Break the Cold Freeze: Writing Relevant Emails

The past few months I’ve been trying everything to get email responses from prospects. In the past I always exceeded in being the ’email queen’ able to draft relevant emails and get meaningful connection through email…but things shifted starting earlier this year.

I’ve noticed it is harder and harder to penetrate the frozen fortress of client’s inboxes. The majority of outreach (call and emailing) goes unanswered – leaving me out in the cold. I have been stumped…but always a problem solver I’ve continue to work on figuring out ways to provide meaningful impact for potential clients.

In taking stock of a few of my recent emails – I realized as tailored as they were they lacked several critical points:

  • Why Now – our product may be relevant, but what is the urgency for booking time. There is not specific relevant urgency to encourage the prospect feel the urgency to explore value now, versus deferring to a future date.
  • Tailored, but not tailored enough…on average C-Suite professionals receive 100-200 emails per day. Simply crafting a well-written email is not enough to get a response, let alone a meeting. C-Suite execs expect that you already understand their business needs and speak to the PAIN before you reach out. Each email needs to be addressed to that unique individual and their role at the company.
  • Too long/Too Short: Shorter emails yield a higher conversion rate, as most of us live in the mobile era of quick reads on the go. We want the point and purpose instantly – without longwinded language and conversation. Some of my emails, though well-written were simply too long for an intro email.
    • On the flip side, you need to have purpose, point and why in the email. It may seem logical to lean into a simple email like ‘Hey can we connect about (your company) and technology next week?’ – that gets to the point but lacks purpose. Too much brevity will quickly be deleted and look unprofessional because you are not showing that you can provide value – and their time (like yours) is extremely valuable.

I fell into some bad habits – copy and paste and templates that you customize a bit when writing the email can serve a purpose, but in this hyper competitive space for getting prospects attention – the slightly tailored templates don’t work to yield meaningful results. This is especially true on New Logo/Greenfield motions where there is no pre-existing trust and value to urge the prospect to ‘open’ and ‘respond’ to the email.

Prospecting is HARD:

I started my career in sales cold calling for a local newspaper during college. I also cold-called alumni at my alma mater to earn money for our school’s scholarship fund…that build some good bones – as rejection and smile and dial with humor became essential.

Those experiences prepped me for my year in the ‘lead gen pit’ – a Hunger Games of sales and hustle demanded 130-150 calls a day – yielding 3-4 meetings booked. It built a toughness for rejection, but lets face it – no matter how much you prospect it feels awkward. It is the awkwardness of sales…like dating you ‘court’ your prospects and hope they will say yes to the meeting – then you build relationship.

It is important to remember, especially when things are feeling like mud and muck – that sales is hard and it is okay. You don’t need to beat yourself up. Often the scripts and emails you used successfully for months/years may similar need to be adjusted because people evolve and adapt. What doesn’t change – the fact that you have an opportunity to help businesses understand pain points and guide them to a solution. Your call could save a business – my previous role selling encrypted email and e-sig during the pandemic literally kept certain companies in business when they couldn’t do taxes/loans face to face.

Focus on WHY: No matter what professional or personal task – you need to act with purpose and that is driven by the ‘why.’

Why are you emailing this person? Your why may be ‘I need meetings and ACV’ – but that why is doesn’t matter to your client. They don’t care about your quota…they care about their business and how to solve pain and find value so their reach their goals. So the why has to be – what is the ‘why’ of my prospect.

I’ve been researching ‘the why’ for common roles (CEO, CFO, Sales Director) and figuring out a baseline of their drivers. I then recommend researching the unique individual on LinkedIn and their website to figure out what their goals are and put yourself in their shoes – do all this before drafting the email.

Winning Tips for Connection:

*Don’t stay stagnant, if something isn’t working then tweak it. Ask your manager and team for advice. Recognize one email might work for one CFO and not another. Try to learn and grow with each message.

While emailing may feel like a metric to reach – don’t simply log emails like a metric – it is an introduction to relationship. When you start thinking of outreach not as another touch – but a true focus on that unique business and person you will find success. People can see through ‘marketing’ blubber – they know their value and you need to show them you do as well.

  • Tailor the message to the unique recipient
    • Examples:Ask yourself – what is their role? What does their day to day entail? If you were in their shoes what would be your ‘why’ – what problems would be working to actively solve?
    • Research their industry and business – what are the major bottlenecks that are driving technology/economic shifts in that space (ex: manufacturing – supply chain issues and sales and service need to be unified)
    • Find some common ground…it never hurts to include a bit of rapport if you can. If you notice they are an alum of your university or both share a connection – use that as a genuine show of your human connection
  • Focus on WHY: Why are you emailing them as opposed to anyone else. Show how you can solve a relevant problem in a unique way that drives urgency without being pushy.
    • You recognize that they are having x issues (Ex: supply chain) and you have a platform to unify the supply chain inventory and speed to delivery. Speak to that unique value, which will drive natural urgency versus the pushy approach of ‘we help you make more money and we need to speak now, etc…’
  • Don’t use platitudes – buzzwords are only useful when backed up with How: Give them the Why, but don’t forget a glimpse of How. Example: We help improve supply chain management through data automation and a single view across teams, which provides on average 30% increase on time to value.
    • Focus on WHY and HOW you are relevant
  • Keep it short, easy to read and actionable
    • Write the way you speak (with proper grammar of course) – you don’t want to sound like a marketing email, but instead as a trusted expert and fellow HUMAN BEING who wants to connect.
    • Read out loud before sending to make sure it reads well.
  • Be appreciative: Show genuine gratitude – not over the top praise, but thoughtful thanks for their time, because you understand their grace in giving you time in response.
  • Your solution has more value than their time: You also are confident enough to recognize that their time is valuable – but you also give them nuggets of facts to show you investing time with you is going to yield ROI.
  • Offer a coffee or lunch – but only if it makes sense: don’

Other quick tips:

  • This is a marathon, not a sprint…on average post COVID it takes 16 touches to get a response from a contact. That seems pestering, but unfortunately we need to use gracious persistence.
    • What is gracious persistence – being polite in tapping and asking for time AND providing value adds on each touch (relevant webinar, info about state of business, etc…)
    • You are not called to be a ghost hunter – but when you know the value you can bring to a business – at least due the diligence to ensure you did everything you can to provide the insight and ask for the time…why – because you have a purpose in reaching out and can help their business.
  • Use LinkedIn – LinkedIn has become saturated with inmails, but it is still a good spot to learn about a client and to connect with them.

