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B2B Sales Mentor- 20 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals

“It’s important to audit who you spend your time with as well. Are these people high performers? Are they positive and optimistic people?”
“I spent a lot of time listening to recordings of myself. It’s amazing how many quirks you will find that need adjustment. The headline here is that success in sales isn’t just about addition; it’s about subtraction too. Subtract the things that are holding you back from being great.”
“First, I constantly remind myself of where I’m going by writing down my goals.”
“Therefore, it’s human nature to react to what life is dealing you in the present moment.”
“Secondly, I prioritize relationships over everything.”
“Don’t just pile on new learnings, tactics, and methodologies. Take inventory of your behavior and figure out what things you need to cut out in order to help you be a more successful sales professional. This could be related to how you spend your time, what you say in sales meetings, or even who you surround yourself with you”
“Developing senior executive relationships takes time. Focus on strategies that develop these long-term relationships. Like all relationships, trust is earned, and it is earned over time.”
“Be genuine and authentic. Smart people will see right through people who aren’t genuine.”
“Influence those who would influence the relationships you want to develop.”
“Focus on adding value, as that will be the foundation for long-term relationships. Network and build relationships well before you need them. When the time comes, they will be more open to helping you. Integrity is non-negotiable; work only with people of integrity. Steer clear of those people who are morally ambiguous.”
“I didn’t talk at all during the meeting; I simply listened, took notes and let the general manager of the Hyatt know that I would find a way to make this happen. His eyes lit up when I said that, because later I found out he had met with every other uniform company in our area, including a rep from Cintas, that all said no just as quickly as I said I would find a way to make it happen.”
“As I went through this process, I gained significant experience beyond what I would normally garner and have been able to use that knowledge for over a decade after that for sale in many other sales. This knowledge has allowed me to stand out from anybody inside my company or from competition about this particular category of our business. I didn’t know at the time, but this is a key component to my overall success in not hesitating to jump in and learn a significant amount of information beyond my normal job scope, which will create a unique expertise for me that I can offer as value to my potential customers and current customers. Pushing yourself into the unknown is the best way to create “only” practices for yourself that you can then have for future use against your competition. After my month-long education in the garment business, I was able to gather up all the information necessary to put together a business model, present that internally at Cintas, and create a pricing structure that didn’t exist prior to the sale.”
“Early morning emails and calls required me to prepare the list of whom I wanted to contact and the messaging the night before. I even scheduled 90 minutes of time to myself every Sunday to get direction on whom I wanted to target”
“Well, one way or another, you managed to get a picture with my boss. I’m pretty sure I have to take the meeting now.” The image then worked its way into every subsequent presentation and they always enjoyed hearing the story of what we did to get it.
“It’s rarely easy to break through and get the attention of a cold prospect. Taking a creative, unique, and personalized
approach improves your odds exponentially. Featuring a company’s own brand (or executives) in your outreach can set you apart. Sales can be a grind. Be creative and have some fun. At the very least, it’ll make for a great story later. Differentiating Yourself From the Average Sales Development Rep (SDR) By Florin Tatulea Florin Tatulea was the top Sales Development Rep at Loopio in Toronto when he spoke with Scott in Episode 22 (top1.fm/22) and has since been promoted to Account Executive.”
“There is so much noise in the sales development world today and prospects are becoming increasingly difficult to reach.”
“in 2018, while the number of quality conversations per day has decreased from 8.0 to 5.1 during the same period of time.”
This means that to break away from the crowd, you now have to be (a little) more creative. Here are 7 (small) things you can do to differentiate yourself as an SDR in 2018. 1. Use Video in your Outreach
“Although incorporating video in cadences is gaining traction and becoming more common, it still hasn’t hit the mainstream. There is still time to use this method as a means of personalizing your outreach and standing out. GoVideo by Vidyard is a free Chrome extension which allows you to record, send, and track customized videos to your prospects. I have used GoVideo on a daily basis and have booked many meetings that may have never happened because I went above and beyond what most prospects had ever seen.”
“Discuss a couple of points, showing that you have done your research, and use a verbal call to action at the end.”
“I recommend keeping videos below 60 seconds in length and having a name card with your prospect’s name as the thumbnail, so that they can tell it’s customized. If you want to get into the top 1%, you should go above and beyond. For example, you can create fully customized videos recording yourself singing a song for your prospect or tying in an analogy about their favorite sports team into your pitch and call-to-action.”
