If you’re in sales, you know how challenging it can be. There are hurdles each step of the way, from finding qualified leads to making initial contact and closing the deal. The good news is there are many people in sales who have dealt with the same challenges and have learned specific strategies for overcoming them.
As we noted in our previous post about cold calling, LinkedIn is a gold mine of practical sales advice, tips, and strategies for improving the way you do business.
Every now and again we like to comb through the site to find the best pieces of sales advice and bring them together in a post for you. Use these tips, strategies, and tactics help you improve your skill set and close more deals.
Editor's Note: A few of these posts have been lightly edited for conciseness. Links to all the posts have been included.
9 Pieces of Sales Advice from LinkedIn
#1. Write Compelling Follow Up Emails
Niraj Kapur reminds us of the critical importance of following up with prospects. However, as you’ve probably experienced, writing a follow-up email that actually gets a response is not easy:
How do you write a follow-up email that prospects reply to?
Have a Strong Subject Line. Give someone a reason to open your email. Subject Lines matter. “Gently knocking” means nothing.
Remind the person what the original email was. Your prospect receives over 100 emails per day. They won't remember what you sent last week. That’s the only good thing about this follow-up, they included the original email.
Be human. Be real. Give value and stop being lazy when it comes to sales. It’s your responsibility to read sales books, listen to podcasts and get a sales coach to accelerate your learning.
Have your contact details on the email. People, especially my age, don’t purchase by email unless they know the person or at least see a phone number and website.
Research your prospect. It shows you’ve done your prep work and buyers respect that. If they had researched me, they would see I’m the person in charge of training. This person is on LinkedIn, yet didn’t bother to look at my profile to see what I did.
Never apologize for selling. It's your job to help people get results. Only apologize when you mess up and when that happens, apologize quickly and sincerely.
Don’t contact someone several times on the same platform. Multi-platform selling works much better.
#2. Know Yourself Before You can Know Your Prospect
Ben Timberly provides an interesting perspective on the relationship between psychology and sales. He notes that all sales involve human psychology in some way.
This isn’t new and there are many books and articles written about the psychology of sales. But then he points out that in order to understand the psychology of your customers, you first need to know your own psychology.
You need to know what motivates you, scares you, and compels you to do certain things. Can this introspection be hard at times? Yes, absolutely. But you need to know yourself first before you can know your customer.
Last night on a networking call, there was an in depth discussion about how to change people's behavior.
The topic moved to how to change client behavior in order for training, coaching, advice and other services to be purchased, and those services to actually have a lasting effect.
Every time this topic comes up, there seems to be a massive gulf between those who understand fundamental human psychology, and those who are utterly threatened by what those truths mean.
If you want to sell a service or product, you are seeking to change a person's behavior. If you are seeking to change a person's behavior, psychology is in play. You cannot separate your product or service, from the psychology of your customer - it just DOES, NOT, HAPPEN.
The problem here is if there are elements of YOUR psychology that you cannot, or will not address (and understand), then how do you expect to understand and... 'work with' the psychology of your client?
Similarly, if you're delivering an on-going service to a client, especially one that purports to change their behavior - and you don’t have even a rudimentary grasp of their psychology, what on earth are you doing?
Before you can sell (successfully and sustainably) a product or service, before you can deliver a paid-for program of behavior change in your client, you need to work through the human element.
If your own psychology is that terrifying for you - the need is greater than ever to start the journey to understanding the human element now.
#3. Don’t Waste Valuable Energy on Stress
Many people assume that stress is an unavoidable occupational hazard of being in sales. After all, there are deadlines to meet, quotas to hit, and commissions on the line. But Elyse Archer says it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, she argues that stress actually hinders your performance.
What if I told you that feeling anxious, stressed and overwhelmed was one of the biggest things blocking you from your sales goals?
When you're in a state of stress, your body is in survival mode and it blocks you from higher levels of thinking, creativity and problem solving. It also puts you in a very ego-centric mindset, which means you aren't able to connect powerfully from the heart with your clients and prospects.
Today, focus on being in alignment first, staying in love and gratitude, and then sell from that energy - I guarantee you will experience powerful results!
