Obsessing over sales: lessons from Dan Tyre's Pipeline Generation Bootcamp

I can be a little obsessive. With no musical background, I picked up a guitar at age 14. Four years later, I started a music degree with people who'd been training for it since they were five. As a teacher, I found every bit of research I could and embedded it in my practice. As a founder at ESM, I've obsessed over taking the best approach to modern marketing and adapting it for educational suppliers.

When I find something I'm excited about, it's not long before I'm addicted to learning everything I can about it.

It's telling, therefore, that I never obsessed over sales. As a 21 year old credit card salesperson, I'm pretty sure I was the worst performing person in the company. In the first year at ESM, I avoided picking up the phone until prospects specifically asked for a call.

I didn't obsess over sales because I wasn't excited about it.

...until now. 

Dan Tyre's Pipeline Generation Bootcamp

Enter Dan Tyre. HubSpot's sixth employee. The man who invented the Inbound Sales methodology. One of the most talented and successful salespeople on the planet.

I found myself on a video call with Dan and, within moments, I was excited about sales. Yes, I was obsessed.

ESM's HubSpot Channel Account Manager, Brian Sexton, put me in touch with Dan. HubSpot was running a series of sales bootcamps for people looking to grow their agencies. That sounded like us, so I happily accepted the invitation and, after an interview with Dan, was delighted to be offered a place.

That first call told me everything I need to know about Dan. His enthusiasm and sense of humour are super-charged. His expectations are high and he knows exactly what he's taking about. He talks the talk, walks the walk and celebrates when others do the same.

I had a sneaking suspicion that Dan Tyre was obsessive about sales. That's my sort of coach.

Words matter

Spend time as a teacher and you'll quickly learn that words matter. Overuse 'please' and children will think instructions are optional - change it to 'thank you' and you're being polite but firm. Words matter.

It's no accident that the course was called 'Pipeline Generation Bootcamp'. It's not called 'Sales Bootcamp', it's not called 'Sales Calls Bootcamp'. It's about finding leads, helping them out and only offering your services if you can genuinely help them further. In other words, putting opportunities into your sales pipeline by proving your value from the start. 

Words matter when you're on the phone too. Thanks to Dan's coaching, we're not describing ourselves with grandiose overarching phrases like 'marketing agency', 'digital marketing services' or 'sales consultancy'. We're talking about the things that actually matter to educational suppliers:

  • lead generation
  • customer acquisition
  • client engagement

These phrases avoid the association people have with other agencies they've worked with in the past. From the very first conversation, people know that ESM focuses on outcomes - leads, customers and engagement.

Which words highlight that your organisation focuses on results? Which words demystify your processes? Which words talk about your impact rather than your work?

Connecting to help

It's all about the Connect Call. Whether an inbound lead, a referral or someone you've discovered online, the first call is the same. Be different in the first 15 seconds and be helpful in the first minute.

How can you be different? By not thinking about sales. This isn't cold calling. You're getting in touch with someone you're confident you can help. Build rapport, freely offer advice and support. No tricks. No expectation of a sale. Just a genuine offer of help.

Before making a call, we engage with everything we can learn about the organisation online. We review their website, individuals' LinkedIn profiles and run an initial audit of their lead generation strategy.

By the time we're on the call, we're able to help. On a few occasions, our 15-minute Connect Call has been more detailed than entire proposals they've received in the past. Why? Because we're offering genuine help.

And the result? It works.

What insights can online research reveal about your potential customers? Could a review of a school's website and Ofsted report identify problems that your product/service could solve?

Take the time to build a bank of 'quick wins' that you can offer during Connect Calls, and ensure that your sales team knows how to:

  • spot that a prospect would benefit from a specific quick win
  • communicate the work involved in the quick win
  • communicate the benefits of implementing it

This ensures that you're adding value to a school leader's day in the first moments of a call. You've then got a much better chance of engaging in a meaningful discussion.

Helping humans

You've probably heard of B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer). At ESM, we've always preferred S2S (supplier to school). Dan Tyre doesn't like any of these terms. He talks about H2H. Human to human.

No matter what sort of transaction you're engaged with, you're dealing with humans. Selling to a multinational corporation? Which humans are you talking to? Selling to a local business? Which human are you offering services to. Selling to schools? Teachers and school leaders are humans too!

People don't want to be sold to. They want solutions to their problems.

Do your research online, find the right person to talk to and offer your help. Fix a problem for them before sixty seconds have ticked by.

In that scenario, who wouldn't want to talk more?

Does a gatekeeper pick up the phone? School receptionists are some of the most valuable members of staff. Learn their name, memorise it (or put it in your CRM) and engage in conversation. They have far more influence on school leaders than you can imagine!

Everyone you speak to is a human. Humans have problems that need solving. Always be looking to help.

Building your pipeline

Even before I joined Dan Tyre's Pipeline Generation Bootcamp, ESM was getting ready to launch our sales enablement services. With Dan's insights and expertise, we've been able to craft our offering even more precisely.

If you would like to see how ESM can help you sell to more schools, then get in touch for a free Selling to Schools Assessment... I'll obsess over being as helpful as I can!

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