Niraj Kapur is a best-selling author, a sales coach, and a legend when it comes to bringing your sales success to the next level. With the new year upon us, we knew he was the right person to ask what strategies and tactics can we implement right now to ensure next year is dramatically more successful and profitable than this year. Listen in as he shares five secrets you can immediately implement to kickstart the new year.

Not in the mood to listen? No problem, you can read the transcriptions below.

Host:  Darryl PraillVanillaSoft

Guest: Niraj Kapur, Everybody Works in Sales


Darryl Praill: Thank you Paul. How you doing everybody? My name is Darryl Praill. This is another episode of INSIDE Inside Sales and it’s the show where we go to talk trade. And what I mean by that is we’re not talking strategy, we’re not talking trends, we’re not talking big picture. We are talking the tactics, the tools and the tips you need to succeed every day in your job as a sales development professional. If you don’t know me, no problem you can check me out on LinkedIn. Darryl Praill or on Twitter. On Twitter you’ll find my handle is opinionated. O-H-P-I-N-I-O-N-8-T-E-D and the beauty of that spelling is no matter where I go it’s always available and it is evocative of how I approach all of our content. I bring an opinion. Whether you like it or love it hopefully you’ll learn something from it and if you disagree with me please shout it out because that’s how we all learn is with the conversation.

Darryl Praill: With that I want to segue. We’re getting close to the end of 2018, very close in fact and 2019s just around the corner and as a sales professional 2019 to me you know January first kind of thing is always akin to the start of school. It’s a fresh start. We’ve gotten over the holidays and we’re back maybe from a small mini vacation and now we’re heads down buckling and we’re approaching our job, our goal, our objective to raise funds, to raise revenues, to hit quota with new vigor and new determination but sometimes you need to be reminded of the basics you should be doing and as well perhaps dip your toe, if you will, into the water of ideas you haven’t tried yet.

Darryl Praill: It’s a new year, it’s a new chance to reinvigorate your goals and objectives and that’s what brings us to today’s episode. I am joined by Niraj Kapur and let me tell you a little bit about Niraj ’cause he’s got cool interesting story. He’s got over 20 years working in sales in corporate London. I love that right it’s not just London. It’s corporate London. Almost like a whole different set of expectations. From SMEs to the Guardian newspaper group to the financial times 100 businesses. All right so if you’re not sure what that is that’s the equivalent of the fortune 500.

Darryl Praill: He’s an author. Not just any old author. He’s a best-selling author. His book Everybody Works in Sales is a must read. So again new year, new book. Everybody Works in Sales you can find it on Amazon but due to all that success he’s actually set up an expert sales coaching practice called everybody works in sales. Clearly, he’s good at branding the book the practice it’s all the same. And he helps businesses and entrepreneurs increase revenue by teaching sales techniques and strategies that are not forceful or lacking integrity. He has trained clients and given talks at NatWest University of Buckingham, Barclays and federation of small businesses. This is the man and beyond all that he still has time to help out in charities like Action eight, Willen Hospice, the Samaritans and he grows by the way, and this is pretty important, a ridiculous mustache every Movemeber.

Darryl Praill: With that I’m excited to welcome to the show Niraj. How are you doing sir?

Niraj Kapur: Darryl that’s a fantastic introduction. I’m doing great thank you. Greetings from England.

Darryl Praill: Well greetings back from Canada and all of North America. I always say this for those who don’t know Canada, England we’re all part of the Commonwealth so we have that in common and God Bless the Queen. So with that out of the way we can actually get down to business all right. So no Niraj you and I had a chance to talk and we talked at length because there was a number of areas where we can take this and ironically enough if you don’t know Niraj. I didn’t either. And I was, now I was introduced to you, you’re going to correct me Niraj. Was it Steve Burton that introduced us?

Niraj Kapur: Yeah we both know Dan Disney as well but it Steve Burton-

Darryl Praill: And Dan Disney that’s right. Now for guys who don’t know we just ironically had Steve Burton on a great episode. Do you know why you’re prospecting? So check out that episode. Steve’s a dynamo. He’s the all-time winningest sales trainer in all the UK but so Steve when we were doing our podcast he actually pinged me, Darryl you got to speak to Niraj. This guy is killing it. So I’m like, “All right.” And here we are near days later. And when we chatted I was like, “Hey Niraj. Your book covers a lot of stuff. What do you want to talk about?” And you came up with this kickstart 2019. So what was your motivation for that? I’m kind of curious.

