Diary of a Salesman
I am in sales for over 2 years. It’s not an easy job. People around you like your boss have high expectations, you need to move things forward fast to get the sales done.
So far I’ve learned a lot. From time to time I deliver B2B sales trainings called “Sales Hero” for people in startup incubators. I talk to people, watch their behaviours and push them to cross borders. I’ve noticed a couple of interesting things, why people don’t sell as much as they can (or want).
Mistake #1 “Everyone is my client”
If I ask people “who are you looking for?” most of answers are so general, that I have no idea, how to make a proper introduction. I have almost 2000 connections on LinkedIn. I bet, someone from my circle can become your client. Just tell me! As a B2B startup you should be able to list me at least 100 potential clients by name.
Start with Persona. Using design thinking methodologies, define your ideal customer. Answer the following questions:
- Who is he?
- How does he follow through the day?
- What are his goals/needs?
- What drives him to buy your product/service?
- What is his source of knowledge about your product/industry?
With the clear picture in your mind, you can easily find first 100 customers using LinkedIn search.
Task nr 1: Create 3 personas - your ideal clients and find out, where you can meet them in person.
Mistake #2 “I go to the networking party to pitch my idea”
OK, you know who is your customer now. You even have a list of events where you can meet such a person in real life. Awesome! You attend the event with friends and you spend 2 or 3 hours talking in a small group of people you know.
How do you want to make new connections? Old people know you and your product. They won’t buy more, so you need to have new potential buyers.
During such parties someone you don’t know will randomly ask you “what do you do?” It’s hard for most of people to clearly say why they should spend with you more than 3 minutes of their time.
- prepare an elevator PITCH, that will rock
- do your homework and don’t waste time at conferences - if people attend the event via meetup or other social network, you can see who’s coming. Identify some profiles and invite people before the event to catch up. Fill in your agenda with people who might be valuable for you. Ask the event organizer if he will be using some mobile app like Conventica. With such an app you can join the community and easily network with people that are interesting to you.
- Be brave, talk to people, ask many questions. Remember - the conversation is a dialog, not a monolog.
Task nr 2: List 5 events happening this month, where you can find new clients. Prepare, go there and make sure you will talk to them in person (of course prepare a pitch before)
Mistake #3 “My life is so chaotic, that I plan my day every morning”
Many young entrepreneurs wake up in the morning and say “OK, so what do we gonna do today?” They make a list and start doing. This part is good, but often they don’t think about wider perspective. Moreover they allow other people interrupt them and at the end of the day, nothing important is completed.
Have a plan. A simple one. Where you start with small steps and increase the number of things done every week. You need to create a habit of DOING THINGS THAT MATTER.
I personally use OKRs by Google. You create a couple of objectives for a quarter and then every week you need to define things that need to be done (measurable results). You start with the big picture, but then identify separate tasks to move the project/business forward. With a clear structure it’s easy to follow a plan.
Task nr 3: Create a plan for Q2 on a one A4 page. Write down 3 goals you want to achieve and the results that will prove that your goals are completed.
Then using post-ITs define a list of tasks for every week and GET THINGS DONE!
Mistake #4 “But I had thousands of many other things to do”
I love this one. Procrastination. It’s a disease of our civilization. Most people WANT to be entrepreneurs, most people WANT to sell more, but for some reason they DON’T. Why?
Here is why:
People are perfect in providing excuses. During my workshop I did a homework. Many people weren’t able to do simple tasks within 7 days. Always busy, always under pressure. Disappointed with a lack of sales results.
There were hundreds of books written about how to fight procrastination. I will only share my 3 proven ideas:
- Every day focus on 2-3 most important task and finish them before anything else
- Bite your finger every time you want to explain, why this task can’t done (it works, really - it’s conditioning your mind ;)
- Cut off the internet (if you don’t need it to finish your task)
Task nr 4: Watch your behaviours for one week. See what causes procrastination. In 99% of cases, it’s a bad habit. Try to eliminate it. Read “The Power of Habit” and change procrastination into a powerful way of completing important tasks.
Mistake #5 “The salesman is responsible for sales, not me”
OK, I stand here in the name of all sales people in the world :)
Of course they are responsible for sales in a startup like noone else, but the truth is that the whole company needs to have a culture of sales. All members of the team need to help with marketing and sales. Everyone can write a blogpost or present the company during the conference. I know many great CEOs like Artur from Social WiFi, who were sales people first for over 1.5 year and did a great job in this role.
- Create a Culture of Sales in your startup from Day One
- Read blogs, e-books, meet experienced sales people
Task nr 5: Sit together with your folks and tell them about your sales goals. Ask for a piece of advice, brainstorm ideas how to achieve them. Invite some experienced salesman from your area of business and ask him all the questions you have.
BONUS - Resources.
Thanks for reading. I hope you will follow my tips. Only then you can achieve something. Don’t say “I will start tomorrow”. Take a paper and a pen and create a PERSONA. NOW! Make progress, not excuses!
As a reward I send you a couple of useful resources:
- How to create ideal B2B profile (persona) for lead generation
- How to generate warm leads?
- 501 sales tips by Art Sobczak
- Bunch of great eBooks from InsideSales
- How to motivate sales people?
What are your biggest challenges with sales? How do you deal with obstacles?