So you just finished telling me about why you all came here to talk about sales. Wait. You, with your whole future ahead of you, want to do SALES? You want to be this guy?
When Daniel Pink asked 7,000 people about what words they most closely associated with salespeople, here are the answers he got! You really want to be yucky?
I think we all have a sense that the role and professional life of a salesperson is changing. This image is from an Inc article I wrote called “The Art of Convincing Is Dead” Salespeople are no longer the gatekeepers to the information that their customers need. Salespeople are facing more knowledgeable buyers who have frequently already narrowed their purchase decisions significantly. This dynamic makes just getting in front of decision makers even harder than before. But it also makes closing a deal more difficult because in some cases, the buyer knows more about your competition that you do! To overcome this challenge, salespeople have to be more helpful, more insightful and more consultative than before. We have to have to respond instantly to interest, and we have to work harder at building long term relationships, because genuine trust can’t be commoditized. That’s the first big trend in the sales profession. The information asymmetry that salespeople used to leverage is gone or fading fast. We have to adapt or survive.
The second big trend is the variety of channels through which products can be sold. At a very high level, to build a real company, Cost of Customer Acquisition HAS TO be less than the Lifetime Value of the Customer. And for almost all of you, the cost of salespeople is going to be a big component of your CAC. The inexorable trend for sales is away from big contract salespeople who get on airplanes to pitch, visit, demo, etc. There are plenty of good companies that can succeed with a high-cost enterprise sales team: Netezza (IPO-ed in 2007) with an average initial deal size of around $1m Aruba (IPO-ed in 2007), sold wireless infrastructure to enterprises. High LTV per customer. Airvana (IPO-ed in 2007), sold infrastructure to wireless carriers for 3G data services. Very high LTV per customer. But before you get into it, or as you are considering what company to take a job for, figure out the sales strategy. Are you going to have a sales team? Do you need one? How much will your product cost? Who are you going to sell to? How many customers are there? What are they like? How hard is it to sell? How much value is there? What pain does it solve? How desperate are the buyers to have your product?
So now that we know why we’re doing sales, and have a sense for how to do it – serving the customer instead of convincing them, let’s talk about your first day on the job. Who here has sold something? What did you sell? How did it feel? The first thing you have to do is focus. Identify your initial customers. Get to know them as much as you possibly can. The number you’ll start with depends largely on what kind of company you are working at or starting. The higher the price point, the fewer the customers. But no matter how many calls you have to make each day, the person who spends a little more time getting to know their prospect will inevitably do better. Sometimes in the middle of the day it’s hard to remember that there actually is a person on the other end of the line or the email… a human being with a past, with parents, with a whole huge life outside of yours. Forgetting about that makes your job much much harder. People call me all the time, and the most immediate turn off is when they ask me “Tell me a little bit about your business” or similar questions. You are calling ME! All the information you could possibly want and more is out on the web! You can piece together most of my professional life from one publicaly available webpage! Why would I spend 30 minutes talking with you if you can’t be bothered to spend 5 minutes getting ready for the conversation? So please, even if you have to make 100 calls a day. Look up something about the person you are calling first. At the very least so you remember that they are a person.
Cold calling is your friend. This slide isn’t missing an image. It’s just really cold there. It’s snowing. There is no single better way to hone your pitch than cold calling. Don’t be that LinkedIn spammer who always needs introductions. The basic points of the cold call are… ? Anyone? Opening Earning Credibility The Ask Closing Who has ever cold called someone before? Do 10 cold calls a day to companies outside your target list. You’ll be ready when the boss of your top target picks up the phone. Could I have a volunteer? Ok thanks. Do you want to be the cold caller or the prospect? Ok let’s go. What worked about this? (if we have enough time) Ok, please pair up and try this yourselves. The other part about cold calling or emailing is that it’s a proxy for effort. In sales (as in most of life), the person who works harder does better. “50 calls before your second cup of coffee” is a famous sales axiom. You absolutely have to grind it out. And if you don’t want to work hard, you aren’t going to be a good salesperson.
Finding a Champion Signing any customer requires that you find an employee who loves what you do. You don’t have an opportunity until you find that person. Seek Personality Fit – The most important characteristic of your champion is personality fit. If you two were stuck in a jail cell, who would kill whom? Or could you team up to escape? Your champion is going to risk a lot for you. They are trusting you with their career. Qualify Constantly – Don’t waste time on small deals, one-offs, partnerships, business development, anything strategic, outside-the-box or “win-win”. Relentlessly go after the biggest companies that can pay you this year. If they move slowly, move on. Time is your enemy. Don’t Push – Desperation gives off a stench that repels big companies. When you feel them hesitate, be the first one to say “I’m not sure you guys are ready for this. Let me come back when we have made more progress.” They will always remember you. Can someone tell me about their process of finding a champion? How did it go? What worked? What didn’t work? Converting Darth Vader into the cause of light and goodness. When you identify your enemy, go right at them. Ignoring them does no good. Hear their objections. Respond in time – no rush. Prove over the course of many conversations that you are someone they can work with, can trust. If you can turn someone from darkness into light, you earn yourself a powerful ally.
Failing to Close The Second Best Answer is a Quick No – It hurts. It stings. There’s nothing good about getting rejected on a deal except the fact that it didn’t take too long to get rejected on a deal. There’s precious little you can do to push the string towards a decision. But you can respect the folks who decide quickly, and make a note to come back to them after a while. Two things you can do: 1. Figure Out WHY 2. Drop it and Move On You have to figure out which of those two is the right for you every time.
Just getting someone to sign here is not good enough! It’s Not Closed Until the cash is in the building! – The only thing worse than getting told “no” is having a “yes” fall apart after the fact. Strange and unexpected things happen in corporations, and you’ll never really know what’s going on. Keep driving, keep active and in touch until the deal is really and truly done. Your Job isn’t Over, but… – Yes, you’ve got to do it again. Yes, it’s absolutely on you to make sure the rest of your team delivers on what you just sold. And yes, after that huge success, your quota will go up next quarter. But take a moment and celebrate a big win with the people who helped make it happen. Your job isn’t over.
Sales for Startups
Sales for StartupsMatthew Bellowsmatthew@yesware.com
Yesware Helps Salespeople Close Deals Current Tools Don’t Help Much Manual Data Entry into CRM CRM Data Late & Inaccurate Poor Reporting to Management Little Collaboration with Team
Starting with Email, Big Product Vision Closing More Deals Minimizing Data Entry into CRM Real Time, Accurate Data Reporting Activities Not Opinions Sharing What Works with Team