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How I survived not closing deals for 6 months

Tactical Selling

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How I survived not closing deals for 6 months

From March 2020 to September 2020, I didn’t close a single deal. I made exactly €0.

In today’s newsletter, I’ll share why, how I got back to closing, and what you can learn from my experience.

The first quarter of 2020 was going pretty well. I had closed a few 5-figure deals, mostly from referrals. I wasn’t prospecting at all, and I was convinced business would keep coming without much effort.

As you know, March 2020 triggered a worldwide panic and all the opportunities I had been working on got paused, and eventually cancelled. I was left without pipeline, and I had to start everything from scratch.

In march 2020, I learned one thing:

You should always be prospecting.

No matter your job title, SDR, AE, CSM, if you’re an individual contributor, you cannot ever stop prospecting.

You may find yourself in a situation where your pipeline is massive, and you think you won’t ever need to prospect again. You may have an assigned SDR, or inbound leads thrown at you daily.

This never lasts. Your SDR ends up being promoted, your inbound leads dry out, and you’re left without any opportunity to work on. When that happens (like it did for me), the landing is brutal. For me, it translated into a 6 months slump, and immense self-doubt.

Slumps happen to all of us. And you are more likely to encounter them in a tough economic times. Here’s how I got out of the last one:

Step 1: Set a survival goal

Forget your stretch goals and President’s Club Caribbean trip. When you’re in a slump, your goal is to get out of it quickly enough so you don’t end up fired.

You’re in survival mode.

For me, it meant having enough cash to pay my basic expenses (think salary, website hosting, email marketing, and LinkedIn premium). I cancelled my co-working contract, and I moved back into my living room.

I compared that number with the cash in my bank account, and it gave me my survival goal.

If I can reach it, I’ll live another day, if I don’t, I’ll start looking for a job, if I make more, I can start building my business again.

Step 2: Create a prospecting routine

Now most people stop at setting goals. But without a clear, daily action plan, you’re going nowhere.

I took this survival number and converted it into a daily prospecting target. This is when I came up with the Sales Process Calculator. I found out that finding and adding 5 new prospects per day would get me there.

Then I put a recurring prospecting blocker every morning from 08:00 to 09:00. During this hour, I would:

  • start with follow-ups

  • find 5 new prospects

  • contact them

To this day, I’m still following this routine and prospecting every weekday morning.

Step 3: Stop listening to your inner voice

These 6 months of slump were mentally exhausting. At the beginning, I kept playing doomsday scenarios in my head. What if I didn’t make it? What if I would never book another meeting? What if I couldn’t ever find a new customer.

But instead of focusing on these negative thoughts, I followed my daily prospecting routine. I kept showing up every day, and kept executing the plan. At times it was hard (ask my wife), but things started slowly moving after a few weeks.

I also started collaborating with Skip Miller, and systemized my LinkedIn content production. As a result, my first few deals came in, and I started being recognized on LinkedIn for sharing my journey.

In conclusion, these tough 6 months forced me to pivot, develop strategic partnerships, and move my business online.

And if you’re worried about selling into a recession, I suggest joining Skip Miller, Tom Latourette, and I on the 7th of July 4:30PM CEST.

We’ll talk about why selling in a recession requires a mindset change, how to identify opportunities in a challenging economic environment, and we’ll share tactical tips to qualify and get decisions without delay.

Hope to see you there.

Cheers,

Thibaut

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.

→ Need training or coaching for your SDR or AE team? Let’s talk: If you’re managing a team but they are struggling to reach their targets, then I can help. Book an audit call with me and we’ll come up with a plan. Book your call here.
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9 things to do when starting a new sales job

Tactical Selling

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

9 things to do when starting a new sales job

In today’s newsletter, I’m going to share 9 things you should do when starting a new sales job.

If you’re an SDR or an AE, there’s no way around prospecting, even if your new manager promised you wouldn’t need to build your own pipeline. Being able to bring your own opportunities will make you stand out, and help you keep that job you worked so hard to get.

