With over 30 years of executive leadership experience, Bob is a nationally-recognized Inside Sales innovator who is determined to take our profession to the next level of professionalism and performance.
Back in 2008 Bob formed a vision for the future state of Inside Sales, and from that, the AA-ISP was born. Having grown into a global community for like-minded Inside Sales professionals, the AA-ISP is our industry’s leading resource for advancing sales reps, leaders and organizations.
[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]
Umar Hameed 0:01
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone. My name is Umar Hameed, I’m your host on the No Limits Selling Podcast where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I’ve got a question for you. Do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I’m gonna help you remove that voice and under 30 days guaranteed not only remove it but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there’s one that propels you too much higher levels of performance and success. There’s a link in the show notes. Click on it to find out more. All right, let’s get started.
Umar Hameed 0:41
Hello, everyone, today I’ve got the privilege of having Bob Perkins. He’s the founder of the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals. And you know, these were the unsung heroes. yesteryear, but now they’re on the forefront because everybody’s an inside sales guy. And people are wondering, those deals that could never close from the inside are closing all day long. Now what we thinking back then, Bob, welcome to the program.
Bob Perkins 1:05
It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Umar Hameed 1:08
So it’s an interesting, I was talking to a sales professional the other day, and he said, you know, in the past a company, they’ve got an outside sales rep with a, you know, a base of $150,000. plus, plus plus.
Bob Perkins 1:18
Umar Hameed 1:18
They got a sales engineer with a base of $150,000. And now we basically need an inside sales rep. That’s a lot more affordable, and an sc and then just somebody did show up, pick up the check and the world has changed.
Bob Perkins 1:33
Hmm. Well, it, people think it’s changed. But in reality, we knew this all along. Back when I got my start, almost 30 years ago, and inside sales, I knew very well that selling and being in person is not necessarily the same thing. It’s great to be in person, I love having dinner with you, I’d love to give you a pat on the back, shake your hand, but but it’s it’s not required. What’s required is trust, empathy, ability to listen to discover, you mentioned SC to have the technical capability behind your product, and and, and so on. So we were selling, I still can picture the banner 1998 we had a 22-year kit, 23-year old kid right out of college, sold a $1.3 million deal over the phone.
Umar Hameed 2:30
Bob Perkins 2:30
Federal government, like almost 30 years ago, so but here we are today. And really, this this line that divides inside and field. Yes, people say it’s blurring today, I agree with that. sales. To me, it’s just, it’s just sales. But for years, there was this kind of back and forth insides not as good as the field. And there was a bit of a contentious relationship. And there shouldn’t be. Look, zoom, what we’re all doing, which I was doing six or seven years ago, the only way I communicate is video because I could see body language. And I could look in the person’s eye. You know, now everybody has to do it. But but it’s the next best thing to being there in person.
Umar Hameed 3:22
But what’s really interesting is this is that the true believers a little while ago, Bob, you don’t understand, you need to smell the breath of the person, you need to be there and all this stuff, you know, but they totally 100% believe their rhetoric to be true. And so the question is, how can we believe something that turns out is not true? Like what does that mean? What do you do with that information?
Bob Perkins 3:46
Well, I would flip it around a little bit. And I would say, just as a consumer, as a consumer, I want you to think about all the salespeople that you need to deal with. I bought a car recently, well, 90% of our interaction was texting. And it was building interest and it was building confidence. Think about your insurance agent, and how maybe you met once, maybe, maybe not. But when they’re there for you, and it’s done virtually you build trust. It’s not it’s easy. You don’t have to shake your hand these days. It’s great. If you can, don’t get me wrong, I think we’ll we’ll get a rebound going after COVID for sure. We all want to go places and be around other people. That’s great. But let’s not confuse that with what really makes a good sales engagement, what makes a good sales person. And so things I said earlier, and that can be done very well remotely, especially now with zoom. We get to see each other by the way, when we see each other the same chemicals release that when you’re see someone in person, the exact same chemical oxytocin, it’s the same thing that’s happening with you and I hear as if we were actually in person.
