Interview: Dan Englander On Becoming A Sales SamuraiClaude Harrington 02.04.2016
Back on October 2010, Dan Englander became IdeaRocket’s very first employee. Over the next three years, serving as our Senior Account Manager, he helped grow the business tremendously; bringing in business that ranged from startups to Fortune 500s.
Nowadays, he’s our Head of Business Development. But in addition to that, he’s also the founder of Sales Schema, a site that helps companies win by melding sales and digital marketing, and the author of two books. One of which is The B2B Sales Blueprint: A Hands-On Guide to Generating More Leads, Closing More Deals, and Working Less, which came out earlier this week.
So I sat down with him to talk more about his new book, how he got into sales and some of the pearls of wisdom he’s learned along the way…
Blake Harris: First off, congrats on the new book.
Dan Englander: Thanks! I’m really excited about the launch and so far the reception has been good.
Blake Harris: Later on, I want to talk a bit about the launch, and some of the sales strategies you’re using to help get the word out, but before we dive into that I’m curious to hear how the idea for the book came about.
Dan Englander: Oh, sure. I’ve been working in sales now for over five years but, for me, that was never necessarily the plan. I kind of fell into it and so, at first, there was a lot that I didn’t know. That’s why I wanted to write The B2B Sales Blueprint. In essence, it’s kind of everything I wanted to know from Day 1.
Blake Harris: Can you tell me a bit about how you “fell into” sales?
Dan Englander: Coming out of college I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. As I was trying to figure that out, I moved to New York and started waiting tables. I had a few media-related jobs, which led me to some agency work and then I saw a great opportunity with IdeaRocket, to help launch a young, high-quality animation studio.
Blake Harris: Although you had some related experiences, what was it like dive into the deep end at IdeaRocket?
Dan Englander: Well, at first, I just didn’t really know what I was dong. A prospect would contact me for more information, or I’d be lucky enough to land a call through an outbound method, and then I just kind of really struggled with moving things forward. Unless it was an absolutely perfect fit, I’d very rarely hear back from people.
Blake Harris: I’d imagine that’s rather frustrating…
Dan Englander: Definitely. But after I started seeing the negative effects, I really made an effort to turn my game around. So I did a lot of research, I did a lot of networking, and even I underwent some coaching. Eventually, things started to turn around.
Blake Harris: During that education period, what kinds of things did you learn? Either about yourself or sales in general?
Dan Englander: That’s a good question. You know, to be honest—and I think this is true of a lot of people—I initially had a somewhat negative connotation of “sales.” When I’d think about the stereotypical salesman, it was a fast-talking, naturally persuasive Svengali-type person. And that wasn’t me. But then I learned two things: One was that type of sales person just doesn’t really exist any more. Not with the Internet, social media and other platforms where ratings and grievances are logged.
Blake Harris: Yeah, that’s true. You can’t really run from your reputation any more.
Dan Englander: Exactly. And the other thing I learned was that the idea of the “natural born salesperson” is kind of a myth. And what’s kind of newer and what’s been established by great authors like Dan Pink is that we’re in an era of information parity between buyers and sellers. And buyers have, you know, equal access to information as sellers do. That’s really shifted the paradigm for sales people. Being a good salesperson today is about being a good listener. Learning as much as you can. And then, from that base of understanding, acting almost like a consultant.
Blake Harris: As someone who has now “consulted” with all sorts of different people—and taking into account the focus of your book: B2B—can you tell me a bit about the difference between B2B sales and more traditional selling?
Dan Englander: It’s not a complete world of difference. In fact, I think there’s probably more similarities between the two than there are differences. I actually recently wrote a blog post that touched on this topic and essentially what I talked about was how in B2B situations, the buying dynamic is very different. There are a lot more stakeholders involved. That makes for a longer-term sales process, usually. So it involves building comfort, clarifying processes/outcomes and, just in general, it’s a situation where more touchpoints pay off. Just being in touch and staying in touch with somebody through the long haul pays off.
Blake Harris: That’s a good thing to mention, about the importance and necessity of touchpoints. Without revealing too much of the book, what’s another piece of advice or helpful topic that you can tell readers about. Or, better yet, what’s your favorite part of the book?
Dan Englander: Let me think about that. Hmmm…I really like the chapter I did on just little things you can do to stay sharp and keep your acumen over time. Because those suggestions are just so applicable to almost any position and they’ve personally helped me out many times. Examples of that include things like standing up during sales calls; it just helps so much because you exude more confidence and you have more energy. It’s the same reason vocalists stand when they sing. That’s just one tiny thing, a quote-unquote “life hack” if you will. That chapter also talks about how sales people, over time run the risk of atrophying (just like muscles). I’ve noticed that, at times, in myself and I’ve definitely observed it in other sales people. Either being timid or lazy. So there’s a chapter about being conscious of that and taking steps to prevent it and just making yourself talk to people at least once a day. Or as frequently as possible based on your situation.
Blake Harris: Awesome. And just one final question for you: you’ve lived the lessons, you’ve written the book and now this week is the launch. Can you tell me just a bit about where your efforts have gone as far as getting it out there?
Dan Englander: There’s a whole song and dance to launching a book. There’s a lot of different ways to go about it. One of the new things I’m trying this time is Thunderclap, which is kind of like Kickstarter for social media. Basically, you create a pre-written social media message and you get a number of people to enroll in sharing it. If you hit your target, then on that day on that time, that message blasts out to all those people’s followers. The idea is to kind of create this magnified effect to get the word out. So I did that and I also have made an outreach to just get honest reviews from people.
Blake Harris: That all sounds great. Best of luck with the book, Dan!