Author Badr Berrada: “How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesey”

Do you know your business could be much bigger than it currently is, but aren’t sure how to get there? I can help!

Keeping your company remembered by customers is crucial when it’s time to reopen. Go paperless to reduce some of the most common recurring costs. Trim your products and services down and take off those things that aren’t selling, revamp your services and widen your margins. Ramp up your digital marketing game by creating event announcements before reopening your business. Increase social media use and reduce traditional marketing. Customers love coupons and discounts. Don’t take on unnecessary debt. Excess debt affects your company rating, interest rates and the ability to borrow in the future.

As a part of my series about how to be great at closing sales without seeming pushy, obnoxious, or salesy, I had the pleasure of interviewing Badr Berrada.

Badr Berrada is a successful entrepreneur, international best-selling author and sales expert. As a Founder & CEO of BBN Times, he manages a team of more than 150 renowned industry experts. Several of BBN Times’ articles have been featured on Harvard Business School, MIT, UPEN & NYU. His Growth Hacking Book has been ranked amongst the best entrepreneurial books on Forbes. Badr Berrada closed some major deals with the likes of BT Sport, Adobe & Microsoft.

Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this career path?

I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur so eventually I did. Stepping outside my comfort zone led me to create my own business when I was 22 years old. The ability to develop tough skin, pick myself up to create my dream job led me to this exciting career. I have developed my website, mobile app and e-commerce on my own. Now I have a talented pool of industry experts that I can always rely on.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

A few years ago, many close friends were quite skeptical about my business telling me that I should open a physical store instead of an online company. They believed in goods but not data. Now that everyone is working from home because of Covid-19, Internet usage has peaked as more people are using services such as Uber Eat & Netflix to eat and stay entertained. After realizing the importance of the digital economy, people came back to me wanting tips to start an e-commerce. They have finally realized that online selling is the future. Never underestimate the power of the web. Hard work and determination can help you build a successful digital business. The sooner you start, the sooner you can reap the benefits of online sales.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am currently writing my second book, “The Growth Hacking Book 2” , co-authored with trailblazing entrepreneurs, industry thought leaders and sales experts. This book will challenge the current norms and is an almanac for growth in today’s competitive business world. We will uncover some unique and creative strategies to acquire and receive more online sales.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It took me a while to settle. Selling an online service is a little harder than selling it offline simply because you’re talking to faceless prospects. Meeting my wife was truly a turning point. As a banker, she helped me understand the psychology of sales. She was the first person to give me tremendous support pushing me forward and challenging me in a positive way. I have learned that selling is about understanding the needs prospects are going through by producing innovative solutions. Now I am developing services that are creating more value to retain and attract new customers.

For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit why you are an authority on the topic of sales?

I have a proven track record of converting leads into sales across several industries including banking, wholesales, publishing and online advertising. Working in traditional and modern sales helped me to better understand the psychology of each buyer. My “Growth Hacking Book” is an international best seller in the USA, UK, Australia, Germany, India, France & Italy.

Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the COVID-19 pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

During this pandemic, many of our loved ones are experiencing stress, anxiety, sadness, lack of appetite and trouble falling asleep. It won’t be easy but we need to stay positive in order to survive. Maintaining positivity requires strength, focus and attention. Communication is very important with friends, colleagues and family. Keeping things bottled up always makes them worse, so get your thoughts off your chest. We need to stay strong to survive this crisis. Most of my family members are wholesalers and cannot work remotely. Below are my ideas to keep their business alive during this pandemic.

Keeping your company remembered by customers is crucial when it’s time to reopen. Go paperless to reduce some of the most common recurring costs. Trim your products and services down and take off those things that aren’t selling, revamp your services and widen your margins. Ramp up your digital marketing game by creating event announcements before reopening your business. Increase social media use and reduce traditional marketing. Customers love coupons and discounts. Don’t take on unnecessary debt. Excess debt affects your company rating, interest rates and the ability to borrow in the future.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know, nearly any business a person will enter, will involve some form of sales. At the same time, most people have never received any formal education about how to be effective at selling. Why do you think our education system teaches nearly every other arcane subject, but sales, one of the most useful and versalite topics, is totally ignored?

Sales skills are difficult to transfer in higher education. Not all the professors are equipped with the power of persuasion with the ultimate goal of making people spend money for a product or service. Today’s schools are extremely focused on academic achievements, living in the past. Mastering sales is not about getting an A+ in an exam, it’s about showing personal traits that would attract customers to buy your product. Business schools may provide you a good management background but will never teach you how to handle adversity and tough situations. While a degree will give you a pedigree, the real world is about results. Higher education spurs a lot of competition. There is an intense race to be the top of the class. But that individualistic focus isn’t always welcome in sales. You have to put your ego aside, overcome rejections, take some harsh feedback, hustle and work your way up, make your company the main priority to close more deals.