Umar Hameed 5:02
What’s kind of mentioned several times in the show of light is that I tend to be more present over zoom than in real life, because there’s the barista doing whatever they’re doing, there’s a pretty girl walks by, I’m looking at my watch, I find look at my watch, I think that you’re not noticing in a live session, but in zoom, it’s like so obvious that I’m doing something that I feel compelled to be present and attend us. So I think that’s been a benefit of this new way of doing business. Attention.
Bob Perkins 5:34
It’s about it. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s a benefit. But it’s also you’ve heard of zoom fatigue, right?
Umar Hameed 5:41
Bob Perkins 5:41
That’s where you have to be on on sometimes 678 hours a day. And it, you know, besides giving you some, you know, upper back problems, because you’re staring at the camera, mentally, it can be quite exhausting. So we have to be a bit careful there.
Umar Hameed 5:57
Absolutely. I think if you really get into that deep curiosity about the other person, then it makes a lot of the fatigue go away. If it’s like, oh, it’s another zoom meeting, I have to get through this. So let’s talk about all inside sales reps are not created equal. So a lot of times, if you’ve got a team of inside sales reps, they fall into two categories, or maybe three, you’ve got the A players that walk on water and do amazing things. The only problem is oftentimes don’t have enough of them. Then we got the B players that were happy to there. And then we got the C players, we wish they weren’t there. But on the B players, there’s at least half of them that have the potential to step into the a column.
Bob Perkins 6:40
Umar Hameed 6:40
So as a leader of an inside sales team, how do you get the best performance out of those B players to get half of them over into the A column? And do you agree with that kind of reviewed on what a sales team might look like?
Bob Perkins 6:53
Totally, I mean, I’ve had numerous, small 200 plus person organizations that I was a leader of and and you’re exactly right. It’s just the reality. It’s no different than my golf game. Like, I am not a pro, but I’m better than a beginner. Right? Well, there’s all these levels in between. And that’s the reality.
Umar Hameed 7:15
Bob Perkins 7:16
Listen, I like to, I like to, it’s hard to manufacture high performance, it’s hard to put someone through a selling course, thinking they’re going to go from 80% achievement to 110. Right now, there’s a lack that can help much like I go, I do golf lessons, but I gotta go go out then after the lesson and work tirelessly to improve just a little bit. So the same thing holds true for individually.
Umar Hameed 7:42
Bob Perkins 7:44
It’s more on their own desire and commitment to improvement. But there’s something else I’d like to add to it has to do with the highest performing reps, we know through research, that they are reps that are fully empowered. So I want to talk culture for a minute. See, I’ve always believed that the culture.
Umar Hameed 8:06
Bob Perkins 8:07
The culture leadership build is one of high expectations without having to, to really go out and micromanage the high expectations, you will lose if you do that, you always will. Because,
Umar Hameed 8:21
Bob Perkins 8:21
The best sales reps need that need wind in their sails, they need empowerment. But if you can create if you do have a few of these reps, and the B players can model these reps, and they kind of know what is expected of them to get the great, you’re gonna have a better chance of at least many of those B players moving up into the a category.
Umar Hameed 8:44
So let me ask you a question. Like this certain B players are going to stay B players and they’re happy. We’re kind of happy because it’s bringing enough numbers. But when you have a B player that’s got a potential. How much money do you think’s left on the table?
Bob Perkins 8:57
Umar Hameed 8:58
Like, what percentage of sales do you think are left on the table?
Bob Perkins 9:01
That’s great question. I never really thought much about that. But I mean, it’s got to be and if we look at the if we look at what we know is happening up there, we know that nearly 50% or not, half the reps out there don’t don’t at least achieve 100% of annual quota. Okay, so there’s a big piece. So it’s got to be,
Umar Hameed 9:20
Bob Perkins 9:21
It’s got to be 120. You know, 20-30% easily in that range? I would think.
