Paul Kirch, PRC – President & CEO of Actus Sales Intelligence
Paul Kirch’s BIO
Paul Kirch is known as an accomplished sales and sales management professional, though his background is so much broader. He is currently the President/CEO of Actus Sales Intelligence, a sales intelligence agency, known for helping its clients “sell smarter.” Actus ultimately strives to help its clients focus on driving growth and creating sustainable futures through more strategic sales efforts. Actus helps its clients identify areas of improvement and then provides tools and training to help them take the next step toward achieving their goals. He founded Actus in 2009 as means of giving back to help others achieve business success. Paul has proven to be a big picture thinker throughout his career, which makes him suited to lead his company and play an active role in the success of their clients.
In January of 2012, he launched PaulKirch.com, a website dedicated specifically to the entrepreneur. He focuses on three areas to help people become business owners or to take their business to the next level. At PaulKirch.com, the focus is to educate, empower and enlighten, providing entrepreneurs the tools, motivation and encouragement needed to take action. He understands the challenges of the person wanting to be their own boss, and now wants to leverage his experience and background to inspire others to pursue their dreams of business ownership.
Kirch has developed and leveraged a training program, for sales professionals and leadership teams, called A-B-E’s of Selling, which represents the idea that to success in business development, you must always be engaging your customers and prospects. This core foundation of this program is related to connecting with your buyers in a way which leads to deeper relationships, greater trust and an environment of sharing.
He is currently in the process of publishing his first business book, titled Ninja Follow Up, where he helps readers explore better ways to follow up with leads, prospects and lapsed customers. In a world with message overwhelm, it’s more important than ever to stand out in your communication practices. Ninja Follow Up explores both new and proven approaches to following up, which will help you earn trust, pique interest and drive engagement in a way that most sales efforts simply can’t do. In conjunction with the launch of the book, Paul will be launching an online community where subscribers will receive follow up strategy ideas from other community members and featured contributors.
Paul’s career began in 1988 when he started writing professional advertising copy, while pursuing a degree in Journalism. In 1990, he joined the world famous Gallup Organization, where he spent the next 10 years. During this time, he served in various operations roles, such as programmer, project manager, and technical consult team lead. He was awarded with various prestigious awards during his time, such as Innovator of the Year, Rising Star, to name a few. He was responsible for managing some of Gallup’s most high-profile accounts, including AT&T, TCI Cable, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and many more. He eventually left to pursue a career in sales and sales leadership. He was always a top performer, receiving President’s Club Status multiple times throughout his sales tenure. In fact, during his time at Harris Interactive, he was the first person to receive President’s Club recognition in his rookie year. In addition, he has achieved PRC certification (Professional Research Certification) for the sales mastery category. Throughout his career, he has built a reputation as a leader, strong communicator, a big picture thinking, trusted partner, consultant and friend to many. Those skills, along with his many other positive character traits, have prepared him to lead Actus Sales Intelligence.
Paul is also co-host of a business podcast show called Business Beyond the Trenches at TangoandKirch.com. The program is a, value-based, show dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and business professionals achieve more success through the use of better sales methods and superior marketing strategies.
During his career, he has learned many powerful lessons, such as the power of giving back. Through volunteerism, Kirch has developed a strong personal brand, has been seen as a trusted advisor and leader. He has served as a leader for various business organizations including the American Marketing Association (AMA), Puget Sound Research Forum (PSRF), Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) and Marketing Research Association (MRA). He is a Past-President of the PSRF and he has served on the Past-Presidents Advisory Council for the NorthWest MRA and served as the social media advisor for the New York Marketing Research Association. Recently he was elected to the board of directors for a non-profit charitable organization, called The Fearless Education Foundation. In addition, he is an active volunteer with other National and local business networking groups and also spends time helping mentor college students and entrepreneurs.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
1. Please tell us about the inception of Actus Sales Intelligence.
Paul: I spent more than 20 years dreaming of owning my own business. I knew it was my destiny; however, I let fear hold me back from taking action.