Unfortunately, outbound prospecting is insanely complicated to get right from the get go.

It’s so complicated because it requires a structured approach.

Most salespeople are struggling with outbound because it takes so much time to produce consistent results, and as a consequence:

  • They get frustrated by the lack of replies

  • They prospect in burst instead of doing it daily

  • They give up after a few days of effort

But there’s something you can do about it.

Here’s how, step by step:

Step 1: Build a clear Ideal Customer Profile

An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is a simple representation of the type of customers you’d like to go after. I teach salespeople to create a matrix with the type of companies, and the type of job title they would typically go after.

Mine looks like this:

ICP matrix

Step 2: List the ICP’s problems

Second important step is listing the typical problems these ICPs are trying to solve on a daily basis.

A good way to find these problems is to google {Job title} challenges 2022. With the example above, it would look like “VP of sales challenges 2022”. You can also look for podcast or webinar recordings of buyers you’d love to work with.

A problem for VPs of Sales in the first column above would be to miss their forecasting by over 10%. It’s quite common and a key reasons VPs of Sales get fired.

Step 3: Find symptoms of these problems

Now that you know about the problems you can help with, your job is to find symptoms of these problems.

In my example above, a key symptom of the problem in step 2 is a U-shaped pipeline. With lots of early-stage opportunities and late stage opportunities, it is not uncommon that 30%+ of opportunities in late stage won’t close as expected.

U-shaped pipeline

Step 4: Find LinkedIn posts about these problems

Now that you know about the symptoms, you can start looking for these on LinkedIn. You can identify posts talking about these symptoms, or topics that are similar.

In my example above, a sales influencer posting about forecasting hacks could be a good start. You don’t need to go too deep on the symptom, but you can look for keywords that are attached to it.

This recent post of Sarah Brazier has over 100 reactions, and I just typed “forecasting” in the LinkedIn search bar to find it.

Step 5: Identify prospects who fit with your ICP in the post reactions

This step is mind-blowing if you’ve found a great post about the symptoms identified in step 3. Just click on the list of people who have reacted/commented on the post in step 4 and look for those who fit with your ICP.

If the post you have found is qualitative enough, you should have multiple prospects who are potentially having the problem. With the post of Sarah, I found 7 prospects fitting with my ICP in the reactions, and 1 in the comments.

Step 6: Create a prospecting sequence

Now that you have found some interesting prospects and a good trigger, make sure to create a sequence with multiple touchpoints. It would be too bad to contact these prospects, only to forget to follow up after a few days.

If you need a simple framework to write high-impact messages, go check this post I shared a few months ago.

Step 7: Use creative media

Getting replies is about two things: creativity and relevance. Relevance is displayed through the correct use of triggers, and creativity through the channel and media you are using.

That’s why I recommend using video or LinkedIn voice notes. These create pattern interrupts and help you stand out in a sea of cold emails and LinkedIn texts.

Step 8: Calculate how many prospects to contact to reach your targets

Knowing how many people to contact daily is simple, yet most people don’t know that number. In order to do it, I recommend identifying your sales/opportunity targets and converting them into how many prospects you would need to contact if your pipeline was empty.

You can use my sales process calculator to do just that.

Step 9: Prospect every single day of the week at the same time

Finally, having a blocker to prospect every single day at the same time is the simplest, most effective habit you can develop as a salesperson.

I block my mornings from 08:00 to 09:00 and I religiously prospect. It’s the first thing I do, before tackling any other task.

Do it for 30 days and see what happens.

 

And these are the 9 steps you can follow if you’re starting a new sales job. You can also follow them if you’re building a new prospecting sequence.

You may also want to check my latest course called The Cold Message System. It’s a tactical guide on writing emails and LinkedIn messages to get a 38% reply rate and a 27% meeting rate. It goes live on the 15th of July, costs €99 but you can pre-order it now for €79 with the code “prelaunch”.