Umar Hameed 9:28
I would think so I was doing this presentation to about 140 sales managers. And I’d ask them the question, you know, the sales process plus or minus, it’s get the appointment, do the presentation, handle the objections, close the deal, and then deepen into the account of get referrals plus or minus, Would you say that’s the case and they want Yeah, plus a minus. That’s the case. Then I said, Okay, where do your reps struggle the most? And how much is it costing them if two things tied, one was getting enough appointments. If you don’t have enough appointments, that’s bad. And if you are not closing effectively, that’s bad too. And on an average day figured it was about 45% of sales reps potential was left on the table if they struggled in any one of those two areas. And so it kind of aligns with kind of what you’re saying in terms of your stay be and you don’t go away. There’s a 20-30-40% is left on the table. And so the question is, you had mentioned culture, I think culture is such a critical part of who we are. Because look at the military as a good example, if you ask a soldier, like, would you take a bullet for the head of the Joint Chiefs? And they’ll go, No, I would not? Would you do it for a colonel? Probably not? Would you do it for somebody in your platoon? Absolutely. 100%, I will risk my life happily. Yeah. And I’ll do heroic things. And so the culture is that it’s like, how do we get people to realize that, you know, when I don’t achieve what I promised to achieve, I’m letting everybody on the team down, you get that kind of culture. And people want though, from above and beyond.
Bob Perkins 11:06
You are 100% spot on. I wrote an article many years ago about sales reps, I’ll run through walls for the team. And even for their manager. Well, how does a manager get? Or how does a manager get a rep that take a bullet form? or run through a wallflower? Well, is I’ll tell you how you a manager doesn’t do it does not do it by shouting out. Oh, you missed your call quota today. You didn’t you didn’t, you know, calling to make enough calls. You didn’t do this. You didn’t do that? You know, you can’t you this is not a numbers game. If it were a numbers game, anybody could do it. Well, how many C players have you had that hit that hit their metrics, but still didn’t sell enough? So how does it how does a leader form a team like that? Well, it’s it’s, it’s it’s earning trust. It’s it’s leadership by example. I got a story that my son share with me. He’s 40 something now and he’s been in sales for never thought he’d go into sales. He was a history major. He wanted to go into law. He wanted to be a lawyer. He ended up in sales. And he was working at this one company. And some somebody met him and said, Brian Perkins, do you know about Perkins? and Brad goes, Well, yeah, it was my dad. He goes, man, he worked here. 20 some years ago, and I got to tell you, he came over one day, because I was on a team and I was a director at the time. Like second line manager, I had 50-60 people.
Umar Hameed 12:45
Bob Perkins 12:46
And he goes, he actually got on the phone and make cold calls. He goes, I’ve never in my life had a manager do that. I’m thinking, Okay, that’s saying that that make me look good. I’m just saying leadership by example. Right? I had a brother who was a who was a captain,
Umar Hameed 13:03
Bob Perkins 13:04
West Point grad. He would, he would go out on maneuvers. And he had the comfort of the captain’s Jeep, but he wouldn’t ride in it. Instead, he ran jogged out in front of his team. That’s leadership by example. So that’s how you build a culture. We’re run through a wall for you.
Umar Hameed 13:23
Yeah, absolutely. I think that trust is a critical thing. It’s walking your talk. And being consistent is really important. And just adding to the stories you told, there’s a client of mine, his name’s Doug Miller. And when they actually had a fiscal office, they actually shut it down a year and a half before the pandemic, and just had everybody go remote. But when they were together, he would make these cold calls, not in his office, he’d come to the bullpen every day to make his call. So everyone saw that he was actually doing the exact same thing as them. And that’s how he built his business, which I thought was pretty amazing, because he could have done it in his office, but he chose not to.
Bob Perkins 13:59
I love it. That’s a wonderful example. and earn respect, earn trust. I’m in it. We’re in this together.
Umar Hameed 14:09
Yeah. So there’s always this rivalry between? Well, let me tell you a story first. And I’ll tell you what the rival rivalry is, is back in the day, if you had a problem with your computer, you call the software company, we’re fine as the hardware company called the hardware company. We’re okay. It’s a software company. It was like a pointing match. And you were stuck in the middle. And then between sales and marketing, there is this rivalry between the two, you know, if you gave us better leads, we’d be able to do stuff and the other people like, you know, if you guys could sell something, is the relationship different on the inside sales versus marketing? Are they closer together or more aligned than external sales? Or is it about the same?
