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5 Effective Sales Techniques: In a Distracted World


Tom Sadtler marketing maven Marie Schwartz* and I co-led a discussion on "Effective Sales Techniques: In a Distracted World" at the MassTLC Unconference. It was a great discussion with roughly 25 people techniques they had learned from contact management systems to closing. Although, we didn't ask specifically, the suggestions that people gave indicated that all-most-all of the participants worked for small businesses.

Here's a summary and 5 summary techniques:

  • Segmentation and personas: Working with marketing to have clear narrowly defined segments and detailed personas for the decision process were seen as essential starting points. It’s hard to do target narrowly defined segments when you have a natural tendency to include as many potential customers as possible.

    Technique 1 – Brian Halligan, founder of HubSpot points out that world-class segmenters, such as create “segments of one**.” If the ultimate goal is a segment of one, it is best to start with narrowly defined segments and personas.

  • Contact Management: The contact management tools the group used ranged from Microsoft Excel spread sheets to Several people said that was too complex.

    Technique 2: Use a CRM that provides social media information from contacts and companies. A couple new CRMs Nimble and Nutshell were cited as having social media integrations that make it easy to find any social media communications from target companies and prospects.

  • Prospecting:  It is no surprise that the highest quality prospects come from referrals made by satisfied users. Other sources were prospects from website landing pages and paid databases such as JigSaw and DataCOM.

    Technique 3:  Many small businesses still scour the web and buy paid databases. This is not the best way to generate interested leads. This is Outbound Marketing – try Inbound approaches such as posting content on LinkedIn groups. By coupling this with landing pages, your website can capture names of people who, by their actions, show interest in your product or service.
    prospecting for leads

    A “hack” was suggested for when you know the name of a prospect and company, but not the email address.
    • Google *@domain_name of person you are trying to reach.  For example, if you were trying to find my email address, you could use “ * Sadtler .“ Having tried this recently, it works about half the time. In my case, this approach would give you my Twitter handle TMSadtler, but not my email address.

  • Qualification: The discussion about qualifying prospects was the most active of all the stages of the sales cycle.

    There was disagreement about the need to cold call, with the more experienced people stating that it is unavoidable. However, they qualified the need to cold call with what they referred to as “warm calling.” A warm call starts with upfront research, such as looking the person up in LinkeIn, Google, and/or, and using this information to understand typical problems they would be having. From here think through how your product or service could be of help in solving their problem.  This research enables you to start the call with a qualifying question to see if they have the potential to be a customer. Being able to do effective warm calling also requires having done excellent segmentation and persona development up front.

    In initial prospecting discussions, people emphasized that it was better to listen for and follow up on expressions of desire than on expressions of need.

    Technique 4: Find ways to warm up you suspects first. Work closely with marketing to define your personas and identify what their challenges are then email them something useful or post to the LinkedIn groups to which they belong.

  • Other means of qualification were:
    • Replies to an opt-in email
    • Follow the prospect on Twitter, and engage them with a relevant tweet.
  • Lead nurturing: Here are 3 suggestions.
    • HubSpot was mentioned as one excellent tools for lead nurturing.
    • Knowing where a lead is in their purchase decision is a key to successful lead nurturing
    • Scoring mechanisms are a good way to determine where a lead is in their buying process, what they have downloaded, or requested.

      Technique 5: Work out how to determine where in the buyer’s journey your prospect is – what are the triggers and giveaways that they have moved from one stage to another. Then focus your approach on how to help them move further along in their process.

  • Closing: Two main problems were identified in the closing stage
    • Lack of leads in the pipeline: The more people in the pipeline the more you can close.
    • Poor qualification was also seen as one of the most important reasons for not being able to close.
Start your selling process off right by using our Buyer Persona Template.


Here is an infographic by C Todd Lombardo of the Effective Techniques session.


* Marie Schwartz, President and Founder, TeenLife Media, LLC

** “Segments of One: Smarter Targeting for Your Customers


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