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Warning: There is zero educational value in today’s blog. It is simply a rant and an opportunity for you to have a quick laugh and say “Eew” several times.

What’s up with the increasing amounts of people who feel that the world will stop if they don’t take a call while at the urinal? I can’t help but think about how the 6th grade version of me would have handled that.

He would have quickly become a victim of the old “Push and Flush”!

These cell phone wielding, bathroom wreckers have allowed their thoughtlessness to transcend beyond the urinal and into the stalls of America! They are in essence doing their business while doing their business.

I’m going to make a confession right here and now that I excessive flush whenever I see someone doing this to alert the person on the other end.

And how about the person on the other end?

How does one recover from getting called out for making a call from the toilet?

“No I’m not in the bathroom . . . I got Howard Stern on the radio”

My all time favorite . . .

I’ve seen lots of people leaving the stall with their laptops. To that, I am speechless but will simply file that under “EEEEEWWWWW!” or on another day I might be tempted to ask “Those TPS reports got ya feeling saucy there Lumbergh?”

Lesson 1: Don’t borrow cell phones or laptops. And if you do borrow them, use protection otherwise you will have been with every toilet they have been with.

Lesson 2: For millions of years mankind (womankind too) has existed peacefully in the knowledge that we can relieve ourselves without having to make (or take) a phone call.

Seriously: Statistics say we are working approximately 30% more than the generation before us. We have allowed our work to come home with us after hours, on the weekends etc.

Let’s get real and realize that this may be a sign of a society that needs to slow down a bit!

If not, I am truly grateful for the material! :)

Have a great day, go sell something and push and flush every SOB you see on a cell phone at the urinal. Tell them Uncle Paul sent you!


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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).


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1)    If all you do is show up with an “Entertain me circus boy” attitude. Get involved, start a discussion, give someone an AMEN but stop looking at the groups like they owe you some entertainment. Its up to you to create the experience.

2)    If your idea is to show up and throw up. People simply despise shameless self promotion. Plus you look like a tool. Seriously . . . you do!

3)    If you start a discussion and then bail. Stick around and facilitate your discussions. Would you do that in real life? Walk in a room, ask a question and then poof, you leave? Psst . . . the more you facilitate, generally, the longer the shelf life of the discussion and get this . . . the longer your discussion stays up on page one and (drum roll) that equal mucho exposure for YOU! I know, awesome, isn’t it! I feel like Flo in those Progressive Car Insurance commercials getting all excited about this stuff!

4)    If all you do is join is join your industry groups. How many widgets are other widget purveyors gonna buy from you genius? Branch out. Where is the money? Go there. What are some parallel industries? Example: If I sell sales training, perhaps I should know some HR People and Leadership dudes/dudettes. Then I need to go where they hang out. No? By all means join a few sales groups. Sales people are on the front line and offer insight on what’s going on right now in this crazy economy. Oh, sales people, other sales people can help you get in! Don’t forget to join local groups and even groups where you frequently travel to.

5)    If the group manager is absentee. This one bothers me to no end. I run a very successful group on Linkedin Sales Playbook and I love tilting my gun sideways and bustin caps in the asses of spammers, combatives and just a holes in general. If you belong to a group and it resembles Dodge City . . . voice your opinion and if that doesn’t work . . . go reward one of the more than 250,000 other groups with your participation.

6)    If you have unrealistic expectations. You are building relationships, trust and all that good stuff . . . not a quicky in the alley. Don’t ever forget that!

7)    If you are inconsistent with your efforts. Farming is a daily activity my friend and showing up today, chilling for two weeks, then going hot and heavy and chilling again, doesn’t work.

The best part of all of this, is that you are in control. Linkedin is simply what you choose to put into it. Nothing more brochocho!

Here’s a Free (as in no strings attached) E-Book with 21 Ways For You to Master Linkedin You’re welcome  🙂

Come join us on Linkedin. We have 18,000 + very cool people, with pure discussions . . . no spam!     http://linkd.in/bLb2H5

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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).


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A sales trainer walks into a room of sales reps and asks them how they build rapport  and guess how they respond?

“I generally look around my prospect’s office to see what they are interested in and make conversation based on what I see”

You saw that one coming right?

Do you think that approach might be a tad predictable too?

Just for the heck of it, here are 10 things for you to think about, beyond scanning the office for things to comment on.

