I don’t like sales. I don’t like getting sales calls. Which is probably why I don’t like making sales calls. I like helping people. That has been the strength of our agency for 20 years. So when I met Dan Tyre at INBOUND 17 and he told me that it’s not about ABC (Always Be Closing) anymore, but rather Always Be Helping, I was intrigued and had to get into HubSpot's Pipeline Generation Bootcamp 501.
This was a daunting task for a self-described introvert, but I was up for the challenge. In the end, participating in the bootcamp was one of the best decisions I could have made for my business and myself. If you are an introvert like me, get over it and get your butt into PGB 501. It’s not as scary as you think. You will meet some great people (shout out to my fellow Lions) and leave with skills that are invaluable. Here’s what you can expect and some key takeaways:
Focus on Your Motivation. Why do you do what you do? Is it about more money? Is it about taking care of your family? Is it about growing a kick-ass business? It doesn’t matter what it may be, but you have to know it and focus your attention on it. Just putting it into perspective will give you an advantage.
Be Committed. Dan is upfront about what he expects from you, which is to be motivated and committed to doing the work. He makes this easy as his enthusiasm is contagious – you will want to do it.
The Riches are in the Niches. You can’t be all things to all people. If you want to be successful you need to decide who are you going after and what value you bring to their business. Your positioning statement puts this theory to work but remember they are flexible and should be based on your prospect’s pain points and how you can help.
There’s Gold Out There. That’s why they call it prospecting and you should take the time to do it. Schedule time each day and put it on your calendar. Research the company and the people you’re going after to be sure they are a good fit. Look at their LinkedIn profiles, so you can get an idea as to who you’re selling to.
Be Human. Don’t you hate when you get that call from someone in a call center reading from a script? Don’t be that guy! Talk to your prospects like a human being. This is why they are called warm calls. On a connect call your goal is to help, not to sell. Ask, “How are you?” and be sincere about it.
The Power of the Pause. It’s uncomfortable at first, but there is a lot of power in pausing. Not rushing through your greeting and pacing yourself gives you confidence. Then bring it home by making them laugh.
Go Sideways. While you’re at it, take the conversation sideways whenever possible. This builds rapport and lets your prospect know that they are not talking to that guy in the call center.
Practice, Practice, Practice. They say it takes 10,000 hours of doing anything to become an expert at it. This is why it’s so important to keep calling. They won’t all be perfect, but the more you do it, the more you’ll start to identify your mistakes as well as some patterns. Most importantly, the more that you call, the better you’ll become.
Leave Your Message After the Beep. Don’t expect them to answer on your first call. You’ll have to leave a lot of voicemails. Don’t get discouraged. Persistence is key, but know when walk away.
They've Got Mail. Be sure to create a series of email sequences to alternate with your voicemails. Again, know when to hit the brakes and cut your losses. A creatively worded break-up email can have remarkable results.
Shut Up and Listen. When you do make that connection, practice the art of Active Listening. Pay attention to what your prospect is saying and follow up by asking relevant questions and/or making statements that build or help to clarify what they have said.
Disarming the Annoyed. You will certainly connect with someone who is maybe very busy or doesn’t really want to talk. Here’s where you unleash your secret weapon – your “UGH”. A good, “UGH, sounds like you weren’t expecting my call” followed with a well timed pause will hopefully get them to put their guard down and make them realize that the reason that you’re calling is to help. That’s it.
Transitioning to the Exploratory Call. Ok, so you’ve connected, built rapport and helped your prospect – now it’s time to schedule your exploratory call. You can do this by identifying the prospect’s pain point and asking if they’d like to schedule some time to dive deeper. Be proactive and avoid the back and forth by nailing a time down and sending a meeting invite while you’re still on the phone.
Conclusion. While I’m still far from being a rock star of sales, I now have the tools and knowledge to help get me there. I don’t hate sales anymore. I realized that I never really did, I just didn’t like stepping out of my comfort zone. Now I look forward to the challenge. And I don’t mind getting sales calls anymore – provided they are from the right salespeople. Here is a little story that puts all of this into perspective…
A Tale of Two Salespeople. Ironically, I had an interesting experience as a prospect immediately following PGB 501. I received an email from two vendors regarding a product I was researching for a client. I booked time with both to hear what they had to say.
I could barely hear Vendor #1, let's call him Dingus. He was obviously calling from a noisy call center. The first thing he asked me was how I got his contact info. I thought to myself, “Really Dingus? You emailed me.” It was apparent that he had not done any research, didn’t have the slightest idea who I was and really didn’t care. That was confirmed later that afternoon when Dingus sent me an email asking me if I had a chance to open the initial email and if I wanted to book some time.
Vendor #2, we'll call him Leo, restored my faith in warm calling. He knew who I was, he called me by my name. Leo went sideways. He spoke about how he and his wife love to visit South Carolina. He had knowledge of local restaurants and other sites even though he was calling from NYC. Leo put me at ease and made it actually enjoyable to learn about what he was selling. You can’t build rapport like that reading from a script. It was clear he was a seasoned warm caller and I appreciated it.
There it was, everything I had just learned over eight weeks served up on a platter. I knew where Dingus failed and on the flip side I was able to identify the tactics Leo was employing and how well he ran the call.
Thanks Dan. The next time I see you, I’ll buy you a breakfast sandwich.