047 Tukan Das on getting your first customers and why you have to sell yourself

Tukan Das, CEO of LeadSift, comes from a computer science background, doing his research on sentiment analysis. He used machine learning to analyze topic-based sentiments, like “I love Steve Jobs’ vision, but I hate the latest iPhone”, which has positive and negative sentiments in the same sentence. (Tukan notes that computers have even more trouble with sarcasm than people.)

Tukan was comfortable writing code, not with sales and marketing. So when he started LeadSift, he hired a sales person. This was a mistake, because he had a “glorified idea”.

At that stage, “it’s almost impossible for an outside salesperson to sell.”

It took almost a year to realize the problem, and then Tukan had to step in, after a lot of developers building custom code based on sales requests that weren’t really the right fit. When Tukan started running sales, he first insisted that they couldn’t give anything away. People had to pay some non-zero fee. Then he switched from month-to-month to 90 day paid pilots. (They picked $99/month, almost out of thin air. One prospect insisted on paying $500. From that point on, they went with $500.)

For the first 2 years, they focused on outbound emails. In 2016, they got about 6 meetings per 100 contacts. 20% of those meetings that were a fit became customers. So they got about 1 customer per 100 contacts.

Tukan emphasizes that each contact required several emails, LinkedIn follow up, and a lot of persistence. About 30% of the emails are personalized, 70% is template. (Note that LeadSift has some capabilities to make this easier.)

They also got rid of their slide deck presentation. (Hallelujah! How much time have we all wasted in PowerPoint hell?) They would tell stories based on the specific needs of the prospect, along the lines of John Livesay’s better selling through storytelling.

Tukan also learned to not take rejection personally. Sometimes people would come back later when the timing was better. Sometimes they don’t. It’s ok.

After a seemingly successful sales meeting with a Fortune 100 prospect, followed by ghosting, one of Tukan’s advisors gave him some great advice:

Customers who do not understand your value proposition don’t owe you anything.

So now Tukan asks people to tell him upfront if there’s not a good fit.

The Wine (and Cider)

Tukan is enjoying some Angry Orchard Hard Cider.

I’ve got some Becker Vineyards Texas Tempranillo.


Where to find Tukan…

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Also, if you can get a free “fill in the blank” hero proposal template. Remember, a proposal is a story, not a brochure.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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046 What I’ve Learned this Decade

Since this episode is coming out in the middle of the holidays, I didn’t want to bury a guest in here. 😉

So here’s a different kind of episode, reflecting on the past decade and some of the things I’ve learned.

The Wine

Chateau Bellevue Bordeaux, 2015. Yum.


listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Also, if you can get a free “fill in the blank” hero proposal template. Remember, a proposal is a story, not a brochure.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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045 Meg Cumby on Client Testimonials

Who’s better at telling the story of what you do for your clients than your clients? Social proof is a huge boost to trust and sales. (Do you want to go to an unknown restaurant, or one recommended by a friend?)

Meg Cumby started out in journalism, worked in government communications, and started freelancing (not on purpose). She realized the need that other consultants had to gather and edit testimonials and case studies. Meg attended a freelancing conference, and was talking to another attendee about the trouble with getting testimonials. Meg wanted to interview, as she did in journalism, not just write. However, initially Meg thought there wasn’t a market here.

The focus on testimonials didn’t happen overnight. Meg knew she had something during a group coaching session with Kai Davis, and another freelancer vented about how hard it was to get testimonials.

Meg tried to just have more conversations and notice when people get really interested and ask a lot of questions.

When she started consulting, her first clients came from past relationships.

When should you ask for a testimonial?

  1. When you’ve wrapped up a project or when they’ve seen results.
  2. After a big win in a long project.

In other words, when the client is going to be enthusiastic and able to talk about how you have helped.

Set the expectation from the beginning that you’ll do a wrap-up call for feedback and if there’s positive feedback, you may want to use some of that in a testimonial.

Meg recommends recording the call (she is a journalist, after all) and using a transcription service. Personally, I just take notes.

Video testimonials are even better– more compelling, but harder for you and the clients. It can get expensive to do this professionally, if that’s the expectation for your prospects. If you’re just getting started with testimonials, start with written testimonials. Don’t make it harder. (Meg has a ton of testimonials on her website, MegCumby.com, and they are all text.)