What are tips? Let’s start a discussion

About: Adele Lassiter has over fifteen years of Sales Experience from being a ‘creative costume consultant’ for a theatre shop in high school to owning her own talent agency, retail at Big Box before transitioning to tech sales. She developed her FOCUS on HOW method to simplify sales in the moment to guide success across the sales cycle.

She is the author of ‘Solitude Lake’ – a cozy romance written under her pen name – Adele Darcy. Available on Amazon

Add me on LinkedIn – love to connect!

Focus on HOW: Reset


Hello friends! If we were face to face, I’d treat you to a hot cup of coffee – what is your favorite roast this time of the year? I’m in love Maple Lattes with extra espresso.

I wanted to catch up and give you an update on what I’ve been up to and the exciting new chapter of Adele Lassiter Coaching and my Focus on How method.


In April I transitioned to an exciting role at Salesforce – the #1 CRM in the world! I was drawn to Salesforce because of their focus on putting clients first and creating a culture of innovation. Citrix was my undergrad in sales, but I chose Salesforce to be my masters and Ph.D path for becoming the best sales professional I can be.

And while my blog is separate from my work Salesforce and my opinions on the blog are my own, I’ve been in a ‘sales bootcamp’ during my first six months working for a company that puts clients first and focuses on value selling. I’ve learned a lot in the field the past few months, from cold calling to figuring out market research. Sales is never boring. It demands a kinetic energy – even the best performers cannot be static or rely on the status quo because at the end of the day the market is always adjusting. You need to be keenly aware of shifts and also being able to throw your pride out the window when your perfectly honed sales skills (ahem my cold calling) aren’t producing the same results they used to.

Sales demands focusing on how we can improve and grow constantly. Sales is truly a career for lifelong learners, driven by purpose and curiosity.

When I started Adele Lassiter Coaching – I wanted to create a forum for knowledge sharing – where I could provide insight from my successes and failures in the field. Every successful sales professional finds mastery in their craft, not by quick wins- but through fortitude, constant ingenuity, patience and the ability to listen and learn from others.

In taking on my new AE role, I realized: I needed to take time to FOCUS on How to scale my new job, as well as my side hustles and professional endeavors outside of work.

Focus on scalability and the epicenter of purpose is important, without losing sight of your goal.

I have have lot of hobbies and professional goals: I am a singer-songwriter, a novelist, an artist, a travel blogger and a sales coach and account executive…add in family and faith responsibilities – time management is KEY.

Prioritizing is a foundation of HOW to find success and avoid burnout. While I can build time to scale for my various goals simultaneously, I also realized that sometimes we need to set up a queue for goals bound with accountability.

I reviewed my personal and professional ‘why’ and what it would take drive my goals forward. Financial security is key and that comes from success at work. Professional development is a core why that drives me –

While my passion for mentoring sales professionals runs deep, I realized that in order to find success at Salesforce I needed to focus on my new role and dive into the firehose of learning. I focused on my WHY in the moment – learning and growing professionally through immersion in my new sales role in a top tech company for innovation. I focused on giving my all to my clients and going above and beyond to provide the best experiences for their business success.

I’ve been tested…transitioning from being an expert at a former company to a new hire is HARD. It takes time and focus on both the immediate now with the perspective of the greater journey. I love that Salesforce uses the Trailhead motif – as a hiker I often equate sales to climbing a mountain. You need to focus on each bend and break on the rocky trail to keep your footing, but you power through because you know the end result is the mountaintop view.

Outside of Sales:

I released my first novel, ‘Solitude Lake,’ under my pen name Adele Darcy. Launching a book and promoting it takes a lot of energy. I have been digging into understand Amazon and SEO.

I’ve built my travel blog American Nomad with over 10,000 miles of adventure since December 2021. I continue to post travel posts bi-weekly including my new coffee blog: Destination Coffee

Adele Lassiter Creative – I started selling my contemporary impressionism paintings on Etsy in January. I’ve built a brand on facebook and Instagram (still a process) and continued to grow as an artist. I’m excited to announce that I recently had my first public art show in the RDU area.

I look forward to diving back into The Focus on How method in the coming weeks and re-launching my YouTube site. Exciting things are coming for the blog and I invite you into the journey.

Adele Lassiter Coaching – Let’s RESET:

I am excited to RESET my Focus on HOW blog series on Adele Lassiter Coaching

What’s brewing for ALC (Adele Lassiter Coaching)?

  • bi-weekly blogs
  • Virtual Coffee Sessions on LinkedIn Live (each session will feature a delicious coffee and great content from sales professionals)
  • interviews with sales experts
  • relaunching my YouTube channel (November)
  • quick ‘Focus on How’ power videos
  • bi-monthly podcast (by January 2023)

I look forward to taking this journey with you!

Lessons from the Field

Photo by Alfonso Escalante on

It has been over two months since my last post and that was not intentional…but I’m going to be vulnerable here.

This blog is about lessons from the field. Sales is not something you similar graduate from – even top sellers are consistently having to learn and grow and stay humble. Sales is a great career for life long learners because everyday there is a new problem/challenge that we rise to meet.

This constant pushing towards the summit (quota, deal closure, end of quarter) can also leave us burnt out if we are not careful.

In the past nine months I left a company I loved and really imagined being at forever to a new opportunity, that while a wonderful company was not a good fit for me.

I’ve been in my new role just over four months and it has been another firehose. I won’t lie it hasn’t been easy. Then again I never signed up for easy – my goal is to learn and grow every day and be the best team member and counselor sales person I can be.

I’m also a human and it’s okay to recognize that we need to be mindful of the ebbs and flows in our sales trajectory. Missing the mark or not ramping as fast as I wanted to is not a sentence of failure, rather it is an invitation to keep on learning.

I’ve also rediscovered the importance of balance. I love sales, but if I don’t take time to workout and enjoy hobbies outside of work – I’m not going to be 100% at my job. It’s okay to take a break. 24/7 doesn’t always equal success.

Work smarter, not harder.

