Episode #7: "How to Respond to One of the Biggest Sales Blow Offs of All Time," with John Barrows

Hosts: Tim Clarke & Marissa Kraines

"Send me information." We've all heard it. Learn the right way to handle this situation by getting firm commitment on a follow-up or next steps. Join John Barrows, Owner and Sales Practitioner at j.barrows consulting, as he shares the best ways to turn a possible brush-off into a handshake.

Read the article that inspired the conversation: “How to Respond to One of the Biggest Sales Blow-Offs of All Time


Episode Transcript

Tim Clarke:  Thank you for joining the Quotable Podcast. Our guest today is John Barrows. He’s owner and sales practitioner at J. Barrows Consulting. Today, we’re discussing the biggest blow-off in sales. Welcome, John. How are you doing? 


John Barrows: Fantastic, Tim. How are you? 


Clarke: I’m great, John. Thanks for asking. I’m Tim Clarke, Product Marketing Director at Salesforce. And I’m joined today by our guest host, Marissa [Kraines], Senior Manager of Salesforce Strategic Events. Welcome, Marissa. 


Marissa Kraines: Thanks so much for having me. 


Clarke: So John, why don’t you tell us a bit more about yourself, your background, and some of the great work that you’ve been doing with sales development organizations around the world? 


Barrows: Yeah. Absolutely. I appreciate it. So as you said, I do sales training. But I’m more of a sales rep that came across some really good stuff and happened to be OK at sharing it out with people. 

I sell every day and got into sales just like everybody else, right, fell into it, marketing background, got into sales selling DeWalt power tools and Xerox copiers.

Started a company not knowing what I was doing, 24 years old, took a training called Basho, which I loved. Sold my company to Staples, then joined Basho as one of the senior trainers, and then went off on my own a little while ago. 

And I work with Salesforce, LinkedIn, a lot of SaaS companies in San Francisco and around the world, a lot of the fastest growing ones out there, and trained most of their sales teams on prospecting, meeting execution, negotiations, but with a heavy focus on outbound prospecting and trying to crack in and rise above the noise. 


Clarke: I know obviously we have a whole variety of different articles for sales professionals on Quotable. But I think, you know, the one that we’re going to really talk about today is just so valuable, you know, for salespeople that are really doing those outbound calls or meetings. 

And it all relates back to your article, “How to Respond to One of the Biggest Sales Blow-Offs of All Time.” You know, so in it, you talk about when a prospect says, “Send me information.” This is probably something that all of our listeners, sales professionals, hear constantly. 

So just give us a little bit more background on what you mean by this. And what are you seeing happen here? 


Barrows: Yeah. I mean, it’s the ultimate blow-off, right, because it’s, “Send me information and then follow up with me,” and we play the touching-base-and-checking-in game for, you know, 57 times. And we stalk the crap out of them. And they avoid us at all costs. 

And it’s funny. You know, clients think they’re avoiding conflict by doing that. And they’re actually creating conflict. The best thing in the world to hear from a sales rep is “yes.” The second-best answer is “no.” The worst answer, in my opinion, is “maybe” or no response or “Send me information,” which is a veiled “maybe.” 

So dealing with that, especially if you’re making phone calls — you know, there’s different ways — I mean, there’s no perfect way of dealing with it. But there’s some things that we can do to put ourselves in a better position to help address that so that we can kind of cut through and figure out when somebody is really serious about it. 

You know, what’s triggering that in the first place? And you know, what are some techniques that hopefully we can talk through today and give the audience something to walk away and do some stuff with? 


Kraines: That’s great, John. We’re looking forward to getting to all of those tips you have. And you have five specific tips that you spoke to in your article. Can we dig into those? What are your tips for dealing with the situation? 


Barrows: Well, I think, you know, to take a step back a little bit, you’ve got to kind of realize what we’re selling when we’re prospecting. And most reps, you ask them, “Is sales a process or an event?” and they’ll say it’s a process, all day long. 

