Daily Sales Minute from Dreamforce – Day 1!

Dear Leaders,

It’s nice to be sitting on the other side of the fence for a change here at Dreamforce where I get to listen to some outstanding speakers and soak in new great tips and gems.  Yesterday I had the privilege of attending Aaron Ross’s presentation where he discussed several key points about driving consistent revenue through a repeatable inside selling process.  Aaron and I caught up later in the day and I was able to drill into some of the points he shared in his session.  Here is my interview with Aaron.  Stay tuned for two more updates live from Dreamforce!

Daily Sales Minute from Dreamforce!

Dear Leaders,

Welcome to the  “Daily Sales Minute”… a  video produced live each day at Dreamforce along with our partner Velocify. We will bring you highlights and interviews from a few notable sales leaders around news, announcements, and key take-aways from this incredible event.  Stay tuned for some exciting posts each day!

Are You Really Leading by Example?

Keep Calm and Lead By Example

Dear Leaders,

My letter today focuses on an age old saying that most of us have heard, and some put into practice… “lead by example”.  I am sure the vast majority of us would agree with this statement and will often try to apply it when we can.  But what does “lead by example” really look like and why is it so important.  I will begin with sharing a story about my late brother, Maj. George Perkins, a graduate of West Point and leader of men.   Early in George’s military career, he was assigned a company of soldiers at a post in Germany.  Often, George would take his company on practice missions out in the field.  After an untimely death at the age of 33, some of his soldiers shared stories about him as a leader.  They went on to say that during field exercises, while other officers were being driven in jeeps by their drivers, George chose to jog out in front of the 1st jeep, using his hand-held 2 way radio to call out commands to the Sergeants and their troops.  This was “lead by example” in its purest form.  His troops had the highest respect, admiration for George and excelled in following his lead.

So why is “leading by example” so important for today’s inside sales leaders?  Here are some key reasons:

  • It shows in action that the team manager is willing to actually do the things she asks her subordinates to do.
  • It builds their own credibility so when the manager suggests a certain approach; they have proven it in action themselves.
  • It shows transparency and authenticity.
  • It demonstrates a certain level work ethic to the team.
  • It demonstrates a type of “servant leadership” which makes a statement that we are in this together and nothing is too below the manager.

The next question is how should an inside sales leader put this into action?  Here are 3 practical ideas, which I have done in the past.

  • MAKE SOME CALLS.  Yes, that’s right; participate occasionally in BLITZ’s or outbound calling.  This will help with all of the above areas.  To demonstrate the impact this can make, allow me to share another story.  My oldest son, Bryan, took a job at a large high-tech company where I was Director of a large Inside Sales team many years before.  He met a senior level colleague employed there for several years who asked him, “Are you the son of Bob Perkins?”  Bryan said… “I might be; it depends”.  All kidding aside, the colleague went on to say he clearly remembered the day, 12 years earlier, that I sat next to him during some call coaching and asked if I could make some calls for him to hear my example.  He said that I was the only manager at a director level he ever had that actually got on the phone and made calls. It made a huge impact on his ability to learn and improve.   If you haven’t done this ever, or in a while, it’s time to get back on the phones a bit!
  • PARTICIPATE ON A PROJECT.  You are probably thinking, of course… you are getting your hands dirty on plenty of projects.  But, the point here is to participate as an equal alongside an inside rep, and not as a manager or the project lead.  By doing this, you will actually be performing some of the same work as if you were a peer.  It demonstrates your willingness to put forth some of the same effort, and “get into the weeds” as those reporting to you.
  • WORK TOGETHER WITH THE FIELD.  Although this may not apply to every situation, where you have any type of team selling model, the inside sales manager should routinely meet with the inside rep and their field counterpart.  This sends a clear message that the manager is walking the walk” right with their rep in terms of discussing strategy, tactics, and what’s working and what’s not with the field.  He or She is just not leaving up to their rep to figure out.  If you are not in a team selling model, the same process can hold true for working with cross-functions such as marketing, product management, etc.

