- Steli’s outbound sales book
- Use Code awesomesauce for 50% off
- MicroConf Europe
[00:00] Rob: In this episode of “Startups For The Rest of Us” Mike and I discuss outbound sales for startups with special guest Stelli Efty. This is “Startups For The Rest Of Us” episode 202.
[00:16] Rob: Welcome to “Startups For The Rest of Us”, the podcast that helps developers, designer and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products. Whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it, I’m Rob –
[00:25] Mike: And I’m Mike.
[00:26] Rob: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. So what’s the word this week, Mike.
[00:31] Mike: Well, I totally forgot that I’m going to the “Business of Software” conference next week.
[00:35] Rob: And are you going downtown and staying in a hotel, or are you driving in from your house?
[00:39] Mike: I’m just going to stay at a hotel nearby, so that makes it easier.
[00:42] Rob: Any speakers, in particular, you are looking forward to seeing?
[00:45] Mike: You know, I haven’t even looked.
[00:46] Rob: I’m feeling a little bit the same way. In two weeks I fly to Thailand with my family, so my two sons and my wife and I jump on an airplane. We’re going to Thailand for four weeks and that’s culminating with Dan and Ian’s DC meetup in Bangkok, where I’m doing a talk. Then my family flies home and I go to Prague and meet you so we can pull off Microconf Europe at the end of October.
[01:12] Mike: Very cool. Hopefully, the political unrest won’t get to you.
[01:15] Rob: Indeed.
[01:17] Mike: Well, the other thing going on is that I’ve started doing some webinars. I signed up for a “Go To Meeting” account. I send out some emails today, some Tweets. At least do some testing around that area and see if using some webinars is going to help push AuditShark out there and kind of fill the sales funnel a little bit. That’s kind of what I’m working on right now, for the most part, is just making sure that I’m stuffing as many leads into that sales funnel as I possibly can, and making sure that I’m following up with everybody.
[01:41] Rob: Very cool. I’ve heard a lot of good things about webinars. It’s been on my list forever to do, and I just haven’t had the bandwidth to do it. From what I’ve heard, the results you get from them are exceptional. This is from people I know who are in the same space that we are. And there is just a lot of value there. And this is just based on my experience recording screencasts, without even the interactivity of a webinar. Those have really made a difference in my sales effort for “Drip”. So, I’m definitely interested to hear how it goes for you.
[02:07] Mike: Yeah, I’ll definitely keep you posted. My first one isn’t until next week, so it will be after the “Business of Software” conference. That’s how I even realized that the Business of Software conference was next week, because I went to schedule that and said, “Oh, shoot! I can’t do it Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.”
[02:19] Rob: Nice. We’re rounding out our Microconf Europe speaker list. We’ve landed Brennan Dunn, Ryan Delk from GumRoad – he’s been on the docket for a while, but I’m really excited about his talk. He has so much data from all the launches that Gumroad has seen and he’s bringing that into his talk. Then we just landed Jane Portman from “UI Breakfast”. Jane is a UX designer and developer from Russia. She came to MicroConf Vegas. She’s done some pretty amazing UI work. She worked with Joanna Weeb on their new “Disco” product. I don’t know it you’ve seen that UI, but it’s really impressive. I’m excited to hear from Jane. She’s going to be talking about design for founders, and how to minimize the effort of getting a good design out and not breaking the bank while you’re doing it. So, I’m excited about that. We still do have a few tickets left for Microconf Europe which is in a little over a month in Prague. And if you go to MicroconfEurope.com you can find out more details.
[03:13] So today Mike and I have the pleasure of having Steli Efty with us. Steli is the cofounder of Close.IO, which started as a sales-as-a-service company called “ElasticSales” and pivoted into the SaaS company that many of us have heard today called “Close.io”. Steli, welcome to the podcast.
[03:31] Steli: Hey Rob and Mike, it’s a pleasure and an honor.
