18 sales tips for 2022 from top sales consultants
When was the last time you felt you were behind a trend? Whether it’s because you missed out on the Tiger King craze or because your sales team isn’t prepared for the modern buyer journey, it’s not a good feeling.
We talked to leading sales consultants who are on the bleeding edge of today’s top sales trends. They spend their days digging deep into what works and what doesn’t, and shared their favorite tips with us.
Let’s see the top 18 sales tips from 8 of today’s top sales consultants.
1. Get what works out of your head and onto paper
Scott Leese works alongside his clients to create repeatable sales playbooks. He follows a simple pattern, creating the foundation that future sales messaging can follow, as well as the right workflows.
While some of his work is more personalized to each unique company, here’s how he explains the more repeatable aspects:
“Always go back to the basics. One of the main mistakes sales leaders in early-stage startups make is that they don’t get what works out of their heads and onto paper. So that’s what I’m trying to do for them.”
While it may seem like wasted effort to document these early processes, having those foundational steps on paper makes it much easier to repeat, test, optimize, and scale in the future. Create your minimum viable sales documentation now, and save time down the road.
2. Mindless charisma won’t get results
Early in his sales career, Jake Dunlap of Skaled understood a fundamental truth that goes against the stereotypical idea of sales.
He explains: “I realized relatively early in my career that sales is a very cerebral, engaging activity.”
“I love to learn new things, and sales satisfied a lot of my natural curiosity. I found that’s really good when you’re running a discovery call. Since I love learning about different industries, it made me very adaptable.”
“Sales is more than just making people like you or being mindlessly charismatic. There’s a specific process and interest involved.”
While being charismatic isn’t a fault, it should be tapered with a healthy dose of genuine curiosity and interest in your customers. This becomes even more important when you step into a sales management role. Our CEO Steli Efti told the story of how he learned the importance of not over-relying on charisma when managing a team.
3. Bring fun into sales coaching
For sales leaders, coaching can be a difficult process. Some avoid it completely, others coach in a haphazard or critical way.
Alberto Nodale has coached and consulted with various sales teams, and he says that one of the most important ways to create a conducive environment for learning is to make it fun.
Here’s how he does it:
“It starts with framing. The first time we get on a call, I tell the reps that we’re here to achieve results, but also to have a good time. When you’re on a Zoom call with 10-15 junior reps, you can’t just throw inputs at them and expect them to perform.”
“I try to lower their guards to start, letting them know that they all probably have more sales experience accumulated in years than I do. I try to put them on a level where they’re open to experimenting because they need to leave their comfort zone to learn new things.”
“The fun comes when we do role play. I come up with scenarios where, for example, Bob has to call Julie, and Julie gets a private message from me with a briefing, and everybody has to guess what the briefing is. They all have fun.”
“This is a very casual, strategic way of learning. In my experience, when people laugh, they’re more open.”
“One of the problems that I see is that sales is seen as a brutal, masculine thing, as if you need to be Wolf of Wall Street to succeed. And that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you have fun, ask good questions, and connect with the client, you’ll get better results.”
4. Message comes before technology and scripts
New sales tech is cropping up all over the place, and it can be easy to start thinking that all you really need is the right people and the right tech to get fantastic results.
But Michael Halper of SalesScripter has another viewpoint:
“My core belief is this: the best sales tool that a salesperson has are their words.”
“Technology is great for improving productivity and outreach. But at the end of the day, if you’re not using the right message, you won’t be as effective as you could be if you communicate at an optimum level.”
According to Michael, this should include things like:
- What are your benefits?
- What are the main customer pain points you solve?
- Which questions should you be asking?
- How are you different?
- What’s a quick example of someone you’ve helped?
“Once you organize those thoughts,” says Michael, “it’s really easy to mix and match them to create a cold call script or a series of cold emails.”
5. Train AE’s on one or two skills at a time
Training new account executives can seem overwhelming at first, both for the sales leader and the AE.
With so many skills to learn, how can you ramp them up effectively?
Mor Assouline of Scalocity focuses on ramping up sales teams with his consulting business. Here’s his top advice for sales leaders:
“If you try to focus on too many skills at once, they’re going to be overwhelmed and implode. Focus on one or two skills, apply it on one call and then measure it on a second call.”
6. Experiment constantly
Mark Colgan of Yellow O works alongside hundreds of sales reps every month during their outbound prospecting efforts.