What I’ve struggled with:

  • going into another role – the onboarding is always hard, but after just going through six months of ramping – being thrown into the fire again was a lot of pressure personally. Luckily I’ve been given adequate support and perspective as I continue to learn and grow in my new role
  • In previous roles I had moved from constantly prospecting (130 dials per day in my SDR days) to net new customers to working primarily with Inbound and Growth opportunities. While these were equally challenging. The grind of moving back into new logo prospecting has been humbling and hard. I know I have the skillset, but I also recognize that COVID and the macroeconomic factors surrounding us have changed the way we prospect. It takes longer to reach a contact and often a full day’s work has felt like beating a stone without a chisel.
    • In this ‘pounding the stone’ example I try to reflect on the old parable about a person who was asked by God to keep pushing a stone, but it would not move. At the end of thirty days – the person asks God why he had them keep pushing when the rock didn’t move. God answered, I didn’t want the rock to move – I wanted to strengthen you.
    • Resiliency from rejection comes quick in the line of fire.

The journey from challenges:

  • In sales it is important to clear your mind of yesterday’s failings before you start the morning. As a person of faith – I lean into prayer and thanksgiving (Even if I’m feeling frustrated). Mindset is the biggest obstacle we face in sales.
  • Patience and fortitude are essential…keep moving forward by reaching out potential clients, following up, and utilizing cadences. Just like a coach tweaks the game play when a player fouls out, it is necessary to constantly reflect and tweak your sales plays and game plan so you can effectively get the message about your product out and HOW it helps the client
  • It isn’t about you – it has to be able the customer. This means researching and being mindful of what each unique client and role type is concerned about is crucial to breaking into a meaningful conversation. Researching trends and leaning into colleagues here is helpful.

What has pulled me out of my comfort zone:

One of my favorite movies, The Music Man, features a traveling salesman with a bit of a shady pitch. He sells the product (instruments) but not the lessons…in the end he changes his ways and all is right and well in Iowa.

When we think of a salesperson traveling from client to client we have the stereotype of a vaccum cleaner salesperson going door to door (and for a laugh check out the I Love Lucy episode). While we cringe at this sort of sales motion for centuries it was the path to getting goods sold.

Interestingly enough, my company has asked us to go into the field to do drop offs. When I was first asked to do a drop off (going to a client’s business unannounced) – I felt ill to my stomach. It feels as if we are violating their privacy…

However, after a month of being constantly in the field traveling from Charlotte to Nashville and Wilmington – I am beginning to see the value of this unique approach.

It seems foreign to tech sales to leave the zoom call and go into the field to a new logo (without a pre-arranged meeting) – but it also shows a client how much you value them and want their business. I drove eleven hours to bring goodies, swag and the Salesforce value to clients in TN.

While some were not interested – it plants a seed and helps bring the human connection back to selling.

Do I think this is the only way to target new logos? No…but has been an interesting exercise and I continue to focus on figuring out creative ways to meet my clients where they are and empower them to reach their business goals.

I’ll be back blogging soon with more lessons from the field.

#focusonhow #neverstop

Building Trust

It is essential that sales professionals establish a culture of ‘Trust’ with clients. Trust is a core value at my current company because without trust we lost customer relationships and brand power in the marketplace.

A company can have the highest level of brand trust in the market but one slip up can taint that reputation – especially when the mistake is not corrected through corrective methods.

A lot of companies throw around ‘building trust’ as a sales methodology but they fall short in that building trust is a sales positioning versus a true foundational effort to build a dynamic relationship with the customer.

I use the word dynamic – because trust goes both ways and establishing trust in sales demands that the sales professional take time to listen – not just from the perspective of how I can manipulate the conversation to position and sell my product – but active listening and empathy to understand what are the real issues affecting the business and how can you provide a meaningful resolution.

You are still a sales person, but as a counselor salesperson your end goal isn’t peddling the transaction like a mall cart selling hand lotion- you are truly invested in understanding their business. You have worked to acquire knowledge of the industry and how your product truly helps solve problems and the risks and advantages of changing the status quo.

The first step to building trust in the sales process is simply to actively listen with EMPATHY. You seek to understand their current state (before scenario), bottlenecks and what is working and how a change impacts their organization (pros and cons). You are willing to step into their shoes to see things from their perspective (Ben Duffy approach – read more here) but also an outsider that has the perspective and clarity to provide insight that business owners cannot perceive at ground zero.

Always be thoughtful in your assessment and honesty. Obviously you have the expertise to see how your product(s) can transform their business, but at the beginning stages you are building a relationship and establishing their needs (perceived and identifying new unrealized pain points) and working together on a solution.

As a counselor salesperson you need to identify yourself as a partner and an expert – the client’s success is your success. You need to be transparent about where you see issues in their current set-up (especially when they like the status quo – but it is leaving them open to cyper attacks and added costs) and also not being afraid to admit when your product doesn’t fully align with their needs.

There are many ways you can build a foundation of trust in sales but I think it always starts with authenticity and a genuine desire to understand your client’s business and do whatever it takes to help them succeed. When you care about the client and are invested in them – they are open to trusting your positive and negative feedback.

People sense sincercity and when you are holding them accountable to improving their business (asking difficult questions with respect) – they will respond because you are establishing trust that you care.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ADMIT THAT YOU CANNOT SOLVE ALL THEIR PROBLEMS – I sold a file sharing solution for years and it was amazing, but sometimes we wouldn’t be able to make their workflow align exactly the way they envisioned. It’s easy to promise the world – but as sales professionals we also need to be transparent when something doesn’t fully align with their required capabilities. You can then explain alternatives and how your solution still brings value.

A lot of clients don’t trust sales professionals because they over promise and under deliver – be the one who can over deliver because you are transparent and open throughout the sales process. This is worth its weight in gold.

  • Building trust means setting the proper expectations: If a client has a technical question – make sure to find the correct answer. If you don’t know – promise you’ll research and provide the follow-up in a timely manner. Many sales are lost simply because sales professionals forget to respond to client questions and/or avoid them because they don’t take time to follow-up and get an answer. If you don’t know better to be honest and promise to research than skirt the question.
    • Be transparent about timelines
    • Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions – it is okay to ask for the business and to set that expectation, as long as it comes from a place of gracious transparency and proper expectations. This doesn’t mean you pressure the sale to move the needle, but you are also pointed to ask questions like: ‘do you have a budget in place,’ ‘so we can provide the best insight and get you on the best course towards your future state are you looking at other competitors?’ ‘What is your timeline’
  • Discovery Agreements help solidify trust because it holds you and the client accountable and aligns the sales cycle as a partnership

You establish credibility through your actions – listening, providing expertise, partnership…however some customers want more becuase they have been burned. You are a new start up or perhaps a legacy product and they are concerned about compliance standards (whatever the issue)

That’s okay – you can build trust by providing ‘social proofs’ and case studies that provide the ‘proof’ in writing based on past successes (and even failures) of how your company provides the best solution for their need.