[03:33] Rob: Awesome. So both Mike and I have read your book, “Ultimate Startup Guide to Outbound Sales : How to Turn Cold Leads Into Hot Customers”. We will include a link to that in our show notes, and folks can use promo code “awesomesauce” for half off of that book. So you’ve done a lot. I was telling you before we started recording that I hadn’t heard of you before a month or two ago when someone Tweeted us and said, “Hey, you should have Steli in our podcast.” So I put you in our list – I have a big list of people who want to come on the show – but right away, after I heard your name, suddenly you’re everywhere, I see a bunch of talks, you’ve written this book, you’ve done Close.io – which I started hearing about Close.io from people like Brennan Dunn.
[04:10] You are kind of building yourself a really good name – a good personal brand in this outbound sales world. I guess I want to kick it off by saying, ” Why outbound instead of inbound?” It feels like a lot of the world – in our web SaaS world – a lot of people are doing inbound – myself included. But you’re a proponent of outbound, and you’re obviously making it work. So talk to us a little bit about that.
[04:31] Steli: That’s an excellent questions, because I’m not really a pro-inbound or pro-outbound kind of guy. I’m not religious or rigid about this. I’m a “whatever works” kind of guy. We’re actually writing a 2nd volume of “Startup Sales” book, and it’s going to be about inbound sales. Because with elastic sales, primarily what we were doing for Startup, we basically didn’t work for over 200 venture-based startups – most of them, if not all of them were SaaS businesses. And the majority of our work there was outbound sales. So we just built a lot of knowledge, a lot of expertise, a lot of do’s and don’ts, and wanted to share that with the world. But with Close.io today we actually do zero outbound sales. It’s all inbound – our growth today. Not to say that we will never do outbound – we will. But up to this point we’ve been growing quite dramatically purely through inbound sales. So I like both.
[05:25] Every time I give an audience of founders the choice of what to talk about, I’m surprised that people always vote outbound sales as something. I think it’s because we all struggle with it. A lot of technical founders and engineers have kind of – the whole cold-calling and cold-emailing has a lot of stigma to it. I think it’s just a topic people struggle a lot more with than the inbound one, and that’s why we started focusing on teaching that first.
[05:52] Rob: You probably have an idea of our audience. You’ve said you’ve listened to the podcast. It’s a lot of single founders, web, mobile, WordPress plug-ins, a lot of software guys. There are some info product guys, but the specialty is software in terms of the audience. By nature, as a software developer myself, outbound is a little intimidating. How have you approached that? How have you helped bridge that gap for folks who say, “Boy, I don’t know that I’m cut out for it. I don’t know if I have the personality, or I don’t know if I can pull this off”?
[06:19] Steli: First of all, I think it is about de-mything the whole topic, and just killing a few bad idea or misconceptions which have been around for way too long. I do think that the first thing we have to kill is the idea of what a salesperson is, or what makes good salespeople and bad salespeople. I’m not a sales guy. This is not my thing. I can’t do sales. I think most people think sales is all about talking. Are you the type of person who loves to hear yourself talk? Are you super outgoing? Are you a super charismatic personality that loves the limelight and loves to be charming, and talk people into doing things they don’t want to do? Honestly, it sounds like a douchbag to me, and I don’t want to be that person, and I don’t think most people, most founders, most product people ultimately want to be like that. You don’t have to. Sales is really not about talking. Sales is a lot more about asking questions, and practically listening, and actually truly understanding who is the customer and what are their needs. Can I, with the solution I’m building, actually solve their problems in an effective manner? Once you truly understand somebody, ask the right questions, you listen really carefully – then selling is easy. All you have to do is, now that they’ve convinced you that your solution is the right one, you have to tell them why they convinced you of that.
[07:38] Typically, it’s easy to get them on board and actually close the deal. We’ve built our sales software by having engineers sitting next to sales people and actually watching over their shoulder what they are doing and saying, “Well this is stupid. Why do we have to do this all day long?” But also just listening in on conversations and things that are going on. I’ve discovered that engineers are pretty good at asking questions. They’re pretty good at not staying at the surface level of information, but going really deep. Not just taking the first answer at it’s surface, but saying, “Well, why do you want that? What are you trying to accomplish with this?” And actually really asking questions until they arrive at a good understanding. Once you recognize that it’s more about asking the good and right questions and truly understanding somebody and then telling them that you can help them. Then sales is not this big mythical, difficult thing. It’s just asking questions, trying to understand your customers, and then servicing them in a really good way.
