[Video/Slides] Sales 4 Startups Presentation: Inside Sales 101
We wanted to share a video and slides from a recent talk at a Sales4Startups event in Palo Alto.
Inside Sales 101: Sales Hiring, Cold Calling & Cold Emailing.
Hope you enjoy!
Sales 4 Startups: Inside Sales 101 from Steli Efti
I want to talk about the exciting topic of cold emailing and cold calling today. I started a company called Elastic Sales. And what we did with Elastic was to offer startups and technology companies - specifically companies that are focused on B2B - a sales team on demand. Think AWS for sales.
By now we've worked with over 150 venture backed startups in the Bay area alone, and we've helped them through the sales discovery phase - exploring different sales models, figuring out what works and what doesn't work - all the way to the scaling of sales either in the top of the funnel or the end of the funnel.
While we were doing that, we developed a little sales communication software we called our secret sauce: Close
It was a piece of software that we built for our own needs. We didn't like the sales software that was available out there, so we thought we'd just build something that was better. And to be honest, in the beginning we didn't really know what we were doing.
So it took us a while to actually - by running all these different campaigns, and being in this unique position of doing sales for tons and tons of companies, with different sales cycles, different audiences, different verticals - we started slowly creating a real vision of what we believed to be the future of sales software. And that's what Close really turned into.
We never intended to launch that. We thought it was our cool secret sauce. The thing that we showed people when we wanted to hire them, and they thought: 'Wow, this is awesome!' And it made our sales people really happy and productive.
Slowly but surely there was more outside demand for this software: friends of ours, salespeople of customers... everybody started asking if they could get our software.
And I, as the focused founder, was always saying: "No, we're not gonna do this. Let's focus on one thing. Let's not go on all directions."
But, you know, based on the outside demand, slowly and surely there was a group inside our company that started lobbying for releasing the software.
So those two things grew and grew, and eventually I gave up, and we launched Close in January last year, and you know, as a founder, you're almost always wrong. Almost always. But once in a while, really rarely, you're glad you're wrong. And Close is one of those cases. I knew that it would be a huge success, I just thought it would take us three or four years to catch up with the revenue that Elastic was making, and we did that in eleven months. So, software has been a lot more successful than I would ever thought, in this kind of competitive market. People really love it.
Let's not talk about the most exciting thing in inside sales:
Cold calling 101
So this is something that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. It's a really challenging thing to do well. And it's even more challenging to do it well and feel good about yourself and your company.
So to ease us into the topic, I thought I'd start with baby pictures, and now that I have kids, I'm gonna start with my babies. So this is our oldest one, he is almost, we launched him almost two years ago. In March 11th, we launched the second project, this is the second baby...
So alright, cold calling.
Cold calling is simple. And there are a couple of things you want to keep in mind about cold calling when you want to do it successfully. But just because it's simple it surely isn't easy.
So we'll go step by step and we'll go through these concepts one by one.
The first step is you have to reach people. That doesn't sound like a mind-blowing concept, duh... but then again, when you talk to founders - and I talk to founders every week, about 30 or 40 founders book sales office hours with me and ask about sales strategies, how to scale sales and how to fix their problems. When I talk to these people, and they talk to me about cold calling, they usually start with:
Founder: "Here's the math that I have in my mind. So we're going to be calling 100 people, and we should be converting, let's say worst case 10%, so 10 of these people will buy. So if one rep does 100 calls a day, we should be golden!"
All right, I see a few smiles, I assume these are the people that have done cold calls before in their life.
So this doesn't work, because your typical reach rate will be between 10% and 15%. So if you call a hundred people, you just about talk to 10 people. It's impossible to close ten.
And now there are differences, depending upon the market that you are in. If you are, let's say... if you are calling startups for instance, which is what we did with Elastic - and I'll show you the exact script that got us our first few customers when we started doing that - if you call a startup, you actually have the phone number of a startup, somebody is going to pick up. And usually it's going to be the founder. There's like three people in a room, and the phone rings, everybody is like: "What?! The phone rings! Is this your mom?" They pick up, and they're totally blind-sighted by that.
