A couple months ago, I was offered the opportunity to take part in group sales training to be led by Rick Roberge (@Rainmakermaker). For those of you that know Rick, you know he has trained several senior sales leaders at Hubspot including Pete Caputa, VP of Sales and Marketing, Jeetu Mahtani, Managing Director Hubspot Interntional, and Arjun Moorthy, VP of Channel Sales - three individuals whose sales skills I greatly respect.
I have confidence in my ability to sell, but I am not a finished salesperson by any means. I have a lot of things I'm working on. One that I thought might be interesting to tackle during coaching is getting better at understanding a prospect's buying process as early as possible.
Nevertheless, I was a little apprehensive to sign up for Rick's coaching. If you've interacted with Rick before, you might know that he can come across umm..., a little strong. That doesn't bother me on the surface, but I've been on the wrong end of a Rick email before and wasn't sure his style was my cup of tea. At the same time, I know Rick is good at what he does, and I started having that nagging feeling that maybe it was my ego and not personal preference that was holding me back.
Pete Caputa's comment in an email - "Investing in this coaching was the single best thing I've ever done for my career. Ever." - pushed me into signing up. Rick lesson #1 - getting sold (i..e. referred) by somebody else whose opinion is respected beats selling yourself every time - was so true. In this case, as the 'buyer', it helped me get past my concerns and into action. Off into the group I went.
I'm glad I did, because I learned a ton and despite my apprehension, had a great time doing it. Below are some of my top takeaways from the coaching.
#1. It's all about the buyer - no, really
Being all about the buyer has always my inherent philosphy, but in the back of my mind I always felt like perhaps I should be switching into 'sales mode' at some point. This type of nagging doubt has led me to stumble before. Rick did a nice job making me feel more confident in my own approach. For instance, he demonstrated some ways a salesperson can stay in helpful mode, yet still be assertive. One of my favorites Rick lines was shared by another participant in the training, @spicylegume, "If you are waiting for me to sell you on something you are going to be waiting a very long time. I am not known for closing deals that don't need to be closed - I am known for helping people with their goals."
#2. Don't wait to fully understand the buying process - it helps nobody
Getting back to one of the things I've been working on - better understanding the prospect's buying process as early as possible - one of my favorite questions we discussed during coaching was 'What happens next?' Rick brought up an example of asking it *before* a demo. For instance..."Mr. Prospect, what are you hoping to get out of the demo today? [some interaction]. If you love it, do you plan to pull out the credit card at the end of our call.....or what happens next?"
This is something I used on a first call with a prospect earlier this week. I had a great discussion with an influencer about how his boss makes buying decisions. I suggested ways I could help him build a business case and ROI, we setup a follow up call to do so, and he thanked me profusely at the end of the call,
#3. Live a day inside a senior executive's shoes
If you've read some of the things I've written about recently, you know that I've been thinking about the emotional side of selling and how marketing agencies can act as change agents. Both require interacting with and leading senior executives who can in turn lead their own organizations.
The challenge Rick pointed out is that most of us, me included, have not been senior executives at medium sized or larger companies (our typical prospects). Because of this, we don't always natually identify with their thoughts and feelings. In light of this, Rick suggested spending more time with senior executives, be it at our own companies, via personal relationships, through their blogs, or at prospects. Ultimately, if we live a day in their shoes, we can better understand and address their goals and problems. This ties in with one of my favorite Covey-isms. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
#4. Do some cool inbound sales stuff
I'd consider Rick one of the original salespeople blogging, as well as tweeting, commenting, forum-ing, etc. He has always seemed like he's had purpose behind his pattern.
During the coaching, Rick shared some of his 'secrets'. One simple but good one was selecting a meaningful blog post to share with your prospects, but before doing so, leaving a comment of value at the bottom of the post. Rick also suggested leaving your LinkedIn profile as your comment URL, with the ability to later check through LinkedIn who had clicked through and visited your profile. That is pretty cool, huh?
#5. Use language to bring people together
Finally, during coaching, Rick demonstrated some good ways to use language to bring people closer together. One example came from personal experience. Recently I got into an exchange on the Hubspot Partner Forum that didn't get heated by any means, but whereas I was trying to provoke some conversation, I provoked just disagreement instead.
Rick, being a member of the forum and earlier participant in the thread, added a comment that tied all the points together in context including mine. I liked that Rick intentionally echoed specific language I had used, as well as the specific language of others. Others seemed to like it as well, because his comment received multiple 'likes'. Lesson: Connecting seemingly different points together using common language can bring folks together and allow a conversation to advance.
Have you had sales coaching before? What were your key takeaways? How do you feel about the takeaways above?