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December 31st: Sales Day or Vacation Day?

Today is Tuesday, December 16th, 2014. Excluding weekends and the Christmas holiday, that means there’s only 11 business days left in 2014. Translation: you’ve only got 11 days to close deals.

Having said that, if you haven’t established conversation with your prospects as of today — good luck. As the end of the year is fast approaching, people tend to unplug and rely on their trusty Out of Office (OOO) auto-reply. But, don’t turn into a Scrooge in the face of the “OOO” blocker. We at ToutApp still believe that Wednesday, December 31st will be one of your most important sales days of the year.

Think of December 31st in these terms: it’s another day to do what you do best. Sell.

Know Your Pipeline

As mentioned earlier, December 31st isn’t the best day to go around and try to open new business. It’s more than likely that you won’t be able to reach the right people, let alone anyone at all. December 31st is all about tying up loose ends. Wrangling in the stragglers and making sure they sign that DocuSign.

Chances are, you’re in sales at a company that has some sort of organized pipeline. You know your pipeline. And, you know exactly where each prospect is in that pipeline. If they’re in the training stages–great, make sure they have everything they need to get them going on January 5th. If a prospect is in final evaluation stages, give them a ring and close that deal.

Close from Anywhere

The beauty about technology, but more importantly, technology paired with sales is that you can close from anywhere. Your parents couch in your PJs? Close those deals. In an empty office in San Francisco? Close those deals.

If your prospects are like you–they’re just trying to close deals too. Sure, some of them will be OOO. But, maybe they’re in sales too and they’re trying to close out the year and quarter on a high mark.

What I’m saying is this, everyone needs a break from their family during the holidays, and they’re going to check their email. And, if they’re going to check their email you might as well sign them a DocuSign with an end-of-day expiration date.

Soon-to-Expire-Deal

On December 31, 2013, Market Wired published an article titled “Today is the year’s best day to buy a car.” Why? Because everyone loves a deal. Why pay full price on December 30th when you can cut a deal on December 31st? People wait until the last day of the year because the odds are in their favor. Last day of the year = prices are slashed!

Salespeople need to clear their inventory and meet their sales quota for the month. And people, well, we’re a buying culture and we’re always on the hunt for a deal.

Like any consumer, everyone knows that a good thing (like a deal) won’t stick around forever. There’s an steadfast expiration date. Unlike those Bed, Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons (though, technically, they have an expiry date–but the store honors them anyway).

It’s the last day of the year and if you don’t sign today, prices are going to skyrocket next day on January 1st.

On the prospects’ side, most likely, if they haven’t spent their entire 2014 budget yet–chances are they’re going to do it on that day. Prospects are on the hunt to spend the rest of their fiscal budget money and get the best deal to set them up for success in 2015.

What better way to end off a successful year than with a strong sales close? In the words of ToutApp’s VP of Sales, Eileen Wiens says, “It ain’t over until it’s over.”

Here’s to December 31st!

 

 

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7 Ways to Sell like a Human

An Enterprise Sales Executive, a Strategic Sales Rep, an SDR, AE, MDR, BDR, ZBR, AMR, VP, Happiness Officer, I could be all things.. but really, I’m just Jen.

One of the most important things I’ve learned recently, is that it doesn’t matter what you have as your Linkedin headline, or what your email signature says. At the end of the day, you are essentially just you, and no title can really change that. At the end of the day, we are all only human.

What do I mean by this? Being genuine (and more importantly, sounding genuine) is key to being a successful seller. I think the following quote sums this up perfectly:

“In sales, you are never selling an object or something tangible. What you are really selling at the end of the day is: Opportunity. Confidence, Conviction and Charisma just allow you to take that opportunity and turn it into art.” –Gurbaksh Chahal

So how do we get there?

I’m certainly no pro, but over the past couple years I’ve learned the most important part of selling today is being real with people. I’ve found that conviction will persevere, and your charisma will allow you to take that opportunity and truly turn it into an art.

“The most successful salespeople today are not the Type-A ‘meat eaters’, they’re not the ones that can ‘sell anything, close anything, don’t give a damn.’ Salespeople today could quite frankly be you, the person that hasn’t sold a day in your life, but you are a real person, an intelligent person, a humble person, a self-reflective person, a person that can communicate, a person that believes in delivering value, in solving problems, in being the best that you can be. YOU can be a salesperson.”  -Tawheed Kader

Sell like a Human. Here’s how:

1. Sell with confidence.

You need to sell with conviction. IT IS KEY.  It helps when you believe in what you are selling. Even better, eat the dogfood and practice what you preach. Focus on what you know and support it. Focus on more than communicating, focus on them. Be assertive.