From all this experience on the frontlines of sales, Mark has come to realize something interesting:
“What’s funny,” he says, “is that two people in two different industries could be using the exact same strategy or same email template, and it works for one and doesn’t work for the other.”
“Sales is so nuanced, it’s all about ongoing experimentation and then doubling down on what works.”
7. Stay on top of emerging sales tech
New tech can be a shiny distraction, and many sales leaders disregard the news of emerging tech for their team.
But is there a balance between getting distracted by tech and not looking into it at all?
Here’s what Jake Dunlap says: “What I see right now is a lot of sales leaders are building teams and processes the way they built them five years ago when only a handful of sales tech existed. But if you’re a CEO or a sales leader, you need to carve out time to stay on top of what’s new.”
“I take two or three demos per week of new technology. I’m always thinking: how can we utilize this? What challenges are our clients having from a process standpoint? How can we help them solve those processes?”
8. Combine messaging with operations to get data-backed results
“People come to us for messaging strategy,” says Josh O’Brien of RevShoppe. “And it’s fun to educate clients about linking operations to this, and aligning your technology to the workflows you have.”
“Instead of just saying that messaging is the problem, think about how you report on it. How do you think about your messaging objectively?”
“For example, rather than simply noting that an email subject line performed while, what did that attribute to in terms of results? How do we extrapolate that data 6-9 months from now to see how this subject line’s performance is attributing to X amount of revenue? If you know that every 100 people you reach out to, you can convert an SQL at 2%, then you know you can hire three more people, all because of data on that subject line.”
“I love to see the wheels turning as people realize that it’s not just about one thing: it’s about the whole process.”
9. Use all the golf clubs in your bag
If you’ve ever wondered which outreach channel is best for your sales team, Michael Halper has an answer.
“A lot of people ask if cold calling still works, or if email is the best,” he says. “But I say you should view all those different tools as a bag of golf clubs.”
“In golf, you have different clubs in your bag. Each serves a different purpose, it hits the ball a different distance or with a different level of accuracy. You cannot play golf with one golf club. You need a whole mix. So I view email, cold calling, social media, and so on as different golf clubs in your bag.”
“Each of these tools has a different amount of reach and accuracy. You can email 20,000 people in one sitting, you can’t do that with a phone call. But a call is a more accurate way to deliver your message.”
“I view the phone as the putter. You could never play a full round of golf with a putter—you’d have to hit it a thousand times. You need other clubs to get the ball down the way, like email, and then at the end of the process, you use your putter.
10. Reduce friction in the buyer journey
Sales is all about clearing a pathway to purchase for your buyers. As modern buyer journeys change, your strategies need to change to reduce friction, especially in the early stages of your sales funnel.
“Most companies are cookie-cutter,” says Jake Dunlap. “First you have a qualification call, then you do this, then you do that.”
“Certain buyers are coming to the table saying, look, I’ve already talked to three other people. I’ve done the research. Just show me the freaking product.”
“Right now, we’re stuck in this ‘qualification for all’ mindset. The companies that remove friction and give buyers access to information and don’t force them to hop on a call just to talk about some basic stuff—they’re going to win the long game.”
“We did a large-scale poll of salespeople, asking how many thought that a qualification call is important. The answer was 53%. Then we asked over 1500 B2B buyers how many of them thought that a qualification call was important: only 4% said yes. That’s a huge gap.”
“We are going to be forced to change. Companies that get that are already starting to think of new ways to meet customers where they’re at because they’re not coming in one-size-fits-all now. That adaptation is what it will take to be successful in the future.”
11. Don’t try to scale your startup solely on outbound activity
“I see a lot of companies prioritize outbound sales, and they work hard to hire SDRs to find leads and all that,” says Mor Assouline. “And while that’s important, it makes it more difficult to scale quickly, especially as a startup.”
“Outbound sales takes longer to ramp up. The mistake many startups make is that they’re not investing in top-of-funnel marketing for new inbound leads to come through.”
“So I do think outbound is important, it should be a machine that’s always running. But for startups that want to scale quickly, prioritize paid advertisement to get an influx of leads, close them quickly, and scale faster.”
12. Create minimalist messages
Mark Colgan is a messaging master that helps sales reps develop clear messages for cold emails and calls.
Here’s his experience:
“What I’m seeing work on an aggregate level is sales emails that are shorter. They’ve got short subject lines, two to three words, all lowercase. Aim for 50 to 150 words maximum for that initial email, and put in relevant personalization.”
