New Project: Inside Sales Studio

Dear Leaders,

It’s been a few months since I last wrote to you, and I hope you have all been well!  My extended leave from writing allowed me to focus on an exciting new video communications project called Inside Sales Studio.  The AA-ISP officially launched Inside Sales Studio on January 27th, and the response from our community has been amazing.  The “channel” as we call it, provides an easy-to-view platform covering a wide range topics related to Inside Sales. Since we firmly believe that sales learning is a life-long process, we created the Inside Sales Studio to provide our community with digestible content that can be used in everyday sales and personal development situations.

Inside Sales Studio Logo

Here are the goals for Inside Sales Studio:

  • EDUCATION: Providing our community with on-going, relevant, tip oriented, and easy to view videos on a wide variety of topics related to improving as a sales rep or leader.
  • COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION: Interview slots are open to members of the community who have experience and expertise in an area which can provide valuable learning to reps and leaders.  Please contact the AA-ISP for more information.
  • COMMUNICATION: With all of our other communication methods, Inside Sales Studio is always accessible on your terms.  Select and view whatever topics that interest you, and at a convenient time and place that works for you.

Here is a summary of the programs that are being broadcasted out to the entire Inside Sales community.

  • MONDAY MORNING SALES MINUTE – This brief, 2-minute video, is designed for anyone involved in selling or leading sales teams. Monday Morning Sales Minute goes live early Monday morning so it’s available before the work day gets underway. The idea actually came from Mike Pierce (an AA-ISP speaker, Chapter Officer, and amazing person) when he and I were filming a sales tip right here in our studio in Gold Canyon, AZ.  Mike thought that leaders could actually take the tip into their “Monday sales meetings” as a way to keep reps trained and learning new ideas.

TIP:  BE SURE TO REGISTER HERE to receive all new episodes of Monday Morning Sales Minute and other studio episodes directly to your inbox.

  • EXPERT INTERVIEW SERIES – These one-on-one or small group interviews will be on specific topics and challenges facing Inside Sales professionals and leaders. Our first interview series will run for about 4-6 weeks and will be on the topic of “Women in Sales and Leadership”.  Guests will include prominent women leaders including Lori Richardson, Amy Appleyard, Megan Dahlen and Sharon Frame, just to name a few.  The first interview with Staples VP of Sales, Amy Appleyard, is now available by going to the AA-ISP Inside Sales Studio home page.
  • SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS & EPISODES – From time to time we will produce short videos announcing special events and happenings within the AA-ISP community. These and all other videos can be accessed by REGISTERING HERE to receive updates as the programs are produced.

We look forward to hearing your feedback on Inside Sales Studio and all of the episodes that will be produced in 2016.  Please drop me a note with feedback and suggestions as we look to make this a valuable resource for our members and broader sales community.

 

Inside Sales Thrives through Local Chapters

Dear Inside Sales Professionals,

I am continually overwhelmed by the amazing efforts of our community of volunteers, known as the AA-ISP Chapter Presidents and Officers.  I was honored to attend and speak at a recent DC Chapter Meeting.  The event blew me away in terms of organization, networking opportunities, valuable content, and the professionalism of its leaders and attendees. DC and all of our Chapters carry the AA-ISP mission of Raising the Level of Professionalism & Performance to new heights. Thanks DC Leadership Team, Ivan Gomez, Sarah Fricke, Justin Brown, and Stefanie Mueller for a job well done!  Our association editor captured the events in the article below.

Bob Perkins

Inside Sales Thrives through Local Chapters

The Inside Sales community is thriving due to the tireless work done by hundreds of volunteers around the world.  The AA-ISP is proud of its 65+ chapters and the hundreds of volunteer presidents and officers who pour their heart out to help advance our profession.  Here is a short recollection of our recent chapter meeting in Washington, DC, and how that chapter is helping to advance Inside Sales in our nation’s capital:DC_web

The AA-ISP DC chapter met on October 15 to network, enjoy refreshments, and discuss the “perfect storm” of customers, people, and technology taking place in the Inside Sales community. Stephanie Mueller, Manager of Marketing and Digital Media for the DC chapter, and Justin Brown, Vice President of Membership Development, kicked off the meeting and introduced Ram Parimi. Parimi, Vice President of Sales at Social Tables, opened up his company’s large lobby to host the event.  Social Tables has close to 50 inside reps who sell an events and meeting SaaS offering into the hospitality industry.  After a brief welcome from Parimi, Sarah Fricke, Vice President of Chapter Advancement, spoke about the AA-ISP’s recent membership growth, the top three reasons she became an AA-ISP member – including on-the-job training from the AA-ISP’s Knowledge Center and Industry Experts – and ways to get involved. Fricke introduced Bob Perkins, Founder & Chairman of the AA-ISP, as the keynote speaker for the evening.

