Proactive Sales Strategies

Proactive Sales Strategies

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Video Overview

Sales doesn’t have to be rocket science.

Some of the most effective things you can do are the simplest.

You can dramatically increase your results with short, quick, and simple proactive communications.

The phone is your friend.

Forget the fear of the ‘No’, and make more calls to get the ‘Yes’.

In this episode of the B2B Rebellion, Alex Goldfayn, WSJ Bestselling Author, shares some basic tips you can implement today, to start selling more proactively.

Alex will cover:

  • 2 simple questions to start conversations with your prospects
  • Why following up on quotes is critical
  • The 2 week challenge to increase your sales


Andy Culligan

Andy Culligan
CMO of Leadfeeder

Alex Goldfayn

Alex Goldfayn
Founder of The Revenue Growth Consultancy

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Interview Transcript

Andy: Hey guys, welcome back to another episode of the B2B Rebellion. Really happy to have somebody on today that's a New York Times best seller, actually. And we've been speaking a fair bit over the past week or so just around what makes him tick and how he thinks and his process towards how people should sell.

It's been super interesting, and I think you and I actually tick in a similar way, Alex. You like to keep things relatively simple and you also... We were just speaking before this around speaking in front of audiences and different things is also something I enjoy doing, it's something that gives Alex a lot of energy as well, as well as this focus on revenue.

So Alex is very focused on the revenue side of things, so as a marketer, that's always focused on the sales side and also the marketing side, and tying both of those teams together and focusing on the number one goal, which is revenue.

What Alex's process is, which he's gonna bring us through in a couple minutes, is really focused on joining those two groups together, I feel, both for marketing and sales. But I keep on saying your name without actually properly introducing you, Alex. Sorry.

Alex Goldfayn is who we have on today. He's a best-selling author. He's got a couple of books, some of which you can see in the background. He's got a another book coming out soon, which is called 5-Minute Selling. He runs a consultancy called The Revenue Growth Consultancy, and he works with a number of different clients from numerous industries there.

But basically, what he does is he teaches that structure in terms of how to sell and keeps it as simple as possible in order to keep people focused on that sale. It's a super simple structure, but it can pay massive dividends based on what Alex has told me. So Alex, welcome. Great to have you.

Alex Goldfayn: Thank you, Andy. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. Wall Street Journal Best Seller, not quite New York Times yet, but I'm trying to get there, Andy. I'm trying to get there.

Andy: Sorry. To me, that's just as good though, mate. That's just as good.

AG: Thank you.

Andy: So Alex, I've given you a bit of an intro there, mate, but I typically don't do people enough justice. You've got books behind your shoulders there, mate, tell us a little bit about yourself.

AG: Sure. I run a revenue growth consulting practice, as you said, I grow companies. My clients average 10%-20% sales growth annually on top of whatever they were on pace for. The book over this shoulder, Selling Boldly, is the most recent one before the new one. That's the one that became The Wall Street Journal Best Seller, that one's all about the mindset and the psychology of selling more because sales success, I believe, follows mindset. We can't outsell our mindset.

The new one, 5-Minute Selling, which comes out here at the end of August, this one is about the system, the actions that we need to put in to sell more. And most of the actions take seconds, they take moments. And the premise here is that if you can give five minutes of proactive outbound communication per day total, per day total, so not five minutes at a time, but a combined five minutes per day, you can add a lot to your sales.

I've worked with thousands and thousands of sales people over the years, I've seen people double their sales just by making one additional proactive phone call a day when nothing's wrong. Most of us reach out to customers when something's wrong. I'm saying call them when nothing's wrong and talk to them. Ask them how they're doing, ask them about their family, tell them about yours, and then say, "What are you working on these days that I might be able to help you with?" And if you do that, even one a day, you're gonna do 200 in a year.

And if it gets good to you, and you do two a day, you'll have 400 in a year, and how can your sales not grow? How can your business not grow? Now, that's just you. Now imagine if all your colleagues do it, too. Let's say you work with 10 people, that's 4000 proactive phone calls a day. How can the business not grow? It's impossible. You can't do that much proactive communication and not grow sales.

Andy: Man, I love your funneled approach in your brain there, by the way. I'm just seeing your brain working out, "If I have this amount at the top and they're making one call a day, then it boils down to this, and that means revenue, that means growth." It's super simple.