But they tend to forget it when it comes to prospecting. You know, they tend to — you know, when somebody picks up the phone, say you’re making your 20, 30 dials, or whatever. And you get told “no,” hung up on, whatever. 

And then, all of a sudden, somebody picks up the phone. And you might not have expected it. Right. What typically happens? You freeze for a second. And then, “duh,” “g-g-goo.” And you end up throwing up all over them about all the wonderful things that we do, the leading provider of —” and in that moment, we tried to treat sales as an event, not a process. So I really follow through on that whole old-school, you know, Glengarry Glen Ross [approach], but the AIDA right: attention, interest, desire, action — and how we have seconds to get someone’s attention. 

And in that five to 15 seconds, that earns us an extra couple of minutes where we can talk a little bit more. And then, that earns us a meeting. So when we’re prospecting, what we’ve got to understand is you’re not selling your product or service. You can’t. 

You can’t sell your product or service in a 30-second pitch or a one-page email. So we’ve got to stop trying. But what we can sell is time. We can sell the next step. 

So I think starting off, you know, before any specific tip on how to actually deal with the rejection or that, you know, “Send me information,” it’s — what are we actually trying to do with our prospecting efforts? 

And for me, what I’m trying to sell is, I’m trying to sell 15 minutes. I’m trying to get your attention with something real short, sweet, to the point, and then say, you know — get you to say, “All right. How do you do that?” Give you a little bit more meat on that bone, and then close on 15 minutes or 30 minutes for a deeper dive where we can both have a discussion about this. 

Because when I cold-call you, you are not mentally prepared to have this conversation with me. That’s why, whenever somebody says, “All right. Yeah. All right, kid. You caught me. Go,” and I go ahead and throw up, that’s why 99 percent of those end with, “Send me information.” 

So I think starting with figuring out what we’re selling when we’re prospecting and understanding it’s not the product or service. It’s about time. That helps. 

Another thing to really think about is to make sure that we have a reason for our call. A lot of reps — they call. And these are my two least favorite phrases in sales: touching base and checking in. Right. They mean there’s absolutely no reason for you to reach out to me. 

So therefore, there’s no reason for me to talk to you. So a tip — and this is for everybody on this podcast — you know, if there’s nothing you do different on the phones after you listen to this, it’s to use this phrase every single time you call somebody. 

And it’s, “The reason for my call is …” Because if you can’t finish that sentence, you shouldn’t be making the phone call. So those are a couple of things that I would say to preempt the, “Send me information,” because, when you have a legitimate reason for your call, it’s less likely — and you know what you’re trying to sell, right, the 15–30 minutes — t’s less likely that they’re going to even say that in the first place. I don’t know if you wanted to dive into the very specific tips one by one, or kind of how you wanted to approach, like, once you have somebody to say, “Send me information,” what do we do? So you want to just kind of start diving into those?


Clarke: I was just laughing as you were talking there because I was looking at some of the sent emails that I’ve done today. And I’m guilty of it as well. You know, the amount of times when I say “touching base” and “just want to catch up with you.” 

So you know, before we dive into each of those five tips, I just wanted to put the question out there: Do you feel that sometimes, you know, people are just being polite? I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing. But you know, I guess, when you keep catching them off guard, they just want to get rid of you. And that’s almost the easiest way to get rid of the salesperson, right, is just to say, “Send me some information.” 


Barrows: A hundred percent, you’re right. Whether it’s cultural or just the lack of conflict, it also bears in mind thinking about who you’re calling into. Right. When I call into an executive and I try to get their attention in whatever it is, if I have a good enough value proposition, they’re going to tell me right then and there whether or not it makes sense for us to take the next step. 

They usually aren’t as polite in the sense that they’re like, “Yeah. Look, we have no need for this. So don’t even bother.” Or, “You know what? Yeah. This does sound informa … — you know, why don’t we schedule a meeting afterwards?” 

Whereas people below the power line, those are the ones that are way nicer. Right. They don’t want to deal with the conflict. So a nice easy way is to say, “Send me information,” because that’s just the slow roll.

