HackerNews had an interesting ASK thread this week - How can engineers and makers learn sales.
Here's some choice quotes from that thread for your consideration
- "B2B sales resembles project management: the goal is not to convince everyone to buy your product or service but to diagnose their needs and only engage with firms that will benefit."
- "Sales can best be distinguished by indirect sales and direct sales. Direct sales is where you go out and find clients. Indirect sales is where you go out and find partners to bring you clients."
- "As a first time entrepreneur it's important to learn how to spread ideas. Sales comes after."
- "It takes the results of marketing + advertising (i.e., leads and prospects) and guides those to closing. Contrary to myth, successful sales is about listening, not talking."
- "You'll never sell anything if you can't articulate a destination, lay out the path and showcase to the customer how what you're representing will benefit them more-so than the products you're trying to displace or something new that will bring with it a myriad of gains for said customer."
- "Good sales people know that they have to "diagnose before they can prescribe" which means they must elicit symptoms and confirm need and fit with product capabilities. Really good sales people recommend other products when theirs is not a good fit. As the deal size goes up you do much more listening than talking."
- "Great sales people are more like matchmakers, people have some kind of problem and you have some kind of solution"
- "You interview as many prospects and customers as possible. You understand what keeps them up at night, what specific pain points they have, the language they use to describe their situation. You shape your messaging to solve those specific pain points, using their own language. You wrap your messaging into a story - the worst you can do is "problem / solution". People don't buy that way. People buy change, and you use the story to communicate that change."
- "I rolled around in THEIR situation, trying to walk in their shoes. We'd talk for sometimes 90 minutes, often in person here in SF, over lunch. We'd often not cover our product until the final 5 minutes."
- "Be OK with being uncomfortable; a lot of sales is about putting yourself out there -- you're going to get rejection, but you start to learn how to place your bets and work in the opportunities that have the highest likelihood of closing (and therefore can be well-forecasted.)"
- "Spend the time building a defined process, whether it's generating top of the funnel/leads, moving deals through sales stages, and even a deal-desk process for inking MSAs/contracts. Invest in a CRM (I suggest Salesforce) to log everything and provide visibility on your business, while helping to manage the pipeline."
- "My biggest advice is get a coach/mentor/consultant who you talk with once per week to get feedback. This is how professional sales people learn in practice (eg from a sales manager). This will accelerate you learning by a factor of 10 versus doing it yourself. They will help you read each situation and push you to focus on the right places. Otherwise it’s easy to flounder on the wrong ones."
- "The best mental picture of a salesman is as a consultant. You're there to solve their problem, hopefully using your product. But if your product isn't their best solution send them to your competition. You do it by asking them questions, then stopping to listen to their answer which prompts more questions."
- "The other thing to remember is to always be asking for the order. I can't tell you how many times ten minutes after getting there I threw away the rest of my questions and wrote up an order. It is entirely possible to talk yourself out of a sure sale, when I was starting I did it multiple times."
- "Listen to yourself pitch. Ask people you talk to if it's OK to record the pitch and then listen to it repeatedly and take notes. It will be painful, and you'll notice so many things you hate, but you will get better. This is the number one thing that helped me get better."
- "It doesn't matter how good of a sales person you are if you are not getting any leads. Conversely, you can be a bad sales person, even with a bad product, but with enough leads, eventually they will buy"
- "You need to make it about your customer, not you. The sooner you realize helping your customer helps you, the more successful you will be."
- "know everything about your product, from how it’s made to who makes it, what’s it cost to make, how does your accounts payable team pay bills for you materials, how does sourcing buy those materials and from who, etc. no question is too detailed!"
- "The first few sentences of your sales pitch make or break. Research your clients pre-engagement to understand how your product can really help -- in their vernacular. The qualification/Q&A usually suggested is fine, but it assumes your prospects have the time and inclination to follow your sales workflow."
- "Prospects who tell you they are interested AND who do what they say they will do are worth continued effort. Break contact (move to nurture) prospects who say one thing and do another & expend more time on outbound calls."
Thanks for reading!