AG: I've gotten really good at doing fast math in my head. If you have this many people doing this many things, here's what it means.

Andy: Yeah, absolutely. But it's so funny, whenever I speak with people that are like-minded like yourself, I always find the things that you're saying, it's not rocket science, which is great, by the way, which is something which is really important to me because I think people that preach rocket science when it comes to marketing and sales are just doing it because they wanna make themselves feel important.

That's my typical view on things. And the challenge is trying to take something which can be complex and then translate it into something simple, which you've just done. But that premise of just making a meaningful phone call a day... You've worked with so many sales teams, are there really sales teams that aren't doing that?

AG: I would say that 90% of sales people in the world, 'cause I've seen them in all different industries and all different companies, 90% do not make proactive outbound phone calls. Now, they're very good at answering the phone. We excel at serving the customer, and we also excel at taking orders, and so we have our big customers who we're close with, and we're great with them, and we're busy with that, that keeps us really busy.

And so the 90% believe, number one, they don't have time. "I'm too busy. I'm too busy with what I have." And my answer is, "Five-minute selling, you don't need a lot of time. You're probably gonna leave a voicemail, which means you need 45 seconds. That's what you need."

Number two, we don't make calls almost always because of fear, almost always because we don't wanna be rejected, even though the profession is sales, the work is literally to be rejected so that we can get to the yeses. The noes get us to the yeses. If you don't have noes, you're not gonna get yeses, you're just not trying.

If you're not being rejected in sales, literally you're not trying. So the fear of rejection for us sales people... And I say the inclusive us because I have to sell for a living too. If I don't sell projects, I can't feed my family.

The fear for those 90%, the majority of those 90%, is actually greater than the need to feed our families. The fear is bigger than our need to pay the bills. And so we don't pick up the phone, we don't make the call, because on the phone, they can reject us into our ear-hole, into our brain, it's an intimate rejection. Versus if I sent the email, most people aren't gonna reply to say no.

So most people, when they say "No," they're just silent. We just avoid it. And to the salesperson, well, "I'm still alive. I can still get it. Did they get the email? I don't know. Did they open it? I don't know. Did it register in their heads? Did it go to junk? I don't know anything." As opposed to a phone call where I know everything. But the rejection is less intimate, less intense, less personal. And that's what takes us to email, to LinkedIn, to Facebook, and it's what takes us away from the phone.

Andy: So, your five-minute selling premise, a lot of it's to do with the phone, is it?

AG: It has to do with proactive outbound communication, which is the phone calls and who to call and what to say, but also then the things to communicate even when people call you, taking the incoming calls, which all of us spend our days doing, there's things that we can communicate.

And I'll give you two examples, and these will grow sales tremendously, dramatically, and they take like three seconds. So, the "did you know?" question: "Did you know we can also help you with X or Y or Z?" So, Andy, I don't wanna put you on the spot, give me a Leadfeeder or "did you know?" question, please. Give me a service that you offer.

Andy: Yeah. Did you know that we can also offer your marketing and sales team an account-based marketing and account-based sales?

AG: Great, so I was watching the clock. Five seconds that took you. So that was great. Can you give me another one, a different one?

Andy: Yeah. Did you know that you can recognise the companies from your total addressable market visiting your website using Leadfeeder.

AG: Excellent. Also five seconds. And so we know statistically that 20% of these "Did you know?" questions turn into business over time. 'Cause I've tracked hundreds of thousands of "Did you know?" questions over the years. We know statistically that if you asked five of those, you did the two in 10 seconds, if you ask five in 25 seconds, you would close one. Eventually. Maybe not at the moment, but over time, you would add one line item of new business. And if you asked 500 "Did you know?" questions at five seconds each, you would close 100 new line items of business.

And again, now let's say you're in a sales group of 10 and off we go. It gets really interesting in a hurry. The other quick three-second thing you can say to people, which is even easier than the "Did you know?" questions that you did, is the reverse "Did you know?" question, and both of those things are a chapter in the book. They don't need a chapter, they need like a paragraph, but they were making me write chapters 'cause I was writing a book.

So the reverse "Did you know?" question is: "What else do you need that we can help you with? What other lead generation services on your website are you looking for that I can help you with? We're talking on the phone now, what do you need to go to somebody else for? Let me help you with that. I wanna help you."

