Sales’, ‘business development’, ‘account management’, and (I swear I came across it yesterday) ‘commercial growth representative’ are increasingly, and wrongly, becoming interchangeable terms and job titles.
Why do so many sales professionals go out of their way to avoid the word ‘sales’?
The old saying goes: ‘if someone knows that you are selling something, they’re less likely to buy it’.
We’ve all experienced the car lot salesman giving us a test drive in a tin can, or running the gauntlet past the student dressed as batman signing us up to a charity, or hanging up on the telesales rep that asks if we want to buy a mobile phone when we bought one yesterday.
The upshot is that good sales practice, business to business or otherwise, has never stood out so much from the madding crowd and people really appreciate it.
Here’s the top 3 tools, in no order, that we use to sell YellowDog with pride.
I use Linkedin to find out who I’d like to connect with, rather than using it to connect.
That rule doesn’t work for everyone but I’d rather have 140 linkedin connections and 1000 phone numbers than the other way around.
I don’t hide my privacy when I am looking at people I think YellowDog could help. I want them to know I am interested in them because I am. They may take a look at my experience or click through to our product website; it could start a period of research for them from almost nothing.
It is better to spend 30 minutes working out who the key people are in a business from their website and Linkedin rather than having an awkward conversation (or ten) with a receptionist in an effort to find out ‘who would be the best person to speak to’ or ask to be put through to ‘the business owner’. It doesn’t work and gets you hated.
Email Hunter, as its name suggests, hunts out and provides email addresses. There is, as with Linkedin, a paid version but the free version is pretty beefy if used wisely.
It is simple but a really nice way to get contact information without intruding unnecessarily on the business you’d like to speak to. Its plugin for Google Chrome and Linkedin is the best way to get information without toggling through separate web pages.
The best advice I was ever given was that sales is mostly about empathy.
As with all advice though, it is a little idealistic and hard to apply.
Setting aside time for a buyer and seller to understand and empathise with one another has become very difficult and widely undervalued over the last decade or more; this has placed emphasis on price driven decision making at the expense of quality and longevity.
Crystal goes someway to solving the lack of human and business ‘understanding’ in the quickest way I’ve come across: ironically in a data informed and ‘non-human’ way.
When you search for a person, Crystal analyses everything it can on them: the bio in their linkedin, the content of their blog posts, the phrasing of tweets and so on.
It uses this data to categorise that individual’s personality; it is often frighteningly accurate.
You get free credits to try it out – I’d highly recommend you try it on some work colleagues or friends and see what you think of the results you get back.
I was very dubious about Crystal but I gave it a go for a week earlier this summer and have used it where I think it will help ever since. In my first week of using it, I tried to utilise it with 3 potential major customers during a telephone conversation.
The results were as follows:
- YellowDog not for them: = 1
- YellowDog integrated and potential future customer= 1
- New YellowDog customer = 1
For the prospect that has since become a YellowDog customer, I used Crystal before a conference call with three of their team members who I’d never spoken with before. Crystal helped me to understand who was likely to lead the call, who would be quiet but doubtful, and who would be more interested in a story of what our service had done rather than a fact of what it could do. It was spot on with all three people on the call.
It focussed me, helped me to think about who I was listening to rather than who I was speaking at. It has shifted the way I approach every conversation now – with or without using Crystal.
It is apt that Crystal have this well known, frequently referenced ‘sales quote’ as the footer to their landing page:
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie