This post is by our anonymous colleague, the Apex Predator.
Do not adjust your screen. Your regularly scheduled programming has been interrupted and the floor has been opened for me to deliver 1500 words of scorched Earth Old Testament-style hellfire and brimstone to all you sinners out there below quota.
Who am I? That's a good question. I'd call myself a closer, but that wouldn't do me justice. Mariano Rivera speaks about me in reverent tones. If Alec Baldwin's character in Glenn Gary Glen Ross was standing in front of me right now, I would knock his ass out.
I'm the Apex Predator of Sales. And I'm about to rampage over your ill-gotten sense of self-worth. I typed this post with one hand. The other was holding the cell phone I just used to close a six-figure deal. My job today is to tell you how to do likewise. Brace yourself for profound insight.
Sales Hack #1. Pick up the damn phone.
Every second you spend on social media is a moment you spend disgracing yourself, your family and your profession. I wish I could find the person who coined the term "Social Selling" and piledrive that poser through a steel chair.
There's only one reason to get on social media, and it's to upload Instagram pics from your yacht. Which you won't be buying if you finish typing out that LinkedIn message you've been working on in the next tab.
I will tolerate the occasional email, but the drip campaigns need to go. I can spot one a mile away. Everyone can. I can't tell whether everyone thinks decision-makers got to positions of influence by being stupid or what. "You just insulted me by sending me a paragraph of automated garbage? Let's do business!" That seems like a natural train of thought to them.
If you're going to shoot someone a cold email, though, at least have the gumption to make it interesting. Throw in a damn GIF or funny picture. Take some extra effort, and by that I don't mean throwing in a few extra value propositions or a generic customer quote. Have some fun with it. That's how you take a cold email from inducing this:
To this. See what I just did there? Good. Now go do it, but only after you've called them for 2 or 3 weeks straight and they're still not getting the picture.
Sales Hack #2. Target a damn decision maker.
Just had a cold call intended for the CFO get diverted to the Head of H.R. And guys, we had a really great 15 minute conversation about the product I'm trying to sell her organization. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to pick up the phone and try to get back through to the CFO.
Closers go straight to the C-Level. They're not intimidated by job titles. They don't think to themselves: "This person runs a whole organization, they don't have time for me." If you have an enterprise solution, chances are that you can get to the CEO of a 200-person organization. They're not off on a yacht somewhere, yet. They're still working their ass off to get the yacht.
Don't think of yourself as being unworthy of a C-Level Exec's time. They need the solution you're offering, they just don't know it yet. It's your job to explain, in terms meaningful to them, why it's needed.
Maybe you're fresh out of college. Maybe you've never closed a huge deal. None of that matters. Rick Ross was a prison guard in real life and spent his most famous song comparing himself to Big Meech and Larry Hoover. If he can go platinum, you can close a C-Level Exec.
Sales Hack #3. Stop selling features.
One of the great lies in the world today is that consumers buy things because of features. That's a total falsehood and a tribute to marketers everywhere (your mother's glad you're putting your English degree to good use, by the way).
No one is going to buy you purely on the basis of your features. Or as one of my fellow Apex Predators put it: "The best product - even at the best price - doesn't always win. It often does not." So why are you still talking about features in your marketing, your cold emails/calls, and your demos?
Heard a great line yesterday while talking to a SaaS VP (Opportunity status: Closed). He was talking about their "sales model" and relayed to me two things they say on every call:
"Our software is like a gym membership that comes with a personal training." In other words, you can use the platform however you like, but we're here to help you optimize and get the best results (and we can prove it with past success).
"What about your role or organization keeps you up at night?" In other words, what problem can I solve that's going to a) make your life easier and b) make me enough money to take my girlfriend to Cabo? When I'm a prospect and I hear those words, here's my immediate, visceral reaction:
Look at it this way: Let's say your product has 8 major features that solve 6 different issues for an organization. If you were a Five-Star Chef seeking to cook the best meal possible for your customer, wouldn't you start by asking them what brought them to the restaurant in the first place?
Many of you would not. You'd spend 10 minutes telling them how awesome your sirloin and brisket were before one of them interrupted and told you they were a vegetarian, then the other chimed in that they were on a diet. Anyways, they'd really come to your restaurant because they read that you had the best oysters in town.
The point is: If you're in B2B sales, figure out how to answer 3 crucial questions for your buyer. Know what kind of conversation you need to have to win. Otherwise, you're in full Omega Predator mode, and we all know what happens to those.
Sales Hack #4. Have a real pipeline.
Let me simplify your pipeline for you. It's really two parts. 1. Prospects you're about to close. (Opportunities) 2. Prospects you're about to close once you talk to them. (Anyone you haven't yet talked to).
But seriously, I know exactly what's in your pipeline.
- A few real opportunities.
- A smorgasbord of B.S. opportunities that you claim are legitimate SQL's but stand no chance of closing.
- A ton of legitimate opportunities that haven't closed yet because "they don't have the budget right now" or some other dumb line that you you should have stomped out the second it was presented.
Every time somebody tells you there's no room in the budget, one of three things is really the case:
- They legitimately don't have the budget for your product (unlikely).
- They would have room if you had done a better job selling the ROI of your product. (likely).
- They're not the Decision-Maker (and never got you in front of the real one).
Go back through and follow up with each person in your pipeline who has said "we don't have the budget" to you, you coward. Work backwards by:
- Making sure they're the decision-maker.
- Presenting a CFO-worthy breakdown of how your product will generate positive ROI for them in the near team.
- Only holding off on the close until you've done 1 and 2, and they're still adamant that they just cannot afford you right now.
Sales Hack #5. Have a playbook.
As in one that's so good you'd never share the full version of it. And because some of you will read that sentence and ask me for my sales playbook before you even finish this article, no, I'll never give you my sales playbook.
I had originally planned to sign off by posting a bootlegged mash-up of Boiler Room and The Wolf of Wall Street. but was kindly reminded about things like copyright infringement and court summons. This being a sales blog, I'm legally bound to close with some inspiring words of wisdom to put some fire into your loins.
Inspirational Final Words: I wasn't always an Apex Predator. In fact, I was once a wide-eyed, intimidated child of the game like you. How did I get to where I am today? I earned it. And that's the path you're going to have to take as well. Start hustling. Love yourself. Respect the game. The grind never stops, but the days of riding economy class on JetBlue will.
Read More from the Apex Predator
- Sales Motivation from the Apex Predator
- More Sales Motivation from the Apex Predator
- Sales Rescue with the Apex Predator
- The Return of the Apex Predator
- The Apex Predator's 5 Essential Sales Articles
- Sales Mailbag with the Apex Predator
- 15 Real Songs to Pump Up Your Sales Reps
- Why You're Losing the War for Talent
- The 50 Worst Things Happening in Sales Right Now
- The Apex Predator Explains the Laws of Power
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