I've spent 10 years in various sales roles at Verizon, BlackBerry, Google, and now Gartner. I've done many types of roles like inside, outside, and channel sales. Some were short sales cycles and others were long-term relationship based roles. I've learned a lot and I'm continuously learning every day. I've read the classics and enjoy reading new books on the subject, it boils down to bettering your communication skills. I wish I knew what I know now 10 years ago, but some lessons are learned first-hand. Here are 11 of them:
Ask Yourself This Question Every Morning: What has to happen in order for me to have a successful day? It’s usually anywhere from three to five things you need to get gone. Look at your calendar to see if your meetings or the time you’ve blocked reflects those initiatives. Tim Ferris recommends writing those things down on a post-it note. I like sticking that post-it note on my laptop so it’s visual at all times. It's easy to get distracted by colleagues pinging you or the new message alert popping up in Microsoft Outlook. You can turn it off with five quick steps in this article.
Make The Tasks You Don’t Enjoy Fun: There’s only one thing I hate more than cold calling, and that’s washing dishes. One way to spice up cold calling is to grab a friend and hop in a conference room together. Be sure to prepare your call list ahead of time. One person starts cold calling while the other person takes notes to provide feedback later on. Once that person hangs up, the other person must take the phone and place the next call. It’s going to be the most fun cold calling session, ever.
Be Indispensable: When a client asks, “Is there anything else we should be doing?” There’s a level of trust they have in you. In his book, The Sales Acceleration Formula, Mark Roberge describes how the new way of selling is consultative. Imagine that you are a doctor and your prospect is the patient. They want your expertise, but you can’t diagnose them until you’ve asked them the right questions and understood their unique situation. After a $1M pitch a CEO of a large vitamin company leaned over and said, “Omaid, what else should we be doing?” I recommended they have a strategy around Pinterest for the product they are selling because that’s where their target audience is spending their time. I didn’t work for Pinterest, but I knew it was important in order for them to succeed.
Co-pitch To On-board Fast: I’ve found co-pitching deals as the most effective way to learn and ramp up in a new role. You’re not shadowing a top performer, you’re working with one. You learn the talk track and your confidence is uplifted ten-fold by doing rather than watching. Organizations should not split deals to incentivize the seasoned rep. The top performer should reward the new rep in good will.
Put Your Clients Interest First: Sounds obvious, but if you look around you’ll see most salespeople put their own interests first in order to close a deal. In the near-term you may generate less revenue, but you’re likely to have a fruitful relationship over the long-haul. By doing this, you’re more likely to become indispensable to your clients; and that is the ultimate success.
Have Good Salesforce Hygiene: Record everything in your Customer Relationship Management tool so you don’t have to rely on your memory. Besides, if you use tasks in Salesforce you’ll go to bed in peace knowing your to-do list is already in-tact. This also makes it more effective for your management team to pull reports that are an accurate reflection of your productivity.
Use Parkinson’s Law: It’s the adage that work expands as to fill the time available for its completion. If you block off 2 hours on your calendar to prepare for a presentation, you’re highly likely to complete the task in those 2 hours. If you tell yourself to get it done on Friday, you’ll spend half the day or forget to start preparing in the first place.
Celebrate Your Wins: Imagine if you have a quarterly quota. Four times per year you’re either going to achieve or miss your goal. Four times per year you’re going to be happy or feel miserable. Create the rules of the game in your favor so you have better odds of winning. Set weekly goals around revenue targets and behavior metrics. For example, if my quota was $500,000 for the quarter I’d aim to close $42,000 in revenue every week (if there’s 12 weeks in a quarter). I’d also want to understand how many calls it takes for me to land an appointment, and how many appointments turn into closed deals. If my close rate is 50% I’d want 4 appointments each week (if my average deal size is $21,000) in order to achieve my quarterly goal. It’s a great feeling to celebrate every Friday rather than once every 12 weeks.
Be Less Social: Social selling is overhyped. I’ve yet to close a deal over Instagram. Do I think you should follow your customers on Twitter to be informed? Absolutely. But like a balanced offense in football, a team should have both a solid running and passing attack. There’s a time and a place for communicating over social channels. Remember, people buy from people. Next time you have an important message for a client, think about picking up the phone instead of sending an email. Human interaction over the phone or in person speeds everything up and customers understand the context of the conversation.
Continue To Learn: My wife always says that if it’s important to you, you’ll make time. If you play fantasy football, put in the time to be successful, but don’t put in all your time. I was in a coffee shop in Long Beach 6 years ago with an executive and was describing a CEO study she recently read. She said the constant theme for every CEO was that they all continued to educate themselves. Whether it’s taking classes, e-learning sites like Lynda.com, or reading books. Take the time to make deposits in your skill set because it will pay dividends.
Find A Mentor: It’s important to find a mentor at your company early on. Someone who can guide you through your current role and be a sounding board for your future interests. A friend of mine worked at a hot startup in the Bay Area and I asked him if he had a mentor there. It’s a great company with incredible leadership. He said he did not. When you work at the company, leaders are more likely to respond from your email because you are an internal employee. The approach is very important (which is a conversation for another day) but my friend ended up getting mentored by a VP who reports to the CEO of a 10,000 person company.