Originally from Columbus, OH, Sheryl Nicholson CSP, Author, Podcaster, Sales and Presentation Skills Coach, Founder of Sheryl.com and GetaLifeBalanced.com and a Certified Speaking Professional – a designation give to the top 6% in the speaking profession worldwide – has spent the majority of her professional life helping others succeed. From her time spent as a Vice President of Sales in real estate to living in a tent for a year while building the first double dome house in the U.S., she acquired a unique skill set tailor-made for working with entrepreneurs, business owners, and employees looking to take their careers to the next level. Nicholson shared the story behind her entrepreneurial journey and how her expertise – published in magazines like Inc., Entrepreneur and several books of her own – has impacted the lives of thousands of individuals.
“Not long after high school, I moved to Sweden and got married,” Nicholson said. “I lived there for four years and had two babies. When we moved back to the states, we ended up in the Charlotte, NC, area, where my husband finished his education and I went to work as a sales person. I eventually got promoted to VP of Sales and won a regional sales award before we moved to Florida in 1980. We spent a year living in a tent on a piece of property while we built the double dome. From there, I got into real estate development and became VP of Sales for communities in Safety Harbor and Spring Hill. While in this position, I went to a sales seminar that changed everything.”
Nicholson continued, “It wasn’t your typical ‘rah rah’ session. It wasn’t intended to be a motivational seminar. It was all about tools and how to use those tools to get results. What he taught was ‘the people puzzle’ – learning how to modify your selling style to a buyer’s style. He also covered the basics of communicating with others. After the seminar and after implementing my newly acquired tools, I experienced incredible results. The experience was so impactful that I went to work for him. I followed that by two years with Dale Carnegie before starting my own training business in April 1988.”
According to Nicholson, who at the time was a divorced single-mom with four kids, when she first launched her business, she wasn’t focused on the right thing. She got certified in understanding the differences between people and how those interactions played out in different settings. She thought companies were in need of this insight. She was wrong.
“Most were simply looking for more sales,” she said. “They were, and continue to be, very results-driven. That’s when I shifted to focus more on sales training. While doing that, I added modules around communicating more effectively and how that could also improve sales. From there, I branched into Conflict Resolution, Leadership Skills and other areas of personal and professional development.”
Nicholson shared that much of her growth can be attributed to her focus workshops, seminars and bringing together like-minded people in one location. She developed the ability to make believers out of audience members who in-turn shared the information with their bosses. She developed relationships and, over time, intentionally tweaked her training approach to work through organizations on a vertical and horizontal basis.
“I did a program for the scrub nurses at Tampa General,” she said. “I taught them to think about how housekeeping or other departments could benefit from similar training. Once the training was adopted at one hospital, I would go to another and get their buy-in. I also grew my business by doing eight one-hour sessions over eight weeks, rather than all day sessions.”
Nicholson’s preferred approach is to work from the top down. She’ll work with C-level executives focused on results. She’ll identify and address their concerns, personal goals and company goals and then “hint” at achieving similar results in other departments.
“Whether it’s problem solving, productivity or goal setting, my training is designed to help everyone,” she said. “I often get CEOs to see the potential of offering my training to the customer service department or the sales department.”
For individuals working with Nicholson, she emphasizes the importance of them understanding that success is always in their hands. If they don’t like where they are in life, they’re in control of their own destiny. Regardless of education, job status or socioeconomic status, Nicholson stresses to her clients that they have the ability to change direction at any point in time. Her meetings are to the point and very focused.
“We first have a conversation to see if we like each other,” she said. “We need to like each other’s style and energy. If those things align, we’ll turn our attention towards results. I don’t take anyone’s money until I know what they want and if I can give them what they want. From there, my client will pick one of three coaching programs: one day intensive, six months or a one year program. Regardless of which program they pick, they always get me for a year. I’m there to support them for an entire year and my results are guaranteed – something that’s usually unheard of in this industry.”
Whether it’s helping a client develop their sales skills, delivering a keynote presentation, hosting a meetup or working with a corporation on improving their bottom line, Nicholson loves the power of words and how thinking first and rearranging them generates powerful results. She also loves giving tools to others and watching them soar.
Looking ahead, Nicholson is focused on long-term growth and weathering the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing new ways to deliver her trainings and content. She currently produces a podcast and is in the process of doing a video podcast to further connect with clients and prospects.
What advice does Nicholson have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “You need to be committed, persistent and know the sales process to create the success you want in your business,” she said. “Also, recognize the power of ‘Building Your People Puzzle’, so that you look for the natural abilities and strengths of every team member you hire. By doing so, you create self-motivating working environments around your team members who are then in agreement and excited to advance your business.”