Niraj Kapur: Well I see so many salespeople this time of year Darryl. Some cases struggling but many cases panicking to hit their year-end number and that’s a really important number to hit but what you have to do as well is keep a really close eye on next year on what’s called your fore bookings target so you start the year really well ahead.

Darryl Praill: So talk to me about a fore bookings target. I know we’re going to get into the tactics on the kickstart 2019 but for those not familiar with it. What is that?

Niraj Kapur: A fore bookings target is when you’re working for a business the company always has a target you have to hit end of the year and then they say you have to put 40% of next year’s target booked before next year. So they expect you to book money in to, you know it’s 2018 now and they expect you to book at least 30 to 40% of your 2019 target as well. And you get an extra bonus for that which can be worth several thousand dollars or several thousand pounds. So it’s a really important target to hit. It also sets you up well for 2019.

Darryl Praill: So if there’s not enough stress on you as a sales rep. Now you got to get 40% of your target before you enter your first set…so guys you should be listening to this podcast ’cause we’re going to walk through how to do this and not all of your tactics. We’ve got five we’re going to cover today coach. Not all the topics we’ve come up here Niraj are like do this. Some of these are also kind of a little more, I don’t want to say philosophical but definitely of an opinion that they may be sort of a methodology. More of a mindset. So I’m curious why you brought both the practical to our discussion as well the softer skills to the discussion. What was the rationale there?

Niraj Kapur: Well it’s really important whenever I do things. I’ve always been a salesperson. That’s what I’ve always done but for the last six years I’ve also been a sales coach and a trainer and so I have to use the skills I have that I know makes salespeople do better. So that’s what I’m giving you. I’m giving you the best of what I’ve discovered over the years and the best of what’s working right now.

Darryl Praill: All right. So, we’re going to give you a full 360 here guys. All right with that let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the top five tips and tricks and what was interesting again when I was talking to Niraj I said to him, “Let’s identify three to five key takeaways for the audience to understand here.” And he was almost like, “That’s it?” ’cause he’s got way more. So if you like what we’re talking about here. While you’re listening to this go on Twitter and, um not Twitter, so go onto LinkedIn and do a search for Niraj Kapur and if you’re not sure how to spell that N-I-R-A-J Niraj. Kapur K-A-P-U-R. Find him. Follow him. That’s what you need to know.

Darryl Praill: All right number one you said to me, and these are in no particular order, “Stop trying to sell and start researching.” Which is really interesting ’cause often I’m saying the opposite. I’m saying, “You’re spending too much time researching and you got to start trying to sell.” So we may have a difference of opinion on this one. So I’ll let you go first. Where are you coming from?

Niraj Kapur: Well now that I have my own business I have people selling to me every single day. Sometimes 10 times a day and I’m always surprised that they don’t know me and don’t know my business. You can’t sell to somebody if you don’t know somebody and we have a big private club opening up near my house. It costs thousands of dollars or thousands of pounds a year to join and the guy said, “Why don’t you join our club?” And I said, “Okay what do I do for a living?” And he couldn’t tell me. I said, “I’ve just set up my sales coaching business. How can I spend thousands of pounds a year on your club?” And he goes, ” Do you live nearby? You can maybe come by and see your club.” I’m like, “You don’t know where I live? You haven’t researched me on LinkedIn?” It’s so important. It shows a lot of mutual respect as well. If you want to do business with somebody always research on Google what the business is and always research on LinkedIn the person you’re speaking to so you can find some kind of common bond. For me that’s really professional courtesy and it’s mutual respect and that’s why I say it’s always good to research your clients before you call them.

