Michele Fuller, CEO at Minerva Global Business Solutions
Michele Fuller is a veteran sales and marketing executive with over 25 years of global and national account sales management experience at Coca-Cola North America, Danone North America, and Ford Motor Company.
She has a track record of delivering award-winning results to clients, including business and client base expansion, securing multi-million-dollar business contracts, and executing cutting-edge marketing campaigns.
During her corporate career, she has negotiated $150M+ in business contracts in key food & beverage, retail, and travel channels. She has been recognized by her clients and employers with multiple awards for outstanding business partnerships and innovation business development solutions. Michele is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C. and Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA, where she earned a B.A. in Journalism and an M.B.A. in Marketing, respectively.
She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., North Arundel County (MD) Alumnae Chapter, where she serves on the Economic Development Committee, and a volunteer for the Mt. Calvary A.M.E. Church (Towson, MD) Community Feeding Program. She is an avid traveler and certified wine enthusiast and expert, having earned a WSET Level 2 Award in Wines (certification) with merit.
Connect with Michele on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Executive Coaching
- Individual/Group Coaching
- Sales Strategy Consultation
- Travel Channel Consultation
- Public Speaking
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for high velocity radio.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:13] Lee Kantor here, another episode of High Velocity Radio, and this is going to be a fun one. Today on the show, we have Michele Fuller with Minerva Global Business Solutions. Welcome, Michelle.
Michele Fuller: [00:00:24] Welcome. Thank you for having me. I appreciate.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:26] It. Well, I’m excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us a little bit about Minerva. How are you serving folks?
Michele Fuller: [00:00:32] So what I am what I’m doing, Minerva Global Business Solutions is a primarily a sales, consulting and coaching business. I focus on sales strategy coaching as well as sales training. My background is in global and national account sales. I worked for Coca-Cola for 20 years and I worked for a French company called Danone, and that is primarily what I did. I was a sales strategist and and a seller of of products, mainly beverages. So that’s what my business is primarily about. But I also have an expertize in the airport business channel. And so part of what I offer also is business development for people who are interested in getting their products in airports because millions of people travel through airports every year. And there and it is not always easy to get your products there in there. But my expertize is in beverages, non alcoholic and wine and also in consumer packaging, packaging goods.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:45] So now in your career, what made you make the leap into coaching and consulting rather than just get another kind of corporate job?
Michele Fuller: [00:01:53] Well, what happened was during COVID, like a lot of people, my job was eliminated. I was managing the airport channel for for my my company. And as you well imagine, airport travel basically died during COVID. So my job was eliminated. But thankfully, I had some flexibility and I decided that I would take some time off and think about what I wanted to do. So after about a year, I during that year, rather, I took some wine classes and I decided that I didn’t want to go back to corporate America. After 25 years in the corporate world, I really wanted to kind of branch out on my own. And actually I had a client, an airport client reach out and really encourage me to do that. So I decided that that I would would do that. And also when I was in corporate America, I found, especially in the last several years, that oftentimes my colleagues would reach out to me to for guidance and for coaching, because I did have quite a bit of success negotiating new contracts and building and growing my my portfolio of business. And, and I really enjoyed it. And I also had a training role at Coca-Cola for a couple of years as well. And I did enjoy that. So I just thought, you know, maybe that’s that’s the way that that’s a direction that I would like to take. So that was the impetus.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:40] So now walk me through what an engagement looks like. So say say I’m in corporate America and I’m frustrated with my role and I’d like to get promoted. Maybe I’m not getting promoted fast enough and somebody comes up to you and has that challenge. What are some of the questions you’re going to ask them and what some of the maybe the low hanging fruit you could offer to help them, you know, get to a new level.
Michele Fuller: [00:04:01] So that’s so so let me just say this. I will tell you what I would say. But what this type of sales strategy, coaching and consulting that I do is mainly about helping the sales person work with clients and help them have success with clients. If if I the guidance that I would give, though, in answer to your question is I would I would really want to understand make sure that they understand what what are the requirements to get to the next level and what is the next level look like? Maybe interview people who are doing the job that you want to do and find out the steps that they took to get there. Because sometimes it’s not always a direct path. Sometimes people get cross-functional experience that will lead them to the path that they want to take. So I think the best way to find out how to get there, obviously talking to your manager, but also talk to somebody who’s doing the job.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:04] Yeah. That’s great advice to kind of maybe expand your network a little beyond where it is today, but where you would like it to be.
Michele Fuller: [00:05:13] Absolutely. Absolutely.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:15] Now, let’s then talk about this. Some of the sales strategy consulting that you’re doing. So say somebody wants to kind of tap into the airport ecosystem that, like you said, that’s its own kind of world. Right? Like it takes specialized knowledge to do this. It’s not like you can just show up and say, hey, or here’s where can I put my stuff right? You have to know some people and there are certain ways of doing things. So talk, talk through that. Like what is a conversation around that, exploring that channel look like?
Michele Fuller: [00:05:47] I’ll give you an example that I’m going through right now for a big timing. I’m actually in discussions right now. I was I was contacted by a beverage startup company, a tea company, and they are in there doing business right now in Southern California and Las Vegas and mostly on the West Coast. But they’re very interested in expanding their business nationally and they want to get into airports among the channels that they would like to get into food service and airports. And and actually, they’re interested in me helping them with both because I have done both. But the conversation that we’re that we’re having right now is it’s really about developing a specific strategy to help them expand their business. And so that’s really the work that that I will be doing with them is I will be creating a strategy, looking at their business. Where are they currently, understanding what the what the end game looks like, what their goal is in terms of presence in venues, but also how much profitability, what are their profit goals? And we’re going to look at and one of the things that I will be doing as part of developing my strategy is understanding where they are now and targeting some clients. And then in airports and in food service that I believe would be a fit for their products.
