Anyone who’s been in a sales role for more than a few weeks has heard the mantra “Always Be Helping”. This is, of course, the alternative to “Always Be Closing”, made famous by Alec Baldwin’s abrasive salesperson stereotype in the movie, Glengarry Glen Ross.
I believe wholeheartedly that this is the right way to approach sales, especially as prospects have increasing control over the buying cycle. Buyers are busier and have access to more information than ever, so if you’re not adding value at every step you WILL be ignored.
Ok, so I’ve established the obvious: to sell effectively you need to provide value...now what?
I’m writing this post because being helpful isn’t easy. At Uberflip, we target technology-driven marketers. These are SMART people. A million different reps are prospecting them and they are on the cutting edge when it comes to innovative marketing techniques.
Simply put, they don’t have time for BS. On the other hand, technology has made it possible for reps to make more prospecting touches than ever. We have a market where the demand for sales outreach is low but the supply is enormous (Economics 101: this is bad for us sales reps)
Here are the four things I’ve realized that have allowed me to be valuable enough to have success in my short sales tenure:
1. Sadly, no one cares what I want
I’ve made it my mission to stop saying what I want to do when talking to prospects. No one cares what I want except for me.
“What I’d really love to do is book a 20-minute call so I can take you through a demo of my product and show a few ways that it has helped companies like X, Y, and Z reach their goals.”
Any decision maker in the marketing world must hear something along these lines all the time. If your solution can truly help them, a statement like this one doesn’t do a good job of showing it. 20 minutes is a lot of real estate on someone's calendar – what’s in it for them?
This is when it pays to know your buyer personas like the back of your hand. Any time I ask for a call, I’m trying to prove that I understand a pain point which my solution can solve.
“I speak to content marketers every day. I consistently hear that IT has control over how content is engaged on the website. I have some ideas about how you could have more power to create an experience your audience will love. Do you have 20 minutes to discuss them this week?”
As SDRs, we always have to sell the call. We need to prove that a call with us is more valuable than the time a prospect is giving up to have it. A few things that have helped me sell the call in the past:
Give a “freebie” idea to create some interest
Speak to a pain point you solved for a customer similar to the prospect
Use humor to set yourself apart from typical sales outreach
Mention something personal to them to prove you have a pulse (as opposed to yet another automated email)
2. I have to do my research to know what they want
For the sake of this post, I’m going to assume your different personas are mapped out already. If not, that’s step one. Knowing the goals, challenges, and motivations of your ideal customers will inform a large part of your messaging.
Many of your prospects are dealing with the same challenges, which is why you’re targeting them. But even with that information, no two prospects are exactly alike and because of this, they will respond to different messaging:
How long have they been in their role? How long have they been at their company?
Are they risk takers or risk averse?
Are they focused on efficiency or effectiveness?
Have there been any large changes at their company that makes your solution more or less attractive?
These things are rarely spelled out for you, but if I read someone's job summary on LinkedIn, I’m going to reach out differently to someone who talks about cutting costs than I will to someone who talks about creating new processes. The key is that one is focused on removing excess and one is focused on adding new things.
Finally, I’ve found that it’s crucial to prove thoughtfulness as an SDR. If someone can tell early on that you’ve taken the time to try and be relevant, they will be more likely to read your email, more likely to respond, and less likely to tell you to hit the road.
To prove you’re trying hard, I find it useful to bring up things that are personal to them. I’ll check their Twitter and LinkedIn for things they care about and try to find some common ground. If I see they’re a baseball fan I might sign off “GO JAYS!” If they like basketball I’ll say “GO RAPTORS!” See a pattern? I like my Toronto sports teams. This does not replace the need to add value rather, it supplements that to prove you care about helping this prospect as an individual.
3. Don’t take my word for it, check out our content
88% of B2B marketing teams are leveraging content marketing. However, according to SiriusDecisions, 60 and 70 percent of that content goes unused by sales reps. This is pretty ridiculous since marketing teams are creating all of this amazing content that speaks directly to the pain points and interests of your target customers. As a sales rep, your marketing team’s content is a gold mine and should be super helpful for your prospects.
It’s pretty simple. If a prospect expresses a pain point (or you suspect they have it), send them some content on the matter. If you don’t have it, let your marketing team know! They can then create it and you’ll have it in your back pocket the next time that pain point comes around.
Content is amazing for a few reasons:
It gives you credibility as someone who understands the subject matter
It positions your company as a thought leader
It keeps the conversation going
Having great content for your prospect’s challenges is the first step, but how you use it is just as important. At Uberflip, we want to make the experience our prospects have with content is just as contextual and relevant as the content itself.
“Ms. Prospect, you say you have a huge lead gen number to hit and want to segment your different verticals into specific Marketo lists?” With this information, I can turn around and deliver a package of relevant content that speaks directly to what she cares about:
4. The more at-bats you get, the better you’ll be
This one probably may seem like it came out of left field (too many baseball references?), but I’ve found it to be critical. Part of always helping is providing value as the prospect needs it. “When the prospect needs it” rarely coincides with your quota as a sales rep. When the daily/weekly/monthly pressures of sales kick in, I’ve found it can be difficult to help a prospect on their own timeframe and that “Always Be Closing” mentality rears its ugly head.
When this happens, I realize I need to ramp up my activity and get more at-bats. Go out and find more people with goals I can help them reach and problems I can help solve. By reaching out to more than enough people, I’ve found it to be much easier to provide value to them. As an added bonus, more activity equals more practice, which equals becoming a better rep, which equals being more valuable! I said this in my last post but it bears repeating: desperation kills deals (or opportunities in the case of an SDR like me).
Sales karma is real
In sales, you have thousands of conversations and will reach out to tens of thousands of people. The law of averages definitely comes into play in this role. You’ll have stretches of great luck, horrible luck, and everything in between. I think if you focus on being as valuable as possible to all of your prospects, the law of averages will ensure you get what you deserve, and you’ll be an awesome rep! Now go earn some sales karma and help some people crush their goals.
Learn more about how to provide value through content in our eBook, Content is For Closers.
About the Author
Ken is a Business Development Representative at Uberflip. Aside from helping marketers create killer content experiences, his passions include travelling and cheering on any Toronto sports team.Follow on Twitter More Content by Ken Edwards