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7 Habits Successful AEs Use to Make their Sales Pitch a 10/10 (Part 1)

habits of successful AEs
Sales Process

As the CEO of an On-Demand Inside Sales Coaching Company, I review literally hundreds of hours of recorded discovery and demo calls.

As you might guess, my team and I have picked up on the subtle and surprising patterns followed by successful inside sales reps.

And in this article, I’ve consolidated 7 habits that separate the best from the rest:

These are the things we consistently see high-performing Account Executives do on their discovery/demo calls. Starting today, you can do them too — and level-up your selling game.

1. The Best Sales Pitch

In just a minute, I’m going to walk you through some insider tips for making your best sales pitch. But first, let me tell you what not to do — and that’s to discount the power of live, face-to-face interaction.

If you went to visit a customer, would you sit in the room opposite them and talk through the wall?

Of course not! So why don’t sales professionals switch on their video camera more frequently during screen shares? Video helps build trust, credibility, and rapport.

And here’s the thing…

More often than not, when you use video, the prospect will turn on their video in return. This allows you to see the prospect, which helps you read their nonverbal cues.

There is a certain magic that happens when you look someone in the eye. And it simply can’t be achieved through audio alone.

2. Less PowerPoint, More Demo

Do you recall the last time you sat through a demo call with a ton of PowerPoint slides and thought, ”Oh man, this is exciting! Show me more slides please!”

Yes? OK, then you are probably an accountant or something and shouldn’t be reading this article anyway 🙂

Seriously though, use the power of the demo to capture the prospect’s attention — not a static, 5-word, 5-bullet-point slide.

RELATED: How to Give a Sales Presentation to Executives: 10 Essential Tips

The best sales pitch may have one or two slides at the beginning to “level-set” and hoist the proof points of your company. But I recommend leaving it at that and quickly moving on to the demo.

Imagine walking onto a car lot to buy a car and getting whisked away by the salesperson to watch a boring 25-minute PowerPoint before looking at the car — which is sitting just 20 feet away from him.

That wouldn’t happen, right? Why not? Because you would be thinking, “Just show me the damn car!”

So how do you think your prospect feels staring at a bunch of slides and being “talked at” for the first half of your demo?

Now, you may be thinking, “Dave, we are selling complex 6-figure enterprise solutions with 12-month sales cycles. How dare you compare that to buying a car!”

I hear you… but… sitting through a 25-minute PowerPoint for a complex enterprise solution before the actual demo is still sitting through a 25-minute PowerPoint. Just ensure that your slides are chosen very intentionally and are making the most of your prospect’s time.

Think on that a bit, and if you still think it’s necessary then fair enough! 🙂 At least use these tips to wow your prospect and keep them engaged.

3. Double Down on Discovery

So often, we see AE’s rely solely on brief notes from the SDR before they launch into their demo.

But beware…

The AE’s with the best close rates take an opportunity before the demo portion of the call to build on what was learned by the SDR. This allows the rest of the call to be more tailored to the prospect’s needs.

RELATED: Solving the SDR to AE Handoff: An Actionable Guide for Sales Development Leaders

My tip: Have your questions written down in checklist format in front of you — either on a notepad or electronically. Even the best sales professionals get thrown off of their game sometimes, so it pays to have your questions written and ready.

I know you have done this demo so many times that you can do it in your sleep. But don’t be the sales equivalent of that restaurant server that comes to the table with no pen/paper and takes the order for 10 people. We all know he is going to forget to exchange the fries for salad, and 3 steaks will show up medium-well instead of medium-rare.

You have one shot at getting a clear and complete understanding of their current situation, so make sure your questions are ready to go.

4. Make Meaningful Check-Ins

When presenting to a prospect remotely, it’s important to conduct frequent check-ins to create an engaging experience and to calibrate on a shared understanding.

But this shouldn’t just take the form of asking, ”Any questions on that?”

The sales professionals we see who have the best win-rates and quickest sales cycles take the time to pause several times throughout the demo and say something like,

”I’d just like to pause here for a minute and check in with you. What are your thoughts on this feature? How would this feature work for you, compared to your current solution? What kind of user feedback do you think you would receive on this?”

5. You’re an Expert: So Act Like One

We’ve all read The Challenger Sale (Mathew Dixon & Brent Adanson), right? It’s a must-read if you are serious about your career in sales.

This book suggests that one of the six differentiating traits of a top sales professional is their ability to “offer a unique perspective to the customer.”

I couldn’t agree more. Our data at Replayz validates it.

If you are selling to a Product Marketing Manager (PMM), for example, how many PMM’s do you talk to in the course of a month/quarter/year? Maybe over 100/year?

Well… spoiler alert… that PMM you are selling to likely doesn’t speak with 100 other PMM’s per year, and certainly not for 30–60 minutes each, learning about their individual pain points and challenges.

That means you’re the expert.

You “get” their challenges and can empathize with them. Just as important, you can explain from an “expert’s” standpoint how your solution has helped dozens of their colleagues in other companies solve the exact same challenges.

RELATED: Why Selling to Your Customers Stated Needs is Completely Wrong

Now they view you as a helper — not a pesky sales rep — who specializes in their area and can give them a unique perspective.

6. Tell More Customer Stories

People don’t remember what you said. What they do remember is how you made them feel. For that, stories win.

Stories touch emotions. Features and benefits don’t. Which is why the best AE’s we coach at Replayz consistently share 3–5 customer stories throughout a 50-minute Discovery/Demo.

Where do you get effective stories?

Invite a Customer Success Rep to your sales huddles once per week and ask them to share 3 new, short but compelling customer stories.

Or make a point of calling existing customers every month or so. In previous selling roles, I did that, and it gave me first-hand context and fantastic stories that helped create believers out of my prospects.

7. Wrap It Up Like A Pro

OK, so we all know that best practice for an AE is to never leave a call without getting the next call on the calendar with the prospect. That should be table stakes here — the price of admission.

But as all top AE’s know, a sales professional has no business leaving a demo without asking the prospect what their decision-making process looks like.

I cringe when I hear AE’s asking the customer, ”So, what makes sense as next steps?”

Intuitively, it sounds like the right question to ask. But it puts 100% control in the prospect’s court. The best sales pitch makes sure to calibrate with the prospect first by asking a number of questions like these:

  • “What does your decision-making process look like?”
  • “Where are you currently at in that process?”
  • “Who makes the final decision?”
  • “Who holds the budget for this?”
  • “Do any of those people above need to see this demo, or would it be helpful to you if I spoke with them?”
  • “How is our solution looking relative to the competition so far?

…and for bonus points: floating the old trial close!

You would be surprised how many times I see top AE’s actually get a Yes when they just ask. Granted, this is more relevant in a more transaction sales process.

After finding out all of this, I would propose next steps and ask the prospect what they think of them. This makes the next steps more of a collaborative process, as opposed to leaving it all up to your prospect.

Conclusion

Hopefully, the tips above were useful in upping your selling game! If any of those points feel uncomfortable to implement, I encourage you to push yourself out of your comfort zone and give them a try.

Happy Selling!

I would love to hear your thoughts on these 7 habits below, along with your other pro-tips!

#sales #accountexecutives

Dave Kennett

Dave is a seasoned SaaS and Software sales leader with over 25 years of progressive business development and sales leadership experience. His experience has centered around start-up, turn-around, and hyper-growth situations. He founded and leads a successful high-growth On-Demand Inside Sales Coaching company called Replayz.