the lead of inquiry. Two, you’ve got a shorter sales cycle, your timeline. If it used to take you 3 months, it takes you 3 weeks. If it used to take you 3 weeks, it takes 1 week. It used to take you three visits, it takes you one visit. You can get a shorter sales cycle. What that enables you to do is increase profitability, because you’ve got more time to call more people. You’ve got less time having to follow up.

The third thing is to hire every dollar per sale. You know you’ve got a good, reputable sales process if it does those three things. The third pillar is in your product development and product delivery. Is what your product was 6 months ago, a year ago, 3 years ago, what your customer needs right now? How are you delivering that in the most efficient and effective way possible? Fourth pillar is operationals. How do we operationalize the way our marketing is talking to our sales, is talking to our product, is talking to our finance? Do you have a scoreboard for every section of your business? 

Operationally, are we effective and efficient as we can be to increase profitabilities? Do we have systems and technology leading, or are we throwing people at a problem? The fifth element is your finances: knowing your KPIs, your metrics, your profitabilities. Each line item, what is that contributing to the success of your business? And then the sixth element is people: the culture, mission, vision, values of your organization.

What most people, what we find, is they have one key strength in those six elements, which has got them to where they are. It’s the other five elements or four elements that we need to put structure around. We’re often not doing the right thing at the right time. Once we align that, it’s like a lot. You get all the pieces in place and the safe just opens. It’s just beautiful to see.

Simon Dell: There was a couple of things from that that I look at with the clients that we’ve worked with. And I go, “Yep. We’ve done that.” We had a software company that we started to work with about this time last year, and their sales cycle was ridiculous. They’re selling software that’s anywhere from $10,000 to $200,000 a year to use. And I understand that there’s situations where you go have to get people to sign off, all those kind of bits and pieces. But even just getting people to the point where they understood what software did took 2 weeks.

And we were like, “This is ridiculous.” They’ve arrived in our website, and 2 weeks later, we’re going to show them how the software works. So, one of the first things we did, is we need to get that down from 2 weeks to 2 minutes. We’ve successfully done that over the past year, and they were getting seven leads a month back this time last year. Now, they’re getting 120 leads a month. But it’s just something as simple as that, it makes a massive difference. The other thing I wanted to touch on that you mentioned was score cards.

I know it’s probably a small part of what you guys do, but again, that’s something that we’ve sort of implemented with two or three clients. I just want to get an understanding of why the significance of something like a scorecard in a business?

Petar Lackovic: Today and tomorrow, we’ve got a Systemize Your Business workshop. We spend a full day helping you to build your scoreboards for your business. You need a marketing scoreboard and you need to measure the key metrics in marketing. You need a sales scoreboard and visually see the key metrics of your sales. Same with your product development delivery, and same with the operations and your finance.

If you think about it, it’s funny. I was doing a presentation on this not long ago. We had a wall in their Entrepreneur Developer Center and… Have you played handball before?

Simon Dell: No.

Petar Lackovic: We have this thing like a tennis ball, and we just hit it against the wall and it bounces back. And if it bounces twice, you’re out. We’ve played multiplayer. We’d get like 10 players there, and it’s like you’re going the rotation, I’m first, you’re second, they’re third. And if you miss that, you’re out. Anyway, I got three of them to play this game of handball, right? And I said, just hit. And I did that for 3 minutes and the whole room was watching them play.

And I said, “Okay, great. We’re going to have a game. The first one to win gets lunch on me.” Oh my god, they rolled their sleeves up. They took their shoes off. It’s just become a competition. It’s funny when you have a scoreboard, how your team play differently. It’s self-accountability. I remember, I ran a chain of gyms. It’s how I’ve grounded my feet into the business world, was not through studying commerce degree, it was through running businesses, and failing, and doing bad things, and then learning from them, and then running very successful businesses and scaling effectively.

It’s interesting when you have a scoreboard, how people play differently. I literally asked my team on their sales stat sheet, on their sales scoreboard, I said, “I’ve just put a referral column. Every time you make a sale, just write down how many referrals you get from that person.” So, whether it’s one, or two, or zero, just write a zero. I just want to get an idea of how many referrals you’re getting at point of sale. And referral for us was a name, an email, or a phone number so that we could call them. It was a proactive referral, not a reactive referral where you wait for someone to come to you.

And that’s all I did. I didn’t teach them how to get referral. We didn’t do any role plays in referrals. There’s no role-play script. There’s no referral scripts, no referral strategy or anything like that. I just said, “Just measure it on the scoreboard.” We went from zero referrals a month to 22 referrals the very next month, name, email, and phone number, hot leads, simply because there was a scoreboard. The team just didn’t want to write a zero, so then they just started asking.