[bctt tweet=”I’m always surprised that #salespeople don’t know me and don’t know my business. You can’t sell to somebody if you don’t know somebody. 🤦‍♂️ ~ Niraj Kapur #Sales #SalesTips” username=”VanillaSoft”]

Darryl Praill: So I love where you’re coming from right? And I agree. Like you, I’ve said this before on the show. I’ll say it again. I’m held up, shall we say as a classic target for people to sell items to because I do have the marketing role here at VanillaSoft, which means I have a budget ’cause I’m in a position in the management team. That means I can make decisions. So I get targeted non-fricking stop and the vast majority of them are exactly what you describe. It’s a pitch. It’s rarely even a, “Hi, how are you?” There’s nothing here to get to know me. There’s nothing relational about it. It’s a pitch about what they do. So they don’t show any interest in me. They are viewing me as a transaction. So I feel like I am a piece of meat to them for lack of a better word. That they can just chew on.

Niraj Kapur: Exactly.

Darryl Praill: They don’t want to get to know me and then they don’t know what I do so they may be right. The product or the service they’re proposing may be in fact very beneficial but I don’t know your product, I don’t know your service, I don’t have much time. If you could take a little bit of investment and effort on your part to get to know who I am, what I’m about, what my objectives are in a cursory superficial way. You should be able to figure that out really really fast or just outright ask me ’cause I’ll tell you. And then map to me in your pitch you know you’re conveying your unique selling proposition. My pain, my issue and how your solution may address that and perhaps provide some street cred by saying, ” and you’ve done the same thing for customer A, B, or C.” And maybe use a link to other white paper on the issue and how you approach it. Or a case study on how my competition used that tool to achieve great results. So now it’s personal. I’m just going to say thanks but no thanks. I’m just going to delete you.

Darryl Praill: And I fully agree if they did just a little bit of research that that would work. Now, my concern is if you look at the stats right now most sales development reps, and they work in a CRM system. They’re productive 35% of the time which means two-thirds of the time they’re not productive and a large portion of that two-thirds of the time they’re a doing research. They’re doing so much research it’s almost like they’re afraid to actually do the sales call or the outreach.

Niraj Kapur: That’s actually very true.

Darryl Praill: So how do you balance that? I’m saying one thing, you’re saying another and for different reasons. I’m saying it because folks you’re not being productive. You’re wasting time trying to be over prepared and you’re saying, “But so many of you are doing zero preparation and your pitches are going to fail ’cause there’s no context. Nothing to connect with. Nothing relational.” In your case, I listen to you and you were like, ” what I just effectively heard you say was you don’t know who I am, you don’t know what I do, you don’t know where I live. How can we have a relationship if you don’t care?” And that’s what I just heard you say? So how do you balance those two?

Niraj Kapur: Sales is a lot like marriage sometimes Darryl. It’s always about compromise so I love that quote ’cause it’s so true and what you want to do is not spend too much time researching but don’t do zero research either. So people are always surprised that despite all my experience I still spend 60 minutes a day cold calling. And I will contact four people and I will spend 10 minutes researching each person. Five minutes on their LinkedIn profile seeing what kind of common bonds do we have or who do we know? And then five minutes on their website looking at a news story or a case study. It’s really important to do that. You may not get the chance to speak to them about it over the phone on the first time but at least do that quick bit of research. Any news I can talk about, any case study I can lead with and who do they know that I may know on LinkedIn and what do we have in common. And that won’t take more than 10 minutes at the very most. So don’t spend 15, 20 minutes researching a company. That’s too much but spend up to 10 minutes. That’s very important.

[bctt tweet=”#Sales is a lot like marriage 👰🤵 sometimes…It’s always about compromise. 🤝” username=”VanillaSoft”]

Darryl Praill: So based on that math. If I was in an eight hour sales day how many outreach attempts would you be able to do? Based on the math that you just put forward?

Niraj Kapur: Well we’re only talking, well eight times four is 32. Okay.

Darryl Praill: All right. I wanted to make sure that’s what heard you.

Niraj Kapur: Yeah.

Darryl Praill: So that’s not bad right? I mean a lot of people will say, “I want you doing 50 calls a day or more.” But 32 well-researched outreach attempts, assuming the right and typical connection rate will actually probably produce a heck of a lot more positive results than 50 or more non-researched outreach attempts.

