I need to make a confession – I have a tendency to be an information gobbler.
Last quarter I was in a meeting with some people on our team who do interviews. After everyone in the meeting made fun of me for reading and sharing every article ever written on the internet (which is true, I’ve read them all), we started talking about passion.
Someone said one of the ways to identify if someone is passionate in an interview is to get them talking about things they love to do outside of work, or things that aren’t necessarily related to their day to day role at work.
Then someone told this story about this really bright and talented candidate they interviewed who was supposedly passionate about the environment. When they asked the candidate to describe this further the candidate went into detail about how much he’s read about the environment, saving energy, and being green. So my team member said to him, “that’s awesome, but what have you done about it?” To which the candidate replied, “oh no, I just read all about it. I’m very passionate about the environment.”
That’s like telling someone you love them all the time, but never spending any time with them or doing anything special for them.
It’s not real.
In my last post, I wrote about how we have a Silicon Valley SaaS Sales Legend as our Interim VP of Sales right now at HackerRank. In this follow-up post, I’m going to talk about 3 things he’s already taught me in what was HackerRank’s best quarter ever.
But if you’re like me and you tend to be an information gobbler, reading every SaaS sales blog post there is, these lessons won’t be new to you.
Instead, what I’ll reveal is how Brendon has helped me put them into action. Because I too had read these principles from plenty of advisors before, but I struggled to actually incorporate them into my work. That’s the value of having direct access to a great teacher.
Did I mention we’re hiring?
Put these 3 things into action and you will close more deals.
Lesson 1: Time Is Your Worst Enemy
Before Brendon came on board our mindset as a sales team was that revenue is brought in on a quarter to quarter basis. One of the first and most significant lessons we’ve learned from Brendon is that the best, fastest growing SaaS companies think about revenue generation predictably, on a month to monthbasis.
That means you have 28-31 days to close. And if it’s not closing this month how can we help it to? And if we absolutely can’t close it this month then it’s not first priority.
This mindset shift has positively affected everything we do and our sales velocity has already seen significant improvements.
And that’s all well and good, but just because you decide the only month that matters is the one you’re in doesn’t mean your prospect has to.
Remember in today’s market your prospect has a thousand other SaaS sales reps engaging them (especially in HR tech) to focus on their project too. And it’s very easy to get distracted.
You have to put yourself in your buyer’s shoes in order to see how to align your timeline with theirs.
You have to create a sense of urgency. And the way you do that is with a compelling event.
One of the mandatory fields we now have in SalesForce is “Compelling Reason”. What is it? Why should the prospect care now, in this month? Why shouldn’t they say, “Let me get back to you”, or “This sounds great, so let me take some time to chat about it internally.”
In a strong sales relationship you and your prospect’s timeline align perfectly because your sense of urgency is shared. They want your product this month because of the business case you’ve helped them create.
It helps if your product has inherent compelling reasons that are time based. For example, at HackerRank our product can be implemented in 24 hours or less so you can use it on your very next candidate. We also create business cases around hard physical dates like when a hire needs to be in place, or when a project needs to be implemented.
I want to make something very clear, this isn’t manipulation or trickery. That’s not solution selling, that’s peddling software.
No, instead you craft a value proposition which includes a compelling event that aligns perfectly with your prospects needs.
Discounts can be another compelling event. Why spend more later when you can spend less now? Discounting should not be assumed, and discounts shouldn’t be handed out willy nilly. Instead use them strategically, if your prospect asks for them, as a lever to create urgency. Create a solid business case around your solution that fits within their budget to help move the needle. How do you do this fairly, ethically, and respectfully with your prospects?
Well that brings me to my next point – reciprocity.
But first, here’s how you put lesson 1 into action.
Action Step 1:
-Ask the following question(s) on every first call you have:
“In an ideal world when would you want to have a solution like this in place?”
“Our goal would be to finalize an agreement this month, would it be possible to do so assuming we could do everything on our side to prove value and craft a win-win proposal?”
Lesson 2: Good Sales Relationships = Reciprocity
One day I was meeting a friend for coffee and she was running a little late. I was waiting for her on a bench outside of Philz when a 15 year old kid approached me.
He said, “excuse me mister but if I do a great magic trick for you will you give me $5?
I instantly said yes.
Not only do I love magic tricks, but I respected the hell out of his hustle. And that’s the thing, when someone asks for what they want we usually respect them more for it.
It’s crucial you do this with your prospects and customers in the sales relationship. If you don’t they’ll never respect you and they’ll just string you along.
I would have let that kid perform magic tricks for me all day and not given him a dollar if he didn’t ask for it in return. But because his trick was truly great I felt that his ask was justified.
This is reciprocity in action. Both parties agreeing to a mutual exchange of fairly equal gives and gets.
If you build a reciprocal relationship from the onset your prospects will respect you more, you’ll respect them more, and when the deal closes both sides will walk away with smiles on. That’s the goal.
We do this at HackerRank by always making sure we ask for something in return when something is asked of us. Most often this looks like, “if we can get you that discount, when can you sign?”
But if you truly want to go next level I recommend checking out some of John Barrows work regarding this topic.
Action Step 2:
-Always ask for a “get” in return that is fair whenever you give a “give”
-Identify the “gives” and “gets” that you encounter most often in your sales cycle and develop a scorecard (This is what John Barrows taught me).
Lesson 3: Be Aggressive, B E Aggressive
What I’m not saying is you need to adopt the tired, sleazy salesman persona who is pushy or disrespectful.
What I am saying is you need to develop the mentality that you’re not going to accept no as an answer.
Brendon has taught us this lesson best by always having new and creative ways to get around the no when we encounter it.
We used to enter the sales cycle and just hope we wouldn’t hear no. Now we expect to hear no. Most people are preprogrammed to say no.
So now when we hear it we’re ready to work around it. Keeping things simple, the best way to handle no is usual to simply ask why.
But if you’re doing that via email you’re likely doing that wrong. Think about it, how easy is it to hit delete via email?
But if someone calls you and respectfully asks for an explanation, that’s a tough thing to dodge. When you hear no, pick up the phone and dial your prospects and ask them why.
Usually they’re saying no because you did a bad job showing how what you do fills their need, and this will reveal itself in their explanation.
When they’re done say the following, “Thanks for explaining that, I understand much better now. You mentioned something during your reasoning that we can actually help with, would it be alright if I explained that briefly?”
Most people actually do want to solve their problems, but in this fast paced world the burden is on you to effectively tell them how you will.
Being aggressive means not accepting that someone’s no is really a no until you’ve heard it 3+ times in succession.
Don’t piss people off. Be tactful. But don’t roll over and die.
Action Step 3:
-Every time you get a no via email make a call to discuss why, see if you can come out with an agreed follow-up date at worst and at best a changed mind/opinion
-Become the expert about what you’re selling so your alternative, challenging thinking is respected when offered
But I’ve read all this stuff before?
And that’s sort of the point. Before Brendon got here, so had I.
But knowledge doesn’t actually move the needle in your life until you put it into action, and it’s much easier to implement a new piece of knowledge when you have strong leaders and coaches around you who’ve done it thousands of times before to show you the way.
If you don’t have strong leaders or coaches in your life right now, call me and I’ll help you find one.
And if you want to stop reading about these principles and actually become a better rep, or start your career in sales and learn it right from the start…well
This post was originally posted on LinkedIn HERE