1)    How about Engaging In Meticulous Pre Call Planning? How about researching not only the company but the prospect. Already do that? Using Google? So does everyone! Make sure you are researching your prospect on Linkedin, Twitter, their blog. Use http://socialmention.com to see what kind of social networking foot print they are leaving. Oh and by the way, if you find something out about them like they sing in a band, run in 5k’s etc, don’t you dare disregard that. What’s everyone’s favorite subject again? You keep that in your back pocket dude! And make sure you keep listening for clues after the meeting too!

2)    Respect the fact that they will in turn Google you! Having your own online footprint gives them the ability to start to get to know you. Remember that old sales axiom that “Customers buy us before the company”, well that process actually begins before they even meet you.

3)    Consider using an agenda statement to begin your meeting. Doing so allows you to take control without being controlling and goes a long way in the “first impression” department. Here’s one that I teach my sales students.

First and foremost I’d like to thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. With your permission, I’d like to cover 3 things.

First: I’d like to find out more about you and your company, specifically any challenges or opportunities I might be able to help you with.

Next, share with you how we’ve been able to help other widget companies

Last, but not least, decide on a next step that makes sense.

Is there anything else we should add?

4)    Ask Better Questions! The quality of our relationships rest in our ability to have quality communication. Quality communication comes from asking quality questions. When was the last time you took a good look at your Needs Analysis. Oh, and asking the questions others don’t ask, earns you more rapport points than commenting on that picture that the other 500 sales reps just commented on. Just sayin!

5)    Understand This At All Cost: They have a story and want to be heard so . . . don’t be so anxious to check off question #3  (to rush to #4) that you fail to listen. And by the way, show some freakin empathy dude. When someone tells you how they got screwed over by their vendor or they got reamed out by the boss because of the TPS reports . . . that’s your cue to care. So listening, caring and . . .

6)    Facilitate The Meeting. When you facilitate a meeting you don’t just stop at the first answer they give you. You ask continuation questions like “How so?” “What happened then?” “Tell me more”. Ask if someone has a different spin, get conflicting opinions out there, get everyone’s emotions going. A Note About  Inclusion: Don’t assume that the least vocal from their team has the least power. Might be soft spoken but a behind the scenes ass kicker. Make sure you include them by asking for their thoughts. Yep, its that “everyone has a story and wants to be heard” thing again!

7)    Strategic Use Of Silence: People have a nervous need to fill silence. Make sure it isn’t you. In fact, place some well thought out silence in after they respond. Just don’t wait too long, or they will pat your head and think you are your industry’s answer to Forrest Gump.

8)    If you are going to “Mirror” someone, don’t just mirror their body language. Mirror the jargon they use. Mirror their sensory language. Example “I hear you” “I see what you mean” “I feel like this . . . “ You can even mirror the way they structure their emails etc but that’s a discussion for another day.

9)    Make Promises: There is something about keeping a promise that we’ve come to appreciate since we were young. Instead of getting them those samples on Tuesday, promise like this: “Jane (make sure their name is Jane) I promise to get you those samples on Tuesday”  And now the fun part, the icing on this delicious rapport building cake. Tuesday, when you see Jane again, you say “Here are those samples as promised” Say that enough times throughout the courtship and you are selling at a subconscious level. Actually, scratch that . . . they are buying you at a subconscious level.

10) Get A Tour: Something crazy happens when you leave the formality of a conference room . . . people lose their formality. Additionally, you create energy by moving and you get to learn behind the scenes stuff. Kind of a cool way to differentiate yourself too since most people don’t ask for a tour.

OK gang, there you have it. There’s certainly more we could have covered but my mission today was to get you thinking beyond the old “scanning around the office for things to talk about” thing.

And besides . . . what if they borrowed someone else’s office. Try recovering from that one!

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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).


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Branding, what is it and why do we need it? You can find thousands of different definitions and explanations of branding. Webster describes branding as: “the promoting of a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand”. Personally, my best explanation is that branding is a clear and concise message of who we are, what we do, and what the company stands for. Some would say the company’s promise, but I feel it goes much deeper than that. It’s the who, what, where, when, why, and how all rolled up into one. We create a brand so that whomever see’s that brand will immediately have a positive message come to mind that will hopefully solicit a response. A brand that will excite their senses and cause them to act with confidence, knowing they can trust the company they are dealing with. This is of course based on, in some cases, decades of branding strategies coupled with excellent advertising, as well as a solid reputation for quality and service.  Examples of solid branding that continues to be effective today is represented in the five logos below. I’m sure you can tell the name of each of these companies, even with the name removed?