2. Sell with humor.

Dude, you gotta have a sense of humor in sales; without it… all is lost. I’m a huge believer in making people crack a smile or laugh. Sales is high stress, and fast pace, so when you throw humor into the mix at the right time, it can calm that tension. Humor can bring ease into the conversation and help potential customers open up and share insights around their wants, needs, and company. Don’t be afraid to be funny!

3. Selling is solving problems.

“The best salespeople are professional problem solvers.” Stephan Schiffman.

The true beauty of sales is overcoming those massive challenges. I’ll never forget the first deal I ever lost– I was devastated. It wasn’t until TK our CEO told me “Jen, this is not a failure. It’s a learning experience. In the end, it’s only a deal. Not the end of the world. Reflect on the good, the bad, and move on.”

4. Selling is showing you genuinely care.

“Honestly, what’s more human than actually giving a damn about their life, their career, their company. Better yet, stop calling them prospects and start calling them “customer advocates.” — Great insight from the unstoppable Jill Rowley.

5. Selling is being a social.

Hear and communicate effectively with all customers and potential customers (aka customer advocates) on ALL social channels. Make sure you’re leveraging different tools in the proces like (these are my must-haves):

  • Salesforce
  • Gagin
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • ToutApp
  • DocuSign

Always be learning. Attend sales meet ups, webinars, and listen in to sales podcasts.

Follow sales leaders, here is a place to start: John Barrows, Koka Sexton, Jill Rowley, Matt Heinz and Scott Britton.

6. Educate and inspire.

Selling is educating and inspiring your customers. Make sure you’re doing the 5 E’s of Social Business.

  • Educate with content
  • Enchant by being relevant
  • Engage with authenticity
  • Embrace them by starting an open dialogue
  • Empower by giving them the right tools

7. Celebrate the small wins.

In sales, you have to celebrate the small gains. GET EXCITED about that one meeting you’ve been working on for over a month, that one awesome email, that deal you closed, that shout out from your boss, and most importantly celebrate the success of your teammates.

Key takeway.

In the end, we are all human beings. Sell with integrity, sell with conviction, sell as if you are key stakeholder for their success.

If you are a genuine person, an intelligent person, a open person, a self-reflective person, a person that can communicate, a person that believes in delivering value to your customer, in solving problems, in being the best that you can be – you are meant to be in sales.

Above all be you. Because you’re friggin awesome.


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7 Essential Shortcuts Every Salesperson Should Know

“Not enough time in the day” – said every salesperson, ever.

More than just copy-pasting, this post is for people who are ready to take their productivity to the next level. Are you constantly clicking through tabs, applications and search?  Of course you are – here’s how to get stuff done faster. Here are 7 simple ways that will help you be more efficient. Seriously, this is how you add more time to your day.

Please note: If you’re cursed with a windows computer, substitute ctrl for ⌘


Transitioning Shortcuts:

1. Switch between applications
⌘ + Tab

*Pro Tip: keep your thumb on ⌘ and tap Tab to switch between all of your open applications

2. Switch between different windows in the same application

 ⌘ + ~


Shortcuts with Chrome:

3. Open the last tab you (accidentally) closed
⌘ + shift + T

4. Opens link in a new tab
⌘ + click link

5. Switch between open tabs

    (or 2, 3… 9)

*Pro Tip: ⌘ + 9 will always open the last tab in the window

6. Put your cursor in the URL bar
⌘ + L

7. Open up window in incognito mode
⌘ + shift + N

*Pro Tip: 3 uses for incognito mode that prove it’s not just for NSFW material

P.S.

As you start your journey for less mechanical mouse clicking, consider checking “warn before quitting” under the Chrome menu.  This will help your tab surfing not accidentally close all of the hard work you’ve done.

*Blog written by Dan Smith–aspiring productivity guru. Follow him on Twitter!


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How To Build Trust Like an FBI Agent

I attended a conference last week (CMX Summit) that answered the question, how DO YOU engage people?

My favorite person that spoke was Robin Dreeke, former head of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Program.