Don’t bash the competition – some sales professionals will drag the opponent in the mud – but that is a flagrant foul if you ask me. Instead explain the key differentiators and how you provide better value based on their needs.

Ex: That service is a good company, but many clients who worked with them moved to our solution because we specialize in the financial services industry and provide the added compliance with ease of use you need. An example is xyx company I can provide the case study for you to review.

You clearly establish your edge without cutting the competition to size.

  • Building rapport is important, but rapport can easily be disguised as trust – trust goes deeper than rapport. Because you are not trying to please the customer’s whims – you are invested in making sure their business thrives.
    • I had a computer sales person tell me that the computer I was purchasing included the video software I needed. They wanted to make me happy – but they failed to realize that the hardware wouldn’t support the type of software I needed. I ended up returning the computer. The next rep was open and honest that while it was a great computer that software was not designed for the type of projects I needed and I would have to go to a specialty shop.
    • Don’t be afraid to hold your client accountable if you see their ideas for resolution don’t align to the good of their company business objectives. While some clients may walk away with honesty, you are doing your due diligence and most will respect your being willing to potentially take a pay cut to ensure they are on the right path for success (and sometimes it leads to higher ACV)

Be honest! Listen! Be a partner and build a relationship of genuine care for their business outcome.

Trust also ties into my Focus on How Methodology and particularly the ‘Closing the Loop – Implementation’ steps because customer first companies succeed by having a clear cut plan to success and implementation before the papers are even signed – be it onboarding, Customer Success, or simply a quick training.

Trust goes beyond simply persuading clients to sign the dotted line and helps widen the scope; the clients sign the dotted line because they trust the value and relationship you’ve built along with quality of product.

Organizational Trust:

As sales professionals we can impact trust with clients in a focused and meaningful way – but for companies to truly be successful a culture of organizational trust and accountability is essential.

  • companies must provide the services they promise and continue to improve and offer necessary support
  • Trust from the Security side is important – we live in an age of ransomware and hacking – a company must show it cares about its clients by investing in the proper security methods and take every step necessary to keep client data and trust secure
  • Relational Trust – ensuring team culture is built around employees working together for the good of the clients and providing the resources and actionable steps to ensure customer success.

How do you build trust? I’d love tips!

You are worth more than…Performance Anxiety

In this fast moving world we are constantly asked to exceed expectations and overacheive on past successes. Are failures – while important learning guideposts can invoke shame and anxiety.

Performance anxiety has for thousands of years, I’m sure – but it’s impact cuts deeper than ever under the microsopic of a hyper connected internet culture that often lacks true connection.

We want to be superstars for LinkedIn, Instagram and most importantly at school, work or extracurricular activities.

Success triggers euphoria – dopamine, but if we tie our worth solely to performance we will end up in a trench we can never dig out of. We will never be able to rest in our innate value and grow beyond the expectations.

I have performance anxiety and I’m transparent about it because – because when we name that ‘demon’ – that roadblock we can overcome it.

A big part of my why is my work ethic. I want to do a good job – I want to help my team and I don’t want to mess up because I fear that it would compromise my team/friends/family etc…

While nothing is wrong with the desire to perform at the highest level – when we tie everything to success and goal achievement without a pause to reflect and the perspective of depth – we will get burned out.

Look at Simone Biles and other high profile athletes and professionals who lived by performance until they realized they couldn’t continue to perform when they lost their identity in the KPI – the performance itself.

I’m not saying that metrics aren’t important – or it’s not good to have healthy competition – we need that drive to help propel us forward. However you also need a balanced diet of – learning, empathy, growth and rest. Tying everything to a if I don’t perform well scenario ends up turning the joy of performing and competition into a fear chase. You aren’t fully engaged in the outcome because of fulfillment – but rather fear.

A lot of sales organizations set up their employees for failure by focusing so heavily on arbritary metrics that the top performers fall short because they start trying to perform instead of just performing.

Managers need to have a balance of push, drive and a gap of trust. Trusting their employees with the grace that it is okay if they make a mistake as long as they learn and you trust them in that process.

You wonder why some of the best NCAA basketball teams – iron clad teams with top NBA bound talent end up failing in the NCAA tournament? There is parity – but often it comes down to performance anxiety – players over think the game and strategy to the point they become frozen. They execute the plays but they are not engaged in the moment.

I look at a team like St. Peter’s and what set them apart was the ability to execute on plan, but also not be so bound to the plan that they stopped having fun. They were loose and agile and able to adjust.

So how can we battle performance anxiety? This is a topic I’m still wrestling with but I’ll share a few helpful battle lessons.

  • Tune out the noise: This is easier said than done, but it is important to tune out the ‘negative voices’ in your head that whisper – “you are going to fail” or if “you don’t hit this metric, your family will suffer.’ – While there are real negative emotions and consequences from failure to perform – when we listen to this ‘noise’ we are giving in to lies instead of truths. We are becoming a slave to the negative ‘art of the possible’ versus the tangible and actionable options we have at our disposal
    • While we respect our superiors and team – don’t allow their questions about performance (the grilling your get in pipeline) to throw you off track. Listen to the advice and take action on it – but don’t allow the pressure to affect your course. Otherwise you’ll be giving up a goal when you didn’t have too.
  • Focus on what you can control.
    • What are the real obstacles in your path to success? How can you create a battle plan? What can you do to overcome those obstacles
      • What isues are beyond your control?
      • At the end of the day as a salesperson I can’t sign the PO for my client, but I can make sure I give my best throughout the sales process and ensuring no stone is unturned that is within my control. If I fail at closing a deal when I’ve done everything I can – it is is not failure.
  • Be gracious with yourself
    • Block off time for self-care to help prevent burnout so you will be able to perform at a high level when you are working
      • I used to work until midnight trying to close deals and overacheive at work. I was okay for a few years, but after awhile my gas ran out. I got stomach issues (SIBO), headaches and fatigue. I realized less is more. You need to rest properly so when you are working you are fully present and performing at your best.
      • I love how Simone Biles demonstrated this with dignity
  • Remember you value! You have intrinsic value – no one has ever been or ever will be like you. God has given you unique skills and capabilities and you were made for such a time as this. Don’t be afraid of what your are not, but remember who you are (a child of God and a person of value). Examine your weaknesses as an opportunity – an invitation to grow – not as something to be ashamed of.
  • Prayer
    • I am a person of faith and God is merciful. He really does want to listen to your troubles and wants to see you succeed. Inviting HIM into the stress will keep you grounded in Truth and HOPE. People often ask where I get my GRIT and it is from God – having that dialogue and knowing the peace and hope outside of work helps tremendously. He is not as concerned about your perfection as much as your transformation and growing in grace. Psalm 139

