In this three series post I will look at the positive impact that members of the U.S. Armed Forces have had on my sales career and how their leadership shaped my approach in the marketplace.
Part 2 (Go To Part 1)
“I only have Three Golden Rules to live by”
2nd Class Petty Officer, Rex Caswell, PhD.
How We Met
The 2002 National Sales Meeting was over and this was our last meeting before heading to the airport. We were in Orlando, FL and the sun shine kept our spirits ups. We had traveled from snowy and cold Southern Ohio to be present at the meeting and we took every 15 minute break given to enjoy the warm sunny weather. The night before was our annual awards celebration dinner and after party. This was my first National Sales Meeting and I was enamored with what I saw. It was like the Emmy’s, but for our sales team. There was over 2000+ people at the meeting and only the top reps achieved our coveted prestigious award, Circle of Excellence (COE) recognition. That night I saw my colleague recognized as the top telephonic sales rep in our business segment. I was a rookie, six months into my first year and I knew I wanted to earn that recognition at our next National Sales Meeting. Our Vice President of Sales came down the hallway. I was on the way to my meeting and I stopped him. I walked directly to him and said, “I will be your next Sales Rep of the Year!” He looked at me puzzled, and said, “Son, I don’t know if you can even sell.” That was the challenge and from that day forward it was game on. Staying true to my promise, at the next National Sale Meeting, 12 months later, I was the top rep, COE winner, and Rep of The Year.
How He Encouraged Me
Rex was all about winning, having fun, and developing leaders. He was a stickler for numbers, sales metrics, and turning every call into a sales opportunity. He often gave me military leadership books like D. Michael Abrashoff, It’s Your Ship, and Jeff Cannon & Lt. Cmdr. Jon Cannon’s, Leadership Lessons of the Navy Seals. He gave me these books to inspire leadership and cultivate a mindset that I could lead a sales team victoriously regardless of the quota given or the market conditions. I would read everything he gave me overnight, and return to work eager to discuss the book with him. It became a game to me. Go in his office and while talking to him, scan his desk for new books. Search for the books on the web, call Barnes & Nobles to hold it, pick it up after work, and rush home to read it cover to cover. I believe this along with crushing my numbers caught his attention.
Rex Invested in Us and Created The 3 Golden Rules (see post)
He took a risk on three young sales professional when he promoted me and two other reps to sales managers in 2005. We were possible the youngest managers in the history of our company to earn promotion into management ranks leading sales professionals. He wanted us to be in a position to lead and make our department the best in the company to work at. Today, 12 years later, all three of us are still employed at the company and driving our sales teams to success. Rex created The 3 Golden Rules (see Lessons Learned From My Business Father).
5 + 1 things He Taught Me
- Own and know your numbers down to the cent.
- Your reps are your responsibility. Coach, Coach, Coach, Coach and Coach!
- Teach your sales reps their individual metrics and educate them on how those metrics will help them have command and control of their business.
- Take risk, make mistakes – just don’t make too many mistakes.
- Laugh! Laugh from the deepest point of your stomach and release the joy you are feeling.
- Celebrate your success.
Value of Metrics & Coaching
Rex taught me the value of metrics, how to calculate them, and tying them back to sales quota so can focus on bringing in the numbers. I learned how to coach my reps individually during 1:1s, cubical phone rides, and how to motivate them collectively during team meetings. Under Rex I developed a strong sales management knowledgebase. Rex brought in Steve Schiffman to train on opportunity management. This taught us how to properly conduct pipeline reviews and coach up our reps on opportunity management. Rex also brought in Art Sobczak to train us and our reps. As you can see we were very active and had a lot of fun while producing numbers.
A True Florida Seminole
Rex is a Florida Seminole to the core, loves good R&B classics, a nice glass of wine with a lit cigar. He gave me the opportunity to lead sales professionals and taught me the lessons that made me a better professional. He named me “The Reverend” because of my passionate sales speeches to my team. Having read so many military leadership books on valor, courage, and pride, I had instilled a spirit of “we can do anything together as team” attitude. I flourish under Rex and he continued to push me to grow. He was the first person to tell me that I should look at getting an MBA and the University of Notre Dame would be a great school for me. And that dream became a reality as well… He practiced what he preached and earned his PhD from Florida State University, proving to us that education is essential to progress and self-improvement.
Have you experienced similar types of learning from members in the U.S. Armed Services? Tell me about it in the comments section. I would be interested in hearing all about it. Thank you for sharing. (Go To Part 1)
Part three, the final part of this series is Shipman Brad Lanich of the U.S. Navy. R.I.H.
In this three series post, I will look at the positive impact that members of the U.S. Armed Forces have had on my sales career and how their leadership shaped my approach in the marketplace.
