Consulting Services Sales Process Seminar
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Liston: 00:00:00 So the challenge that was brought forth to me, was to talk about how to create a whole process. So, in the last webinar, I talked about how to run a successful initial call, which a lot of the topics I talked about there, can apply to basically any sales call, but it was focused on the initial call. Then the next question was, how do we link all of this stuff together, right? We know how to run a call. Let's say we have all of the leads that we need. How do we link it together to run a repeatable and effective sales process?
Liston: 00:00:38 And that is what we're going to cover today. So my intention in this presentation is not to give you everything you ever need to know about sales. My intention is to show you what are the discreet steps at the most basic level that should happen in an ideal sales process. And, just enough about each of those steps in order for you to kind of link them together yourselves. Okay? Otherwise, we would be here for several weeks because whole volumes have been written on each of the individual topics I'm going to cover.
Liston: 00:01:12 I just realized one thing, I need to share my screen with the sound because we have another video. So hang on one second. Uh oh. Okay. So here's what we're going to cover today. I'm going to go over where you are now if you don't have a sales process and kind of what that feels like. Why you should have one in place, what the future could look like if you had a process and kind of the how. That's where I'm going to spend most of the time, is what does that actually look like and how do we link it together. Then hopefully if I fly through this thing there will be some time for questions, so ten to fifteen minutes.
Liston: 00:02:05 So here's the big problem that I see. As you're going through your process, you have a lead that comes in, you keep wondering this, I did this, I did that and then I don't know. So let's do a thought experiment. You have a discovery call. It goes on for about an hour, you still don't get everything you need to know out of that call. And then you what? I don't know.
Liston: 00:02:34 Let's do another one. A lead comes in, you email her, she gets right back to you. You send her an email with your calendar link, you don't hear back from her. And then what? Sound familiar? Let's do a final one. You go deeper into it this time, you have a discovery call, it goes on for an hour. You're sure that you can help, one hundred percent sure. You follow up, they give you a verbal commitment to work together. You send a contract but they don't sign and then once again, you're wondering. What are you wondering? What do I do next?
Liston: 00:03:12 If you haven't thought this. Someone you know certainly has. I certainly have throughout my career, trying to figure out. How do I keep this thing moving? It doesn't look like a sale anymore, it looks like two people who have no relationship. What do I do about that? And, that's the key problem that I want to focus on today because it is really hard to know what to do next and that's where your sales process comes in.
Liston: 00:03:41 So I have a question for you, you can unmute yourself or just speak up. What do you see in this picture? Anybody?
Speaker 1: 00:03:57 A really big tree.
Liston: 00:03:59 A really big tree. Anyone else?
Speaker 2: 00:04:06 Like prehistoric wood or something?
Liston: 00:04:09 Yes, it's old growth redwood. Well. So Jeff is going to show us, we're not seeing what that actually is. But Jeff had a vision for it all along. And this is what Jeff saw. Now we're starting to see it. So what we saw originally looked like a tree to us, right? But what Jeff saw was an octopus. And so as I got the challenge to do this presentation. Here's what I thought. I thought, "What is the purpose of a sales process?" And then I thought more fundamentally, "What's the purpose of any process?"
Liston: 00:05:04 And the answer to that question as I would describe it, is a series of steps that if executed in order and done correctly, will give us some sort of predictable outcome. Every time Jeff starts a new wood sculpture, he's not going to end up with exactly what he thought. But if he follows the process and executes the steps in the right order, he's much more likely to get what he wanted out of that process. So the next time I see a woman sitting at her laptop running her business, I don't just see another entrepreneur, I see a client. I just haven't created a client yet. Right? That's the purpose of our process.
Liston: 00:05:51 So I want you to internalize this, and this comes from the book the prosperous coach, which I've referenced several times. And the reason I like the book is not because it teaches you to be a great coach, which I don't think it really does. But it teaches a really fantastic collaborative and consultative sales process. And so they say, "You don't get clients, you create them". Right? Which means our job is to have a process by which we create clients. And that's where the sales process comes in. So that's what we're going to talk about today. Is how can I execute something on a regular basis that creates what I want at the end of it?
Liston: 00:06:38 Now again, our goal isn't to create clients every time we talk to someone. Some people aren't going to be a fit and that's okay and we're going to tell them. But in the instances when we think there is a fit and the timing is right and every other box is checked, we want to have a process to follow so we know what to do next and we can create that client. So here's process. So this book is called the Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. I don't know if you've read this or not, but what I find fascinating is with the implementation of a simple checklist, Atul Gawande was able to reduce the death rates by 47% of surgery patients in particular operating room. So he gave a Ted talk, Sam I know, you've ruined Ted talks for me. I always think about you now. So he gave a Ted talk, and I'm going to play a clip from this Ted talk, so you can hear him in his own words talk about why checklists are so important.