I hope this gives you some ideas and also provides a little motivation to join in with your team in some practical, “lead-by-example” ways.  I would love to hear some other ideas you have out there, so please feel free to add some comments!

5 Leadership Tips for Staying People Focused


One of the biggest traps that leaders can fall into is losing focus on the people side of leadership.  As a follow on to last week’s blog, I’d like to stay focused on this important topic. Regardless if you manage a small front line team, or hundreds of inside sales reps and other managers, maintaining focus on your people is critical to a developing and maintain a motivated and productive culture and workforce.  It’s easy for the pressures of quotas, metrics, processes, reporting, hiring, training and all the meetings to keep the most well-intentioned leader stuck in their office, on calls, in meetings and “far away” from interacting with their people.

Here are 5 simple tips which I have used in the past to help me stay connected on a personal level with my people.

  • SKIP LEVELS – If you are a Director or VP and have supervisors or managers reporting to you, establish a regular schedule of skip level meetings, where you meet either individually, or in small groups, with all of the front line sales people.  When I accepted a new position as VP of Inside Sales with over 100 people in the organization, one of the first things I did was to take small groups of employees out to lunch during my first month of employment.  This sent a message that I cared about the employees as people, not just revenue producing reps.  I would suggest doing skip-levels at least once annually.  If you are a front line manager, you can still schedule lunches or meetings with individuals or groups of 2-3.  Remember to focus on them and have the conversation centered on getting to know them personally, and not so much about work.
  • OPEN UP YOUR HOME – One of the things I tried to do over the years was to invite my direct reports and/or front line reps into my home for either a group dinner, a Holiday gathering or other event.  Not everyone is able to participate based on their schedules and other commitments, but it sends a message that you are interested in your people not just when they are selling and working, but outside of work time as well.  It also shows the “human” side of you while fostering a sincere approachability.
  • CHECKING IN – Schedule a couple 30 minute blocks during the week in your Outlook calendar to simply “Check-In” with your team in their cubes or offices.  This is your time as a leader to physically touch base with your employees in their cubes.  During your “check in” time, ask meaningful questions based on their personal challenges or interests outside of work…such as “Did you get a chance to see your son or daughter play a game on Saturday?”, “What are your plans for the long weekend at the cabin?”, “How is your Grandmother doing?”, “Did you get a chance to go skiing?”, etc.  Mentioning the areas that your folks have interest or needs in, sends a strong message that you genuinely care about them as people.
  • RECOGNIZE – I have heard many outstanding leaders say that it’s hard to recognize others too much.  The fact is we get so busy that we forget to recognize others.  Recognition not only plays a role in helping to keep individuals motivated, but it also helps to develop a leader’s trust and respect with their teams.  When you recognize others, try to follow these simple guidelines. 
    • Recognize the person or group as soon as you can after noticing what they did to receive it.
    • Make it specific by using an example of what the person did to receive the kudos.
    • Share the recognition publically in front of their peers as appropriate.
    • Copy in your boss or leaders above you when possible.
    • Make recognition an on-going and consistent theme.  In addition to recognizing individuals for a job well done as it takes happens, consider placing recognition as a standing agenda item in your team meetings.
  • HUG YOUR PEOPLE – I would strongly recommend reading a book called HUG YOUR PEOPLE by Jack Mitchell.  Jack actually key noted the AA-ISP Leadership Summit in 2013.  The book shares numerous ideas on how leaders can demonstrate an honest to goodness care and concern for their employees as PEOPLE.  Some of Jack’s tips include how to write meaningful notes, how to give feedback, how to include employees in the decision making process, and how to develop an overall culture focused on people as individuals.  Set aside a few hours because once you start the book, you won’t be able to put it down.

Make 2014 a year dedicated to your PEOPLE.  Happy New Year! 

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