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.
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.