[08:35] Now, having said that, there are things that are really hard about sales – especially if you want to do outbound as a single founder. The hard things are more psychologically hard – you don’t have to do anything that is truly, physically hard. It is all just mental. It’s all just emotional. The hard things are the showing up piece. When you do cold sales, what that means is you are proactively reaching out to people who didn’t ask about you or your solution, and you tell them, “Hey, I have something that might be of value to you and I need a few minutes of you time and a little of your attention so both of us can explore weather this will work or not. This is uncomfortable because there is a high chance of rejection. A lot of times people are going to tell you “No,” or they’re not even going to respond to you if you send them an email. People take that really personally, and I think that there are ways for all of us to learn to deal with rejection, embrace it, and understand that it is part of trying to build something of value.
[09:33] The second thing is going for the close. For the exact same reason, people a lot of the times have good conversations. They understand the potential customer prospect really well. They do believe their solution would be really great, and they talk about it a little bit, but they are just afraid to pull the trigger and ask, “Hey, would you buy this? Hey, do you want to be one of my first customers? Hey, can I have your credit card number?” They are just afraid of pulling the trigger. Again, for the same reason. We don’t like to be rejected. We don’t like to here “no”. We’re afraid of it and try to avoid it. When you do sales, you can’t avoid it. You have to embrace that. I think the emotional piece is really hard. I think that’s the reason why most of us don’t do as much as we could. Then there is this ideal myth, “Yeah, sales is this thing that I am not. You have to be a certain personality type to be great at sales.” I truly don’t believe that. Patio11 is a really good example of somebody many people might know of somebody who is not a salesperson – he doesn’t look or walk or talk like one – but he is pretty dangerous. He gets the basics of sales, and he can do that really effectively in his business and it’s propelled his consulting and all his other businesses forward. So I think everybody can learn the basics of sales, and then we all have to relearn to manage the rejection that comes with that.
[10:50] Mike: One of the things you talked about very early on there was the idea that it can be scary for people to go out there and start making those outbound calls. I listened to the podcast where you were on with Patrick McKenzie talking about outbound sales a little bit. I think one of the techniques you talked about is something that I definitely want to highlight to some of our listeners. One of the things that you had said was, “Don’t focus on all of the rejections.” Obviously, when you start focusing on all the negatives it can drag you down. It really wears on your mental abilities to continue. And what you had said was that although you maybe you’re only getting one sale out of a hundred, your metrics should not really be tied to that one sale. It should be tied to those one hundred calls. Could you talk a little bit more about that?
[11:33] Steli: You know, there’s many different little hacks. This is one of them — to try to reprogram myself on how I felt about the outcomes that I produced. Early on when I started doing sales with my first business, I realized, “Hey, I’ve arrived at a point where I’m able to create pretty predictable outcomes.” When I call 100 people, I get to talk to 20, and out of those 20 I get five new customers and another 5 tell me “Not now, but it was a good conversation” and 10 of them tell me no in one way or another. So once I realized that out of a hundred I’ll closed five deals, I made the math – how much money does that mean, and is it really that productive? – then I realized that, yeah, this is really productive and really profitable for me.
[12:17] What I realized also was that if I focus on those five closes, sales is not really – there’s highs and lows – not every single day are you going to create the exact same outcome. On the average you are, but not every single day. So what happened was, when I had good days maybe the first five calls I made I made five sales. That felt amazing, right? I was like, “This is amazing. This is awesome. I already accomplished my goal.” So what did I do? I stopped making calls, because I was like, “I accomplished my goal today.” But if I had continued I might have made another five sales during the day. Then the next day – the bad day – I would make my hundred calls and have zero sales, and I would be devastated and destroyed emotionally. And maybe even the next day it would have moved my mood to actually not want to make any calls, and kind of mess with my head. So I realized that when I focus on success, number one, it kind of influences how consistent I am in putting in the work. And I realized that every time I got failure, or I got rejection – which was a lot more than I got success it would make me feel really bad – like a failure, like I’m not accomplishing anything, I’m not worthy, my business is failing.