What makes an effective testimonial?

  1. It’s about the client, not you. (Sound familiar?) What challenges did they face and what results did they get?
  2. What objections or anxieties did they have before they hired you?
  3. Results and impact– why was this worthwhile?

How do you get testimonials?

Meg asks questions based on Sean D’Souza’s book The Brain Audit.

He has 6 questions, and Meg has massaged them for consulting and added some more.

  1. What was the challenge that led you to engage with me?
  2. What hesitations or concerns did you have before engaging with me?
  3. What made your choose to work with me?
  4. What did you find as a result of this project? (And why was that important?)
  5. What specific feature or benefit did you like most about the service you received?
  6. What are 2-3 other benefits?
  7. What could have improved or done better, even with the benefit of hindsight? (Makes it easier for the client to deliver negative feedback.)
  8. Would you recommend me to others?
  9. Why?

Editing Testimonials

The order of the questions should provide a natural flow. Make sure you surface the objection(s) and hesitation(s) to provide a more compelling testimonial. And use real names (and company and title for B2B, location for B2C) and pictures, if you can. Try to get more than one, but any testimonial is better than no testimonials. (Meg notes that she’s working on getting headshots for her testimonials because she’s having technical challenges with her website template.)

Include relevant testimonials in proposals.

Before all else, just get a testimonial up on your site. You can always improve, add more, add video, etc.

Kind of funny– I put this in the notes for John Livesay’s episode on storytelling, and they apply again here. đŸ˜‰

The Wine

Meg is drinking Anciano Gran Reserva – 7 Years Tempranillo 2009.

I was enjoying Cooper Jaxson Pinot Noir from Loring Wine Company..


Where to find Meg…

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Also, if you can get a free “fill in the blank” hero proposal template. Remember, a proposal is a story, not a brochure.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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044 John Livesay on Better Selling through Storytelling

John Livesay

John Livesay becomes the second guest to return to Sales for Nerds (catch his earlier episode on how to pitch here). Now he’s back to talk about “Better Selling through Storytelling”, which of course is the name of his new book.

In this episode, John goes into why storytelling is so important (it’s how we actually learn and communicate, not just by dumping facts on people), and how to do it effectively. In particular, John goes into:

Story Structure

Each story has a framework.

  • Exposition (the who, what, when, where, why)
  • The problem– if there’s no problem, there’s no drama
  • The solution
  • And the resolution– what life is like after the solution

How to Move up the “5 I’s” Ladder (whether in sales or in the dating world)

  • Invisible
  • Insignificant
  • Interesting
  • Intriguing
  • Irresistible

Note that most small business are stuck on the first 2 rungs.

The way to move up the ladder is to tell stories (you may have heard them called “case studies”) about one person so that other people can see themselves in the story. These stories will find their way to your buyers and pull them in if you do a good job.

Of course, this means picking your niche so that your story resonates with the other people in that niche. Don’t worry about going too narrow (this should sound familiar from Aaron Ross’s advice on nailing your niche). Your story will still resonate, just not as powerfully, with nearby niches. This is still better than telling a more generic story that applies to everyone, but resonates with no one.

To all the way to the top of the ladder, John (of course) tells the story of meeting Michael Phelps, and how his coach asked if he was willing to train on Sundays. When Michael said that we he was, the coach said, “great, now we have 52 more training sessions than the other swimmers.” This is John’s way of getting us to think about what we can do or offer that no one else can.

Weaving stories together

The buyer wants to see their story in your story about other buyers. They also need to know your story (although we typically focus too much on this part, and not enough on the others). So how do we weave these stories together?

First consider 3 unspoken questions a prospect has. Not: do I know, like, and trust you? But: do I trust, like, and know you? In other words, do I trust you enough to even listen to anything you have to say? Then, do I like you enough to want to listen? And finally, moving from the gut, to the heart, to the head, do I know you (and that you can do the job)?

If you can do that, you can use the case study to weave the stories together.

In this age of more and more information and technology, storytelling is more important than ever, but in John’s view, everyone can be a good storyteller.

