PAC(w)K It Up!!!

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

What does Ben Horowitz and I have in common? We both love hip-hop and have a blog. So in Ben’s Blog style, I’m adding a lyrical quote to my blog.
Here’s the rules: chop it, bag it, stash it, stack it.
Get in, get out – that’s an O.G.’s classic.
Song: 1-900-Hustler Artist: Jay-Z

PAC(w)K It Up!

We sat at the edge of our chairs, legs locked and core engaged as if we were at the bottom movement of a squat. Our eyes were focused at center of the room, listening eagerly to one of the many messages that would change our professional and personal lives at the University of Notre Dame. Our professor addressed our EMBA class in South Bend, Indiana. On this day, his class would transcend beyond the needs of driving revenue performance, shareholder value, and blossom into a resource we could use in all aspects of our lives, both professional and personal. It was on that day, that all 60 of us learned how to create and maintain relationships with a purpose. PAC(w)K is an acronym for Providing Actionable Communication with Knowledge. Obviously with this being a sales blog, I will explain the concept with a sales slant, but you can take these same steps and use it beyond sales as it truly extends to all aspects of business and personal lives.

What is PAC(w)K?
Providing Actionable Communication with Knowledge (PAC(w)K) is a concept you can use to create, establish, maintain, strengthen, and nurture any relationship you have with another professional or person in your life. Think about that prospect you have in your current pipeline. You conducted a demo, or given a proposal to them and suddenly what you thought was a slam dunk deal forecasted for the month is now in jeopardy because the prospect/customer has gone radio silent on you. They are no longer returning your calls, and not answering your emails. You are thinking, “What’s up? I thought this was going to happen.” You start recalling your conversation with the prospect because you are questioning what could you have done better. Why are they not responding to your communication? Chances are you probably did execute the first appointment, demo, and proposal meeting well. But, did you connect with them on a professional or personal level to truly understand the needs and wants of their business as well as what motivates them? During these moments of silence, reps go crazy trying to figure out how to get the attention of prospects. They send emails with lowered pricing or extra add-ons in an attempt to sweeten the deal. They also continue to call, drop in, and leave messages with product specific information hoping the prospect looks up and responds. PAC(w)K assists in decreasing the radio silence. PAC(w)K helps you know what your prospects care about professionally and personally. PAC(w)K gives you an advantage because it gives you an overall better relationship with your customers. Having a better relationship with your customers will create more selling opportunities than you can ever imagine.

First rule of PAC(w)K is to have genuine interest in the relationship you desire to cultivate and nurture. This is important because you cannot PAC(w)K everyone. There is a limit to the people you can PAC(w)K.

Second rule of PAC(w)K is to think about the 10 – 20 relationships you want to create, establish, maintain and nurture. These are the people that you will communicate or PAC(w)K as frequently and naturally as the relationship grows. Think about those key decision makers in the key targets accounts you are trying to win.

Third rule of PAC(w)K is to recall the conversation you had with them and what needs, concerns, or interest revealed. Think beyond the sale. Go passed your product and your interest to get to what is the driving force behind their need. Apply the same thought to them as a professional. Use your tools, social media, and the internet to learn more about them. There is tons of information out there. Use it, learn from it, and apply it to your strategy when you communicate with them.

Fourth rule of PAC(w)K is to take what you learned from the third rule and support it with substantial information. This is where you want to use resources like Pulse from LinkedIn (personal favorite) , Flipboard app, news and magazine resources, and thought provoking messages like TedTalks, and Kahn’s Academy. Remember the first rule of PAC(w)K is to have genuine interest so be open to all forms of information. It can be a comic strip or a funny youtube video. Let the relationship you are developing establish the boundaries of the information you are using. As the relationship grows so will the boundaries because you are consistently learning more about your customer’s interests.

Fifth rule of PAC(w)K is to never forget the first rule. It is not about your interests. It’s about the interests and needs of the other person.
How often do you PAC(w)K? Is it once a week, monthly, or quarterly? The truly depends on the relationship and natural flow of information. I have some people I PAC(w)K weekly because our relationship has evolved to that level of communication and others I PAC(w)K quarterly. Sales professionals, I think you will need to read the situation first and then start applying the PAC(w)K rules to enhance your communication to the prospect.