Niraj Kapur: Oh a 100%. I’ve coached both kinds of companies. Companies that do 50 to 60 calls a day and companies that only do five or six calls a day and the ones who are doing between … I mean you don’t have to do as many as 32 because often you have internal meetings throughout the day. You may have client meetings throughout the day but if you’re making anywhere from 18 to about 28, 29 calls a day you’re doing really well. You don’t have to make 50, 60 calls a day for success and that often has the opposite effect. Really research your calls properly and you will see a massive difference.

Darryl Praill: All right. So with that, that’s first of five. We’re going to go for a quick commercial break and then we’ll come back and wrap it up, the next four in a lightning round. So don’t go nowhere folks. We’ll be right back

Darryl Praill: All right so now number two. I love this one but this is a bit of a flashback to a different era. So I’m curious if it’s really thank you still relevant. You’re saying we should send thank you cards. Talk to me.

Niraj Kapur: Every time I meet a new prospect or someone does me a favor or something very nice. I always send them a thank you card and the reason I send a thank you card by mail or in the post is because all we get in the post are bills or junk. That’s pretty much it. You don’t really get much positive stuff in the post and you send somebody a thank you card, you make their day. It makes them happy and at least five times out of 10 they pick up the phone to thank me and then all of a sudden you’ve taken your relationship with that persona step forward and sales is all about taking steps forward and that’s why it’s so important. Not many sales people do it but I’ve had tremendous success doing this. I’ve had people put thank you cards on LinkedIn and we’ve had long debates about thank you cards. What it does for your branding and your appreciation and just being different as a salesperson is unbelievable.

[bctt tweet=”Every time I meet a new prospect or someone does me a favor or something very nice. I always send them a thank you card. 👍 ~ Niraj Kapur” username=”VanillaSoft”]

Darryl Praill: Well you are spot on right? It is memorable. I know when I get those cards in the mail I go, “Hmm isn’t that cool?” And they stick out in my mind a little bit more. If I’m unconvinced that the product is a right fit for me to the service. Does that thank you card change my opinion? No. But if I’m in a sales situation where I know I need a solution and now I’m looking at vendor A, B and C and you’re B and you send a thank you card and nobody else did. If all things were equal I’m going to go with you because you understand the power of through relationship and that appeals to me immensely because I’m not just buying a product or service. I’m buying a relationship. You know when things get tough and things go awry I’m not looking at the software or the professional services. I’m looking at you to help save me. So that part is really powerful. I love that. And the best of all is that there’s actually services out there who will do this for you with the thank you card. So it doesn’t have to be a painful process. You can use third party service to do this. So that’s kind of cool. I’m guessing I shouldn’t send a thank you fax though just to be clear.

Niraj Kapur: No, please don’t do that.

Darryl Praill: All right. Number three and this is a really good reminder. You’re putting it out there ironically as a best-selling author. Learn every day from books and from successful people. So, speak to me on that ’cause it almost seems obvious but again I know what we’re doing here is we’re actually putting out reminders. There probably isn’t anything new here we’re saying but it’s an affirmation, it’s a reminder that if you’re not doing this it is affecting your success and you should be doing this. So why do you say learn every day from books and successful people?

Niraj Kapur: If you want to get better at sales and if you want to hit your sales target. One of the best things you can do is read great sales book from the typical master Anthony Iannarino, Jeffrey Gitomer, you know Mark Hunter. All the people you expect and also learn from successful people. So find out who the most successful salespeople are in your office or other company’s and buy the lunch. Every day people have to eat and every company I’ve worked in I industry the most successful person or people and I bought them lunch. And I’ve been saying maybe out of say 50 people over the last 10 years who are really successful and I’ve had lunch with only two said, “No I’m too busy.” And the rest of them said yes because people have to eat lunch and I’m always very grateful their time. I pay for lunch and I sit there asking them questions and really admiring that person and putting them on pedestal and asking for advice and it’s a great way to build a relationship as well.

Darryl Praill: Now I know you’re in the UK and I’m in Canada but I’m just making an observation here. You have never asked to buy me lunch so I’m taking by extraction that means you don’t think I’m a great or successful person. Is that what you’re saying to me?

Niraj Kapur: No, I’m saying when I go to Canada you’re the first person I’m buying lunch.

