How To Be Successful In Direct Selling Business


Episode 25 - The Art of Direct Sales and Asking All of the Right Questions with Steve Apodaca

What’s up everybody, I’m your boy Drewbie and I’m back with another amazing guest here on Call the Damn Leads and that guest is none other than my friend, Mr. Steve Apodaca.


Steve is here to share his sales secrets from a humble family landscaping business to the heights of corporate America and direct sales. This is where passion meets persistence, and the art of selling is about more than just products—it's about solutions, trust, and presenting the best version of yourself. 


We’ll take you through Steve’s journey and how one less-than-promising lead blossomed into his biggest sale, revealing the pretty amazing outcome that comes from the power of persistence. 


We wrap up by tackling the art of strategic questioning in sales, proving that the so-called "gift of gab" is actually a hardcore myth. Through this discussion, we focus on how the right questions can guide customers to informed decisions, and maintain your command of sales conversations.


Key Moments:

-What got Steve into sales in the first place?

-Direct sales is actually about selling YOU.

-Sometimes the assholes turn out to be your biggest sale.

-Always ask the right questions and no, you don’t need to have the “gift of gab” to be good in sales.




Drewbie: Hey, what's up everybody? Welcome back to 'Call The Damn Leads', the show by sales professionals for sales professionals. I'm your host, Drewbie Wilson, with more than two decades in sales. I have seen, heard, and lived it all, and I still want to listen to your stories. I created the show to bring you on, tell all the wildest stories we know about in sales, bring the community together, and let you know that you're not alone. Sales is a crazy journey, and connecting with other like-minded, success-driven individuals has made a difference in my life. That's why I created this show to bring the craziness to you and your life and journey here in sales. Today's guest is a personal friend I've enjoyed working with for the last five years. I've seen him do some wild things regarding sales, business, and growth. He's also someone I know who truly cares about serving his community, which is why I wanted to have him come on. I'd like you guys to welcome my friend, Mr. Steve Apodaca. 'What's up, brother?

Mr. Steve Apodaca: What's cracking? Pushing P, baby, pushing P.' Little less enthusiasm right there, right? I was sick four days ago, so I'm like, 'Yeah.'


From Service to Sales: Steve Apodaca's Journey and Insights on Direct Sales Strategy

Drewbie: Hey, man, when you're sick, though, that's the crazy thing about sales. You must still push and handle business regardless of your circumstances. And I know you're pushing pee with the best of them, man. And when I say pushing P, it's fun because that means making phone sites. Phone sites are the software you and I initially got connected through, and it's an opportunity that we've had to grow and help many people. But we'll get into that a little bit later. The first thing I want to know, Steve, is how you got into sales, bro. What was it that got you into sales?

Mr. Steve Apodaca: Oh, gosh, service. Interestingly enough, service is what got me into sales. I'm a third-generation landscaper in Las Vegas with roots in the Valley since the 30s. I became proficient in our service-based work for our customers, mainly repairs and urgent tasks that needed immediate attention. I developed a knack for upselling to our clients, always looking for potential problems or opportunities to enhance efficiency. This skill became evident when I was running my dad's company, where my upselling efforts were so successful that I eventually branched out into a service-based model focused solely on repairs, particularly irrigation repair. Despite operating out of the back of a pickup truck with minimal resources, I managed to run a $300,000 operation, emphasizing upsells and a service-oriented solid approach. While I didn't initially perceive myself as a salesperson, my transition to Corporate America during the economic downturn revealed the importance of sales skills even in non-sales roles. Despite the difference in environment, my commitment to service and upselling remained, leading to significant achievements and setting company records through a servant attitude toward customers.

When the opportunity ended, I decided I was done with Corporate America. I mentally gave it the middle finger due to some weird stuff. That experience was a defining moment for me, and I vowed never to return to a corporate job or place my livelihood in someone else's hands again. I transitioned into direct sales, specifically in life insurance, and I've been doing that for almost nine years. In direct sales, people buy you, not just the product—they buy the solution you offer. Generating your leads means selling yourself, the product, and the solution. This background has shaped my approach to sales.


Mastering Direct Sales Strategy through Persistence and Trust Building

Drewbie: I love that direct sales are about selling yourself because people buy from those they know, like, and trust. Providing excellent service builds trust and generates referrals, helping your business grow. However, it would help if you sold actively, making your value known to avoid losing customers to competitors. That's what I love about Phone Sites and how we got connected. We're great at sales and service, so we focused on building websites and marketing to reach more people who need what we offer.

Our platform is more than just a website; it's a space where people can connect, grow, and learn from our products and services. We've seen remarkable sales in the tech and insurance worlds.

Mr. Steve Apodaca: I experienced one of the craziest periods in my insurance career, which I elaborated on in a previous comment. Over six months, I wrote $150,000 in life insurance policies and built a downline team of 150 agents. My partner and I led a team of 450 agents, generating about half a million dollars monthly in life and annuity sales. However, our business was abruptly shut down due to industry politics and power plays. This setback prevented us from writing new business for four months, forcing us to live off our savings while figuring out our next steps. After the mandatory six-month hiatus, we secured our first contract with a well-known carrier, allowing us to start rebuilding. Despite the challenges, we remained determined and focused on finding solid opportunities to grow our new organization.