What I love about numbers is they have no emotion attached to them. And it’s not that I’m an emotional person. Numbers don’t lie. They tell us a story. Sometimes, we don’t like the story it tells us. We put our head in the sand. But numbers give you total control of your business. If you don’t know the lead time, the stick rate on your website, your open rates and your click-through rates, your CPAs, your conversion rate, or your show rate, or your average dollar per sale… If you don’t know the time it takes you to get back to an inquiry from an existing customer, if you don’t know these metrics of your business, you’re playing pin the tail on the donkey. You’re just playing blind.

I can look at my phone, Jack, and look at his phone. Every 15 minutes, our scoreboard updates without me having to touch it. I can look at it and know exactly how many members are booked in for our workshop today and updates every 15 minutes without doing anything. The control we have on our business to make quick decisions before shit hits the fan and be ahead of the curve, the way that lifts off your shoulders, the control it gives you, I don’t know how we ran a business in the past as successfully as we did without having what we have today.

I implore everybody to build your scoreboards for every side of your business, and just doing that will see your business grow. Have you heard of the Hawthorne effect?

Simon Dell: No.

Petar Lackovic: I was very fortunate many moons ago. I was mentored for a year by a guy named Brian Tracy. We spent 12 months together, and he introduced me to the Hawthorne effect. It’s a place in America. There’s this big factory in Hawthorne. And productivity and profitability was repeatedly going down for the last two quarters. And the board meeting got together and they tabled all the problems and the challenges. It was mainly a disharmony in the team, the culture in the team. They were complaining about the working conditions, and the temperature, and humidity, and the lighting. It was just everything was dropping.

They’ve got a team to come in, and they literally sat down with the factory workers and I said, “Guys, we’re going to have people in white lab coats walking around, checking things the next couple of months. We’ve heard you and we’re going to start testing the different light at different times of the day, the temperature, all these types of things. We’re going to do this for the next 90 days, and look at an action plan to listen to what you’ve talked about.”

The first month, they went out, they checked the temperature at different times of the day, different types of machinery, up, high, down, low, level one, level two. They came back 30 days later to the board and they showed them the figures. This is what we found from a report that we did. Coincidentally, productivity went up 11%. Next month, they did humidity tests at different times of the day, same thing. They analysed all the data for 21 days, presented it to the board. Productivity went up 14%.

Then they did the same with light and it went up 9%. They didn’t change anything, but all they did was started testing and measuring everything. Productivity, profitability started going up. It’s amazing when you test and measure the subconscious effect it has on growth. It’s just directly proportional to profitability is having scoreboards. There is no doubt about it.

Simon Dell: There was a story in a book I read where there was a company that had a really bad issue with retention rates for new employees. I think it was a call centre in India. I don’t want that to sound incredibly generic, but I think that’s actually what it was. One of the things they changed, they only changed one thing, was they changed what they did on the induction day. On the previous induction day, they had gone through things like all the company policies, all the boring shit that you do in a normal, big company induction day.

They’d replaced it with what was a fun day. “Tell us your superpower” and they’ve got everyone around in groups. If you were all stranded on a desert island, how would you get off the desert island? It was all fun stuff, and they found the retention rates for the people that went through the fun, corporate induction day was substantially higher than the people that had done the boring one. They obviously still learned all the stuff that they needed to learn, but it wasn’t all crammed into a day that made them want to talk themself at the end of it.

Little things like that that just don’t really seem to be significant to most people can actually make a massive difference. Just stepping back to the scorecard or the scoreboard, even back when I used to work with Lion Nathan back in the early-2000s, the CEO used to come around and do a road show once a quarter. He had a printed-out, single-page A4 scorecard that he used to give to all of the workers irrespective of whether they were an hourly-paid cleaner in the brewery, or whether they were a senior salesperson. They all used to get the same scorecard, and he used to sit there and talk through it for an hour and just go, “Here’s how the business is doing.” So that you have all got visibility of everything that’s happening, but the key aspects of this business. Hugely, hugely important things in the business.

