givefirst sales quote
Sonciary Perez

Sonciary Perez

#givefirst for Sales: 3 Ways to Improve Processes & Sell More


In our #givefirst series, we’re showing how the philosophy of “giving before getting” in four different key roles—Sales, Marketing, Engineering, and Customer Success—can help your SaaS company better connect with customers and drive growth.

For Sales, the three crucial #givefirst steps are:

  1. Provide value.
  2. Listen.
  3. Help them reach their goals, not yours.


Let’s break down how these three steps can help you align with your prospects, build better sales teams,
and improve the sales process.

Why Give First in Sales?

We talked with Ian Adams, VP of Sales & Marketing at Yesware, who is noticing a shift in how Sales views its role in turning prospects into customers.

Ask Google “What is the purpose of a business?” and you’ll get lots of definitions. Most of them are about selling products, creating customers, and maximizing profits. And it makes sense: no sales, no business. That’s why, for a long time, business was all about bringing in customers at all costs, and getting them to purchase much as possible.

But now, Adams says, sales reps are more empathetic and customer growth is taking center stage. This attitude shift happened as customers became more empowered—but COVID has given the #givefirst philosophy a huge boost. We’re all looking for great customers who are going to stay with us—and #givefirst is the way it will happen.  

#givefirst gets prospects on your side

Customers now have more options than ever. Giving first will help set you apart from the competition.

Provide value.

Aggressive sales tactics make people feel uncomfortable—and this has driven much of the evolution to a no-touch sales process where consumers can go online and purchase even high-ticket items without having to interact with a salesperson, says Adams. 

“Tactics like these don’t work as much anymore because of the options people have today, unless buyers see added value in working with an individual salesperson, they’ll simply choose not to because they don’t have to,” he says. Sales reps need to offer customers a better experience, and better information, than what they can find online. The next two steps will show you how.

Listen.

If a prospect does reach out to you rather than going through the sales process solo, it’s because they have something they’re trying to accomplish that they can’t do on their own.

The #givefirst philosophy is to meet the prospect where they want to be instead of trying to force them onto a call where you recite a sales script. “Some people like to communicate via email…they simply do not want to get on the phone or on a Zoom meeting,” Adams says. “I’ve seen sales reps relentlessly ask them to get on a call even though they expressed that they don’t want that.”

Whatever communication channel the prospect chooses, be sure to listen and respond rather than trying to push them through a sales process. “People are skeptical of your intentions when you’re not listening to them or when you’re forcing a next step on them,” Adams says. “They think, ‘Maybe this individual’s motives are not aligned with mine, because they’re trying to get me to do something I don’t want to do.’ And this erodes trust.” 

ian adams quote

Help them reach their goals, not just yours.

Your goal is to make a sale to the right customer at the right time. The prospect’s goal is to find the best product for their needs. And sometimes, the two goals don’t align because your product is not a good fit.

In the #givefirst philosophy, your job is to:

  • Help prospective buyers clarify what they need.
  • Give them enough information to help them make a decision.
  • Tell them where they can find the product that fits their needs—even if it’s not yours.

For example, Adams recently spoke with a prospect who wanted to email a newsletter to a single group of 10,000 people. Yesware offers a lower volume, higher quality, higher personalization approach, so Adams shared advice on mailing to smaller segments to improve open and click rates. But the prospect insisted: he wanted to email the same message to 10,000 people.

Instead of racking his brain trying to figure out how Yesware could work for this application, Adams recommended that he take a look at different marketing automation software.

“We’ve had deals come back to us that way,” Adams says. “It’s because we explained the two different paths and said, ‘We understand the goal you’re trying to accomplish; you could accomplish that in these different ways. You decide.’”

#givefirst builds a better sales team

If you want to give to your prospective customers in a way that helps them make the best decisions, give to your sales team first.

Provide value.

Sales teams value success—and for that, they need training. “Some managers badger their team to go do more activity and get the results…but they don’t show them how to get there,” says Adams. Here’s how to do it.

  • Do a GAP analysis. Use surveys, self-assessments, focus groups, and individual interviews to compare your sales team’s current performance and skills to the level you want them to be at. This will help you figure out what kind of training to offer them.
  • Include soft skills and business skills. These can be incorporated in your training and development plans. They’ll give your sales team more opportunities to help the customer.
  • Offer hands-on mentoring. “Jump on a call with them to listen to how they’re interacting with a customer, or listen to the recordings, and think of how they might approach it better,” suggests Adams.

Throughout your sales team’s training and mentoring, be sure to offer constructive criticism. “Giving critical feedback to folks in an effective way is really valuable,” Adams says. “They can take that and use it to be more successful in their job.”

Listen.

Anyone can give a generic gift or a bland “great job!” note to members of their sales team. Here are ways to listen to them so you can give in a way that’s relevant and authentic. 

  • Know their interests. When Adams was a sales rep at another company, his manager gave him a coffee table book on surfing, which is an interest of his. “It seems small, but it showed that the manager was paying attention to us,” he says. 
  • Test them. Collect and analyze sales team feedback to figure out the best ways to train them and keep them engaged.
  • Give back. Know which causes your sales team supports, and get them involved in relevant charities. Double #givefirst!

There are so many ways to listen to your sales team—from one-on-one conversations to employee feedback tools—that it’s easy to gather all the intel you need to make this #givefirst step happen.

Help them reach their goals, not just yours.

While the goal of your SaaS company may be to sell more products, every member of your sales team has their own personal and professional goals. Know what those goals are, and help your staff members reach them. “Then they can grow their career, and they can take on new opportunities…whether it’s at your company or a different company,” says Adams.

Engaged, happy employees are better for your company. So by helping your sales team reach their goals, you’re also keeping the company strong.

ian adams quote 2

#givefirst improves the sales process

We talked about how the three #givefirst steps can help you align with prospects and build a better sales team. Now, formally incorporating those steps into your sales process can help you streamline the process for even better results.

Provide value.

How do you bake the concept of giving value right into your sales process? You may need to stop thinking of yourself as a sales team. “Even though we sell to salespeople, we really view ourselves as product consultants to our prospective buyers rather than salespeople,” says Adams.

Revising your sales process with this in mind can help your team put the #givefirst philosophy into play for every prospect.

Listen.

Earlier we talked about the importance of listening to your prospective buyers: using the communications channels they prefer and not pushing them through a sales funnel that doesn’t make sense for them. This should be more than a “nice to have” philosophy—it should be a formal part of your sales flow.

Consider: how can you incorporate listening into your process with social listening tools or rules and templates to encourage active listening?

Help them reach their goals, not just yours.

Adams was able to suggest a competing product because #givefirst is part of his company’s culture.

In other SaaS companies, sending someone to a competitor may be a fireable offense. So ensure your sales team that this is a valid and important part of your company’s sales process. That way, they’ll have the confidence to do what’s right for prospective buyers.

Creating a #givefirst Ecosystem

If you’re starting from the traditional “sales at all costs” philosophy, moving to #givefirst won’t be an overnight thing. Upending the culture of your company is not easy! But today, customers won’t talk to an aggressive sales rep if they can get what they want online. Shift your sales culture to give instead of get, and everyone will benefit.

Caring about your customers’ success is another way to give. If you’re ready to practice #givefirst with CS, schedule a time to chat with us. We’d love to share how Quala is powering today’s intelligent, top-performing, human-first customer success teams.


download givefirst ebook


Our Latest Blog Posts

Join the CS obsessed readers on our mailing list.