My First Quarter Selling at SellHack

roddy sellhack prospectingI joined the sales development team at SellHack a little over 3 months ago – I love it.

It was actually a cold email that got Ryan’s attention and ultimately led to him making a surprise offer.

I have a pretty eclectic professional background, and many of those positions have included varying aspects of sales. However, these past few months with SellHack have been the first time in my professional career that I would consider myself a salesman, and I’ve learned a lot.

My intention with this post is to provide a few of the most important pieces that I’ve picked up so far. I’ll be reflecting on these myself as I move through Q2. For anyone who is about to enter a similar role, read closely. The rest of you can take the TL;DR. I’m not into wasting anyone’s time….which leads me to #1.

#1. Respect Everyone’s Time

When speaking to a prospect on the phone or during a demo, realize that this is just one interaction among the many, many, many others they need to tend to that day. In short, you are definitely NOT their top priority.

Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and to qualify your prospect before you invest the next 30-60 minutes in a conversation. If it’s not a fit, explain why, listen to their response, and clearly define next steps. Thank them for their time, be cordial, but be quick. Efficiency is the name of the game, and it will benefit you both.

Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and qualify your prospect before you invest time in a call!… Click To Tweet

Respect your own time – others will inadvertently waste it. Your prospect took the call because they recognize the possible need for your offering and an opportunity to learn from an expert (i.e. – you). Regardless of the rapport you’ve built or how well you like one another, you need to recognize when it’s time to move on to the next call, demo, or even your lunch.

Offer a deep dive or 1:1 once they come on board.

Only commit to what you can fulfill, but don’t take your pants off on the first date.  pantsoff

#2. Know your ideal prospect

First, you need to know whether or not they’re a fit for your product. You should have your segments clearly defined and documented somewhere to review when you are building your prospect lists.

Then you need to know if they’re the decision maker for your product – if not, see if they can direct you to who is. You’ll need to provide enough value for them to be willing to do this, but remember #1 as you go about it.

Pro Tip – don’t be afraid to experiment. Segment your segments and test responsiveness for each group. When you find something that works, double down.  If it’s not working, stop.  Increasing dealflow is your top priority.

#3. People are busy – so follow up. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up.

In sales, a frequent follow-up isn’t annoying; it’s encouraged. Remember, people are busy – if you have a service that they’re interested in and is going to help them, you’re actually doing them a favor by checking in often.

Pro Tip – don’t send a ‘just checking in’ email.    Offer value, ask direct questions, and demonstrate that it’s your job to keep this opportunity moving forward and not their job to remember why you or your service are so great.

no1

That doesn’t mean every day (in your case, it might) but it does mean much more frequent than a strictly social relationship

You’re enthusiastic, not aggressive – and you’re busy too.

Too busy to have someone hanging out in your funnel for weeks on end. Follow up until you get an answer.

The worst they can say is no, and that’s better than not knowing.

#4. Create a system: optimize, refine, optimize.

You’re going to have to find your own flow to deal with your day to day tasks. Track the results, identify the bottlenecks, refine your system and launch v2.

It doesn’t matter how good you are, a random approach to your sales process, or lack thereof, will have you leaving money on the table…or somewhere in your inbox.

A random approach to your #sales process will leave money on the table. Click To Tweet
Create a system that allows you to handle all of it effectively. Bite off just as much as you can chew thoroughly, and if your jaw hurts a little bit that’s a good thing. It means you’re hungry – and your jaw will get stronger.

#5. Look beyond the direct sale.

Genuine sales professionals know that there’s tremendous benefit in making an authentic connection with others. You’re products and companies aren’t always going to be a direct fit – that doesn’t mean they won’t be down the line, or that you can’t refer each other to the right people.

Don’t burn a bridge by being too narrowly focused on your quota for that day. Take enough time (while respecting time) to see the potential for the long term, and make connections that will last for more than 5 minutes.

These are the 5 areas that I’ll be focusing on for Q2. Completely novel realizations? Not at all. Worth a refresher? Absolutely. I’m curious to hear from the novice to seasoned sales pros: What were some of your main takeaways from your first sales role?

Leave a comment or send me a note – you can find my contact information with SellHack ;)

ps – ready for a new challenge?

werehiring

What to do when prospects don’t respond to emails

Guest Post by Jake Jorgovan, founder of Outbound Creative and Prospect Scout.

We’ve all been there.