Sales is about connecting people. It’s about standing out in a crowd, getting into someone’s email inbox, or setting up a meeting. You may pride yourself on being charismatic, and you probably know how to close deals.

But, do you want to know how to do it faster? And more often?

Dreeke shared some psychological life hacks that will help you build trust and form relationships faster. They are easily applicable to your sales process since sales, in essence, is all about human interaction. Dreeke argues that people do not form loyalty with organizations, they form loyalty with people. Here are 5 things you should remember when understanding your leads or prospects. The more you’re able to connect with a person, the faster the relationship can be built.

1. Learn about their priorities, goals, and objectives.

The first step to understanding anyone is taking the time to learn about them. In sales, you should immediately gauge a deeper understanding of what is top of mind for your potential customers. How do you do this?

My absolute favorite line that Dreeke said was,

“If you don’t know what to ask, ask them what their challenges are.”

This question can apply to almost every life scenario. To build the bond and trust with any relationship (even your friends), you’ll want to establish understanding for their headspace. When you ask this question, the challenge they list is their number one priority they are dealing with at that moment. They’re telling you their gut reaction and thoughts! Use that to your advantage to sell.

2. Ego suspension. Get rid of it!

Even though this seems apparent, I think this is an amazing reminder for every salesperson. Sales is inherently competitive, so there has probably been cases when your confidence has helped you close deals. The fact of the matter is, your prospect on the other end of the email or call doesn’t care if you’ve closed the most deals on your team, or your boss thinks you’re the bees knees. At the end of the day, when you let go of your ego, you’ll become a better seller.

This quote really got me thinking. “Don’t be collateral damage in someone else’s insecurities.” In sales (and life in general), it’s easy and natural to take things personally. Say you have an angry person on the other line that won’t stop yapping. The minute you realize that their anger is simply that, their anger and not yours…it’s easier to not be so affected by the situation. Dreeke says,

“People very rarely go at you for personal reasons; it’s their own insecurities.”

Keep calm, and let go of your ego when selling.

3. Allow them to talk.

You might have heard this before, but now an FBI agent is absolutely confirming it. Finding the pain points on a sales call is one of the most important first steps you can take as a salesperson. Your main goal is to figure out how your product will fit in their company’s workflow.

In Sales, the best way to get to know someone and understand them is to LISTEN. Ask discovery questions, but always make sure they are talking more than you are. They can research your product online, but this is your chance to research them.

“Validation is nothing more than asking questions and find the context”

4. Place them ahead of you

Forget about your quota, and first think about how you can help them. The minute you start caring more about them, and they can tell that you do, the better seller you’ll be.

“HELP them understand what they are trying to do and achieve it.”

5. Seek their thoughts and opinions.

A good mentality to have is to seek your leads as resources too! Get excited that with every call or email, you get an opportunity to learn more about the space you’re selling to. Try asking their advice on a specific question. It’s different from your old-school sales strategy, but it will help you build a real relationship vs. being “salesy.”

Final takeaway…

When you build trust with a person, you’re able to feel like you’re some sort of team. Having a “partner” in the sales process will help both sides achieve their goals and build champions. Robin’s 5 pieces of advice might seem simple, but if you apply them on a daily basis, I believe you’ll become a better and faster seller.

After all, if you can build trust the way an FBI officer does, it’s likely you can build trust on your sales call.

If you have any sales tips/tricks you want to learn about, tell me here!


 


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The Secret Call to Action You’re Not Using in Your Sales Email

Writing a good sales email is hard. No wonder we wrote a whole guide to teach you how to write kickass emails.

You probably know how to write a good email, but I bet you’re missing out on precious opportunities by not using two simple letters “P” and “S”.

I’m talking about “P.S.”

How it lands meetings.

P.S. is a classic copywriting technique that can make your sales email more effective.

Look at this email below:

This could just be another sales email to demo a product, but its the last line that makes it incredibly effective.

Adding the P.S. gives you a chance to add a small nudge or call to action.

So why does it work? It’s a part of the basic human psychology called the Serial Position Effect. Simply put, people remember the things that are in the end of a list.

If you write an email, there’s a good chance that the reader will read and remember the last thing you wrote.

Who’s using it?

Don’t take my word for it. Even Jill Konrath, the popular sales influencer, uses it in her emails:

As you can see, Jill used the “P.S.” as one last chance to sell.

How it subtly sells.

