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The biggest mistake I made in sales

Tactical Selling

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The biggest mistake I made in sales

The biggest mistake I made as a newly hired Account Executive was to stop prospecting.

Back in 2018, I got hired as the first French-speaking Account Executive at a tech scale-up from California. I was hired at the same time as a French-speaking SDR (who was brilliant), and I got promised I wouldn’t need to source my own opportunities. So, naturally, I didn’t prospect daily.

It was the first time I didn’t have to send cold emails in my sales career, and it felt nice. But after a few months, my pipeline was still empty. Not great.

That’s when I learned that as long as I would be in sales, I could never stop prospecting.

If you’re in sales, you can’t afford to stop prospecting

No matter what you’re told, if you stop prospecting, you’ll lose control of your pipeline and give control of your performance to someone else.

If you stop prospecting, you’ll end up not having enough conversations, which leads to not enough opportunities, and finally, missing your sales targets. This will happen sooner or later, but this will happen for sure.

But if you build and execute a prospecting routine, you’ll understand how many prospects you need to contact in order to reach your sales targets, and you’ll build a predictable stream of opportunities.

Here are 4 steps to help you do just that:

1. Block 30 minutes to prospect daily

Time blocking is so important because it gets you to create a habit, and allows for consistent input.

You can do it by picking a time when you’re the most productive during the day. For me it’s early mornings, but it can be any time that works best for you. Put a recurring blocker in your calendar so you won’t be disturbed. And finally, stick to it for 21 days and it will become a habit.

2. Start with follow-ups

Meetings are booked with follow-ups.

That’s why I recommend building a sequence skeleton so you don’t need to reinvent the wheel with your follow-ups. Define the media and the channel for each touchpoint, as well as the content of the message. Here’s an example:

Sequence example

need help with your prospecting routine?

Learn the exact daily system I use to get a 38% reply rate and 11% meeting rate on LinkedIn.

3. Find how many new prospects to contact daily

A prospecting routine is like a car. Without fuel (or electricity), it won’t go anywhere.

It’s always better to find prospects using triggers. This adds relevance to your outreach. Example of triggers can be:

  • LinkedIn profile visits

  • Posts reactions/comments (yours or someone else)

  • LinkedIn event attendance

There are tons of other lead sources you can find, but make sure you know how many prospects to contact daily

4. Add them to your sequence

End your prospecting routine by contacting the prospects you have found in step 3.

With your prospecting sequence ready, you should be able to use a trigger to add relevance, but the core of your message shouldn’t differ too much from prospect to prospect.

Here’s a simple framework you can use:

Trigger: A piece of information that indicates your prospect is trying to solve a specific problem.

Question: A problem-oriented question to get the prospect to think: “This person has a clear understanding of my problem”.

Teaser: An attention-grabbing sentence referring to a resource you can share to solve the problem.

CTA: A close-ended question.

Example:

4-step framework

If you follow these 4 steps, you should easily avoid missing your sales targets.

P.S. When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you.

 

→ Grab my 5-star course, The New Outreach System: How I use LinkedIn to get a 38% reply rate and an 11% meeting rate. Buy it here.

→Work 1:1 with me:
 If you need help booking more meetings, I can help you. We’ll go through your current situation and what’s not working. We’ll build an action plan to land you more meetings and more money in your pocketBook me here.

→ Grab my course, The T-shaped Sales Development Program: This is the most comprehensive course I have about sales development. You’ll learn everything from optimizing your LinkedIn profile for sales to finding hot prospects, and running discovery calls Buy it here.
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Tactical Selling Uncategorized

How to stop wasting time with tire kickers

Tactical Selling

Join 3K+ subscribers to Tactical Selling. Every Thursday, you’ll get 1 actionable tip on starting conversations and booking more meetings.

How to stop wasting time with tire kickers

On Monday I posted a screen capture of an email conversation I had with a prospect. This post sparked controversy and some interesting conversations. Someone even sent me a direct message to tell me that my comments on the post made me look like a prick!

So I thought I would tell you more about this specific deal and the tactic I used to avoid wasting time with a tire kicker.

Some context

A few weeks ago, a director of sales contacted me to ask if I could run a training session on selling into EMEA. As I have some experience doing that, I proposed to book a quick chat so I could learn more about his initiative and understand how I could help.

We hopped on a quick discovery call and I identified what caused this person to chat with me, what kind of outcome they expected, and when they thought they could make a decision.

At the end of the call, I suggested next steps and gave some homework assignment to the prospect. He came back to me with a list of requirements and topics to focus on.

We booked a second call so that we could build a plan together and prepare an offer. At the end of the call, I told the prospect that I needed to understand who else was involved in making a decision, otherwise it would be hard to justify the amount I proposed for the session.

He told me that he would deal with this internally, and he even refused to share the name and job title of the person involved in the decision. First red flag.

A few weeks later (second red flag), I received an email from him asking to build a business cases with direct questions from the management. So naturally, I replied that I would be happy to do that, but I would need to chat with the people who asked the questions.

And third red flag, my prospect refused and said his boss was too busy to jump on a call. So, instead of building the business case and work for free, I replied that I couldn’t help if the boss didn’t want to speak with me.

As you’d expect the deal stalled, and I’m considering it lost.

Why did I do that?

