The Monthly Leader Review Volume 1, Issue 8
August 2006

Dear Steve,

Happy "hot summer" and welcome to the August issue of the Monthly Leader Review. Speaking of hot, this months newsletter focuses on a well-established expert in the Training & Consulting world, Santo Laquatra.

This interview is near and dear to my heart as Santo is my mentor and has been for over 22 years. We first met during an interview for my first job out of college. I was so impressed with Santo, who was at the time the Director of Training at Beecham Products, that I felt I had no other choice than to go to work with this dynamic individual. He was a mentor then and still is so today - his advice for me is always "spot on" and very practical. In fact, I have modeled many of my coaching and training approaches based on my experience either dealing with or observing him in action. So with that said, let me provide some of his background prior to the interview.

Santo has extensive experience in sales, sales management, general management, consulting, and training.

He graduated from Cornell in 1970 and spent 1970 to 1973 with Proctor & Gamble, the last two years as a Unit Manger in St. Louis. In 1973, he left P&G to join Calgon, which became Beecham in 1977 and is known now as GlaxoSmithkline. He held a number of positions with Beecham in those 15 years.

He was a District Manager and then moved into the Director of Training position for ten years. While in that position, he developed and implemented a complete sales training program for every level of the sales force. Elements of this program were adopted in other parts of the world by Beecham because it was job and core skill focused and helped the sales force deliver consistent results.

In his last two years, he was the Director of Sales, East and managed a sales force comprised of over 200 direct people, as well as a broker sales force in the Northeast.

In October of 1988, he left Beecham and began his own Training and Consulting Company. He saw an opportunity to put his training experience and my sales management experience to work in a unique custom approach for a variety of clients. His method delivers specific, tailored approaches to the training that he delivers. This insures that the training fits the needs and objectives of a client’s business and, importantly, can be immediately implemented without any translation.

As an overview, he has developed a unique and impactful approach to sales training, sales management training, and general skill set training that can be compared to a "Process Engineering" method

This custom approach means that he can, and will, work with a client in whatever way best fits their needs. As I know, his workshop approach is dynamic and forces involvement by the entire group. Because he solicits group involvement and input, the program really becomes the group's and becomes part of the everyday operation.

Santo uses this approach with his clients, some of which include Frito-Lay, Pepsico, Godiva, Papyrus, and Perdue Farms.

The August Leader Interview
  • Santo Laquatra, President - Santo Laquatra Consulting

  • Santo Laquatra, President - Santo Laquatra Consulting

    Steve Gavatorta: What motivates you?

    Santo Laquatra: I am motivated by trying to be the best I can be in all I do – professionally and personally. I always strive to put 100% of myself in all I do.

    Steve Gavatorta: How do you motivate your clients?

    Santo Laquatra: When I was in a position of Leadership in the Corporate world, I followed a specific game plan. This game plan is now in my “Senior Leadership Training”, which I offer to my clients as a workshop, or “1 on 1”. It has served me well: Leaders MOTIVATE!

    M = Morale. Build positive morale and a positive culture on the team

    O = Outlook/Vision. Have a goal/vision and share it with the entire team

    T = Type of person. Winning personality people are attracted to and follow a winning personality

    I = Initiate action. Be decisive and action oriented. Business is fast paced and does not allow mistakes due to being indecisive or slow

    V = Visible. Spend time with each of your direct reports on a regular basis “on their turf” as they do their job. I believe that this was one of my strongest attributes when I was a Sales Manager – both at P&G and with Beecham.

    A = Accountable. The buck stops with me! I knew that I was accountable for every person on my team. That fact fueled me to have the best people I could at every position and to train them well. I saw each person as an opportunity to “multiply myself” through them.

    T = Teamwork. I practiced teamwork in my dealings with my team, as well as with the entire company and expected my people to do the same

    E = Expert. You must be an expert on your company, your brands/services, your competition, and your customers

    Steve Gavatorta: Who do you consider to be a good leader/role model and why?

    Santo Laquatra: My first District Manager at P&G, True Knowles, really shaped my management style when I was a Unit Manager in St. Louis. He truly was a Leaders MOTIVATE manager in every sense. He taught me how to sell, manage the customer, manage people, and step up as a Business Leader. He was the first manager to expose me to “back seat” work-withs as I worked with my sales reps and worked with me step by step in every aspect of my job. True was ahead of his time in recognizing the importance of human capital and how training can be a competitive advantage “under the radar” of competition. True went on to become the President and CEO of Dr. Pepper after a very successful career at P&G. I still talk to him from time to time.

    Steve Gavatorta: How do you continue to lead through times of adversity?

    Santo Laquatra: When I first took over as Director of Sales at Beecham, my Division was behind the number from the first month. Rather than hit the panic button and lose my composure, I worked with each Region Manager and each District Manager to set specific targets to right the ship. We identified our “gap” vs. quota, forecast each month and exposed the “gap” we needed. We “created” volume opportunities by selling new distributions, using our CMA to drive volume, and trained every member of the team to “make every call a selling call”! Our work-withs were long and hard and involved intense planning & role playing prior to headquarter calls. My RM’s, DM’s, KAM’s, & reps really did a great job and moved with a sense of urgency to take our selling to a new level. Oh yes, we made the number!

    Steve Gavatorta: Being an athlete, how did sports influence your leadership style?

    Santo Laquatra: I played organized football from the 6th grade into my sophomore year in college, when a knee injury ended my career. The practice and competition truly forced me to be the best I could be at every practice, not only the games. I became a captain of my high school team and my freshman football team at Cornell. My “can do” positive attitude, love of my teammates, and the example I set in the games, at practice, and in every sprint, enabled me to see the value of what true teams focused on a common goal can do.

    Steve Gavatorta: Being an athlete, how did sports help you in the business world?

    Santo Laquatra: Sports taught me the value of “getting back up” when you get knocked down. I learned early on, not ever being the biggest person on the field, that it did not matter if you got knocked down, but you better you get up quick and make the play. As a linebacker, every mistake I made could end up in 6 for the other team. I learned to study the film, understand my mistakes, and learn from them. I also learned that just because I was not the biggest on the field, I could still be the hardest hitter! I have kept that attitude in business and make every day, every call (now every workshop!) the best I can make it! I don’t always succeed (it is not a 10 for 10 business!), but I try to learn from each situation and try again, using a different tactic! I also become a student of my customers and clients and try to understand their objectives and needs. If I can give them what they want, I am sure I can succeed!

    Steve Gavatorta: How do you motivate your customers to follow your suggestions & recommendations?

    Santo Laquatra: I make a “pre-meeting assignment” and a “post workshop ROI” part of every workshop that I do. The pre-meeting work is used in the workshop keep the workshop “real world” to the attendees. The post work includes an assignment to be done in the field that forces real world application of the skill sets learned in the workshop. When the attendees send back their assignment and the results, the results can be compiled to figure out a training ROI. Several of my customers do this on an on-going basis as the ROI shows that sales training is not an expense, but an investment!

    Steve Gavatorta: Thanks for your time, Santo

    Steve G

    Hello, I'm Steve Gavatorta & welcome you to the first addition of the Monthly Leader Review. I hope you enjoy the interview and find it helpful. Please feel free to forward it on to others - there is no fee for signing up. For more about me, simply click on the link below.

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