In 1981, a salesman named Chris Gardner changed his life. He left his office job to focus on selling innovative devices known as portable bone density scanners. However, even for the experienced salesman, it wasn’t as easy as he expected.
These new scanners were a more expensive alternative to the x-ray. Hospitals weren’t so excited about paying more for a technology that they already had. Chris faced one failure after another. As a result, his wife left him and Chris was forced to raise his son all alone without a roof over his head.
There was no other option at this point, so Chris decided to pull himself together and start an unpaid internship as a stockbroker with the goal of working at a renowned company. At the same time, he didn’t give up and continued to knock on every window with his scanners. Chris worked nonstop doing both jobs. And this story had a “happy ending”. Chris got his high-paying job as a stockbroker and ensured a bright future for his son.
You’ve probably recognized that Chris is the main character of The Pursuit of Happiness, a 2006 movie where he was perfectly portrayed by Will Smith. Even though it’s only a film plot, this story has a lot to say about the work of a salesman before the rise of the Internet.
A lot of things have changed since that time. Today salespeople have so many digital tools and devices that help them sell more. What hasn’t changed since 1981 is that salespeople should foster incredible persistence, develop excellent communication skills and work really hard to achieve success.
Sales tips to help you build an outstanding online sales career
In this article, we gathered seven tips that will help you build an outstanding career in online sales in 2019.
1. Find the right recipient for your message
Before getting down to direct sales, you should put together a list of your potential customers. If you sell a B2B product, start by gathering names of potential customers. After, find the contacts of the right people from their teams to contact.
Many newbies repeat the same mistake: they write to the only email address related to a company they could find on the Internet. As a result, their sales pitches end up in spam and trash folders. In fact, the people who receive it can’t even understand why it is sent to a Product Manager, HR Representative, or even the CEO of the company.
Tip: Salespeople often believe they can receive a reply from firstname.lastname@example.org. Let this hint save time for you: the chance that you get a response from email@example.com is very close to zero.
What should you do in this case? First, define the job title of a person who may be responsible for the implementation or purchasing of what you’re offering. Is that a PR Specialist or maybe Head of Sales? Excellent! Now you know whom to chase.
Second, search for their emails. Extensions like Email Extractor or Hunter will help you discover the right email through the website of the company and save your time. You can also use websites similar to Thalamus, which stores thousands of contacts that belong to the AdTech industry. Once you’ve found the right person to email, don’t limit yourself to Gmail only. LinkedIn has proved to be a good tool for business negotiations as well.
Third, start with contacting lower-level employees. We heard that salespeople are usually more responsive, agreed?
2. Write a perfect sales pitch
The ‘elevator speech’ tactics work for online communication as well. The only difference is that in the case of emails, three minutes in the elevator turns into three seconds of reading the subject line of the email. You can easily find lots of valuable content that can teach you How to Give a Killer Sales Pitch, 5 Sales Pitch Examples Too Good to Ignore or 7 Successful Sales Pitch Examples and Why They Work.
However, having first-class writing skills doesn’t guarantee feedback from your recipient. In 2018, the average open rate across all industries was 24.8%. These seven simple rules will help you increase both the open rates and response rates:
- Include the recipient's name into the subject of your email.
- Keep the subject of your email short (6-10 words is optimal), clear, and catchy.
- Use simple language and bullet points to show the real value of your product for this specific customer.
- Don’t oversell. Don’t make your emails wordy.
- Follow email etiquette. Avoid overusing exclamation points and upper cases.
- End your email with a question that you recipient can’t answer with a short ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
- Don’t hesitate to set up video calls. It's a better way to build trust if you can see the person with whom you are contacting, right?
And last but not least: follow-ups are great unless they turn into spamming with 2-3 emails per day. When sending your emails too often, you run the risk of finding yourself in the spam folder. So let’s stay sane.
3. Track and optimize your sales progress with CRM
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is the No.1 tool for any seller. When you start your career in sales, make sure that you choose the right one for your work. And if you’re still a big fan of standard spreadsheets, let us explain why you won’t be able to succeed in sales without a CRM. Every day CRMs helps sellers to:
- Store all the contacts and leads in one place
- Track and access every moment of interaction with customers
- Pay attention to every customer’s request
- Preserve potential leads
- Close deals right in the inbox
- Schedule follow-ups, bulk email campaigns, newsletters, etc.
- Synchronize the sales funnel with CRM stages, statuses, and tags
- Identify the weak points of sales strategy
- Focus on customers instead of recollecting information about them
- Monitor personal sales progress and much more
According to Salesforce, CRM software may increase the company’s sales by up to 29%. And if you’re not ready to pay for additional services, you may start with CRMs that are free to use. For example, NetHunt stays free forever for sales teams of up to 2 people.
If your company has already integrated CRM software, spend your time to explore everything that it has to offer for making your work as effective as possible.
4. Show the immediate value
Your customers don’t want to know that you work in the best company in the universe, or that you sell an outstanding product that changes lives. What they do want to know is what specific problems your product can solve. Instead of focusing on the exceptional uniqueness of your product, highlight 3-5 concrete jobs that your product helps with.
For example, if you’re selling CRM software you should say that it helps to:
- Track every step of communication with customers
- Remind about follow-ups
- Schedule and automate bulk emails
- Protect emails from spam filters
- Synchronize Gmail inbox with clients database and more.
Before reaching out to your recipients, explore what exactly they are doing in the company. Read more about the company itself. This information helps you better customize your request, make it less general and more specific. Show what your product can do for your potential customers here and now.
5. Test email templates and measure results
Even if you’re sure that your emails can sell anything to anyone, there’s a strong chance this isn’t the case. The reason people don’t sign up for a trial period could be that your message was unclear. This is why a “good seller” test-drives different email templates and checks stats. Which email had the highest open rate? How many website visits happened after a mass mailing? CRMs and email tracking software will help you track and control all the essential numbers on your emails.
If you received no responses after your recent mailout, maybe it’s time to rewrite the letter.
You should also be aware of spam filters. Prior to sending your emails, test them for spamminess. To ensure higher credibility, equip your email with a proper signature that contains your photo, job title, the company’s logo, links to your Linkedin profile, Skype or other messengers you may use for work.
The email should also have a proper sender’s name and never be sent from firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. Be a friend
Do you know the main point of the sales process? Actually, it’s not sales. The sales process is all about relationships and communication with people. There's another human being sitting on the opposite side of the monitor and reading your email. They may have a headache, overdue loan or even a broken heart at the moment of hearing from you.
If you notice something like this, try not to rush the process. Show your support and compassion. Listen to your client and try to be a little bit more than a business partner. It’s a long-term strategy, but it also drives real results. By the way, your CRM also can store clients' birthday dates, names of their pets, and the sports teams they support. Keep collecting facts. You never know which information can suddenly help you close the deal.
7. Never give up
While exciting and profitable, sales job can also be tough and stressful. It’s frustrating when you don’t see immediate results of your work.
This is why you should never lose your heart. Hard work always pays off, remember? If Chris Gardner wasn’t as persistent, hard-working and stress-resistant, then he would have never become a great salesman and obtained his dream job. Keep working, don’t take “no” as an answer, and good luck with your sales!