Top 5 Actionable Steps You Can Take to Increase Your Sales

Make sure the perceived value of your product matches the actual one


Tealfeed Guest Blog

3 years ago | 7 min read

Sales has a weird stigma. People think you need to be some sort of social butterfly or finger-gun-pointing lunatic to sell a product. While charismatic people may be at an advantage, the most important component of successful sales is not charisma. It’s a set of processes that anyone can do.

As someone who has driven sales at startups for my whole career, I have compiled a list of the five most actionable, least esoteric steps that will lead to an increase in sales output.

There’s no Boiler Room or Wolf of Wall Street “close the deal at all costs” sales advice in here. That sort of rhetoric is not accessible to most people. All you’ll find in this article is honest, straight-up, non-intimidating best practices. Apply them and your sales output will increase. I might have even included a little bonus at the bottom.

I guarantee you will learn something in this article that will result in increased revenues for your startup or organization.

1. Bring (the Perception of) Value

In the most abstract sense, it is the salesperson’s job to get the product in the hands of the customer. The whole thing is predicated on value creation, as expressed in this fundamental equation:

No value = no sales.

In order to sell, people need to engage with you. You need to pique their interest in some way. That is where bringing value comes in. Here’s the critical caveat, though: Value and perceived value are two different things entirely. In reality, the value equation actually looks more like this:

No perceived value = no sales.

You need to build a high perceived value for the product with the customer. This is good news for startups who are still developing their products and/or are in crowded, competitive spaces. You can still sell — and sell very well — if you focus on building the perceived value.

I realize some of you may feel like I am suggesting manipulating or misleading customers. I would never advocate for that. Instead, I am pointing out the critical difference between actual and perceived value. I find that this distinction is never talked about explicitly, especially among those who do not come from formal sales backgrounds.

Okay, that was the most esoteric point. Had to set the perspective.

The rest is 100% boring and straightforward. Read on and see.

2. Be Ruthlessly Organized

Here’s the golden rule of sales in 2020:

If a sales action (a call or email) happened and was not explicitly tracked in a CRM, it did not happen.

For those who do not know, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management tool. There are so many good, affordable CRMs these days. Pipedrive is the best in my opinion, and they offer a free 14-day trial.

CRMs are critical because you cannot possibly keep all of the contact details, notes, email threads, and next steps (along with action items and dates) organized in your head. These problems scale enormously when you are working within a sales team, too. Take heed, especially, if you are a salesperson at a startup or small business. Having a strict, set process in place beforehand will allow you to scale quickly.

Another thing CRMs allow you to do is track sales performance and output. After a few weeks of logging information and using the CRM, you get a good idea of what a daily and weekly output looks like (in terms of calls made, emails sent, deals created, deals progressed). Then, you can set goals to improve those metrics, which will lead to more deals in the funnel, and more closes.

3. Always Have A Next Step

Most CRMs (and people) visualize a sales process in terms of a funnel. Deals come in the left side of the funnel and go through progressive steps to closing until they come out the right side as a sale. The logic follows, then, there always must be a clear next step set on every single deal, all the time, with a set action date. If there is no next step, the deal is just sitting in your CRM, chilling, not going anywhere.

Here’s what my funnel currently looks like:

See all the red dots? That means that the date passed for the follow-up action I set for that deal (send another email, send a calendar invite). If my partner is reading this, don’t worry, I’ll act on them right after I’m done writing this up.)

Salespeople need to actively drive deals through funnels — you can’t rely on anyone else to push the deal through. This requires absolutely zero sales tricks or charisma or charm. Only dedication and organization.

Sidenote: Sometimes the communication you have been sending or following up on just isn’t the one that will get a response. Just try not to do anything cringey or weird (it’s okay if you do and you learn from it).

4. Sharpen Your Axe (With Automation)

Every sales process requires a bunch of tedious work surrounding prospecting, data entry, searching for contact information, and so on. There’s no getting around this. The good news? You can automate a lot of this work.

Your focus should be to optimize for touches — the number of meaningful conversations — whether in-person, over the phone, email, or on social media — per day, week, month, and quarter (remember, this gets recorded in the CRM).

If you get the feeling you are spending too much time with tedious stuff, that is a signal that you should have been incrementally investing time beforehand to come up with ways to automate pieces of your tedious processes.

Every sales process is different, so I can’t tell you how to automate your sales process. Here are a list of my three most handy tools I use for automation, which have easily saved me hundreds of hours and allowed me to focus on deals:

  • PhantomBuster: A massive set of tools that automate various processes on various platforms, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora, etc. I use this to build lead lists among many other things. This is my secret sales weapon.
  • Helps with email enrichment (finding email addresses). Make sure you are getting opt-in consent to send messages!
  • Sales Navigator: LinkedIn’s paid subscription that allows you to build lead lists. Use this wisely (hint: use in combination with PhantomBuster).

Key takeaway: always be incrementally investing time in automating the tedious steps of your sales process.

5. Honor the Communication Hierarchy

I know there is an ethos around how great work-from-home is these days. You cannot sell stuff these days without doing a good bit of it over email and phone. Even so, there is a clear hierarchy in terms of the efficacy of the different communication methods. I have listed them in order below:

  1. In-person
  2. Video call
  3. Phone call
  4. Email

All other things equal, you will always sell more in-person compared to every other communication method. I realize many people will argue with me here, so instead of pointing to my own experience, I will point to research:

  • People are 34 times more likely to respond positively to requests asked in-person compared to email. Read the actual academic study or the Harvard Business Review article.
  • Non-verbal cues increase the richness of communication in a way that emails and phone calls cannot. You can pick up more on subtle cues, like buying signals. Prospects subtly signal when they are ready to buy with their tone, demeanor, and non-verbal cues. It’s harder to pick up on that stuff over the phone. It’s not impossible, but it is more difficult. Read the research here.
  • Rapport-building is much easier. One way this is commonly explained is through mirror neurons, which are well-documented scientifically. Here is just one study.

This will never change. In-person sales rules and anyone that tells you it can be just as effective over the phone or email over is wrong.

That being said, most of the time in-person is not possible. In that case, opt for the next best option (video call, then phone call, then email). Adopting a mentality of, “Oh, I can’t do in-person, so I’ll wait” is the completely wrong approach. Always be actioning (whether in-person meeting, phone call, video call, email) and apply the hierarchy when deciding what communication method to use.

Bonus: Spice Up Your Follow-Ups With New Updates

I want to throw in a super useful bonus related to following up on deals.

Following up with people who have not replied to your previous email(s) or reach-outs is a huge part of sales.

The smoother and more comfortable you can make this follow-up process, the better your sales will go. I’ll show you. Consider two examples:

  • Example 1: “Hi _____, did you read my previous email? Hoping to connect on XYZ. Let me know your thoughts.”
  • Example 2: “Hey _____, we just did a press release/added a new feature/got some fresh data in and you popped into my head. Think it would be useful to you given XYZ.”

In the first example, you are actually giving the poor person to whom you are trying to sell a product to a chore. It’s akin to giving homework. You are saying, “Hey, it’s your chore to respond to me.” It’s better than not following up, but it’s not optimal.

The second example is demonstrating value and building a relationship. It says two things: I have value to offer and I thought of you specifically. Also, note how there is no “please reply to me” call at the end. It’s just one person sending something helpful to the other.


  • Sales is not just for salespeople. It is for anyone who can follow and maintain processes.
  • Sales is often the deciding factor between a successful and a failing startup.
  • If you follow the five steps to build perceived value, stay organized, set next steps, automate, and honor the communication hierarchy, revenue will increase.
This article was originally published by Gabriel appleton on medium.


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