We find a prospect who would be a perfect fit and craft the perfect email sequence to catch their attention.

We reach out with confidence that they will respond, and then…

*Crickets*

crickets

 

We follow up once, twice, three times, eight times or more with still no response.

You could give up, but for you this prospect means something.

Maybe you are in a finite industry with a limited number of prospects.

Or, maybe this is a dream client that would be your largest sale of the year.

In this post, I am going to share with you the lessons I have learned from running an outbound sales company and what to do when your prime prospects are unresponsive to your emails.

1) Analyze your approach

The first thing you must do before considering any of the other suggestions in this post is to evaluate your approach.

Chances are, if you have gone through a full series of follow ups and are still getting no responses, then your approach may be flawed.

To analyze your approach, first check out Ryan’s book on Cold Emailing.

Also, I would recommend Jill Konrath’s incredible book Selling to Big Companies to give you more insight to how these decision makers think.

Open up your email you sent to prospects and read it from the prospect’s viewpoint. Then ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this email catch my attention from the first subject line?
  • Does this email come from someone credible?
  • Is answering this email going to benefit me or the salesperson sending it?
  • Does this email clearly and concisely demonstrate the value that I will receive in my business?
  • Is this email short enough that I will actually read it amidst my busy day? (Less than 160 words)
  • Does this email intrigue me?
  • Does this email sound canned?
  • Is the request at the end of this email clear and simple to fulfill?

Analyze your email against these questions in the eye of your receiver, and you may just find the lack of response has been in your approach all along.

2) Try other forms of digital connection

The truth is that in today’s busy world, many people have grown to hate their inboxes. Recently, I sat down for a working session with one of my clients who is the CEO of a rapidly growing company.

Inbox (3,452)

Yep, over 3,000 unread emails in his inbox.

Seeing this gave me insight into his world. As the CEO of a multi-million dollar company, he was simply overwhelmed and only had the time to answer the absolutely essential emails.

He is what Jill Konrath calls ‘A frazzled customer’ and in today’s digital world, more and more customers are becoming just like him.

This means that sometimes, email just doesn’t cut it.

So what does work then?

Well, it often depends on the client so you may have to try several different avenues.

Try a LinkedIn message

This is an obvious one and it is where most salespeople start. Sometimes this works, but the truth is a lot of people aren’t active on their LinkedIn.

As salespeople, we struggle to believe this because we are on LinkedIn everyday, but for decision makers who are not in sales, they may only check this platform once a month and have turned off email notifications.

Linkedin is a powerful tool, but be aware your message may never even make it to your decision maker.

Engage with them on twitter

It is pretty easy to tell if your decision maker is active on twitter. If so, this can be a good channel to build some initial name recognition and get in the door.

Start by browsing through their feed and look for tweets you can favorite, retweet, or reply to.

Look for something that you can play off of to start a conversation. Asking a question is always a great way to get engagement.

There is no magical script to this, just try to get them engaged and start a conversation that you can eventually grow into something bigger.

Direct Messages with Instagram Videos

If your prospective customers have Instagram accounts for their company or they are publicly active with their personal accounts, then direct messages on Instagram can be extremely powerful.

With Instagram, you can record a 15 second video for the prospect, and send a message of unlimited length. The prospect doesn’t even have to be following you.

When you do this, it does go to an ‘Other’ inbox for messages from people they don’t follow, although they still receive a notification and will get your message.

I have used this tactic time and time again to break into consumer facing brands and up and coming startups.

Facebook Messages to Brands

Especially if you are in marketing, this can be a great way to get through to the marketing team. Often you will find that a marketing manager runs their Facebook page and is responsible for many different aspects of the company’s marketing initiatives.

It’s worth a shot as you will be surprised as to what comes from it. When you send your message, refer back to the same cold email practices I mentioned earlier in this book.

If you don’t catch their attention, then it will still fall on deaf ears.

Oh, and don’t send your decision maker a personal Facebook message unless you already know them, that’s just creepy.

Text their cell phone

This method should only be used in the case that you have had some engagement with a prospect and they have now gone cold. Warning: Do not do this with a prospect who you have never spoken to yet or they have not given you their phone number.

Texting should be reserved only for situations where you have had a phone call or been given the prospect’s phone number.   Warning: If you jump the gun on this contact method, you may come off as a bit of a stalker.

