Douchebags usually suck at selling.
Contrary to the classic slimy used car salesman archetype, the best salespeople are usually thoughtful and have a lot of empathy.
We now have hundreds of awesome sales tools to help us automate most of the boring and tedious tasks we had to do before, but the salesperson’s job is still about managing conversations for building trust and human connections.
In order to win your prospective customers’ trust and close deals in 2016, you need to be thoughtful and consultative. Aggressive brute force and cheap sales tactics won’t win deals anymore.
So whether you’re just getting into sales and looking to learn what you need to do to crush your quota, or already are a sales veteran that wants to up your game and close even more deals, here are 5 sales tips that can help you be more successful at sales and even life in 2016.
Sales Tip #1: Be Thoughtful and Considerate of Your Prospects
Whether it’s sales, friendship, or dating–you won’t get far if you think everything is all about YOU.
Think about your prospects: what do they care about, and what do they hate? (If you don’t know anything about them, start by doing some research to understand your buyer personas!)
Because our lives are all so busy, no one has any time or patience for vain and selfish sales pitches anymore.
This means all the activities in your sales funnel (cold calling, prospecting emails, giving demos, moving opportunities forward, etc) need to be centered on adding value to your prospects.
You can’t do this without having empathy for your prospects and understanding their needs.
Sales Tip #2: Stay Focused – Less is More for Sales
In 2015 the average human attention span was 8.25 seconds. In 2000 it was 12 seconds.
Focus is the key to persuasion. As our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, you have even fewer characters to catch someone’s attention and interest in a cold email or sales pitch.
Your cold emails should be benefit driven, and they should focus on ONE benefit per cold email. (Here’s some extra help in case you don’t know the difference between benefits and features.)
Don’t try to cheat and cram in extra things. It doesn’t work, and it will decrease your response rate every time. I’ve split tested this hundreds of times, and the short and simple emails always outperform the longer and complicated ones in cold emails.
The same applies to sales demos and any kind of human interaction: rambling on only bores people to death and makes you look scatterbrained.
Sales Tip #3: Always Make Things Actionable
Have you ever walked out of a long business meeting thinking, “So what?!” wondering what the heck you spent all those hours talking about?
When things aren’t actionable, they make you feel like your time is being wasted.
This also applies to any kind of sales interaction or business communication.
If you want to keep things moving forward, you need to give clear and actionable instructions so the other person(s) know what the next step is.
Each of your action steps should move you and your prospect closer to your final goal. Be proactive instead of reactive, and know exactly what you want your prospect to do throughout your pipeline before you even write a single cold email.
Specifically, when writing calls to action for sales prospecting emails, be sure to incentivize your Call to Action to entice your prospects to respond.
That will always increase your response rates and can also dramatically shorten your sales cycle.
Sales Tip #4: Being A Little Weird Can Make You Unforgettable
Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you see it), I don’t have to try very hard to be weird.
I grew up in a small town in rural America where my dad packed me “Bento Boxes” of fried octopus for lunch. Although I grew up in the US and not the Middle East, I still only know how to dance like a “Turkish FOB.”
Between all my weird quirks and experiences living in exotic places like Hong Kong or post-revolutionary Cairo, I always have something interesting and unusual to talk about, whether it’s in an email or in conversation.
Some of my best subject lines have been “kimchi and octopus,” or other strange lines like “11 chicken eggs” or just “eyeballs.”
You don’t need to be as weird as me to be interesting, but you should figure out what makes you unique and run with that. Everyone has something special about them, and that thing(s) makes them unforgettable.
Whether you’re an avid traveler, a big sports fan of a particular team, or your secret talent is making ice sculptures, just own it.
It makes you seem more real and authentic, which makes people connect with you faster.
This doesn’t mean that you should ramble on all about your hobbies in your cold email, especially when it’s not even slightly relevant to your prospect or your business. Just find a way to leverage what makes unique and weave it into your own personal brand somewhere.
One option is to work this into a quote or one liner in your signature.
My email signature is a play on my favorite Lao Tzu quote, and is written below:
“A journey of a thousand miles starts with one good cold email.”
Find what works with you and run with that. Then people won’t ever forget you again.
Sales Tip #5: Never Give Up Easily And You Will Win In the End
Persistence and determination are the keys to being successful in sales and in life.
I have emailed certain individuals more than 13 times before finally getting a response from them.
I have followed up more than 16 times with an opportunity that gave me radio silence and went M.I.A. on a deal that I had mistakenly thought was already closed. It was a pain in the butt to stay on them, but eventually that client ended up being one of my biggest deals I ever closed.
On average you should send every prospect 8 emails before giving up. If you quit after only sending 4 emails, you’re probably losing out on about 34% of your potential leads or more.
However, persistence cannot be lazy or thoughtless either, though.
Just “following up” with your prospects over and over with the same repetitive message is inconsiderate and obnoxious.
Each time you follow up you must provide new value or ideas in your message.
Otherwise, people will get annoyed, which means they are much likely to mark your email as spam, which can hurt your email deliverability.
Happy cold emailing in 2016!