A reverse "Did you know?" question asks the customer to tell you what else they're interested in, and then you start to talk about it. And both of these techniques have literally generated hundreds of millions of dollars for my clients over the years of new money, and we know 'cause we track it, we connect the dollar figures to the three-second question.

So if you ask your "Did you know?" question about the first thing you asked me about, Andy, and I signed up with you, that's probably gonna be worth a significant amount of money to lead for you, that's a new client. And you think about your annual income off of that client... So we attach dollar figures to the three-second to five-second efforts.

So those are two things... So yes, we can call out, but there's also very effective things we can say, we can communicate, to people who are calling us. But once isn't enough, we have to do it in system, we have to do it consistently over time, all the time.

Andy: For sure. Just those two things alone are hugely valuable, those "Did you know?" questions. I've been taking notes here, by the way. You'd swear we weren't recording this and I'm taking notes. The "Did you know?" question's super, super interesting, and also the "And what else can we do to help you?"

AG: Yeah, the reverse one.

Andy: The "And what else?" thing is interesting to me, because that is also an internal coaching thing for management as well when you're trying to get more out of your employees. There's something called The Coaching Habit, which I read many years ago.

AG: Oh yeah, I have the book. Yeah.

Andy: Which is, "And what else?" is something that you should bring in when you're managing a team, 'cause you'll keep on getting more out of the person like, "Tell me about what you're working on."

AG: I like that.

Andy: "And what else? And what else?"

AG: Yeah, that's cool.

Andy: And keep on doing that as a leader to keep on asking, "And what else?" and they're gonna keep on thinking more and more and more. But it's the same premise. And, again, it's just so simple, that you're taking something as well that can be modeled internally, taking it externally as well, and getting more revenue out of it. It's fantastic.

AG: You know what this does, those two questions, "Did you know?" and the reverse "Did you know?", the "And what else?", it un-niches your relationship with your customers. If you think about it, the customers niche us, and so they can only buy from us this thing that they always buy, they're just always buying this. Even though they could buy a thousand other things from us, and we can help them in many different ways, they think of us for that thing.

And we salespeople also niche the customer, "This is what they buy. If they wanted something else, they would ask, they would bring it up." Well, no, they can't bring it up because they don't know. And then you might be thinking, "Well, I told them. What do you mean they don't know? I just told them two weeks ago." And then you probably heard this stupid thing, which all of us here all the time you probably heard, "Well, I didn't know you did that." Everybody hears that every day, anybody who sells.

Andy: Yeah.

AG: And you say, "Dude, I told you two weeks ago, the same thing, and I know it was you 'cause we were looking at each other just like we are now, and you had the exact same reaction two weeks ago."

And so the learning there, the takeaway is just because you tell somebody something doesn't mean they know. We remember, they don't remember. So it's impossible for them to ask for you to sell them some of your other services or products because they don't know what they are, even if you told them.

Andy: Sure, yeah, of course it makes sense. And again, I sound like a broken record here, but the beauty of these things are that they make sense. It shouldn't be something that's difficult for somebody to go do. And I think the two things you just mentioned there, those two specific questions, the "Did you know?" question and reverse, "Did you know?" question, it's something that you can go and do immediately.

You don't need to change any processes. You don't need to go get permission from your manager. You don't need to reinvent the wheel internally to go and do that. It's literally just pick up the phone to a prospect and ask them a couple of questions.

AG: Or answer the incoming call. Address whatever they're calling you for, and then say, "Hey, by the way, did you know that we can also help you with this or that?" Or, "By the way, what else are you looking to get quoted? 'Cause I'd love to help you with more. We do a lot more than that."

Andy: For sure.

AG: Another one that works just as well is a quote follow-up, proposal follow-up. I've had clients go... I work with a lot of distribution businesses, for example, and the average close rate there on quotes is like 20% across industries. The key is to track the quotes and then do three follow-ups per quote or proposal, three follow-ups. And if you have a list of what to follow up on, then you know what to follow-up on. Again, rocket science.

If I don't know what to follow-up on, I literally can't follow-up on it. I've had clients to go from 18% to 65% close rates. 18% close rate before the quote tracker, 65% close rate after the quote tracker. And this happens in a matter of a month. Their close rate shoots up like that just because somebody's tracking it and doing the follow-up company-wide.

