I think you need to know when to be “salesy”. You certainly don’t want to be early in the “sales process”. It’s all about relationship and trust building, and getting to know each other. Once a prospect is firmly in your sales process, you certainly can start asking budget, time-line, other influencer questions, just not at fist. It’s a delicate balance that I’m always having to review with my clients. It’s also important to get to know your prospects. Much of the “speed” of the sales process revolved around the prospect and their comfort level.
As a part of my series about how to be great at closing sales without seeming pushy, obnoxious, or salesy, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gregg Schwartz.
Gregg is the Vice President of Sales at Strategic Sales and Marketing, a lead generation company based in Connecticut. Through this role, Gregg has helped hundreds of clients with their sales, marketing and lead generation strategy.
Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the backstory about what brought you to this career path?
I was always good with numbers, and loved marketing. Developing lead generation strategies combines both my skillsets very nicely.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
The first boss I ever had, had an “open door” policy. Even though he was the partner with hundreds of staff under him, he made time for everyone, and even called us on our birthdays. I haven’t been there for 15 years, and I still get calls and emails from him. It’s all about personal relationships, especially during a time like we’re living now. We may not be physically back in offices for a while, but we can still build relationships and connect with our teams to motivate them. I take that nto account daily when I’m working with my team and clients.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We have couple of clients that are involved with Covid testing and strategies for safety which I think is very exciting. The more we streamline this testing process the better we can get this virus controlled, so in a way, having clients in the space makes me feel like we’re part of the race to end it. In addition, we have been helping companies navigate the changes in the work environment which has been rewarding. Seeing our clients succeed makes us find success in return. So it’s a win-win for everyone to help eachother right now.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes — the story I mentioned earlier about my first boss. Having that open-door policy and paying such attention to the team made a lasting impression on my work ethic to this day. I make sure that my team knows they can come to me for anything and I’m there for them. Building and fostering relationships helps build a strong business and I’m all for taking the extra time to make sure that happens.
For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit why you are an authority on the topic of sales?
I’ve been in the industry for many years, and have successfully helped hundreds of businesses with their sales, marketing and lead generation strategies.
Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the COVID-19 pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I think now more than ever it’s important to check in on family and friends as often as possible. It’s important to stay connected since we can’t physically gather. The more we can connect virtually, the less we will crave those in-person happy hours or birthday parties. We know that someday (hopefully soon) we can do all of that again. But for now, talking on the phone or doing video chats will get us through and hopefully calm our nerves.
Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know, nearly any business a person will enter, will involve some form of sales. At the same time, most people have never received any formal education about how to be effective at selling. Why do you think our education system teaches nearly every other arcane subject, but sales, one of the most useful and versatile topics, is totally ignored?
We ask that question all the time, and frankly, don’t know the answer. I would lump it with personal finance, and other very relevant topics, that our education system has not adapted to but are crucial aspects of our lives and careers.
This discussion, entitled, ‘How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesy’, is making an assumption that seeming salesy or pushy is something to be avoided. Do you agree with this assumption? Whether yes, or no, can you articulate why you feel the way you do?
I think you need to know when to be “salesy”. You certainly don’t want to be early in the “sales process”. It’s all about relationship and trust building, and getting to know eachother. Once a prospect is firmly in your sales process, you certainly can start asking budget, time-line, other influencer questions, just not at fist. It’s a delicate balance that I’m always having to review with my clients. It’s also important to get to know your prospects. Much of the “speed” of the sales process revolved around the prospect and their comfort level.
The seven stages of a sales cycle are usually broken down to versions of Prospecting, Preparation, Approach, Presentation, Handling objections, Closing, and Follow-up. Which stage do you feel that you are best at? What is your unique approach, your secret sauce to that particular skill? Can you explain or give a story?
For me it’s prospecting. There are so many ways to get this wrong so getting the art of it down is tough. It’s not something you can learn by reading a book. You need to watch others successful at it and just dive in and learn as you go. I’ve found that the best approach for success is knowing that balance between being too “salesy” or frankly not doing your job.
Lead generation, or prospecting, is one of the basic steps of the sales cycle. Obviously every industry will be different, but can you share some of the fundamental strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
It’s missing component is calling on the correct businesses. I would say most of the time, prospects will say that “anyone can be a client”. While that’s true, there are certainly verticals and company sizes that are a best fit. As an example, if you have a cybersecurity solution, it’s important to focus on companies that deal with a lot of confidential data. They are your best candidates.
In my experience, I think the final stages of Handling Objections, Closing, and Follow-up, are the most difficult parts for many people. Why do you think Handling Objections is so hard for people? What would you recommend for one to do, to be better at Handling Objections?
Be prepared! They are coming. Anticipate your most likely objections, and have a script ready to address them. It doesn’t need to be “read line by line”, but it’s really all about the preparation. And furthermore, 95% of your sales are from folks who originally gave objections. It’s rare that someone just goes along the entire sales process without a single objection, whether is be price, integration, etc.
Closing is of course the proverbial Holy Grail. Can you suggest 5 things one can do to successfully close a sale without being perceived as pushy? If you can, please share a story or example, ideally from your experience, for each.
Closing without being pushy takes some finesse. But yes there are some ways I’ve found through my years of experience that can lead to success.
- Be a good listener
- Take cues from the prospect and respond appropriately
- Demonstrate ROI
- Build trust so that prospects know that you have their interests in mind
- Ask for the close. If you don’t ask for it, it’s often not going to happen
When I first started my sales career, I was uncomfortable asking for the close. I didn’t want to be that “pushy” salesperson. I quickly realized that If I didn’t have that authentic conversation, the deals would stale, and often drag on longer than they should. Once I started doing that, my deals started closing quicker
Finally, what are your thoughts about Follow up? Many businesses get leads who might be interested but things never seem to close. What are some good tips for a business leader to successfully follow up and bring things to a conclusion, without appearing overly pushy or overeager?
Follow-up via phone. Email is not that best method because it’s too easy for prospects to “go dark”. They would rather not respond than tell you why they aren’t moving forward. Only by calling and speaking with them can you hear their objections and settle things down.
As you know there are so many modes of communication today. For example, In-person, phone calls, video calls, emails, and text messages. In your opinion, which of these communication methods should be avoided when attempting to close a sale or follow up? Which are the best ones? Can you explain or give a story?
In my opinion, avoid email and text. As I mentioned above, it gives prospects the chance to ignore your outreach and go dark. You need to have an actual conversation, whether that’s in-person, over the phone or especially now setting up a video call. That is how you overcome objections and find out what is really going with the prospect.
Ok, we are nearly done. Here is our final meaty question. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
We all want the same things in life……..a bright future for our family. We are all in this together.
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