But if you call Fortune 500 companies, and you're like: "Let's try to cold call the VP of marketing of Coca Cola!" Then, good luck, right? It's going to take a lot of dialing, and you're going to feel like you're not getting anywhere.
So it depends on whether you're calling local companies, small to medium sized businesses, professionals, or large enterprises. The reach rate is probably going to be the most defining factor to your success or not. If you can not actually reach people, cold calling will probably never make sense for your business.
So you need to think about how many people can you actually reach.
Few things to keep in mind there:
- The type of people that will actually pick up the phone.
- Is the market that you're trying to call basically ready to pick up the phone?
Once you actually get a reach rate that's OK, between 10 and 20 percent, and everything else in your funnel looks good, you can start optimizing these things.
You can start having multiple people dial and using autodialers or predictive dialers where a machine calls 20 numbers at a time and drops all the calls that are not picking up or going to voicemails, so your reps are constantly on calls, actually reaching a person.
But if you start off old-school and you don't reach at least ten percent, no predictive dialer and nothing else will actually fix that problem.
And when we first started to play around with predictive dialers or autodialers, we did it the really old-school way. We got a five to six temps around a sales rep, and these people would all dial, they had wireless headsets, and when they got somebody they were like: "Here!" and handed the headset over to the salesrep.
And the funny thing is, totally different voices, but when you just say:
Temp: "Hey, my name is Steli."
Prospect: "Yeah, what's this about?"
Real Steli taking over: "Hey, I was wondering if you're interested..."
Every thousand sales calls somebody would go like: "You sounded different a second ago..." But most people don't.
But for most people, their brain would actually say: 'Na, this was the same voice, because it doesn't make sense for people to change voices.'
So you can do all kinds of optimizations, but you need to look at a baseline. If you can't reach ten to fifteen percent, when you just do a hundred stupid calls yourself, you're in trouble. Don't try to fix how great your pitch is. Reach rate.
This is something people underestimate, especially people in technology startups. We're all about the product. The technology. The features. We'll tell you about all these cool features that we have. Paradigm-shifting technology platform, API connected through social and virtual reality through a mobile texting app... right?
We want to talk about all the exciting shit that nobody can compute in the timeframe that a first sentence in a cold call could allow you.
You have to understand that in communication, only a small part is actually what you're saying, and a bigger part is how you're saying it and how it sounds.
If I say... "I'm... super... excited... [shakes head] to be... here..." It doesn't really matter that I say I'm excited to be here - I didn't sound excited! So you guys weren't excited, and probably didn't buy that I'm excited. You didn't even hear what I said. You just thought 'Oh this guy is really nervous, or he really hates his life' or whatever, right?
The same thing is true in one-to-one physical communication: body language plays a much bigger part than voice. It's like, I don't know the exact percentage, it's like 60% body language, 30% voice and 10% actually the content that you're speaking to the other person. This is really hard for engineers especially to believe, but it's actually true. Your body language is going to have a pretty dramatic impact.
On the phone you don't have body language. All you have is voice. The interesting thing is that within the first five seconds of a phone call, when somebody starts to talk to you, you're going to start imagining who that person is and where that person is. We can not compute language if we don't add some visuals to it, that's the way our brain works. So we're going to imagine somebody, somewhere, while they are calling us, to be able to compute that conversation better.
Make sure that you sound in a way that doesn't make somebody imagine a person in a grey t-shirt sitting in a grey room in a grey cubicle doing call-center type calls.
If you're unexcited, if you're unenthusiastic, and if you don't sound like somebody that's smart or funny, or somebody who's interesting at least, then... you're not interested and excited about this call, then why should I?Why should I care if you're not caring?!
So when you call people...
I know, it's the hundredth call, and the person before that call told you that you are ugly, and your children will be stupid and you'll never make anything out of your life, sometimes you really have harsh people on the phone when you do cold calls, which I think why cold calling is awesome because it's an exercise for emotional stability, you know. You learn to manage your own state and your own emotions.
But the biggest challenge about this is: every single call, you have to bring it. There's no: Oh, you're the Jordan of cold calls, so when you start calling somebody, everybody already says yes.