Importance of Branding

Even without the company name, you easily recognize these logos of highly successful companies.

Some of the key practical components in creating an effective brand is to first create a great logo, then secondly, to develop a clear, concise, and memorable message.  Before this is done however, you must have a clearly defined mission statement. It’s amazing to me how many companies we meet with who have not taken the necessary steps to insure their company has a good solid mission statement and business plan that outlines all the important aspects of what the company is about, what they do, what are their goals and objectives, and how are they going to get there. I don’t believe you can come up with an effective brand until you have first gone through developing clear goals and a plan. It’s kind of like taking a summer trip to see a game at all the baseball parks in the United States and just getting up one morning and heading off without any plan! I know, I know but it’s so fun to come up with ideas about how the logos going to look, or you’ve got an awesome tag line and you want to put it to work, but you have to remember first things first. In the long run you’ll be glad you did.  I would suggest creating a checklist that looks something like this, whether you are a new business starting out, or are a twenty year old business in the process of rebranding, the steps are the same.

  1. Plan: Determine your mission statement and business plan. Set your goals and objectives.
  2. Create: Generate a great logo and a memorable message.
  3. Define: Establish a marketing plan which should include branding standards that outlines how you are going to get your message across and how your brand is used.
  4. Track: Put into place the tools necessary to track your results to determine effectiveness and ROI (return on investment).
  5. Implement: Execute your plan, integrating your new brand consistently across all mediums.
  6. Deliver: Deliver on your brand or promise.
  7. Review: Set periodic times to revisit your planning and strategies to make sure you are on track, or if you need to modify your plans due to changes in the business climate, clients, economy, etc.

In conclusion, your branding strategy is without doubt the most effective tool in getting your message out to the masses. Plan this part of your business very carefully, seek counsel from seasoned professionals whenever possible, and finally, be faithful in seeing your plan through to completion and you will be sure to reap the rewards of creating an effective branding strategy.

There are times in our life when we trip on our own ego.

The very thing that serves as our body armor against rejection, tough markets and tougher sales cycles . . . can simply get in our way.

I believe it gets in our way when we are too proud to allow ourselves to become vulnerable.

Vulnerable enough:

To ask others for help when we don’t understand something

To ask other Jedi how they achieved their results.

To tell our ego to go wait in the car so we can receive the lesson.

To ask for forgiveness when we screw up (not just business folks, our personal life too)

To understand that there are things in life that are beyond you or I going it alone that require Spiritual GPS

And perhaps the ultimate act of vulnerability is to acknowledge that something just flat out scares the sh*t out you!

Today, I will be at Sloan Kettering with a loved one while she has (outpatient) surgery.

And while things were caught early enough, and I will wear my tough guy exterior on my sleeve for her . . .

I will allow myself to be vulnerable enough to reach deep down in my faith and also ask you to do the same on her behalf.

And  before you dismiss this as a warm and fuzzy “Castain took a wuss pill today” rant . . .  there is a serious lesson in all this.

There is a time, when all of us need to acknowledge our own limitations and . . .

be vulnerable enough to reach our hands outward . . .

with a willingness to reach them upward!

Peace!

Related Post: I Hope This Saves Someone’s Life


Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).


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1)    People Have Names Please Use Them. I see this with mostly internal emails but I fear that we might be also becoming lax with our client relationships. Dale Carnegie said it best when he said: “The sweetest sound, in any language is the sound of one’s name” and if that’s not enough, that “Band Camp” girl in American Pie kept asking Jason Biggs “What’s my name (b word deleted)” You can’t ever let that happen to you in email . . . just sayin!

2)    Easy On The Cliches Heavy On the Triggers: Its far more compelling to begin your email with a reference to a trigger event (something going on in their world where you can offer a solution to help them embrace opportunity or avoid pain) Think about that next time you want to begin with “My name is Paul Castain and I’m with” or the always lame “ABC company is a full service . . . “ Their favorite subject isn’t you or your clichés.

3)    Virtual Ball Breaking: Don’t ever use an unrelated email to respond and break your teammate’s stones about an unrelated issue. You are basically encouraging them to remove you from their distribution list. PS It’s freakin lazy too! Oh, and why are you doing this through email?

