Allow me to share two stories to illustrate why you and your business are not, indeed, different, and why that's a good thing.
But My Business Is Different #1
This past week I met with two Private Consulting clients with successful businesses in totally unrelated industries.
One is going through a bit of a slump and logically wants to turn it around, while the other is on a meteoric rise and wants even greater growth.
Both wanted to meet to discuss sales training.
So I took a closer look at both of their businesses, with a focus on their sales teams and their lead-generation processes.
Both had problems with unmotivated, untrainable staff.
- You can't get blood from a turnip.
- You can't push on a rope.
- You can't herd cats.
- You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.
- You can use too many metaphors...so I'll move on.
Your #1 job as a business owner is not what you think. Your #1 job as a sales manager is also not what you think but in a nutshell, it is NOT to teach turkeys how to soar like an eagle. It's to find more eagles and help them soar to new heights.
When I meet people out and about and tell them I have a sales training business they always ask...
Oh, can you train my people?"
What they expect me to say is
Oh, yes, like, totally, for sure. I can give you some free tips right now in a feeble attempt to curry your favor and impress you. Would you please give me the pleasure of giving you a free consultation after this then a detailed quote you can shop around?"
They want me to dance like a trained monkey and give them free advice right there on the spot, which leads to two points:
- Don't give free advice or do unpaid consulting. Little do these well-meaning prospects realize I stopped giving free advice back before Facebook was launched.
- Don't act like your competitors do. Don't say or do what your prospect expects. When they are putting the full-court press on you, jab with a smile to control the sale (with your words.)
What I always ask in reply to this question is
How do you know you have people who are trainable?
That stops them in their tracks.
Every. Single. Time.
But it's not a trick question.
It's not said in an adversarial tone.
It's an honest question and if they can't answer it then it proves their first question was the wrong question.
Of course, I can train their people but they don't want training.
These business owners want higher-performing salespeople who can drive revenue and margins higher. In much the same way, people who buy saws don't want a saw, they want some wood cut into smaller pieces.
If you'd like a handy desktop guide to overcoming the most pressing objections check out my sales training flashcards.
Now back to our story...
The thriving company had an abundance of leads, which was creating apathy in the sales team. (Yes, you can get too much of a good thing.)
The struggling company had too few leads, which was creating apathy in the sales team. (Yes, you read that right. Same symptoms from different causes.)
Neither had any real sales and marketing automation in place.
Neither were managing their teams with the proper expectations and timeframes.
You can't expect what you don't inspect.
If you let "the sales inmates run the asylum," they'll do the minimum amount of work to produce the minimally-acceptable level of results until under-performing becomes the rule rather than the exception, which leads to these types of conversations.
Because businesses owned by humans that employ humans to sell to humans struggle with the same issues, every business in every industry in every corner of the globe is exactly the same.
This is why my recommendations to them were identical
You must recruit, hire, train, and retain motivated salespeople to perfect the ability to identify, connect with, and win over motivated prospects to not only buy from you, but to repeatedly buy from you, provide you testimonials, and send you referrals that do the same.
After 25 years in full-time, commission sales, and 14 years offering sales and marketing automation software and training to over 2,355 entrepreneurs in at least 33 countries, I can tell you with 100% confidence that your business is not different.
If you'd like to network and brainstorm with like-minded entrepreneurs who are looking for ways to grow, join us at
But My Business Is Different #2
One of my Private Consulting clients told me with all sincerity...
But my business is different."
Keep in mind that in my private consulting program we spend time almost daily in unlimited private sessions focused on growing your business.
One month into this—a few hours' worth of strategy and homework—he got cold feet. A WHOLE WHOPPING MONTH!
Turns out he had maxed out his credit card so his monthly payment didn't go through and this is how he responded when I asked him what was going on:
- Not sure I can become the sales person you are accustomed to being and/or consulting. I am a customer service/marketing person that does sales on the side. (What nonsensical talk is this?) I need a marketing program that will drive people to respond without me making telemarketing calls all day.