The P.S. can also act as a nudge to sell something in a subtle way. Take a look at the email below:

The email is to thank a blogger for his quality content AND creatively uses a P.S. to tell him about a product and get him to sign up.

Now that you’ve seen some examples, start using P.S. and closing more deals!

P.S. Comment and let us know if p.s. has helped you make your emails more effective.


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11 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Social Selling

 

Koka Sexton, a leading visionary on Social Selling (and the Global Senior Manager of Social Marketing at LinkedIn), sat down with our team to share tips on why social selling is important, and rather crucial, to sales.

Definition of Social Selling:

Leveraging your professional brand to fill your pipeline with the right people, insights and relationships.

Why it’s really important:

Social selling helps you be proactive vs. reactive in your selling process. It helps you bring more passion to your work. Instead of being “salesy” Koka says,

”Social selling helps you influence your buyers and come across as credible, authentic, accurate, information rich, and service oriented.”


Here are 11 social selling tips that you probably don’t know:

1. Social Sellers are more likely to hit their quota

Salespeople that use social selling to increase their pipeline actually see better results. In a study by LinkedIn, the C-level and VP buyers (your decision makers) are using social media to make 84% of their purchase decisions.

Key takeaway: When DM’s have more information, “they feel more confident about the buying decision and are willing to spend more.” Social buyers make 61% more purchases. Make sure your social media is teaching rather selling.

2. Social Media is kind of like Outside Sales.

This was my ‘A-ha!’ moment and I think this is a great way to look at social media. Since salespeople don’t always get the opportunity to meet prospects in person, think of social media as being the door to their office. It opens up a whole new world for making a personal conversation.

Key takeaway: “As an inside salesperson, I didn’t have the opportunity to go into their office to see pictures of their kids, plaques on the wall, memorabilia from their vacations, and find personal talking points.” By doing research on social media, “You can understand where people are in their lives based on their presence on social media” Don’t be creepy about it, but find something interesting to talk about.

3. Don’t sell like a LION.

LION (LinkedIn Open Network) is a connection philosophy. Meaning, you’re a LION if you push accept on anyone and everyone that asks to be your connection on social media. While some people find this useful for building a large network, other’s want to build more personal relationships.

Key takeaway: Pick a connection philosophy, but make sure the person you’re accepting can add value. Koka’s filter for accepting invites is, “If I can add value and you can add value to me; I’ll connect with you.”

4. Always send a personal message when connecting

I can’t reiterate enough how important personalization is in emails. Take the same mentality when using social media. That extra minute it takes to write a quick note when connecting will make your relationship that much stronger. Don’t get lazy.

Key takeaway: “A good connection request is relatively short (2 paragraphs) and shows that they actually understand me in some way.” Koka always tries to reply to personal messages. “If you write a personal message when connecting, 99% of the time they will write back. How cool is that? These are your buyers talking to YOU!”

Super simple example:

5. You don’t always have to talk about your company

It’s important to MIX up what you talk about on social media. Unless someone is a devout customer, they might not love hearing about your company as much as you do. Instead, take an influencer approach and share the latest and relevant sales content.

Key takeaway: “Make sure you talk about relevant sales content like: the world of email, why analytics are so important, an occasional sales meme, industry news, etc.” Because you’re always doing something new, people will keep on coming back if you’re giving enough helpful information.

6. You’re a part-time CEO

One of my favorite lines Koka said was, “You are the CEO of ME Inc.” At the end of the day, it’s about you. A good brand, “conveys some kind of emotion.” So make sure “your” company looks good on social media.

Key takeaway: Think about what that is for yourself. Make sure you tell your story for how you got there, things you’re dealing with, things that interest you. Be a little more authentic and “channel fun things like birthdays and events to add a level of entertainment and authenticity.”

7. It’s great to shoutout to your customers via status updates

Koka uses a trick to promote his network in his status updates. By saying a simple, “Happy Monday to my favorite connections…(and listing a few), you’ll get the attention of your network and show appreciation.

Key takeaway: When you make shoutouts to your current customers or social media followers, you do two things. “One, you build and strengthen the relationship with that person. And two, you increase the visibility of your posts and personal brand.” In other words, their friends will also see your post and you’ll gain more visibility.

8. Everyone messes it up at one point.

Everyone make a bad post or says something they shouldn’t have, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, learn how to not take things so personally.