Atul Gawande: 00:07:43 I got interested in this when the World Health Organization came to my team asking if we could help with a project to reduce deaths in surgery. The volume of surgery had spread around the world, but the safety of surgery had not. Now our usual tactics for tackling problems like this are to do more training, give people more specialization, or bring in more technology. While in surgery, you couldn't have people who are more specialized and you couldn't have people who are better trained. And yet we see unconscionable levels of death, disability, that could be avoided.
Atul Gawande: 00:08:24 And so we looked at what other high-risk industries do. We looked at skyscraper construction, we looked at the aviation world. And we found that they have technology, they have training and then they have one other thing. They have checklists. I did not expect to be spending a significant part of my time as a Harvard surgeon learning about checklists. And yet, what we found were these were tools to help make experts better. We got the lead safety engineer for Boeing to help us. Could we design a checklist for surgery, not for the lowest people on the tumble, but for the folks who were all the way around the chain, the entire team including the surgeons. And what they taught us was that designing a checklist to help people handle complexity actually involves more difficulty than I'd understood. You have to think about things like pause points. You need to identify the moments in a process when you can actually catch a problem before its a danger and do something about it. You have to identify that this is a before takeoff checklist.
Atul Gawande: 00:09:38 And then you need to focus on particular items. An aviation checklist like this one for a single-engine plane isn't a recipe for how to fly a plane. Its a reminder of the key things that get forgotten or missed if they are not checked.
Liston: 00:09:56 So I want to focus on a few things that he said there. The reason I played this clip, is I don't want you to walk away today thinking, "I need to build in my CRM, a process that includes 18 steps". What I do want you to figure out is where are the places where I'm usually failing. So like he said, our goal in creating a checklist or in our case, the sales process, is not necessarily a blow by blow, how to for a complete newbie. We don't want to do that. Its impossible to follow that and there's an art to it, right? So it's not going to be the same every time and we need the flexibility to make decisions on the fly.
Liston: 00:10:42 The value of the checklist though is it allows us to remember those major milestones, and those major moments where we tend to screw things up. So think about also, this is the other reason I wanted to show this. Is like he said, "there's no one who is better trained or more capable of doing their job than a surgeon." The amount of school that is required to do that job is insane. They fail regularly without something to check up against, right?
Liston: 00:11:19 So as professionals, part of our job, I believe, is to figure out where we're failing and give ourselves a reminder so we can avoid that. A checklist, or in this case, the sales process is one way to do that. So if we follow this process, it will help us measure our effectiveness, right? If we do it the same every time. Now if you're in a kind of low volume business, like how, I know you're only selling to one or two clients a year, but let's say you had a new client every month. Within a year or two, you would know pretty reliably what it takes in order to make a sale. How long does it take, how many calls, how many emails, right? You'll be able to pinpoint the problems. Most of my deals are getting stuck in this phase, why? What's happening there? What's happening before that happens that's causing that.
Liston: 00:12:13 It also allows us to accrue win from a series of small tweaks. So you've probably heard the, if I make a 1% difference every day, or a 1% improvement, with compound interest it takes me 70 days, not 100 to double my performance. Having a process allows us to do that by referencing back to bullet number two. If I can pinpoint the problems, and start to tweak those and work on those a little bit, I'm going to accrue more and more wins over time. It also allows us to just do what works, we're going to see what's not working in the process and throw that out.
Liston: 00:12:52 And lastly, and this is maybe one of the ones that are most sexy and attractive to a lot of people, is if I get a lead in my inbox. Based on the source of that lead, and the nature of the work that they want, can I predictably say what my chances are of winning that deal? And also of how long it's going to take to turn into cash.
Liston: 00:13:13 These are the kinds of things that we can start to nibble away at. If we have a process. So last time in the initial sales conversations webinar, I went over this chart, graphic I guess. This is kind of the whole process as I see it, for most freelancers and consultants. So a lead comes in, we respond to the lead, we get on an initial call. On that call, we're either rapport building or we're doing a discovery. In any case, we need to do a discovery at some point. That goes well and they're qualified, we'll pitch them our services and kind of how we can help them. We'll then negotiate, that will turn into a contract to formalize our arrangement. And then the hard stuff begins, where we actually have to do the work right? The marriage.
Liston: 00:14:03 We don't need to focus on all of this so let's just throw away two of these for the purpose of this webinar. And let's just focus on these four major points. This really is the heart of your sales process because if you can get through the negotiation phase, the contract pretty much writes itself. Plus there's a million people out there who can give you a contract, you could buy one from Legal zoom, I know there are other freelancers and consultants who will give theirs to you. So I don't want to cover that. What I do want to cover is these parts, because this is the stickiest part.
Liston: 00:14:40 And what I want to do also is insert a few things here. So one question, what's next? Implies, how do I know when this part is done? So if we can have concrete steps that need to happen, hopefully that can help us move to the next step or know when we're done with our job in one step. So for instance, if I get a lead in, the thing that I want to do is schedule a meeting. If I decide that that lead is worth my time. Once I schedule that meeting, I know that I'm starting my discovery phase.
