Lance Cooper : The Man Behind the Curtain (with a Master’s degree in Speech and Theater)
Lance grew up in the hills of Tennessee where his mother taught him, his two brothers, and their younger sister to believe in God, to work and pray, and to do good. At first, he was a good student, making mostly As, but he began to lose focus on his grades about the same time his father lost focus on the family. Like many teenage boys, his attention shifted to baseball and basketball.
Lance spent college performing in the theater and in pursuit of fun. He put forth just enough effort to squeak by in the academics department while working a variety of part-time gigs in catering and also in retail, selling everything from shoes and sporting goods to paint and wall paper. Meeting Sheila, the love of his life, brought a heightened sense of purpose. Lance finished a B.S. in Chemical Engineering.
A recruiter from Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company offered him a job, so he married Sheila and moved to in Akron, Ohio. Company sports and his wife were the consolation for a year spent working in chemical and manufacturing plants.
The Coopers moved back to Knoxville where Lance entered a Master’s program in Speech and Theatre. After finishing his course work and teaching tennis lessons to help pay the bills, Lance took a job with the Atomic Energy Commission. As a project engineer, he coordinated, presented, and sold new multi-million dollar projects to the Department of Energy. Lance took another part-time job with the Shaklee Corporation, selling their products and developing new distributors. At the same time, he finished his graduate degree and had two children with Sheila.
Lance left this second engineering job and Shaklee to teach business and professional speaking and direct the theatre program at a community college and the Knoxville Young People's Theatre. Still dissatisfied, however, he soon left the college and started a sales training business as an independent distributor for Ron Willingham’s Salestraining, Inc., which later became Integrity Training Systems.
Though Lance had no contacts and this tough field was built around cold calling, he had finally found his passion. With a little cash and a lot of prayer, he slowly built a sales consultancy business and trained salespeople in their face-to-face skills. Six great years with Ron taught Lance the importance of six- to eight-week follow-up sessions with sales managers and their salespeople. The new habits that took root as a result led to increased sales. With the right coaching, dedicated salespeople could double their numbers within weeks.
Developing the Blueprint for Greatness
He began to identify other problems within his clients’ organizations. Some had no sales planning or strategy. If they did have sales plans, others failed to manage activities associated with them. Even worse, managers did not know how to inspire, coach, or lead their salespeople.
Lance took notes, read dozens of books, and designed new training solutions for his clients. This process led his business to new products designed to fix these problems: Beyond Quota Sales Management, Sell with CLASS, and Recruit and Coach the Best.
He eventually partnered with Steve Suggs, a former Northwestern Mutual Agency Manager, and for ten years now, they have grown SalesManage Solutions into an international sales management training company serving executive sales leaders, managers of the managers.