Key takeaway: “One time I tweeted something that went too far into my personal world, and so I took it down. People were upset that I was taking tweets down and got angry. I fired back and took things way too personally.” Instead he says, “Take the criticism and let it go to your logic brain as opposed to emotional brain.”

9. WHO you know is more important than WHAT you know (Tags)

Companies are making social selling a qualifier these days; as opposed to an option.

Key takeaway: Make sure to tag people into groups on your social media accounts so you have quick access to finding the right people. By tagging groups like “all Sales Managers in SF,” you’ll be more organized with your potential leads or customers.

10. Stop thinking about your LinkedIn profile as your online resume

Don’t just copy and paste your resume onto your LinkedIn profile. It’s meant to be used for more.

Key takeaway: “Make sure you use your online social media profiles to build your reputation and include things about your industry.” What does this do? “By having rich media on your profile, your page becomes a go-to resource!

11. It’s okay to change your title

It’s okay to have a different title on your LinkedIn profile. Change your title to describe what kind of seller you are along with your company name.

Key takeaway: It’s an added bonus that gives your buyer more information and *sparkle* about you.

*What else would you like to know about Sales? Ask us here!


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5 Reasons Why Culture is Actually Important in Sales

Dear Brittany,

I work at an established company. Everyone is hardworking and smart, but sales culture is lacking. There isn’t a sense of community or collaboration. Does this make a difference, and what are some ways to change that?
-Lonely Salesguy

1. Culture is key to hiring.

I think people are starting to forget that culture doesn’t mean having a ping-pong table in the office, or getting free lunches every day. Quickly defined, culture is sharing a similar passion for the company’s success. Culture is the similar belief system of a particular group. And at the end of the day, all of the amenities in the world can’t buy that. If a person is not a culture fit, they will not mesh well with the team and be an integral part of the company’s success. A fun game of ping-pong won’t make a person buy into the company’s values. A decorated office will also not change a person’s inherent drive to succeed.

Our CEO TK thinks it’s the single most important thing when building a team.

“It means more than the ability to close, and even more than their experience as a salesperson.”

I’ll be honest, at first I was a little shocked he didn’t say it was a person’s track record for closing deals. But, as I researched about culture this week, I’ve found that it really is the one thing that trumps everything else.

So, what’s one personality trait we should first look for when hiring for culture fit? Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos) thinks one of the most important qualities to look for in an employee is being self-aware. He says, “I think if someone is self-aware, then they can always continue to grow.” Growth and drive to succeed are two very important qualities to look for in a salesperson.

2. It’s the foundation for all skills.

Skills can be taught, but values cannot. When building a sales team or interviewing, make sure you know what values are important to you. Dependability is a very important quality to look for in a salesperson because it correlates with teamwork.  It’s good to ask questions around responsibility for this very reason. Were they on a sports team or have they had a job that involved teamwork at a young age? Some questions to ask yourself when interviewing for culture fit:

  • Would you want them to sit next to you in the office?
  • Would you grab a drink with them after work, just the two of you?
  • If they were the only person in the office on a Saturday, would you still want to come in?

You know when you’ve made a good culture hire when a person just starts at a company, and you can’t even remember what it was like without them. When they feel important to the team right away, that’s a good sign of culture fit.

3. It can help you win.

I’ll be bold but say it, if you have a strong culture with a group of people that are passionate, you can destroy your competition. When you value the same things, it’s easier for your sales team to move in a similar direction. Ideas can flow better and get you ahead of the game.

Culture is when people have a similar perspective on what the company means to them. TK says, “Everyone has personal goals, but we help each other because what it does best, is help everyone get to the same goal.”

Tony Hsieh sold Zappos for $1.2 billion dollars to Amazon and attributes much of the company’s success to culture. He says, “We want people who are passionate about what Zappos is about – service. I don’t care if they’re passionate about shoes.” In other words, aligning the same values is key to creating a great company culture.

4. It completes the team.

It’s important NOT to get stuck on the idea that culture means everyone has to be the same. Similar values and similar personalities are different things. Diversity is key to building a strong team for productive debates. Otherwise, groupthink and innovation can decrease.

I like to think about each person’s “superpower.” A person’s superpower is the one attribute, big or small, that they really excel at. Are you really good at networking on social media? Are you good at finding pain points right away on the phone? Are you very compassionate and good at connecting with people? These are all very important qualities to have on a team, but not everyone can have all three. So pick three people that excel at each one (or whatever values you’re looking for).

