Sales communication, scheduled meetings, SDR tips, cold calling.

Matt's LinkedIn Posts Q1 2019

If you had trouble selling in 2018, do these 3 things better in 2019:


1. Prospect – Don’t just hit up all the old lead sources, find new ones and pay if needed. Mix up your search criteria and take the time to research all the companies that show up NA for employees or revenue.
2. Listen Socially – Find your target’s decision makers and read everything they write on social media, learn from it and support them.
3. Pursue – Cold call and email but don’t stalk. Keep your emails short; make sure they’re easy to read on mobile and very relevant. Never ever scare off a prospect by coming on too strong, time is on your side in ’19.

Good luck!

 

Take a deep breath and dial the phone. Know what words you’re going to say before you say them. Speak with confidence and be persistent about conveying your message. The opportunity could be gone in a second so just do your best.

Then take a deep breath and do it again.

 

Those new to sales should know that it’s a situational profession. What you’re selling, who you’re selling to, the competition, what your company does well; all those things add up to make a specific selling situation. It’s a situation that you’ll need to learn well in order to be successful.

Once you understand all of your company’s nuances, the better you’ll be at selling customers and also selling your own company on those customers.

In case you were wondering, the current situation is best understood by the people right there at your company. Just start asking them a lot of questions and you’ll get where you want to go.

 

If you’re wondering why your sales people aren’t effective on the phone, it’s because they don’t know what to say.

When I was 42 years old I took an entry-level sales position with a technology company. I feel like I learned more in that one year working as an SDR than I did running a small business for over a decade. Everything I learned about cold calling is in my book but here is something else I noticed along the way.

Technology and other value propositions can be really complicated. So much so, that some sales people don’t understand them even after training or a few years with their company. As a result, there are sales reps making cold calls who aren’t even trying to talk to decision makers, they’re just going through the motions fulfilling their KPIs.

Adding fuel to the fire, some business leaders are more concerned with getting reps on the phone than teaching them their company’s value picture. And of course, these leaders are being pushed by Venture Capital and other forces who want to see rapid growth.

This cycle is ultimately counterproductive to cold calling.

Have you noticed?

 

Selling the meeting is one of the biggest mistakes being made by SDRs. It’s part of the fundamental problem with the SDR /AE framework.

Typically the role of SDRs is to get qualified meetings for AEs. Sometimes AEs and their company can be particular about what information SDRs share with prospects. Too much info can be a problem so some SDRs are left only selling the meeting.

The biggest problem with this approach is that the meeting itself then becomes the rejection. During that time when an SDR gets to communicate with decision makers, they should be providing information about what their company can do for that prospect. Pitching a future meeting where another rep is going to provide this info in detail is simply a tough sell. It feels a lot more like begging.

Right now the SDR / AE framework succeeds at companies because the great people involved make it work. But it’s broken.

It will never make business sense to saddle entry-level people with the most difficult and important aspects of the sales process. All while positioning them for another job (AE) that is totally different.

I’m a big proponent of full-cycle sales because it provides a more balanced and enjoyable position. I believe that alone reaps big rewards.

 

Why is cold calling more important now than ever?

01000010 01100101 01100011 01100001 01110101 01110011 01100101 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01110100 01100101 01100011 01101000 01101110 01101111 01101100 01101111 01100111 01111001

 

Cold calling advice is hit or miss. I’d avoid doing these things.

An opening statement that takes 30 seconds to ask for a final 30 seconds isn’t a wise bet. Decision makers are most agitated at the beginning of a cold call so it’s best to intro with your reason for calling. Once they connect with the subject matter they’ll be more open to giving you time.

Using terms like “executive briefing” won’t get you anywhere on a cold call. The people we’re calling on are really smart and won’t be swayed with flattering or boastful terms. The most important thing is that you sound like an expert on a topic that’s relevant to them.

Basing a cold call on a trigger event puts you in a category called “everybody”. Trigger events are important but are often misused leaving decision makers even more skeptical. It’s better to work trigger events into a conversation rather than make the conversation about them.

What would you avoid? Don’t say cold calling.

 

Every time you succeed on a cold call they get 1 notch easier. Once you’re successful on a regular basis they become an enjoyable part of your day. Most reps never get there though.

Securing a next step on a cold call is one of the most difficult things to do in business. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many people fail at this skill.

The initial conversations for new sales people set the stage for their long term perception of cold calling. The importance of them being prepared when the first decision maker picks up their call cannot be understated.

Half of the answer to developing reps on cold calling is time. It takes time for new sales people to absorb the information needed to become effective on the phone. How much time varies but generally it takes months and not days.

The other half of the answer is training. I’m talking about actual cold calling training. The quickest way to get reps prepared for the phone is teaching them based on the company’s successful cold calls. If your company doesn’t have successful cold calls, the first comment can help.

 

If your sales job includes cold calling and you dread it, you have three options. 1. Quit 2. Fake it 3. Face it

This post is about No.3.

