Trigger Warning: This content might cause harm to sales professionals who are terrified of brutally honest criticism or enjoy comfort zones. The Apex Predator is a special guest with numerous appearances on the Ambition site. He is not concerned about feelings or friends or language guidelines. NOTICE: We don't edit the Apex.
It's taken a Global Pandemic to bring me back to the Ambition site. I thought I was retired, but now I'm here and I'm not a fan of wasting time.
Who am I? I'm the Apex Predator (of sales). I make millions for whatever business is fortunate enough to hire me. I don't make excuses. I don't miss quota. I don't feel fear. Even now.
Why am I here? Because you need me, that's why.
> You, the rep who has given up on cold calling and spends your day browsing LinkedIn.
> You, the rep who keeps sending tone-deaf, repetitive follow-ups to prospects whose budgets are colder than Antarctica.
> You, the VPs and Directors who are letting this shit happen right under your nose and doing nothing to stop it.
I need a word with you.
Why Are You in Sales?
This isn't a rhetorical question. I really want to know. The answer is important.
See, I've been in the game a long time. I've seen a lot of reps fail, some succeed, and a select few really, really crush it.
The ones who fail are in the wrong job. They just got "into sales somehow". The passion isn't there. No hunger. Its going to be a tough cycle. Get hungry before your manager figures it out.
The moderate successful reps are both competitive AND money hungry. They hit quota, maybe get to go on the club trip every few years. They are feeding their family. Maybe paying down student loans. Great. But its not enough.
The real successful salespeople have It. Hyper competitive. Money hungry. *LOVE helping people*. Pathological drive to serve and impact their customers' business. They get the "rush" from solving a problem rather than just getting a checking the "Closed Won" box. They stay close with the customer. Texting close. Because they care they get referrals. They don't care what the quota number is.
Who are you going to be? Dig deep and let's dive into the Apex Predator Guide to Selling Through COVID-19. (Trademark Pending)
How to Sell Through COVID-19
This is the easiest formula you'll ever see. It's fool-proof. And if you follow it, you will be successful. Global Pandemic or no global pandemic. If there's an alien invasion, you'll be selling the aliens a McMansion in Tampa Bay with a 70 inch flat screen by the end of it.
Here's the three step process:
Make the Calls (aka Work Hard)
Give a shit
Now, I can already hear some of you audibly saying: “But Apex, I already do all 3 of those! I sequenced 15 people the other day and wrote a LinkedIn post.”
If that's you ... just know that if you worked for me, I would fire you. Then I would re-hire you. Then I would fire you again on the spot.
Let's drill into these - one-by-one.
Wake up in the morning. Drink coffee. Hop in the ca - you know what, nevermind. Let's skip to the second step.
Pick up your phone.
You realize how this whole capitalism thing works right? You get a job doing something you are talented at and love doing. You create value for your organization - which is great as a sales professional, because you can measure it in (and get rewarded with) tangible dollars and cents.
Going a step further, you can track how your effort, activity, and proficiency creates that value using software like the ones my friends at Ambition offer.
If you think dropping 15 people in a sequence (for those that don't know, that's sending an automated follow-up email via a tool like Outreach) and writing a LinkedIn post over the course of an 8 hour day is creating value for anyone, you're living on Fantasy Island.
[Pictured: The Apex Predator's Reaction to Sales Reps that Phone In Their Activity]
Full disclosure: I'm writing this article on a Saturday night. It's 12:22 AM where I am. You know why I'm doing that? Because I work hard. This is nothing for me.
You go talk to the most successful sales professional you know, and you'll see that for all the talk of the 4 Hour Work Week, the 30 Hour Work Week, blah blah blah, there are no shortcuts with sales.
You want to be an average sales rep who gets killed when an event like COVID-19 happens? Put in an average to below-average amount of effort. The truth is - there are insanely talented and hard-working sales professionals without a job right now … through no fault of their own.
If you're an average sales rep who puts in average effort and still has a job right now, get down on your knees and thank God. Once you're done with that, go straight to your laptop and start making cold calls.
“But Apex!” you're crying. “No one wants to buy from us right now! No one wants what we're selling! It's futile for me to do anything but sit on the couch, watch Netflix, and commiserate with my buddies about how shitty this whole COVID thing is.”
Wipe those tears from your eyes, my friend. Sit back, take a deep breath, and listen to this sweet reassuring truth I'm about to tell you.
COVID-19 is going to end at some point. Your competitors know this. They are still calling the same accounts you're going after. Offering to help them. Asking how they are doing. Learning more about their business. Building relationships with decision-makers. Cutting great deals you'll never be able to match once COVID is over. Talking sh*t about you, their competition.
Meanwhile, you're sitting there watching Animal Crossing. Waiting for responses to your automated sequences. Terrified of picking up the phone, calling another prospect, and getting the same negative response. Expecting your company to carry your water and continue paying you. Grant Cardone just declared bankruptcy, and yet you feel safe.
You're in charge of your own destiny. Go work hard and create some value. I'll show you how in Step 3 of this process.
Give a Shit
If you actually give a shit about your prospects and customers, you'll always find ways to create value for them. Were they about to buy your service before COVID-19? Cool, check in with them and see how they are doing. Send them something funny to read. Cheer them up. Give them a referral. Ask for one in return. Create some good karma.
In sales, the tendency is to think - oh, this person isn't immediately about to buy my product. I have nothing to offer them. Bullshit.
Sales is all about building lifelong relationships. Finding ways to add value. Getting creative and strategic. Being empathetic.
Pro-tip: People don't remember what you tell them. They remember how you make them feel. If you make them feel confident, prepared, passionate, maybe even warm and fuzzy inside - then you're doing your job.
You should be excited to reach out to prospects. Research them and figure out ways to add value to their lives. Hit up your competitors' clients and offer them a better deal than the one they're getting. Mail them an extra roll of toilet paper and some hand sanitizer. Whatever it takes.
When you actually give a shit about your customers, amazing things happen. People like doing business with you. You don't have to use big words (the hallmark of a Charlatan) to sound important. You don't have to get a ton of engagement on social media. You don't have to make excuses to your boss about missing quota. You feel good about yourself at the end of the day.
Learn to love helping others and figure out how to do so in your current and future roles.
Final Words from the Apex Predator
Look, this shit is really very simple: Pick up the phone and look to help someone.
Closing is just a byproduct of you helping someone come to the right decision to do business with you. The commission check you get is just a byproduct of you working hard and giving a shit. The whole endgame of sales is helping someone else out.
Show up. Work hard. Give a shit.
And if you need to feel inspired, check out my trademarked playlist of sales pump-up songs.