Do you like to do careful, thoughtful work? Are you polite, detail-oriented, and care what other people think of you? If you are working in edtech, chances are you are all these things. If you are in edtech sales however, you’re going to need to overcome some of these tendencies. It’s not to say that there is no room for deep thought in the sales profession, but the greatest resource of value to reps is not ideas; it’s time. Today we’ll explore the secret to sales offered by the best sellers on the block.
I got a little thrill this week walking up to my local grocery store. The Girl Scout Cookie sales table appears to be set up. Thin Mints, here we come. If you were ever a Scout or did any type of organizational fundraiser, you got some of the best sales training money can buy. The training was to ask everyone you know to buy your item, and then also go knock on doors of people you don’t know and ask them to buy. I think there’s been a reduction in the encouragement of children banging on strangers’ doors, but honestly we should all be more concerned for the bang-ees than the children. Most of us are helpless against these adorable little extortionists. It’s like a miniature stick up gang that takes your money and leaves you with wrapping paper, peanut brittle or a restaurant discount card.
Think back to who always sold the most in your group? Was it the Brownie with the best elevator pitch? Was it the band member with the most well-planned route through the neighborhood? Was it the baseball player who did the most research on nutritional preferences and past peanut brittle purchases? Of course not. It was the kid that rang the most doorbells. The one that just decided they were hitting the entire square mile they lived in. Nothing has changed about sales since you were a kid. The adult that rings the most doorbells still sells the most.
And since I know all adult reps almost certainly had fundraising sales training in their youth, and saw firsthand that the kid that hit the most houses sold the most, it begs the question why most insist on finesse over speed. I had a rep once tell me he spent all day researching a district’s goals and writing the perfect email to encapsulate how our product would be the absolute perfect fit for them. I am sure the email was a dandy. I never read it. I *gently* explained that the rep one state over contacted 50 prospects that day and while her emails were probably crap, all laws of Physics, Nature, and General Accounting tell me she’ll sell more with those 50 crap emails than he will with his single 8 hour manifesto.
Now, we obviously don’t want typo-ridden form letters going out in the name of volume. But the point I so delicately made was that over-thinking is just as ineffective. It stops you from knocking on “mean old Mr. Whitelaw’s” door when you could have tried it and found out he is happy to order 15 magazine subscriptions from you. It stops you from knocking on your mom’s best friend’s door because your big sister already hit them up for a donation to the Swim Team this month. It stops you from knocking on the door where the people don’t look home. You’ll try them at a better time, you think. You won’t.
What are you overthinking about your sales right now? Are you checking to see if a school already has a competitor’s product featured on their “helpful links for parents” landing page? Are you reading news stories to look for which district has grant funds and which does not? Are you skipping names on the district contact list because you’ve already called the RTI Coordinator and don’t want everyone comparing notes that you’re calling them all? Don’t decide for a prospect that they don’t want to buy your service.
This is my advice for you if you just can’t help but get in your own head when it comes to prospecting. Separate yourself from the task at hand by pretending you are your own sales manager and directing activity that should be done in your territory, and do it with the gusto of the person that isn’t going to have to do it. Then step back into your own body and complete the tasks because your alto ego manager has decided they need to get done. It’s oddly liberating. By applying these sales management techniques on yourself, you can make like the best Girl Scout in town:
- If you have a sales manager, you know where it all begins, a quota. Make yourself a prospecting quota for each day, block out time for it, and rigorously reward yourself for reaching your daily and weekly goal as scheduled. Sales managers also are good for reminding you to keep good records in your CRM.
- CONTRARY TO CONVENTIONAL REP WISDOM, it is faster to work with a constantly up to date CRM than it is to “save time” not entering your contacts, calls and activities. You playing the role of your own sales manager need to lecture yourself on the value of CRM’s and get the most out of yours.
- A hands-on sales manager might create a territory plan for you. Dirty little secret, they don’t spend that much time on them. They aren’t fretting over which district or county is the ideal place to start. They are just making sure everyone gets touched in each quarter. Be your own lazy territory planner and put less thought into which person to call first, and more thought into how to get to through them all.
- If you had a real micro-manager, they’d print you a list of people you are supposed to call the next day, and you’d just show up in the morning and knock that list out, in order, without playing “I don’t think it’s a good time to call that one.” As your own micro-manager, block out the last 30 minutes of your day to do Prospect Prep. If you do it when what you really want to do is go home, you’ll probably find you don’t hem and haw as much as you would with the whole day ahead of you to delay yourself from making calls. Create tasks to contact 50 prospects using your CRM (see #2). Each day when you finish Prospect Prep you’ll skip home and sleep well knowing your prospecting work is teed up to blow through tomorrow.
- Finally, like all great sales managers, track your progress and prove to yourself that the prospecting diligence is paying off. Note how many meetings you set per prospecting call, drop in or email. Note how many more sales you’ve made since you started the new system.
If you stay focused on volume and stop worrying about the minor courtesies, grandiose emails and who probably isn’t interested, you can get on with prospecting. You’re going to make up for your lighter touch on the pre-research when you engage in a sales meeting and ask all your deep open ended questions. That’s when you want to put your thinking cap back on. Until then, like any Girl Scout will tell you, volume is king.