#4. Always Be Honest and Transparent
There may be times when you’re tempted to not be fully transparent with potential customers. You’re probably not outright lying, but maybe you’re not giving them the full picture. Or maybe there’s an important piece of information they need to know but you’re not going to tell them unless they directly ask.
Rajeev Menon encourages us to always be honest and transparent with prospects. The short term gains aren’t worth the long term losses.
Sales built on deceit, and made when you know that it would hurt the customer ultimately, shouldn't be celebrated because it would end up haunting your organization.
In today's instant gratification world though, that seems to be the norm unfortunately. Won't take long for the cookie to crumble.
#5. Turn Off Notifications
No matter what your sales position, you’re undoubtedly bombarded by notifications throughout the day. Chat messages. Emails. Text messages. Steve Richard advises turning all notifications off so that you can do focused work.
What is the biggest drain I see in sales rep productivity?
Doesn't matter if it's Slack or email or chat or overdue tasks.
I find sales people finally getting in a groove doing prospecting or drafting a proposal and then all of a sudden an alarm goes off or something pops up and they get distracted.
TURN OFF the pop-ups and alarms and notifications.
BATCH your activities.
You can look at everything once every hour or two so you don't miss anything.
FOMO creates a situation where people are busy being busy.
They say they have no time because all the time gets eroded dismissing the alarms and pop-ups that really aren't important anyway.
Ever since I started following this advice I've found my productivity is way higher and stress level way lower.
#6. Improve Your Cold Calling Skills
Matt Bank knows that cold calling is tough. You have to overcome the initial resistance within yourself, as well as with the customer and form a meaningful connection in a very short time. And you have to convince the prospect to agree to follow up conversations. Matt provides some helpful sales advice for those who want to take their cold calling skills to the next level.
1) Just pick up the phone. The hardest call is the first one, so just hit dial and let it ring
2) Be upfront about the call. It's ok, be honest. I learned this from my fellow salesperson Patrick, who always starts his cold calls with, "Hi person, this is a sales call so if you want to hang up, I understand. But if you have 2 minutes…" It's wild the difference this approach makes vs jumping right into a pitch
3) Don't ask “Yes” or “No” questions. Instead of, "Are you finding your non-responsive content on mobile a problem?", ask something like "How are you providing your mobile readers a more responsive and friendly reader experience?"
4) Value > Charm. Do your research. If you actually have a real reason to be calling these people, that is far more valuable than just being a smooth talker
5) Make it FUN! Cold calling is hard. Constant rejection, constant defeat. Try and make it as fun as possible. Listen to music between each call. Post your funny rejections on Slack. Do anything to just make it less serious.
#7. Treat Prospects How You Want to Be Treated
Sometimes, you can lose sight of the fact that prospects are real people with real goals, desires, fears, and struggles. In your efforts to move prospects down the pipeline, you can lose the human aspect of sales, which is essential.
Sales Hacker reminds us of the importance of truly caring about prospects and treating them the same way you would treat yourself.
1. Passionately dive in and fully understand the p̵r̵o̵s̵p̵e̵c̵t̵ person.
2. Be genuine. Try to solve their problem as if it were yours.
Top sellers put in the work behind the scenes, not on the stage.
“Simply feature dumping and just talking about what you do will not make people move. You can’t just dump statistics on people unless they were ready to buy before they got to you.” - Michael Szymanski
#8. The Difference Is You
In just a few words, Andy Paul provides clarity regarding what differentiates top sellers from the rest. Ultimately, it’s not about having the greatest product or sales method. It’s about what you personally bring to the table.
It's not what you sell.
It's how you sell.
It's you, you're the difference.
#9. Care About Your Customers and They’ll Care About You
Finally, Luke Eggerton conducted a poll in which he asked salespeople what they believe separates them from their competitors. The results were perfectly in line with the previous two points. The large majority of respondents believe that the way you treat your customers is the most important factor in gaining an edge over your competitors. Care about your customers and they’ll care about you.
Hit Us with Your Best Sales Advice
The best part about LinkedIn is that the conversation never stops. We’re always hunting for the next great piece of sales advice from experts on the platform whether it’s about cold calling, sales strategies, or engagement tactics. If you’ve got any burning sales advice you want to share, send us a note on LinkedIn and we’ll feature it in our next roundup.