No, you can be the best athlete in the world, but when you get on the field, the scores read zero. You have to perform today. It doesn't matter what you did yesterday. Cold calling is the same way. It doesn't matter what the last call was. The next person doesn't give a shit if you had a great conversation. They're only going to judge you by what you say today and how you sound. So make sure that when you reach somebody, you actually sound good.
And when you do that, once you have a little bit of report, now go through an actual script. Ask a bunch of basic questions to do what Jorge was saying, maybe qualify somebody. Nobody should buy your stuff if they're not qualified for your product. It's going to be a waste of time for you and a waste of time for the company in the long term, so you need to learn the art of asking questions. And the power of questions. Because we all have been conditioned to answer questions when somebody asks us. So the natural impulse is just to answer when somebody asks. So you can learn a lot about the people you're interacting with. You need to, because, how else would you ever build a relationship and be able to tell them that they actually should buy your solution if you don't know anything about them. [11:26]
So make sure you ask some questions. You don't launch into a massive pitch.
Please don't be surprised if they have objections. That's another thing you should see coming, but then people are still totally unprepared for that. They do a pitch and when somebody says:
- "Well, I'm not interested right now." or
- "Well, how about security?"
They're totally baffled, although they had this question twenty times already that day. And they're like 'Well, let me compute an answer to you right now', and they're like:
"Hm, well, you know, it's uhm..." and then they just rant along forever.
Instead of just preparing for the question and having the answer in a concise way in one or two sentences.
Most people do cold calling, and they have no call to action, they're not really going for it. You learn that when you see when people are surprised when this happens:
Prospect: "Wel, yeah, I'm interested!"
Sales person: "Really??? ... I don't know, I haven't prepared for that, I don't know what next to do now..."
I'll show you a real example of going for the close on our first cold call. So this is the actual script that we used the day after we had the idea for Elastic Sales.
So we had the idea for Elastic Sales: wouldn't it be awesome to have a scalable sales force for startups, game changer, it would be amazing!
And then we thought: Well, does anybody really care? Do we really want to invest in this idea?
So instead of wasting months of coming up with the name and logo and website, and do lots of research and putting together PowerPoint presentations and everything else, we just wrote this script in an afternoon.
And then we scraped CrunchBase. We looked for all companies that had raised a series A in the Bay area. And then we selected those out that we knew personally. Back then we were doing something else, so we didn't want the world quiet yet to know that we were flirting with this new idea.
So we just said: We're going to do cold calls for two weeks, and have the market educate us if this is an idea worth pursuing or not. And if we can get one company interested, although we have no credibility, we're going to use fake names, we don't want the world to know who we are... so no credibility, no nothing for us, if we can convince one company it might be worth doing.
This script got us seven companies that were ready to buy. We couldn't service them all because we didn't have enough salespeople, so we randomly picked two and started our business.
So here's what we were doing, we were calling startups. This is a very specific audience. But here's the script, I'm going to run through it really quickly.
So we were calling somebody up and saying:
Sales rep: "Hey, my name is Steve, I'm calling some startups in the area, just to find out if they might be a good fit for our beta program."
So this thing is really important, because I said a few things that build a bit of rapport.
- I'm saying that I'm calling other startups. Which implies that I'm a startup.
- In the area, that implies that I'm in the same geographic location as them.
- I'm not saying "that might want to buy our product or solution", but I'm saying "that might be a good fit for a beta program". Beta program is very lingo, it means that we speak the same language.
- And this is all about exploring if they are a good fit. It's not about selling them something.
At that stage of the call the other person things: 'All right, so what is this about?'
So the next sentence needs to be some minimal viable pitch. One sentence that explains in the simplest way possible what you do. You can't do ten sentences - just one. [14:48]
One sentence tells the other person: 'Relax, I'm not going to talk for an hour. Relax, it's going to be fine, in just one sentence you're going to know what this is about. You don't know who the hell just called you.'
What do we do, in one sentence?
"We provide companies with a sales team on demand."
That's the simplest way I could think of telling people what we were doing.
"Does that in general sound interesting to you?"
At this point, honestly, I didn't even care about what they would reply to me.
If they would say: "No."
I would say: "Hm, interesting. What's your current sales process like?"
If they would say: "Hm, maybe."