Liston: 00:15:16 If I finish my discovery phase, then I have to decide are they qualified or not. Because if they're not qualified I'm not going to spend any time pitching them. If I get through the pitch, I want a verbal commitment before I spend any time writing a proposal. Maybe that's my bias, but I hate writing proposals. Also, I'll leave you, I don't know if you've heard, Blair Inns is doing the podcast tour right now. And I love this very simple rule, which is, if I don't get paid for it, I'll never write a proposal more than one page. I love that.
Liston: 00:15:54 And so we want a verbal commitment in order to get to this negotiation phase where we would write a proposal. So all of this is to say certain actions need to be taken in order to advance things through the process. So what I'm trying to do here is de-mystify the process. Like okay, I have a lead, how do I know when it's time to discover? Well did you set a meeting or not? So that's the kind of thing I want you to think about.
Liston: 00:16:19 So let's go into the process a little bit. By the way, I didn't say this up front, but if anybody has questions along the way, feel free to just interrupt me and I'm happy to tackle them right in the middle of the presentation.
Liston: 00:16:34 So this is going to look like a lot. But there's a couple of points I want to make. There's a trigger that causes something to enter a stage in your process. And there's a trigger that causes something to leave a stage. I also want you to realize, or I should say, I wanted to make the point that not every stage is equal. Different stages will require much more time and attention and take longer to get through, but they're still discreet stages. So if I look at a lead, when they lead arrives, that's when it becomes a lead. And then when I schedule a meeting, that's when it leaves this stage, and that should be relatively fast.
Liston: 00:17:21 Same thing with the first meeting, when I schedule the meeting, it enters that stage. When the meeting is held, I'm in discovery now. Only 5% of my time. We're going to go on here to every stage that I talked about in that previous slide. And I'm going to cover these, not necessarily all individually but I'll be talking about each of these. And I want to draw your attention to these three places. So this is going to be the bulk of your process, right? Getting that discovery right, getting that pitch right, and getting your negotiation right. So if you are feeling like you're having a problem with any one of these stages, that's where I would recommend focusing the most time and attention. On getting that, getting the kinks ironed out of those phases.
Liston: 00:18:19 Now before I get into each of these, I do want to make a note. So the length of your sales cycle is dependent on different things. Right? So if you're getting inbound leads, your cycle will be faster. If you're dependent entirely on outbound leads or actually any time you have an outbound lead, meaning basically a cold lead, right? So Anthony and I have been trading notes and have been trading notes on using LinkedIn as a way to generate leads.
Liston: 00:18:53 Getting leads from LinkedIn is very slow. I'm going to have to spend much more time with them then if I get an introduction. And I'm going to go over an example of an introduction that I got, I think last week. And I just had the sales call with the guy yesterday. So I'm going to go over that live example to make some of this a little bit more real. But inbound versus outbound will mean it's going to take longer for you. Also if you're in enterprise sales, there's more buyers, more decision makers, there's a legal team, lawyers are involved, very messy. That's going to take longer than selling to small business. The more you charge, the longer it will take probably. There will be a direct correlation between those two things.
Liston: 00:19:32 The more complex your service is to describe, implement or sell, the longer it will take. And if you have some sort of exotic deal structure, clients are going to take a lot longer to be sold on that. By exotic deal structure, I mean for instance, I will take a percentage of increase in profits due to my work. That's going to take a while to figure out, well, alright how do we know what to attribute to you. Now we're going to have to hammer that out.
Liston: 00:20:01 So there are certainly other factors that will affect the length of your sale cycle, but this is a good way to kind of think about how things change. And the main reason I wanted to introduce this is if you go to a different market, or different type of lead that you're getting, say LinkedIn when before you were getting all referrals. It's going change significantly how you approach people and how long it's going to take.
Liston: 00:20:28 So the first thing I'm going to cover is this lead stage. And I do want to make a note about inbound versus outbound because it is so different. And this is the way I think about it. I'm going to publish an article on this hopefully this week. But it's in the works already. But the biggest difference between these two is that I have no idea if an inbound lead is ready to ... I'm sorry. I have no idea if an outbound lead is ready to buy right now. Typically when you get an inbound lead, now is the time for them to buy. Or at least they're in the research phase and they've already decided., very importantly, that you can solve their problem potentially. Right? So there's a significant amount of trust built with an inbound lead that is not built yet with an outbound lead.
Liston: 00:21:10 So it's going to take way more touches. A touch being a phone call, an email, a presentation. Any sort of direct interaction. Outbound is going to require a lot more. Time to close, obviously this is variable based on the other things I talked about already, but typically I would say, if you sell a really low priced service, three, four hundred dollar call, say. You could probably close that in a single phone call. If you even need a phone call, right? I've closed a $4000 project over the phone on the first call before. However, that's not the norm, right? But if I look at the difference, outbound is going to take probably three to five times longer.