Part 1 Part 2
“Nobody climbs the mountain alone. Somebody gave you the boots”
Jeff Weaver, Captain, Field Artillery, U.S. Army
It was 12 years ago when I was in Jeff Weaver’s office, interviewing for my first sales job. It took me four attempts to get here. Other managers said I was too green and told me I needed more development. This time was different; I made it pass the initial interviews and this was the last step in the process. The final step was a role play and mock call with a sales manager. Jeff would play the customer and I was the sales rep trying to sell a comprehensive solution that would help Jeff’s law firm research needs. Yes, I was selling content-enabled workflow solutions designed specifically for professionals in the legal industry. Jeff handed me the mock call materials which included information on the customer and sales promotions I was offering. He stood up, gave me the five digit extension to call, and said, “you have 15 minutes to read over the materials. After reading the materials I want you to call the number I gave you and we will begin the mock call.” Jeff left the office and I jumped into his seat, pulling out all my notes from books I had read about sales regarding opening statements and how to ask thought provoking questions. I was a true newbie to sales and I needed someone to take a chance on me. I knew sales was my calling and this job would change my life. I read the mock call materials, took notes, highlighted certain sections, grabbed the phone, and punched those five digits to connect with Jeff. I heard the phone ring two times and then he answered, “law office” in a very stern why are you interrupting me type voice. Jeff knew these were the type of calls I would be expected to make each day and he needed to assess my skills and potential. What I learned from Weaver or Weave as me and others call him made me a solid sales professional and sales manager. Jeff taught me how to be a sale professional and how to be disciplined in my approach each day. He taught me the importance of execution and consistently delivering your numbers. He taught me that, “your forecast is a contract between you, your manager, and the company. It is your word, and you don’t break your word.” (see H.A.A.N.D Your Forecast) Jeff knew how to motivate and inspire. Jeff had the ability to see diamonds in the rough and under his tutelage he could turn you into a superstar sales professional. He is a legend in our business winning awards and developing future leaders. Yet he doesn’t care about the awards or the accolades. His passion is winning and developing others. Sales Reps that have worked under Jeff have moved on to become Sales Vice President, Director / General Manager, and Sales Managers to name a few.
When I was promoted to sales management, Jeff and I talked. He advised me to read Daniel Goleman’s, Emotional Intelligence and Primal Leadership. In that book I learned why Jeff was such a good manger and leader. He fully understood how to use Emotional Intelligence to guide thinking and behavior. What made Jeff an exceptional role model for me to mimic when I became a manager was that he had that “Dick Winter’s, Easy Company, military leadership” aura about him – if you have seen HBO’s Band of Brothers then you know what I’m talking about. He led from the front and he focused on putting his reps into positions where they could win more deals. I learned this during our intense team trainings. It was in those trainings that we all left our egos, titles, rank, and awards outside. Jeff trainings were like military simulations. He would create the most challenging sales obstacle course for you to complete under the safety of training. Everyone participated no matter tenure and those trainings made you battle ready on the phones. The trainings equipped us to handle the hardest objections with ease. Our simulations went like this. Everyone entered the training room and you if you were selected, you would pick a scenario from a bowl. Jeff always played the difficult prospect or customer. After the role play the entire team would give feedback and present best practices in the areas you struggled. Jeff gave final comments and we jumped back on the phones better than we were before the training. Trainings were held weekly and we looked forward to meeting the challenges. Meeting the challenges made you successful on the phone and helped you close deals. It makes sense, right? In a training environment you can make mistakes and be corrected without losing a sale. I applied the same training practice to my teams and the results were the same. My team got better and they crushed the numbers.
A lover of Coca-Cola soda, poker tournament jackpots, and any PGA golf course, Jeff’s personal philosophies shaped my sales career and influenced me to be the sales leader I am today.
Here are some of the philosophies he taught me:
– Always do what is right – even when no one is watching.
– Loyalty is a two way street.
– Know what you’re supposed to do and then do it.
– A hand-up is better than a handout.
– No matter how tough it may get, never quit.
– Don’t wring your hands – be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
– Always maintain your sense of humor
I’m interested, how has a member of the U.S. Armed Forces positively impacted your sales career?
CJ Webster is the author of insidesalesmagic, a blog written to help sales professionals become knowledgeable about social selling and sales 2.0 strategies. He doesn’t provide smoke and mirrors, hocus pocus, or any presto chango posts. This is real writing from a sales prospective on the issues, challenges, and success we have as sales professionals. It is honest, raw, and uncut. Sales is a noble profession and one of the few professions where the playing field is equal. Insidesalesmagic will be right there giving you the secrets and tricks of the trade that will elevate your sales game.
Top 25 2014
Christopher ‘CJ’ Webster of Insidesalemagic Receives AA-ISP’s TOP 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professionals in 2014 Award
SAN FRANCISCO, CA., April 9, 2014 — Insidesalemagic announced today that AA-ISP recognized Christopher ‘CJ’ Webster as part of American Association of Inside Sales Professionals Leadership Summit 2014 at an awards banquet held on April 9th at the Intercontinental Hotel in Chicago, Ill.
Started in 2010, the AA-ISP Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professionals Award recognizes individuals who have been instrumental in advancing inside sales.
Christopher ‘CJ’ Webster is a sales leader and creator of Insidesalemagic, a blog written to educate sales professionals about social selling and sales 2.0 strategies. Webster is a sales manager, sales coach, and speaker.
“It is an honor to recognize Christopher ‘CJ’ Webster as this year’s recipient of The TOP 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professional Awards. Christopher ‘CJ’ Webster has proven his dedication and commitment to advancing the profession of inside sales, which is the mission of the AA-ISP,” stated Bob Perkins, Founder and CEO. “We are confident that Christopher ‘CJ’ Webster will continue to have an impact on the inside sales community for years to come”, stated Perkins.
A complete list of companies and individuals recognized by the AA-ISP will be published on the AA-ISP website, go to www.aa-isp.org.
Insidesalemagic is a blog written by Christopher ‘CJ’ Webster to educate sales professionals about social selling and sales 2.0. Posts are written from a sales professional prospective detailing the issues, challenges, and success that sales professionals face. It is honest, raw, and uncut. Sales is a noble profession and Insidesalesmagic gives sales professionals the secrets, and tricks of the trade to elevate their sales game.
The AA-ISP is an international association dedicated exclusively to advancing the profession of Inside Sales. The association engages in research studies, organizational benchmarking and leadership round tables to better understand and analyze the trends, challenges, and key components of the growth and development of the Inside Sales industry. Our mission is to help inside sales representatives and leaders to leverage our information and resources through published content, local community chapters, national conferences, career development, and an Inside Sales Accreditation program.
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!
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.
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.
Next post coming up… state capitals and sales metrics…huh? You’ll get the connection in seven days.
Happy selling my friends.