You know, you’re now in the friend zone. Right. And now, what are you going to do about it? And for us, again, like I said earlier, that’s the worst-case scenario for us as sales reps because you’re saying there’s a chance. Right. 

And so now, what I’m going to do is I’m going to follow up. I’m going to email you. I’m going to call you. I’m going to email you. I’m going to call you. And you’re going to avoid, delete, avoid, delete, avoid whatever.

But because my motivation to put money in my pocket is way stronger than yours is to avoid me, eventually I’m going to get through. And then, it’s going to be weird. 

So it’s kind of — the mentality is, look, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. You know, the easy way is we have this discussion right now. I dive in a little bit or we schedule some time where we can — you know, 10, 15 minutes to really talk through the details here. 

And if it makes sense, we move forward. If it doesn’t, we go away. The hard approach to that is you say, “Send me information,” you know, and I stalk you from here on out. And then, it gets strange. 

So I think it is a cultural thing. But I also think it’s because sales reps are taking the wrong approach thinking that they’re trying to sell in that moment when a client really isn’t ready for it because we’re catching them off guard. 


Kraines: So one of the things that you really want to get down to the point of is the what, when and why. And I think that that is the key first step in finding out if this is a meaningful call or not. How do you do that? What is your natural approach for getting those answers? 


Barrows: Yeah. I mean, that’s it. That’s actually the technique that I use is, when I get into somebody, you know, “Hey, the reason for my call is this.” Right. And, “All I was looking for is 15 minutes of your time. You know, what’s the best way to make that happen?” Whatever. 

Then, the client says, “Why don’t you send me information?” “OK. You know what?” You know, and I literally go through what, when, why. What information would you like to see? When would you like to see it? And why? 

Because I’ve got a lot of information. And usually, when somebody says, “Send me information,” if I don’t understand what information you’re actually interested in, I’m going to fill up your inbox in about five seconds with the amount of stuff that I’ve got. Right. 

So that’s why, “Hey, I’m happy to send you information. First of all, you know, what information would you like to see?” “Something about that prospecting stuff you were talking about.” “OK. Cool. Great. When would you like to see it?” 

“By the end of the week is fine.” “All right. You know, just out of curiosity, why? What are you going to do with this information?” “Well, I’m going to review it and, you know, take a look at it. And then, if it makes sense, we’ll get back to you?” 

“Great. You know what? Why don’t we schedule a time, so we can follow up on that and see if it makes sense to take next steps?” So somebody who is genuinely serious about the information and taking that next step will have decent answers for what, when, why. 

Somebody who is just trying to blow you off, they’re not going to really give you all that much substance to those. Like, “All right, John. What information do you want to see?” “I don’t know. Anything — any — whatever. Whatever you’ve got.” “OK. Whatever I’ve got. I’ll fill up your inbox in 30 seconds. When would you like to see it?” 

“Whenever.” “Why?” “I don’t know.” You know what I mean? And just get off the phone. So that — just simple cadence of, “What information would you like to see? When would you like to see it? And why?" really helps kind of at least [flush] out who is genuinely serious about that and who is not. 


Clarke: Let’s talk about scheduling that next meeting. I must admit the amount of times I was in sales meetings and, you know, if I get a commitment for the reasons on why they want that information and how it’s going to benefit for them. And then, I say, “Well, when do you want it?” 

And they say, “Well, maybe sometime next week.” And I think this is probably something that we’ve all become quite guilty of is that we aren’t necessarily specific enough. So any tips there in terms of, you know, how to really lock them down and get them scheduled? 


Barrows: Yeah. Absolutely. I actually think one of the most important things we can get at any stage of the sales process from prospecting all the way through is a defined next step scheduled on the calendar. Right. 

So we don’t just let them go with, “Send me information,” because typically the way, “Send me information,” works is, “Send me information.” “OK. Great. When do you want to follow up? Next week? Fantastic. I’ll talk to you next week.” Right. 

And they’re never there next week. In my 20 years of professional selling, nobody has ever been there next week. So what I want to do is I want to get a defined next step. So here’s a nugget and a tip for those people listening here. 