Michele Fuller: [00:07:23] They have a very niche product and organic product. And so the way that the product is branded, it’s not necessarily the type of product that you’d stick in a 7-Eleven store, right? Not at all. And so because it’s crafted so almost like crafted beer. Right, very specialized. And so it’s really about, you know, targeting the right the right clients and making sure that that client’s consumer is the right consumer for that product. And then just just really understanding the distribution piece of it, what is marketing look like? What type of sales data do they already have and what that that we could use as a sort of a proof point because, you know, businesses want to know if I bring your product to them, is it going to sell? Is there awareness out there? Do consumers know about the product or does it have the attributes that their consumers are looking for? So if they have a high end, a consumer that is high income, likes organic products, is concerned about, you know, preservatives and things like that, and this this could be the right product for them. So again, my role will be to develop a strategy and then to work with them in their teams to actually bring it to life.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:52] Now, can you share a little bit, maybe educate the listener a little bit about the airport channel? It’s something like everybody’s traveled through an airport, but they maybe haven’t thought of it as a place to sell their wares. Like, why is that a great place to explore as part of your marketing mix?
Michele Fuller: [00:09:12] It’s a great it’s a great venue to explore simply because of the number of people who travel through airports. So prior to COVID, by the end of 2020, the passenger count for US airports was expected to be 1 billion consumers traveling through airports. And Atlanta’s airport, for example, is one of the largest airports, not only in the US but globally. It’s one of the larger airports. And so over 150 million people were traveling through the Atlanta airport pre COVID. I’m not sure. I haven’t seen the numbers for 2021. But, you know, I’m sure now it’s definitely starting to ramp up again. But if you think about 100 million can. Or 150 million consumers traveling through one airport in a year. And if you think about it, they’re all under the same roof. They’re in like one big building. So for your products that offers great visibility, what other venue would you have access to? So many consumer eyes and potentially consumer touchpoints. So it’s it’s a very you know, it’s a great place to be from a marketing perspective and obviously from a sales perspective. So that’s really the reason why, you know, companies want their products in airports because of of just the sheer number of consumers that you’re able to reach.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:53] Now, you mentioned earlier about kind of exploring the wine business. Can you talk about that venture?
Michele Fuller: [00:11:00] Yeah. So one of the things that I that I also do is I am a wine ambassador for an independent wine ambassador for a company called Glass Collection. And I say owns 25 wineries in Napa and in France. So they have 16 wineries in Napa and nine in France. And I represent the brands and I actually sell wines. So I sell wines, I do wine tasting events, I have business clients. So that’s actually another piece of my business. And candidly, for me, it’s just I just it’s just a lot of fun. I’ve always enjoyed wine. I’ve always enjoyed going to wineries and visiting and learning about the whole, you know, growing and harvesting process and so forth. So it’s something that I’ve really enjoyed doing. And, you know, it’s it’s in line really with my beverage experience. Most of my beverage experience has been on the non alcoholic side. So for me this is very exciting to also work on the alcoholic beverages side. And you know, there’s a lot of interest in wine and especially Burgundies. So that’s also another another separate part of my business.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:22] Well, exciting times for you. Is there any part of this entrepreneurial venture that is most challenging or the most rewarding so far?
Michele Fuller: [00:12:32] You know? Yeah. You know, when you’re when you’re leaving when you leave corporate America and you kind of branch out on your own, at least for me, there were a lot of things that I did not know, you know, about being an entrepreneur. You know, you have to find clients and or they have to find you. And in some instances, you know, when you’re in corporate America, you’re also doing the same thing depending upon the scope of your work. So in sales, you know, we, we, we would have a portfolio of, of business. But also, you know, in the sales realm, you’re also looking for new business and trying to grow your business and acquisitions, acquiring new clients is a way to do that. But, you know, it’s a little bit easier when you pick up the phone and say, hey, I’m Michelle with Coca Cola. There’s credibility behind your name, you know, behind the Coca Cola piece. But when you’re branching out on your own, you still have that to some extent. You know, I think about I think that working for companies like Coca Cola and Danone and I also worked for Ford early in my career. You know, just having that experience definitely lends credibility to what you do. But, you know, there’s still, you know, the having to build that credibility on your own. And one of the things that I did was I hired a coach to help me kind of navigate and figure out what are some of the things that I need to be doing to build my business to prospect for clients. And so that really helped me working with a coach. And I still have a coach to help me, and I probably will for a while because there’s always something new that I’m learning that that that I didn’t know in corporate America.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:20] And if somebody wants to learn more about your practice, is there a website?
Michele Fuller: [00:14:26] Yes. It’s Minerva GBS George Boy Sam dot com and Minerva is spelled m i n e r v a and then of course gbs dot com.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:42] Well, Michelle, congratulations on all the success thus far and thank you for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Michele Fuller: [00:14:49] Thank you so much.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:50] All right. This is Lee Kantor Wilco. Next time on High Velocity Radio.