Face it by doing these:

-Ingrain your opening statement by practicing it over and over.
-Mentally prepare yourself to speak before each dial.
-Make your calls in blocks during peak answering hours.
-Be disappointed if the decision maker doesn’t answer your call.
-Cold call every day, don’t take days off.
-Learn from each conversation, let the bad ones go.
-Celebrate the wins like you scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl (no props though).
-And always remember, no one has ever died from making cold calls (I’m pretty sure).

 

If your tech demo starts with more than 2 minutes about your company’s history, remove it.

A short synopsis of the company beginnings can be an important part of discovery. But if you’re going into detail about the timeline or how the founders met in college, you’re wasting prospect’s time.

They don’t care about that. First and foremost they want to see how your technology is going to help their business. Once you’re able to gain their interest in your product, the company’s history will become more relevant.

Modesty can go a long way in sales; don’t be afraid to use it.

 

If you make 20 targeted cold calls each day and speak with one decision maker, that’s over 250 sales conversations per year.

That’s a lot of opportunities to sell your company and learn in the process.

The best part, uncomfortable will become your new comfortable.

 

Don’t ever underestimate your ability to sell.

When I was finishing up college and preparing to enter the workforce, my father said something to me that forever changed my path. After months of contemplating what business field I wanted to pursue I told my dad that I didn’t think I wanted to be a salesman.

After a quick laugh he told me “Matt, you will always be a salesman because you’ll always have to sell yourself”. That single statement wiped out any apprehensions I had about entering the profession.

So, if you’re questioning whether or not sales is the right career for you.

Just remember how many times you’ve sold yourself.

I bet you’re pretty good at it.

 

Don’t expect too much from your first cold calls. If you don’t hang up the phone you did a good job.

The road to getting comfortable on the phone is different for every person. But it all starts with making those first dials which can be really intimidating for new sales people.

You can reduce the stress by lowering your expectations and focusing on having a good conversation.

If you find yourself struggling for words, don’t be afraid to pause and gather your thoughts.

Most decision makers will respect your perseverance and listen.

Keep talking.

 

Dear Sales People:

If you read a post that advises you to stop doing your job, chuckle and make a cold call.

It’s easy for decision makers to sit back and criticize sales reps for contacting them over and over again.

But it would be even easier for them to reply they’re not interested.

Or they could just let us know they’re not really a decision maker.

Sincerely,
Everybody else

 

One of the most important lessons to learn in sales (life) is that it’s not all about you. It’s all about what you do.

It’s really easy for reps to get caught up in the emotions of selling. That’s because sales is a profession that usually includes a bunch of highs and lows.

The best sales people learn to ride the wave through failure and keep a level head during success.

Their biggest secret is activity.

Make a call.

 

There is a bond that forms when a cold call turns into a sale.

What starts off as an uncomfortable conversation between strangers turns into a long term relationship of mutual benefit. That’s just something you never forget.

Those who have experienced this understand why cold calling will never die.

Long live cold calling, one bond at a time!

 

Companies care way too much about industry experience when evaluating candidates, especially in sales.

Every company has its own track record hiring and developing people. Over time many decide to only hire candidates who’ve previously worked in their industry.

Maybe it’s because they don’t want to teach people the basics or they’ve experienced that not every candidate is able to pick things up. However it happens, many companies end up choosing this approach and I think inevitably they overvalue the experience.

All things considered, it’s the candidates without industry experience who have the highest ceiling. Completely eliminating these people from consideration may be a safe approach for hiring managers, but it’s limiting the chances of finding top end employees.

 

Funny thing about unsuccessful cold calls, decision makers usually have no idea what they’re rejecting.

It’s just an automatic response. “We’re all set, thanks for calling…please take us off your list” click.

This is one of the reasons picking up the phone every day is hard. What looks like a promising opportunity within a few seconds turns into a solid no.

All while the decision maker remains completely unaware about what your company can do for them.

When this happens it feels like you failed.

But you didn’t.

The decision maker failed.

Next dial.

 

There are a lot of things that are “easier said than done” when it comes to the profession of sales.

1. “Cold calling” – If you make cold calls then you know why this is number one.
2. “Collecting money” – Making a delinquent customer pay their bill is a tough spot for sales people, we’re supposed to be the good cop.
3. “Get meetings because the boss is coming to town” – Having to align new business meetings on the day a sales leader is visiting is difficult and highly stressful for sales people. Decision makers usually don’t care about their travel plans.
4. “Make sure they don’t fire us” – It’s part of sales to retain clients but sometimes price/quality/service drives them away and we can get caught in the crossfire.
5. “Increase rates” – Handing a customer a rate increase isn’t a great time for sales people. Even though some decision makers understand, we’re usually walking a thin line.
6. “Sell more” – There are always variables outside the control of sales. All we can do is bring consistent effort and create as many good opportunities as the market allows.
7. “Fill your pipeline” – The pressure on sales people to fill their funnels will forever blur the lines between real opportunities and pipe dreams.

 

When I worked as an SDR I was making cold calls on my sixth day.

I had no idea what to say.

The only thing I understood was the tech’s features.

I quickly found out that years of successful sales and cold calling experience were pretty useless without completely understanding my company’s value.