It’s kind of my new favorite thing to do where you say, “John, you know what? Send me information.” I say, “Great.” You know, what, when, why? “And when you do you want to schedule a brief 15-minute call, so we can follow up on that information and see if it makes sense to take the next steps?” 

And they say, “You know what, John? Next week is good.” “When next week?” And then, you say it like this. And you say it with a really nice tone of voice. Right. You go, “Actually, you know what? You got your calendar in front of you?” And then, you shh. Wait for it. 

It’ll be that awkward pause where they realize that you’ve got them because, if they say no to that, they are blatantly lying to your face. Everybody has their calendar in front of you when they’re on the phone. 

By the way, if you ever do that to a VP of sales, you’ll actually almost hear the smirk on the other end of the line being like, “Man, damn. I wish my reps would do this stuff.” Right. 

So the person that pushes back on you, I guarantee you, isn’t going to be there next week. The person that says, “Sure,” it doesn’t guarantee they’re going to be there. But at least, with that meeting on the calendar, there’s a much higher likelihood. 

And I’m all about — so time management too here. I’m going to tie into this. Time management is a big thing with all of us in sales. And what I do is, I spend more time on equal relationships. OK, so if you and I are equal, I’m going to spend more time on that. 

If we’re unequal, I’m going to spend less time on that. So to me, when you say, “Send me information,” that’s a give. Right. We talk about gives and gets in negotiations. 

That’s a give. I’m going to send you information. My get is that 15-minute qualification call. And if you give that to me, that’s an equal relationship. So now, I’m probably going to write this nice custom piece of information, you know, put it all together and say, “Here you go. Great talking to you today. Looking forward to our call next week.” 

The person that says no to that, it just — it doesn’t mean I’m not going to give you your information. It’s just I’m not going to spend that much time to it. So you’re going to get my template. And my expectations of you being there are just going to be much lower next week. 


Kraines:  So even to get in touch with these people that are either involved, engaged or not, that can be one of the biggest issues, even more challenging than scheduling the follow-up call. Any insight into getting these contacts? 


Barrows: Yeah. I would say that’s probably one of the biggest challenges out there, just data quality, right, of how to find contact information and, you know, the phone — direct-dial numbers and those type of things. 

And there’s obviously, you know, data.com, and there’s a million other resources out there that you can pay for. That’s why I love the top-down approach because, usually, the C-level executive or somebody on the executive level C-suite is somebody I can usually find the email address for. 

You know, I can take a couple of guesses at the naming convention. Usually, here in the states, it’s first initial, last name or something like that. And so the beauty of that approaching the C-suite from a literally way top down is because — you know, people say they sell to the C-suite. 

Just shut up. No, you don’t. You know, when was the last time a CEO sat through the entire sales process from prospecting to qualification to demo to … — you know, it just doesn’t happen unless you’re selling to five-person companies. 

But you know, if you’re selling to mid-market or above, the likelihood of a C-level executive sitting through the entire sales process is pretty much zero. They might pop in and out. And they might be the ultimate decision makers. 

But they’re not going to be the one. So that’s great for us actually because what we can do is we can reach out to those executives, not sell them and say something good enough to get their attention and then just simply ask, “Hey, who can I talk to about this?” 

And by the way, I’m not a proponent of just blasting out 100 emails to 100 C-level executives with a pretty generic pitch and saying, “Who can I talk to about that?” I think that’s unfortunately done a lot of disservice to the market. 

But I think taking a very thoughtful, “Hey, I saw you were quoted in this magazine. I saw your company is doing this. You know, I wanted to talk to you about it because we’re working with other companies that that’s happened. And we’re showing them how to drive these type of results. We’d love to talk to you. Who can I speak with about this?” 

And then getting that executive to refer you down to, right, the VP of sales — you know, my target audience is VP of sales. But every other sales training company on the planet calls VPs of sales. And every other sales tool on the planet calls VPs of sales. 

