From S-3’s to Sales, It’s All in the Process

By Doug Magill

When Fran Paez graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, he knew that he wanted to do something different with his life than be confined to analysis and design.  He had a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and desire to deal with people and be part of a team.  After a chance encounter with a Navy recruiter, he thought flying might be fun.  Attending the service’s aviation Officer Candidate School he found himself as a copilot and tactical officer on an all-weather, multi-mission carrier-based aircraft – the Lockheed S-3 Viking.

Originally used in an anti-submarine role, the four-man plane was later used for surface warfare and surveillance, along with aerial refueling and electronic countermeasure purposes.  Because of the complexities of its roles and crew management, the Navy – in its typical fashion – had clearly defined processes for each kind of mission and possible contingencies, and strict policies on who was responsible for what.    

Fran learned a lot about how to clearly define a mission, the need for clarity in leadership, and how vital in-depth processes were to success.  After serving two tours on carriers, he left the Navy and began a sales career with Tektronix. 

From helping field sales personnel to serving as sales engineer to managing a sales channel Fran learned not only what led to success in selling, but what made good sales people efficient.  His work in managing Latin American efforts eventually led him to running worldwide sales for an Ohio-based technology company. 

He was later recruited to run operations for MDG Medical, a Beachwood-based manufacturer and marketer of hospital-based drug-dispensing equipment and services.  While running installation activities, major projects, maintenance and IT he was also tasked with sales to existing accounts.

The company was originally founded in Israel.  As its major customers were based in North America the sales and operations offices were located in Ohio.  Eventually, manufacturing was moved here as well.

Although not directly responsible for acquiring new customers, Fran recognized that the company was running into trouble with its main financier – a venture capital company that had little tolerance for missed forecasts.  Despite consistently growing sales to existing customers, the company lost its financial backing when its credibility on forecasting and landing new accounts became unacceptable.

His passion for managing sales and making it an understandable and repeatable process has led Fran into consulting, where he helps companies clarify their sales strategy, find the right resources, clarify strengths and weaknesses along with market opportunities, and determine how to leverage strengths in those markets.

In just a few days Fran can help a company understand that  success in sales is contingent upon clearly articulating a process and adhering to it.  Many companies assume that the use of a CRM system is the process, but in reality a CRM system can help but is not a substitute for a rigorous and clearly defined process.  He makes sure that executives know how to focus on:

            What developing prospects means
            The key requirements of prospect meetings
            What discovery really means (and how to truly get the prospect’s perspective)
            How to make sure you know your product better than the customer does
            Understanding the prospect’s organization and buying process
            How to clearly present solutions, not products
            Managing the decision process
            Following up to lay the groundwork for the next sale

Fran has had success developing sales organizations and increasing sales in every company he has been involved in.  Moreover, he understands why other companies have been unable to grow.  He applies some simple tools to clearly show when opportunities are being developed and managed well.  Tools that don’t require large investments in new systems and personnel.  And, that allow executives to see and manage the size of the sales funnel to suit the staff and growth of the company.

 As he notes, “the trend in prospect acquisition and development must be continually going up or the company will go down.”
Just as in his aviation career with the most advanced military aircraft in the world, Fran knows that measurement is the key to understanding, and improvement.  His basic tools provide sophisticated guidance for any company that wants to develop and manage its sales process. 

Fran is the president of South Winston Consulting and can be reached at

While he is an instrument-rated pilot Doug Magill truly envies Fran Paez’s experience in the S-3 and consoles himself as a consultant, freelance writer and voice-over talent.  He can be reached at


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