Thanks for following my blog and I hope this helps cool your anxiety so you can perform with impact and grace.

Unexpected Objections

You are nearing the end of the quarter and you are hedging your forecast and quota on one final deal. Even if it is a relatively small sale, closing this deal is critical for you and your team in order to hit that ‘magic number.’

You’ve done everything right:

  • Good discovery
  • Understanding the budget
  • Building value
  • Establishing next steps

You’ve sent the contract out for signature and are ready hit ‘closed won’ on Salesforce, when suddenly you get an email…

“We need to delay signing and moving forward at this time…”

And the objection comes.

We’ve all been there and it is excruciating – especially when you deep dove into their why and the buying process.

We have discussed preventing last minute objections during the sale cycle with trial close and SPIN/Focus on How objection handling – but some objections really are last minute developments.

Curveballs. Or that last minute game tying 3-pointer (March Madness fanatic here) that come out of the blue.

Examples I’ve faced:

  • company decided to merge with another company and rebrand. The negotiations were ongoing, but not public information. This stalls or even thwarts the deal.
  • New compliance regulations (internal or govermental) come up that delay the close with additional due diligence
  • The DM – who you thought you vetted heavily leaves the company and their replacement is not sold on the solution
  • Another DM emerges who was not revealed until the contract signing (procurement/billing)

When this happens you want to crawl in a closet – but don’t panic.

You can still get to YES – the key is to be agile and focus on the HOW within the current situation.

  • How has the path to PO changed with this new information?
  • What is the root of the objection(s) and how can you overcome those with solution, value and trust
    • If the budget is frozen – then find out if they have discretionary income that can be pulled from any ‘open funds’ (think spend that doesn’t have to be budgeted out – does your product need to be budgeted or is it underneath the threshold). Ex: You are able to make purchases under $5000 without approval – our solution is $5200 – if we lower it to $4800 can you move forward by set date
    • Concerns about contract language
      • Get specifics – what are they concerned about and why.
      • If you can address those issues with legal will they move forward. If not, this is not the true objection.

Don’t be afraid to hold your client accountable.. Be respectful of their timeline, but also remind them that you have validated their requirements (discovery agreement, etc…) and demonstrated the value the solution can provide with ROI.

Get their updated requirements for moving forward in writing so you can hold them accountable to the new contract state day.

Remember ‘NO’ in sales often means ‘not now’ and the key is understanding ‘Why not NOW’ and HOW can we move forward.

Some last minute objections aren’t true objections, but a negotiation tactic to push you to lower the price. Organizations understand the opportunity of price negotiation when the fiscal quarter is ending – they might want to use that bargaining chip last minute – even if they are prepared to pay the full price.

If price becomes the battle don’t simply offer a discount. Discounting has its place, but if you’ve properly built value – you need to meet any last minute price objections by reminding the client of the value and ROI. You want to use discovery to ensure that pricing really is the objection – or is it something else.

While we hear ‘no’ a lot in sales, in truth – most clients hate the conflict of telling a business ‘no’ and they might not want to reveal the real reason behind their no because they fear rejection too.

That is when ghosting happens…

You sent that contract and they promised to sign but disappear. That is the worst experience…

In this situation send a calendar invite to the client – proactively asking for a quick five minute call to help them with the contract. “When we last spoke you said that you wanted to move forward this month as your go live date is April 2nd – can we discuss final steps in this quick call.’

If they don’t respond, then you can also give them an ‘out’ – by asking for candor. “We want to win your business, but understand if things have changed. I appreciate your letting us know either way.” This can be called ‘closing the file’ or the ‘did I offend you’ email – this usually revives a deal that has gone radio silent for a while with ‘yes I’m still interested’ or ‘no we don’t have a need anymore because of xyz’ – at least you get an answer and can move on.

I’ll dig into this topic again.

Remember before you ‘closed/lost’ a deal – get to the heart behind the objection and overcome it with empathy, focus, trust and gracious assertiveness.

  • listen to their objections and provide actionable answers
  • show you are there to help and restate the value you have built during the sales cycle
  • Be genuine and show you have a stake in their business success – you want to help them, but need transparency on their end so you can help them to purchase the best solution for their problems/needs

What is Value?

Earlier this week a colleague posed the question -‘How do you define value beyond product buzzwords? I see so many organizations that claim to sell value – but all they do is product pitch while repeating the word ‘value.'”

What a great question to dig into. In order to be successful they need to build value – value leads to customer acquisition and retention. But simply using the word value to describe features is just product pitching 2.0. Clients see through this:

Example: The value here is that we have an Outlook Plugin

  • Why is that valuable? Value goes beyond the surface and quantifies their need and business outcome with how your product provides that ROI
  • Value selling is about connection and demonstrating an understanding of HOW your solution resolves their problem and provides a need/payoff
  • Example: The value is that the Outlook Plugin provides the encrypted and compliant email you need for healthcare records. This saves you three hours a week because without this solution you are having to upload that information to flash drives/CDs and take it to the post office. You will set a cost savings of $100 a week in shipping/material costs while also being able to repurpose that available time into billable hours.
  • Framework: The value is that our product can help you achieve _ and _ business outcome and net + ROI. This is quantifiable and tangible value – as a consultant you speak to that value specific to their needs but also as a consultant to who has expertise in their industry and has seen the positive value added at similar organizations (tell a story – use your experience)
  • Example: I worked with a large regional hospital last year that was in a similar situation to your current workflow -everything was paper based and they’d scan the data into their server then burn CDs to send to other practices. They would snail mail records. We were able to do a case study on their use of the Outlook Plugin and they were able to cut ten hours a week of paper processing via emailing records. They cut their shredding and paper/ink fees by 75%. The staff was able to use the additional ten hours per week to have more meaningful interactions with patients and also add 2 additional appointments per day – which not only benefited the patient but helped drive revenue to the hospital/practice
  • Value selling is demonstrating the true impact of how transitioning to a new system/set-up can improve a business. While you might feel like you are selling ‘the art of the possible’ – value selling provides a framework for the client on HOW they can turn the possible into a productive reality.