But for prospects with whom you’ve had contact, this can be a great way to cut through the clutter and get their attention.

Send them a personalized video

Turn on your webcam and record a short 30-90 second video that clearly explains your value proposition. When leaving these messages, a great framework to use is Jill Konrath’s voicemail frameworks from ‘Selling to Big Companies’

  1. Establish credibility in the first 1-2 sentences.
  2. Demonstrate the value you can bring to the prospect by projecting what you believe you could do based on your research, or by sharing success stories from past clients who were similar.
  3. Make a simple ask for a 5-10 minute meeting to talk further.

These personal videos take time, but this is a step above and beyond that can win the decision maker over.

Have fun and send them an eCard

I had a prospect go cold on me after some initial interest. Ten follow ups and I heard nothing back from him.

So one day, I sent him the card below.

card

Within 20 minutes he had replied and introduced me to the person I needed to talk to in order to move the sale forward.

Sometimes you need to do something a little different to catch your decision maker’s attention.

3) Stand out, be unique and send them a physical package

If this prospect really means that much to you, then you may have to go above and beyond digital outreach. At Outbound Creative, this is what my company specializes in, and it works wonders.

We operate on one core principle: If you want to get someone’s attention, stand out and be unique.

How we won the business of a client who was completely unresponsive to digital outreach

For one of my clients, they had a prime prospect who was unresponsive to emails, LinkedIn and social media.

So we sent them a cake. On top of that cake were the words ‘Go to [custom url].’

That custom URL took the prospect to a personal landing page with a personal video made just for them. We used the script described above from the Jill Konrath’s voicemails, and it worked wonders.

cake

 

Within 48 hours of receiving the cake, we had a positive response from the CEO of the company and were introduced to the individual they would be working with.

Digital didn’t work for this prospect. In a world of so much noise, their messages didn’t cut through the clutter.

But a personalized cake and video, well that did…

Think outside of the box

One of my best clients to date came because I had a bit of fun with reaching out to them. The client was an expat living in Japan who had a very profitable and growing business. I wanted to win him as a client and knew he had a decent sense of humor.

So I sent him a message in a bottle…

bottle

Inside the bottle was a piece of paper with a custom URL.  That URL took him to this humorous video that features a personal message from me with some absolutely amazing intro music…

 

Keith was blown away. This video lead to a great phone call which lead to Keith becoming a paid client of Outbound Creative.

The bottom line

There are many reasons why your prospects may not be responding to your emails.

First, check your messaging to ensure that your value proposition and messaging is worthy of a response.

If you are confident in your emails and still see no response, begin trying other forms of digital engagement.

And lastly, if you still have no response but want to win their business, try a physical package and stand out and be unique.

Some clients will still resist, but if you hit them from all of these different angles you have a better chance than just relying on email.

Break from your normal routine, and try something different this week.

Because if you want to win someone’s attention, stand out and be unique.

Jake Jorgovan is the founder of Outbound Creative and Prospect Scout. Outbound Creative helps agencies win their dream clients through eye-catching outreach. Prospect Scouts helps sales leaders close more deals by researching prospects for them.

 

Develop a Process for Finding (ie – stalking) Prospects

Wasting time on the wrong prospects is the original sin of sales.  

 

“You’re just not right for me.”

Or executive decision making process

“We just don’t have budget for this now.”

Or (worst ever)

“Thanks for the demo.  We don’t (do the thing your company sells) now, but I’ll reach out when we start in the future”

Time is the most valuable asset you have during the course of your working hours.  Wasting time on the wrong prospects, is the original sin of sales.  Assuming you are building prospect lists that meet your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), the only reason you should hear any of the responses above is if there is a breakdown in your qualification process, or worse, you don’t have a qualification process (more on this in a future post).

Time to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate your ideal customer profile (ICP).  I see a lot of people get caught up here following traditional, prescribed ICP practices of spending (IMHO) too much time on the wrong aspects of describing your personas that make up your ICP.

Channel Your Inner Therapist (or fake a High EQ)

Your inner-therapist must deduce the ins and outs of what problems plague your prospective customers.   A VP at a 10,000 person company cares about different things than a VP at a 50 person company cares about.  They need to be segmented into separate buckets and your messaging strategy needs to be adjusted to each group.

Let’s break down each into key components to help you decide which segment to target to maximize your time.