Liston: 00:21:56 And then finally the close rate. I'm going to close a much higher percentage of my inbound leads, versus my outbound leads. Okay, so enough about that.
PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:22:04]
Liston: 00:22:07 Let's just wrap this up with an image. This is an outbound lead. It looks like a cow. I don't know, maybe there's two cows around it. Maybe it's one cow and the body is on the right, I'm not sure. Here's an inbound lead. Oh, actually it's a purple cow, it has greenhorns, and there are three cows behind it., right? I just wanted this to hopefully illustrate visually, how much more information we have when someone comes to us versus us going to them. Very, very big difference.
Liston: 00:22:46 Let's say a lead comes into your business, right? You got one. Congratulations, that's awesome. Now, I would suggest doing a few minutes of research and if you think there might be a fit, you're going to set up a call. What's going to link together all your different processes is the next step, right? This happened, now this has to happen as a result. Lead comes in, I do some research, I make a decision, "Do I want to have a call or not?" If so, I go and set up a call. As quickly as possible, we want to get them on the phone because sales don't happen over email.
Liston: 00:23:25 If I get a lead in and the person is contacting me directly, it's not a referral, and they leave their phone number and their signature, I'll just call them. If you really want to hear someone be surprised, pick up the phone because people are shocked now to get a phone call, especially same day. They like it, right? It shows that I'm on top of it, and I'm here, and I'm available. Pick up the phone as soon as possible and if you need to, set up a meeting. Let me give you an example. I got a referral from this guy named Nick. He was a former client ... I'm sorry, from a guy named David. He was a former client, and I hadn't spoken to him in two years. He sends me this email, "Hey, Liston, please meet Nick. He's a successful entrepreneur. we've discussed about increasing our outbound and content marketing to fill their funnel of their SaaS product. I thought you might be a good contact to help them out."
Liston: 00:24:24 I immediately respond, "Hey David, thanks for the introduction. I've moved you to BCC ... Hi Nick, nice to meet you. I'd love to chat with you and hear about your project. I can send sometimes that I'm open this week or next. Would you like me to do that?" Nick responds the same day, "Hey Liston, likewise. Great to be introduced. It would be great to chat. You're welcome to send over sometimes, or you're welcome to book something directly on my calendar," and then he gives me a link to the page of the business he's trying to fix. I want to point out two things. One is, I'm always asking for permission in the sale. Seth Godin wrote about "Permission Marketing." I love the idea of permission selling, right?
Liston: 00:25:11 The reason it's so powerful is in the book, "Influence," and I'm looking for it on my shelf, it would just be a prop though, you can't read it, I would hold it up to the camera. In the book, "Influence," one of the factors of persuasion that he talks about is called consistency, and it goes like this, people like to be consistent with their actions and with what they say. If we make a commitment verbally and then we break it, it's deeply painful and troubling because we're not a person of our word, and it creates cognitive dissonance. I am no longer the person that I said I was going to be, right? That's consistency. When I'm asking Nick, "Would you like me to do that?" He says, "Yes," now his identity just changed. He's not Nick, total stranger. He's Nick, who's open to having a conversation with Liston, right?
Liston: 00:26:11 I don't mean to get too psychological on you or tricky, but when you ask for permission it not only gives the buyer control over how to guide things, right? We're prompting them for a binary decision, but it also creates a level of consistency for their behavior, which they're going to want to stick to. The other thing you should notice is when I ask for permission, which can seem very scary, Nick did one better. He just sent me his calendar and said, "Go ahead and book with me right away," right? I was just giving him an option to make it convenient. I didn't really care. All I wanted to do was just get him on the phone, so that still worked out.
Liston: 00:26:50 When we think about asking for permission, I always think about it like this. This is the downhill slalom, right? You have to go around every single gate in order to finish. If you miss a gate, you're disqualified, you cannot finish. By the way, I'm very excited about the Winter Olympics, in case you couldn't tell. [Todd 00:27:17] Ligety knows that as he's going down this hill, he needs to cut those gates as closely as possible, right? If he misses one, he is disqualified, he cannot pass go. Our sales process is a lot like that, right? We have these gates that we need to pass through and that our buyers need to pass through before we continue, so that may be a decision point, "Would you like me to send you my calendar link?" "Yes." "Okay, great."
Liston: 00:27:48 Well, I had my call with Nick yesterday and I said, "Nick, this sounds great. I think I can help you. Here's what I understand your problems to be. Would you like to continue the conversation?" Milestone, right? He said, "Yes." "Great, okay. Here's how we're going to take that," right? I told him, and then in the next call, he'll have another decision to make, right? I'm not going to say, "Will you hire me?" I'm going to say something like, "Now that you know more about how I would specifically offer help to you, would you like to keep going?" He says, "Yes." Then I know it's time to negotiate. I have two chats here. Thank you, Anthony. That's what I mean by these decision gates. These moments in time that help us move down the hill in the right direction, and if we screw them up, we can't keep going, right? Imagine if you could stop yourself on the slopes and go back and hit that gate directly, that's what we're going to have to do.
