At the time of writing, I’ve been running Roketto for eight years, along with my business partner Chris Onyett. For someone who never thought they would be in sales, this last year has been a real eye-opener. I didn’t realize it before I started this company, but the moment you open a service-based business you become a salesperson (whether you like it or not).
If you’re not actively seeking out new business, you’ll be closing your doors in no time. It’s sink or swim in the world of business, and let me tell you, I was swimming — for my life — these past eight years. But this last year I made a significant change to my role within the company. I became the Sales Director, started sales training, and focused on developing my skills as a professional salesperson.
So what was I doing the seven years prior? I was wearing a thousand hats, and running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off… Okay, admittedly I’m still doing that, but as much as I can, I focus on sales and the growth of my business.
It was earlier this summer when I got an email from my HubSpot Channel Account Manager (CAM), Elizabeth Bailey, inviting me to the Agency Pipeline Generation Bootcamp. An eight-week intensive course led by Dan Tyre – one of the most senior sales coaches (and Elizabeth’s mentor) at HubSpot – designed to help agencies build a larger pipe of new business opportunities. In the email Elizabeth wrote me, she started off with, “I’m sending you this email because I know you want to jumpstart your agency’s new business development and are willing to do some work to get there.”
She was right. I was ready to put in the time and wasn’t going to turn down this opportunity. Not in a lifetime. Soon after, I met with Dan for the initial vetting process. We spoke about commitments and agency selection. I told him I was all in and ready to start, and he promised he would let me know if I got accepted. After much anticipation I got the email letting me know I was accepted into the bootcamp, and around mid-September the bootcamp begun.
We met once a week over video conference, myself and the other “lions”, as Dan liked to refer to us. He explained that we were all here for the same goal, and that was to become “sales lions”. It would take eight weeks of dedication to go from silly human to proud sales lion, and what a journey it was. I learned so many things along the way, but in this article, I want to share five key lessons that have really stuck with me. Hopefully, you’ll find them helpful in your sales journey as well!
Lesson 1: Stand Up And Smile
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is (for a human anyways, lions do better on all fours!) There’s really nothing else to it, but it was a valuable lesson to learn when we first started the Pipeline Generation Bootcamp. Dan would have each lion role-play the first time we speak to a new prospect on the phone, and there was no way he would let any of us talk without first standing up and putting on a big smile.
Why? Because it’s an awesome combo for raising your confidence and coming across as a genuinely happy and helpful individual. This isn’t a matter of opinion. Social psychologist and TED speaker Amy Cuddy’s research on body language shows that standing in a power position, with your feet apart and your hands on hips, is an effective strategy to improve your phone conversations.
Holding this position for two minutes will help to:
- Increase testosterone levels (increases confidence, ROAR!)
- Decrease cortisol levels (decreases stress)
What about smiling? It may seem silly at first, but recent research suggests that wearing a smile, whether it’s genuine or not, can reduce stress, lower your heart rate, and even helps to build rapport. Smiling affects the way we speak, and listeners on the other line can pick up on your facial expressions and even identify the type of smile based on sound alone. This creates a ‘feel good’ sensation which is sure to help with your cold (warm) calling.
Lesson 2: Always Be Helping (Selling Is Hard, Helping Is Easy)
Let’s be honest, selling is hard. Especially when you’re speaking with a new prospect and you haven’t had a chance to build any rapport. On the other hand, helping is easy. As long as you start a conversation armed with a couple of pointers on how you can help the person you’re talking to, your going to have no problem holding their attention.
As Dan Tyre would put it, the old phrase “Always Be Closing” is dead. “Always Be Helping” is how you achieve sales success in the modern world of customer-centric decision making. One big takeaway for me in learning this lesson was to always be ready to provide prospects with genuinely helpful tips on ways they could improve their marketing efforts to generate more leads for their business. A common example is implementing a call to action to a useful resource on their company blog posts. You might be surprised how many companies are losing out on top-of-funnel leads, simply because they aren’t utilizing this strategy.