Darryl Praill: Oh good recovery. Well done. You know what’s funny? Niraj is every time I interview somebody on this wonderful show of ours or anytime I have a conversation at a live conference or even a networking event and we get into this conversation. The ones who are successful they have a recurring statement they always make and that is just this. Read, read, read. And they said the same thing you know? Blount, Hunter, Gitomer they go on right? Bertuzzi et cetera. These people have all made noticeable impacts upon them and changed how they approach it and helped give them a framework or helped them prioritize their approach or give order to some chaos or disorganization in how I approach my game. So I would fully agree with you with that it is probably the best piece of advice that is easiest to do and candidly between e-readers and audiobooks it doesn’t have to be something you actually read. It just needs to be information you need to consume. I have a minimum 45-minute commute, minimum. Each way every day from my house to my office and I listen to audiobooks ’cause I have a hard time otherwise getting that information.

Darryl Praill: So to your point learn from the masters now more than ever. Especially if you want to do better this year than last year. Great advice. Number four. You asked, I love this point you’re making and you just alluded to it about your luncheons. You say ask great questions. Especially though forward-thinking ones. So elaborate on that.

Niraj Kapur: Asking great questions just shows you’re very interested in the other person and a big mistake salespeople make is they talk too much about themselves and they don’t show enough interest in the other person and asking a great question shows a lot of respect towards your customer and it shows you’re genuinely interested in the customer and in terms of forward-thinking questions, they get great conversations going. So asking a customer where do you see your industry changing six months from now or how do you see your business being influenced by the current political climate 12 months from now? These are good questions to ask ’cause again you’re respecting their opinion. You want to hear what they say, and a future based question always gets a good discussion going.

Darryl Praill: I am such a fan of that forward-thinking one. ‘Cause candidly often I’m so in the moment doing my thing and sales professionals are the exact same way. That we don’t have time ourselves to think about our own forward-thinking scenarios. How will my future be impacted 12 months from now if this happens or that happens? You know there’s so much going on in our economy and in our lives. So asking others because it often sparks the conversation. Maybe they don’t know themselves. Between you and they there’s this back and forth dialog that takes place that you both leave there getting value from the conversation. So I love that.

Darryl Praill: I want to share a story with you Niraj if you don’t mind. This is where you say, “No Darryl go ahead.”

Niraj Kapur: No please Darryl go ahead.

Darryl Praill: Thank you. Good straight man. My oldest child. He has found himself a young lady who he is rather enamored with and they’ve been in a relationship for a period of time and he’s recently started to meet his prospective future in-laws and the one, we won’t name names has proven rather challenging. Let’s just go with that. And not unlike a sales call right? Not every body’s going to be receptive. So my coaching to him was simple and it’s exactly what you just said. He was there recently over the weekend. He flew in to spend time with them and I said, “Ask them questions about themselves. Their lives, their jobs, their hobbies, their passions, their philosophies, their thoughts. Never make it about you. Make it about them. There’s lots of times in the future we can get back to you.” People like talking about themselves. That’s not meant to sound rude. Because it’s a topic we’re comfortable with and that helps bring the guard down and it’s the beginning of a relationship and that worked well for me for so many years and when I asked him afterward, “Did you do that? “Yes did” ” how did that work?” “it worked fantastic.” He was almost shocked that dad had good advice. But to hear you say the same thing, brilliant advice. I can attest to that. It works every single time.

Darryl Praill: Last, lack of EQ will hold back your career. What do you mean by EQ? Lack of EQ? What is EQ?

Niraj Kapur: Lack of emotional intelligence.

Darryl Praill: Of course. I know that. Lack of emotional intelligence will hold back your career. And it’s so true. We actually had a conversation about this a few episodes ago and this is critical on this topic. How it’s your whole mindset but maybe you can elaborate on that.

Niraj Kapur: Sure. When I was working for the equivalent of a fortune 500 company many years ago. I had been promoted within a year and the number two sales guy had as well and a year later I got promoted again. The number two sales guy got promoted and the third year in a row I thought, “Yes I’m going to get this big, big promotion.” I didn’t get it. The guy beneath me did and I couldn’t understand that and I said to my boss, “Why is that?” And he said, “Niraj you’re a great salesperson but you lack emotional intelligence.” And I said, “Well what do you mean.” And he said, “Well you hold grudges against people who do bad things and you express every emotion. Stop doing that.” And I was really hurt at the time but it was actually brilliant advice he gave me.