I dabbled in a couple of side projects, which could have turned into a full-time business, but I was never fully committed. I was married to that paycheck and the security that came with it. I spent 10 years working for The Gallup Organization, where I was blessed with many great opportunities for growth, yet I never felt fulfilled, no matter how much more money I might make or awards I might receive. I was looking for more. I knew I wasn’t ready to make the leap into a full-time entrepreneurial role, so I looked for the closest job I could find.
I moved into an outside sales job in 2000. A sales position seemed to have many of the characteristics of an entrepreneurial role. A sales professional’s success is dictated by his ability to grow his book of business. If I didn’t reach my targets, then I was likely going to be out of a job. An entrepreneur’s ability to keep their business doors open is also dependent upon achieving growth targets. To me, it seemed like a win-win scenario, as I had the security of a company behind me and the ability to grow my own book of business. In addition, the more I sold, the more money I made, so it seemed to be a great move.
I became a sponge for learning and was fortunate to work for and study under a couple of great mentors. I also built a network around me of other experienced sales professionals who served as a pseudo mastermind group, where we’d share successes, challenges and lessons we learned. I also have leveraged several coaches throughout my career, as I believe any professional needs someone they can learn from and rely upon to address challenges.
I loved sales, but I found my passion was helping mentor others, so I moved into a sales leadership role after a few years. Prior to going out on my own, I was serving as the Vice President of Business Development for a marketing research firm in Dallas, TX. We were having a great run of success, when I learned that the owner decided he was going to sell the company. The agency which acquired our firm had a different approach to business, which culturally and professionally did not fit what I wanted in a career. After several months, I decided it was time to take control of my destiny and start my own company. My wife was 8 months pregnant when I negotiated out of my contract, which on the surface is a crazy leap of faith. However, when you know it’s time, it’s time.
2. Given your current professional and personal goals, please share with us a sample of your day, start to finish.
Paul: I can’t say that I experience a typical day.
My business is dedicated to helping smaller and mid-sized companies achieve great growth and stability. My client engagements include strategic planning, sales training, virtual management, lead generation and executive recruiting. This means that we have a variety of challenges and opportunities that we face on a daily basis.
My day usually starts with a planning session, where I block out time to make sure that I have any meetings, projects or other items planned and scheduled. Depending on the day, I might have several client meetings, which I am often personally involved in. I also block out time for calls with my team and companies which I partner with. My goal isn’t to provide value, but to provide the most value that I can, so it’s important that any commitments we make get met on time.
As important as my client obligations and my own business growth is, I also make sure that I schedule time for my family and friends. After spending my day at the office, unless I’m traveling, I make sure that I make time to go home for dinner with my wife and children. I try to leave work behind and focus my attention on them. After my wife and I put the children to bed, I’ll often spend time working on planning or writing on my soon to be released book. I do make sure that my wife and I also have quality time throughout the week, so on certain nights, I focus on her and leave the work for the next day.
3. What are your ‘can’t live without’ Smartphone or desktop applications?
Paul: If you had asked me this question a month ago, I would have stated that it was IQTell, a time management and productivity tool that I’ve used for over a year. I recently moved away from using such a tool and went back to planning on paper, using Google Calendar to manage my daily tasks. It was odd to shift away from technology for planning, but using a paper planner has been so much for productive. I also leverage Evernote on a daily basis. However, probably my favorite can’t live without app is Last Pass. It’s a great tool for storing all of your passwords securely, allowing you to log onto all of your online applications with a single click. It’s a lifesaver in this day and age of having to remember a countless number of passwords.
4. What are tricks for time management and accomplishing so much under tight deadlines?
Paul: My trick for time management is a system I just recently embraced.
I use Tony Robbins’ Rapid Planning Method (RPM), which has truly become a game changer. Instead of just living with a list of to-do items, RPM helps you tap into the “why” behind everything you do. It also helps you prioritize in a way that simplifies your day and helps you identify large chunks of time which you might otherwise be wasting.
5. What was the best advice you received when you started your career?
Paul: It wasn’t actually when I started my career, but the best advice I received when I was early in my sales career was, “Be a resource.”