Bob Perkins 14:46
We’ve been working at this for a long time. It’s not this is not a new challenge. It’s still exist. I’d like to say though, that we’ve improved over the years. Clearly salespeople want higher quality leads, who doesn’t? Right? And you know, marketing wants to make sure their leads or at least called or emailed to, or outreach to in a meaningful pattern where there’s persistence behind him. Look, we sales people talk about ABC, your, your, your B, B-C players aren’t as persistent as they should be. Let’s face it, a players are man, they don’t.
Umar Hameed 15:32
Bob Perkins 15:32
They don’t drop a nugget. They don’t let us read. They’re relentless in so many ways. And so there’s a lot there’s truth to both sides of this equation. And I think if we realize that, you know, if you’re a marketing rep, go walk in the shoes of a inside rep, go, put a headset on and make some call, you know, listen to some calls, at least, it’s a little harder than Oh, the guy, someone downloaded a white paper and read it, therefore, they got to be an opportunity. Well, listen to some of those calls, you have a little more empathy for what it takes
Umar Hameed 16:09
absolutely walk in my shoes and downloading a paper and reading a paper at two different things, by the way.
Bob Perkins 16:13
Yeah. Good point.
Umar Hameed 16:16
And the marketing guys, like I wrote, it is brilliant. They leave me they’ve read it. It’s not always. So Bob, what is the mission of the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals?
Bob Perkins 16:27
Well, it’s very simple. On the back of all of our business cards, it says taking inside sales to the next level of professionalism, and performance, professionalism being the profession of sales, raising that performance is what we talked about going from B to A. So we do a little of both.
Umar Hameed 16:50
Brilliant. So two last questions for you, Bob. One is we all have that negative voice inside our head that sometimes sabotages us when we’re going to do something you’ve been in this industry for a long time. What does your voice say to you to kind of stop you from executing?
Bob Perkins 17:06
Sounds like like golf game? Well, no, it is a great example. I had the idea and framework for the aisp, probably three to four years before I took the risk to launch it. Right. So there’s a hesitancy is it’s a fear of will it work out fear of failure? Really? Boy, should I really, should I really press for a meeting with this prospect that maybe might say no, Well, the answer is Yeah, if you don’t try, you know, you must try. You know, it’s a it’s a phrase, I’d hear from my mother when I was growing up as a kid, you must try. Right? So. So that’s one one thing, I think, just just do it, right. It’s okay to take some risks. It’s okay to fail. But you got to try.
Umar Hameed 17:59
Absolutely. And if there was one piece of advice you would give an inside sales professional that is struggling with, you know, being homebound is just the zoom is the camaraderie of having a team around you.
Bob Perkins 18:14
Umar Hameed 18:15
Is not there. Uh, what would you advise them to do to kind of stay stay frosty?
Bob Perkins 18:20
Well, a couple of things, I think you, you, you, you have to, you have to think about when you are in the office, you can get up, you can walk to another group, another part of the company, you could go out to lunch with your friends, you could walk to the break room, you could just walk the halls, you had a lot of breaks that allowed you to physically get up and do something and to mentally just get a break from everything. So I tell people, you know, I’d like a backyard, we have a we have a little sitting area around a fireplace out in the backyard. I’ll go out there sometimes and just sit for 15 minutes. And you know, maybe I’ll catch up on some personal emails or whatever. But I go outside, get some sun, take a walk. Yeah, things like that. Physically. Some mental breaks, it’s okay to you know, call your, your friend, your parents, your spouse, whatever, and have a little break during the day. I mentioned zoom. Fatigue is real. So, you got to change it up. Right for sure. Change it up.
Umar Hameed 19:26
Brilliant. Bob, thank you so much for a great interview learns a lot. And we’re gonna put all the links to the Institute to you. Thanks so much for being on the show.
Bob Perkins 19:36
Yeah, Umar. It was great to join you today. I appreciate you having me and all the best to you. And if you’re inside sales out there, remember, we’re just roll sales right? So let’s be proud of the professional world analysts all do a great job.
Umar Hameed 19:51
Bob Perkins 19:52
Umar Hameed 19:58
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you’re looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I’ve got a free mind training course there that’s going to teach you some insights from the world of neuro-linguistic programming. And that is the fastest way to get better results.