“Analyze when the best time to call your ideal target prospects is and block that time out in your calendar. Typically, the best hours for cold calling are before the work day begins and as things are winding down towards the end of the day. Being the best takes sacrifice, so figure out a schedule that works for you and wake up early if you have to. Stay late and bang out those calls. If you want to be average and are just looking for a way to fund your social life, feel free to work a 9-5, that’s cool too!”
“Ever since I eliminated template-style emails, I have received 0 “unsubscribe” replies and plenty of replies praising me for the amount of research/customization that I have done. The truth is that I don’t do any kind of “revolutionary” research…it really only takes 5-10 minutes to craft an email that shows that you actually care, which causes you to stand out.”
“Owler allows you to learn about recent rounds of funding and press releases that talk about interesting product updates/events/awards happening within the relevant company. You can also use this information to craft a 1-2 sentence introduction too.”
“Most SDRs are not going to be sending emails after 6 pm during weekdays and on weekends. Take advantage of this fact and use your email automation platform to send your emails during these off-peak hours. Try scheduling your emails for 9 pm on weekdays or for 9 pm on a Sunday when people are preparing for the week ahead.”
“{{First Name}}, this is {{YOU!}} with {{company}}. I sent you an email yesterday about {{subject of email or topic covered}} but I have not heard back from you. Can you give it a quick glance and reply back? Again it’s {{YOU!}} with {{company}}. Thanks!”
“This voicemail works because it teases some information and sparks the curiosity, which leads to the prospect going to your value-added email.”
“In a world that is constantly changing and with technologies like AI coming into play, personalization and a focus on quality outreach will allow you to stand out and prevail.”
“Perhaps the most important piece of advice that I can offer is not to be lazy in the preliminary stages of the sale cycle.”
“However, what remains the same is that customers buy from “genuine” people. The quickest way to earn that trusted advisor relationship is by understanding “why” they are looking to make a change, “why” they are motivated to change and “why” the company is going to fund the change.”
“Doris later told me that they felt heard that first day we met and we gave them confidence that we would deliver their desired outcome.”
“Be warm – develop rapport through common connections, interests & backgrounds. Be genuinely curious… People know when you are faking it. Establish credibility through storytelling – Know your facts.”
“Gain trust through listening and not selling. Be honest… If you can’t solve their problem, tell then and make a suggestion.”
“Take Great Notes/NOT on your computer-it’s distracting and loud.”
“METRICS – What is the business case? Think of the hard dollars, real value, and improvements in KPIs that your solution brings that justify a change. This is an actual mathematical equation, not a guess. ECONOMIC BUYER – Who can spend money, has budget, can CREATE budget, and can sign a contract? DECISION CRITERIA – What is their wish list? What items will you be measured on and need to achieve to earn their business? DECISION PROCESS – Who is involved? When do they want to make a decision? When do they want to go live? PAPER PROCESS – What is the legal process a company will go through? Who are the people involved? How long does it take them to review, redline, and give approval for signature? This is critical to learning to make sure deals close on time. IDENTIFY PAIN – What are the real issues, goals, and outcomes? This, along with metrics, helps solidify the “Why Change” message. CHAMPIONS – Who will give
you inside information and sell for you when you are not there? COMPETITION – Who are they? What differentiates you from them? What landmines can you set?”
“I had a ton of goals in my meetings during that time. However, at least 90% were singular and self-serving. I wanted the prospect to know all the things my solution could do for them, how long we’d taken to develop these unique features, what other clients were saying about our solution, etc. Even my discovery process was about “me” and “us”;
‘Continuity of service’ implied that service had a starting point, but no end. This was the thought that changed the tide.”
“What changed was my mindset, and therefore my language. Mentally,
I went into meetings with the question, “What does service look like for this prospect?” This question alone meant that I had to ask different questions, listen more completely (complete listening is something I’ll address later), and develop a creativity that, up until this point, I’d lacked.”
“How can I bring value to this prospect from this point until they either become a client or a source of clients in the future?” “I’d love it if you’d use me as a resource.”
“Leverage – My greatest successes in business, whether sales or not, directly correlate to leveraging the incredible work and talents of others to create progress. Progress is defined by business-value solutions, straight-forward results, and an undeniable appetite for excellence. The team won with our customers, because of leveraging each other in our best ways to be successful!”
“The outreach needs to be personal but also unique – it was a smaller organization and start-up, so they were initially shocked to hear from my company. Second – I was not looking to sell anything. My outreach was targeted toward inquiring about their needs and usage and about different incentives and programs we may have to help them further explore or scope out the desired solution. That
outreach was designed to set a meeting; the meeting was set. In my mind, from my experience, I had a pre-conceived notion that this may be a relatively smaller deal with the opportunity to grow, but I never let that thought inform my actions. Setting the meeting with the right business decision maker is the most important first piece of the process and once I was in the room, across the table it was all about establishing the relationship.”