Lesson 3: Cold Calls Are Dead, Warm Calls Are Here To Stay
When it comes to Dan Tyre and the Pipeline Generation Bootcamp, there is no such thing as cold calling. Cold calling is dead, but warm calling is here to stay. What is “warm calling”, you ask? As Dan Tyre explained it to his sales lions, “I consider warm calling to be connecting with a company that you’ve proactively identified as a good fit although they haven’t demonstrated an interest in your product or service yet. Based on your knowledge and experience, they fit the profile of your successful customers.”
You might be thinking to yourself, “Isn’t it still a cold call if you have no prior connection?” Nope! This here is a warm call. Doing the research and arming yourself with the knowledge that you can help the business you’re about to call is exactly what sets apart a warm call from a cold call.
So what kind of research am I talking about?
Typically this starts with a review of the prospective company’s website, social media profiles, news/blog, and the LinkedIn profile for the person you’re calling. It’s pretty standard stuff, but so many salespeople don’t even bother with this step and in turn, they start conversations with little to no knowledge on how they can help the person and business on the other side of the call.
Lesson 4: A Sales Lion Roleplays, Because It Works
If you’re anything like I was prior to the Pipeline Generation Bootcamp, the thought of roleplaying a sales call probably gives you shivers. You’re shivering, aren’t you? It’s okay, I think this is normal for most people, even for a sales lion.
What may surprise you is that it’s easier than you would imagine. Once you’re actually in the roleplay, it’s not so bad. Most importantly though, it just works.
Roleplaying in the Pipeline Generation Bootcamp typically meant us lions would be broken into pairs through our own private video conference. Taking turns, each lion would practice their approach using the techniques learned in class. Here are just a few of the things we roleplayed:
- Connect call introductions
- Utilizing “Ugh”, and pausing techniques
- Positioning statements
- Finding pain
While roleplaying is great for general practice, the feedback you get from your partner is arguably even more valuable. In a real and live sales call, you’re not going to be getting any feedback after you hang up the phone. So how will know what areas you need to work on? Capitalize on this, and make sure your partner is critical about which areas you need to improve.
Lesson 5: Embrace Technology And Use Video
We work with clients across the globe, and the simple fact is that would not be possible if we didn’t embrace technology. During the bootcamp, we met every week over video conference. Without that face-to-face connection, there is no way I would feel like I know Dan Tyre as well as I do now. The same goes for my fellow lions, and it’s no different when you’re dealing with a real sales prospect.
While you’re not going to have the opportunity to meet face-to-face during your warm calls, you certainly have the ability to set up a video conference for any follow up meetings. But why is it so important?
Did you know that over 90% of our communication happens through non-verbal cues? At least that’s the word on the street according to studies by Dr. Albert Mehrabian’s dating as far back as 1967.
Regardless of the exact number, the point is, so much of the way we humans communicate is through more than what we hear and say. Speaking with someone face-to-face (even through video conference) will provide a level of depth to your conversations that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to achieve through a phone call alone.
Sometimes the act of verbalizing something just isn’t going cut it. Whether you’re referencing something online, utilizing a slide deck, whiteboard, or even props, your ability to communicate will only be strengthened by the help of visual aids. I don’t think I have to emphasize that this just isn’t going to be possible with a simple phone call.
At a time where it’s not uncommon to be called by automated sales bots and international call centres, it’s more important than ever to show your human, lion side. Showing your face can make all the difference in building trust and rapport with your prospect. It reminds them that you’re a real person and not just another robotic salesperson on the other line.
Roar Like The Lion You Are
All in all, the Pipeline Generation Bootcamp was a great experience. Dan Tyre brought an energy to the program that you would only be able to understand after having the pleasure of meeting the man himself. He’s clearly someone with a wealth of experience, who loves to share all that he’s learned and help others to be their best self. One could say he’s a sales lion king 😉
While I’ve only picked out five lessons to share with you in this blog post, I easily could have mentioned many more. From confidence and approach to real prospecting and sales techniques, the Pipeline Generation Bootcamp was an awesome experience.