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Startup Selling: Talking Sales with Scott Sambucci

Over the past twenty years, I’ve led three Silicon Valley startups to their first customers and revenue, and sold everything from financial data, enterprise software, and vaporware to cabinet doors, amusement park daily programs, and “would you like fries with that…?” My customers have included the largest financial institutions in the world, top US Universities, cabinet door makers and people that eat at Applebees and go to amusement parks... I’ve learned a lot, and made a few, ahem, well… a lot, of mistakes. Here in The Sales Podcast with Scott Sambucci, I share the lessons learned from my past two decades of selling. In each episode, I discuss a specific topic in selling and sales strategy like how to find new prospective customers, how to manage leads, how to run an effective sales meeting, uncovering customer needs, and developing pricing strategies. Episodes are a mix of guest interviews, observations from the field, and sales techniques that I’m using every single day. And people that care about such things, I’ve written two books, been a TEDx Speaker, been featured on CNBC, The Financial Times and NPR. Oh… I’m also a husband, a dad, and a three-time Ironman triathlete. Build your sales process so that you can have the company you imagine. The Sales Podcast with Scott Sambucci will help you get there.
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Now displaying: Page 1
May 23, 2017
This episode of the Startup Selling Podcast focuses focuses on cold email strategies and best practices when hiring and developing an early sales team. 
 
My guest is Damian Thompson, the Cofounder and Chief Customer Officer at LeadFuze, a company that provides automated lead generation software that helps B2B companies find leads and have more sales conversations automatically. Damian has led sales teams in a dozen countries, coaching 200+ professionals to more than $100 million in sales.
 
In this episode, Damian and I went DEEP into specific cold email outreach strategies. 
 
First, Damian talked about the mistakes of cold emailing that most startups make, most notably, taking a specific strategy they’re read in a book and applying it directly to their company. That just never works. Damian talked about why you need to customize and build YOUR process for YOUR market and YOUR company.
 
 
Then Damian walked us through his "Cardinal Rules of Cold Emailing.” 
 
Here are a few we discussed:
 
 
1 - Passive-Aggressive SUCKS (my words…): Sending a second or third or fourth email to someone that read – "I haven’t heard back from you…” is really bad. It’s not the prospects fault they haven’t replied – it’s yours. Would you want to receive this email? Would you respond? How do you feel when you get these emails?
 
2 - Brevity: Assume email is read on mobile.  Don’t use wasted words. 
 
Bad: "I found you on Angel List…” or “I know you’re busy so I won’t take much time…”
 
3 - Don’t be apologetic: As Damian said – "if you target your market right, you’re offering something of value… They [your prospects] WANT to work with you.”
 
4 - Start your email with questions, then offer a quick value proposition then close with a call-to-action. 
 
Ask yourself: What are the 1-2 biggest problems/pains of customers? 
 
Reverse engineer biggest objections.
 
4 - Think low friction. The goal of your cold email should be to start a conversation. Don’t ask your prospects to call you or try to book a meeting right away. That’s too much to ask.
 
Be happy with ANY reply. There’s no such thing as a negative reply. If you’re getting NOTHING, that’s the worst outcome. 
 
5 - Subject Lines Matter: Shorter is better. Five (5) words or less is ideal. Using the person’s first name or company name works really well. 
 
It’s okay to be aggressive. Damian’s best-performing email subject line was “You’re doing it wrong,” but be sure to link subject lines to email’s content and ultimately, write emails that match your personality. If you’re just not comfortable being aggressive, do something else.
 
6 - Provide value in every interaction and outreach. Give prospects something quick that’s useful, and offer a few more ideas.
 
Once you nail your message and market, the find a way to do it a scale because, as Damian said “using Lead Generation to validate a market is a disaster."
 
Remember that NO ONE buys for your TECHNICAL SOLUTION. Customers buy to increase revenue, reduce costs, o to get a promotion. There’s some other motivation, so find it and write to it.
 
Finally we talked about building your sales team. 
 
A few key ideas:
 
  • "If you’re gonna hire one, you’ve gotta hire two.”
  • You cannot hire someone to build your sales process. YOU have to define your sales process, THEN you can bring on your sales team.
  • Once you hire, you’re going to spend more time, not less, doing sales.
  • You cannot hire a commission-only salespeople. It sends bad signals to the company.
  • Align metrics and incentives directly to the outcomes you want of that role. For example, paying an SDR based on long-term customer retention is really bad.
  • Before you ask an employee to do something, ask yourself: “Have I done this successfully?”
  • When hiring, it’s not about money for most SDR hires - your middle career salespeople care about money, but arly hires want company and personal growth. 
 
People & Mentions from this episode:
 
 
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