Also, people that have different superpowers can fill in the missing holes in a company’s culture for the better. For example, do you need more extroverts, or more creative thinkers? Simply stated, while culture fit is an overall feeling, different personalities should not be confused with fitting in.

5. It helps build resilience and trust.

I went to a meetup in the San Francisco last week and listened to some of the best VP’s of Marketing in the city. Even though Marketing and Sales is different, I still learned the same key takeaways when thinking about Culture. Elise Bergeron (VP of Marketing from Relate IQ) gave great advice on how culture can help build a company’s resilience.

“People need to believe in what you’re doing. If they do, it’s better to recover from misalignments.”

I thought this was excellent insight for boosting morale when something doesn’t go as planned; which often happens in the start-up and tech world.

ToutApp does a daily stand up everyday to talk about each person’s highlights/lowlights. Elise’s team does #moments where the team goes around and talks about the special moments of the week. Both are similar concepts of boosting morale and getting the team together. Elise says, and TK agrees, both are vital to a company’s success.

With small startups, it’s easy to talk to your colleagues on a daily basis. However, as teams grow, that starts happening less often. Rafael Alenda (VP of Marketing from New Relic) says you must, “Come from a point of trust.” Meaning, if you don’t get to talk to each and every co-worker, build a team and culture where you can trust from a distance. And finally, I think JD Peterson (VP of Marketing from Zendesk) put it best when facing our 100+ person room,

“The reason why were sitting up here at the end of the day (the reason why we stay at our jobs) is because of the culture.”

Everyone nodded their heads.

A lot of times culture fit is a gut feeling, and that’s okay. You know the inner workings and small details of your company, and your gut should let you know if you can see someone fit in. Focus on a person’s “sparkle.” That je ne sais quoi feeling you have when meeting someone. Often, if you feel sparkle, it means you can see their potential to do great things at your company.

So, Lonely Salesguy, if there’s one sentence I can leave you with it’s this: If a person has sparkle and is a great culture fit (along with technical abilities of course), then you have your next Salesperson. Go help build a kick-ass Sales team!

That’s everything I’ve got.
-Brittany

What else would you like to know about Sales? Ask me here or tweet at me!

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Feature of the Week: Track Your Content

What’s cooler than tracking links?

CON-TENT!

Did you know that with ToutApp, you can track your presentations, documents, pictures, etc.? See when a prospect or lead clicks on your pricing sheet or e-book. Some examples where you’d use this:

  • Tracking to see if your prospects have opened your pricing sheet
  • See when your presentation is opened
  • Did they look at your case study?

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s how to track your content (in Gmail and Outlook):

1. In Gmail, it’s right in your email next to your other favorite features.

 

**You can choose to upload a new file, or quickly go to the documents you regularly send out in emails. It’s a quick sales trick to grab the presenation or doc you’re always using.

2. In Toutapp.com, it’s in a similar spot above the body of your email.

3. In Outlook, it’s located on the right.

**Have an idea for Feature of the Week? Tell us about it! 


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Personalizing Emails- Every trick in the book!

 

Here are a couple of tricks that we constantly utilize to write better emails.

Want to get better response rates? The more personalized and unique you get in your emails, the more engagement you’ll have.

I’ll admit, our CEO contemplated giving away our secret “selling sauce”, but since sales is about teamwork, I’ve convinced him to do so! Here are the core things that will help you write great emails/templates, and above all, close more deals.

8 Personalizing Tricks:

1. LinkedIn

Salespeople live and breathe on LinkedIn, so make sure you know how to effectively customize your searches to leverage your networks. Ways to get hyper specific:

  • Look at Relationships (you want to reach out to 3rd degree connection vs. 1st for prospecting new leads)
  • Geographical location (All VP of Sales in San Francisco)
  • Look for “uncommon commonalities”
    -Adam Grant, the youngest Wharton Professor in Psychology has coined this term. It basically states that a lot of people can find easy commonalities…but it’s more powerful to find an uncommon commonality.

*Sales Hack: Here’s an example: Instead of reaching out to someone on LinkedIn with the subject line, “Fellow Brown Grad…”  Go to their profile, and find something deeper; like their hobbies or clubs. Start with the subject line, “Fellow skier on the Brown team.” It will be more powerful and make you stand out.