So we all kind of sound almost exactly the same. You know, hopefully, my value prop is going to be a little bit better. But ultimately, we all sound the same. So instead of that, I want to go after the CEO. And I want to go after the CFO and say, “Hey, who can I talk to about —” you know, say something cool and get their attention. 

That’s, to me, how I find information without a tool like data.com or something like that that gives me the insights — you know, specific direct-dial numbers. So — 


Clarke: John, I know point four in the article, you put, “Try to make them laugh.” You know, there’s obviously different personalities of salespeople. I think some people are very straight, very rigid and aren’t as much into the small talk. But it sounds like there’s certainly some value add if you’re able to make it sometimes less serious. 


Barrows: Yeah. I mean, you’ve just got to understand. You’ve got to be human. I mean, people buy from people. You know, I think that’s a little bit overplayed as far as they’ve got to like you type of thing. But they do buy from human beings. 

So I think taking a more human approach to what we’re doing tends to work out a lot more often than not. My best example of this is my favorite sales movie of all time, right, “Tommy Boy.” 

And you know, if you look at “Tommy Boy,” it’s legitimately the best — everybody says “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “Boiler Room” and “Wolf of Wall Street.” To me, those are the worst sales movies I’ve ever seen in my life. 

It’s everything that’s wrong about selling. Right. But the best sales movie is — one is “Pursuit of Happiness.” That’s awesome. But my favorite is literally “Tommy Boy.”

And the idea there, if you think about “Tommy Boy,” like for the first part of that movie, he was trying to be like his dad. Right. You stick your head up a butcher’s ass — no. That’s not the way you’re supposed to — and he was trying way too hard. 

But then, there’s a scene in “Tommy Boy” where he’s just himself. Right. And it’s the scene where he’s sitting down with the woman and — the waitress in the restaurant. She won’t give him wings because the kitchen is closed. 

And he’s like, “Helen — you look like a Helen — let me tell you why I suck as a sales rep.” And then, he goes through this whole thing. And he’s like, yeah, you know. And she’s like, “Man, you’re twisted. You know what? Let me go fire up the grill and get back to you. I’ll get you those wings.” And he’s, “Tommy likey. Tommy want wingy.” 

And right there, that’s where I call it catching your sales groove, right, where we wake up one day. And sales is just a little bit easier than it was the day before. I don’t know when that day was specifically. But really, it’s when you stop pitching your solutions. And you start having conversations about your solutions. 

It’s when you start caring more about the clients’ needs than you care about the commissions in your pocket. And oddly enough, that’s when your commissions start going through the roof. So to me, it’s all about, you know, being human. 

And so, you know, you can do some stuff. There’s some techniques that I throw out there that I learned when I was a kid, you know, when I was making $400 a week and stuff like — I used to do this one. Now, by the way, I’m not recommending anybody do these things. I’m just saying, hey, if you want to have some fun with it, go for it. You know, somebody would say, “Hey, John. Send me information.” Right. 

I’d be like, “Great. You know what? Happy to send you information. You know what? I’m going to do you one better. I’m going to send you a package. It’s going to be about 6’1”, bald-headed, goatee. It’s going to show up on Friday at 4 o’clock. You going to be there to sign for it?” Right. And try to get them to laugh about I’m going to show up. 

Or you know, taking another approach where I used to be very direct — so being from Boston, it kind of gives me the liberty of being kind of a little bit more direct than everybody else. Everybody thinks rude. I just call it direct. 

But I used to get so sick of, “Send me information,” I’d be like, “Hey, you know what? I’m happy to send you information. There’s really only two reasons people ask me to send them information. One is they’re really interested, and they’re going to set up a follow-up call. The other is they’re just trying to be nice and get me off the phone. Which one are you?” 

Right. Just shutting up after that. And you know, half the time, I’d get, “Yeah. You know what, John? I just want to get you off the phone.” “OK. Cool. I didn’t want to waste your time. I sure don’t want to waste mine.” 

So I think, you know, again, let’s talk about the secretary or the gatekeeper. I ask this question a lot. Hey, do you think that it’s the secretary or gatekeeper’s job to keep us out? And a lot of people say, “Yeah. Absolutely. It’s their job.” No. It’s not. If it was, they’d be called wall keepers. 

