Sales Lessons from the U.S. Armed Forces

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.

Sales Lessons from the U.S. Armed Forces

Sales Lessons from the U.S. Armed Forces

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.

Captain Jeff Weaver

Captain Jeff Weaver

 

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

 

 

The next post will be about 2nd Class Petty Officer U.S. Navy, Rex Caswell, PhD.  (Go to Part 2)

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.


405 Newly Made Connections In A Month…What I Learned Surrounding My Network Socially

What I learned Surrounding My Network Socially.

What I learned Surrounding My Network Socially.

April 1, 2014 I had 1390 connections on LinkedIn.  As of May 12, 2014 my network has grown to 1795 connections on LinkedIn.  That’s 30% change from April to present.  This was all strategic and it was planned.  My goal was to grow my network and connect with those who I could bring value to, and those that shared common passions.  Those 405 connections include New York Times Best Sellers, expert sales trainers, social media gurus, and sales professionals across several industries. Here’s what I learned.

When you start growing your network begin with the value you plan on bringing to your connections.  I only connect with professionals that I can bring value to their network or they can bring value to my network.  I start with this because I know that power is the ability to leverage your network and resources to achieve greater levels of mutual success. This is why you must focus on the value you bring to your connections and how you can help them achieve a new level of success.

Secondly, use your passions, common interests, and organic network (such as high school, college, job, social groups, professional groups…etc.) to begin building your network.  Here’s an example.  I belong to a large fraternity that is international in membership.  I am also a sales professional.  My fraternity’s LinkedIn Group has thousands of members.  I reached out to the Brothers of my fraternity and focused on those that were sales professionals.  Why?  We have two known commonalities.  We are both members of the fraternity and we are also sales professionals.  The same applied to alumni from the high school, and colleges I went to.  Reach out to people and state the common interests, and passions you each share.  Your network will grow.

Third, customize invites on LinkedIn work!   Generic LinkedIn invites do not work!  In fact, never ever send a person a generic invite. It’s rude to the person that you’re sending it to because if you are not willing to customize your invitation to connect, how are you able to state the value you bring to them professionally?  Don’t take your connection for granted, take a second to draft out a short message speaking to them directly and explain to them how you can bring value to their network and how you would be honored to have them in your network.

Lastly, look at your Twitter followers.  Doesn’t it make sense that those Twitter followers connect with you on LinkedIn?  The relationships that exist on Twitter could be very mutually beneficial for you and the Twitter Follower/LinkedIn Connection.  The same applies to Google+, Facebook, and other social media platforms.  This is what surrounding/embracing a person socially is all about.  It also helps you amplify your message and their message as you share, comment, and like their posts on multiple social platforms.  Tie the knot around your connections by being connecting to them on multiple social platforms and show how you are helping them amplify their message.  I have a simple rule on this.  If you are following me on Twitter and we share a common interest or passion, we connect on LinkedIn.  If you are in my Google+ Circle, and we share a common interest or passion, we connect on LinkedIn.  It goes the other way as well.  If we connect on LinkedIn, I look for you on Google+, and Twitter so we can surround each other socially.

There’s much more to discuss on this subject and I am willing to help you grow your network to achieve mutual success.  Reach out to me and let’s get started helping you unlock the potential in your network to bring value to others by leveraging your network and resources to achieve greater levels of mutual success.

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.


PRESS RELEASE: CJ Webster AA-ISP TOP 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professionals

Press Release

Top 25 2014

Christopher ‘CJ’ Webster of Insidesalemagic Receives AA-ISP’s TOP 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professionals in 2014 Award

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

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.

About Insidesalemagic

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.

About AA-ISP

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.


Nuclear Physicist, Stunt Double, Astronaut, Farmer, Plumber…all and more are on LinkedIn. So why aren’t you connecting?