“This is how we consume data as consumers. In B2B, there is a human at the other end of that email or phone call. And we all use Netflix and Uber and such. We’re used to these amazing experiences in micro-format. And that’s why email can still be effective today, if used right.”
13. Treat your failures as training experiences
Alberto Nodale started his sales career here with us at Close before he went on to become a consultant. What did his experience teach him?
“I did about 24,000 sales calls and hundreds of thousands of emails, just in my time at Close,” he says. “Sometimes I had people screaming at me on the phone, saying bad words, and I was left not knowing what I did wrong.”
“Now, looking back, I see that as something that made me strong. What I tell people now is, I’m not the best at sales in the world, but I made a lot of mistakes that you can learn from. I know what not to do. Trust me.”
14. Travel the world
Sometimes the best sales advice has nothing to do with sales at all.
In 2018, Josh O’Brien sold everything he had and started to travel the world with his girlfriend as his consulting business was just starting. Here’s how he says that experience helped him:
“I think that, especially as an entrepreneur, living in countries where you don’t speak the language and don’t know where you’re going, you learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. And that’s the ethos of the startup world. That’s the fun part.”
“Traveling is a huge learning experience, and it definitely changed me as a person. I learned a lot about myself and my work ethic, and getting through a lot of challenges that probably 10 years before I would’ve given up on.”
“On the professional side, it also helped me. Understanding different cultures, different business acumen, how people prefer to be communicated with, and especially for our business, how do we engage in organizes across 50 different languages? How does that change from region to region?”
“Being able to experience that makes my work a lot different than anyone living under the assumption that business-as-usual in other regions is the same as in the US.”
If you want a truly global advantage in your career, travel. It’s the best way to open your mind to new ways of doing things, both in your personal and professional life.
15. Remember that dark social and other ‘unmeasurable’ efforts still get results
We asked Mark Colgan about emerging trends that he’s seeing. Here’s what he said:
“One trend that I feel is gaining traction is attribution. For years, we’ve made decisions based on what our marketing attribution software is telling us. But in reality, the buyer’s journey doesn’t follow a linear process like our software wants it to.”
“Because of this, a lot of companies aren’t investing in dark social, such as private communities, WhatsApp groups, LinkedIn organic, or even things like podcasts because they can’t directly tie return on investment to that. But it’s clear that’s what buyers are doing.”
“For the last few software purchases I made, I asked around for people to give me recommendations of the tools that they use. That informed my decision.”
“It’s important for companies to understand the buyer’s journey, and also understand that some things just can’t be tracked—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend any time or resources on those.”
16. Don’t tolerate underperformance in yourself or your team
“There is an unbelievable ability amongst sales managers and business owners to tolerate underperformance across an organization,” says Iain Swanston of Klozers.
“A lot of times, when a salesperson leaves a company, the salesperson will say that the job was no good because of X, Y, and Z. And the company will say that the salesperson was no good because of X, Y, and Z.”
“The truth lies in the middle. The company can always do more to help that person be more successful, and the salesperson can always do more to help themselves be more successful.”
“There are no jobs for life anymore, so we’ve got to be the best where we are.”
If you want to have a high-performing team, the best thing you can do is continuously try to support them and enable them to do their best work. Always strive to be a little bit better.
18. Bring tech and process together
“Today, the way we’re scaling sales organizations isn’t just to throw more bodies at the problem and that’ll fix the process,” says Jake Dunlap.
“Sales leaders look at the technology they’re investing in, and see they’re only getting 30-40% of the productivity gains they could be.”
“For my clients, I focus on helping them think, not about a new playbook, but about how that playbook lives and breathes within their technology. Think about how you can set your team up for success by bringing ops and process together.”
Use these sales tips to keep your sales team engaged and happy
Sales is constantly evolving, and that evolution has sped up during recent years. With updates in the buyer journey, new technologies, and changing expectations from sales reps, there’s a lot to keep up with.
When you put these tips into practice, you’ll have a modern, high-performing sales process that matches the buyer journey, along with clear messaging that enables reps to use all their best outreach methods to close more deals, faster.
Now, all you have to do is pair it with the right tool.
With Close, you can set up sales sequences for email and calling, making it easier than ever to create a repeatable process that your team can use effectively.
Try a free trial today!