- Wanted to make sure I’m not going to get sucked into your web and have you lead me down a path to financial destruction by charging me for additional services once you’ve got me hooked into your little consulting scheme. :-) (You better smile when you say that!)
If we do anything, I need to spread the time out to two one hour sessions. I need first to structure a website for response to a mailer, and then structure the message/mailer/offer for maximum (first hour). This will have to be done in front of a computer to make sure I can make changes as we speak.
Secondly, I need a follow-up meeting to finalize it all before printing/sending/selling and bring some continuity to the whole program.
need practical solutions, ideas and marketing help, not generalizations (no offense). I have a million ideas and messages in my head but deciding what will work within the parameters of the industry is my problem. No time or money to make mistakes.
If we can continue under these conditions, let's do it but I need you to work within my capabilities and what I can do right now. I have a pure sales guy to handle visits and telemarketing. May want to spend some time with him in an additional meeting to help him have some continuity.
Let me know what you think.
WARNING: DON'T EVER ASK ME WHAT I THINK IF YOU'RE NOT READY FOR THE TRUTH!
I consult with CPAs and architects and Realtors and life coaches and IT owners and carpet cleaners and wedding guide publishers and attorneys and authors and manufacturers and consultants and balloon twisters and yoga and pilates practitioners and spa owners and hair stylists and photographers and 3d/4d ultrasound businesses and fitness trainers and everyone in between.
We're ALL in sales.
A sale happens in every interaction in life. Either you sell the prospect on why they should work with you or they sell you on why they shouldn't work with you.
"Marketing Programs" is a nebulous phrase. There is internet marketing, email marketing, telemarketing, direct mail, workshops, webinars, press releases, article marketing, podcasting, video blogging, and sky writing, to name a few.
All take time. All take money. All take effort. All fit into a bigger picture that must work to elicit a specific call to action.
To jump down to your "practical solutions" vs. "generalizations" I would contend that I gave you specifics in the form of reaching out to existing clients for referrals. I gave you an exact script to follow. Even better, it was free to do.
But you didn't do it!
If you'd like to bring your sales guy to our sessions that's fine. I have scripts he can follow and if he does he'll help you set more, better, firmer appointments with decision makers.
You say you want to spend $250 on a video (with a local videographer)...and do what with it? Put it where? Drive traffic to it how? Measure its effectiveness how? Capture leads how? (He didn't read this post on video marketing.)
I know what will work in your industry because it works in all industries but I can only do so much for you (in the private coaching sessions.)
What is your budget? What are you real goals? Two clients a month? A week?
You need to lay things out for me regarding where you want to go and how much you can spend and I'll tell you how much I can help.
But this stopping payment on a credit card won't cut it. My program is now more expensive because it is popular and my clients that LISTEN AND DO get results.
If you want to stick with the (current) rate you need to make a commitment and at least let me know ahead of time when you want to cancel because the lower price is meant to reward those that stick with me to grow.
You can grow if you let me help you."
Understand this, my tired, over-worked, stressed-out, entrepreneurial friend,
- the marketplace is growing in its competitiveness,
- your competitors are more desperate than ever,
- those still alive are more resilient and determined and even creative than ever,
- your prospects are more discerning with how they spend their money and they are getting harder to reach.
Meanwhile, you are caught up and ground down...
- trying to service your existing client base.
- responding to RFIs & RFPs.
- tracking down past proposals for updates.
- networking and brainstorming with the "right people."
- wrapping your arms and brains around the latest marketing techniques.
- trying to implement the latest marketing tactics.
- jiggling your calendar to maybe just once this month get home before dark.
We're all in sales and you better embrace it and get good at it and/or hire someone to help you make more sales and/or learn to automate your sales and marketing or...
...get comfortable living in a smaller house and eating at Denny's with a coupon vs. Morton's with a cigar.
If you'd like to see my calendar and schedule a free call with me to see how we may be able to work together please follow this link.
Or listen to your little voice and secure a spot in my private coaching program.
It's not cheap.
But you'll grow.
And I only work with 5 private clients at a time so you know you have my focused attention when you join.
Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.
*Image courtesy of luluie