Now I see you coming. You’re thinking that I was dumb to let an opportunity go like that, when I could have simply built a business case to get the deal through.

Except I had no guarantee that the business case was needed to close this deal. During our email exchanges, the prospect asked me if I was really strict on price, because it would be challenging to justify it. What I saw coming was a lengthy email negotiation, without even knowing who’s calling the shots.

 

I pushed back to test if the deal was serious, because I prefer focusing on serious opportunities, instead of wasting time on a deal with so many red flags. Thanks to my prospecting system, I’m able to create enough opportunities to walk away from “maybes” and focus on solid opportunities.

In conclusion

My tactic to test the energy of a deal is simple. If people cannot intro me to people who make a decision, then I refuse to invest more time in the deal. I’m happy to work with them if they do the work and come back to me, but I need to speak with all the people involved in the decision.

I do it because:

  • they have different initiatives
  • they expect different outcomes
  • they can identify more use cases and therefore increase my deal size

As a solopreneur, my time is limited. Pushing back when prospects cannot intro me to their bosses is my conscious choice to work strategically, and to stop acting as an order taker.

 

Thoughts? Reply to this email to keep the conversation going.

need help with your prospecting routine?

Learn the exact daily system I use to get a 38% reply rate and 11% meeting rate on LinkedIn.

P.S. When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you.

 

→ Grab my 5-star course, The New Outreach System: How I use LinkedIn to get a 38% reply rate and an 11% meeting rate. Buy it here.

→Work 1:1 with me:
 If you need help booking more meetings, I can help you. We’ll go through your current situation and what’s not working. We’ll build an action plan to land you more meetings and more money in your pocketBook me here.

→ Grab my course, The T-shaped Sales Development Program: This is the most comprehensive course I have about sales development. You’ll learn everything from optimizing your LinkedIn profile for sales to finding hot prospects, and running discovery calls Buy it here.
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Tactical Selling Uncategorized

Why I don’t send offers to my prospects

Tactical Selling

Join 3K+ subscribers to Tactical Selling. Every Thursday, you’ll get 1 actionable tip on starting conversations and booking more meetings.

Why I don’t send offers to my prospects

A few weeks ago, a prospect asked me to send him an offer. Pretty reasonable ask I hear you say. I’ve been sending hundreds of offers during my sales careers, but I barely closed 30% of them.

There are many possible reasons for that, but here are a few that I have identified:

  • Prospects ask for offers to get rid of pushy salespeople – many salespeople believe that sending an offer will get them closer to closing a deal.
  • Offers are used as education documents – an offer should be a validation document. You build with your prospect. If they’re not the ones building it, they may not understand it fully.
  • Offers are great ways for prospects to pitch internally – prospects love to see a ton of details so they can pitch features and benefits to their bosses. Except their bosses don’t care about that.

As a result, I have decided to systematically refuse to send offers to my prospects.

Here’s what I do instead:

1. Push back

When prospects ask for an offer, they either try to get rid of us or to take control of our deals. As we, salespeople, tend to be fairly optimistic, we often interpret this ask as a positive indication about the health of our deals.

Instead of accepting right away, here’s what you can say:

“I would love to send an offer, but it feels like it’s a bit too early to do so.”

2. Suggest your next steps

Now that you have their attention, come up with your plan. If you want to be proactive, you can ask for an introduction to their colleagues.

Here’s an example of a sentence I like to use to do just that:

“What would really help would be for me to speak with one or two reps in your team to understand how they are currently prospecting, and what kind of challenges they are faced with. I’ll then be able to come back with a detailed plan on how I think I could help. Would it be a bad idea?”

3. Give them some homework assignment

If your deal is healthy, you shouldn’t face much pushback. Prospects that are engaged in a deal will work towards closing it. If the deal isn’t qualified, you may face some pushback, which is a great indication to cut the call short or call their bluff.

The single best way to test if a deal is qualified is to involve prospects in your process, and give them some homework assignment.

Here’s how I do it:

“OK, then I need you to intro me to these two reps and set a follow-up session so I can share my findings.

What do you think?”

When you finish your calls with this simple push back, a few things happen:

  • You test your relationship and the involvement of your prospects with the deal
  • You stand out from all the other “Yes Man” salespeople who send tons of offers but never close any
  • You set clear next steps and talk to more people in the sales organization

I tested this tactic on my last few deals and I have had tons of introductions and deals picking up energy.

So remember, when prospects ask for an offer:

  • push back
  • suggest your next steps
  • give them some homework assignment

You’ll understand if your deals is legit, you’ll get prospects working with you, and you’ll close deals faster.

need help with your prospecting routine?

Learn the exact daily system I use to get a 38% reply rate and 11% meeting rate on LinkedIn.

P.S. When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you.

 

→ Grab my 5-star course, The New Outreach System: How I use LinkedIn to get a 38% reply rate and an 11% meeting rate. Buy it here.

→Work 1:1 with me:
 If you need help booking more meetings, I can help you. We’ll go through your current situation and what’s not working. We’ll build an action plan to land you more meetings and more money in your pocketBook me here.

→ Grab my course, The T-shaped Sales Development Program: This is the most comprehensive course I have about sales development. You’ll learn everything from optimizing your LinkedIn profile for sales to finding hot prospects, and running discovery calls Buy it here.