In this episode, Christopher Cumby, Sales Consultant, and Business Development Coach, joins us to share how you can make a business out of returning your parents’ used bottles as a 7-year-old (seriously), and breaks down his lifelong career in sales and business development. What got Christopher into sales so early in his life? When did he discover what he truly wanted out of life, and how could sales help achieve that? What does it take to ride it out and have a successful career in sales? All that and more in this episode!
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In this episode, Christopher Cumby, Sales Consultant, and Business Development Coach, shares on making a business out of returning your parents’ used bottles as a 7-year-old (seriously), and breaks down his lifelong career in sales and business development.
Welcome to sellers journey the podcast where we speak to great sales reps and leaders and share their real stories from start to sales success.
Joseph Fung: Hi everybody, I’m Joseph Fung, and today I’m speaking with Christopher Cumby. He a Business Development Consultant and is a Sales and Marketing Strategist with ‘The Commodities Group’. You can learn more about Chris at christophercumby.com. Chris, thank you for joining us today.
Christopher Cumby: Thanks for having me, Joseph, and thank you to the audience for tuning in. it’ll be a fun day.
Joseph Fung: This conversation is such a gem. I’m so anticipating it. We speak about people’s journeys to sales success, and we don’t often get to speak with people who have had the same success you have. Maybe you could start us off with just a couple of the high level points out some of your success because I know a few of our audience members won’t have met you before.
Christopher Cumby: Right! You know, if I was to roll back the clock, I got in you know sales really early in life, and I was fortunate enough to you know really identify that you know one of the gifts I had, so you know if you speed up to some of the successes that I, it was able to you know accomplish and enjoy you know whether it was in the corporate world with Pepsi Cola and you know really amplifying my ability to learn and change and adapt you know to grow, you know to moving into the energy sector or industry and then growing three successful companies in that industry. And then moving into, you know, really branding myself as you know personal development coach and working with companies and corporations and helping them, you know, amplify their salespeople. I would say some of the highlights you know along that way was probably the ability to, you know, manifest and really grab hold of you know what I wanted out of life, you know, set goals and go after it, and I think from that I was able to guide myself to accomplish some things, and you know some of the milestones along that way were you know closing million-dollar Commission’s you know hitting almost seven hundred million in personal sales throughout my career. You know personally, and you know obviously for companies that I worked with or you know was building, so it was a lot of fun along the way. So you know I would say everybody needs to be really good at sales and really what that means is be good at communication, and I think everybody will do really fine.
Joseph Fung: Thank you so much for the highlight reel. Because helping people see you know what you can accomplish and what can be done is such a key part of the inspiration side of these interviews in these stories. So thank you for sharing.
Christopher Cumby: Yeah, my pleasure. My coach always said if you can do it, so can I. So, I like to share with people not to impress them but to impress upon them. That when you set goals, you work hard, you take action necessary, you fail along the way and accept that you are gonna have those successes for sure.
Joseph Fung: Absolutely and to think about that had a, you know, journey, the successes, the failures along the way. Why don’t we roll that clock back, like you said, and kind of get to the beginning? Where did you grow up? And where did you go to school?
Christopher Cumby: Well, I grew up in Toronto. Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, of course. And you know I always say that I did more the school of hard knocks, then you know the real you know the college and University even though I did and spent time at York University in Toronto and you know. From there, I went right into sales Pepsi Cola. And I think, I learned that was really the guide you know along with that journey for me and in school for sure as his learning rate you know in real life. And you know, just immersing myself in things that I, you know, had no real clue, I had to figure out along the way, and of course, you know, great guidance around me during that time.
Joseph Fung: We were chatting earlier, you spoke about how Pepsi Cola was your first real sales job. But you had a bit of a transition period before that. Can you share a little bit about that journey and the entrepreneurial time?
Christopher Cumby: Yeah, for sure. Well, you know I started way back as an entrepreneur. We can certainly dive into that. You know, after I share, you know really what happened before Pepsi. I joined a company called Amway, which is a Multi-Level Marketing Company, when I was 17 years old. I was still, you know, finishing up high school. You know, by the time I finished high school, I was doing, you know, really well. I would do it part-time, then I moved full-time. So I took a little bit of time off before really diving in. I went to a Community College for a little bit and basically decided that in Amway, I was doing so well that I was going to go, you know, sort of added a more full-time basis, and I was able to do that, and I bought my very first house, my own car, and you know then I found out I was gonna have a baby and it kind of sidetracked some of my priorities, if you want. And…
Joseph Fung: It’s funny how they do that.
Christopher Cumby: Yeah, they can do that certainly. But it, you know, it taught me to persevere of course and continue to, you know, press forward, but you know, for some strange reason, I was doing really well with Amway. But I almost had some insecurities with that. So I felt like I needed to get a job. So I felt you know to listen, I’ve got a, you know, increase my knowledge. So I started taking courses around marketing, economics, business, accounting, and all of that. So when I was able to come out of school. I landed myself a great position in Pepsi Cola. So that was kind of the transition in between. So…
Joseph Fung: Hey, I want to ask, and I do want to come back to the entrepreneurial journey, but how did you land that job at Pepsi? You know, what was the story behind that?