Andy: That is insane. 18% to 65%.

AG: That's right. It was a chemical distributor that did that. I had another one, it was a plumbing supply distributor, so pipes, valves, HVAC, water heaters, air conditioners. They went from something like 20% before the quote tracker and then they started keeping track of every quote over $1000. Just recording it, follow-up one, follow-up two, follow-up three. That's it. They went to 81%. From 20% to 81% the next month just by implementing a system to the following up.

Because if we spend our days answering the phone all day, there's no time to follow up. I don't have a way to follow... And plus, what the hell do I follow up on? I don't have a list of quotes in front of me. And it's the same thing with proactive phone calls, we need a list of people to call.

I feel like most proactive calls don't get made because we don't know who to call. We don't have anything in our lives that tells us who to call. So you need to give it five to 10 minutes at the beginning of the week, write down who to call, then go do it.

Andy: Yeah.

AG: Everything I'm saying is in the book, by the way, even the quote tracker. There's a tracker that you can go to my website and print out and use it to track. The call tracker I just talked about, there's a download. You can go to my website, print it out, start planning who to call.

Andy: Perfect. Look, there's some super takeaways here for sales and marketers, especially sales people here. Alex, just before we finish up, where can people find you? And tell us when the book is coming out, mate.

AG: Good, so, the book comes out the last week of August from Wiley. And you can buy it anywhere that books are sold, so Amazon will have it along with anywhere else you might buy a book.

And my website where you can go get these downloads now is It's my last name. So it's G-O-L-D for Gold and then F-A-Y-N, F like Frank, A-Y-N like Nancy. So, and I imagine there might be a link somewhere around the video.

Andy: We're gonna put a link within the video, don't worry, and in the description, mate.

AG: Beautiful. Thank you. And so you'll see the book is bright yellow, so it's right on the home page and you can click on it and get your downloads. And frankly, you can start doing this without reading the book because it's not that hard. Again, it needs a paragraph of detail, not chapters. And that's it. And if you buy the book, I'd be grateful. There's a two-week challenge in the book, which is pretty cool. Can I talk about it for 20 seconds?

Andy: Yeah. Go for it. Go for it, please. Yeah.

AG: The challenge is like this. You've said several times, "It's so simple." Well, it has to be simple and the wins come quickly. So if you can ask five three-second "Did you know" questions in 15 seconds of work you'll get a line item.

So the two-week challenge is, give me five minutes a day for two weeks, which is five days a week, so that's 50 minutes total. 50 total minutes out of 80 hours, 80 working hours. And there's an assignment. Do five productive calls, five "Did you know?" questions, five other things. And it's in the book, exactly what I'm asking you to do, plan it, track it using the forms in the book.

And you will absolutely, after two weeks, see sales growing, see new opportunities and see open sales progress towards a close. You will absolutely see a lot of progress in your sales work and your sales results if you can give me five minutes a day for two weeks.

Andy: Man, again, broken record, but I love the simplicity of it. But as well, the fact that it's in your face, it's pushing you to do it. So I typically... My day turns out to be a disaster if I don't have a plan for the day. Every day... I'll even show you. Look, I have my daily check list here on my iPad, I write it down every day. And I cross stuff out as I go on. If I don't do that, I end up dipping in and out of different things and get really nothing done.

And this is exactly what you're offering. You're offering this, "Look, here's a plan for two weeks. Go do these things, cross out your call a day. And then by the end of it you've gotten a lot of mileage built up." And based on your conversion rates that you just mentioned before, about if you make enough of these calls, it's got a specific conversion rate that turns to meetings and turns to business, which is super interesting. I really like the process, mate. I really, really enjoyed it.

AG: Thank you. It's like when you start a diet or any new habit and they ask you to give it a week or two. Give me two weeks of five minutes and you will see tremendous sales progress. You'll see new money, but you'll see a lot of new opened opportunities also on sales progress. So thank you, Andy, very, very much. I really appreciate it.

Andy: Thank you. Look, Alex, we'll push the book as soon as it comes out, mate. All the very best for the launch, and I look forward to speaking with you soon.

AG: Thank you. I'm grateful to be able to talk with you and to your audience, so thank you so much. The support means a lot to me.

Andy: Thank you.

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