Handling the negatives

Don’t get put off by objections– they are buying signals. And don’t forget that it’s not the job of your prospects, strangers, or even your kids to make you feel good. As John writes, “that’s why they call it self-esteem.”

Side note: some slides I often like to use:

The Wine (& Whisky)

John enjoys some Stag’s Leap Chardonnay.

Earlier that morning, I’d had a wisdom tooth out. They told me to avoid alcohol for a couple of days (not because of any health issues, but because it would hurt). I was tempted to just skip having a drink with John, but that didn’t seem right. I also didn’t want to open a bottle of wine if it was too painful to drink. So I decided to have a sip of whisky as a test. All good. So I had a glass of Caol Ila Islay 12 year old scotch.

(I was trying extra hard to concentrate and felt that I wasn’t doing a great job, but John said it was a good conversation.)

Where to find John…

Better Selling through storytelling cover

Get John’s book: Better Selling through Storytelling

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Also, if you can get a free “fill in the blank” hero proposal template. Remember, a proposal is a story, not a brochure.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

Congratulations to the Sales for Nerds Signed Bookshelf Winners!

Congratulations to our winners– they have a lot of reading to do. (If you’re friends with them, see if you can borrow some of the books they’re not reading.) Here they are about to go into boxes…

Our first place winner is Josh Robbs.

Josh is a website consultant who helps small businesses develop and operate websites focused on meeting real business goals. He said he’s excited about all the books but is especially looking forward to digging into Oatmeal v Bacon and Authority Marketing.

Our second place winner is Marisa Eckberg, who runs Grey Owl HR.

This is so exciting!  Thank you, I’ve never really won anything like this before – maybe I should go get a lottery ticket! From the books and your Sales for Nerds course, I hope to gain some tips and trick as well as develop some better sales skills so I can ultimately help more small business owners with their HR needs.

You can find Grey Owl on Facebook and on LinkedIn.

Our third place winner is Albert Swantner, who’s the CTO of MobileTech Rx, based here in Austin. Mobile Tech RX is a venture-backed software company that helps auto reconditioning professionals make more money and save time.

I’m CTO and co-founder of a startup called MobileTech Rx based in Austin and a big part of what we are working on is our sales and marketing process.  As an engineer I have a lot to learn in this area and so I’m really excited for this set of books to help me set up a process and grow our company.

I’m looking forward to reading those books!

You can also find Albert on LinkedIn.

Thanks to all those who entered and especially thank you to the amazing authors who contributed books.

  • From Impossible to Inevitable: How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue ($18), by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin
  • Sales Success Stories: 60 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals ($16), by Scott Ingram
  • Attention Management: How to Create Success and Gain Productivity — Every Day ($17), the new book from Maura Thomas
  • Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People ($17), by Vanessa Van Edwards
  • Oatmeal v Bacon: How to Differentiate in a Generic World ($15), by Justin Foster
  • Better Selling through Storytelling: The Essential Roadmap ($17) to Becoming a Revenue Rock Star, by John Livesay
  • Visual Models for Software Requirements ($64) and Software Requirements ($30), by Joy Beatty (if you’re wondering if this relates to you if you’re not in software, listen to Joy’s interview where she discusses reverse engineering requirements for the sales and marketing process).
  • Authority Marketing: How to Leverage 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant ($12) by Adam Witty and Rusty Shelton
  • Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business: The Complete Guide to Starting and Scaling from Scratch, by Laura Briggs ($14). This is essential if you’re starting a freelance writing business, but it has great tips for set up, sales, marketing, client management and more for any service business.
  • Deep Listening: Impact Beyond words – Paperback book & Playing cards, ($45) by Oscar Trimboli.
  • Asia Matos new e-book (so it won’t be signed): How to Build a Resilient as F*ck Mindset.
  • Sell More Faster: The Ultimate Sales Playbook for Startups, by Amos Schwarzfarb

Plus, all winners get free enrollment in the Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way, which will change the way you think about proposals, sales, and client projects. ($297)





043 Oscar Trimboli on Deep Listening

This is a bit of a different episode, but bear with me. Oscar Trimboli is not a “sales” expert, or a “marketing” expert, or any of the usual experts you’ll find on this podcast. He’s a “deep listening” expert. What does that even mean? And what does it mean for you?

