When I was a young buck, one of my first tasks as a sales guy was to contact this large cabinet maker.
I was trying to sell them a $60,000 website package. And if I got the contract, I’d personally get a $9,000 bonus in my pocket.
It seems small now, but it was HUGE to me back then.
I hustled together a meeting with the VP of marketing for this cabinet maker.
Their VP of marketing was amazing. I loved this guy… he was like a nice-old mid-western grandpa. And he was wonderful to me. Let’s call him Mr. Cabinet.
In a job (cold calling) where 95% of the people I contact hated me, Mr. Cabinet was so damn refreshing!
He WANTED to talk.
He WANTED to hear my ideas.
He WANTED to do business with me.
And I sure as hell WANTED that $9,000 bonus!
So as the meeting went on, I was more and more convinced Mr. Cabinet was ready to sign the contracts.
In this post we cover:
- The 3 questions you must ask in any sales call to avoid wasting time following up
- The one technique to find out if your prospect is a decision maker
- The common mistake most sales people make in proposals (I made this mistake for 5 years)
Back to Mr. Cabinet. He wanted our company to send a proposal, so we did. We spent a lot of time & money on it because we were so convinced this contract was in the bag.
The proposal went well!
Mr. Cabinet was smiling and shook my hand.
After one week of not hearing back, I sent an email to Mr. Cabinet explaining all the details.
Didn’t hear anything back.
Ok… no worries… I left a voicemail for him after a few days.
He emailed back a one-sentence email saying, “So sorry, I did get your email, but I haven’t had a chance to really look through it.”
Two months went by, and I kept contacting Mr. Cabinet and all I got was radio silence. I didn’t understand how the deal seemed like a sure thing… to complete radio silence.
To top off my rejection, the CEO of my company started blaming me for screwing up the deal!
—– Ok… let’s pause —– What the hell happened here?
This was a classic case of a deal gone bad, and I’m going to show you exactly what went wrong with Mr. Cabinet:
Essentially I was doing free consulting.
You see, buyers are smart. They know you’ll do a bunch of free work for them, educate them on everything that’s important, how they should do it, what the timeline is…
They basically get EVERYTHING free from you.
So now they have your ideas, and can get one of their minions to do it for them.
All they have to do is show them the blueprint YOU gave them.
Essentially I did all the work and planning for Mr. Cabinet, allllll for free. Wonderful.
- I never asked Mr. Cabinet if he had a budget for this project.
- I never asked Mr. Cabinet if he was the decision maker.
- I never asked Mr. Cabinet if he was the guy who would write the check.
So here’s the three of the 47 questions from our Breakthrough Sales Training. Ask these questions before investing time in a person like Mr.Cabinet.
I hate following up and I try to avoid it as much as possible. But when you do have to do it, you might as well use an email that’s proven to work.
Recently, I was connected with Hubspot. And by connected I mean I cold emailed them.
If you haven’t heard of Hubspot let me give you the highlights.
- Inbound marketing and email platform with 10,000 customers in 65 countries
- Raised $100.5 million from Google and Salesforce
Think of them like B2B landing pages and blogs on steroids.
One trip to Boston later and today they are going to share some of the best tactics they’ve found for email follow-up.
Additionally, you’re invited to our upcoming free webinar – How To Follow Up: Proven Strategies and Email Templates (More on that later)
Enter John Sherer from Signals by Hubspot
There’s nothing worse than when a person suddenly goes cold – they won’t get on a call and aren’t responding to emails.
Obviously you need to follow-up, but you can’t afford to lose them with below average email skills. Sending crappy emails won’t make them suddenly think, “Oh yes, I’ve been waiting for the day this salesman reaches out to me to buy their product!”
Below I deconstruct three terrible (yet surprisingly common) follow-up emails. I look at what’s wrong with the email and provide 3 email templates that have work for us.
Terrible Follow-Up Email #1
I hope you have some good weekend plans. I was going back through my notes and I see that you were going to connect with your president Catherine yesterday to determine if setting up an executive presentation was possible.
What’s the latest?
What’s wrong with this email?
- The first two sentences are fillers. Adding familiarity doesn’t come off as genuine. Show UNIQUE interest in the person you’re emailing.
- The call-to-action at the end just asks for an update. If your objective is a meeting, request a meeting.
How do you fix this email?
Google Alerts really can be used as a great window into your prospects world. When I meet with a prospect I typically set up a Google Alert for my prospect’s “company name”, “competition”, and “industry keywords.” That way, Google can email me whenever new links on the web match that information. I use those triggers to customize my follow-up emails.
So instead of the email above — here’s what you should write.