4)    Ask a question at the end of your email to increase your response rate.

5)    Higher Response Rates Through Social Networking Sites: Did you know that (according to a study published by Epsilon) emails sent through social networks have a 24% higher open rate than traditional email?

6)    Don’t Be Deceptive: Things like Putting a “Re” in the subject line to make it look like you have emailed each other before isn’t cool nor is referencing a discussion that you know damn well never happened.

7)    How About An Email Makeover Meeting?: You can do this with your sales team, other sales reps, your mastermind group. Have everyone bring their emails and you all critique them, mark them up and most of all . . . rip each other off!

8)     Utilizing Your “PS” As Free Ad Space: Lot’s of cool things you can use the “PS” for. One way is to use it as a way for you not to get pigeonholed into being a vendor for only one type of product or service. The best way for you to do this is to have them “Ask you about” something as in “Ask me about how our new TPS Reports save you time and money” “Ask me about how you can get double digit response rates” Etc. The other thing you can do (and not a bad idea since you want to mix it up a bit) is to cross pollinate your blogging efforts, or that white paper, open house, free webinar etc. The key to leveraging this technique is in changing out your message 1-2 times per month so you train their eye to continually check your “PS” Why bother looking if it’s always the same.

9)    Understand That Email Is Safe! Don’t ever cling to email as a substitute for real time interaction. If you aren’t actually speaking with your clients and prospects on a regular basis . . . someone else is!

10)  Understand That Email Is Also Not So Safe: Ron McMillan Author of Crucial Conversations Tools For Talking When The Stakes Are High says that we lose the rich stew of nonverbal information such as voice tone, facial expressions and eye gaze. Since email by definition is merely the words itself, then its more easily misunderstood then an actual conversation.

11)  Celebrate Internal Wins and Inspire Competition: Sales Managers, this ones for you bro chocho. Why not send out a congrats ccing the entire sales team every time a new account comes in or (depending on your sales cycle) every time a sale is made. Note: Obviously this would be a pain in the butt if you deal in mucho transactions, otherwise this recognizes performance and inspires fun competition. Oh, and it costs nothing to implement! Yep . . . I dig “Free” too!

12)  Virtual Slacking: Have you ever emailed someone who was literally 20-30 feet away? Was it really necessary? If it wasn’t then hang your head and know that I’m hanging my head too. Let’s make it a point to get back to “human”!

13) My Unfiltered Thoughts On “Reply All”

14)   Inspire Internal Email Chatter By Doing This: Instead of sending an intro email to just your prospect, send it to several people at the 30,000 foot level. I can  hear you now saying “I already cc the head honcho” Well, that’s your mistake, because cc’ing the head honcho makes it look like you were trying to get “cute”. It can also get you an immediate “See ya” from your prospect. A better way to execute the strategy is to put all the recipients on the “To” line. Doing this does several things. First, it gives you an out if someone gets cranky. You can say “I didn’t know who to send it to so I figured I would send it to your executive team” The next thing it does can be simply magical. It can create “internal chatter” It might get brought up at the next senior meeting, it might get forwarded to the true decision maker with a note encouraging them to take your meeting etc. And just for the heck of it, I’m thinking since more and more decisions are being made by committee these days, perhaps it speaks to that too! I have to admit that this was inspired by an awesome book I read several years ago by Michael Boylan called The Power To Get In. Only they didn’t have email back then. I suddenly feel old, someone hold me.

And one more for the road gang!

According to the latest report from Radicati Group, there are 247 billion emails sent worldwide each day. Our average decision maker probably gets 100+ of those.

What does that mean for you . . .

Lots of opportunity for you to get lost in the sauce!

So with that in mind . . .

Think about how you will be more compelling with not just your emails . . .

Be more compelling with ALL your messaging!

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Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).


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Martin Luther King

inConcert will be closed in recognition of Martin Luther King Day.

inConcert Web Solutions will be closed tomorrow, January 17,  in recognition of Martin Luther King Day. Our office will reopen on Tuesday, January 18. All website maintenance requests and website changes that are requested within this time period will be completed upon our reopening in the order that they were received.

Enjoy the long weekend!


