At heart, I’m a sales guy.
It is my background before starting this life as an online entrepreneur. For 6 years, I sold capital and disposable medical equipment to hospitals. Those were super complex, long-running, multi-stakeholder projects with very demanding sales cycles.
And in that time, I learned A LOT about how to sell (and how to screw it up).
Selling stuff online is really different, though, for me. With our Castos Productions services, I’m often having one (maybe two) calls with a lead before they sign up. The entire average sales cycle is less than two weeks.
With this very different sales process, I’ve learned a few “Truths” that I try to live by every time.
Sales Rules To Live By
These are a mix of strategic and practical behaviors that I try to embody in every sales encounter.
Record Every Call
Starting off with something super practical. I use Grain to record every sales conversation.
This is great because these platforms have some analytics they can provide about “time talking” for me and the potential customer, but also, it’s just a great way to reference the call without the need to take a bunch of notes.
And, of course, if/when we onboard new salespeople, the best way for them to learn is to listen back to my previous sales calls.
Get permission from anyone on the call before you record, but most everyone won’t mind.
Always Get Some Kind Of Commitment
I find that buyers want to know what’s next.
Whether it’s taking credit card information on the call, booking a follow-up with their team, or sending a proposal (weak sauce!), get commitment from every conversation on to the next step.
Sales is just a process of guiding a process from where they are today to where they want to be in the future.
Hopefully, that includes buying your product or service, but most of the time, potential buyers don’t know how to be good buyers…they need you to tell them what the next step is, and where/where/how they can take it.
Get this commitment on the phone (or Zoom) before hanging up. In order of priority, I try to:
- Close the deal – get credit card information and sign them up. This isn’t a stretch, ask for the close. Worst thing they can say is No (or “not yet”)
- Schedule a followup call – no this doesn’t mean “Hey I’ll send you my Savvycal link and you can book whenever is best for you”. No, say “I’m free next Tuesday at 10, 11, or 2…which is best for you?” Get that booked, invite them, etc. all before hanging up.
- Include other buyers – if a cofounder or tech team need to be invovled, get those names and include them on any future meetings. The person you’re talking to may not be the ultimate champion (or decision maker) in this process.
Define The Problem
Ask why you’re talking. Honestly, I say “So, what brings us together today”. And then, just shut the F*ck up, and sit there.
They’ll tell you all about the background of their problem, business objectives, the end goal of this project, etc.
And keep asking questions from there.
You want a potential customer telling you all about the What and the Why of the problem they’re having that led them to talk to you.
What Is Success
Literally, the next phase of the conversation is “Ok great, I understand the problem, now what does Success look like for you in this?”.
And again, shut the F*ck up, and let them talk.
Are they starting a podcast to make money from ads, is it to sell more of their consulting, is it to promote their SaaS company, etc. Listen intently, and then peel the layers of the onion.
Rarely the first thing you hear here will be the real reason. Get to the real reason before moving on.
What’s Their Budget
Maybe cheating a bit here because you may ask for budget in the qualification stage or when they sign up as a lead. But it’s pretty important to not waste their time (or yours) if something is completely out of their price range.
Before getting into the discussion of what your cost is, ask their budget. Every buyer has a budget…it’s not rude to ask what that is.
Send A Proposal That Day
Don’t be a lazy millennial here. Taking 2 days to get a proposal over to someone who took 30 minutes out of their insanely busy day to talk to you is ameteur hour. It’s also super insulting to them.
I literally would never, ever, in a million years buy something from someone who didn’t get me the information they promised in at least 24 hours.
If you’re taking multiple days to get quotes or proposals to a prospective client, I guarantee you’re only closing a fraction of the deals you could otherwise.
Whether it’s using a templated quoting system like we do in Hubspot, or a proposal template in something like Pandadoc, it’ doesn’t freaking matter. Get them something that day.
Yes, even if the call ends at 5 and you’ve got your kids banding down the door for you to play Minecraft, spend 10 minutes to send your future customer the thing you said you’d send.
100% guarantee you’ll close more business this way.
Follow Up Until You Get A Yes Or A F*ck You
All credit to Steli Efti of Close here. (btw, Steli has written everything there is to know about Sales…so if you think this is good, check out his stuff).
If you had a prospective customer raise their virtual hand and say “I’m interested in your solution fixing my problem” then you owe it to them to follow up on a regular basis until you close the deal or they tell you to go away.
I’ve closed more than a handful of deals after a year of following up.
Again, use your CRM to automate this or schedule reminders. Don’t let leads sit there inactive. They took serious action to indicate to you that they’re interested…follow up!
You Should Only Talk 30% Of The Time
There is no bigger turnoff than getting on a sales call and not having a chance to speak and to share your pains/desires.
Too often, I find salespeople just want to spew information at me in calls. Gross.
I have read the website, I probably know most all of what you’re about to say. I have a handful of questions that I need to understand better…and there’s zero chance of that happen if you “just let me share my screen and run through this 80 page slide deck”. Are you kidding me?!
I instantly start checking email or Slack.
Tools like Grain will tell you how much you’re talking and how much the customer is. If you’re talking more than 50% of the time, stop it.
Give The Price, And Then Shut Up
A lot of people feel weird talking about money.
And let’s be honest, it doesn’t come naturally to many of us.
But if you want to project total weakness and have prospects perceive you and your product/service as weak, start making excuses for why your shit costs what it does.
Whether it’s $10 or $10,000…be proud of what you charge.
Your solution very likely solves a problem for your future customer that is many times what you charge. Have the confidence that the value you’re delivering is immense in comparison to the investment they’re making.
And of course if that’s not happening, create a more compelling offer by delivering more value. But don’t drop your price, and don’t make excuses for why you charge what you do.
It projects a lack of confidence in your belief that your solution solves your customers’ problems.
They’ll think less of you and will instantly become worse customers as a result.
I even bet that customers who have discounts are overall less successful. If you’ve seen data on this, lemme know.
So, those are the sales rules I try to live by. If you have best practices that you try to follow, let me know. Hit me up on Twitter and tell me all about it.