Petar Lackovic: We undervalue how appreciative your team are, knowing where the business is sitting. The culture of your team is just so critical. When your team knows you’re ahead of the curve in your marketing or behind the curve, or ahead of the curve in delivery or behind the curve, or ahead of the curve in sales or behind the curve; the camaraderie, the culture, the can-do attitude, the do-whatever-it-takes. When your team know more about what the company’s base is a direct proportion to your retention rates. Having visual scoreboards for everyone to be able to see…

There’s going to be some things that you might just want to keep for the executive team, and that’s fine. But sharing those scoreboards… How can you play a game of sport and win if you don’t know what the score is? It’s just impossible. Or whether it’s a game of gin rummy. Whatever it is. The scoreboard or the chess pieces that you have that you’ve taken off your opponent. Without the scoreboard, you don’t know where you sit.

Simon Dell: Yes. And a lot of businesses as well, for them to gain growth, they actually need to take business from competitors. We’re fairly lucky in the space that we’re in. There’s a lot of businesses out there that aren’t using anybody at all. But if you’re an accountant, you’re only going to steal business from other accountants. Sometimes, you have to measure yourself against them as well, against your competitors.

Petar Lackovic: Yes. There’s benchmarks for certain industries. I think that’s the first step, and the second step is, “What’s the benchmark in other industries?” If you only do what your industry does, you’ll only be what your industry is. If you want to grow greater than it and you want to stand out, sometimes, different is better than better. And we need to stand out from the marketplace, so we start with that. 

We then look at, “What’s excellent?” If you’re looking at net promoter scores, your industry might have… Coles has a net promoter score of roughly around -13. Woolworths, -11. If you just benchmark yourself against each other, you’ll always be playing in the minuses. What do you have to do to get greater than that? You want to know where your industry sits, and you want to know, “Who is excelling and how can I become different to my industry?”

Simon Dell: You can’t help feeling that with banks, they’re continually measuring themselves against each other. If everybody hates banks, you’re kind of measuring yourself against the… And it’s funny you’ve mentioned Coles and Woolworths, but a previous guest on the podcast was talking about how much they loved Aldi. When you’re constantly measuring yourself against underperforming businesses, that’s when you sort of go, “Here’s where our industry is now ripe for disruption. It’s ripe for someone to come in and do something completely different.” Because they can literally only do better than everybody else in the existing industry.

Petar Lackovic: Which is what we’ve seen over the last 5 years in multiple industries, massive disruption.

Simon Dell: Yes. I mean, the taxi industry would be the perfect example: constantly benchmarking itself against itself. All of a sudden, they’re surprised when Uber walks in and does a better job than they do.

Petar Lackovic: All they do is play the blame game. It’s not fair. Kodak, great example. They created the technology that killed themselves. They just did nothing with it. They were too scared to change, too scared to adapt, too scared to evolve. This is one thing we need to do. You just need to take one step forward every single day. There is no plateau in business. You’re either going forward or backwards. If you’re not moving forward, your competitors are catching up. Why the fuck are you going backwards?

You always need to be looking at how do we develop those six key elements of business that we spoke about. It’s kind of what we obsess about in The Entourage. The minute you join, you create your own personal profile. We look at where you sit in those elements. We make sure you work on the right things, where on the map where you want to get to, and create a personalized path on how to get there. Without that, you’re stagnating, and therefore, you’re going backwards by default.

Simon Dell: Before we finish, I want to touch on your specialist area that you’ve had more experience with in some of the other areas, the sales side of things. Most people are shit scared of sales. There’s this belief that sales is ridiculously scary. The second thing I would say is that of the 63 podcasts I’ve done so far, one of the underlying themes when you hear from successful entrepreneurs, is that they did a job in their teenage years, or their university years, or their early working years that forced them to understand the benefit of being able to sell.

They always look back on that and go, “You know what? That was actually useful. I might be a tech CEO now. I might run something that doesn’t involve selling, but the ability to have some sort of empathy with the person that I’m talking to and explain the benefits of my product, I learned when I was 14 years old at Coles or 15 years old working at Maccas.” Those are the two things from a sales perspective. My questions from that is: How important is it for someone to be able to sell? And the second thing is, how do they overcome that fear?

Petar Lackovic: Nothing happens in the world until somebody sells something. Whether it’s selling a concept, an idea, a belief, a value, a product or a service, nothing happens until somebody sells something. I think it’s the core essence of human beings. We are born salespeople. What’s sales? Sales is just communicating with someone, giving them information the way their brain needs it so they can make a good decision. You don’t meet someone for the first time and want them to really hate you. You’re selling yourself every essence of every day.

