Editor’s Note: This is a sponsored post by Pipedrive.

Sales is a bit of an involuntary passion of mine. Partially because I was raised in a family of entrepreneurs, my mother was one when it was virtually banned in the USSR, partially because I somehow ended up doing sales for most of my life.

When it comes to sales, there was pretty much everything: real estate sales, retail sales, online sales, corporate sales, cold calling and my favourite – door to door sales.

That last one is what really gets you to appreciate and understand what sales is all about: numbers and people.

At the start, forty houses led to two closed deals. If you optimise and learn a thing or two about people, you start skipping the nice looking ones that already have what you are selling. Then the numbers are forty to four. If you walk faster, understand when the deal is just not going to happen, it might become forty to six, and so on.

From this experience, I have come up with three simple rules of selling:

1. Sales is a numbers game. The more leads you have, the more e-mails you send, the more meetings you land, the more deals you close.

2. To win – follow up. Only 2% of sales occur at a first meeting, so following up is the one activity that can immediately boost your sales. It can take up to twenty e-mails, phone calls, meetings to close a deal.

3. To close – ask meaningful questions and listen. This is about identifying the real needs of your customer and tailoring your offer to the point when they simply can’t say ‘no’.

This leads me to my golden rule of selling: “Do everything you can to build your lead pool then get in touch and follow up vigorously”.

Good in theory, but very difficult to achieve in practice. Personally, my problem was managing the large number of deals, scheduling and remembering when to follow up and building my sales pipeline. That is until I met Pipedrive.

Before using it, I had a love/hate relationship with any type of CRM. Mostly hate.

That changed when I tried Pipedrive in 2010, while still working at Marat, a large clothing manufacturer in Estonia.

There were two things that got me sold: the speed with which I could input deals & the pipeline overview, where I could clearly see which part of the pipeline each deal is in.

At the time, we were one of the very first clients so getting features into development was easy. Still remember sending an e-mail to Martin, requesting to be able to input a new contact person in the same form as a new deal, and getting it implemented the next morning.

Today, we use it for all of our sales at ArcticStartup. We have divided the pipeline into six distinct parts:

Lead Pool – Where anyone can dump new leads, people and companies they have met or heard of. These can be with or without contact information. Anything. We try to keep this list as large as possible.

First Contact – Once we move the deal to the ‘first contact’ stage, it means that we have reached out at least once by any means.

In Progress – If we get a reply, the deal is ‘In Progress’. Basically, we are in. The discussion is open and the vigorous following-up begins. We aim for a Skype call or a meeting to make sure we can close the deal. This is the part where we also try to qualify the needs.

Proposal Presented – We know or we think we know what the prospect needs and how we can help. This is when we craft a more specific offer and try to close the deal asap.

In Negotiation & Invoicing – These are the closing stages of the deal. There is usually a period of discussion around the deal, tweaking a few details here and there and closing.

We love moving those deals forward in the pipeline – it gets endorphins racing each and every time. As a bonus, the stats help to see just how well each member of the team is doing. When I first started using it at ArcticStartup I made more than ten times my salary in revenue in the first month and knew exactly how long it took me to close each deal, how many e-mails I have sent a month, how many meetings I had, etc. All of which was seamless.

The best thing is that it works extremely well with the rules I have mentioned. The ‘Lead Pool’ stage makes sure we have as many leads as possible and we dump everything there. This is where the numbers game begins and Pipedrive is nice enough to visualize the whole thing for us.

Once we hit the second stage, we start following up and Pipedrive helps us make it happen as each time you complete a task within the app, it automatically suggest to schedule the next one. This makes following-up a routine and not a hassle.

In addition to Pipedrive, we also use Slack for our day-to-day communication, planning stories and discussing world domination. Greg plugged Pipedrive into Slack using Zapier, and we now get notifications each time a deal is created, moved to the next stage or closed.

“For someone who doesn’t look at sales everyday, its great to get updates and notifications about deals moving as part of my everyday workflow. I made the Slack notification say ‘We’re eatin’ good tonight!’ every time a deal is closed, because without Pipedrive our cashflow would be a mess.” – Greg Anderson, editor-in-chief at ArcticStartup.

For more information and sales tips, check out the Pipedrive blog and sales academy.

Top Image Courtesy of Shutterstock // Door to Door Sales