Applying the PAC(w)K
PAC(w)K is the easiest thing to do. You can do it with a phone call, text, an email, a letter and more. You can use LinkedIn, facebook, and other social media as well. Variety is best used when dripping. I opt for using the phone or email so I can ensure that my message is specific to the person. Social media like linkedIn and facebook are powerful because you can share articles and TedTalks. Kim Nicol, who is building a meditation business, targeted to professionals in the legal industry around mindfulness uses social media to PAC(w)K her clients. She shares articles and her blog to reach and stay connected to her clients.

Can you have two PAC(w)K list?
I have a professional PAC(w)K list and a personal one. I have ten people on each list. These are the people and relationships that I deemed valuable and ones I’m working to maintain.
Now you know the rules and how to apply it…what are you waiting on. Create your list and PAC(w)K it up!

P.S.
1. Check out the 6th Annual AA-ISP Leadership Summit happening in Chicago, April 6th – 8th. You will learn from the best experts in sales at this meeting.
2. Looking to take your financial intelligence to another level? My dear friend, Jackie Koski wrote a book, titled Money Letters 2 My Daughter. It is an excellent book that will educate you about money. It is also the perfect book for anyone graduating from high school or college.


Would I take a call from myself…hmmm??? Five Tips for your voice, your greatest asset

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

It has been said that it takes 10,000 hours or 10 years to master a skill. I have not fully mastered the art of sales and I clearly recall 13 years ago when my first sales trainer who had 30 years under his belt in sales told our training class, “I can tell you everything you need to know about sales in 15 minutes, but it will take you a lifetime to master it.” Recently in Forbes, Josh Kaufman, author and teacher, was written about describing how he believes he can cut down that time to 20 hours. I’m not advocating on behalf of Kaufman, but I am going to layout five tips that I believe is a starting point for those who have taken the journey to master sales.

These tips are focused on your most prized asset in your sales professionals portfolio and it is right there next to your mind power. This prized asset is often overlooked and taken for granted. Perhaps you never valued this asset until now. So what is your most prized asset? It’s your VOICE! Both Inside Sales and Field Sales professionals must be aware of their voice as both professionals utilize the telephone to connect with customers/prospects.

Your voice is an asset because it is the first sound that is heard when you begin to communicate. In her Wall Street Journal article titled, Is This How You Really Talk?, Sue Shellenbarger states “A strong, smooth voice can enhance your chances of rising to CEO. And a nasal whine, a raspy tone or strident voice can drive colleagues to distraction.” We all know that we have less than 7 – 10 seconds to make a first impression. Let’s talk about how to working on this small five tips will help you on your way to mastering sales.

Five Voice Tips
1. Drink room temperature or lukewarm water or tea. This enables your vocal cords to relax while warming your throat so that your voice comes out of your mouth smoothly. Avoid cold drinks, dairy products, and medication that dry your throat. Cold drinks will restrict your vocal cords. Consuming dairy products promotes mucus in your mouth and it can clog your vocal passages. Stay away from anything that gives you a dry throat and causes you to clear your throat. No one wants to hear any of that on the phone. So keep it simple to warm water and tea.
2. Warm up before jumping on the phone. Think about it. Do any professional singer, athlete, news anchor, master of ceremony, or television host take to their audience without a full warm up? They take their time and warm up their bodies and focus their minds on the task at hand. A sales professional warm up would include slowly enunciating words to work out the mechanics of saying your value proposition clearly. Repeat this 5x to ensure that your brain, voice, and mechanics of your mouth are all on the same page. Next, play with the tone of your voice while saying your value proposition out loud. This warm up will benefit your vocal chords, your throat, and your jaw muscles. You will see how this will help you make that cold call with flawless execution on your pitch.
3. Stand up and smile as you are talking. This gives you greater projection in your voice and smiling warms up your tone. People can sense when you are smiling and talking. It makes for a better conversation.
4. Call yourself and leave a voicemail with your elevator pitch or value proposition. Objectively listen to your voice and ask yourself these three questions. A) Would I take this person’s call? B) Would I return this person’s call? C) Would I be interested in what he/she is saying? Listen to your voice and the content. If either is off, you will have to go through your warm up again or you may need to simplify your sales pitch. Be honest with yourself on this.
5. USE BIG FONT FOR YOUR SALES SCRIPTS. One of the easiest ways to lose focus on delivering a warm voice with a value proposition is squinting your eyes to read a pitch you have that was handwritten, wrote in cursive, shorthand, or just too small to read. Why? If you are focused on figuring out what you are reading, it will cause stress and potential panic. Both, stress and panic are easily picked up during a conversation due to your CHANGE in VOICE. Prevent this from happening to you by typing your value proposition in BIG FONT and having it posted in your workspace at eye level so you can see it very clearly. Doing this will enable you to speak clearly and focus on delivering a smooth pitch rather than going into a panic attack because the customer/prospect took your call and you can’t communicate because your pitch looks like a microeconomic calculus derivative problem set that makes no sense unless you are eyeballing it closely with a magnifying glass.

