This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse, and is republished here with permission.
Having worked on the HubSpot sales team as both a rep and a manager over the past four years, I've had the privilege to learn new sales skills from extremely smart people, tighten up old skills, and create repeatable processes alongside my peers.
As the year draws to a close, I thought I'd share some of my favorite sales tips that I've picked up. Our playbook is your playbook, and our growth engine is yours too. Hopefully these will help you make 2015 your best year ever.
To me, the major sales funnel stages are Lead, Opportunity, and Closed Customer. Each stage has associated sales activities, including prospecting (Lead), presenting (Opportunity), connecting (Opportunity), and closing (Closed Customer). I've listed two helpful lessons on each of these sales activities below.
Prospecting Tip #1: Research
Look for trigger events or some kind of relevant business reason prior to calling your lead. Make it about them, not you. If you focus on certain industries, follow that vertical's news and frequently interview industry business leaders to become an authority in the space. Social media platforms -- especially LinkedIn and Twitter -- have made it easier than ever to learn from influencers and become one yourself. When done right, business will come to you.
Prospecting Tip #2: Work in Volume
The top of your funnel directly dictates your revenue outcome. Take your quota and work backwards to figure out your prospecting goals. For instance, what is your average sale price? How many deals does it take using the average sale price to hit quota? How many opportunities need to be in your pipeline in any given month to close that number of customers? From there, calculate how many leads you need to work in order to generate that number of opportunities, and that's your prospecting target for the month.
Bonus Prospecting Tip: Book time on your calendar every single day to prospect. The key is consistency.
Connecting Tip #1: Add Value
Bring something valuable to each and every call you make. Remember to be helpful first, and the conversation will fall into place. Instead of starting with a pitch, try asking questions. By asking a high value question, you can gather useful information while simultaneously building credibility. When you start all your calls with genuine curiosity and willingness to help, it makes all the difference.
Connecting Tip #2: Personalize Your Emails
Instead of "Could you put me in touch with the person in charge of X decision?" try writing an email like you would talk on the phone. Use your prospect's name, mention something of note that you saw or heard about them or their company, and relate it back to how you want to help. Finally, offer a specific time to connect for a few minutes -- and watch your response rate grow.
Bonus Connecting Tip: Reach out to multiple stakeholders within a company. Create trust with influencers to help you reach the executive level.
Presenting Tip #1: Customize Every Presentation
If you are doing a good job qualifying your opportunities, they are well worth your time. Invest 60 minutes into your presentation preparation (this will get shorter the more you practice). Present with a story and base it on your prospect's goals instead of giving a tour of your product or service. The amount of trust and credibility you build with this level of customization will be significant.
Presenting Tip #2: Follow Up Like Your Life Depends On It
Or at least like your quota depends on it (which it does!). Try to allot 30 minutes for follow up after every presentation you give. Doing immediate follow up not only enables you to clearly remember how the presentation went and what you need to emphasize, it also makes an amazing impression on your prospect. Additionally, a tight follow up is an opportunity to close before you close. This is your moment to thoughtfully nail down the value and the timeline for purchase. Don't forget that this follow up message may be shared with others in the organization that were not on the call, so be sure that there is plenty of context.
Closing Tip #1: Ask For The Business Early
If you are waiting to ask for your prospect's business until the end of your sales process, you are probably too late. I recommend asking much earlier based on your understanding of their business goals, your ability to provide the right plan/strategy/solution, and their willingness to work with you to improve. Early commitments translate into better close rates. It becomes much easier to get a contract signed when it has already been established that the prospect wants your help.
Closing Tip #2: Be Organized
It is critical to know at the drop of a hat what opportunities are in your pipeline, what stage they're in, what you need to do to close them, and how you are going to do it. Ask yourself honestly if you can do this. If not (and we've all been there), now is a great time to reconsider how you organize your business. It is game changing to be able to walk into your day with a full plan, execute on it, and track yourself.
Those are my best tips, but of course I want to hear yours, too! Would you please comment below to contribute your ideas? What tips would you add to the list in this post?
Happy New Year, all!