10 Sales Tips I Learned from Ex-Salesforce Employees

Salesforce Tower. Credit: toptechnews.com

Salesforce Tower. Credit: toptechnews.com

Last year, I made the decision to move to San Francisco to work on ConstructVR and, being a new resident in an unfamiliar place, have been focusing on growing my network ever since.

I wanted to share with you some of my learnings from this week’s networking event: a B2B Sales Happy Hour meetup hosted by Career Sofia (a Y Combinator startup that does “Automated Sales Coaching”).

The speaker panel consisted of ex-Salesforce sales gurus like Matt McGowan(at Payable), Mike Bullard (at Lever), Brian Belli (at DataFox) and Hilmon Sorey (CareerSofia). I summarized the top 10 suggestions that came out of the meeting.

1) Focus on the customer’s why

Customers only care about “what’s in it for me”. Learn about the customer’s needs and focus on making every interaction bring value. If your product is expensive, make sure to uncover a pain that supersedes the cost.

As an example, if you’re talking to a marketer, their focus is on finding quality leads. Alternatively, if you’re talking to a sales person, something like, “I just need 10 mins to show you a way to increase your quota by 130%” would work best.

2) Know your product inside out

It is extremely essential for you to be the domain experts in your space as, when the customer is ready to purchase the product, you will be the first person the customer calls. Know the ins and outs of your product(s), competitor products, and tools your product(s) integrate with.

3) Look for the unverbalized objections

“The most dangerous objection is the one that your prospect doesn’t verbalize.” — Billy Bray

Look at the objections that customers don’t vocalize. Get to the why by peeling back the onion until you figure out cause of your customer’s objection.

4) Don’t get distracted

An easy way to build credibility is to take the first 10s of your presentation to set an agenda for the meeting. Then, it is equally important to ask “Is this what you wanted to talk about?”

Remember: the most important part of sales is how much we can uncover about the prospect.

5) Cold calling tips

Some of the best tips that came up for cold calls are:

  • Don’t sell on the first call (goal is to schedule a meeting)
  • If you’re having trouble finding someone’s contact, go through accounting (they’re usually happy to connect you)
  • Add realism to your calls to throw off the ‘this is a sales pitch vibe’ e.g. flip a paper page while leaving a voicemail or simply leave your number
  • The shorter your voice mail, the more likely they’ll call you back
  • Out of office replies contain prospect’s up-to-date phone number (there was also a suggestion on how to get these OOO replies)
  • If talking to a large company, build credibility by showing you’ve talked to others in the organization
  • Finding a common interest can also make you more credible e.g. from the same town, speak the same language, etc.

6) Outreach: Quality vs. Quantity?

This was a really good question came from the audience: “Do I a) send lots of people mediocre emails or b) send few people good emails.”

The panel gave good guidelines when it comes to this:

  • If value prop is very specific (e.g. a niche market) you have a limited number of prospects, each outreach counts so focus on sending better emails.
  • If you’re in a large market (e.g. sales tools) you’ll need to go wide.

7) Should I focus on inbound or outbound?

Another great question that came from the audience was, “should I focus on outbound or inbound sales?”.

The general guidelines I got out of the discussion was:

  • if the ACV (average customer value) is small, hiring an outbound team will never break even. (Focus on inbound conversions and augment it with a bit of outbound.)
  • if the ACV is high, then focusing on outbound can be worth it

8) Where can I get accurate contact data?

Several sites were suggested: Data.com is a good way to get accurate contact data and another is ZoomInfo.com (though they are much more expensive than they used to be).

Alternatively, you can invest money by “hiring someone out of Bangladesh” to find the contacts for you for pennies. Spend your time on the high impact tasks!

9) Hire an expert to train your team

Most importantly, choose a mentor that you and your team works well with. This means, the type of training they give to you is something that, when the training is done, you believe you can do and is appropriate for the industry you’re in.

Some of the suggested trainers were John Barrows, Barry Rhein, Jacco van der Kooij and Jason M. Lemkin (Saastr Podcast).

Note: It was actually quite surprising to me that some of my favorites (Brian Tracy and Grant Cardone) weren’t mentioned.

10) Book Recommendations and Concepts to Learn

No tips list is complete without a list of books and concepts to learn about.

The recommendations made were:

  • The Innovator’s Dilemma
  • Winning by Design
  • “Jobs to be Done”

Note: I was a bit disappointed on the lack of recommendations here.

Overall, this was a fantastic event for people in Sales. I enjoyed the open, informal setting (the beer helps!) and casual audience-to-speaker panel conversations. If you want to learn more about the event feel free to read Cory’s LinkedIn post or go to the next event.

Always be learning,