Venture capital is often referred to as an apprenticeship business because so much important learning comes from day-to-day experiences. Yet, as an article published by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) explains, you can shortcut the learning process by learning from experts: “Your learning curve can be shorter—and your results better—if you learn from pros who’ve already mastered key … ... read more
How One of Affinity's Top AEs Closed $1 Million in 9 Months
It’s been just over a year since Affinity hired its first account executives (AEs). Both of our first AEs have had an incredible year, consistently surpassing aggressive sales targets.
One of our first AEs came from a more traditional sales background. He had grown accustomed to cold calling and impersonal mass blast emailing tactics. Affinity offered a new avenue of selling. It encouraged building real relationships with prospects and customers as opposed to merely chasing numbers. And he thrived, closing over $1MM in 9 months.
So, how did he find such tremendous success?
- Who should you target?
“Regardless of the nature of your business, you need to know who to target. This is very much a strategic business decision. Once I’ve established my ideal customer persona, I leverage Affinity’s Crunchbase integration to narrow down my search and determine which companies in my extended network fit my criteria. Using Affinity’s intelligence search capabilities, I'm able to perform hyper-targeted searches such as “SaaS-based Series A company, headquartered in San Francisco, focused on financial services.” I can then use Affinity’s lists to segregate target customers in lists based on certain criteria or prioritization levels.”
- How can you use relationship intelligence?
“Social proof is one of the most powerful psychological principles. Before engaging with a prospective customer, I use Affinity to unearth the connections I have in common with a target customer. I’m able to use the power of relationship intelligence to effectively make inroads into new customers. My initial outreach strategy is simple. My email subject line typically reads “Affinity’s working with Company A, Company B, and Company C”. Company A, B, and C are all companies that are mutually connected to me and my target customer (knowledge I've gleaned from Affinity). In the body of the email, I go one step further and include specific individuals at Company A, B, and C that we’re both connected to. This type of personalization creates an entirely different sales motion than that created by impersonal outreach techniques such as cold emailing.”
- Who in my network can introduce me?
“Cold outreach tactics are typically only effective when a prospect is using a broken system and/or is actively looking for a solution. After years in sales, I’ve learned that the single most effective way to stand out from the masses is to leverage referrals and warm introductions. I use Affinity to understand which of my family members, friends, investors, mentors, and customers can introduce me to target customers. Once I’ve used Affinity’s relationship strength monitor to determine which members of my network are most strongly connected to my targets, I ask for an introduction. I’ve learned from experience that it’s most effective to identify multiple sources of introductions. It’s much easier to accelerate the sales cycle when you’re not single-threaded within a company and you're connected to multiple influencers.”
- How can you extend your reach?
“For many sellers, their relationships with customers end when deals close and the customer signs on the dotted line. In many cases, the customer is rather haphazardly handed off to a customer success representative. I steer clear of this approach. After a deal is closed, I stay involved with the customer. I add value wherever I can, often making introductions, providing business advice, and assisting with product-related questions. I strive to go above the call of duty and act as an advisor to the business. Once I’ve forged a strong relationship, I’ll send an Alliance request using Affinity. By forging Alliances with customers, I’m able to tap into a huge new lucrative market of similar potential customers. I typically form about 20 Alliances each quarter, about 75% of which are with customers. Forming two Alliances can easily unlock a network of 400-500 people!”
- How can you ensure you don’t drop the ball?
“I send far too many emails each day to keep track of on a one-to-one basis. It’s an onerous process to set reminders to follow up. Thanks to Affinity, I’m able to streamline the process. Every three to four days, I use the missed emails feature in Affinity to determine which customers and other contacts I need to follow up with. In some cases, I haven’t responded to an email. In other cases, I’m awaiting a response. Either way, this crucial intel is bubbled up to the top of my inbox and I’m able to ensure that I don’t drop the ball on important relationships.
My five-step approach is simple. Yet it’s been transformative in terms of helping me reach my potential. Last quarter, the approach resulted in me closing upwards 2X my quota--all without a single cold call or email. I owe my success to Affinity. It’s immensely rewarding to use our own product to build relationships with customers and maximize my performance as a sales professional.”
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