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  • Writer's pictureAlice Myerhoff

3 Ways Not to Suck at Sales


Over the past 20 years I’ve sold everything from online media to mortgages to conference sponsorships, so the tips below come from a vast amount of experience developing fresh contacts in different industries.

Sales is sales. No matter what you are selling, you should be able to benefit from these tips:


1. Know your target

We have it so easy right now in terms of being able to do fast research about the company we are calling on as well as gather information about the actual individual we are reaching out to. Some of my favorite sources of data:


Crunchbase – Not only can you learn a quick tidbit or two about the company, you can see if they’ve gotten funding recently, who the execs are, etc. This works particularly well if you are calling on startups.

LinkedIn – Find out who the relevant individuals are at a company you want to penetrate, send InMails when you can’t track down an individual’s contact information by other methods. If you upgrade to Sales Navigator, and it will tell you who the best leads are for you at a company, integrate with your CRM and do all kinds of fun stuff. Apollo.io - I talk this tool up all the time. It does two great things. First of all and what many people use it exclusively for is looking up contact information. Even with a free account you can look up 50 people each month. The second fabulous thing you can do with with Apollo is set up email sequences that will help you consistently follow up with a prospect. Just write a smart sequence of emails, leveraging snippets like {{first name}} and {{company name}}, segmenting your outreach list by role and/or company type so that you can address the concerns of those folks and make the email feel not-so-spammy.

ChatGPT/Bard/AI - The sales community is getting pretty amped up about what you can do with AI in a sales environment. I'll give you some quick examples in this post and will follow up with an AI for sales specific post soon. Consider using ChatGPT or whatever AI tool you want to try out to: find out what the pain points of your target prospect might be, compare your proposal to the RFP you are responding to make sure you aren't missing any important details, write some email outreach for you that is specific to your target and their concerns, and the list goes on. (Confession: I used AI to help inform this part of the post).


Google Alerts - Set up a google alert on your key prospects or key words that are relevant to your business. Getting a notification about a new initiative that an account announced and reaching out to congratulate them is a nice, not sales-y way to stay in touch.


Company Website pages – Read “About Us”, “Team” or “Leadership” pages to identify the correct points of contact, check out the “Careers” or “We’re Hiring” pages to see if they have a lot of openings they are looking to grow, and check out “Media” or “Press” pages to scan for anything they felt was important enough to send out a press release about.


Twitter – Twitter is a weird place at the moment but it's still worth looking to see if your prospect is active there and noticing that they like to talk about. If they are tweeting, you could simply do a casual retweet or two to amplify them which can warm up a prospect.


2. Know how to use your CRM

If you are consistent about updating contacts in your CRM, it becomes a goldmine. It can make you seem super smart to your client when referencing past conversations, showcasing that you know the details of the last deal you did together, what sports teams they root for or what podcasts they like. Even better, you build trust every time you follow through on a promise. For example, due to your detailed CRM notes and reminders, you'll never miss that commitment that you made to follow up or send some information. Even something that may seem trivial like that, is an opportunity to show your prospect that they can rely on you. "Trust is the currency of sales deals," as Lisa Scotto of LSM Growth Consulting says.


Also, if you’re meticulous about logging each lead and prospect in your CRM, you have a great database of warm leads to go back to when you’re looking to spin up a few deals. I tend to go in and pull a report of all accounts once a quarter and look for people who fell off the radar. Come to think of it, I should go do this now.


3. Be succinct

Everybody is super-busy, including your prospects. They don’t have time to listen to long-winded voicemails or to read your multi-paragraph email.


So think like an email marketer when you reach out to your prospect. Is your email subject line catchy and compelling? Is it easy to scan the email for main points? Consider using bullet points or short lists in your emails. Most importantly, make sure you have a clear and concise call-to-action and limit yourself to just one CTA so that people know what to do next.


Even post COVID, phone call outreach is important. When you are doing outreach on the phone, be to the point and leave short but informative voicemails. You might even consider texting if you get the sense that your prospect is a GenX or younger.


Remember, sales as a career doesn’t suck, so neither should you.

Originally published (with some revisions for this version) on the salesforce.com blog.



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