I would say: "Hm, interesting. What's your current sales process like?"
If they would say: "Yes."
I would say: "Awesome! What's your current sales process like?"
It wasn't that I don't care at all if they're interested or not. I just didn't care at that point in the conversation. I knew, they didn't have enough information, I didn't have enough information.
But I knew that they were thinking something.
At that point, after they heard my first pitch, they were either thinking 'no, not interested' or... well, they were thinking something, and my job was to allow them to verbalize that. So they don't keep thinking that while I keep on talking. Right? Communication. They can not listen or hear me if they are thinking 'this shit sucks' or 'it's not interesting to me'. I need to allow them to say it. Verbalize it. Get it out of their head, so their head is free to what I'm saying next. Which was for me, going into qualifying.
So I would ask them a couple of questions, to figure out if I even thought this would be a good idea.
And once we got into we usually would be able to explore whether there is potential or not.
And then we'd do is something I call a test close. This is not to get them to sign anything - it was impossible on the first call to actually get somebody to do that.
Question from the audience: "Sorry, you said you pulled data out of crunchbase. Did you personalize your approach, or did everybody get the same pitch?"
Everybody got the same pitch. It was B2B startups that raised a series A in a specific area that are people we don't know. And then we'd go to their website and find somebody sales related, and if not, the founder.
All right, so, once we got into test closing, this was all about if they could even buy in a reasonable amount of time.
So we would ask them: "Hey, we have this beta program in the next four weeks, does that timeline sound reasonable? This is a beta program, so we can only give you one sales person, and it's only going to cost you XYZ." We couldn't give them more sales people - we didn't have a scalable sales force yet.
And the final question is really the most important one. One of the most powerful questions in sales in general: "What is the decision making process?"
"Ok, so now that we figured out that this is kind of interesting to both parties, what are all the steps that it's going to take for us to actually work together?"
You need to ask that question and then have the other person guide you through the entire sales process.
Prospect: "Well, the next thing is, I'm going to talk to my team and see what they think."
Sales rep: "Cool, and if they think it's interesting, what happens next?"
Prospect: "Well, we'd get on another call and have everybody participate so they can ask questions."
Sales rep: "Let's say I can answer those questions, what usually happens now? Are we in business?"
Prospect: "No, then you have to talk to legal."
Sales rep: "Aha, thought so, that makes sense. What happens after legal?"
Prospect: "Well, after legal you have to talk to our advisory board."
Sales rep: "Good, and then?"
Prospect: "Then you'd have a presentation in front of our board."
Sales rep: "And are we in business now?"
Prospect: *"No, now you have to go to my department leader and whatever, ask my grandma..."
Whatever all the steps are until the other person says: "Yes, then I guess we're pretty much in business."
Now I know what it's going to take.
When somebody tells me "Oh, we're almost closing, and then there was a big surprise..." I always think they didn't ask that question. They probably didn't know what all the steps are.
I ask them: "What was the big surprise?"
They answer: "We had to go through procurement."
Duh, how surprising, right? Or they had to go through this other department... how surprising... It's only surprising because you didn't ask the right questions.
All right, this is all on cold calling. Anybody that feels the urge to ask questions right now?
Audience: "Do you ever leave a voice mail?"
That's a religious question in cold calling! Voice mails or no voice mails? People arguing, I see all kinds of threads. I don't know, I'm pretty agnostic.
It depends, if you want to cold call somebody multiple times... if you have a list of a hundred people and you want to call them multiple times until you reach them, voice mail is a bad idea because it kind of takes away your permission to keep calling... except if you're like twelve years old and in love or something. But in a professional setting, you can't leave a hundred voice mails.
But in many cases I don't actually see people calling these numbers multiple times, so it might make sense. And you can also experiment with voice mails. People have done all kinds of crazy things, and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. So, what I know is that you really have to test that for yourself.
[inaudible question from audience] 19:30
Honestly, I don't know the number anymore. We were calling like 60, 70 a day. And it was like a span of two weeks, so whatever that is.
Audience: "What if somebody tells us to call them back the next day in the morning?"
Yeah, so, we didn't do this, but today, I would advise you to ask: "Hey, is this a bad time?" That allows them to say that they're just about to give a VC pitch or something...