They’re called gatekeepers for a reason. Gates are meant to be open. But the problem is we don’t treat them as a human being. We treat them as a gate that we have to get past. And so I try to relate to them as much as possible.

And I break down gatekeepers into a couple of different ways. One is the executive assistant. And then, there is the front-line secretary. I personally love executive assistants, absolutely love them. Like once I find a legit EA, I stop everything I’m doing. And I focus all my efforts on them, right, because they’re the keys to the castle anyways. 

Now, secretaries/frontline gatekeepers, a little bit more challenging, right, because they don’t have as much skin in the game. But regardless, instead of trying to do some sneaky tactic to get around them or any of that stuff, I just try to say, “Hey, look. You know, if you were me, what would you do?” 

I’ll tell you right now the hardest thing — and if anybody ever comes across a solution for this one, please email me. Call me because I’d love to know a solution for this one — is where the gatekeeper says, “John, why don’t you send me the information? I’ll forward it along to whoever internally may be interested in this. And if they are, they’ll get back to you.” Right. 

I’ve got to be honest. I’ve got nothing for that one. But what I do do is, “OK. Look, I don’t want to waste anybody’s time here. Let me ask you. If I don’t get a response within a week, what would you suggest I do?” 

You know, and just really try to take it to that human level. Look, I’m not trying to sell you anything you don’t need. When I make phone calls and they say, “Is this a sales call?” my answer is, “I don’t know.” I-I really don’t because, if there’s something to sell, then, yeah, it’s a sales call. 

But if there’s not, then no. It’s not. All I’m looking for is about 10 minutes on somebody’s calendar, so I can ask them a couple of quick questions and see if there is something to sell. And if there is, then we take it from there. If not, I go away. 

So I think just being human and really relating to the people and understanding the situation they’re in — think about it this way with gatekeepers specifically. Say there’s a C-level executive or somebody on the other side of that that is absolutely drowning in whatever it is. 

So let’s use Salesforce as an example. Say there is a company — you know, a 30-, 40-, 50-person company that’s managing everything through spreadsheets. The VP of sales has really no insight into where the forecast is or what’s coming in or any of that because all the reps are out there doing their own thing. 

You know, if you think about it, is a secretary or gatekeeper — are they doing their job by not letting us in? No. They’re not. They’re not doing their job. But we’re also not doing our job because we’re not giving them a good enough reason to go in. 

So that’s why we have to be very thoughtful with our approach, give them reasons, make sure that we know what we’re asking for and just be a normal human being when you’re making your phone calls. And have some fun with it. 


Kraines: You are this normal human being. You are really trying to make sure that you are trying to gauge the interest of who you’re talking to. Sometimes, they just hang up. Do people actually do this? And those that stay with you, are they better engaged? 


Barrows: Yeah. I mean, the ones that hang up are going to hang — that’s just part of the game. Right. Nobody likes to be cold-called. Nobody likes to be caught off guard. Nobody likes to be pitched to. 

You know, and sometimes, no matter what you do, it’s not going to make a difference. So you know, hopefully, the hang-ups will be significantly reduced by doing some of the stuff that we talked about, which is having a reason, knowing what you’re asking for, doing some research before you get [into the account], going top down, all that stuff. 

But at the end of the day, you’re going to get hung up on. It’s just part of the game. I will say that it’s worth noting that I personally rarely get hung up on like literally hung up on mid-sentence by people above the power line if I take the right approach. 

People below the power line, you know, they tend to hang up quite a bit just because, again, they can. And funny enough, people above the power line are usually friendlier than people below the power line because they got there by working with people and understanding. 

So I think, ultimately, you’ve just got to have a pretty thick skin in sales and just say, hey, you know what, worse things could happen. This is why I personally like negotiating for everything everywhere I go outside of my job. Right. 