“Not only were the partners super impressed by how thorough the training videos were (thanks to my hours of studying my craft via the podcast), but they also liked the convenience of being able to watch the videos whenever they wanted as opposed to having to shift things around in their busy schedule for a meeting. The biggest reason I think they were such a hit was that it was something that literally no other Channel Manager – at my company or any other – was doing. It was different, and embedding personalized videos into emails for sales was really starting to take off at the time.  The best part was what happened next. A package arrived in the mail at our head office with my name on it. It was from Telarus. Inside was a Telarus Coin of Excellence and a handwritten letter from our liaison at Telarus. The Coin of Excellence (pictured below) is a gold coin that they only present to a select few people who are affiliated with their company (Channel Managers and sales agents) who truly go above and beyond to help make their company a success.”
“Don’t be afraid to do something that’s different than what everyone else in your role is doing – especially if it’s something that is a more practical way of doing your job
much like beauty, value is in the eye of the beholder. In sales, the beholder is our prospect. You’re probably thinking “no kidding.” Nonetheless, if it’s that obvious, why do most salespeople fail to consider this when preparing their so-called value-added contacts?”
“Always Be Connecting: The work starts before you ever even find your “dream job.” You have to be constantly networking as a sales professional so that you’re in the know of upcoming openings. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is crisp at all times. You never know who could be looking! In my particular case, the only announcement was a LinkedIn post, so if I wasn’t part of the CEO’s network, I never would have even known about this opportunity. Follow a Process: Reframe your mind to start looking at the hiring process as you would your sales process. In my case, I told the hiring manager straight away that I was going to do my best to go through this process as I would with one of their partners. If you’re not rock-solid on this process, which is arguably the most important sales process you’ll ever run with them, then how can they expect you to rock it with their clients? For me, In order to apply, you had to complete a Google form with 8 questions. I made sure that I had thoughtful answers & bugged a friend to proofread for me. Attention to details & speed of responsiveness matter – don’t shoot yourself in the foot before you begin!”
“Passion (with a plan) trumps experience. If you can show that you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, get to work, and approach the role with unequaled passion, you can beat out experience.”
“Interview potential end users to understand their pain and what keeps them from doing their jobs. Perform deep research into the company’s (and their competitors and customers) financials, presence on review sites, and job descriptions to digest and formulate a point-of-view about challenges and opportunities their industry
For me, it meant I had to cut back on other things in my life to succeed at my job. When I said to my wife that I needed more time this year to feel comfortable, I had the time I needed to crush quota, she said, “I’ll handle everything else outside of work. Go get ‘em.”
“What drives you? What are your goals? Why did you set these specific goals? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to achieve these goals? What sales skills do you have that you need to work on? Who are your sales mentor(s)? Can you emulate what they are doing to succeed?”
“If you work for a large company like I do, you probably have different divisions, business units and maybe even different companies within your parent company. Keeping track of the sales folks in other business units can be daunting, especially with frequent transfers, retirements, hiring, and reorganizations. I am here to tell you that if you invest the time to build these internal sales teams, you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.”
“The three main benefits I have found by working in sales teams are sharing information about your common customers, sharing contact data with the members of your team, and collaborating on sales pursuits. I will share an example of how I used a team approach to advance my sales efforts.”
“Lots of features and functions for lots of stakeholders means lots of questions. The questions did come – the RFP was the size of a Russian novel. Fortunately, I had a very experienced team who had been in many similar opportunities and had seen most of the multitude of RFP questions before. We set about the RFP response with gusto. This experience was true war room stuff – eight people sitting in a room banging out question after question until every box had been checked, every question had a detailed explanation.”
“I remember cringing and thinking comments like those would sink our chances of a win, but subsequent conversations with the prospect told a different story – the prospect’s project team knew that no solution was perfect and the candid feedback from our customer, positive and negative, had given them a clear understanding of where the pitfalls and weakness lie. This was a key point for them because other vendors did not offer such a complete and candid view into their customer’s experience, so they felt committing to working with any of the other vendors carried greater uncertainty and thus greater risk.”
“Preparation is the best way to avoid uncertainty both in terms of the depth of detail you are ready to discuss and your prospects impression that you have covered all important areas to their satisfaction. Uncertainty kills deals. Visiting a customer with a prospect is a huge differentiator. Gives the prospect living proof your product works and gives you many opportunities to interact with your prospect off-site.”
“Informal conversations deepen relationships and are often the best forum for hearing the real story on the process, the players and details on how to win the deal.”
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