Liston: 00:28:55 As we keep going here, we've got our lead. Now, first meeting in discovery, so I spent a whole 45 minutes last time talking about this. I don't want to go over it again, but I do want to emphasize the importance of what's called the halo effect. A lead comes in to you, right? They already have some judgment about you through LinkedIn, through your website, through maybe if you got a referral, right? Like I got a referral from David. Nick's already going to have an opinion about me based on what David said, whatever that is, and I have no control over that. Now, once Nick hits my inbox, I do have control. What the halo effect says is human beings, universally, make snap judgments, right?
Liston: 00:29:44 There was a study done and they played students a clip of a professor, three seconds. It turns out the impression that they got from the professor in that three-second clip was no different than the way they reviewed the professor six months later at the end of the course. All of this is to say that we're very judgmental machines, right? If in the process of reaching out to a lead we're not professional about it, or make it difficult, or there's typos or all these other things, we don't have a process to follow, they're going to say you're not professional, right? It's going to be very hard to recover from that impression. What I would suggest is to confirm your meeting with clear details about how to join. They know, again, art of the next step. They know exactly what to do next. "Okay, I click this button and then I click this link at this day and time and we'll have a meeting." Super easy, right?
Liston: 00:30:44 We're going to send an agenda and we're going to send a reminder. I want to show you what this looks like. You know how to set a meeting already. Here's what an agenda looks like from me. This is actually a little bit longer than I normally go, because this was probably my third or fourth call with Jared and I just said, "Hey Jared, here's the agenda for our meeting. Recap of where you are now, where you'd like to be. Talk a bit more about existing MDR salesloft sequence," which was a reference to one of our previous calls. "Discuss SDR and marketing drip improvement, and then ideas to help you improve. Talk soon," that's it. Here's what I sent to Nick yesterday, "Hey Nick, just confirming our meeting today. My goal for the call is to learn a bit more about what you're working on, what goals you're trying to achieve, and where you are in the process of tackling them. Talk soon, Liston," that's it. Just a little heads up, right, to give some structure to our call.
Liston: 00:31:43 I have my call with Nick, it goes really well, Again, we hit a decision gate. He says, "Yes, let's keep going," so I, on that call, set another meeting. "Get out your calendar right now. Are you available next Tuesday?" He agreed, I sent that to him. After that, I sent this, "Hey Nick, it was nice to meet you. I look forward to catching up with you again next Tuesday. Here's a quick summary of our call. You're working on getting more sales from your free subscribers." Big, headline problem, that's the lead, right? He has subscribers, they're not paying him anything. He wants to get them to pay him something.
Liston: 00:32:25 Now, what's the cause? "You have a six email sequence in place now, but no direct sales followup. The sequence isn't doing its job and sales aren't doing their job. You're sending out monthly communications but no pitches." Again, we're aggravating the problem here. "Phase one of your project is to convert more subscribers," his big goal. "Phase two is to get more free subscribers and sales." That's a secondary goal. "My next step is to subscribe to your email series and check out the emails and log into the product to see what it's like. Talk soon." Okay? This, I mean this added stop, if you're taking notes on the call or you write anything in your CRM, basically copying and pasting what's going in there, right? Not a lot of added work. Again the goal in this discovery phase, remember, is to learn. You can see how much I learned in this call that allows me to focus on how I can help Nick, and allows Nick to focus on how I might be able to help him because I'm repeating the goals as I understand them. Again, this is review from the last time. As we move from discovery to qualification, now our checklist comes out. You should have whatever checklist works for you. I really like, so in this stage ... Let me take a step back. I want to know, "Could I do business with this person?" Like, "Does this sound good?" Right? Good means lots of different things. I like to use what IBM created in the '50s called BANT. BANT, B-A-N-T, kind of like bunt but BANT, was created as an entire sales process. We don't want to use it that way. We want to use it as a way to qualify people. All it stands for, BANT, is budget, authority, need and timeline. So question, "Do they have the budget to afford me? Yes or no? Do they have the authority to make a decision?" As Jonathan Stark would say, "Am I talking to the economic buyer," right?
Liston: 00:34:32 If the answer's, "No," we cannot proceed until we do talk to them and they're also sold on what we're doing, okay? We don't want to leave it up to an influencer to do our selling for us. "Do they have a need? Do they need what I have to offer and can I help them solve it? Is the timing right for this to happen now? Yes or no?" Then I add this, "Do I like you?" Right? Because, "I have to work with you and if I don't like you, I don't want to work with you." Give you an example. I met a guy for coffee last week and, halo effect, within about 60 seconds I realized I really did not like this guy. He was just rubbing me the wrong way, constantly, right? Just totally full of himself, and he kept talking about all of the stuff that he could do and how great he was. I was like, "That's great. Who are you going to do it for?" Right? I was just like, "I can't, there's no way I can work with this guy." At the end of the meeting I said, "Thank you so much. It was nice to meet you," which was borderline true, but I was being polite. He goes, "Let's do this again. I really enjoyed our conversation, and I really like you." I was like, "Great." Now in times where we don't have abundance, it's tempting to say, "All right, let's followup," right? "I want your money." However, having done this before ... You should make your own decision about what you want to do in this situation, but having taken a client that I didn't actually like before, I would recommend not doing it because it's going to zap your life force right out of your body. Yeah, Sam agrees.
