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.
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 .
connect with me on linkedin
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Happy selling my friends.
Today, Father’s Day, the first inside sales magic blog is published. The purpose of this blog is to share my passion and love of sales, but more specifically, my love of inside sales. I believe in the power of the telephone and I hope that after reading this blog you will as well.
My goal is to update new content on the blog at least twice a month. I hope you find this blog and the opinions written helpful.
Ok…So a little about me…
I’m a sales professional with expertise conducting business over the phone. I have 10+ years of sales experience with several years experience managing dynamic teams and helping sales professionals take their game to the next level. Outside of work, I am a father, son, brother, and EMBA student at the University of Notre Dame – so you may see some UND material – GO IRISH!
This first blog is dedicated to those business fathers’ (Mentors) who have guided me through my career and encouraged me to become a student in sales.
The 3 Golden Rules
My business father talks frequently about the 3 Golden Rules and how as sales professionals we must not only follow them but live by them. These rules can apply to life and are not exclusive to sales. The 3 Golden Rules lay the foundation for the materials that will be covered in later submissions.
YOU INTERVIEW FOR YOUR NEXT JOB EVERYDAY
You never know who is watching you and taking notice of your talent. This rule is pretty straight forward and basic. Better said, it means always be professional and as my peer says, “come to work, to work.” It also means that to be successful you have to work at your craft. I have never met an inside sales professional that could close every prospect on every call. I do know inside sales professionals that are dedicated and committed to learning their craft. They study their territories, practice their opening statements, work on probing skills, and consistently look for best practices. It’s no wonder that these reps are typically the first to be called on by sales leadership to mentor, take on additional responsibilities, and manage teams.
RULE # 2
CONTROL YOUR OWN DESTINY BEFORE SOMEONE ELSE DOES
I often advise sales professionals that each year there is a new challenge issued and it is up to us to grab the flag and run up the hill. I always follow that with this, “with every new challenge issued, there will be new heroes to emerge.” Then I asked the question that gets to the heart of this rule, “Will you be that hero? Will you take command and control of your business and run it like your business?”
I am a huge advocate of having a territory plan with personal goals and metrics to measure success (to be discussed in another submission). Rule #2 focuses on our ability as sales professionals to create a plan and execute it with discipline. Each month we should review our plan and the results yielding from the plan to make sure we are still on track to obtain our goal. This puts us in a better position to be consciously competent, instead of being unconsciously incompetent. Unconsciously incompetent sales reps make calls without any specific goal, method, or action in mind to move the call to the next step. Rule # 2 states that if we lack daily execution and lose discipline carrying out the steps in our plan, sales leadership will take control of our day and ultimately run our business for us. Trust me, no sales professional wants to be part of this club. Follow your territory plan and execute your daily deliverables.
THE GOLDEN RULE: THINGS ($H!T) HAPPENS
Life happens to all of us. We have good days and we have bad days. We also have things that spring up out of nowhere and these things demand our attention. Each month is a new month, and our success in the previous month is short lived, but as sales professionals we accepted this and march forward taking on next month’s goal. When things happen, such as the account that we were 100% sure would close doesn’t, or the needs of our company change and we have to employ a new strategy. We as sales professionals have to be adaptable to make “it happen” while conditions are changing. Success lies in our ability to see new opportunities in front of us and not allow changes to alter our game. When “things ($H!T) happens,” we need to examine and review our plan for changes, implement those changes, and get back in the game! Things will always happen. We can only control things that are in our control and things out of our control we must make a conscious decision not invest into them.