This discussion, entitled, “How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesey”, is making an assumption that seeming salesy or pushy is something to be avoided. Do you agree with this assumption? Whether yes, or no, can you articulate why you feel the way you do?

Nobody wants to come off salesey. Pushing your customers towards buying your product or service can create a lot of pressure. You want to make sure that you’re approaching each prospect smoothly without losing sales. It’s like walking a tightrope. You have to find the right balance between getting your point across your prospects and not pushing them into a corner. Fortunately, this is much easier than it sounds. Never call or email without new updates to share. Avoid talking about a different product right away. Never force the offering, allow your prospect some time to respond to phone calls or emails. Vary your outreach and calls-to-action.

The seven stages of a sales cycle are usually broken down to versions of Prospecting, Preparation, Approach, Presentation, Handling objections, Closing, and Follow-up. Which stage do you feel that you are best at? What is your unique approach, your “secret sauce”, to that particular skill? Can you explain or give a story?

I am very comfortable at following up deals with email marketing. It worked wonders for my business. Customers get through emails within a few minutes, so make sure you filter your words while communicating with them. Inserting infographics and visuals can add a faster explanation and improve efficiency of having a back and forth email thread. If you don’t tell your audience what to do next, there’s a good chance they won’t make a purchase. Think about it: without a “buy now” button at the end of your sales page, your potential customers won’t know how to get their hands on your product. Without a “read now” link in your email, your subscribers won’t know where to find your latest promotional deals. If there’s any confusion at all, people will simply click away. If you want to grow your business, make more money, and achieve more orders, you have to learn how to craft effective calls-to-action. The effectiveness of your calls-to-action will play a large role in determining how successful your sales will be.

Lead generation, or prospecting, is one of the basic steps of the sales cycle. Obviously every industry will be different, but can you share some of the fundamental strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

One of the most important aspects of growing a business is having access to sales leads. The first step of your lead generation strategy is to identify your target audience. Pick your promotional methods wisely including social media, pay per click advertising and industry events. I personally recommend to never rely only on one-directional communication tools such as blog posts, websites, and videos. Instead, have a real conversation with your prospects as often as possible to learn more about their wants and needs. If your user asks about a feature while chatting with you, don’t only offer a link to a knowledge base, offer a 10-minute phone call to walk them through. This will get a new opportunity to strike a deal. If you are emailing with a proposal, offer a video call. If you are in a video call, suggest to meet. Try to get closer to your leads every time you interact with them. Tracking your website visitors is an important tactic that suits well with any other online lead generation strategy. By automatically identifying your visitors, you can fill your sales pipeline with leads you never knew you had. Perform data mining while taking into consideration known performance indicators (KPIs) to segment your customers in order to send relevant content. Never send the same material to your leads, each client is different.

In my experience, I think the final stages of Handling Objections, Closing, and Follow-up, are the most difficult parts for many people. Why do you think ‘Handling Objections’ is so hard for people? What would you recommend for one to do, to be better at ‘Handling Objections’?

Every new prospect you speak to has sales objections, or reasons they’re reluctant to purchase your product. Based on my experience, most objections are generally around price, competitors, product fit, timing and good old-fashioned brush offs. Instead of telling your prospects they’re wrong, help them come to a different conclusion. If you can’t persuade them, that’s a good sign they’re a poor fit. When confronted with an objection, the first requirement is to listen to the objection. This demonstrates empathy towards your customer showing that you care about what they have to say. The next step is to acknowledge your customer’s concern. This is where you demonstrate you have been actively listening. An acknowledgement can be something as simple as a head nod or a restatement of the issue. A sincere acknowledgement can circumvent an argument and have a calming effect. Sometimes, your customers just want to know that they are being heard. The third step is to explore the concerns underlying your customer’s objection. It is imperative that you exactly understand what your customer meant by what they said. The final step is to respond. Only once you have a complete understanding of your customer’s objection, you can offer your response in the form of a recommendation, an alternative, a solution or a next step designed to address your customers’ worries and close the deal. Objection handling shouldn’t be a painful activity for experienced sales professionals. Instead, objections should be viewed as opportunities to further help your customers and to grow your relationship with them.