Sam: 00:36:18 What did you say? What did you say in that circumstance of like after he says, "I like you, let's do it again," what did you say?
Liston: 00:36:26 I said couple true things, right? I'm always looking for the silver lining here. I said, "Thank you." I didn't say, "I like you too." I said, "Thank you so much. I appreciate your time," which I did. I said, I had already told him, "I don't think you're a fit to work with me," right? I just reemphasized that. I said, "Thank you so much. I appreciate your time. I don't think there's anything I can do to help you, but if you want an introduction to someone I'm connected to on LinkedIn, for instance, let me know and I'll let you know if that can happen," and that's it.
Speaker 3: 00:37:04 Send him to Sam.
Liston: 00:37:07 Yeah. Sam, I have a client for you, by the way. He's wonderful. This is my qualification question, also, right? Obviously, this is an important one to me, "Do I like this person?" Then I also ask this one, "Is there a good chance of success in this project?" Why this is important is once again, it's going to totally kill your life force if you're pushing a boulder up the hill the entire time. Now, I also believe that it's not my job to make financial decisions for people, right? What I mean by that is I will tell the person, "I have some real reservations about this project. Here's what they are," right? "Here are the challenges that I see that would prevent us from achieving what you want to achieve." If they still want to do it and their conscious of all of those risks, I'm okay to move forward, right? As long as I believe the message was absorbed, that's okay.
Liston: 00:38:11 Sometimes people just want to go for it anyways. Sometimes, depending on their budget, like maybe it's not their money, they're spending someone else's money so they're like, "It's all right. Let's just go for it, see what happens." That's okay, right? If success is crucially important ... Like Elyse, I'm looking at you, right? Your B clients, if they're like, "I really need this to get me x amount in sales," and you believe it's not possible, it's your job to tell them, "I don't think that's going to happen," right? As painful as that might be. You're going to have to tell them because if you don't, they're going to be pissed off, you're going to hate working with them. Like the whole thing's just going to be bad for everybody, right? This is as close as I'm getting to a checklist for you. These are the kinds of questions I would ask myself about whether or not a person is qualified.
Liston: 00:39:09 I want to point out, after a single call with Nick and a short amount of research, say three minutes, this is what I knew. He was the decision maker, so he had the authority. He already has a successful consulting business, so he has the money. He doesn't have the bandwidth to do the work himself, so that's part of his problem. He has great assets in place. There's a high likelihood of success of this project. Again, I know for sure he has the budget. He also told me about his multi-million dollar exit, so I wasn't worried about that, and his timeline to execute is within a month so we might as well keep talking. Both of his businesses are cashflow positive, so where the budget comes from isn't an issue either. I knew all of this after a 37 minutes phone call, okay? In a lot of cases, unless you're selling to enterprise ... Sorry Hal. You have the hardest job of anybody here, I think. Unless you're selling to enterprise, you're probably going to know all of this stuff really quickly. Just keep in mind, like we have certain things to gather, but it shouldn't be so overwhelming because they're pretty easy to find out.
Liston: 00:40:23 Next, we got the pitch, right? I don't mean a pitch in terms of giving it all away, giving our best stuff away. If you ever watched "Mad Men," I always found it funny, in order to win business, they spent like ... Had everybody in a room for two weeks doing creative. That's not what I mean, that's not our pitch, right? Our pitch is putting an offer in front of somebody, right? Blair Enns says, "Win without pitching." What he's talking about is if you deliver, say a $200,000 service, how can you do the first part for 20, 000, right? For a lot of us, we don't have to worry about that so much.
Liston: 00:41:06 What I mean by pitching is giving them an offer. What's in the pitch? Again, if you've read "The Brain Audit," I think Sean nailed it pretty well, right? We always want to start with the problem, "Where are you today? What could a better future look like? What is this dream state you're after? What is the bridge that needs to be built to get you there? What additional benefits might you accrue from our work together?" Then we prompt them for a verbal commitment and we wait quite patiently.
Liston: 00:41:43 Now, just to show you how powerful this template is, this is exactly the same template I used for the agenda today. "What am I selling you?" I'm selling you on the idea that you need a process, and I'm selling you on the idea that you should continue paying me monthly, right? Because my content is so good. The key to this whole agenda and this template is if we start with today, the problems that you're experiencing, and we paint the picture of what the future looks like, you're now emotionally invested into the next thing I have to say, right? That's the whole key. I would invite you to use the same template because it works all the time.