Every time I go to a restaurant, you know, I ask if I can get the dessert for free. Or you know, every time I go to a hotel, I ask, can I get the upgrade? Or you know, go buy clothes. Can I get the discount? Because I want to practice getting rejected. But I also want to practice asking seemingly awkward questions in pretty harmless situations so that I can then apply that when it makes a difference. 

So you know, I think a lot of just, you know, taking it for what it is, right. If they hang up on you, they hang up on you. Maybe you can call back and have fun with it. Be like, “Hey, wow. That was actually — that was the first time I got hung up on today. I want to thank you for that, kind of got me out of my groove here. I’d like to talk to you again.” 

You know, and make fun of it, going back to getting people to laugh and just really having fun. When you screw up a pit — I used to get more callbacks when I would screw up my voicemails than when I would nail the perfect one every single time. 

So again, being human about it but just realizing that, you know, maybe they’re having a bad day. I used to take it pretty personally when I first started. But now, I just realize I have no idea what’s going on on the other end of that phone. 

You know, that person could be having a miserable day. Something could have happened in their family. Or they could have gotten 50 sales calls from jerk sales reps trying tricks on them before me. 

So you know what? It is what it is. Just move on to somebody else. Or call somebody else. Or call at a different time. You know, if you’re trying to get away from gatekeepers, try calling early in the morning or late in the afternoon. 

Gatekeepers are usually nine-to-fivers, whereas executives usually come in early or stay late. So that’s another option that you could do if you’re really having a hard time banging up against gatekeepers. 


Clarke: Perfect. Now, we’re nearly up on time here. So do you have any closing thoughts that you want to leave with people listening to this podcast? 


Barrows: You know, somebody asked me recently, John, now that you’re 40 years old, you know, if you could go back and tell your 22-year-old self something, what would it be? And the number one response I came up with was split testing, you know, A-B split testing because, if you do that, you start to figure things out a lot faster. 

Like for instance, I used to make $400 a week, you know — for five years of my life, I made $400 a week. I got eight meetings a month. I got four proposals, two pieces of closed business, that type of thing. 

And it was with this generic elevator pitch because I thought, hey, coming up with a perfect pitch and then just making my ears bleed and tripping over an opportunity. But now, looking back on it, I should have — you know, instead of making $400 with a generic elevator pitch, making like [100 dials] with one approach, two approaches, three approaches, four approaches, and figuring out which one worked. 

And so as it relates to gatekeepers and those type of things, or, “Send me information.” You know, with gatekeepers, here’s an example. Tomorrow morning, for everybody listening to this podcast, be super nice to gatekeepers. Right. 

Be overly nice to them. And be like, hey, you know — you know, try to get their name, number. Who are you calling for? I’m calling for you. I just want to brighten up your day. And then, in the afternoon, be super direct. You know, “Who is calling?” “John. Put me through.” 

“Where are you calling from, John?” “Boston. Put me through.” Right. And see what works. And really take a conscious effort at figuring out which approaches work and which ones don’t. And same thing with, “Send me information.” 

You know, maybe all week next week you say, “Hey, happy to send you information. I’m going to send you a package. It’s going to be 6’1.” Right. See what happens there. And the other is, “Hey, two reasons people send me information, this or that. Which one are you?” 

And see which one works because your personality is different than mine. Right. John Barrows from Boston, Massachusetts, you know, my approach isn’t going to work for everybody else. But if you take this split-test mentality, you’re going to be able to figure it out a lot faster than I ever did. 


Clarke: Perfect. Cool. Look, really appreciate all of the insights, John. And thank you also to our guest host, Marissa. Thank you both. 


Barrows: Thank you very much. And just to throw it out there, I give away a ton of free stuff. So I know Quotable has an awesome bunch of resources. My website, jbarrows.com — if you want to go on there, there’s some more stuff on there, too, that you can play around with. Anytime anybody needs any help, just feel free to reach out. My contact information is all there. 


Clarke: Perfect. Thank you. 


Barrows: Cool. All right, guys. Have a great day. 

How to Craft the Perfect Sales Pitch By Annie Simms,
Account Executive, Salesforce
Learn from the best. Sell like the best.