Forward Fortnightly: Practice makes perfect.

July 14, 2021

Today, we’re talking about sales.


Because no matter what your discipline, thinking like a salesperson can help you get more done and build traction faster. It’s not just about selling subscriptions. It’s essential to getting others to buy into your vision, your product, even yourself.

In this edition, we'll dig into the idea that sales talent can be taught. Of course there are naturally gifted salespeople. But many of the greats consider themselves to be mastering a craft. They practice interactions. Scenarios. Narratives. And they test obsessively (it’s not just a trait for sales either, just take a look at Kobe Bryant’s work ethic).

The good news - according to the experts featured below - is that it’s simple to get started. Great sales loves authenticity. A belief in a cause. Empathy for a customer. Then, once the foundation is set, you can build on it with science.

Below we pull out some of the most interesting writing and stories on how all of this comes together - and can be applied.

What's got our attention.

Authentic, compelling sales start with empathy. We dusted off a copy of Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human in the office this week. It’s a great read with a key idea: he believes in order to have influence we must ask ourselves two key questions: (1) If the person you’re selling to agrees to buy, will his or her life improve? And (2) When your interaction is over, will the world be a better place than where you began?

Pink believes - as we do - that anyone can sell. Being genuine - and holding empathy for a customer - makes it natural, easier for even the most reserved of us.

Build your skills with science. Behind the patter, a great salesperson will understand the levers to pull and the buttons to push to understand a prospect’s needs and to build solutions that fit. This week Neil Patel outlines 7 neuroscience principals to increase your sales. Want more? We’ve got you covered. Check out The 20 Best Sales Books Elon Musk Is Probably Reading and 5 Psychology Tips From An FBI Hostage Negotiator That Will Make You Sell Better.

Practice makes perfect. Bringing empathy and authenticity together with a more scientific approach made Kenneth Yu a million-dollar copywriter in just one year. His obsessive approach to mastering copy brings together persuasion techniques with good business strategy, and it just works. Again and again. He wrote one email that earned him six figures. How does he do it? He studies his audience, listens to how they speak. He learns from the greats - reading and copying great sales letters. He studies and practices persuasion principles, builds templates.

But don’t let it go to your head (or wallet, at least exclusively). This week we saw the NFT market take a turn for the worse. It’s a market that we’ve seen sold as the ‘future’ by many influential figures (ahem, GaryVee) - but whether that’s for the future of peoplekind or the future of a few people’s bank balance is up for debate. And it’s not the only unregulated market, we’ve seen strong influential figures use it to their advantage. We’ve seen more from Elon this week as he plugs straight into the public’s focus on environmental impact - Some say for unscrupulous motivations, other for the good of the planet. Keep authenticity close to your hearts, people.

Don't miss this.

Whether you’re raising a round of investment, engaging a new Head of Product or trying to get your kid to nursery in the morning, getting your head around persuasion techniques could change your life.

Here are some of our favourite resources to put these ideas into practice.

Decision-making is complicated. But of course we can influence it. We do it multiple times a day. David Hoffeld blends research in social psychology, neuroscience and behavioural economics to offer a view into the science of understanding and influencing the decisions people make. It’s not about being pushy or manipulative, it’s about creating opportunities to communicate the benefits, savings or change you believe in.

Get your customers thinking ‘that’s exactly what I need’. Brian Dean and the Backlinko Crew are SEO heads, so they have to think more strategically than anyone about their use of language. Their excellent, free online copy guide will get you thinking about how to talk like your customers.

Deliver highly-tailored messaging via landing pages, to audience segments with different needs. Peep Laja at CXL is an expert on how to design and test pages that really convert.

Short of time to dig into books and guides? breaks down the psychology & strategy behind great marketing & copywriting examples so you understand what the secret sauce is that’s making people buy.

Get your copy consistent across all product touchpoints. Ditto lets teams manage and collaborate on copy across all of your mockups. Build a system for your content so your hard work developing an empathetic and persuasive voice doesn’t go to waste as you scale.

Get involved.

Don't forget our must-reads. Get started by reading up on how to craft your brand personality. Improve your targeted outreach with our tips for an impactful landing page. And get thinking about how to strategise, produce, and distribute great brand-Led content.

Ready for a serious chat about funding? If you're preparing to raise, think about applying to our office hours. Our quick-fire sessions offer pre-seed founders a chance to discuss their big ideas with investors. You'll get feedback - and if we think we’re the right fit, you’ll get an invite to a further funding meeting. Apply here to join our next virtual office hours, coming up on the 16th June.

Join us. There are some great opportunities for entrepreneurial brains inside our growing team and portfolio companies. Be sure to check out our careers page for the full list. Highlights include an opportunity for a Senior Marketer to build the future of VC marketing at Forward (yes, working with yours truly); a chance to shake up SME finance, building partnerships at Advances and to build the most exciting D2C plant business in the UK for a full stack developer at Patch.

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July 14, 2021