Vice President of Sales at a 10,000+ person company

  • Comfortably earning $150,000+ and a healthy retirement plan
    • Your impact to their total compensation may not justify the risk of failure of a new initiative
  • 5-10 Direct Reports and total headcount of 100+ in their org
    • It’s a consensus sale.  They can pull the trigger, but need buy-in from their Directors who are burgeoning VPs themselves and often times focused on growing their direct report count to demonstrate they could be VP material
  • Spends a lot of time reporting up to a SVP or C-Suite to manage cost while tracking on plan
    • Lots of internal meeting, specifically around planning.  Getting their attention is a challenge
  • Authority
    • They can pull the trigger on the expense of your product, but probably need to route you through an internal procurement process to cover their ass
  • Desire – Probably have an existing process you are disrupting, replacing or augmenting
    • Want easy to add, reasonably priced, and complimentary to what they are doing ideally with significant cost savings so they can spend their limited budget on more things that can have an impact
  • Timing –  Longer sales cycle
    • Working with a fixed budget approved by the CFO and you may need to wait until next budget review
  • Opportunity
    • Bigger revenue opportunity if you can weather the storm and less risk of churn since they are going out on a limb to ‘approve’ your offering and there are significant internal time investments that must take place to roll this out.

Vice President of Sales at a 50 Person Company

  • Earning $100,000+ and working at a small company to realize upside
    • Open to risk/reward and can swing for the fences to
  • 5-10 Direct Reports which include their total org head count
    • Their direct reports will be your end users or see direct impact
  • Direct pressure from the CEO to beat plan
    • Looking for ways to get their team more efficient and producing more
  • Authority
    • Probably has budget approval for your product, may need CEO’s blessing but if it has a chance to beat plan and doesn’t carry a lot of risk, chances of getting approves are high
  • Desire – Does this move the needle and have a clear ROI?
    • Motivated by growth and helping the team become more productive as the organization matures
  • Timing – NOW
    • Immediate revenue opportunity if your business case is compelling
  • Opportunity
    • Limited, but immediate revenue opportunity and higher risk of churn since their budgets and attention can change very quickly

A common problem we see in sales, is picking the wrong segment and not realizing this until it’s too late.  We encourage our SDRs to constantly optimize their outreach campaigns to avoid this mistake.  It’s like asset diversification.  Spend the majority of your prospecting time on what is producing results.  Dial up or dial back on time spent and campaign strategies with  each segment(s) until you have consistent short and long term achievement of your objectives.

If you want to sell, you need to know what you’re selling and, just as important, why someone else would need it.  Beyond your value proposition, you need to understand the common problems of your target customer.  After completing an exercise like we outlined above, we know each segment is motivated differently, and we need to write different email campaign messaging for each.

Stalk Your Prospects (legally…of course)

Conduct research through every available avenue — from online resources to relevant industry comparisons to first-hand accounts.

Even after you have a thorough understanding of what your ICP should look like, remember that everything depends on the almighty dollar. You must follow the money.  So who has money? Since most companies are not inclined to simply flaunt their wealth, you’ll need to know where to look. Here are some examples of prospects who have cash and publicize it:

google alert sales stuff

*Now find the decision maker’s email.

Once you can match your ICP with the appropriate financial resources, you have the makings of a relationship that could go the distance.  Need more information on identifying your company’s ICP, or how you can then compare that ICP to your existing customer base? Check out our eBook or keep reading

cold email playbook for sales
It used to be that researching a prospective customer required real-life detective work. Nowadays, though, the Internet had made personal information so readily available that companies have been founded for the sole purpose of monitoring online reputations.

For all the drawbacks associated with social media, when used properly, it can serve as a phenomenal tool for studying the professional and personal lives of those with whom you aspire to conduct business.  Once you have your ideal customer profile (ICP) identified, it’s time to rely on readily available web based tools for in-depth analysis of your prospects.

Pro Tip: Start with your BEST existing customers.  Look for common attributes that could be used to find others who ‘look’ like them.

You can start with the basics: Conduct a simple Google search for a broad overview, then delve into individual social media sites.  Whereas Facebook will likely provide more personal-life details, LinkedIn and Twitter may offer insight into your prospects’ professional worlds.  These can all be used to your advantage.  It’s much easier to personalize an email or build rapport on a call when you share uncommon commonalities like having gone to the same school, members of the same fraternal organizations, have kids or have a bucket list of the same golf courses.