This truly transformed how I approached my clients and prospects. Being a resource means that you help others in ways that benefit them. I’m not trying to boast here, but rather share what this has meant to me. I constantly look for creative ways to help clients and prospects, even if it doesn’t directly benefit me. I’ve helped numerous people find jobs. I also have made countless introductions to people who can benefit from each other. If someone has a special need, chances are, I know someone (or can find someone) who can help them. I have friends and associates who are afraid to connect others, fearing it will reflect negatively upon them if it does not work out. Let me tell you, the dividends I’ve received, throughout my career, far outweigh any such risks. For those I’ve mentored or advised, I always tell them to give more value than anyone else and be a resource. If you can do those two things, you’ll always come out on top.
6. What are your strategies for building awareness of Actus Sales Intelligence, for the short term and the long term?
Paul: This is an interesting time for my company, as I’m preparing to launch my first book this year.
We’re embarking on our first paid search engine marketing and embracing online marketing in a way we never have before.
In addition, we leverage our own team of professional lead generators to find new prospects who are interested in the services we offer. Webinars, speaking engagements, authoring articles and other such efforts have been impactful for keeping our name on the top of many of our client and prospect’s minds. Since starting my firm, I’ve been fortunate that my years of networking have helped me receive a lot of inbound requests and opportunities which could be described as low hanging fruit.
That being said, to achieve the goals that I have for myself and for Actus, we are starting to leverage several new ways of marketing and communicating.
7. What is your proudest achievement as a Business Leader?
Paul: Hands down, it’s when I receive feedback that I’ve dramatically changed someone’s life or helped them grow professionally. I have received many testimonials and words of praise that all speak to my mission of helping others grow. What started as focus on business growth for my clients has turned into so much more. In fact, this past Friday I received a call from someone telling me that he wouldn’t be where he was if it wasn’t for my support over the last three years. He expressed that I’ve been a mentor and a friend in ways that he didn’t expect.
When you develop those kinds of relationships with your buyers and their teams, it makes everything worthwhile.
8. How do you maintain the work/life balance? Is it a challenge or does it come naturally to you?
Paul: God, Family, Friends, Business… If you look at life, it’s overwhelming with everything that we all face on a daily basis.
However, when I break it down to those four priorities, and put them in the correct order (which is often the challenge), then balance happens on its own. I’ve faced times when I put my business in front of everything else in my life. Those were some times which left me feeling quite empty. I have to remember what’s important and dedicate time appropriately. I feel I’ve been getting better and better at achieving balance by simply having my priorities in order.
9. What are your top 3 book recommendations?
1. Think and Grow Rich
2. Millionaire Upgrade
3. Ready Fire Aim.
10. What are your most rewarding charitable involvements?
Paul: I recently was selected to join the board of directors for The Fearless Education Foundation, a community of people that believe education is vital to succeed in life. We are passionate about contemporary and self-education. Our mission is to help support young people who need assistance to pay for schooling and provide them with Entrepreneurial education to help them reach their dreams. I’ve been fortunate to become friends with the founder, Nathan Amaral, and after helping support them financially, now I get to help in a more hands-on way.
11. Who has influenced your career the most?
Paul: This is a hard question, as I’ve had many great influences. However, I believe it was an Uncle that I looked up to in many ways. He was a business owner who had so many great qualities.
I grew up in a very small town with few entrepreneurial role models, so having a relative who was able to create multiple successful businesses helped me feel inspired that I could do the same. In addition, I have to share that I was blessed to have parents who were supportive, loving and who always believed in me. The list of influences is long, but the above are the three that helped me overcome my fears and embark on the entrepreneurial path I’m on.
12. What is your advice for someone interested in a career in starting a business?
Paul: Don’t wait for the perfect time. If it weren’t for circumstances that helped me take the leap of faith, it might have never happened. I waited for the perfect time for 20 years, so don’t follow my lead.
Also, get a coach, build a network of advisors and get started on your plan. From there, don’t look back. Also, ignore those who tell you that you’re making a mistake or that your idea is crazy. Those voices always seem to show up when you’re questioning yourself, so ignore them. If they’re voices coming from your own head, find a way to shut them up. If they’re coming from family or friends, ignore them and follow your passion!