But what if it isn’t included in the sales training?

If you don’t know the value your company brings to the table, do this:

1. Ask the best sales leader.
2. Ask the best sales reps.
3. Ask the best sales engineers.
4. Ask the best customers.

Keep asking until you find out.

Because you need to know in order to be successful on the phone.

Good luck.

 

A really good cold call can last up to thirty minutes.

Talk about interrupting someone’s day.

But the decision maker is always satisfied with the use of their time.

I will never forget one of my last cold calls as an SDR. As I was hanging up with a VP of Digital (major bank), he actually thanked me for calling.

He was thankful because during the twenty minutes we spoke, he learned about something important to him. He learned about a technology that could impact his future business decisions.

Without our conversation he probably wouldn’t have had all the information. Sometimes things seem a certain way until you talk to somebody.

That’s why we make cold calls.

Now go get your ‘thank you’ today.

Let me know if you do.

 

If the production of your sales team has been your company’s problem over the last five years, then it’s probably not the problem.

The sales group is sort of like the QB of business. If the company is growing we’re celebrated as heroes. When sales are off we can quickly find ourselves in the cross hairs.

In reality, sales personnel are not always the main factor contributing to a downtrend in a company’s sales. Issues like market maturity, competition, marketing trends, current quality, pricing and others can be the catalyst behind falling numbers.

When companies immediately put the onus on sales, they alienate a group that can help them figure out what’s happening.

 

When I was working as an SDR I had a big problem.

Every day felt like a race to keep up with my KPIs.

At times it made selling the technology secondary.

Sales people will do a lot of things to keep up with their KPIs (key performance indicators). That’s probably because companies could fire reps if they don’t.

In simple terms, KPIs are a measuring device for a rep’s performance. Each activity is assigned a standard that everyone on the team is required to meet.

If mismanaged, KPIs can become a counterproductive aspect of the sales process. Reps can be more focused on meeting the requirements then doing what’s best for their company, especially if they’re set unrealistically.

A good question that business and sales leaders should ask from time to time:

Are we setting our sales people up for success or failure?

You might be surprised by the answer.

 

Hey salespeople, if things aren’t working for you then make changes.

You have nothing to lose.

Things you can change:

1. your attitude – be positive, stay positive. if someone is having success selling at your company then you can too.
2. your approach – mix it up with cold calls, emails, InMails, VMs, LinkedIn VMs, direct mail, content. don’t skip the cold calls. find something that works and hammer it.
3. your timing – stop sending emails and making cold calls at the same time each day unless it’s been effective. test different times and find a sweet spot.
4. your messaging – if you’re unsure about your messaging then ask the company’s best rep for help. if they tell you to buzz off then beg them.
5. your communication – sales is 100% communication. ask questions and actively listen during the response, make it a point to ask clarifying questions.
6. your appearance – take care of yourself, look good feel good.
7. your energy – eat better, exercise, bring energy and excitement to every day. sales isn’t supposed to be a desk job.

 

I bet your sales cycle starts with a scheduled meeting.

Everything sales & marketing does is built around acquiring it.

Inbound, outbound, word-of-mouth, “Let’s find a spot on your calendar”.

The consummate pursuit of meetings by sales people has made them a thing to avoid for prospects.

Many reps spend their time selling meetings rather than sharing information about their company.

There’s another way to do this.

If you’re a sales leader ready to change things up, message me.

We have a great offer for our early adopters.

Best of all, your team will sell more.

 

I think one of the biggest differences with working in sales today is that companies are treating it like an assembly line.

It’s not.

In order to help make my point, I’ll refer back to the cinematic classic ‘Bad Boys’.

You may remember, in the beginning of the movie Captain Eddie (Pantoliano) is so concerned with losing the trust of their key witness (Tea Leoni).

He makes Martin Lawrence pretend to be Will Smith for almost the entire movie.

Companies should be more like Captain Eddie.

Keep the trust.

 

I think one of the biggest differences with working in sales today is that companies are treating it like an assembly line.

It’s not.

In order to help make my point, I’ll refer back to the cinematic classic ‘Bad Boys’.

You may remember, in the beginning of the movie Captain Eddie (Pantoliano) is so concerned with losing the trust of their key witness (Tea Leoni).

He makes Martin Lawrence pretend to be Will Smith for almost the entire movie.

Companies should be more like Captain Eddie.

Keep the trust.

 

Thanks for reading, please share!

Do you want a
Bigger Sales Funnel?

Did you know you can more
than double your productivity
with sales automation?
Photo of Subroot Founder Matt Wanty

About the Author

Matt Wanty is the Founder of Subroot and the Author of The Lost Art of Cold Calling. Recently launched Subroot is the latest sales tool to help reps reach more prospects and build a bigger sales funnel.  In addition to writing a book on cold calling, Matt regularly shares posts on Linkedin, His sales content on cold calling, sales career, SDRs and more has been read by millions of sales people around the world.  Sign up below to receive Matt’s content directly to your inbox.

Matt's Content 2

Content Library