Perkins’ presentation focused on three converging and powerful fronts: customers, people, and technology.  He noted how customers have become “digital consumers” and how 88% prefer virtual to in-person interaction during their buying cycle…a trend which is helping fuel the tremendous growth of the Inside Sales profession.  Perkins also noted how the community has stepped up to the plate in terms of properly developing less experienced new hires, who are often fresh out of college in their first job.  He then discussed the role technology has played in the rapid growth of Inside Sales, explaining how technology has been supporting the further growth in quotas for Inside Sales teams. Many of these teams are now based on a discrete selling model where the inside owns a quota and doesn’t share it with the field.

The real power of this get-together, however, went far beyond Perkins’ short presentation:  it was in the hundreds of interactions between like-minded, passionate Inside Sales Professionals.  Here were some of the thoughts expressed by attendees:

During the networking and refreshment hour, Gary Milwit, Senior Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Stone Street Capital, said that the DC chapter meetings allow him to “take out my hard-working team for a few drinks and dinner on a Thursday night…[and they] give us a sense that we are not the only people who face the problems we do.”  John Zepeda, National Sales Manager at Stone Street Capital, added that the meeting “allowed our sales management team to get together and have a dialogue with other sales leaders regarding common challenges we face and best practices to address them.”

Milwit went on to say the biggest takeaway from the meeting for him was that “in the past technologies were developed with a Field Sales bent and it just so happened that they could be used for Inside Sales. Now the opposite appears to be true.”

As Sarah Fricke pointed out at the beginning of the meeting, the Inside Sales industry only exists because the profession’s members have consistently stepped up and given back to the community. Fricke covered several ways to give back, like attending AA-ISP webinars, training sessions, conferences, and chapter meetings; becoming an AA-ISP mentor or Industry Expert and sharing your experience with the community; and volunteering for a local chapter or becoming an officer.

The evening ended with several giveaways or “door prizes” as the group of 50+ attendees continued networking and enjoying the leftover beer and appetizers.  If you are an AA-ISP member and have yet to attend a chapter meeting, you are missing out on an important learning and development opportunity.  To find a chapter near you, go to the Chapter Page of the AA-ISP website to learn more.

Contributed by Jon Perkins, AA-ISP Association Editor

The Accredited Inside Sales Manager

Dear Leaders,

My last letter to you discussed the Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP® ) certification.  Today I’m talking to you as the Inside Sales leader. AISM_LogoTM

The most insightful thing I’ve heard recently about sales training had to do with who gets trained first.  Most organizations are quick to roll out sales training to the reps, but they forget the leaders.  Oh, a manager might sit in on the training and get some additional content on how to coach to it, but they themselves get very little about all  the skills and duties of the demanding role of an Inside Sales leader.  Today more than ever, we have a shortage of qualified Inside Sales managers to assume the ever-growing role of leader.  The skills and experiences required of Inside Sales leaders continue to rise as they have for sales reps.

The AISM® was designed specifically for Inside Sales leaders.  You could call it an MBA on Inside Sales leadership!  It covers topics that cannot be found anywhere in the world in terms of training.  As an example, one of the requirements of today’s Inside Sales leader is to “sell the value” of Inside Sales to senior executives.  Well, the AISM® has an actual course designed solely around selling the value of Inside Sales across an organization.  Other unique offerings include courses on compensation plan design and motivating Inside Sales teams.  Leaders are allowed to select from a long list of electives, which range from basic courses on managing performance to practicums which require leaders to implement a project at their workplace.   Completion of a final CAPSTONE project is required of each candidate to demonstrate actionable changes they have implemented based on what they have learned during their AISM® study.

