Pat Helmers, author of the Selling with Confidence sales system, and host of the Sales Babble podcast, joins me on this episode.
Pat says the biggest challenge facing sales reps is trying to differentiate themselves from all the noise on the internet. To start, build a relationship with your prospects. Go where they are. Find their itch before you pitch.
Serve before you sell. Have two attitudes: I’m here to help, and, I’m here to add value. Don’t be afraid to ask service questions. “What can I do to help you?” This can be a learned behavior. Non-sellers can become sellers.
Pat works mainly with software startup companies. A lot of them are scratching their own itch with a product, and haven’t learned where else it is needed, or how to frame it for their prospective market. Pat explains the path to growth.
Startup founders should not hire a salesperson first. They need to be their number one salesperson. Just as they pitch to VC and private equity, they can pitch to prospects. The best way to understand the product is to sell it to real people.
The founders have to know how to sell it. A good start is to go to LinkedIn for prospective clients. Don’t hire a marketing department before you have a market. Creating relationships will never be automated.
Founders, when they decide to hire, often hire the flashy hunter, because they are not hunters themselves. Instead, create filters, in the form of assessments and tests. Pat gives an example of a sales post, and his hiring process.
Pat explains his hiring process. It includes giving a a software demo as a 15-minute presentation phone call, with himself as the customer. If the candidate shows the base set of skills, Pat will work with them.
Hiring is risk management. Seth Godin asks people to intern for him for free. Who wouldn’t intern with Seth Godin? Pat’s filtering process is the next best thing for finding talent.
At about the fifth step, Pat walks through their resume for hours with them, line by line, to see how genuine they are. Pat doesn’t bring a candidate in for lunch unless he’s 90% sure.
Andy cites Jason Dana’s NYT article about job interviews, saying that looking at the resume gives a more accurate prediction of job success than the interview does. By the end of Pat’s filtering process, he has a successful hire.
Certain cliche words on a resume screen out candidates when Andy hires. Many B2B companies are still advertising for extroverts and closers. That is not a good fit for B2B. Asking for the sale should be the natural meeting ending.
Customers don’t want to spend excessive time deciding. They want to make a good decision. Most are satisficers. As a company grows, founders can’t make every decision. They become leaders and leave decisions to others.