Liston: 00:42:27 If you give the pitch, right? At the end, you're prompting for a verbal commitment one way or the other, here are the potential outcomes. "Yeah, this looks great. Okay, what do we do next?" Right? We better have an answer. Another one of my coaching clients told me recently that someone said, "Yes, this looks great, I want to do your new service," and he didn't know how to, what to do next. It took him two weeks to send a proposal and a followup email. We don't want to be in that situation, right? Because this is a predictable outcome.
Liston: 00:43:03 Outcome number one, the one we want, "Yes, this looks great. Let's move forward." Outcome number two, "No, I don't think so." "Okay, just out of curiosity, is now a bad time or is this just not a fit?" Then they'll tell us. Why do we want to know that? Well, if now's not the right time, I'm then going to say, "Well, just curious. What would you need to have in place in order to move forward with a project like this one?" They'll tell you and then you'll say, "About how long do you think that'll take?" Right? Now we've nested away another lead for later down the road and we're going to follow up with it.
Liston: 00:43:40 If they say, "No, never," then I'm going to ask, "Well, why not? Before I gave you the pitch after our first call, you seemed really excited about this. I'm just curious, what changed?" Right? We want to know the answer to that one, but they may say, "No," and that's fine. Then the last one that we really don't want to hear is, "Maybe, I don't know," and then I would say ...
PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:44:04]
Liston: 00:44:00 [inaudible 00:44:00] is maybe, I don't know. And then I would say something like, "Okay, what additional information would you need to make a decision one way or the other?" And if they don't know the answer to that question, I'm going to say, "Why don't I get back to you in about two months and see where you're at?" Right? Because I don't want to waste my time on someone. So some people just have a hard time making up their mind. Typically if you make it all the way to the pitch, you should have a pretty good idea of whether or not this is going to happen. And then, as we sit there, we prompt them for their verbal commitment. Hi there. We're going to be sitting there patiently going, "Is that a yes?" Right? But, as tempting as it is for us to hear a yes and to move on to giving a proposal, there are no proposals without a commitment.
Liston: 00:44:55 So I want a verbal commitment at that pitch phase before I ever write a proposal and send a proposal. Here's why. If they say, "Yeah, I don't know." What do most people say? They say something like, "Well, I can put together a proposal, and then you can make up your mind." Well, how do you know what to write? The reason that they're not saying yes, is because there's some lingering objection, right? And we want to address that before we ever write a proposal. There should be at least high-level agreement on how you'll move forward. So you may say, "Here are all the things I can do for you." You don't have to choose how much of it, or do it right now. You don't have to ... we don't need to talk about specifics on price, but "How does that sound overall? We can hash out the details later.". "Yeah, that sounds great, let's move forward", right? Then we send a proposal.
Liston: 00:45:56 But if they have hesitations, there's something that we haven't addressed that we need to. And so in that case, if I get to the "I don't know", instead of sending a proposal, what I'd like to do is say, "Okay great, what else do you need to do?" Right? Maybe they need to talk to someone else, maybe they need to see if some other project comes through, maybe they want to talk to other service providers, right? All of those things, those are all fine. I would just set up a follow-up call. Or at least I'd try to go in that direction, and ask them how they want to proceed.
Liston: 00:46:34 So now we get to the negotiation. Lots of books have been written on this topic. Our president wrote one: Art of the Deal. I haven't read it. But instead of teaching you about negotiation, what I do want to leave you with is this idea, and you're all very familiar with, is having choices in what we present. So this is a quote from the great, one of my favorite authors, behavioral economist, Ed Duke University, Dan Ariely, and he says most people don't know what they want unless they see it in context. Well, what does that mean? Well, it's two things: anchors and relativity, right? So an anchor is just the idea that a number serves to give context to other numbers that we see in the set. So if I give someone three prices, I start with the high one, because the other two now seem a lot lower.
Liston: 00:47:33 Give you an example: if I said, "Here, I have a watch to sell you." And you're like, "Okay great, tell me about it." And I say, "Well, I have a $5,000 watch, and I have a $1,000 watch, and I have a $200 watch." That ... the $200 watch now seems cheaper, even though it's the same $200 than if I'd just said, "I have a $200 watch. Do you want to buy it?" Right? So giving choices anchors ... it creates relativity between the options. So if you package your options together, try one of these models depending on how much you charge. The higher you charge, the less multiple you'll probably have between your packages.
Liston: 00:48:17 But definitely avoid the binary option, because this is what happens. If you say, "Okay, your project's going to be ten thousand bucks, they're going to ask this question: "Should I do this project or not?" Right? But if I give you tiers, and I go from highest to lowest, I'm probably going to ask a different question: which project should I do? Big difference, right? So that's the big idea behind creating tiers or options when you price, and Johnathan writes all about that, I'm not going to get into that.