In theory once you have created value – showing ROI and impact that the client will sell themselves on the solution because the pain of doing nothing is far more expensive (time, effort, cost) than investing in your solution.

And while this does happen, even the best value sellers get objections – because as rational and scientific as you can break down value – at the end of the day people are emotional buyers. They have a pendulum of ‘rational’ and ’emotion’

So value selling also must also attach itself to the emotional value of the client needs and expectations – which is hard.

Emotional value needs to be established with The WHY (Focus on How) in the Discovery Stage – understanding the whole picture behind ‘Why’ change matters to them – what their motivations and concerns are will empower you to provide value to their unique emotional and business needs.

Value is established from the research you do in discovery. To truly sell value – you need to constantly listen to understand and provide expertise as an industry consultant who can empower the client to purchase the technology they need. Value selling demands recommending the best options and partnering in that conversation with the client. You are not trying to convince them in the sleazy sales way – but rather inform and advise from a place of understanding and expertise.

Value selling is not about PRICE negotiation – granted pricing and budget negotiation is part of even the best sales cycle – but you will never truly win a deal if you focus on the ‘Value of Price’

Value selling has nothing to do with the cost of a solution – the price tag? That seems counterintuitive, but it is an essential fact in technology sales.

When shopping at the mall (or online in this modern era) shoppers often gauge the price and how much they will use the item. However…ask yourself this – how many times have you gone into a store (let’s say Target) and you need new towels – but you see a new gadget. You rationally know you need to purchase towels, but your emotions kick in and suddenly you are thinking about want versus need. The value of want is at play. Buyers start arguing on ‘why’ they can purchase something that isn’t really what they need because the want exists.

Your clients will come in with the same mindset with technology sales – you need to establish their needs, budget and requirements – but also tie those qualifications to the ‘feeling’ aspect.

What do they need and what do they want and WHY? How does achieving those outcomes make them feel? That is an extra layer of value selling that can set you apart and truly meet the customer at the crossroads of ‘want and need’ to empower them to make the best business decision.

Ex: Their have a compliance requirement which you address, but the idea of spending money on that solution gives the owner a headache because the staff really wants a new and improved breakroom. Without compliance they could go under – but he wants to remodel the breakroom.

By displaying how the encrypted email can help with compliance, but also save time and reduce cost – you can then tie that value to using the ROI and savings to be applied to other business initiatives like the breakroom.

How do you sell value?

Personally my main goal in every interaction is to truly connect and understand my clients needs/wants and how we can build a bridge to a better future state. Value really starts in listening to understand in discovery, creative selling (thinking outside the box) and demonstrating that value with actionable steps.

Thanks for reading and look forward to hearing from you. Please share and connect with me on LinkedIn

Focus on How: Data Mindset and Customer Impact

You’ve investigated the WHY through deep discovery with your client focusing on:

  • Their why – what drives their business? What is the client’s personal and professional why? Why now? Why change? Understanding the layers of ‘why’ behind what motivates the client’s emotional and business perspective is key to navigating the sales cycle
  • Compelling Event
  • Required Capabilities
  • Budget
  • Decision making process
  • Timeline
  • Business Objectives
  • Competitors

You effectively built value in discovery by tying your client’s why to how your solution can align with their objectives. Quality discovery has led the client to continue on the sales journey – requesting a solution presentation and demo.

In this gap between Discovery (The Why) and demonstrating – the ‘How,’ sales professionals often get caught up in the adrenaline of a ‘hot deal’ and jump overboard before they have a strategic and relevant game plan on how they plan to present the ‘how’ in action.

We get caught up in the great rapport and thinking about all the ways ‘we can help’ – the relevant features and commission that in theory we have the PO laid out before we’ve presented anything. Every sales professional has fallen into this trap (myself included).

Often because we overestimate the value we built on the initial call.

Just because a client sees the value – doesn’t mean they are attached to it – that is a longer dance. Think of planting seeds – it takes time for the roots to take hold and assuming just because you planted the ‘value’ – doesn’t mean the value supersedes the status quo/competition.

I bring this up because – in many ways discovery is the most important part of the sales cycle – it helps you truly meet the customer where they are and understand their ‘why’

A hard lesson (and one I still need practice as I preach) is the need to pause (albeit briefly) between Discovery (The Why) and ‘The How’ – Solution Selling (Demo and value negotiation before contract is signed).

Pause. Sales professionals hate that – we want to move forward, but it is important to pause and plan – reflecting on what you learned in Discovery and breaking it down – not from your point of view (happy ears – ready for PO) but the POV of your client.

Step in their shoes – what is their WHY? How can you answer their WHY? What impact can your solution provide? What hesitations would you have about purchasing your product if you were in their position? What are the strengths (positive outcomes), weaknesses (how does your solution fall short – how can you proactively overcome that), opportunities (ability to positively transform their business) and threats (competition/status quo/lack of product understanding/don’t have the budget or right decision maker.)

Reflecting on the discovery having HAVING A DATA MINDSET empowers you to truly bring value in follow-up conversations. You can take what you heard (active listening) and apply that understanding to preparing a relevant and targeted solution presentation that speaks directly to the unique needs of your buyer.

Data Mindset empowers you to reflect and understand the impact of the Discovery/Why – to answer this critical question: How will the customer be different as a result of doing business with us?

The job of a salesperson isn’t to sell – selling is the result of our work – but our job is to build value and connect the customer needs with our solution. This is why the ‘Data Mindset’ step in Focus on HOW is so important in your sales cycle. You need to understand the problems, customer wants and needs and how you can effectively implement meaningful change – to the emotional and objective why.

