In her Success Interview, Johnell and Michael McCauley, from “Turn Knowledge into Profit”, talk with sales expert Katie Nelson. Through her company, Sales Uprising, Katie helps her clients both big and small optimize their sales process from cold calling to cultivating a long client relationship. With more than 25 years of experience in all types of sales situations, Katie shares her knowledge and gives you tips for creating excitement around sales. Listen here.
Many entrepreneurs find themselves starting a business when they are ready to leave one career and start another. They also find that the sales strategy that worked in the previous career doesn’t work in the new career. This is the story of an entrepreneur who learned this lesson the hard way.
Meet Emily. Emily is a rogue academic who also happens to be one of my favorite clients. She had been teaching philosophy to college students in Myrtle Beach when she realized no matter how hard she worked to engage her students, Socrates could never compete with Chewbacca Mom.
Now she is reinventing herself as a blogger, copywriter, and web content creator for small business owners. Her current clients seem to appreciate her talents more than her previous clients, which might be because she doesn’t (usually) grade her current clients’ work.
A workshop is not a sales strategy.
When you make a big career change, it’s natural to cling to what’s familiar. Emily is familiar with teaching, so she figured doing a workshop teaching small business owners how to start blogging would be a great way to get sales leads and sell her services.
And she’s right that workshops CAN be a great way to sell yourself, especially if you are in a service-based industry. But what Emily didn’t fully realize is that a workshop is not a sales strategy in itself.
I’ll let Emily tell the rest of her story in her own words:
I offered a series of free 60-minute workshops, the most successful of which was sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce and a small business organization. About 50 small business owners showed up to the workshop. The audience was engaged, energetic, and interactive.
After the workshop, I spoke with about 6 prospects and exchanged business cards with them. They all said that they would follow up with me. I came away from the workshop feeling amazing. I just knew all I needed to do was sit back and wait for those new clients to start calling me.
I diligently wrote my follow-up email ahead of time, on Katie’s suggestion, and sent it out to all the participants after the workshop. What I didn’t do was follow up with those prospects who said they were interested in working with me. I mean, they said they would call me. They never did.
Weeks later, when I complained that my workshop was a complete failure in terms of sales, Katie asked me if I had called those who said they were interested in working with me. Like a good philosopher, I had many arguments for why I didn’t need to make those calls:
They don’t want me to bother them.
It has been too long since the workshop to follow up now.
I’m allergic to cold calling (okay, my actual language was probably more colorful).
Katie had answers ready. She’s heard it all. In the end, I couldn’t think of a good reason not to pick up the phone. Plus, she actually made me feel like I could do it.
Always the eager student, I did set aside my fears and call those 6 prospects. Once I got into a rhythm, it wasn’t even that hard. Everyone I spoke with said they loved the workshop (which gave me more confidence).
Some said that they had tried my blogging techniques with some success. Others referred me to friends and colleagues who have become warm leads for me to follow up with. One of those prospects has even become a new client.
I discovered that while a workshop is a great icebreaker, if you don’t reach out to those warm leads in a specific way to continue the relationship, all that hard work could be wasted. A workshop is not a sales strategy. Lesson learned.
And here’s your workshop sales strategy lesson for the day:
Figure out what the sell is. As a professor, Emily had to learn how to sell education. As a copywriter who wants clients to hire her, she has to learn how to sell herself. Having great workshop content is the beginning, not the end.
The name of the game is Be Proactive. When someone says they want to follow up with you, that’s great to know. It’s a greenlight. Don’t wait for them to remember they want to work with you.
Pay attention to the numbers. On average 33% of people you contact will move to the next step in your sales funnel. So if you make 300 calls, you’ll get the opportunity to make 100 pitches, which will land you 30 sales. That’s if everything goes perfectly right.
Are you new to entrepreneurship and struggling to find a sales strategy that works for you? Give Katie a call. She’s not just a sales coach. She’s your sales coach.
According to a #1 New York Times bestseller, everyone has a “love language.” Does your love crave words of praise or is physical touch the way to show your appreciation? Does spending quality time together or receiving acts of service from you fill up her “love tank?” Similarly, everyone has a “sales language.”
While some really enjoy the rough and tumble exchange of a tough negotiation, others are uncomfortable with overt sales tactics and prefer a sales call that feels more like a friendly conversation than an arm wrestling match.
The point is that not everyone speaks the same language when it comes to love or sales. And just as figuring out your partner’s “love language” is key to making your relationship work, figuring out your prospects’ “sales language” is key to selling.
The 5 Sales Languages
Sounds like a great book title, right? It may seem oversimplified, but in my experience, people prefer one of five basic sales languages. Here are your 5 “types”:
1. The Negotiator
This prospect lives to negotiate. They see every sales call as an opportunity to flex mental muscles and challenge you on price, value, or time spent on a project. “Winning” is the name of the game. If you can convince the Negotiator that they call the shots and are getting a deal,` you have proven your worth and have a new client.