First, consider the time and effort you’ve put into communication. Speaking, writing, presenting. Maybe not as much time and effort as we’d like, but consider how much time and energy have you invested in learning to listen?

Listening is more important that talking, but most of us have no formal training in how to listen. The good news is that you can listen to this episode (no pun intended) and get some great training that will help you be more effective at work and at life.

In this episode, learn:

  • How Oscar learned to be good at cards despite being bad at math.
  • How he decided to focus his career on deep listening.
  • Why deep listening is essential for good sales and marketing
  • How to shorten the sales cycle
  • The 4 listening villains (The Dramatizer, The Interrupter, The Lost Listener, and The Shrewd Listener)
  • The simple reason we have to listen deeply– the rates of speaking (125 words per minute), listening (400 words per minute) and thinking (up to 900 words per minute) are different– so there’s always something unsaid going through the speaker’s mind. You might only be getting 11% of the picture.
  • Listen for code words that show that speaker is getting to thoughts originally unspoken, like “I’ve just realized…” or “what I forgot to mention is…”
  • Deep listening is actually about helping the speaker get their real thoughts out.
  • Why you don’t want to start with “why?” questions, start with “how?” and “what?” (reminiscent of advice Craig Elias gave in Episode 36).
  • Listen to the silence– give your conversation partner time to think
  • The 5 Layers of meaning:
    • Listening to yourself
    • Listening to content (this is where most listening advice starts, forgetting how important it is to get yourself in the right place)
    • Listening for context
    • Listening for what’s unsaid
    • Listening for meaning
  • Simple advice for becoming a better listener: turn off your screens (including mental browser tabs), and take 3 deep breaths so you can slow down and focus on listening.

If you like this episode, check out the Deep Listening podcast and the Deep Listening book (and the box set that includes the cards)

The Wine

I’m enjoying some QupĂ© Syrah from Santa Barbara County. Oscar is the designated driver, both for his wine-loving relatives and on this podcast.

I enjoyed some Loveblock (that does not sound right, does it?) Sauvignon Blank from New Zealand (taste much better than the name). 😉

Where to find Oscar…

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

042: Aaron Ross (again) on going From Impossible to Inevitable in Sales

Aaron Ross

Aaron Ross returns to Sales for Nerds after coming on in Episode 20. If you haven’t heard that, you might want to listen to that first (although you don’t have to). Aaron’s got 9 kids (and working on more– many of these are adopted, just FYI), so he’s a busy guy.

He started a company that failed because he didn’t know sales well enough, so he joined Salesforce to learn about sales.

He’s written 2 hugely influential books–

In this episode, Aaron talks about some of the most critical topics in the book (but you should really just read it).

Nail Your Niche

The biggest challenge people have getting a company off the ground is “nailing the niche”. If you don’t do this, you can waste a ton of money, time, and energy on sales and marketing efforts that don’t work. (If you need some help with your niche, see this Mad Libs Positioning Generator tool, and check out the one question you should ask if you’re considering narrowing your or broadening your niche.) We all have fear of missing out (FOMO), but if we don’t focus, it’s very hard to get traction.

How do you know if you have a good niche? If you can describe what you do, whether an elevator pitch or on twitter, do people understand what you do, and do the right people ask for more.

A lot of updates to the second edition involve the deluge of information. Aaron notes that buyers don’t necessarily know more than ever, they’re often more confused than ever.

If you’re in services, it’s easy to say that almost anyone could be in your market, so focus on the use cases where you add the most value.

The Current Information Environment

How do you deal with massive surge of content– you can’t just write a great blog post and get on the front page of Google. You have to create a signature piece of cornerstone content. What’s the one thing you want your company to be known for?

How Do You Grow the Value of Your Company

Another interesting case study from the book is how Bregal Sagemount — a private equity firm– triples the value of a company in 3 years. They mostly focus on growing sales faster– because that grows the value of the company most effectively. They invest in getting more leads, run better meetings, leading to more deals. (Sounds familiar, right?)

Unifying Sales and Marketing, while Specializing Roles

They try to get specialized roles for sales, especially better outbound prospecting, but they also get sales and marketing together as a “revenue team”. One of the best practices is to put marketing on a quota for sales-qualified leads or revenue, if the sales cycle is short enough (a quarter or less). So if you want to increase the value of your company, increasing sales growth and predictability is likely the way to go.