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

We turned up in the studio late night/
That’s why the songs that you hear are comin’ real tight

Song: Who Do You Love
Artist: YG and Drake

LinkedIn has the world’s largest professional network with over 277 million users and increasing users every day. So I wanted to test things out and see what type of professionals are on LinkedIn. I did this because a common objection and miss conception by some sales professionals is that “my customer is not on LinkedIn.” I have also heard, “my customers are very private and they are not that tech savvy to be on LinkedIn.” Another one I have heard is, “LinkedIn is for people looking for jobs. I don’t think anyone is on there that is a decision maker.”

Okay, so to help my fellow sales professionals step into Sales 2.0 I did some research on LinkedIn statistics. I also ran some fun outrageous searches to demonstrate that 1) for the most part, EVERYONE is on LinkedIn 2) LinkedIn is a tool that you can connect with people in every vocation known and 3) jump on the connection bandwagon before you get left in the cold because more sales professionals are using social selling (LinkedIn) to build relationships, generate leads, and turn cold calls into warm calls. So why aren’t you connecting?

Using statistical stats from Craig Smith of Digital Marketing Ramblings (DMR) along with my fun outrageous searches I believe after you read this you will jump to action and start connecting to build your network. Trust me, you will reap the benefits of taking time to grow your network.

DMR states that LinkedIn has 84 Million U.S. users. I ran a search for Stunt Doubles and found over 100+ Stunt Doubles. Hmmm, if I were looking for stunt doubles I now know they are on LinkedIn. There are 2.1 million groups in LinkedIn. You think there is a group for Stunt Doubles? I bet they do have one and all you have to do is join it. Your next step is to actively participate in the discussion to show you are a resource. This is one way to grow your network.

My curiosity started growing after the first search so I ran a query for NASA Astronauts. I admit that I don’t know anyone that is an astronaut but I did a search and yep, I found them on LinkedIn. I’m thinking about connecting with them to get some dry ice cream. 40% of users check LinkedIn daily. This means that sales professionals have a huge opportunity to deliver meaningful content that will get seen by decision makers. This beats knocking on doors and leaving “leave behinds” or your business card with the office manager. We all know where those “leave behinds” and business cards go…Chateau De Trash Can.

Let’s see what happens when I run a search for Nuclear Physicist. You think these guys are on LinkedIn? There are more than 300+ on LinkedIn. I’m going to connect with them and build a Sales 2.0 flux capacitor for the DeLorean sales approach being used by those not utilizing social selling. We are going to usher them into the new world of sales and update those 1985 tactics. There are 200 conversations per minute occurring in LinkedIn groups. I have a hunch that customers are doing research, learning about solutions, and making buying decisions. You can become part of the conversation if you are connected and join in the discussion.

Feeling really curious, I ran a search looking for Farmers, Plumbers, and Butlers. Ha! They were all on LinkedIn. It’s pretty conclusive to me that any and everyone is on LinkedIn so why not use this valuable resource to help you connect with your customers and “ski downhill” versus “swimming upstream?” No matter what industry you are in, your customers and decision makers are on LinkedIn and they are connecting. LinkedIn has over 1500 School and University profiles. I bet you that professors, and school administrators are on LinkedIn. BTW, I have found Judges, Mayors, and even Press Secretaries on LinkedIn.

Here are some more DMR stats on LinkedIn. The stats are pretty impressive and you have an opportunity to take advantage of this to grow your network, connect with customers, build your pipeline, and close deals.

• LinkedIn more than 277 million total users.
• 41% of LinkedIn visits is via mobile.
• LinkedIn is available in over 20 languages.
• Every second there are two new LinkedIn members joining the network.
• The average number of groups a LinkedIn user joins is seven.
• There are 8000 new groups created weekly.

The message is pretty clear. Start connecting and growing your network. (thanks DMR for the LinkedIn statistics)

Follow us on twitter @insidesalemagic

Connect with me on LinkedIn at CJ Webster

Stay updated on new blog post at inside sale magic and check out our last post, PAC(w)K = Provide Actionable Communication with Knowledge. PAC(w)K gives you guidance on how to build and strengthen relationships efficiently in your sales/professional role as well as your personal life.


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.

Follow me @insidesalemagic
Connect with me on linkedIn

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

Happy selling my friends.