2. The Smooth Operator
Conflict makes the Smooth Operator uncomfortable. Rather than negotiate with you or feel the pressure of having to make a tough decision, this prospect will simply put off making the decision. If you apply too much pressure here, you’ll send this potential client running for the woods (even if there are clowns lurking there).
3. The Critic
The Critic enjoys challenging your claims at every turn. Be ready with answers to all of his objections and you will impress this prospect. Always avoid bluffing your way through a meeting with this kind of client. Expect that he has done his homework and if you haven’t, an honest, “I’ll get back to you on that” would be more well-received than if you truly don’t know.
4. The Hero
These types of prospects want to be able to feel like a hero in the eyes of their bosses, employees, whoever. They love to hear that you are on their side and you are ready to do whatever it takes to make them look good. Good storytelling will go a long way with Heros; so make sure to bring your narrative when you head into a meeting with these folks.
5. The Baby Bird
Finally, Baby Birds want to hear from you even after you sell them. They may call you a lot to ask you questions or to tell you how much they love using your enchanted software system. This prospect may require a bit more patience than you are used to. But if you dig down deep inside and find that storehouse of tolerance, you will be glad you did.
How do you determine a prospect’s sales language?
If you Google “sales language,” you will find article after article with titles like “Powerful Words to Help You Sell” and “Words to Avoid in Sales.” I’m here to tell you that while some of this advice is valid, there are no magic words or magic formulas that will move your prospect from “maybe” to “yes.” Don’t waste your time memorizing a set of words.
What works is taking the time to get to know your prospect. Look for clues in the questions they ask, the way they approach you, and even in the way they describe themselves. Then strategize with your team about how to discuss the sale.
You know me.
Sales is life. It’s living. It’s breathing.
But whenever I go into a sales call, I know that it’s not about me. Understanding my client’s sales language is the first thing on my agenda. What about you? Call me and let’s discuss how we can start your Sales UpRising.
It’s the start of a new year! Doesn’t it feel great to turn over a new leaf? Start over with a clean slate? Have your Sales Goals and be working toward them?
The week before New Year’s, your feet barely touch the ground as you float around in your holiday-induced haze resolving to do ALL THE THINGS. Then January 2nd rolls around and you collapse under the pressure of all your lofty goals.
Whether you are managing a sales team, pitching your own clients, or carrying a bag with a quota to meet, sales comes with its own special set of pressures. You don’t have to buckle under those pressures! The more pressure you put on yourself, the higher the expectations, the less likely you are to meet your sales goals, if you don’t manage your plan!
You have the power to give yourself the room you need to keep your sanity and grow your sales in 2017. So, the next time you feel like you want to kick a tire or fall down into a puddle, remind yourself of a few things.
1. You are the house.
In Vegas, when you’re playing blackjack at the Bellagio, the cards are literally stacked against you. This is because the house makes the rules in their favor. If you continue to play, the dealer will eventually win. It’s inevitable.
In your business, you are the house. Stack the deck. It’s all about creating the sales process that will get you to your sales goals. Work your sales process right and you will always come out on top.
If you aren’t there yet, chances are you are focusing too much on the wrong details. Fore example, whoever you perceive to be your top prospects—those “hot” leads. But this would be like the Bellagio focusing on high rollers only.
What works? Casting a wide net and consistently working with people at every level of your sales pipeline. Whenever you talk to anyone (and I mean ANYONE), be on the lookout for buying cues and keep in mind that a “yes” is always just one conversation away.
2. You can change your perspective—literally.
Imagine yourself sitting at your desk with your call list in one hand and a mug of your liquid courage of choice in the other. You hit the phones. But then, you hit brick wall after brick wall—voicemail, unyielding gatekeepers, “I love you, but not now’s.”
What happens next? Do your judge yourself? Give up? Make excuses?
Recently, I was going to meet with a new potential client, who I had met at a networking event and with whom I’d shared a few giggles. When I called to verify our meeting, she was in the hospital. I could have simply given up. Instead I remembered I have choices, I said, “You didn’t need to put yourself in the hospital to avoid meeting with me.” Our relationship went on from there.
The point here is that life happens and you have to let it. So, the next time you feel frustrated, try changing your perspective. Get up. Go out for a walk. Push that reset button. Then come back to the phone with a smile on your face.
3. You do not live or die by your sales goals.
At the end of the day when you hang up that phone for the last time, remember you and your business is more than just one sale. Take a step back and realize that every day is a new day and a new chance to win the business.
Yes, you NEED to make those sales. But this is the best thing ever! You have something to offer and a list of people to invite to join you. You are not solider in Afghanistan looking for IED’s. If you are not perfect at your job, you will not blow up. You will live to make a sale another day.
Finally, don’t forget your wins. Every time you connect with someone, it’s a win. The person who didn’t buy this time is primed for the next conversation. Did it fit into that line on your neat and tidy Excel spreadsheet with you quarterly sales goals? No. But it’s still a win.
I get it! It’s hard to remember these things when your back is up against the wall. So if all else fails, call me. I’ll remind you that the fastest way to reach your sales goals is to relax and let your sales process work. Don’t have a sales process? I’ll help you get your Sales UpRising.