3 Ways Not to Suck at Sales


Over the past 15 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.

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.

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

Twitter profiles –People often get more personal with their Twitter bios than they might on LinkedIn. The beauty of this is that you can learn a thing or two about your prospect’s life outside of work. Very handy for building rapport. And a casual retweet or two can also warm up a prospect.

2. Know how to use your CRM

If you are consistent about updating contacts in your CRM, then your CRM can make you seem super smart to your client when you reference past conversations, know the details of the last deal you did together, what sports teams they root for or which TV shows they like. Even better, you build trust every time you follow through on something you said you’d do, like make a promise to call in two weeks, and you were able to follow through because you cleverly put a reminder to yourself in the CRM.

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 scare up a few deals. I tend to go 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 your 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.

When you’re on the phone, speak to the point. Leave a short but informative voicemail. Two tips:

  • Clearly enunciate your phone number twice and say that you’ll call again in a day or two if you don’t hear back
  • If you’ve got your POC (point of contact) on the phone, be concise and clear about why you are calling. It’s best for both of you if you quickly determine whether it makes sense to move the conversation forward or not.

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

Originally published on the salesforce.com blog here.

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