So, if people tell you that this is a bad time, you need to learn to read between the lines, and distinguish between what's a real objection versus just someone telling you that they want to get off the phone.
So when somebody doesn't have time, you reschedule. But if they said at the beginning that this is a good time to talk, and then you talk a little bit and then they say: "Well, you know what, can you just send me some information?" Or any other thing that doesn't really allow you to have a conversation... one sales hack that you may or may not want to try to tell them: "Cool, I'll do what you're asking me to. Can I write down your email address? What's the best email to send this information to?" So they'll give you their email. The moment they do that, they bring down their guard, because they now feel comfortable that this is not going to take forever.
Then say: "Just to be sure to put in the right information, what's your sales process like?" And then you ask the same questions, maybe a shorter version - it depends on your ethics and how comfortable you are, but I've done this many, many times.
People are like: "Send me an email."
And I reply: "Ok, what's your email address? And just so I get the right info in, how blabla..." and then there is another hour long conversation going on.
And I'm not forcing them, I'm not talking for an hour! They are talking for an hour! So, they have the permission to stop at any point and say: "Hey, I said I don't have time." And every once in a while that happens. I was on the phone once and a guy said: "Hey, I told you I don't have time." And I replied: "All right, that's the last question I asked then. You'll get an email from me." And you know, you call it a fair warning.
Audience: "When you're cold calling someone and you're introducing yourself to establish rapport... What if you're calling into an industry that's not very tech-friendly, or in fact anti-tech. What do you do to make that relatable while also explain what you're doing?"
It's hard to do when my audience hates me. What do I do? Using magic... but, one thing that you can do is, if you're not the person that they can relate to, find a person that they can relate to, and relate that person to you.
So you could say: "Listen, I think cold calling sucks, the only reason why I'm calling you is that we have John, who is from your neighborhood, a real estate agent, and he bothered us until we gave him this technology, and he got xyz value... so now we started thinking 'heck, maybe we should tell some real estate agents what we do, because we see all these people having success with it'. I call a bunch of people and get their advice, and if you have ten minutes, what do you think about this?"
This is not perfect: you're not a real estate agent, you don't know what you are talking about, but you're talking because this other person, who is like you, had success, and that prompted you to try to reach out.
I'll take another one or two questions, and then the other ones you guys can just come to me afterwards.
Audience: "What if you ask them about their sales process, and they are unwilling to share the steps?"
Yeah, sometimes that happens. In any question you ask, some people will just give very uncooperative answers. Example:
Sales rep: "So, what's the next step?"
Prospect: "Aehm, we would have to talk."
Sales rep: "Cool, and why, what does that usually look like?"
Prospect: "I would have to think about that."
Sales rep: "Okay. Did you ever buy something from a call like this? When was the last time you guys bought something? Like you decided you needed a new technology or something."
Prospect: "Hm, I don't know."
Now, this person not honestly doesn't know anything. This person is telling me: *"Fuck you, dude! I don't know you, I don't owe you any answers." And he's right!
Now I can do two things:
- I can either awkwardly continue to ask questions... that's not going to lead me anywhere.
- I can be defeated - and I see this all the time - I'll hang up, and I'll relieve the urge to go to people and say: *"What a huge douchebag I just talked to! Let me distract everyone else that's working right now, because I feel emotionally insecure about myself, because this person didn't give me my validation!"
- Address the elephant in the room. And this is not just for this - for anything! When it's not going well, when you just feel like: "Shit, this is not going well..." it's usually an issue of trust. It's 'I don't trust you, I don't want to talk with you... if I'd really believe what you told me, yes, but I don't!" Somebody calls you and goes: "Hey, you won a million dollars, all you need is answer these four questions!" You just hang up. You don't believe that person, no matter what he says. So you address the elephant in the room. You say: "Listen, I get cold calls... I can totally get that you're not interested in this. And you don't really think that I could do what I'm telling you I do. Cause if you'd believe I could do this, you'd be interested and you'd tell me what we have to do to get this done. But you don't right?" Nine out of ten times, that other person is going to say: "Yeah." Now you can have a conversation! Now that person brings their guard down. Now we can talk about the real issue. "You don't give a shit about what I'm saying, you don't believe a single word of what I'm saying. So let's see if I can build some credibility." You have to address that issue. But most people don't.