‘Closing’ is of course the proverbial Holy Grail. Can you suggest 5 things one can do to successfully close a sale without being perceived as pushy? If you can, please share a story or example, ideally from your experience, for each.

The way clients make purchasing decisions is constantly changing. Customers have become aware about the varieties of opportunities that they have in front of them. Today’s sales requires a continuous refining of existing approaches and best practices. It’s important to re-evaluate your sales strategy with your team. Here are my top five strategies to successfully close a deal without being perceived as pushy.

1. Humanize your product: No matter what industry you are in, having a clever hook is crucial to a quick close. “Our software seems like a perfect fit for your company. Do you want to have a free trial?” It’s an intelligent sales tactic where you act like your prospect has already decided to use your services. Testing your product will help your client get more familiarized.

2. Know your clients better than they do: Make sure to adjust the trial period correctly and remind your customers that they only have access to limited features. This is a subtle move that there is an even better version of the product that they are missing on. Don’t hesitate to ask for more information as to why your prospect isn’t quite convinced. “Is there any reason why we can’t proceed with your subscription?” Your customer is more than likely tempted to buy a similar product from your company if he is still hesitating. Provide him with a simplified explanation and he will happily commit.

3. Be honest: It’s important to convey to your clients that you genuinely care about them. “When would be a good time to make a payment?” Honesty breeds understanding. Customers should never feel that you are just there to make a profit but that you genuinely care about them.

4. Intrigue your customers: Show your customers the benefit of your paid features. “If I told you our latest software could increase productivity by 25%, would you upgrade?” This will make your customers more intrigued and confident that your product is the next big thing.

5. Create a sense of urgency: Attach a deadline to a deal to help give your clients an incentive to buy. “If you commit to buy now, we can give you an exclusive special discount valid until the end of this month.” Customers will never miss out on unique opportunities, especially in a limited time frame.

Finally, what are your thoughts about ‘Follow up’? Many businesses get leads who might be interested but things never seem to close. What are some good tips for a business leader to successfully follow up and bring things to a conclusion, without appearing overly pushy or overeager?

Following up prospects is crucial to the growth and success of any firm. There is huge potential for revenue in existing customers and people that are interested in your product. Listen to your customers’ needs and opinions, and try to resolve any issue they might have. Send them a thank you note whenever they make a purchase. Keep communication open by sending high-value content, such as guides, articles or educational webinars to remember your company. Regular contact will help you understand their needs, provide new ideas about product improvements and set the stage to offer a complementary product. By creating a sustainable relationship, you are going beyond a simple transaction and giving yourself an opportunity to offer more products or services to your clients. Happy customers will refer you to other customers. When a recommendation comes from a person who has previously used your services, it has more credibility and trust. People will always review your products before purchasing them. Remember that delighted clients make the best advocates because word of mouth and a solid reputation carry more weight than self-promotion.

As you know there are so many modes of communication today. For example, In-person, phone calls, video calls, emails, and text messages. In your opinion, which of these communication methods should be avoided when attempting to close a sale or follow up? Which are the best ones? Can you explain or give a story?

Video calls and text messages should be avoided when closing deals. Leave time to your customers to think and reflect. Quick phone calls and email marketing helped us tremendously to close and follow up sales. By personalizing emails and calling customers to take their feedback, our outreach team was able to easily support customers whenever they needed help. I would strongly recommend email marketing and phone calls to any company that is looking to follow up or close more sales. Timing is key. Engaging with people at just the right moment makes a huge difference in revenues and customer convenience, by ensuring that they won’t run out of pods.

Ok, we are nearly done. Here is our final “meaty” question. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I want to create a paperless movement to facilitate the communication between sellers and buyers while signing agreements. This movement won’t happen overnight. It will require persistence and patience. Blockchain could be used to allow companies to instantly approve and verify different types of transactions by leveraging a collaborative digital ledger. This will reduce seamless sign-on and fraud, hence saving more trees and protecting our environment.

How can our readers follow you online?

Follow me on LinkedIn and BBN Times to discover my latest updates.

Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!

About the author:

Mitch Russo started a software company in his garage, sold it for 8 figures and then went on to work directly with Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes to build a $25M business together. Mitch wrote a book called “The Invisible Organization — How Ingenious CEOs are Creating Thriving, Virtual Companies” and now his 2nd book called Power Tribes — “How Certification Can Explode Your Business.” Mitch helps SaaS company founders scale their own companies using his proprietary system. You can reach Mitch Directly via [email protected]


Author Badr Berrada: “How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesey” was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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