Follow-Up Email Template #1
I was just told that the competitor you mentioned, Massive Steel picked-up a large contract with the Canadian Government. We discussed Massive Steel’s web presence in comparison to yours last we talked. Does your team think their website had any impact on the deal?
Last quarter, several clients ran a new style email campaign that increased leads for their sales team. It’s straightforward and simple to implement.
Does it still make sense to discuss your website? If so, how does your calendar look to talk?
Here’s why this email works –
- The email immediately opens with news about the prospect – very recent information on a competitor.
- The second paragraph transitions the new announcement to how I can uniquely help them.
- We have several more examples in the follow-up email webinar.
Terrible Follow-Up Email # 2
How are you?
Last time we chatted, you said I could check-in in six months.
So – here I am! Wanted to touch base and see if there’s anything I can help you with.
Do you have ten minutes to speak tomorrow? I’m available at 10am and 2pm EST. Let me know what works.
What’s wrong with this email?
Once i realized that cold-calling doesn’t work, I knew it was time to change the game, and in a big way. I was determined to never make another cold-call again, and I haven’t looked back since. Instead of defining myself by the success of my cold-calls, I created a new identity – part corporate sleuth, part selling ninja. Before I tell you how to do the same, let me give you a little background on my transition.
After I decided to quit cold-calling cold-turkey, I began developing my cold-emailing strategy. It’s a billion times more effective than cold-calling (literally 1,000,000,000x more effective – I crunched the numbers). Ok, so in all honesty it may not be a billion times more effective — but it sure feels like it. Not only will you be able to get responses from 80% of the clients you reach out to, but cold-emailing ensures that you only put in work with clients that can actually pay you – and pay you BIG.
Bad news: in order to be successful with cold emailing, you’re going to need the email addresses of multiple VPs and C-level executives at target companies. Without those, you’re going to have a hard time getting started. You also won’t find their names listed in bold letters on the company’s homepage.
Good news: it’s actually really, really easy to find those emails: I’m talking 15 minutes or less.
First things first: Are you willing to pay for an email address?
If the answer is yes…. here are my top paid resources:
- The List
- Advertising Database
- Jigsaw (SalesForce)
- Dun & Bradstreet
These resources will also paint a more in depth picture of the company and offer other valuable information.
Obviously, paying for an email address is also the fastest way to gain access.
But, if you’re willing to spend just a bit of time and effort – I’ll show you how to find any address for free.
Keep in mind that once you master these tactics you can always delegate the research to – an intern, a virtual assistant (I recommend VirtualCoworker.com) or someone else.
Tactic 1: Go to the company website. (3 minutes)
This one’s kind of obvious – but it’s the best place to start.
Begin by finding the webpage of the company your target works for.
Once you’re there check out the About Us page, the News page and the Contact Us page.
The “About” page will provide you with the names of executives and key employees. (sometimes emails will be listed here as well)
The “News” page will often have a PR contact’s email listed in their articles – if the email includes the person’s name, you’ve struck gold.
And your target’s name is John Smith
Your target’s email is most likely: John.Smith@google.com
If neither of those pages had any useful info, try the “Contact” page. If no email is listed but there’s an embedded contact form, you can fill out the form using your non-business email. Then input random text to see if they have an auto-responder. Sometimes the auto-responder will provide you with the company’s email format.
When I started off in sales, I would go to a meeting and then FREEZE when it came down to talking money.
I would try and disguise the dollar amount in cheesy ways like saying “this will cost 50-K” instead of saying “This will cost fifty thousand dollars.”
But the main mistake I was making was not first ASKING the client what they’re expectations were. I’d just present everything to them first, and pray to Jesus/Allah/Buddah that I got something out of it.
I later learned that if the client asks the question, “So how much does this cost?” it meant I was no longer controlling the situation.
Anyhow… after a few years I finally discovered what’s known as “The Bucket Technique.”
This technique is a framework for finding out how much your client is willing to spend.
THIS IS A DAMN IMPORTANT CONCEPT because it will save you from endless proposals that go nowhere, and find out how much your client is willing to spend.
STEP 1 of The Bucket Technique: Asking the “setup question”
In your initial meeting with the prospect, if you’re seeing signs they like what they see… you ask this magic question:
“What’s your budget?”
We can even modify that question a few ways like this:
“What do you typically budget for something like this?”
“You seem interested, do you have a budget for something like this?”
Basically, this is a setup question. Almost certainly they never just throw out a number. This question is to just see how motivated they are as a buyer.
Watch for their reaction.
“Well, all new projects are on hold right now.” (I heard this one from Sprint).
“You know, we’re really just looking.” (This means they’re just shopping around and using you for free information).
“We’re just in research mode.” (This means they’re not ready to spend money).
“I don’t know.”
“For something like this we’d typically budget around $150,000.”
Let me show you a real-life example from recent history: