Sales 101

I’m on a mission. A mission to find the best social media publishing, monitoring, and analytics tool out there. Countless hours of searching, spreadsheet compiling, and sales calls later and I’ve decided that the perfect solution doesn’t exist. However, I learned some valuable sales tips along the way.

  1. Do your research but don’t be creepy. Every good salesperson LinkedIn stalks before calling a prospect. I’ve seen my profile up on a tab during demo screen shares many a time and I appreciate the due diligence. However, asking extremely detailed questions about my interests is unprofessional. Questions like, “When was the last time you went mountain biking?” and “Where exactly do you live?” just aren’t necessary and a waste of both of our time. I reached out for information, not a new best friend.
  2. Do e-mail before calling. I don’t have Caller ID on my desk phone, so I’ll always pick it up. It’s frustrating to be interrupted in the middle of a project so please try to do most of your communication via e-mail first. With the advent of Inbox Zero, a lot of us do actually respond to most e-mails.
  3. Don’t ask for sensitive information over the phone. Love it or hate it, the open office is a reality for most professionals nowadays. If you ignored #2 and called me anyways, there’s a good chance everyone in my department can hear what I’m saying on the phone. Asking for sensitive information about my company or budget puts me in an awkward position and won’t get you closer to the sale.
  4. Do have an awesome accent and keep it short. The 2 best sales calls I had in this entire process were from Sendible and Buffer. Sendible is based out of the UK and the salesperson had the best accent ever. Maybe faking a British accent isn’t for everyone, but what really sold me on him (and maybe his product) was that he was honest and upfront about the strengths and weaknesses of the product (see #5). I’ve been a huge fan of Buffer’s culture and personality for a while, so I wasn’t surprised that their sales call was quick, informative, and not the least bit awkward.
  5. Don’t avoid giving information to focus on the sale. When I take the effort to reach out for more information or a demo, that’s actually what I want. Information, not a sales pitch. There’s nothing more infuriating than asking a specific question (Does your service provide xyz?) and getting a pitch for another feature returned.
  6. Don’t belittle the gatekeeper. I get it. I’ve gone through Sales 101. You are trained to ask if there’s someone else involved in the decision making process. I know you’re eager to get to whoever holds the purse strings, but the reality is, you’ll probably never talk to him. The gatekeeper (aka me) who is doing the research will make the proposal of which company to use. If you want to be in that presentation, stop worrying about talking to someone who doesn’t have the time and focus on the one who is actively seeking your product out.

Not only did my research give me valuable insights on what makes a great sales call, I also learned a lot about social media platforms and how hard it is to pick one. I’ve got some helpful tools up my sleeves for other social media specialists in the same boat — stay tuned!

This article was originally shared on LinkedIn.