Although earning your AISM® credential won’t guarantee you’ll be a great leader, it shows a personal dedication and commitment to advancing your career as a leader of people. It recognizes the fact that you are serious about your development while maintaining the highest standard of excellence as a professional.

Without strong and effective leadership, an Inside Sales team will never reach its full potential.

To learn more about the AISM® click here.

Until next time, good leading!

Bob

The Certified Inside Sales Professional

Dear Leaders,

My last letter to you discussed the new Standards for Inside Sales.  The AA-ISP is proud to administer these three certifications: the CISP®, AISM®, and ISOI™.  My next three letters will drill into a bit more detail on each one. CISP_Logo

The CISP® was designed out of necessity and feedback from our members.  In their feedback, Inside Sales leaders reported struggling to manage inconsistent behaviors and outcomes in their reps.  In one cube, a rep might have been great at prospecting but lacked presentation skills. Yet in the next cube, the rep was weak at prospecting.  Feedback also indicated that while there was some good sales training available, there was not a comprehensive curriculum designed specifically for advancing the profession of Inside Sales. Furthermore, due to the rapid growth of Inside Sales, leaders reported that the bar for skills continued to rise as well.  Finally, there was nothing available that actually tested reps on their ability to effectively use all the skills required.  Lack of teaching, testing, and certification would be akin to allowing a 16-year-old to jump into the driver’s seat of a car and head out on the highway without any driving practice, and without passing a final road test to ensure their proficiency behind the wheel.

The CISP® was designed to provide a set of standard skills and competencies, a rigorous learning platform to teach and practice using them, and a final exam as proof that the rep is competent at using them in a true-to-life situation.

11 online courses cover all the skills required in today’s highly professional Inside Sales organizations.  From pre-call research to prospecting, presenting, and closing, the content is designed for new and experienced reps alike.

A live sales scenario is set up for the final exam where the rep must effectively use what they learned in order to earn their certification.

Once a rep gains their CISP® certification, the learning doesn’t stop there.  CSE (Continuing Sales Education) credits are required to make sure the rep maintains a mentality of lifelong learning.  These credits can take the form of reading a book, watching a webinar, attending an in-house training, etc.

Much like the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certification, I believe that someday all sales reps will need to have a type of certification in order to sell.  After all, it’s sales and revenue that makes everything else happen.  Without an order, companies large or small don’t exist.  Not too many other professions you can say that about!

If you’re a leader of Inside Sales, strongly consider getting your team certified!

Learn more about the CISP® here.

Until next time, good leading!

Bob

Standards for the Profession of Inside Sales

Dear Leaders,

My letters to you over the next several weeks will discuss professional accreditations and certifications.

When we think of professions with the highest standards, we think of those requiring a certification or an accreditation. We think of such roles as accounting (CPA), financial planning (CFP), nutrition/dietician (RD), project management (CPM), Interior Designers (AISD), Counseling (CSAC), and the list goes on.  It seems many of these certifications apply to those professions which are specific in nature, with a specific benefit to consumers or businesses.  Take for example the CFP – Certified Financial Planner.  Given the fact that a CFP is potentially handling hundreds of thousands of dollars of investments for people, someone decided they needed to be “qualified” or “certified” given the amount of money involved. AA-ISP_logo_tall_noWords_blue - Small

Yet, the profession of sales, with individuals responsible for generating hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in revenue, apparently doesn’t need any type of stamp of approval, or “certification” to say they are capable at their trade.  I find this rather odd in that there are certifications for “pet sitters”, but not for a sales person who has a $3M quota.  Odd indeed.

However, the AA-ISP has changed all that.  The growth of our industry, the demand upon our skills and competencies, the rising quotas, and the upward movement of our professionalism, has put clear demands on our own need for certifications.  Given the huge investment and reliance upon Inside Sales as a key and strategic revenue channel, it’s about time we got serious about the advancement of our profession!  The largest community of Inside Sales professionals now has established its own series of accreditations/certifications for frontline sales reps, their leaders, and organizations as a whole.

Administered by the AA-ISP, the following are now available to our great community of like-minded and passionate professionals:

CISP® – (The Certified Inside Sales Professional) – This is a comprehensive on-line development program which takes participants through 11 courses ranging from Business 101, to Prospecting, Presenting, Closing and Account Management to name just a few.  Students typically take a full semester to complete the course work.  The CISP® designation is awarded only after the person successfully completes a final exam consisting of a live sales role play.  The role play itself is demanding and requires a person to demonstrate the most critical skills around effective questioning, listening, objection handling, etc., etc.