I am not a data driven person – but being data driven doesn’t mean you are a statistician speaking like a robot – rather having a data mindset means you are willing to truly think about what was said objectively and empathetically and strategically use that information to build a path forward for your client.


  • Take time to relisten to the call and take additional notes
  • Think about the why behind each answer? Why is faxing a problem for the staff when they need to send medical records? Why is the inability to streamline documentation a problem for their business? What is the pain – how is this impacting the champion, DM and their customers
  • How do they make money – how can our ROI impact their bottom line
  • Listen for subtle cues and expressed pain
    • Why is that bottleneck or positive outcome important to them personally? What stake do they have in resolving this ‘Why’
  • What goals do they have and what is the why driving those unique goals?
  • Sync up with team members (Sales Engineer, FSM, Managers) before the solution presentation so you can prepare for the follow-up with intention.
  • Create your own ‘Why’ answering: Why is this important to the customer? Make your why be customer centric – value selling demands that you focus on the client need. Prioritize Intent: your ‘Why’ is simply I want to get commission – the deal will not go smoothly because your priorities are off kilter. Yes commission/quota is important and it will come – but when you focus on your personal goals over the client’s you will not effectively communicate value and end up losing the deal. Align your why with providing a solution that positively impacts the client and their unique goals.

Data Mindset in short: pause, reflect on discovery by listening to understand and formulate and action strategy on how to best communicate how we answer their why. How will the customer be more successful because of our solution and what impact do we bring?

Thanks for your support and look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Closing Conversations

The end goals of every sales person is closing a deal and empowering clients to solve their business problems. The art of the close is a balancing act. Closing is often associated with the final signed contract, it actually should be layered through the sales cycle.

Stop thinking of ‘closing’ as a one time event and see it instead the culmination of the deal cycle. Think of your sale cycle as building a house – each day you are building on top of the foundation. You follow a blueprint and at times adjust the plans based on new information within the process. During the building process you don’t second guess that at the end of construction the house will be completed.

I use this analogy because to succeed in the close you need to strategically focus on building the proper foundation to close. The steps involved in this vary depending on product and deal complexity. Regardless of how transactional the sales cycle is -value and preparation leads to successful closes.

Most sales professionals enjoy having conversations about product and building rapport with clients because it doesn’t feel pushy. However when it comes to asking for a client’s business and money it often feels awkward and forced, especially when we haven’t built the proper foundation to roll into a close and ask for the business.

When you focus on building value and how the direct positive business impacts you solution provides their business – the close isn’t so much asking for the sale as ‘advising with authority’ that you solution will exceed their needs. Building the proper foundation for a close through discovery and preemptive objection handling establishes you as a partner – who is not trying to sell as much as help the client decide on how to purchase technology.

While discovery and proactively providing value to the pain (overcoming objections before they even arise) – are critical, it is also important to be transparent and candid with clients about the end goal:

“We want to win your business and at the end of your research we want you to purchase our solution” – I paraphrase this, but the point is that you can still be a ‘counselor-style’ salesperson and be direct. It is the intention that matters here. Gracious transparency and genuine desire to ‘win their business’ as the best vendor to solve their unique business problems.

You don’t test drive a car without expecting the dealership to ask if you are ready to purchase it…the same goes with technology sales. The key is your approach, be genuinely interested and transparent.

Two closing methods that empower counselor sales professionals are the ‘Trial Close’ and ‘Service Close.’

Trial Close:

  • It is important to be direct in discovery to find out if the client is actually intending to purchase technology or are they just ‘window shopping.’ As simple as this sounds, sales professionals often forget to ask the client on the first call/IQM if they are planning to purchase a solution. This is not on purpose – usually the conversation has buying indicators like ‘we are looking for a new CRM’ or ‘we don’t like out old technology’ – so you dig into the pain and establish all the other key factors like decision-maker and needs – but don’t ask for budget and timeline.
  • A trial close simply asks:
    • Are you looking to purchase technology
    • If we can validate that our solution meets all your required capabilities are you ready to move forward today
      • This works well in more transactional sales, but can be edited for a longer and more strategic sales cycle:
      • ex:If we meet your required capabilities would you be able to take this to the purchasing team…
  • Using a trial close towards the beginning of the initial qualifying meeting/discovery ensures you and the client are on the same page.
    • Ex: Yes, I need something right away and am seriously looking to purchase
    • Ex: Not today, but I do expect to make a decision in the next few weeks after speaking with my team and looking at other vendors
    • Ex: No, I don’t have the budget now, but we are looking a potential software for next year
    • You get the idea – asking a Trial Close helps you gauge how to best work your client and anticipate timeline and objections

The Trial Close should be part of the initial discovery and is easy to blend into qualifying questions.

Information from the Trial Close can be incorporated into a Discovery Agreement (ex: client agrees that they will purchase after solution is evaluated if it meets the required capabilities. You can affirm this with the DA)

Service Close:

You have presented your solution, built value and discussed how you can solve their business objectives…you are ready to wrap up the deal and close it down…

But…before you rush into the final close (asking for the business and offering to send the PO), I recommend the ‘service close.’

A service close is a final check in to make sure all outstanding objections and questions have been addressed. The service close establishes trust by ensuring you are listening to client hesitation and confidence before going into the final closing strategy.

A service close validates that there are no issues preventing the customer from moving forward with the sale, based on the functionality alone.

“Based on the functionality alone – do you see any reason why you would not want to move forward with our solution?”

The service close is helpful because it enables the client a space to discuss concerns openly before you lean into the final closing stage. You can be a consultant here tackling each of their concerns step by step.

  • It also holds them accountable if they agree that there are no functionality concerns – so if they object to ‘features’ or lack of value in the final closing stages you can hold them accountable with the information gathered in the service close

Many clients (ourselves included when purchasing) often hide behind budget as our objection. While price is usually a factor, often it is not the root reason for ‘no’ – unless we’re talking about your buying a 36 million dollar Chateau on your own island – typically the budget objection is not the real objection.

By using a service close to eliminate any potential objections to functionality – you are more equipped to handle the budget objections and also ensure you can address any fears of moving forward based on functionality.

Final Tip:

ABC – Always be Closing is a popular expression – and I agree with it in the context of always working towards the close as a consultant and partner in solution selling. Don’t use ABC to constantly pressure and force closes on a client who has genuine concerns. If the client isn’t ready to purchase ABC becomes always be curious and graciously dig into the reason(s) why.

