Steli Efti has changed my perspective on sales. He made me appreciate sales more than ever before. Thank you Steli.
Steli Efti is CEO and Co-Founder of Close.io, a public speaker on the art of sales and an alumni of Y Combinator. Steli helps thousands of startups succeed in scaling their sales efforts.
I must confess, before Steli my view of the sales process was clouded by years of bad experiences. One time in the past, I asked this so called sales expert for some tips on selling and he sent me a link to a James Altucher’s sales blog post. Don’t get me wrong, James Altucher is badass. But this was like asking a software engineer to tell you a bit about their art and they send you a link to Stack Overflow. Not cool.
Having experienced this contrast, both sides of the fence, I am now enlightened on sales! Sales, when done right shouldn’t feel like dealing with a used car salesman. Instead it should feel like being with a Rockstar — inspirational and educational.
Show up. Follow up. Close.
Early in a startup there are ONLY 3 ways to make a difference:
- Design product,
- Hack them (coding) and/or
- Hustle them (sell)
Anything else is a waste. Ask yourself, what are you working on?
When selling, be friendly & strong
(a) You cannot be Unfriendly & Strong — you don’t want to kill people, you only destroy value by being this way.
(b) You cannot be Friendly & Weak — in human psychology, we unfortunately abuse friendly and weak people. I have seen this style all too common — it’s something about people living in a dream of goodness but fail to close a deal.
(c) You want to be Friendly & Strong — this style helps you close customers that want to buy your product. eg. Think of a good parent who loves their child setting ground rules. You need to tell your customers what to do. You are the expert, they will listen to you.
Don’t get emotionally involved
Emotions will fuck with you. It’s that endless loop inside your head of “what ifs”. Recursion at it’s best.
Learn to work with your emotions. Some people meditate and others go for walks in the park. Find something that helps you deal with your emotions.
If a prospect questions you, use the primary mode of communication to respond and then go into the pitch on how you can give them value with your product. But never get emotionally involved when resistance arises. And don’t forget your body language is 80% of the communication when meeting people face to face.
Consistency is what wins, not charisma
The foundation of winning is the 10% of showing up and 90% is following up and going for the close. If you don’t show up then there is little chance you will follow up and go for the close.
I have often seen inexperienced sales people sitting around at the desk checking email every 5 mins. This behavior became consistent and that’s all such people do most of their time. My gut feeling is they start to believe selling is answering emails vs closing deals.
I cannot emphasize this one more. Consistency is king!
Don’t confuse talking for selling & selling for talking
Selling is trying to move someone to a decision. We hate closing because this is the “moment of truth”.
We are afraid to do it because it’s easier to say “they loved it but need to think more”. Learn to ask early and ask often. Expect the no and embrace it. Don’t delay it.
Be upfront to see if they want to buy. If they are unsure, then explain “You seem like smart people and I don’t want to waste your time.” and come back to the question towards the end of your pitch.
Make sure you ask what it takes to close. If they say you don’t have X, Y and Z then say “if I get you X, Y and Z will you buy?”. Boom!
Fear, we are all afraid
Fear, the feeling of emotion, is the same feeling in everything, it’s just context.
The difference between a hero & a coward is they both feel fear, but the hero acts despite his fear.
We are all afraid.
A feature of being human. When you don’t feel like doing something tell yourself
“shut up and do it anyways.” — you don’t have to feel like it. Get over yourself and do it.
“Emotional Alchemy” — learn to deal with them so they don’t stop you from doing amazing things.
Video of Steli teaching how to Show up, Follow up & then Close
Got any sales tips you want to share here? Write below!
Thanks to Dmitry Birulia (IQBOXY — YC W17), Urszula Semerda, Andrzej Bakonski and Steli Efti for reading drafts of this.