AISM® – (The Accredited Inside Sales Manager) – There is no other program available which is this specific towards the development of Inside Sales leaders.  Courses such as Inside Sales Performance Management, Coaching for Inside Sales Leaders, Rewards and Recognition for Inside Sales Managers, and Designing Inside Sales Comp Plan have never been made available prior to the AISM®.  12 on-line course and practicum electives are available to fit all levels form entry to senior leadership.  A final Capstone Project is required allowing participants to pursue a project at their place of employment which was studied during their AISM® experience.  Much like a graduate degree, the final Capstone Presentation requires individuals to “sit through” an extensive oral exam and review of their work prior to earning their accreditation.

ISOI™ – (The Inside Sales Organizational Index) – As teams and Inside Sales organizations of all sizes have looked to improve their operation, there was a lack of centralized benchmarking, resources, and assessment tools to see exactly where they need the most improvement and how they stacked up against the best-in-class.  The ISOI™ is a comprehensive and in-depth assessment of 12 key areas of Inside Sales organizations.  Performed virtually and on-site by AA-ISP ADP’s (Authorized Delivery Partners), the IOSI™ results in an organizational index score.  Based on the score level, the organization can earn a level I or II ISOI™ Certification.  The final deliverable also includes a prioritized roadmap that the leaders can use for on-going improvement.

As you can see, the profession of Inside Sales has made great strides around improving itself as it takes hold of its future and destiny.

My next note we will dig a bit deeper into the CISP® and what it’s all about.

Thanks and good leading!

Bob

Five Reasons Why Every Inside Sales Leader Should Attend the AA-ISP Summit

Dear Leaders, my note to you this week has to do with attending the AA-ISP Leadership Summit. If you have anything to do with Inside Sales Leadership, this is a MUST ATTEND event. LS15-LogoTall

Here’s why:

  1. IT’S FAMILY: Time and time again we hear feedback that going to the Summit each year is like a family reunion.  People give hugs to new friends that haven’t seen each other all year.  This is a testament to the very fabric of the association and our community.  People genuinely care about others. They toss aside all personal differences and simply enjoy being around like-minded, passionate professionals.  Attendees all share a commonality of devoting their careers to inside sales.  Who wouldn’t want to attend and be around friends who share such a common bond and kinship?
  2. IT PROVIDES PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: The reason we have never hosted a Summit in Las Vegas is because our members thrive on learning and getting better… and they are serious about it.  They could care less about all the entertainment you might see at other conferences.  Look inside the main room or any breakout session and you will see a room filled with hundreds of pens taking notes.  If you want to learn, this is the place to be!
  3. IT SUPPORTS SHARING OF IDEAS: In addition to great learning, you will find great sharing of ideas at each AA-ISP conference.  Our members are passionate about trying new things and learning from others.  You will hear ideas that never occurred to you.  And the best part about it is you can go back to your team and try them out.
  4. IT SHOWCASES THE LATEST TECHNOLOGIES: The 2015 AA-ISP Top Challenges research had Tools & Technologies in the top four!  The Summit’s Service Provider Technology Expo contains over 50 exhibits, many of whom are launching new and exciting tools that are perfectly designed for a virtual sales rep.  Take a test drive on some of the new apps and find out for yourself how they can help you and your team be more productive.
  5. ADVANCE YOUR CAREER: Those who attend each Leadership Summit are an elite group… they are the best of the best.   They know the importance of interacting with other great leaders and developing friendships and even mentorships.  They are the ones to more often advance their career.  They are the true thought leaders within our growing community.

Come join us on April 21-22 in Chicago.  Come and experience over 700 like-minded inside sales leaders like yourself.  Claim “I’m In” and join the movement…  of helping to take inside sales to yet the next level of professionalism and performance!

Daily Sales Minute from Dreamforce – Day 2!

Dear Leaders,

Another great day at Dreamforce where I was able to pick up some great tips from Social Selling evangelists Jill Rowley and Koka Sexton.  The video below offers up some excellent take-aways you can put to use with your teams right away.

Good (Social) Selling!

Bob

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