Four months after I could not work properly, our savings were dwindling, and I was operating on a very tight budget. Desperate for leads, I purchased a batch of 500 outdated leads, some as old as four years, and started cold-calling without even a script. My strategy was simple: follow up on their past interest in getting protection. I called a man from Nigeria who was initially very rude and skeptical. However, after speaking to his wife and then back to him, I managed to book an appointment. My goal was to get a clear resolution from each call, whether yes or no, to avoid unnecessary follow-ups. I eventually visited their home, still quite inexperienced but determined to succeed. I managed to sell them a substantial $14,000 life insurance policy, despite their lead being based on an old address they no longer lived at. Six months later, I wrote more policies for their children, adding another $1,000 in monthly premiums. Remarkably, the wife contacted me a month ago to say she had obtained her own life insurance license.

The guy wants to come work with me as well, which is crazy stuff. It started off rocky; he was rude and didn't want to talk to me, probably regretting that he even answered the phone. But now he's not, because if something happens to him, his wife, or his children, they've got some financial backing. So, it all turned out really well at the end of the day. Initially, I was like, "Holy [__], man," because it was just a 50-cent four-year-old lead, and the guy was a jerk. But it ended up turning out really well.

Insights on Direct Sales Strategy and Coaching from Industry Leaders

Drewbie: That's a hell of a story. One of my favorite things about sales is when you're persistent and just go after it; crazy things happen. I love the whole mantra of calling the damn leads. You go through all this crazy stuff, and in the end, you get five figures in commissions and multiple opportunities. Now, if this lady is going to come to work for you, who knows what that could turn into?

Mr. Steve Apodaca: She sold a pharmacy to CVS, and her husband's a doctor, so she's got the entrepreneurial mind and financial backing. She already knows how to build and sell businesses and has some credibility in the community. She's realizing how lucrative this is.

Drewbie: This is why sales is such a great industry: you can make as much money as you want if you work hard and put in the effort. As you develop yourself, you become a better salesperson, making more money and having more opportunities. You get to pour back into the community, making more people want to work with you. I love that story for you, Steve. I remember when you asked about the opportunity at Phon S Sites. I encouraged you to take it, and now you're one of the top guys in the company, really crushing it.

Mr. Steve Apodaca: When it comes to sales, my secret weapon has always been the art of asking intentional diagnostic questions. Even in trouble, asking questions keeps you in charge and gets them talking. People feel prompted to respond, even in a bad mood. Asking the right questions at the right time is crucial. It helps lead them toward the close, helping them make better decisions for themselves. The decision should be good for them as long as it's moral, legal, ethical, and not harmful. The experts must lead them toward the promised land, and asking the right questions can do that. It's an art that has to be perfected. I learned a lot from Tom Hopkins and his book "How to Master the Art of Sales." He broke many sales records back in the 70s and 80s, and he was a major influence on me in learning to ask questions.

And again, it has been an art and skill that has been perfected over time. Now, my wife hates it when we get into arguments because I just start firing questions away, and I always win those ones. Pro tip fellas: we're going to have to cut that one and bring it in right. If you're arguing with your spouse, just start asking questions; that'll throw them off. Start asking questions.


Overcoming Misconceptions and Strategies for Success in Direct Sales

Drewbie: I love that strategy though, because that's one for me that I've used to a lot of success. You can ask for clarity if I don't know where someone's trying to go. You know, it's such a powerful statement to just say, "Can you expand on that for me?" or "Can you clarify that for me?" and people will be happy to because they don't want you to be misunderstood, and they don't want you to sell them something that you don't understand why you're selling it to them. So, asking questions and being willing to be straight up like, "You know what, I have no idea what the [__] you just said. Can you repeat that for me?" Exactly. Don't do that all day long, but sometimes if there's an important part of something, you can ask that question, and people will be happy to reiterate. Same thing, it's important for you to let prospects know that they have that same authority. That's one of the things that I like to make sure my clients know: it's like, "Hey, you can stop me at any point and ask questions, and I will be happy to clarify." And that's something I learned a lot with NLP, and it kind of falls in line with the straight line from Belford. It's like, they're going to be all over the place. Our job is to bring them into this little centered focus of one call, one problem, one solution. What's the thing that you're dealing with and how can we solve it without you having to do the thing that you don't want to do, right? That's the ultimate formula when we're training people on phone sites: how to get leads, how to get the thing that you want without doing the thing you don't want to do. And if you want to get fancy, add it in a certain time frame. It's like, "Hey, let's do it in this period of time, in six days or less." Yeah, exactly. And that's the beauty of sales, right? When you learn to add the marketing piece to it, you learn how to write your own check because, as you mentioned, it was like, "Hey, in a new industry, my thing was I got to go get leads." And yeah, you can buy leads if you have the funds to do that, but if you don't have the funds, sometimes you need to be able to go out and get the leads yourself. And that's where phone sites or training like that can be super valuable. One thing too that I always like to think about when it comes to sales, Steve, and this is—some people will say I'm crazy, some people will agree with me—but there's a lot of myths when it comes to sales, a lot of misconceptions. What would you say is the biggest misconception that you've dealt with when it comes to being in sales and being in this industry?