The Trial Close gages the seriousness of the buyer and budget

The Service Close validates functionality outside of budget

Both help you and the client reach the end goal of closing the loop on the business problem with a resolution (your product/solution)

Prospect with Purpose

As I dive into prospecting and rebuilding pipeline to prepare for Q2 – I have been strategizing the best way to connect with clients.

Prospecting in sales is a term for contacting clients (current or new leads) to introduce them to your solution – qualify if your solution is a potential fit for the client and schedule an Initial Qualifying Meeting and Discovery Call. The term prospecting can sound odd to those outside of sales – we as individuals don’t like to be cold called. It feels awkward. Yet cold and warm outreach is still necessary to grow your client base and bring brand awareness to customers.

Even household technology companies focus on some ‘prospecting.’

The word prospecting comes from the Gold Rush era, when gold prospectors would find gold by visually scanning creed beds and rock formations. When flecks of gold were spotted, the prospectors would spend time sifting through the rocks and dirt to find the valuable nuggets and flecks.

When I lived in Montana I would often visit the ghost towns of Virginia and Nevada Cities. I bring this up because learning about the difficulties of prospecting for gold and the effort to net profit was excruciating. Those were were successful were lucky, diligent and worked to streamline work. Even then it wasn’t a sure bed.

Like gold prospectors in the 1800s – sales professionals often feel like they are in the wild west when it comes to targeting clients.

In 2022 we have tons of resources to connect with potential clients (ZoomInfo, Sales Navigator, Sales Loft/Outreach…) but it is still tedious work that can drain even the most hungry prospector. Prospecting can be exciting and fun – but it is important to realize it is tedious. You have to sift through a lot of dirt to get to the gold.

If you keep this in mind and plan to prospect with purpose you are not digging through dirt with no gold. You don’t get burnt out from prospecting because you are doing it in a meaningful and strategic way that will bring value to the clients (cold outreach or current clients you are wanting to connect with).

When I started as an SDR before becoming an Account Executive – the goal was quantity over quality and more is more. We would be in the ‘lead gen pit’ and smile and dial to 130 to 150 calls per day. My manager was great and made it a fun environment. I still remember singing ‘Hello’ to a prospect to get them to listen to our pitch and book a meeting. And although that volume led to demos/meetings it wasn’t really sustainable or fruitful long term.

We were throwing darts at the wind and hoping one would stick. Someone could be very good at prospecting but their ADS (Average Deal Size) would be low – because they’d didn’t qualify the prospect to see if we would be a fit. Our ‘closers’ and AEs would get frustrated when meetings were booked with no compelling reason. The goal of booking meetings was achieved but the end result – the greater business objective of selling would fall apart if the meeting was ‘slammed in’.

And for the record – I did qualify my prospect after singing ‘Hello’ but I was all in for getting my meetings booked and if ‘Hello’ got me there so be it 🙂 #saleshumor

What I challenge you to do is prospect with purposed. Don’t email and call every single contact on Zoominfo and LinkedIn without researching first:

  • What is their role
  • What value can our solution bring
  • What is the ‘why’ behind this call. If the ‘why’ is just booking a meeting to hit your numbers the client will see right through that and you will fail.
  • Genuinely be interested to learn about the prospect and think about the value you can bring.

We will continue to dive into best prospecting tactics – and in all honesty there is no guaranteed way that works. I think a lot of it goes down to intent and strategy. How do you approach prospects? Are you being authentic and genuine – or are you simply trying to check off a box?

Several tips that have helped me:

  • Take time for account prioritization
    • This can be by industry, use case, market share, etc…but take time to prioritize your accounts by Tier 1, 2 and 3.
    • What are your top 15 accounts? Why? What value do you bring? How can you improve their ROI? How do they make money?
      • Be strategic here and take time to thoughtfully research each prospects role. Put yourselves in their shoes and what questions they would ask you if they were researching your company? How can they benefit from your solution? What competitive advantage do you bring.
  • With Tier 2 and 3 also look at relevancy and take time to plan, but you might have a different cadence cycle here
  • Block off time for prospecting
    • I try to block off an hour a day for emailing/calls
    • You can set up one day a week or a month for a ‘call blitz’ – but this also needs to be strategic where you are going after 10 to 20 accounts with thoughtful and purposeful outreach
  • Write short and compelling emails: Emails don’t need to be a novel – but they need to be genuine and from you. Pre-written cadences are okay – but they feel robotic and your client will see through that. Customize your emails. Sometimes even making a quick connection about a common interest (from research on LinkedIn) or news about their company is a good starting point.
    • Don’t over pitch your product in the email. Give a one liner with impact and value and then ask for time to follow-up via a ‘quick’ phone call
    • promise to be respectful of their time and give them the purpose behind the call ‘We work with the banking industry to help with security and would love to learn more about your current set up and initiatives moving forward to see where our solution can help. Are you free on Tuesday?’
  • Be graciously persistent – don’t hound clients, but when you prospect with a purpose who also are powered by a ‘why’ for prospecting. It isn’t just hitting a number – you are helping their business and want to make sure they understand the benefits you can provide. In my previous role we helped prevent ransomware attacks. Every outreach I thought about how we could help prevent a ransomware attack and at least make them aware of the risks so they wouldn’t fall into the trap that several businesses who opted out of our software fell into (they passed on the solution and ended up getting hit with ransomware).
    • My why was not about me as much as the customer. That helped me stay positive while prospecting and bring a passion and purpose to the client that was genuine.

Less is more when you prospect with purpose

  • Even when I was a master SDR dialing 130 times a day I often was not the most productive in the number of meetings set. Some would book 11 meetings a day – and they were great reps – who had success, but what set me apart was I really focused on quality demos for my AEs which led to one of the biggest sales in my SMB teams history. I wanted to have built enough value behind the why for the call that the client was engaged and already thinking about the solution.
    • This is really important when you are an AE who has to balance prospecting, demos, IQMS and internal meetings.
    • You want to focus on time management and quality over quantity with your prospecting. It is okay to not target every single prospect right now.

It is hard to cold call but if you do it with a purpose and genuine desire to help the client (be curious) it is rewarding and you are making a huge impact.

Stay tuned this month for more tips on prospecting, counselor sales and more tips from the field.