[13:25] So I tried to come up with a way to make myself feel good by creating failure, and one hack of doing that was to actually make the goal every day to get rejected 15 times. So, I would show up in my office and my goal was not to close five deals. My goal was to get 15 people to tell me no, that I can’t convince otherwise. Because I knew that if I could actually endure that, on average I’ll get my five closes. But I’m actually going to feel like I’m accomplishing things when I hear “no”, and I’m going to be able to check that off my list. I have a little list and I’ve put on there 15 “nos”, and I would know that once I had checked off all these 15 nos I’d got my job done for the day. It kind of made me feel good when I got rejected and reprogrammed the way that I was emotionally able to handle it, and it made me more productive at the end of the day. So yeah, that’s one way to hack your own brain and make yourself feel like you are accomplishing something when you are actually getting rejected, versus feeling like you are failing at what you are trying to accomplish.
[14:21] Mike: Yeah, I thought it was very insightful to see that you’re tying your success to the wrong metric in that case. You want to be able to say, “Check off the 99 boxes or 100 boxes a day and say I made a hundred calls.” versus “I made five sales.” The sales will come as a result of making those 100 calls, and you shouldn’t be tying your success metrics to the sales themselves – back it off a little bit.
[14:43] Steli: Absolutely
[14:44] Rob: It seems like a cold email as an outbound sales tools has become more and more popular. I’ve been hearing about it from folks. “Predictable Revenue”, the book from the Salesforce.com guys, talked a lot about cold email. There is also cold calling, and we know that there are two different levels of effort and two different markets where that works. But someone listening to this podcast right now is probably thinking, “Should I cold email? At what point is it worth it?” If I’m selling a $20 ebook obviously it’s not worth cold emailing. If I’m selling a $20/month SaaS app, I don’t know if it is. If it’s $200/month then it probably is. In your experience, what is the metric? Is it a customer lifetime value? Where is it that cold email is worth exploring for you or your company.
[15:52] Steli: There’s two distinct stages of a business, and depending on which stage you’re in the answer is different. In the very early days, when you are pre-product market fit, when you’re still trying to figure out your idea, and you’re still trying to figure out how to market your idea successfully or not. I actually believe that at that phase you want to go through all the available channels to actually interact with potential customers and learn from them. So in the very early days I would actually drive to customers, and actually show up at people’s offices or businesses or wherever, and try to interact with people in person, because that’s not really scalable. Even if you have a $20 ebook, you know that this is not the way we want to grow this business forever. But in the early days it’s more about learning, and if you can actually look somebody in the eye and get the context of the business and see how not just what they are telling you on the surface, but how they react, their body language and tonality, the other people they work with , their challenges at work, their environment. That can teach you so much that can go back into the way you write that ebook or develop that software. So in the early days I would try to be as close to the customer as possible and actually go and meet some and just show up at some businesses to get feedback. One level that scales a little further, but gives you a little less context, is cold calling. So after you’ve visited a bunch of businesses and learned a bunch of things, you might want to talk to a few more people and a few more business and scale it up a little bit. Then you start calling people, and there again you have not just the content, but also a little more context through tonality in what they are saying and how they are saying things. Then one level further that scales a bit better, but again is missing some more information, is actually emailing a lot of people. I would go visit a bunch of people, cold call a bunch of people and the email.
[17:09] Ramp up the volume. It’s different things you are going to learn through these different channels, different feedback you are going to get from individuals. With email you may more metrics : open rates, click-through rates, you can experiment more with the wording and copy. On the call you can interact, ask more follow up questions, keep people engaged. Then when you actually visit them you learn more about who they are, their challenges, and their natural habitat. In the early days I wouldn’t worry about what does scale or not, or what are channels that I’m going to be using forever for my business. I would focus more on how I can learn as much as humanely possible about my customer.
[17:44] And I do think that cold email plays a role there. You can cold email a lot of people. You can pick a lot of people on LinkedIn and just cold email them, or even Tweet them or whatever it is. Reach out to people as much as possible electronically and see what they tell you. You can use that to either schedule calls or in-person meetings, or just to ask them to fill out a survey or just reply and tell you what they think about something. So that’s that. That’s more of the exploration phase. When it comes to, ” I have a business that works, a product that’s launched, a customer base I understand, and now it’s about how can I scale? When does cold email then play a role? I think that cold email in a more established business that has some product market fit, usually works best for companies that are selling either to large organizations – if you are selling SaaS to an enterprise. Your goal is not necessarily using cold email to sell or convince somebody to buy, but to actually get connected with the right individual in the organization and then schedule a call or demo or something like that. There it is almost an inevitable tool to success.