My son is 5 years old. He’s the best salesperson in the world. We know that. The problem is, it’s how sales has been done in the past that makes us not want to be like that. We’ve all had the bad sales experience where we want a product A and someone’s trying to sell us product B. It’s just coincidental that our product B costs more, or is two instead of one of them. Because of the sales, we think we need to be pushy, sleazy, slimy, have all the one-liners, say anything, do anything, be aggressive, be strong, close the deal, close it now, don’t let them walk, overcome the objection. That’s what’s been pushed upon us for years and years.

I’m quite fortunate. You see a lot of public speakers and coaches that talk about their bad luck story, and then they found a secret pill and they became successful. I don’t have a hard luck story. We were never mega rich as children, but we never ever went with… I think we had more than the average individual. Mum and dad grew up having businesses. Dad was driving cement trucks during the day and taxis at night. Mum was a receptionist in an accountancy firm. And then they decided to do the real world thing and bought a deli. This is going back in the 70s. They bought the corner deli.

And from the age of 8, I was working in the deli. Three months later, dad bought the fish and chip shop next door because the Greek guy sold it, and dad bought it really cheap. We ran a fish and chip shop next door to a deli. We’d go to the deli after me and my older brother. I was 8 1/2, 9, he was 10 1/2, 11, and we’d go there after school and do our homework. The fish and chip shop got really busy, he said, “Mum had to go next door and help dad in the fish and chip shop.” You had an 11-year-old and a 9-year-old running the deli, while mum and dad were running the fish and chip shop next door.”

I learned so much about business from mum and dad having small business, from fish and chip shops, to cafes, to delicatessens, even dad labelled the first super deli. It wasn’t a deli. It wasn’t a supermarket. It was a super deli. It had a mixture of everything. Mum had a system for everything. We see this place called foodland to buy all the food, and then we’d mark everything up by 60%, and marking all the food. And I just start putting things in the shelf randomly. She goes, “No. That’s got to go here, and then that’s got to go here.”

And I went, “What’s the difference?” She goes, “When people buy that, they look at this next to it and it reminds them they need that.” She had a system for everything on the shelf. I remember going to the shop at 6:00 in the morning, and we’d have the milk guy already left the milk at the back door, and the bread guy had dragged the bread crates in and the milk crates in. The bread was always in the far corner of the shop. And I said to that, “Why don’t you just put the bread at the front of the shop? Because customers coming in for the morning want their milk, and their bread, and their paper.”

There was me being lazy. And dad goes, “No. We put the bread at the back of the shop, because everyone needs it, so they walk past everything else to remind them what else they might need.” And dad had meal deals back in the 70s, when you bought a pie, it came with a drink. We never said, “Did you want sauce with your pie?” He said, “Did you want two sauces or three?” I learned through osmosis all these strategies around how to communicate effectively. Dad would give, when a mum came with a child, he’d give the child a 1-cent lolly, or a mustik, or something like that. It was a loss leader to make them want to come back.

I learned all this through osmosis. I think the number one thing that you can ever learn is how to communicate with an individual in a very effective way. I think EQ is so much more important than IQ nowadays. You look at your PWCs, and EYs, and stuff like that. Two years ago, they made an announcement. EY said you don’t need to have a degree to work with them anymore, because they/ realized having a degree, and having all these IQ didn’t make you a better employee. They realized that EQ is so critical. That’s where sales comes into it. When I first started in the fitness industry, I became very successful very quickly because I knew how to communicate with someone. I went from salesperson to sales manager in 2 weeks, managing my first business in 4 1/2 weeks. It was all because I knew how to communicate with individuals.

I think if there’s one characteristic that makes a successful salesperson, it would be this. It’s high self-esteem. One thing I’m trying to impart to my son is to give him high self-esteem, and that’s the biggest asset.

Simon Dell: Last question, because otherwise, you and I are going to be here for hours. I want to harp back to something you said about 20 minutes ago about failing at something. How important is it that people fail a business? I say that as somebody myself who has failed. It didn’t turn out any way that I’d imagine it would turn out. A lot of people say that good entrepreneurs, good business people have always failed somewhere along the line, and sometimes fail big times. How important do you think that is as part of your learning?

Petar Lackovic: This probably leads back to the last question. If I look at failing, the relationship you have with failing is so critical. This is probably what holds people back from sales. We take objection as rejection. We think people are rejecting us, and as human beings, we don’t like to be rejected. The relationship we have with failing is that I’m no good. At school, it’s the big, red cross. It’s like I’m no good at this, I suck, I did it wrong. I don’t want to do it again because I’m going to get judged. 

