Sales Strategy Mistakes and How to Fix Them

The Customer Experience Podcast, Jeremy Donovan, SalesLoft, sales strategy, sales success

Your sales strategy is as much science as art. The secret is to understand how to improve the way customers buy, renew, and get retained.

Jeremy Donovan, Senior Vice President of Sales Strategy at SalesLoft, the sales engagement platform that helps you understand your customers’ needs and respond in meaningful ways, is an expert in sales strategy.

His top level priority, especially in B2B, is all about the customer’s return on investment. A prospect needs to trust that you are the right partner to help them achieve whatever their most pressing business initiative is.

trust, customer experience, business outcomes, business initiative, sales success, customer experience podcast, Jeremy Donovan, SalesLoft

If this philosophy and approach resonates with you and if you’re looking for insights gleaned from the data of billions of sales touches, then this episode is for you!

Jeremy walks through common mistakes in sales strategy and sales process and shares ideas to help you avoid or fix those problems.

Sales Strategy Mistakes and How to Fix Them

To hear this episode and others like it, subscribe to The Customer Experience Podcast in Apple Podcasts.

You can also listen in at Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher.

And, of course, I also embed a recording of each episode into its companion blog posts like this one.

Hear the entire conversation with sales expert Jeremy Donovan right here …

Listen to “13. Sales Strategy Mistakes, and How to Fix Them w/ Jeremey Donovan” on Spreaker.

The Definition of Sales Success

The obvious measure of success is whether or not a customer buys. And then on the post sale side, it is heavily tied to renewal.

sales strategy, sales success, retention, buyers, customers, Customer Experience

It’s about achieving the results that they were expecting (click here for an entire episode about customer success metrics). The best measure of whether or not you deliver a great customer experience is whether they renew. That to me is the ultimate test of success.

There’s renewal and then there’s evangelized renewal. Those are the ones you really want.

In this video clip, Jeremy talks about pre-sale and post-sale customer experience …

Finding a Needle in a Haystack

SalesLoft is pretty structured in how they do things.

It starts with targeting accounts that have an ideal customer profile: geography, size, region, industry, etc. You should also consider things like their tech stack and and other factors.

Within those accounts you want to find the people that you want to go after. There are a lot of different data platforms you can use to identify them. Lately, all the data platforms seem to be converging, but Donovan’s favorite for years has been Zoominfo, also LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

And then you drop those into your sales cadences. After almost a billion interactions with customers, SalesLoft has learned a lot about best practices. They tune everything based on what works.

Here are some sales cadence and email insights gleaned from analyzing those interactions …

A few tips:

  • One-word subject lines are the best.
  • Saying “hey” and then the person’s first name is better than “hello” or “hi,” or just using their name alone.
  • Keep the body of the email as short as possible, no more than about a hundred words. And don’t use bullets.
  • Re: different sign-offs, Donovan used “Regards” for about 20 years, and lo and behold that’s the second worst thing you can do.
  • The best closing is actually the word “Best.”

You also constantly need to tune when to email, when to call, when to do a social touch.

sales strategy, sales success, sales process, art of sales, science of sales, art and science

True Personalization Pays Off

In the early part of the funnel, the authenticity can come from personalization. It’s okay to use thoughtful automation when it’s appropriate. But if you personalize up to 20% of an email template, that leads to a nearly 2x higher response rate.

This means true personalization where you spend 5-10 minutes going through a prospect’s social media and looking at what their company initiatives are, something that most machines can’t pull off.

Jeremy explains this process in this video clip …

Once you’re engaged in an opportunity, there is sales process that you need to follow. People buy based on emotion and they justify it based on ROI and data. They buy from people who they know and like and trust.

In B2B, if they’re buying something, especially if it’s something big, their job might depend on the success of that purchase. So they’ve got to trust that someone is going to be there for them.

Fun fact: video email gets you face to face earlier and more often in the sales process. It helps build that “know, like, and trust” that generates replies, increases conversion, and accelerates sales. We wrote the book on it.

In this video, Jeremy explains how to differentiate yourself and your company by showing value to prospects (not just telling them about value) …

Sales Strategy: What to Do

It is critical to hand off all relevant information from sales to customer success. That’s so often broken and there’s frustration on the customer side because everything they shared with you during the presale process needs to be communicated to the next team.

Some companies are really great at that handoff process. They may have a dossier that the account executive has to fill out with prescribed questions to discover things that were learned during the sales process.

Then they hand that off to the customer success folks to make sure that they are fully ramped, and not asking the same questions that sales has already asked.

In this clip, Jeremy talks more about “the most critical handoff” in our businesses …

Sales Strategy: What Not to Do

Sometimes you need to re-categorize or move accounts around. If you’re going to do that, do it gradually. If you move all your customers around, that’s going to break relationships. You may be solving an internal problem, but you’ll be creating an external problem.

If you have to do that, do it as new accounts come onboard, not with the existing ones. If you try and change everything overnight, it will go badly.

If you absolutely must make a change, do it after a renewal. The customer will still be ticked, but they’ll be more likely to understand. And then that new person has a year to deliver value.

Jeremy explains in this short clip …

Also, don’t create a chasm between product and the customer. The product team needs access to customers either directly or through the sales team to get feedback. Don’t make it harder for them.

It boils down to giving that really human touch to people who are not expecting it. That is the breakthrough experience. It’s about delivering unexpected value.

This post is based on an interview with Jeremy Donovan, Senior Vice President of Sales Strategy at SalesLoft.

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