Your voice is your unique calling card that announces who you are. Don’t take this precious asset for granted. Work it like every skill you are striving to improve. I have no doubt in my mind that these five tips will help you gain the attention of your customer/prospect and initiate a meaningful conversation that will hopefully open the door to a great opportunity.

I am happy to state that in the coming weeks you will be able to visit us on the web at www.insidesalesmagic.com .

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Happy selling my friends.


AA-ISP Ask An Expert: Q&A Answer to Working from Home Tips

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

Have a question about inside sales? Did you know the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals, Ask An Expert Q&A, is a great free resource for you to ask any quesiton you have about inside sales. You can ask questions about ratios, inside sales structures, sales tools, sales training and etc.

Recently a question was asked about working from home. Here is my response below.

I have several reps that work in a virtual environment along with their field time.

Here are some tips they have shared with me over the years.
• Treat each day like you are going into the office. This means wake, shower, get dressed…etc. I have some reps who have shared with me that they dress as if they are going into an office setting. They say it helps them get their brain into a, “this is work not home” state of mind. Another rep would do all the above, get in her car, drive to a nearby store, purchase a cola (she wasn’t a coffee drinker) and then drive home to start her work day. This was her “commute.”
• They all said they locked the door and locked themselves into their office. They prefer to limit interruptions or interference from the outside or people at home. Most say that they will not answer the door if someone knocks (even ring the doorbell) and their family members know that they are at work so they do not interrupt them.
• They don’t have a TV in their home office and if they do, they keep it off while working.
• They create a list of tasks to complete.
• They take a 60 min lunch break and return to their home office.
• They set up two 15 minute breaks. During that time they may IM, check social media…etc.
• They don’t chase emails. They focus on their list and check email sparingly. So if they are working a campaign and cold calling, they will focus solely on that activity and shut down email…etc.

I hope this helps. Working virtually can be challenging, and I believe that with the right strategy in place, it can be very rewarding for both the employee and the company.

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State Capitals and Metrics, huh?

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

Let’s take you down memory lane to a time in grade school when we all had to learn the capitals of each state in our beautiful U.S.A. Now if you were to get a pop quiz today, how sure are you that you would get every single capital correct? Can you name the state capital of Kentucky? What about the state capital of Vermont? Okay, last one, what is the state capital of Alaska? You are asking, what does this have to do with Inside Sales? Ask the sales professionals on your sales floors to state their metrics to you and just like state capitals that we all should know as citizens of the United States of America, shouldn’t sales professionals know their sales metrics too?

Everyone should know their first appointments to opportunities to close ratios.

How many calls does it take for you to get a First Appointment (FAs)? How many of your First Appointments become opportunities that enter your funnel? How many opportunities does it take before one closes? Sounds elementary, but I guarantee you that this is the frame work and foundation of sales performance. It’s the sales professional’s DNA.
Now if you are not using a customer relationship management tool (CRM) or other measuring tool to help you track your metrics here is an easy low tech method for you. Grab some paper, a pencil, and a calendar. That’s right! It’s that simple. You will use the paper and pencil to record the total number of calls you have made for each day. You will also record the FAs and Opportunities you create each day on the calendar. The same will be done when you close a deal. At the end of the week, tally all your calls, FAs, Opportunities, and closed deals. You could use this as a run rate or bench mark to beat the following week. I would suggest that you carry on recording your data for the month and averaging out the totals. Once you have averaged out the totals, you should have a better understanding of your metrics – your sales DNA.

