5 Sales Hacks That Will Change Your Business

Apr 9, 2014, by Max Altschuler

Secret Sauce:

I’ve tried to write this without giving away too many secrets. My best hacks I keep to myself because if they became overused, they’d be obsolete. I won’t bore you with Rapportive hacks or any of the 101 stuff either. I hope you enjoy these and put them to good use.

Sales Hack #1 -  Frienemies

Salespeople are almost always taught to connect with their prospects on Linkedin. What they aren’t taught are how to configure their privacy settings. Therefore, if you are connected to someone and they haven’t fixed their settings, you can see when they have a new connection.

Now why am I telling you this? Well first go out and connect with reps at your competitor’s companies. Most of them probably haven’t played around with their settings and won’t think anything of it when you asked to connect. Once you’re connected, just wait to see who they connect with. When they connect with a prospect, you’ll be notified via news feed and you can send a very well timed email. Just don’t mention how you knew to send them an email at the perfect time.

Sales Hack #2 - Cold Emailing

There are plenty of articles out there on writing cold emails but people maybe don’t realize, or maybe don’t mention how situational it is. I believe that writing a cold email to the VP of Marketing at Verizon is very different than writing to Marketing at ToutApp. Smaller organizations give more people decision making power and need more info upfront but for bigger orgs, less is more.  I like to aim high in their org with a simple “introduction Request” email that usually gets forwarded downstream to the person you’re supposed to be talking to.

This works for a few reasons:

  1.  It gives you a chance to not say anything that will make them shy away from you. If you give too much info you may end up over selling or trying to hit the wrong pain point with the wrong value  prop. Get on the phone and get some info before you pitch them.
  2. You get forwarded or intro’d down stream, so their boss is literally telling them to talk to you.
  3. It’s easy for them to get it off of their plate. They can respond with nothing other than the right person being Cc’d on the email.

This can work really well for reaching out to high level employees at big companies. Just don’t think cold emails in sales will work in every occasion.

*Side note - I haven’t shared this anywhere else but it seems to be getting written about plenty these days but in different contexts. Soon people will wisen up and it will stop working. Until then, try it out and see if it works for you.

Sales Hack #3 - Messaging

Too often I see people asking for favors in a manner that presents them, well...asking for favors.  When I left Udemy I wrote my personal network asking for people to introduce me to companies that needed a business development rep. I knew I wanted to stay at a small startup but I wanted to hear out all of my options and I didn’t want to start hearing offers while I was still with the company.

One thing to know and never forget. It’s not what you ask, it’s how you ask it. Instead of saying. “I just left my company. Do you know anyone who is hiring?” you say, “I just left my company. If you know anyone looking for a killer BD rep, do them a favor and introduce them to me.” It completely flips the script. That’s my favorite example but keep this in mind when trying to sell something. Whether is written or verbal communication, a lot can be done just by how you phrase things.

Sales Hack #4 - Web Scraping

One of the main points of the Sales Hacker Conference is to get salespeople to embrace all the new technologies that have rapidly evolved over the last 2-3 years. Web scraping is now easy to do for non-technical salespeople. This can open so many doors in the outbound lead gen space.

One tool I like to use is Import.io. In the event space, I can scrape lists of companies that have sponsored similar events, raised a certain amount of funding, are located near my next conference, etc. If you’re customers are restaurants you can easily scrape sites like yelp. If they’re lawyers you can scrape Avvo. You need zero technical ability to use Import.io for basic web scraping and list building. Oh, and it’s free to use!

Two other great tools for list building are LittleBird or FollowerWonk. Both allow you to scrape twitter bios. At Udemy, if I needed to onboard someone that taught PHP, a PHP expert will usually have PHP in their twitter bio. Same thing works if I want to find people in sales in the Los Angeles area.

After I’ve scraped lists I like to get emails using Salesloft or Toofr and fire away emails using ToutApp, of course.

Sales Hack #5 - Outsourcing & Automation

I’m an automating machine. I automate as much as I possibly can. The entire process of list building and outreach can be taught entirely to a Virtual Assistant in the Philippines at $3 an hour (which is a nice wage there so don’t feel bad).

The web scraping in Sales Hack #4 can be taught to anyone. Once they have company names they can find the proper title, first name, and last name of anyone at almost any company solely using linkedin and the company’s About/Team page.  Once that have that they can use Salesloft or Toofr to pull emails. Then upload them as a group of multiple groups into ToutApp. Create a template or a few, and have them send as frequently as you’d like. You just automated the entire outbound sales process up until you receive a response.  I can even instruct my VA’s to set up a call if the incoming email takes me longer than 30 seconds to read.

This process allows you to build massive, targeted, and fresh lists for very little money. Go ahead and try it for yourself!

*Bonus Hack*

I use ToutApp to send the bulk of my emails. When I’m emailing a group of less than 20 people, sometimes I like to add a personal note as the first sentence.  I’ll usually add a column to the spreadsheet I’m uploading with the group I’m about to email called Personal. In the cell for each person I can write my custom personal line for each email. When I upload the sheet, I map it to a custom field {personal} and then dynamically add it into my template. This is the best way to send personalized emails to an entire group.


Max Altschuler is the Founder of the Sales Hacker Conference, Previously the VP of Business Development at AttorneyFee (which sold to Legalzoom), and the first sales hire at Udemy. If you want to see more Sales Hacks like these, sign up for the Sales Hacker Conference on April 24th in NYC or subscribe there for updates on future events and livestreams.

Follow Max at @maxalts


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