We talked to Elijah Medge of OLN, Inc about direct marketing and COVID-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Elijah Medge: We’re doing great! Through any historically sad and painful event, you have a choice to see the positives. We’ve had many.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded OLN, Inc.
Elijah Medge: I started in b2b outside sales coming out of college with the intent of gaining sales experience and coming out of some comfort zones. Upon understanding the industry’s future and how face-to-face sales can’t be automated or shipped overseas, I decided to go all in and start my own business, representing big-name Fortune 500 companies with a face behind their logo in localized markets.
How does OLN, Inc innovate?
Elijah Medge: Ultimately, the core competence of our business is training and developing entrepreneurs that help open future branches. We are constantly trying to find better to hire, train, and develop people from a ground floor outside sales position to an executive role.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Elijah Medge: It’s difficult to run an outside sales company when you can’t be outside. Luckily we had a strong relationship with Amazon for whom we were doing b2b sales for working with one of their departments. Because they’re a national company and they saw value in our approach and strategy to bring them, customers, after the stay at home order was called in California, we worked out a deal where until the quarantine was eased up in late July, we were able to shift from a SoCal outside sales channel partner to becoming a remote call center for them. This allowed us to learn a new phone sales skill and allowed us to grow from an exclusively face-to-face company to a person-to-person company.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Elijah Medge: I think considering I started my business during the last recession, I was equipped to handle challenges. Being a small business owner, you are wired to be agile and pivot quickly when necessary. I’m not sure I made tough choices, but I made some quick ones. I knew that I was being watched by my team to see how I’d handle an unprecedented event, so it was important for me to set an example by making quick decisions on things, being highly transparent about my thoughts and ideas, and demonstrating vulnerability by admitting that I’m not certain that all decisions I’m making are the best ones, but it’s important that we make some and learn vs. just watch what’s happening around us as we do nothing.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and OLN, Inc in the future?
Elijah Medge: Different stresses can cause me to react differently, but typically, I deal with it by getting into hyperfocus on what’s causing this stress and acting on it with solutions. Meanwhile, it’s important for me not to demonstrate that stress to my team and only go uphill with my issues and concerns to my mentors. They will be the only ones that really get to see me be stressed and help coach me through it.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Elijah Medge: There’s probably about 25 other outsourced direct sales companies in the market. I like to think in terms of abundance vs. scarcity. I don’t have to lose for you to win. We can all win. I plan to stay in the game by playing to win every day.
Your final thoughts?
Elijah Medge: It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change. – Charles Darwin.