Here’s where it gets good. Take a look at your quota and your average order value (AOV). Now how many deals do you need based on your AOV to make quota each month? Once you have the number, take the number of opportunities you created and the number of closed deals you recorded during the month and come up with your opportunity to close ratio. Are you producing enough opportunities to make quota? Hopefully you are. If you are not creating enough opportunities there are two things you can do. One is crank out more calls and the other is crank out more calls while having your manager or sales coach work on your sales skills. Over time you will see that you will get better, and your number of calls may decrease as your ability to create more opportunities and close more deals increase. Once this happens, you will have complete control of your ability to truly dominate your quota and increase your commission earnings.

There you have it! Your sales DNA (aka your sales metrics) is yours to know and yours to leverage to increase your commission earnings.

Answers to the state capitals: 1) Frankfurt, 2) Montpelier, and 3) Juneau.
Next blog post coming up is “Fake it, till you make it. Be who you wanna be. Now make that call!”


Friday is NOT National Contract Signing Day

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

Giving a deadline to receive signed paperwork on Friday? Think again my friend. Contrary to sales professional legend, Friday is NOT National Contract Signing Day for sales professionals and customers. It’s not even a hallmark holiday! Plus, most businesses are open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and AH YES…Friday. So why narrow your window on getting back a signed contract to the last day of the work week? This also falls in line with giving deadlines at the end of the month. Why do it? Did you know that of the 260 work days in 2013, there are only 53 Fridays? That’s 20% of the work week and it’s the bottom of the work week. That narrow time frame often leads to customers leaving the office early, not coming in the office at all, increase procrastination, and easy avoidance from sales professionals. This all adds up to miss forecasts, zero weeks, and your ticket into the Chasing Customer For Signed Paperwork Marathon. Want to increase your success and take your game to the next level?

Start by setting up close appointments on Monday. Who doesn’t walk around proudly with a huge smile when they start the week off with a signed contract? It just feels good! It takes the pressure off, and gives you momentum.

Secondly, set proper expectations up front and get the customer’s buy in. Be specific and spell out when you will meet and what the purpose of the meeting will be. This puts you in a position of power and it is up to you to make sure the meeting is not on one of those 53 Fridays – keep in mind we want to avoid those days if we can. Remember, you have 80% of the work week (M – TH) that you can use to schedule a close meeting. If your service or solution involves training of any sort, provide your customer with an implementation plan with set dates and times. Doing this helps you move the sale along the funnel, and keeps your customer engaged in the sales process. In addition, it is a great strategy to show customers that you will aid them in their transition from previous solution to the new solution and that helps you find new issues that will create new opportunities for your business – it’s a continuous cycle with endless commission awaiting you.

Lastly, make a rule that you will not conduct closing appointments on Friday, unless it is absolutely necessary. This does not mean that you take every Friday off. It means that you take control of two things. The first is take control of your calendar and remain discipline to your weekly objectives. To be specific, your calendar is not always open. Plan your activity and work your closing meetings into that schedule with the agreed consensus of your customer. Don’t be foolish, if the customer can only meet you on a certain date and time, and you can make it work, then make it work. What I am stressing is managing your activity in a manner that yields the best results for your time and business. Said differently, as you are closing a deal, you will need to replace it with 2 – 3 opportunities so you must continue to move deals along and grow your funnel. It is not a one for one ratio where you close one deal and you add one new opportunity. Most opportunities to close ratios are several opportunities to one closed contract.

Here’s to getting out of the gate fast in Q2 and no longer observing every Friday as National Contract Signing Day.

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Next post coming up… state capitals and sales metrics…huh? You’ll get the connection in seven days.

Happy selling my friends.


H.A.A.N.D OVER YOUR FORECAST

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

If you are a sales professional, I can bet my commission check that you forecast to your leadership team. Depending on the average number of transactions in your industry, you may roll up forecast quarterly, or monthly. Forecasts are used as an indicator to predict future performance of the business to the executive team and shareholders. This critical insight exceeds beyond sales. Forecasts often determine the amount of investment, risk, and capacity that a business can manage successfully without compromising their position in their respected market. Yes, as you can see, your forecast is IMPORTANT. One of the best mentors I ever had said to me, “Your forecast is a contract between, you, me and the company. It is your word, and your promise in writing to perform.”

How do you forecast? I’m talking beyond your CRM computed percentages and sale methodology ratios. (Note, I do agree with sales methodologies, cadences, and breaking down contract values into percentages. An example that I have seen at many companies is taking 90% of the contract value if the opportunity is in the contract stage of the sales funnel.) Are you a conservative forecaster, overly opportunistic sales forecaster, or just plain hate rolling up forecasts? If you identify with one of these scenarios, this is for you. I have found in my experience that the key to forecasting is Honesty, Activity, and Agreed Negotiated Deadlines. This is your H.A.A.N.D. and you have total control of your forecast.