Once you have completed preliminary research, it’s time to get interactive. Engage your prospectives virtually using the following methods:

  • Follow them on Twitter
  • Join their LinkedIn groups
  • Like their posts
  • Target ads to them (more on this later)
  • Study their profile. Are there any uncommon interests you share?
    • Tool: Google, Facebook, About.me, LI
  • Create Alerts for key activities

ps – Watch the webinar replay where we dig into prospecting & share 5 growth hacks you can try today.

By entering their social landscapes, not only can you confirm whether prospective prospects truly fit your ICP, but also you can achieve an ice-breaker of sorts through a virtual introduction. Be subtle but make your presence known.  Remember, you can’t go into the weeds on research for every prospect.  Hedge your time investment by mixing up the amount of research you do on one segment vs. another.  Experiment.  This is sales hacking!

Ready to get started?  Here’s How to Get a Meeting with Anyone!

 

7 Ways to Stay CAN-SPAM Compliant

For those of us who send unsolicited emails and wonder or have been accused of sending SPAM, here’s 7 ways to ensure your are NOT sending spam.

There are more details in a post I did on LinkedIn here: linkd.in/1GcWUPr

tl;dr below

  1. Don’t use false or misleading contact info
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines
  3. If your email is an ad, then label it as such
  4. Tell the recipient your address
  5. Give recipients a way to opt out
  6. Honor opt outs
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf

For more info, check out this PDF from the FTC.  Now, go find some emails and try this out!

– Ryan O’Donnell

8 Ways to Hack With SellHack

1. Hack Your Industry Conference

Ever go to a conference where they give you a list of attendees but no contact info? Or worse yet, did they give you a list of companies and people’s titles from the companies then try to sell you the contact info for more than you spent on the conference in the first place? If you have a list of attendees, you can upload the list here to automatically find all the valid email addresses.

2. Mine Twitter for Leads

Most people stick to LinkedIn for prospect list building, but our most creative customers are starting to use Twitter as a place to find fresh leads. You can search twitter and build a list of prospects by going here . Pro Tip: Have a conference or event coming up that you may or may not attend? You can search the #hashtag, build a list of people who are using the #hashtag and email them without ever having to set up a booth or scan badges.

3. Clean Up Your CRM

Ever caught yourself saying something like: “the data in our CRM is old”, “this phone number doesn’t work” “the company got acquired” or “I just called someone who’s been retired for a year.” CRM contact data decays somewhere in the vicinity of 2.8% to 5.5% per month. You can upload your CRM contact data to SellHack. We’ll automatically 1) find email addresses if they are missing for a contact and 2) verify all existing email addresses you have on file. 

4. Test a New Market

Have a hunch about a new market segment that would be perfect to sell in to but you don’t know where to get started? Go build a new prospect list in List Builder then write an email with a simple/low-commitment Call To Action while we automatically find all the email addresses. Then send individual emails or use a marketing automation tool like Outreach.io. If you don’t hear back after your first email, keep following up with the prospect every few days.

5. (re)Segment Your Prospect List

Do all of your prospecting emails have the same value proposition or Call To Action? Think about the company where you work for a minute. Does the CEO have the same concerns or motivations as an Account Executive or even a VP of Marketing? Probably not. So why are you emailing the same thing to all of these people. Re-segment your prospect lists to get really granular on the target company and job title profile you are targeting. Figure out what scares each prospect group, create custom emails for each, and watch your response rate increase.

6. Automate Your Email Verification

If your business is expanding and it’s time to step increase the number of prospects or leads you produce on a weekly basis, it’s time to look at List Builder or our Batch Upload. Need more help? Send us a note if you want to learn more about our custom list building service. ps – we even help some clients write, send, optimize and track their emails.

7. Look For a New Job

Earlier in my career, my job search process looked like this. 1) Find a job posting that looked promising. 2) Search for the Executive or Manager in the group you’d be reporting in to. 3) Research the company, position, and come up with a creative solution to present. 4) Find the execs contact info, tease them into a meeting where you can present the work you’ve done and like a rockstar for taking the initiative. Don’t do what everyone else is doing unless you like being average.  So, if you are bored in your current job, you can use SellHack to find the email addresses for hiring managers.  Happy Hacking!

8. Never Pay For SellHack Again

There are SellHackers out there who pay us $0 a month and have over 500 free emails a month. Want more emails for free? Refer your colleagues today!