Cold emailing 101
Same simple structure when you do cold emails that you have to keep in mind when you do cold emails (1. open, 2. read, 3. respond, 4. follow up).
There's a few simple things people have to do:
First people have to open your email. I can't tell you how many times people send me an email, and say: "Hey Steli, just quickly wanted to run this by you, and hear what your feedback is. This is the big email campaign we plan on sending to a million people."
And my reply is: "Where the fuck is the subject line?"
I'm not going to read any email if you don't show me what the subject line is. That's the only thing I'm interested in at first. At first, I want to see five versions of a subject line. I don't want to see the body. Because most people will never see the body of your email.
So first thing you have to do is get over the hurdle of getting opened. [26:25]
Spend 80% of your time on the subject, 20% on the body, and not the other way around - which is what almost everybody does. Just because the body has more words, they think that's more important. It's not. So spend a lot of time on the subject line.
Don't make it sound like it's a marketing email. Marketing emails are not opened. Whenever it sounds like this was not send by a person... I'm not opening that email. "10 Reasons Why Close Will Change Your Sales Channel!" I'm not going to open that fucking email, no human being writes a subject line like that. But if somebody says: "Hey, quick question"... that's on the more risky and douchier side of it, but it's definitely going to get opened a lot. It's douchy because what you're promising and what you're delivering might be too far apart... quick question sounds very intimate, and then you're giving me a pitch. It's not really a quick question... you could do this: "Steli, I've seen you're amazing, I've watched all your videos, blablabla, and I'm doing something in the sales space, can I ask you, can I take ten minutes of your time?" That's ok, that delivers on the promise of the question, but still... it's edgy, you need to decide if you want to do that. But either way, you need to sound like a human being. Imagine you're writing an email to your mom, or your dad. And then write a subject line accordingly. Don't write something like "The 100 reasons why everybody loves social networking blabla". So spend a lot of time figuring out what to do to get people to open your emails.
Now you have to make them read it. And it follows the same simple structure. Every sentence is a pitch to read on! Every sentence is your opportunity to tell me why I should give a fuck. Why should I care and keep reading? Because I've got a 150 other emails to read. And they are from people I know! Why should I keep reading what you send me? So you need to pitch me. A simple format is to say in one sentence:
- Here's who I am.
- Here's what I do.
- Sprinkle in some credibility. (Here are the customers that are winning because of us, or here are our investors, here is the press that we got, whatever can help you to borrow credibility). So that I start believing what you told me.
- And then tell me what the next step is.
Keep it really simple. Who I am. What we do. Why you should care and believe us, and what's next. Really, really simple.
What's next is really the close. Give them a call to action! Not five! Not: "You can sign up here for our product, or you can click here to sign a form to make a call with me, or here you can get a demo,or you watch this video here, and I attached five PDFs for your convenience that you can read, all of which are 500 pages each written in really small font..." No!!! I'm not going to stop my life for a week to deal with your email. Just one simple thing. Click this / reply this / call this / say this... ONE THING! Decide for one thing, ask me to do that.
And then follow up. And I have a lot of views on follow up. But for cold emails, you can't follow up forever. Follow up once or twice. Just to show me that you actually respect the whole process. Don't send me one cold email... I never reply to a first cold email. My general view is... archive, and if a person really cares, they'll follow up.
The second email I'll glance at. And then the third I actually decide if I want to reply.
Audience: inaudible question
Steli: "There's InsideSales.com as a good auto-dialer that connects with Salesforce and multiple other things."
Audience: "In that short email, what's an example of an effective call to action?"
Steli: "Hit reply if this is interesting and let's talk about it. Usually you want to see if you can get to a call, sometimes that's the best thing to do, sometimes that's too much to ask for. But if you ask for a call, don't say 'what would be a good time to jump on a call?' Because now you have to make all the decisions, look at your calendar and do all this work... I will just give you two options: 'Hey, will next Tuesday this or that time work?' So now you just have to check and tell me yes or no, but sometimes that doesn't work so you can experiment with another call to action and just ask people 'Hit reply and let me know if you have any questions about this.' And sometimes people reply 'Why did you email me blabla?' and then a few emails into it, you're now scheduling a call and can actually do something."