Christopher Cumby: A right timing, right place. I wanted to work there. So I remember wanting that. And I did you know whatever it took really to connect with the right people. I made a lot of phone calls. I think you know a lot of people thought I worked there because they’d hear my name. You know more than maybe anybody else because I called there so much. And I just pressed on it, and I think because of that, I was able to demonstrate that I wasn’t afraid to take the initiative and to, you know, really go after what it was I wanted. So I think you know again you know the guy that brought me into the company, he recognized that you know he recognized my you know wanting to be in Pepsi-Cola. Because it was one of my, you know, you know, dream jobs at that at the time that I really wanted to be part of. And you know so glad I did press because I really had an amazing career there. You know, fast-tracked, did you know, did some really cool things, and it was a ton of fun. But I would say it was mainly based on my ability to be persistent.
Joseph Fung: I love that message, the idea of persistence. But, also demonstrating the desire to work with that company. Because that’s such a compelling thing on the other side as well. So I think you know both that persistence and that clear desire it’ll pay dividends for you.
Christopher Cumby: For sure.
Joseph Fung: You spoke earlier about kind of much earlier starts at an entrepreneurial journey. I mean, you could share that with our listeners. You know, what was that Genesis in that earlier experience?
Christopher Cumby: Yeah, for sure. You know, I think I got the bug early for you know great motivator in life, and you know for me back in the day, you know because I came from a pretty modest family. I mean, we had things we needed, but we didn’t have more than you know much more than you know the things we may be wanted. And I decided that money was something that I wanted, and I was a great motivator. Because I wanted to, you know, buy things on my own, and you know my dad always taught me to, you know, work for that. And you know so I became a really good motivator. So I was seven years old, I did a paper route because I remember, you know, uniquely taking notes so that I would remember, you know, and I’d ask questions. I was always a kid that asked a lot of questions. My parents have probably drilled them. You know that’s because I asked about everything, and you know when I learned, or I had the opportunity to get a paper route. Which my dad, you know he helped me and get it all set up, and you know I’d go around the neighborhood and bring drop papers. I mean, you know I’m going way back now you know they used to do that. But I used to get a commission plus a little bit of money, but it was mainly for tips. So I knew that when I learned more about the person I was dropping the paper off at their house, and I’d asked them questions about their dog or you know the vacation they went on or the car they just bought or you know different things that I knew if I can relate with them really early in life and ask them some good questions, you know you become likable and when you become likable people trust you when people trust you, they’re gonna you know support you and you know that support for me was based on you know getting a commission. So I knew that if I and I kind of bumped into it because when I asked a lot of questions. I remember you know one of the gentlemen, I don’t remember his name, but I remember him saying you know like, “you’re really intuitive, and you ask a lot of great questions, and I like that,” and he gave me a really good tip. And I’m like, “oh! If I do that with everybody, will everybody give me a really good tip? Will they like me? And I did. I literally did that with everybody, and then I eventually saw a lot of money come from that. So speeding up a little bit after I did my paper route, and I learned how to communicate, you know, really young. I saw that you know, and I truly believe this solves a problem for people, and you’ll make money. And back in the day, we had these pop bottles that were glass, and they’re returnable. On so returnable bottles got a, you know, a deposit that you’d put on, let’s say 25 cents for a large bottle and ten cents for a small one. And it kind of buried because it was all kinds of different sizes, and you’d have to pay for that deposit upfront. So there were four. It was an incentive to go bring the bottle back and get your deposit back and so forth and so on. But I remember in my dad’s you know, in my mom’s garage, it would always be in the corner and they’d be you know really piling up, but I knew that was money because I’d say to my dad you know, “can we bring them back?” and we bring them back, and of course he’s always busy. So then eventually I said, “Can I bring them back? And he goes, “well! Yeah, you could, but how are you gonna get them there?” and I have a little red wagon, it was a Flyer wagon. And he actually built siding all the way around so I can stack them, and then I literally brought my dad’s bottles back, and then I collect the money, and then he would pay me a commission from all the money that you know I was able to you know collect from that. And then I knew well if I could do it for my parents, then I could probably do it for everybody on the street. So I actually knocked a few doors, saw they had the same problem in their garage, dusty pop bottles, and I suggested that I would bring them back, so that was my 9-year-old entrepreneur smart. And I became really good at, you know, finding little businesses after that all the way through my life.
Joseph Fung: So you’ve had this remarkable journey of entrepreneurship, kind of sales, salesmanship throughout you know your lifespan so far. And I know we’re still kinda in the early innings of that journey. But if you reflect on your time, is a successful sales rep and leader. What has surprised you most about your time in sales?