[18:47] Everything that’s below the enterprise – everything that is maybe not an enterprise client, but still a customer lifetime value that is in the thousands and not the hundreds. It may or may not make sense, but it gets harder and harder. So cold email, to scale a business is usually a really good tool when you do large customers with high customer lifetime value. If you are in the middle market it may or may not work, you want to play around with it. And if you’re in the very small market – like if my customers bring in $20, $25, or even $100 customer lifetime value- it’s going to be probably not a sustainable channel to keep cold emailing people. Then again, you might not want to cold email people to buy your ebook. You might want to cold email people to get on their podcast, or get some press, or do a joint venture promotion deal, or something else. You might still use that channel for partnerships that are more multiplication factors. But you probably will not want to send individual cold emails to people who may or may not buy your $20 ebook. That probably will not make sense, and will not scale really.
[19:52] Rob: That makes sense. In terms of cold calling, would you say it is a similar kind of metric you use? Or is it less scalable?
[19:59] Steli: I would say cold calling actually works better sometimes in the “S and B” market than in the enterprise market, funny enough. It’s just so hard to cold call into Coca-Cola and route your way into the VP of Marketing department. That’s just never going to work. But you can easily cold call a restaurant and get the manager or the owner on the phone, or something like that. So in the “S & B” market I’ve seen a lot of companies succeed to various degrees with cold calls. But I still think if you are doing cold calling, you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands or millions of customer lifetime value. But it should be $2000, $3000, $4000. At a minimum it should be a few thousand dollars in customer lifetime value. It’s going to be really hard if it is just a few hundred to ever make the economics work. It’s going to be brutally hard. So, that’s the way I would think about it when it comes to when would cold calling be a sustainable channel for you to grow.
[20:58] Mike: What I’ve found in doing some cold calling is that even if a business is several hundred employees, depending on the type of business, you can still get pretty far up in the chain to the VP of Sales and the VP of Engineering and people like that very very quickly, because they’re the ones inbound calls are directed to. So if you email somebody and say, “Hey, how do I get in touch with so-and-so?” you’re going to be able to do that pretty easily because they’re willing to just say, “Hey, you’re supposed to go talk to my boss.” Because they don’t want to talk to you. Whoever that tech is – so they’re more than happy to turn you over to their boss.
[21:30] Steli: It really heavily depends on the industry. Sometimes you can actually just call somebody and they will pick up the phone. Sometimes it’s the type of business where the decision maker is either used to picking up the phone or it is so rare that somebody calls that they pick up the phone. All kinds of different combinations can work. Some people have figured out a way into the industry and vertical that they are selling into. They truly understand the gatekeepers. They have gotten to the point where they really understand that when the secretary picks up, how do I sell her on why this is valuable to her (or his) boss, and they really make that work. And many times in Fortune 500 setups the larger the organization the harder it is a lot of times for people to even know who would be the right person for this. Then you end up at calling trees and voicemails that people don’t listen to. So it really depends on your vertical.
[22:19] I would always test a few hundred calls, or maybe fifty calls today, to see if I can validate what I just heard in a podcast, or read in a book, or heard from some other person. I would always just go out and try it myself and see if the market you are selling to, if it is truly that vertical that market, mirrors what you’ve learned or heard from somebody else. So I’m telling people a lot of the times large organizations, you may not want to do cold calling. But then there are always exceptions to that rule so we always test it out.
[22:46] Mike: So one of the things you talk about is essentially having an “objection management document”. Can you talk a little about this and what its purpose is? I really think this will be helpful for some of the listeners.
