Ashton Kutcher

Wow – I can’t believe I just typed those title words.

So, I’m at home the other night and perusing Facebook, and I see a few people that I’m connected with posting videos about Ashton Kutcher and this great speech that he gave at the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards. First of all, the fact that the Nick Kid’s Choice Awards is catching my attention is because I have a kid, so don’t judge. Second, though, was the fact that people were talking about Ashton Kutcher. “Kelso” from That ’70s Show, you know? Mr. Demi Moore? I guess he’s been more in the public eye lately because of his portrayal of Steve Jobs in the aptly named Jobs (which is getting horrible reviews on Rotten Tomatoes). So, I’m game, I’ll check out what this video is all about.

Turns out that the speech is really great – one that I’m glad someone in Hollywood is giving to children. He starts off by saying that he really feels like a lot of people don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes out there in Hollywood. For starters, his name’s not even “Ashton.” It’s “Chris.” Then he says that he wants to talk about three things: opportunity, being sexy, and living life. I think all three of these things, while certainly great advice for anyone of any age, speak to inside sales reps today, and here’s how:

Opportunity Kutcher proceeds to tell the audience that he believes that, “opportunity looks a lot like hard work.” I believe that quote can really be attributed to Thomas Edison, but that doesn’t take away from its truth. For inside sales reps, the correlation is that sales is hard work, and if you’re going to be successful finding sales “opportunities,” you’ve got to work for it. If you’re content just being mediocre, move on I guess. If you’re not, it means putting the time in to really pre-call plan before you pick up a phone. It means not just smiling and dialing, but following a detailed call strategy to get into that big account. It means not goofing around on the sales floor when everyone else is. It means being the first one in and the last one out. It means making sure, at the end of a month, that no one can see your name at the bottom of a leaderboard and say, “Well, they don’t put enough effort in to be number one.” Kutcher and Edison are spot on: opportunity, whether we’re talking about your next sale or your next job, looks a lot like hard work.

Be Sexy Kutcher goes on to say that the sexiest thing is “being really smart, and thoughtful, and generous. Everything else is crap.” I’d say that as far as inside sales reps are concerned, he’s right. There is no excuse, with the world literally at our fingertips because of the Internet, to not make smarter outbound sales calls. Social selling tactics should be second nature to any inside sales rep today. Look, I’m the first to admit that I haven’t embraced social selling; I’m still trying to figure out its application to my team’s target audience of small-medium businesses in the care industry. But for my friends in the high tech space, it’s a no-brainer. There is so much intelligence to be found on people’s LinkedIn profiles that to not spend time doing that research is really a sin.

On the other side of the coin, though, is the idea that an inside sales rep needs to be smarter at selling in general. Spend time reading blogs and books, and attending webinars and seminars. Take hold of your own skills improvement and professional development, and stop waiting for management to do something about it

Living Life Kutcher concludes with a quote from the late Steve Jobs, and says, “… Everything around us that we call ‘life’ was made by people that are no smarter than you… Build a life, don’t live one.” This one, friends, speaks to the heart. You know what I want for my inside sales reps? I want the flippin’ world for them. I want them, when they leave the office, to have the best lives ever, and I want them to feel like the reason they have that life is because they work so very hard when in the office. I want them to build lives that their friends and families could only ever dream of living. But I can only “want” so much. They’ve got to take a hold of their futures and really build a great life. In order to get there, though, they’ve got to work hard for opportunities and be sexy (read: smart) while doing it. It’s my job to make sure they’ve got every chance to do both.

Let me know what you think of these ideas in the comments below and if you think I’m way off base here. I’ll be back in a few – I’ve got to go help people find new opportunities to build a great life. Be sexy, friends!