Hustling is a Humble Journey

June 13, 2022
Silvan Krähenbühl

Working as a salesperson in Switzerland showed me an uncomfortable reality: sales have bad rap. Contrary to what happens in the U.S, this career branch is still seen unfavorably. In my opinion, one of the most harmful effects of this state of mind is that salespeople won’t feel brave enough to share their stories, with all their victories as well as their setbacks. In consequence, those aspiring for this line of work won’t have many testimonies to rely on. 

Honestly, I’ve been there myself, and that’s what’s inspired me to tell you how things worked out for me. Back in the early days of Gymhopper, I wasn’t all that prepared for cold-calling. As a university student, I had never learned the proper technique to approach a client via cold call, so I didn’t really have a solid script in mind. This quickly became a problem, considering most of our target partners were independent gyms. At a certain point, after more than 50 (!) cold calls, no gym wanted to jump on our wagon…

Thankfully, we chose to fight back. With the precious help of a friend with vast experience in consulting, our project slowly gained structure. For instance, email templates were written, and we quickly learned how to work with a CRM system and Pipedrive. 

Gymhopper was acquired by myClubs in 2018. A few years down the road, my working environment has radically changed at Rentouch. Suddenly, we’re no longer cold-calling and inciting customers for a meet-up, but gathering multiple stakeholders and closing 4 to 6-figure deals. You may be wondering, what were the major changes in that growth process?

  • For starters, the decision-making process has grown much more complex. Extensive security verification and due diligence research make the process slower, but also provide structure and discipline.
  • Despite the more stratified procedures, our work is mostly remote. Roughly half of our client base is American, even if we have no base in the U.S.
  • Rentouch addresses a very specific niche that mostly operates through SAFe. This generates more inbound leads — more of a pull than a push movement.

A cautionary tale

The tips I bring you for smooth B2B sales are focused on caution. Fast revenue is amazing, but jumping in too fast without asking any questions hardly brings any positive outcomes. As with anything in life, enterprise sales also ask for balance: you don’t want to put all your cards on the table too soon nor kill the deal by lack of engagement.

So, once you do make contact, don’t throw it all away by immediately scheduling a demo. Firstly, you may want to consider taking a step back and assessing: what are the customer’s needs and demands? What are some core issues to tackle? What goals do they wish to accomplish? Are they feasible for the timeframe proposed? How skilled are they in your shared practice framework? Having a nice set of qualification questions helps you not lose your precious time with unfit leads.

As for safeguarding your customer pool, it’s also important to separate proper due diligence from pickiness. Those first moments of contact during pre-closing often establish how someone will behave once they become customers, especially if we’re talking of intrusive behavior. For security teams, taking extra time and asking questions is natural and necessary. But if the contact is pushing for special deals beyond what’s reasonable, it may be time to move forward.

Hi! Just reaching out to…

An email formula we all know by now. From what I’ve witnessed, some salespeople fail at following up for different reasons, from lack of discipline to a cultural fear of being bothersome.

My honest advice is that checking in in a friendly manner is important. For this, trying a secondary channel like LinkedIn is a good idea. Think of it this way: having a negative answer is better than being left in the unknown. If the reply does become a denial, I also recommend keeping in touch via newsletter. Mental presence is what we are looking for. Some clients may even ghost you initially, and then show up out of the blue a couple of months later saying they’re ready for a deal! In any case, if the circumstances become favorable one day, it’s good that they know who to call — you.

So, is sales your dream career?

Now that I’ve shown you a bit of my backstory, I’d like to share with you some important lessons I’ve received along the way:

  • Don’t underestimate what emotional connection can do. In those early calls, I soon realized I had a huge sales advantage right at the tip of my tongue: my accent! Choosing my native Swiss German over High German has definitely imprinted a trustworthy feel into my calls. Knowing a standard variety is critical in large settings, of course, but don’t let it overshadow your unique roots.

  • Hustle consistently. Consistency in your habits is vital, especially if you keep any kind of content-sharing platform like me. Think of it like you would with exercise: small, consistent efforts over time beat pretending like you’re Chuck Norris and passing out from exhaustion. We live in an age of immediacy in gratification which makes perseverance much harder, but do try your best to keep a mindset of serenity and patience.

  • Motivation is not a fallacy. Going in for the money is not a bad thing in itself. Surely no one wants a career that makes them dirt-poor, but fast profit shouldn’t be your top priority when choosing sales. This mindset might make you grow disappointed at any small inconvenience — and trust me, those do come whether you’re experienced or taking your first steps. However, if you’re passionate about the product’s vision, you’ll be much more engaged to find solutions that work for both parties. The money will come as a reward.

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