2. Google Search Tricks

There are other ways to Google companies that you might not know of–believe me, they’re pretty cool. As a salesperson, it’s important to do research before you make a connection (whether it’s via email or a call).

  • Use the “News” tab vs. the “Web” tab when doing company research to get fresh content; when you Google that’s not always the case
  • Find competitors by searching for “company X vs.”
  • Go to google.com/blogsearch for all the blog mentions on Company X; different than traditional press because you find out what customers, influencers, and industry experts are saying
  • Do smart searches like:
    -“X raises” for funding
    -“X hires” for key hires
    -“X reviews” for online-reviews

3. Company’s Blog

We like to say that, “A company’s blog is the gateway to their soul.” Always make sure you read a company’s blog to understand what is top of mind for them. Are they writing posts about new VP’s or hires? That would lead you to believe they’re hiring. Are they talking about a product release? They really care about product innovation. The trick in sales is to find something in common to talk about, and their blog is a way to find a common denominator. Things to look for:

  • Pay attention who is writing
  • Know their priorities
  • Pay attention to product releases and key hires

4. Crunchbase

This is the go-to place to find intel on companies. Especially when you’re dealing with early-stage or companies raising money. You’ll get an incredible amount of information like:

  • Links to recent press mentions
  • Who their advisors, employees, and investors are
  • The one-line description they use to describe themselves

5. Glassdoor

Our CEO deems this one of his favorite sales hacks. Glassdoor is a great way to get an inside look at company culture. You’ll have a better idea for what kind of vibe your call/email should have. You can use all of this information as ammunition. “I’ve critically thought about your company, and I think your challenge might be this…I can help!”

  • See if employees are happy and read reviews
  • Are they hiring?
  • Get an eye into day-to-day challenges, issues, pros and cons

6. Indeed.com/Job Sites

Job sites are important to see where the company is growing. Are they hiring for marketing roles? Perhaps they need more marketing tools to handle their growth. Every position a company has open says something about that company. This gives you:

  • Glimpse into their strategic roles
  • Tells you about corporate priorities–>all the way up to the board level!
  • Ex: “Hey, we work with a ton of companies that have large sales teams too (if they’re hiring for a lot of sales roles), let me know when you’re free to chat…”

7. Similarsitesearch.com

You can type in a domain and it will give you similar sites and competitors based on data.

  • Use as a leverage or to better understand the landscape

8. GageIn (Google Alerts on steroids)

  • Get up to date articles on companies or people you want to watch
  • Finds real-time sales opportunities including websites and blogs
  • Displays a unique 360-degree view of companies

Recap:

All of these tools will help you pick up clues and put together the bigger picture for who you are emailing, what they care about, and deeper information about the company. If you get into the discipline for using these personalization tools, you’ll become a better seller. For more Do’s and Don’ts on these sales hacks, watch the full webinar:

 


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How to Build a Team of Sales Superheroes

Dear Brittany ToutApp

Dear Brittany,

Our start-up is really getting some traction – yee ha! Now we need to bring a sales superhero on board, and I’m not sure how to separate the wheat from the chafe? I’ve made bad sales hires in the past where they show and tell me how amazing they are, and then they don’t close a single deal…sigh!

What should I be looking for? Is there a way to “test” them to see what real skills they’ve got? Any other tips hiring for this kind of role?

Many thanks,
From Start-up taking off!

Dear Start-up taking off,

I sat down with our VP of Sales, Eileen Wiens, and our Director of Sales Operations, Daniel Barber. Both have years of Sales interviewing experience; and have managed multiple teams.  In fact, both interview candidates on a daily basis at ToutApp– they’re perfect for helping answer your question.

First and foremost, they both agree you should know how to sell to your uber driver. In other words, before you bring on a salesperson, make sure you can sell the product yourself. You’ll know what type of language you’re looking for in the interview, and will be able to define your product. So here’s your answer for how to hire an amazing salesperson…

Where do you start?

Know exactly what you’re hiring for. Eileen says, “Are you looking for hunters or farmers?” In other words, do you need someone qualifying or finding leads, or do you need “closers” or reps that can work on Enterprise accounts. It’s important to first understand each role and your sales cycle (transactional one-call close vs. complex 6-9 month cycle), and only then, will you know what your perfect candidate looks like. “You need to find the type of person that fits the type of sale that you have, it may evolve from SMB to Enterprise, but know what you need.”

Types of questions to ask.