Whereas in business and in sales, you need to understand that failure is very simply you getting a better insight in what you need to do next time. It’s so critical. I remember when I had my first gym, I didn’t have money for marketing, so I would cold call. We didn’t have internet back in those days, or get the Whitepages out. There were six suburbs in my catchment area, I run my finger down the page. When I found a suburb, I’d cold call them. I had a 2% success rate. I had to speak to 100 people to get two appointments booked.

I made thousands of phone calls. I got hung up on. I got abused. But all I was doing was crafting my perfect prospect process. Eventually, I got to a 72% success rate. I didn’t see failure as failure. I saw failure as giving me the opportunity to create something that would work the next time. If you aren’t failing, you are not stretching yourself. You are not challenging yourself. You’re getting complacent with what you’re doing. You should be failing because you’re testing new theories. Your best feedback is your customer.

This is why split testing is so important in digital marketing. You put two ad sets out there. You give $50 to each one of them. One of them is going to give you more return than the other one. It’s not that one failed, you’re just trying to figure out what worked best. And the one that worked best, you then write a second ad, and you change the subject heading and put $50 to that. And if the first one still works, that means that subject heading is right. Now, you change the imagery.

If the second one works better, you know that heading with that imagery is better than the first one. So, you need to be looking for constant feedback. And failure, for me, is just constant feedback. If you’re not getting that, you’re not growing fast enough. Therefore, you’re going to plateau. When you plateau, you go backwards. In essence, the quicker you fail, the quicker you succeed.

Simon Dell: There’s a couple of really good stories off the back of that. There’s a college in America that actually has a course on how to fail, which I think is sensational. My favorite quote, and it’s Sara Blakely, she’s the founder of Spanx, a multi-billionaire. She used to sit around the dinner table with her family every night, and her father used to ask her the single question: What did you fail at today? And I just went, “That’s great.” Instead of failure being the outcome, failure became not trying.

Petar Lackovic: It’s crazy. One of my favorite sayings was from John Ilhan from Crazy John’s. He said, “The only reason I succeed twice as fast is I’ve been willing to fail twice as fast as everybody else.” I learned how to juggle. My public speaker mentor taught me how to juggle by celebrating dropping the ball. You throw the ball up in there, drop it, and say yes. Because we’re so fearful of dropping it.

Simon Dell: That’s the only way you can learn. Funnily enough, I learned to juggle years ago when I was a teenager and I can still do it today, but you’re absolutely right. The only way to juggle is to consistently fail at it.

Petar Lackovic: It was great. He got 36 people in a room to learn how to juggle in 5 minutes by celebrating dropping the ball, not worrying about dropping the ball, but actually being okay with it. He and a room of 36 people learned how to juggle in 5 minutes. It was insane. Juggle three balls. It was just beautiful to watch. It’s a mindset shift we’ve got to have. You need to be doing that in business, and I truly push everyone to employ that philosophy.

Simon Dell: Peter, it’s been really great having you here today. We could probably talk for hours, and I got through about half of the questions that I had for you. Maybe there’ll be a part two to this. The last question I’ve got is: How do people get a hold of you? What’s the best way of reaching out to you if they want to ask you a question, if they’re interested in The Entourage, they just want to follow what you’re doing? What’s the best way to engage with you?

Petar Lackovic: Come to The Entourage Facebook page, engage in there. We do a lot of content. Sign up to the Ask Jack. You just go to Podcasts, go to Ask Jack, where Jack fields your questions. Come to the website, Connect with us on Instagram. We’ve got a lot of assets out there. Pop an email through to [email protected] if you want to speak to us directly and want to know more about what we do. Just engage. We put a lot of content out there that helps people get better at what they do, so love to hear from you.

Simon Dell: The other thing I’d add onto that is to say to people: Don’t be afraid to go and spend 6 months just being a lurker. There’s a lot of good internet lurking done. It’s just, follow, listen, read, watch. You don’t have to send an email and say, “How can I get involved?” It’s great that people just even sit on Facebook and read. 

Petar Lackovic: We’ll do a webinar once a month. Engage in one of our webinars. And whether it be sales, or marketing, or systems, Jack does a lot of work online through social media. Join the Facebook group. We get updated there in everything that’s coming up and what we’ve got going on. We do a lot of free events. We just did one for six-figure businesses that want to go to seven. In June, we’ve got for seven-figure businesses that want to go to eight. There’s lots of free events that we have going on. Same philosophy. Just keep putting yourself out there until you connect with someone that you feel is aligned with your values and go down that path.

Simon Dell: Petar, thanks for your time today. It’s been fantastic. We really appreciate you being on the show.

Petar Lackovic: My pleasure. Take care.

Simon Dell: Bye.

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