[bctt tweet=”Do you lack #EmotionalIntelligence? 🤔 Successful #salespeople have a handle on their emotions so they build better relationships.” username=”VanillaSoft”]

Darryl Praill: You know when I hear that you know what my immediate reaction is? Is right. Your boss is right but my immediate reaction is that wasn’t a failure on your part that was a failure on your bosses part. That should never had been a surprise to you that you didn’t get that job. You should’ve known months and months in advance ’cause your boss should’ve been coaching you. Taking you in. Niraj I’m noticing this. This may affect your career. How can we help? That didn’t so you know in all fairness you were also let down by your boss and they may be a great person but we just did a discussion on this on coaching. This is important. If you’re listening to coaching. This is important.

Darryl Praill: It’s not a once a year thing so I feel bad that that didn’t happen to you but the point they are making is brilliant and it’s true. You’ve got to have the right mindset. You’ve got to not make it personal which can be hard in sales sometimes. You’ve got to understand that you have weaknesses and shortcoming. That’s not a negative. It’s not that somebody else is better than you ’cause they may have more skills in certain areas. It’s just that they’re more mature in that one area but the beauty is you can overcome that. If you have that mindset. If you make it a purpose. Go read the books. Listen to these podcasts. Practice what you breach. Do AB testing on the calls to figure out how to do it. Then your emotional quotient, your emotional intelligence drives your success. It’s truly all about the right mindset. So what did you do to change?

Niraj Kapur: I learnt to think before I speak which is really important and I stopped holding grudges against people. You know when you work in a sales environment there’s always going to beauty few salespeople who are jealous of you because of your success. There’s always going to be salespeople who say things behind your back. There’s going to be sales people who call your clients when they shouldn’t and what you do is you talk to them about it. You don’t just hold grudges against people and be angry because quite often that anger expresses itself in ways it shouldn’t. And this was five years ago. Just as I was discovering coaching and personal development so it was at a very young stage. Even though I was quite experienced in many ways I was at a very young stage in my personal development and growth of my career and it was a brilliant lesson I learned. So, I’ve learned to be very careful now before I speak, and I’ve learnt now to think a lot and pretty much every time before I speak I often think about what I’m going to say and that makes a big difference.

Darryl Praill: So there you have it folks. Kickstart 2019. Number one, stop trying to sell and start researching. Number two, send thank you cards. Number three, learn every day from books and successful people. Number four, ask great questions but especially forward-thinking ones and number five a lack of emotional intelligence will hold back your career so do something about it. If you enjoyed today’s conversation you need to go buy, consume ’cause that was step number three. Learn every day from books. Everybody Works in Sales. A best seller on Amazon. Check it out. My guest today Niraj Kapur. Did I get that right? I think I totally screwed that one up didn’t I?

[bctt tweet=”🌟Niraj Kapur’s 5 #SalesTips to Kickstart 2019: 1) stop selling & start researching 2) send thank you cards 3) learn from books & successful people 4) ask great quesitons, especially forward-thinking ones 5) lack of #EmotionalIntelligence will hold you back” username=”VanillaSoft”]

Niraj Kapur: Really close. It’s Niraj Kapur. You were almost there.

Darryl Praill: I was so close. I see what happens. You try to wrap it up and you do all this excitement. Anyway guys, clearly in 2019 I have to work on my wrap-ups and I am going to do that with an emotional intelligence. I might even read some books on it. Niraj, thank you for your time today.

Niraj Kapur: Darryl it was an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for having me on your show.

Darryl Praill: If you want to meet more about Niraj I’ve already told you about LinkedIn. Go to and check him out more. In the meantime, this is Darryl Praill from INSIDE Inside Sales. We ask that you follow us. Share this podcast with your friends and your peers because we’re one big community here folks and we want to learn and grow together ’cause hey 2019 is just around the corner. You take care. Bye-bye.