[22:57] Steli: Oh yeah. I love that, because it’s such a simple thing to do but it can have a really profound impact on how you interact with people. So with most/all businesses, the objections that you will face, the things people will tell you as reasons why they are not yet sure if they want to buy your solution or your product, or why they’re against it. It’s not going to be a list of tens of thousands of very individual objections. It’s going to be a list of 10 to 20 objections you hear every single day. There’s going to be a top ten list of the main things you hear again and again and again. A simple thing that you can do that anybody can do is just sit down take 20 minutes and write down what are the core objections I hear again and again. “It’s too expensive.”, “We don’t have the time.”, “We already have a solution like this.”, “It doesn’t do HTML email.”, “It doesn’t have this feature or functionality we want.” Whatever it is for your business. You know best. Just write down, the top ten questions or ten objects that I hear a lot. Then once you have written down these 10 objections what you do is take another 10 or 15 minutes and write down an answer to each and every one of them. That answer doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to stress yourself out by thinking, “Oh, I need to write the perfect answer.” No, just write an answer. The only restriction or goal that you should have with that answer is that it should be short – two sentences or three sentences max. Answer to each or reaction to each objection you have. Write them down, and do it quick, don’t over-think things, but just write them down. Once you have that, you basically have a document that you can reuse and edit and have different versions with, that is going to help you increase your effectiveness when you deal with customers, when you are trying to close deals, when you’re interacting even with investors or the press or whoever. This “objection management doc” can work in any kind of setting where you have to interact other people and influence them.
[24:51] You have something that you can use to have clarity and be able to respond and react in a really professional and effective way with people. You can do all kinds of things with it. Once you have the first version, why don’t you send it to five of your friends, or five of your best people you admire or people who are really good at what they do and ask for feedback. Why don’t you send it to your five best customers and say, “Hey, here’s the objections I deal with everyday. Here is the way I would respond to them today. Do you think these are good answers? What do you think?”. You try to improve it over time. The core thing is to have simple, concise answers to the main objections. Because here’s the thing, too many times we as founders we know everything about our business and we don’t think we need to write down anything or create a script or anything like that. So what happens is that every single day when we interact with customers – or potential customers – we compute answers to their objects in real time, and that’s just stupid. The problem with that is that the quality of your answers and responses will heavily depend on your daily performance, mood, state of mind. Are you having a good day or bad day? On a bad day your answers will suck, and on a good day your answers may be brilliant but you are not going to be consistent.
[25:58] The other thing is that usually when we compute answers in real time we tend to speak for way too long, because we’re not editing. We’re thinking on the fly, and when you think and talk on the fly you usually talk for way too long. All that does is it wastes time, it’s inconsistent performance, and usually when people take way too long to answer an objection that a customer has, it doesn’t leave the customer with a high level of confidence that this is something that’s simple and easy and that they feel confident about it. The cool thing when you have a two sentence answer to any objection you face is that you can actually answer in a very concise way, with a high level of clarity. If you’re in an in-person meeting, even by keeping eye contact. It’s not just what you say – the way that you respond to that objection will make the other person feel like, “Oh my god, this guy or gal seems pretty confident and comfortable in responding to my big objection.
[26:50] Maybe I should also get comfortable with the idea of buying.” People like confident people. People like people who have clarity. It kind of suggests that you are smart, that you are an expert. People want to buy from businesses like that. So just by having the top ten objections written down. Write two sentence answers to them. Even if they’re not the best answers in the world, just by having that level of clarity so that you are able to answer these objections with a certain level or certitude will actually make a big difference.
[27:17] Rob: One of the questions that we get asked on the show fairly regularly is, “Should I outsource sales?” In your opinion, do you think a startup can outsource sales. I know there are different stages. There are different stages to the startup : before the product market fit, then after. In addition, there is just this cold prospecting that is used to set appointments. Then there is the actual sales effort. So what have you seen work and not work, in those scenarios in terms of startups trying to outsource them?
[27:47] Steli: That’s a question I get asked a lot, because I was running a very larger – probably the biggest SaaS outsourcing sales business that existed up to this point. So my answer is “Yes”, but only if it is about replicating results you have already, in a predictable way, delivered yourself. So what I mean by that is, a lot people want to outsource sales because they don’t know how to do it, or because they’re not seeing success with it. That’s kind of like saying, “I want to outsource engineering for my product. Can I outsource and find some developer or company in the world, or a bunch of freelancers to build me something?” Of course you can, but what is not a good idea is to say, “Well, I’m going to find this developer, and I’m going to tell him or her, “Hey I want to do this app. It should be a SaaS app, and it’s in the analytics space, but I don’t really know what it looks like, I don’t have any specs, I don’t have any ideas that seem to be good. So why don’t you just write me a SaaS app in the analytics space that’s awesome?”