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.

→ Need training or coaching for your SDR or AE team? Let’s talk: If you’re managing a team but they are struggling to reach their targets, then I can help. Book an audit call with me and we’ll come up with a plan. Book your call here.
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My guide to getting replies with cold messaging

Tactical Selling

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

My guide to getting replies with cold messaging

In today’s newsletter, I’m going to share the exact steps you can follow to improve your messages and get more replies.

Writing clear cold messages (on LinkedIn or email) is essential if you want to get replies and book meetings. You’ll get the attention of your prospects, get them to read your message, and get replies as a result.

Unfortunately, most salespeople are struggling to write compelling copy. They understand their prospects’ problems, but they cannot communicate about them efficiently.

Their copy sucks because they follow cookie-cutter templates

We’ve all used them at some point. And these templates do not work because:

  • They are way too long

  • Everyone is using them

  • They are plain and boring

  • They are product and feature centric

But don’t worry. There are 4 simple steps you can follow to create your own templates and get more replies.

Here’s how, step by step:

Step 1: Find a big problem

If you can’t find a big problem, you won’t be able to start meaningful conversations with your prospects.

The big problem is the main issue your solution is solving for your customers. For example, my customers (VPs of Sales) have issues getting their teams to generate outbound pipeline consistently. They are fed with cushy inbound leads, and when times are tough, they starve because marketing budgets are down.

There can be more than one big problem you solve. Build a list of these problems and be as descriptive as possible.

Step 2: List precise symptoms

Having a big problem is often not enough. You may find that your problem is too vague to resonate with your prospects.

A good way to solve that is to list visible symptoms of the problem, just like a doctor would do. In the example of my VPs of Sales having issues getting their teams to generate outbound pipeline consistently, here are obvious symptoms:

  • SDRs are not reaching their activity metrics

  • AEs are complaining about having to prospect

  • SDRs rely heavily on automation

  • SDRs aren’t using the sales tools at their disposal

And I could go on forever. The idea is to create a list of visible symptoms of the big problem.

Step 3: Use these symptoms in your copy

Now that you know what the symptoms are, you can easily integrate these symptoms in your copy. Here’s an example of how I would integrate the examples above:

  • How are you preventing your SDRs from not reaching their activity metrics?

  • How do you deal with AEs complaining about having to prospect?

  • How do you prevent SDRs from relying heavily on automation?

  • How do you avoid SDRs not using the sales tools at their disposal?

As you can see, I always start with “How do you avoid/prevent” and give the symptom. It’s an easy way to show your understanding of your prospects’ problems.

Step 4: Tease a resource to sooth their symptoms

If you’ve done your job correctly, you should have the attention of your prospects. Now is the time to tease a resource to help sooth the symptom.

I wrote a blog post about this a few weeks ago, but here’s the summary:

  1. Find a blog post/podcast from your marketing team

  2. Find out what problem it solves for your prospects

  3. Summarize your findings in a quick video

  4. Add 2 call-to-actions

  5. Pitch the resource in your sequence

Here’s how a cold message would look like with the VP of Sales example:

“Fred, noticed you recently liked the post of Mary about 10 innovative SDR metrics to track in 2022.

Quick one: How are you preventing your SDRs from not reaching their activity metrics?

If you’re interested, I have a quick resource to share on how you can help your SDRs build a simple prospecting routine.

Interested in grabbing it?”

And that’s my guide to getting replies with cold messaging.

TL;DR:

  1. Find a big problem

  2. List precise symptoms

  3. Use these symptoms in your copy

  4. Tease a resource to sooth their symptoms

And if you’re interested in grabbing my course on writing cold outreach that get you replies, you can pre-order it for €79 instead of €99.

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.

→ Need training or coaching for your SDR or AE team? Let’s talk: If you’re managing a team but they are struggling to reach their targets, then I can help. Book an audit call with me and we’ll come up with a plan. Book your call here.