How do you define a qualified lead? This will vary from company to company and even by channel (an inbound lead is usually more qualified than an outbound lead, for example). A starting point for a qualified lead might be:

  • Do they have authority
  • Do they have a need
  • Do they want a next step

Note that in industry, a person with enough authority can make budget and timing happen.

Inbound and Outbound (Nets and Spears)

Inbound is great, outbound is great. And they go great together. Outbound lets you access parts of the market that don’t know you exist, and you can define your targets. If you’re going to do outbound, make sure one person owns the initiative. At least one person should be doing this full time for a few months. One example is Zuora, which had reps doing 30 calls and 60 emails per day. The better you know your customer, the better you’ve nailed your niche, the easier this outbound prospecting gets.

If you don’t know who to call, but you know which companies, you can call the company and ask nicely.

When someone asks what you do, pretend they asked you “how do you help your customers?” Use the first 3 seconds of the conversations to earn the next 60 seconds.

By all means, check out the book… (see links below)

Home

The Wine (and the Beer)

Aaron is enjoying some Stella Artois (“when I was in Belgium, this was the stuff they serve to tourists, but it’s tasty.”)

I enjoyed some Loveblock (that does not sound right, does it?) Sauvignon Blank from New Zealand (taste much better than the name). 😉

Where to find Aaron…

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

041: Laura Briggs on SEO for the busy small business owner

Laura Briggs

Laura Briggs is a former middle school teacher, so nothing phases her. 😉 Like so many young teacher, the structure of the educational system left her burned out and she entered the digital freelancing economy as a freelance SEO writer.

She’s done TEDx talks on freelancing, and just released her first book, Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business.

In this episode, Laura pulls back the cover on the mysteries of SEO, which can seem so daunting, complicating, and time-consuming that many of us punt on it. Punting is not a great move. Here are some key things to take away:

  • The biggest misconception is the feeling that SEO is so complex that you have to pay someone thousands of dollars per month.
  • The first thing you need to do is figure out the most important keywords for your business. “For your business” means the words that your customers use to describe their problems, not the the words you might want to use to describe your offerings.
    • You can use tools like UberSuggest to help find keywords.
    • YouTube (the world’s 2nd biggest search engine) is also useful. Just start typing in the search bar and see what YouTube suggests.
    • What do people describe as their biggest problems, when you meet with prospects in person or on the phone.
  • Excluding bad fit visitors is as useful as including good fits. You can be explicit about who is a good or bad fit, right on the page.
  • How many keywords do you need? (Keep in mind that “keyword” is really a “key phrase”, of 3-6 words, not a single word.)
    • Use the “keyword” about once per 100 words. Don’t “stuff” the keyword unnaturally into content in an attempt to trick Google. Write for the human reader first.
    • Use specific “long tail keywords” to get more specific, and get traffic from your ideal prospects. For example, ranking for “tennis shoes” is going to be hard, because you’re competing with folks like Nike. But if you say “the best tennis shoes for marathon runners”, you can target much better.
    • You can link to blog posts, which can provide more variation than the “static” service pages on your site.
  • Post at least once per week. (!!!)
    • You can post about your core business, but also “complimentary content”, like “what do eat before you play tennis.”
    • Create a schedule that you can sustain.
    • Work in the medium you enjoy, and then repurpose (for example, if you are comfortable talking, then record a video and have someone transcribe it as a blog post, or vice versa).
  • Backlinks are hard because you don’t have control (on multiple levels). Work on the stuff you can control first. Link properly within your own site, and also link to resources that you cite in your writing. For example, in writing for attorneys, Laura might cite research from hospitals or government sources.
  • Remember that the human reader is the priority. Even if you can somehow trick Google into sending you traffic, what’s going to happen if you don’t write for your ideal visitor?
  • How much time do you need? You need to spend some time upfront. But, once you have a routine, you can batch, bimonthly or monthly, by setting up a calendar and creating a lot of posts or videos or whatever else. This should take at minimum 2 hours per week, but again, you can batch your work. Do what works for you.
    • For example, Laura prefers to carve out one day per month to crank on content. Even for YouTube, Laura will switch shirts between videos and crank out 4 videos. (Too bad this strategy is dangerous for Sales for Nerds.)