Mr. Steve Apodaca: "You got to have the gift of gab." That's the corniest one. That's the corniest. "Well, I'm not that very—I don't have the gift of gab, so I'm never going to be good at it." Look, man, I don't think I'm going to dig one up anytime soon, but if you guys saw pictures of me when I was in landscaping, you would never have thought that a guy like that would, A, be successful, but B, do it in the insurance industry.


Right, especially because nobody sits in senior math class thinking, "Man, I can't wait till I have an insurance career. Man, it's going to be so epic," right? But yeah, the misconception that you have to have this gift to speak is probably the biggest one I've encountered. People who are typically scared of selling think they have to be slick-talking, extroverted, and sociable. Man, I don't like people; I like helping people. Typically, my rebuttal to someone like that would be, "Do you like to help people? Yeah? Well, if I show you how to make money helping people, would you consider it? Yeah? Do you like making money morally, ethically, and legally? Sure. So, if I can show you how to put the words in the right order, would you be willing to give it a shot?" That's probably the biggest misconception—thinking you need a specific persona to be successful in sales.


Embracing Your Unique Strengths: Effective Direct Sales Strategy and Coaching Insights with Steve Apodaca

Drewbie: Normally, I would ask, "If you're new to sales, what's a piece of advice you'd give?" But I think that's a great one: you don't have to be super talkative or have the Gift of Gab to make sales. Some of the best salespeople I know are very slow, calculated, and intentional. No matter who you are or where you come from, I've met someone from your background who is great in sales. It's about learning how to use your skill set, your authenticity, and what makes you great. Working with others can help you refine that. If you've never read a book about sales or never worked with a sales coach or mentor, you're not going to know much, but when you start working with professionals, especially someone like Steve or myself, we can help you understand your strengths and where you need improvement. Sales is an industry where you can build a lifestyle of design, be who you are, and still be successful. Steve is a fantastic example—third-generation landscaper, now very successful in insurance and tech. You're a shining example, bro. Thank you for taking the time to be here, share your story, and help others. If folks want to know more about you and what you've got going on, what's the best way for them to find you?


Mr. Steve Apodaca:, my digital business profile, has all my socials, a booking calendar, and more. My main focus is to help people. I started working with Phone Sites because, as someone coming from the bottom, I got results using this and want to help others get results in the same way. Not everyone can buy leads, and with the recent SEC ruling, those will be almost non-existent. The power of marketing yourself and self-generating leads helped me thrive through COVID. My traditional practice was face-to-face, and when we couldn't go into people's homes anymore, I needed a way to reach the masses digitally. Phone Sites came into my life at the perfect time, right after the government shutdown, and it allowed me to continue serving the masses. Because I had so much success with it, I jumped at the opportunity to help other business owners do the same. I didn't need the money; I just wanted to help. I had just spent almost $10,000 to rebrand my insurance brokerage.


Embracing the Greater Calling: Direct Sales Strategy and Coaching

This opportunity arose where I can now serve people like me, right? I can serve the masses. Death isn't going anywhere, trust me; I can always do insurance, get renewals, and get overrides. There was a greater calling for me here to do this now. Because I had done it, I can teach others how to do it as well. If anyone in the audience needed assistance with sales training or calling leads, every Saturday, I did a six-hour dial session to book my week. I have experience dialing hundreds of times for hours, dealing with sales, marketing, lead generation, and follow-ups. I've followed up for 16 to 18 months, closing five-figure deals with 15, 20, or 30 touches. I feel like I have all-encompassing experience in this field. I have an open-door policy because I know what it's like to need guidance, mentorship, and systems in place. That's why I took on this role, to help others do the same.

Drewbie: Love that, Steve; love you, brother. It's one of the reasons we get along so well and why I'm excited to be doing life with you. For everyone here, check Steve out if you're trying to build websites or get your leads. Go to and get signed up—they'd be happy to get you plugged in. More than anything, if you have an excellent sales story, have been through some [__], and want to share, come on the show. Go to, put your information in, and tell me about your story. Let's get you booked and scheduled. If you liked it, got some value, and enjoyed hanging out with Steve and me today, hit subscribe, share it on social media, and tag us at Call The Damn Leads. You can't miss us—we're everywhere.

We look forward to seeing you next time.


Connect with Steve:


Steve is a 10-year veteran in sales and team leadership, currently managing operations at Phonesites, a lead generating website builder responsible for generating over 2 million leads for nearly 15,000 users. His journey includes breaking production records with a 1,000-member team for a Fortune 500 company and building a life insurance brokerage to $5 million in annual sales.


 Website and Social Media Links:








If you're looking for a lead generating website builder or a masterpiece built for you, connect with Steve at



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