Audience: "What's a good combination of cold emailing and cold calling? Do one after the other, or [inaudible]"
Steli: "Yeah, the magic formula, everybody wants that, and I don't have it. It really depends on your product, your market, what you're doing... Aaron Ross, who is a good friend of mine as well, for enterprise sales, Fortune 500 and large sales he will always advise - and I would advise for that too - to send emails first, and try to get a referral down the org to the right person, vs doing cold calls, which is usually super-ineffective. But if you're calling doctors or lawyers or accountants or teachers, you might not have to do the email. Sometimes sales reps feel more comfortable when they can hang on to something real like an email. 'I sent you an email, that's why I'm calling.' Whatever works for you. But email is effective to finding the right person and is effective to save time if you get a lot of hits and just schedule things, and email is really great for follow up. But if you can reach a significant amount of people, you might not have to send email first, you may just call them, and then use emails as follow up."
Audience: [inaudible question]
Steli: "HTML emails or plain-text emails. I always send plain text. Because when I send an email to my mom, I don't go and do an nice HTML email with logos and images and everything... I just send an email like a real human being. So whenever I open something that's HTML, I assume that no human being ever sent this, so why should I give a shit? So I'm not reading."
Audience: "How do you get over the fear of rejection?"
Steli: "There are a lot of things that we can talk about psychologically, but just to give you some tactical things - because we don't have a lot of time - you have to recondition your mind. At the end of the day, you have to find ways to learn to feel good with rejection. One thing to do is to not focus on success but focus on failure instead. A simple old school hack is... if you know you call a hundred people, you know you're going to reach 20, out of the 20 18 are going to tell me to f** off... then your goal shouldn't be to get to 2 yeses, your goal should be to 18 nos. So you have 18 little boxes on a whiteboard, and after every no you go and get gratification. You x it off. 'I'm making progress here! Everytime I get to 18, I accomplished something.' The good about this is... sometimes you'll have good days, which can be dangerous in sales. The first to calls you make are wins. If your goal is to win, you're like 'Today I'm done! I've made it!' And then the next day you have no wins. So now you're not averaging up, because you did not call enough people. So that's one simple way, but there is a lot of work involved in dealing with that."*
Audience: [inaudible question]
Steli: "First of all, I don't take rejection personally, so I am not 'I'm never going to talk to this person again!' Because sometimes it's just that someone is in a bad mood. Someone had a shitty day, doesn't matter, right? And then three months later you might be in a good mood. So I wouldn't say if somebody tells me no, we'll never reach out. But it really depends on the economics and what you're doing. Does it really make sense? Do you have such a small, precious, valuable pool of prospects that it makes sense to go back to the same people again and again?"
Audience: "What happens with the ones where you set up a call but they don't show up, they don't pick up the phone?"
Steli: "When you schedule calls and people don't show up, when you have no-shows, there are multiple possible reasons. 1. the close was really weak. So the person on the phone wanted an excuse to get off the phone, and I readily accepted it, although I could hear that the other person was totally not interested. And we both agreed to the social thing of doing something that would appear like we did something, but nobody really thinks that it's going to happen. So you need to listen to some of these calls if you're doing it yourself, or bring somebody in to listen to you and be like: 'Are these people really interested? Or am I getting a distorted view? The other thing is, make sure that you send invitations for these. If they're really valuable you might want to follow up a day before and re-confirm. People are feeling a lot more uncomfortable if they just didn't show up. Then their tendency is going to be not to pick up the phone and not to reply. Because they feel bad about themselves. So make it as easy as possible for people to feel good about themselves. Give them a day or two to say 'Yes, I can do this Wednesday'. And then you might want to follow up a couple of times and see what happens, or automate that, but definitely follow up a bunch of times. If somebody scheduled something with you, you might want to follow up four, five times if it's valuable. Because people also get busy once in a while. They have something happen in their life, something else came up, and then you wouldn't imagine how many times I've had success after the tenth follow up. All right, that's it, thanks guys."