Grab a copy of Laura’s new book, Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business: The Complete Guide to Starting and Scaling from Scratch. If you’re a freelance writer, this is a no-brainer, but even for other kinds of service freelance businesses, you’ll find a lot of great stuff in here.

One awesome gem from the book, regardless of whether you’re a freelance writer: the deadlines that you commit to are up to you. Don’t drive yourself crazy.

The Wine

Laura is enjoying some red sangria (“the way I get my serving of fruit”).

I enjoyed some Shannon Ridge Petite Syrah.

Where to find Laura…

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

040: Steve Benson on Successful Sales Meetings

Steve Benson is the CEO of Badger Mapping, an app that literally helps sales reps solve the Traveling Salesman Problem, one of the canonical hard problems in computer science, and also very important in the real world. While Steve works in mapping and has a degree in geography, he’s got a background in field sales, becoming Google’s top enterprise sales rep in 2009.

Yet he didn’t have a grand plan to combine his love of geography with practical real-world careers.

He started his post-MBA career in sales at IBM, but was only passionate about the software, not the hardware and services. Joining Google and being close to the Google Maps team, he had a lot of geographical thoughts swirling in his head.

How to run a successful sales meeting:

  1. Get in the right headspace before the meeting. Focus on value. Describe the product like you’re describing a vacation. There’s a different sound in your voice than if you’re describing a product that we’re not really excited about.
  2. Have a pre-call before the meeting. Make sure you know the #1 thing your contact wants to get out of the meeting. Set an agenda.
  3. Don’t just drone on about features– talk to the pain and the needs.
  4. You’re not trying to do training– you can do that after the sale.
  5. Wrap up, make sure you’ve covered what the prospect needs, and agree on the next steps. Set aside time to do this.
  6. Flip the script and put your “dinosaur feature” at the beginning.

How to handle price objections (and other objections, including disagreement among your champion’s colleagues) proactively. (Also see Terry Hansen’s episode on objection prevention and handling.)


The Wine

Steve enjoyed some 2015 Smoking Loon cabernet sauvignon.

I had some 2014 Wind Gap Ni-Pente Pinot Noir.


Where to find Steve…

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

039: Sean McCool on copywriting

I got to know Sean (and his cohost, Jonathan Taylor) when I joined them on their Persuasion by the Pint podcast.

Since we are clearly kindred spirits when it comes to podcasting, and Sean happened to be visiting Austin and I hadn’t really done an episode about copywriting, we got together to give you some great stories and practical tips on writing copy, which I know is a tough challenge for a lot of people.

Sean was also a good sport and departed from his usual pint into the wine world.

In this episode, learn:

  • The amazingly simple way Sean made $250 in high school to buy Christmas presents for his family and girlfriend.
  • How Sean flunked out of school, joined the military, got a sales job, and made it into the top 30% but could never quite make it to the top.
  • How he started a business with his dad (“we just about killed each other”) and decided he had to do something else.
  • How he got down to his last $26, and how what he did with it changed the course of his life.
  • How he could charge double or triple what his competitors charged.
  • How to write copy that people actually want to read (and what people usually do instead).
  • Simple, practical tips that anyone can follow to create great copy, like:
    • Record your sales calls, transcribe them and tease out the words and phrases your prospects use.
    • Take a webinar or sales deck and turn each section or slide into an email.
    • If you have an FAQ section on your website, turn each one into an email. (Or maybe you don’t have an FAQ section, but you do get certain questions frequently.)
    • “If you were writing for a friend, how would you say it?”
  • The W.O.R.D. formula for developing copy
    • Win the reader’s attention.
    • Orchestrate the reader’s desire.
    • Resolve skepticism.
    • Determine next action. (Doesn’t have to be a sale– it might even be a “give” instead of an “ask”. You don’t have to get them all the way to the sale all at once. Make their path small, easy steps.)

Much, much more…

The Wine

Sean is a big beer drinker, but was a good sport. We did an easy drinking California Pinot, the Ampelos 2014 from Santa Rita Hills.


Where to find Sean:

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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