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Martin Luther King

inConcert will be closed in recognition of Martin Luther King Day.

inConcert Web Solutions will be closed tomorrow, January 17,  in recognition of Martin Luther King Day. Our office will reopen on Tuesday, January 18. All website maintenance requests and website changes that are requested within this time period will be completed upon our reopening in the order that they were received.

Enjoy the long weekend!

A few years back, I facilitated a leadership retreat for a group of executives at this awesome lodge they rented from a very wealthy man.

I could go on and on telling you about all the details of his beautiful 12,000 square foot home, but something else struck me.

There were pictures all over his home that chronicled the life of a man who was totally digging his life.

There were pictures of him hunting all over the world.

Chilling with friends

Chilling with family

Playing his guitar (he got an “ata boy” from me on that one)

And now the left hook . . .

I was told that the reason he was so happy was that he chose to live his life

after losing one of his children to childhood cancer!

Although this was a devastating hit to his family . . .

They chose to honor their child

By living!

It really made me think. . . .

If someone who lost their child, chose to honor that child, by living . . .

Then perhaps we can honor life . . .

By living it!

It’s Friday, the year is still young . . . and we have another chance to get it all right!

What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner – Colette


Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).


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Once upon a time a little boy was finishing up his purchase at the local candy store. He turned to the store owner and asked “Mr. Matthews may I please use your phone?” Mr. Matthews smiled at the little boy, who was one of his regulars and handed him his phone.

The little boy quickly punched in the phone number and had the following conversation “Mrs. Donavan you don’t know me but I pass your house each day on my way to school. I mow many of the lawns in the neighborhood and was wondering if I could mow yours as well?” Mrs. Donavan politely replied “Oh thank you anyway but we are quite happy with the service we are getting now”

Somewhat disappointed, Johnny countered with  a compelling offer. “That’s fine Mrs. Donavan and what if I were to beat whatever price you are paying by .00 per week?” “I’m sorry but we aren’t looking for a lower price” replied Mrs. Donavan. “Well, I suppose I could throw in a once a month trim of the hedges and weeding your garden on top of the .00 discount” Mrs. Donavan simply thanked the boy for his kind offer and wished him a good day.

The candy store owner, having heard this, said “Nice try kid. I’m proud of ya for giving it your best shot” The little boy smiled and said “Oh I’m not finished yet. Watch this”!

He immediately called Mrs Donavan back and said “Mrs Donavan, I’m so sorry for being a pest but what if I were to offer you the .00 discount, the weeding of the garden, the trimming of the hedges and I wash your car for you every other week?” “I’m afraid the answer is still no young man. Not if you were to give me the world and charge me next to nothing! I’m quite happy and I have no intention of switching” The little boy smiled and almost seemed moved by her response. With a softened voice he simply said “Now that’s what I like to hear. You don’t have to worry about me calling again.”

Mr. Matthews was amazed at how happy the little boy was with what he witnessed to be a rejection. “Young man; I really admire your spirit! That woman must have told you No at least 3 times and yet you are happier than when you first made the call. Keep up that attitude and you will be a great success someday” The little boy’s smile grew bigger and said “Oh I already am a success” Somewhat confused Mr. Matthews asked “But how could you possibly be a success at your young age?”

“I know because that was my customer and I was simply calling to see how I was doing”!

Can your relationships stand the test of persistent, low balling competitors?

Is it even a relationship or is it merely a series of transactions?

Silly, warm and fuzzy question coming atcha in 3,2, 1 . . .

Do your clients know that you love them?

Seriously. . .

Do they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are grateful to the point of renaming your children after them?

But that’s silly talk isn’t it? Nobody gives a damn whether you and I appreciate them or not, right? That my friends may be common sense but it is in no way, shape or form commonly practiced!

If it were, then you and I would be out of a job  because there would simply be no new opportunities!

Think about that today as you take care of your customers . . .

And be sure to think about that the next time you hesitate to call that prospect

that you think has no need for you!

Today’s News: Our Linkedin group just hit 18,000 members! To join us click here To get involved in one of our infomercial free discussions, click here and for mucho sales opportunities,  click here


Go to Sales Playbook
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics where he oversees the training and development of 700 sales Jedis.

Prior to working for Consolidated Graphics. Paul was the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates and the owner of two successful businesses.

Over the last 27 years, Paul has trained and mentored over 3,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Castain’s Sales Playbook (which just won a Sales Pop award for best sales website).


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