You’ll want to be able to separate the great interviewers from the people that can actually execute. Eileen likes using layering questions, and pulling away the layers for each answer. An example might be:
Q: Describe to me your sales process.
A: After a lead, I do a demo.
Q: How do you get demos? Are they inbound leads?
A: No, I have to prospect
Q: Tell me how you prospect? How do you pick who to call or email…

By asking open ended questions, you’ll get to see a candidate’s strategy, clock-speed, and thought process. How deep can they go? They should have learned a lot about their product and know how to explain it to you in layman’s terms.

With beginning roles, you’ll want to focus on personality characteristics like grit and persistence. For experienced reps (5+years), it’s really about knowing how complicated of a sales process they’re capable of managing. Eileen tells me, “If there are Stakeholders across 3+ departments before we even get a trial off the ground; it’s about knowing how to navigate and piece together org structures and understanding all of the groups with keeping the sale in mind.”

More Sample Questions, and what you’ll learn.

-Aptitude: Sell me your last companies product.
-Passion: Lately, What are you doing to develop your sales profession…books, blogs?
-Ownership: Tell me about an early time where you had to demonstrate responsibility.
-Experience (for seasoned sellers): How did you manage your sales cycle?
-Consistent Persistence: How many times do you think it’s worth following-up with someone? Hint: Most people drop after 5, be that sixth! :)
-Critical Thinking: How is selling door-to-door similar to this role? Have them tell you how they would get someone to open the door for you (over the 200 other people ringing the doorbell). Hint: the inbox is the modern day doorstep.

Interview Style.

You’re going to be shocked to hear this. You’re doing it all wrong. Daniel, our Director of Sales Ops is going old-school…he doesn’t do phone screens! He asks me, “How much time does a phone screen take?” I answer 15-30 minutes. He asks, “How much time would that take in real life?” I answer 30 minutes. Because your allotted time is relatively the same (for first-round sales interviews), why wouldn’t you want to meet them in person? He goes on to say, “What you get from an in-person is attention to detail. It saves a whole round of interviewing.”  Instead of having a phone screen, and then asking similar questions on the first round in-person, you get the same information in one. “It’s a win-win because you save time on your calendar, and they get a shot at presenting themselves in their best possible light.”

What else does this do? It creates a stronger networking bond. By meeting with someone in person, you can create mini advocates for your brand; even if you don’t end up hiring them. You’ll never know if you will in the future, or if they’ll be needing your product. An in-person handshake and 30 minute meeting goes a lot farther than a 30 minute blind phone call. And, If you’re still hesitant, follow Eileen and at least do video screens via skype.

Also, have them do a writing exercise. Daniel asks our candidates to write a sample email to a person at a very large company; a real person with a title they would be actually contacting. “It’s an example of their first day-to-day task that they’ll be doing.” Look for what kind of information they include like 10k reports, details, connections, etc.

Lastly, it’s the old adage: hire slow fire fast. You should spend far more time on the interview research process and have a pipeline of candidates. Daniel uses the 100 Rule from Greylock Partners (a VC firm that instructs hiring at Facebook and LinkedIn). The rule is: With 100 resumes or Linked profiles, from those you meet 15 in-person, and from those 15, you’ll find your candidate.”

*Shoutout to Andrew Riesenfeld, Daniel attributes a lot of his recruiting knowledge to him.

3 Musts.

For Daniel, there are three attributes in salespeople that are good indicators for success:

1. Attention to detail. If you’re a SDR sending a message to 50 salespeople, and you get a name wrong or have a grammatical error on the first line; there isn’t a conversation anymore. This is a big must-have.
2. Work ethic. Sales teams are in the office very early; usually the first. Closing deals essentially means running your own business. If you don’t grasp that concept, how are you going to be successful? Your territory is your own business, so make sure they have this!
3. Critical thinking. Have them walk you through contacting the VP of Sales at Adobe. Find out their play by play and their drive to succeed. How a salesperson thinks through selling is vital to the deals they’ll get.

Lastly, you have to just plain like ‘em.

Culture can mean more than their experience as a salesperson. Making sure a person meshes well and embodies your company’s values will directly impact the happiness of the team. In a lot of cases, sales skills can be taught, but values can not. Know what’s important to you in terms of culture.

That’s everything I’ve got. Good luck hiring a kick-ass salesperson!
-Brittany

What else would you like to know about Sales? Ask me here or tweet at me!


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