Recall that your forecast is your word. So your forecast needs HONESTY in your assessment of where and how you will make your quota. Take a true self examination of your level of activity, number of created opportunities, and agreed next steps with you and your prospects. That’s why you have to start with HONESTY. Do you honestly have enough first appointments, opportunities, and agreed next steps to make your number? If you don’t, stop, adjust, and jump on the activity bandwagon.

Keep your ACTIVITY constant, continuous, and strategic. When you examine your activity level, begin by looking at your first appointments. Are you getting enough of them weekly to grow your sales funnel? If you are having issues getting first appointments, I recommend reading and acting on some of the blog post using social media to sell. Sales professionals such as Ken Krogue, Trish Bertuzzi, Craig Rosenberg, Jamie Shanks, and Schon Messier have written about using social media to secure first appointments. Check out their blogs! Activity is the life blood of your sales funnel and you have to know your success ratios to ensure that you are on target to maintaining a healthy funnel. This is why most sales professionals drive to have 2.5X or 3X size sales funnels in their negotiated and contract stages. High activity is their insurance policy to ensure they will deliver their number and they have backup opportunities to move forward in the event a deal goes wayside. Keep your activity high and know your first appointment ratios.

Agreed Negotiated Deadlines is where the “dollars runs with the bulls!” If you have agreed negotiated deadlines with your prospects, your bucks won’t stop here. You will find yourself closing business frequently and beating your quota regularly. The best practice in the industry on this subject is to always have a next step in your sales cycle for you and the customer to agree on. It can be your next follow up appointment, meeting to receive completed paperwork, and meeting to set up implementation processes. Each meeting must have 1) a purpose and 2) a next step. Doing this will not only improve your overall sales success, but it will positively impact your ability to accurately forecast your business.

In closing, Honesty, Activity, and Agreed Negotiated Deadlines will give you the upper h.a.a.n.d forecasting to your company.

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In the world of sales, there is a place for you

The first quarter ends next week. How did you start the year? Are you executing on your business plan? Are you checking off those daily disciplines that increase your success? Have you taking any time during these three months of 2013 to get better? Heck, are you still in love with sales?

There is a place for you in this world of sales professionals. There is a place where people who are like minded like you meet to share ideas, discuss ways to improve, and network. Guess what? These people are sales professionals and to be specific, they are INSIDE SALES PROFESSIONALS. The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) and their awesome chapter meetings is the place I’m talking about. The AA-ISP is an international association dedicated exclusively to advancing the profession of Inside Sales. They have chapters in cities around the world. The inside sales professionals that attend these meetings come from wide and diverse businesses. All are welcome and it is not unusual to have sales professionals from recruiting, tech companies, banking, and real estate. The experience level of the attendees will range from CEOs, entrepreneurs, Vice Presidents, Directors, and individual contributors. Everyone is there with the same goal in mind, “How can I hit my numbers and become a better sales professional.”

I recently attended the Silicon Valley Chapter meeting at LinkedIn’s headquarters in San Francisco. The room was filled to capacity and the energy was electric. The first 30 or so minutes were for networking which in itself is worth going to the meeting. The meeting also included a presentation on using social media and how it can help you limit cold calling while building a robust pipeline. If I had a video clip to play, I would play the KFC super bowl commercial when the girls says, “Game Day bucket go BOOM!” Because that what happened to my mind when they shared best practices on using social media to prospect. It didn’t stop there. They also had a panel of experts who shared their insights and revealed secrets using social media to prospect. I now have a strategy on how to use social media to take my emails and cold calls to the next level while building my pipeline with solid first appointments! (yes, I am smiling now because this is great stuff)

OK, so after reading this, your to-do is to find the AA-ISP chapter in your city and join! If you have inside sales in your company and they are not members of the AA-ISP, you need to recommend that they join ASAP. Their website is http://www.aa-isp.org . Check it out! To be honest, I could write a post just on the awesome helpful information on this site.

I wish you the best Q1 in 2013 as you work feverishly to close as many opportunities to crush your number and earn a bonus. You are not alone. There are people who can help you increase your success in sales and there is a place for you at the table.
Good Selling, and have a great Q1 finish!

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