In today’s fast-growth B2B sales environments, sales and technology are one and the same. And Sales Hacker’s CEO Max Altschuler is no stranger to sales technology. Max and the Sales Hacker team are gearing up to host Sales Stack 2015, a B2B tech-focused sales conference, this November.
Gearing up for Sales Stack, we recently sat down with Max Altschuler to discuss some of the latest sales prospecting trends. Max was also kind enough to reveal some absolutely killer sales prospecting tactics that your team can start using today to connect with more prospects, close deals faster and win more sales revenue.
RingDNA: Due to the labor shortage in inside sales reps, a lot of new hires are fresh out of college or have very little experience. Which sales communications skills are the hardest to coach?
Max Altschuler: The single hardest thing to coach is empathy. You either have it or you don’t. Alongside empathy is integrity. Is this person going to sell someone prospects something they don’t need or do something untrustworthy to close a deal? This will just led to churn, waste your team’s time, and create a sour customer. It’s not worth it.
RingDNA: We hear a lot about needing to personalize emails and phone calls. When reaching out to prospects, where do you draw the line between personalized and creepy? (reps know an incredible about of information about their prospects, including which technologies their company is using, when and how they’re using their apps or engaging with the content, and more).
Max Altschuler: Don’t talk about things you’d find on Facebook or Instagram. Keep to Twitter and Linkedin. Relevant news about business, their industry, sports, their orgs or alumni and travel can be good. Family is too far. Don’t mention their kids. Also, this goes back to testing, but understand how to deliver info to people. The difference between creepy and prepared is all in the delivery.
RingDNA: Speaking of reaching out to prospects, what’s an example of a sales communication technique that was once great, but simply no longer works?
Max Altschuler: Saying you met someone at a conference when you didn’t. As an example, I get so many emails after Dreamforce saying that we met. No, you scanned my badge to get into your Lounge/Party/Free lunch. Stop it. Be honest. Don’t start that way. But really, the main point is that empathy is in and uncomfortable aggressiveness is out. Ask questions. Guide prospects through their decisions. Lead them to the goal. Act as a therapist.
RingDNA: How about some more mistakes you see reps make when sending outbound emails?
Max Altschuler: Reps often aren’t doing their research before reaching out to prospects. Reps also need to do a better job of cleaning their data and lists, if they’re working from lists. Nothing worse than saying “Hi [wrong name].”
RingDNA: How about when reps are making sales calls?
Max Altschuler: Again, I see reps not doing their research. Reps not only need to research facts and triggers, but also the right tone to use with a prospect. You’d talk to a CEO in a different way than you’d talk to a manager. Reps also need to be prepared to deal with any potential objections. I also see reps just talking too much. It’s important to listen to prospects and take good notes. This helps reps do a better job of summarizing and following up immediately after calls.
RingDNA: How does testing come into play with the companies that you work with, and what sorts of variables are you testing?
Max Altschuler: Everything should be tested and optimized. And it can be. Your pitch or message. Your subject lines. Your framework. And while I’m not a fan of call scripts, you can optimize flow and messaging.
RingDNA: Generally speaking, what’s a typical sales cadence today for an outbound sales rep? How many emails and/or calls? Over what length of time?
Max Altschuler: This is a heavily debated topic and there’s no right or wrong. It’s something you need to test. So just start testing now and be sure to use software to track results. But for the purpose of the question, I’ll say:
Day 1: Email/Inmail
Day 3: Email in the morning, Call in the afternoon
Day 5: Call in the morning, Call with a voicemail in the afternoon
Day 7: Email in the morning, Call in the afternoon with a voicemail
Day 10: Email and call in the morning
There’s some debate about how many touches you should have in your sales cadence. Hubspot uses seven, and says that after nine you reach a point of diminishing return. They may even end up going to spam. If there are no responses, try taking a break for three-to-six months before trying again.
RingDNA: It seems like spam on LinkedIn is at an all-time high. Is LinkedIn still an effective sales communication channel?
Max Altschuler: Yes, it can be. Stand out with content. Send them something relevant, and helpful. View their profile. Like their posts. Stay on their radar. And use it in a cadence.