[28:46] How good of an idea does that sound to the developer audience out there? No developer will think that’s a good idea. That will never work. So what you have to do when you want to outsource the development of your product is you have to have a very high level of clarity of what that should be. You have to have specs, and user stories, and you really need to know exactly what you want. When you can tell them exactly what you want, step-by-step, then an outsourced team might do a really good job for you. It’s the same thing with sales. If you want to outsource your entire sales process – or even just parts of it – it can work. But it only will work, and it only makes sense for you as a your business, to do that once you have actually mastered that part of the sale. Once you can in a repeatable and predictable fashion generate high quality leads and prospects, then you can go to a outsourcing firm and say, “Hey, here’s what we’re doing. Here’s how we’re doing it. Can you replicate these results at a lower cost or at a higher scale?” You have now the knowledge, you have control of your business. If at any point it does not work out with that outsourcing firm you can bring it back internally. You know how to do it. You don’t outsource the actual core knowledge of how to run your business. And you can tell that company exactly what to do and you know how to actually judge their performance.
[29:59] What’s never going to work, and what has never worked in my experience with my own business and our clients, as well as all the other outsource sales businesses I see, is when you say, “Hey, we struggle with sales – or this specific part of sales. Can you fix our problem? Can you find a solution to that?” That’s usually not what outsourcing sales firms are good at. They will tell you they can, but more often than not they can’t. It’s not a good idea. So, once you figure things out you can outsource, but not before.
[30:29] Rob: Very good. Well thanks so much for coming on the show today, Steli. We really appreciate it. We have another half a dozen questions at least, along with bullet points about how to cold email. You have your “Pitchology 101” framework. There’s a lot of stuff that we didn’t get to that is in your book : “Ultimate Startup Guide to Outbound Sales”. And as I said I said, if people want to check it out we will link it up in the show notes and they can use the code “awesome sauce” for 50% off.
[30:54] Steli: Awesome. Hey guys, it was a pleasure. And one other thing to people who are listening. As I said, I’m a huge fan of the show, and so I super-empathize with the audience. If anyone reads the book, or reads any of the blog posts or anything else that I write about and wants to connect, say hi , ask a follow-up question. Whatever it is, just send me an email. It’s email@example.com . I am more than happy to help anyone I can with anything that I know. So feel free to reach out and say hi.
[31:20] Rob: Perfect
[31:21] Steli: Thank you so much.
[31:22] Mike: Well, I think that wraps us up. If you have a question for us, you can call it in to our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690. Or you can email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org . Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Out of Control” by Moot, used under Creative Commons. You can subscribe to us in iTunes by searching for “startups” or by RSS at startupsfortherestofus.com where you’ll also find a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.
Loved this episode…. I’ve been procrastinating doing my cold calling because of inner deamons… I’m inspired to start calling today!! Thank you Rob, Mike and Steli
Yeah, I’m going to steal your brain-hack of making cold calls with the goal of getting rejected 15 times before being done for the day.
First off, long-time listener and big fan of the show.
However, as a fellow podcaster, I had to come and leave a comment 🙂
Steli absolutely CRUSHED it. The energy he brought to the table was amazing and the content was downright droolworthy.
He closed the show with an epic ending…and then…you dropped the curtain on him, unplugged his mic, and shut the lights off. Like the dude just hit a home run and his applause was kthxbye.
I know it’s not in your persona to get pumped up, but I had so much energy after listening to this episode. Keep rocking on and for the love of entertainment — throw a high-five from time to time 🙂
Thanks for your feedback, Matt. I guess for the ending we shouldn’t have cut the part where I squealed liked a 12-year old girl at a One Direction concert and Mike pledged to start a religion based on outbound email marketing. Maybe it’ll be in the director’s cut…
Listen 4 times a week. The personal side of the podcast resonates. You are real people! Crushed is an understatement-Stelly makes outbound sales calling attainable. Loved it!