Christopher Cumby: Oh wow, what would surprise me most! I would say that you know, building trust with people is often overlooked. I would say what surprised me the most is ask not enough people, ask enough good questions. they jump into their pitch, they don’t have any clue whatsoever if that’s even remotely, is something that people you know want to look at what will pay for even have a problem with. And I see it constantly as I’ve been a trainer as well and sales. You know these are the types of things that you have to fact find. And you know what surprised me the most, definitely, is I thought everybody was like me. I honestly had no idea that people had difficulties because I just assumed that if I was doing it, then other people were doing it the same. And I never really looked at myself as being you know necessarily different from anybody, and you know I think you know modestly and humbly about the things that I’ve done just because I just learned how to communicate really early in life and ask questions. and I think if people were to step back and ask better questions, I think they would increase their opportunity with you know anybody. So that’s probably the biggest surprise, is that I actually had no clue that people were having you know difficulties that they had in sales.
Joseph Fung: I could empathize with that, entirely the kind of recognition of everybody being on their own journey. Yeah, all that’s a large part of the reason why we founded this podcast. You know, help share those journeys, and how people see themselves, yeah you know their success. So I can empathize with that a lot, Chris!
Christopher Cumby: Yeah, for sure.
Joseph Fung: But I know we only have a little bit of time left. But do you have everyone for, just a couple more questions?
Christopher Cumby: Of course, I do! This is fine.
Joseph Fung: Okay! So without to, kind of look forward a little bit, and then we’ll jump into those rapid-fire questions again. But you’ve accomplished a heck of a lot. A remarkable amount of success. I’m so intrigued to hear what you still aspire to do. Maybe it’s something you want to congratulate future you about. Maybe it’s something on your bucket list. What, I’d love to hear. What do you aspire to accomplish next?
Christopher Cumby: What I aspire to accomplish next in my life! I would like to definitely finish my third book. That’s definitely on my radar. I know unequivocally that I’ve been pulled into building another energy, opportunity, and company based on my knowledge. And the things that I’ve learned. So I’m gravitating to that and scaling like, truly scaling. I was successful with a small team. So I think the scale part is the next journey for me. You know, turning 50 this year, I think definitely, you know my stretch between you know one to five years forward are gonna be remarkable about you know what it’s gonna look like to scale and help others get into an industry like I have and be successful doing that and build you know a team around me. Because a lot of times, well especially in the last little while, I’ve been, you know, kind of alone wolf if you want. And it’s been fun, it’s been great. But I definitely love being part of teams; I’ve been part of teams for a long time. So that’s probably the next, yeah real big one is to really scale something you know larger than just myself.
Joseph Fung: I love it! Okay! You have dropped some fantastic stories. Thank you so much for opening up about you know your journey. Let’s hit those rapid-fire questions, and then respectful of your time, happy to kind of wrap up. But I’m intrigued to hear your answers to these. Moving, what is your favorite sales tool?
Christopher Cumby: The phone!
Joseph Fung: Quoted and locked! That’s good. It’s precise. Given the number of rules that you had in a variety, it’s got to be one of the most common ones between those. So I should have seen that one coming. I should…
Christopher Cumby: Yeah! The phone, for sure!
Joseph Fung: Okay! What about movies! What’s your favorite movie?
Christopher Cumby: I would say it still comes back to Braveheart. Just something about that movie that you know really I think you know can target that heart you know and know you stand for something. And I believe that demonstrated that for me.
Joseph Fung: I love the variety of answers we get to these. It is I’m, my Netflix list is getting longer and longer. I have not watched that movie in so long. Thank you! That is an underappreciated movie! I mean, I do need to watch that again. Thank you! Last one! When you were a kid getting back to your earliest aspirations, what did you want to grow up to be?
Christopher Cumby: I wanted to own my own company, for sure!
Joseph Fung: Nice! I bet it feels what made you realize that!
Christopher Cumby: I didn’t know what an entrepreneur meant. As a kid, I just knew that I wanted to own my own company. Yeah, for sure!
Joseph Fung: Chris, this has been such a wonderful conversation! Thank you for sharing! I’ve seen so many of your successes and getting a chance to hear the journey a little bit more with such joy. Thank you for opening up with us.
Christopher Cumby: Well! Hey, thank you, Joseph! I really appreciate you having me on the show, and you know again, I want to thank the audience for definitely listening in. And anything I can help with, people want to connect with me, you know LinkedIn is a great place. Often you know, have great messages through the messenger there with people that you know, are looking you know for some insight. So come check it, check-in with me, and I’d be happy to have a, you know, conversation that are in LinkedIn, for sure.
Joseph Fung: Absolutely! And I appreciate so much that you offered up the sharing of your LinkedIn profile, as well as your website there. I know you’ve been so generous of your time with so many from the kind of coaching and advising perspective. I’m sure many of our audience will reach out. So, thank you again for not just sharing your time today, but with so many others as well.
Christopher Cumby: Yeah, my pleasure, and thank you, Joseph. And if you come to my website just for everybody listening in. my, the Success Playbook, my first book, you can download a free copy they’re. So, by all means, go check it out.
Joseph Fung: Awesome! I’ll be sure to include a link to that right in the description of the podcast as well.
Christopher Cumby: Thank you!
Joseph Fung: Awesome! I’m looking forward to our next conversation, Chris. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day.
Christopher Cumby: You as well, Joseph. Thank you.
Joseph Fung: Chat soon!