Liston: 00:48:52 But in order to have any leverage in your sales cycle, you do have to be willing to do this. You have to be willing to say no. "No, I won't do that." Or "No, that's not something that I could deliver", right? So I have a client, and I've had them for a long time, and he's extremely pushy. And I think there's a cultural issue there, where I often feel disrespected by him, right? And so I'm often having to tell him once again, "No, I won't do that." Right? So ... and also, here's another thing: don't negotiate over email, please. Right? So I don't want to put that in writing. I'm not going to say "No, I won't do that" over email, because he'll often email me, "Hey, I need this or I need that." I set a time with him, and I'm going to explain to him why I'm not going to that. But you do have to be willing to say no to have any leverage in your negotiations. So here's the process ... I'll stay on a little longer for some questions. And the way we link each of these together is the next step, right? That's what we really want to focus on, is the next step.
Liston: 00:50:09 So when you start, maybe you just have lead discovery, pitch, negotiate. And that's enough, right? We'll stop there. And as you do this, you may get on your skis and stumble a little bit out of the gate, and fall on your face. But the key is to get back up, get back on your skis, keep going, and then, undoubtedly, you're going to fall again. And you got to get back up again. Right? And eventually, you'll start to look like someone who knows what they're doing. Going down the slope, not too steep, you start to add a little bit more into your process, a little bit more complexity, and then finally, as it becomes second nature, you're going to start to analyze "How did I do on that turn?" Right? When I did that pitch at this one moment, how can I make that moment more powerful? And you'll get into the details and the complexity later, but I think the key when you start, is just to keep it really simple and figure out where are those fatal moments that you're experiencing time and time again. Right? So as we look at this, make sure you're taking these actions, and keeping the process as simple as possible to begin with, just so you stick to it. So create a basic process to follow ... these are your five takeaways. Send agendas and follow up emails. This step is an additional ten or 15 minutes, and it's going to I would say dramatically change the impact that you have on your clients. Ask for permission to move to the next step. I talked about that in these decision [gates 00:51:51]. Get your verbal commitments, and always, always, always create the next step. So I did it in under an hour, but I didn't do it in 45 minutes. I tried my best, and now I'll open it up to all of you for questions.
Speaker 4: 00:52:09 [Listen [00:52:09], Blair Enns talks about only giving a verbal price, never a written price? A verbal price first, never a written price first. Do you subscribe to that?
Liston: 00:52:21 So I prefer giving a range. And another thing Blair says is to always start with the high end of the range.
Speaker 4: 00:52:28 Yeah.
Liston: 00:52:29 The reason I like to do that is I want to know, am I on Mars and they're on Venus, right? Like, is this even within the realm of possibility for them?
Speaker 4: 00:52:40 Yeah.
Liston: 00:52:41 So yeah, I do like that. And you know, one of the things that he was ... I think what Blair was referring to often was an in-person pitch, where you put the proposal in front of them? So that may not work if you work online primarily. But I do like giving a range early in the process, so they get ... just there's some agreement on magnitude, right? If you typically work at $10,000 or more, and your client goes, "Oh, I was thinking of hiring someone on Fiverr", right? You don't want to go to the trouble of putting in all this work to get them through your process, just to find that it's a complete a mismatch. And yet, there is reason to not make a strong commitment. And that's why I like the range. So I would say, "Well typically when I've worked with clients like you in the past, it's between y and x." Right? "It's between $15,000 and $5,000, and it depends on all sorts of factors. Does that seem like it's even within the realm of possibility for you?" And they'll tell you. And almost a 100% of the time, they'll go, "Well, if we could do $5,000, that'd be great." Right? And you'll say, "Well, it just depends on what you choose."
Speaker 4: 00:53:56 Excellent. Thank you.
Liston: 00:53:57 Yep. Other questions? Oh no. I think I did too much.
Hal: 00:54:12 No, I have a question. I was waiting for Elise and Anthony.
Liston: 00:54:15 Okay. Go for it.
Hal: 00:54:19 So when you're following up with your former coworkers ... you know, the warm contacts, right? Not the cold outreach.
Liston: 00:54:28 Yeah.
Hal: 00:54:28 If they're not the economic buyer ... if they're not the decision maker, but they're your internal champions, right? The influencers.
Liston: 00:54:36 Yeah.
Hal: 00:54:36 Do you treat them any differently? Or how would you treat them so that you can eventually get to the decision maker or maybe find out more information prior to that call?
Liston: 00:54:49 Yeah, so it is different. And I didn't mean to pick on you, but because you're in enterprise sales, Hal, it's going to take a lot longer and many more steps for you than everyone else. So in that case, what I would say is just get on the phone with your friends, and then figure out what's going on with them. And all you're looking for is a sign that you might be helpful to them or their boss. And once you've identified that sign, you would say to them, "Hey, it sounds like we have a lot to talk about here. Would it make sense to bring in so and so, who's in charge of this?" And if they're not willing to do it, then you may have a problem. And we can approach that individually if that pops up. But typically, people will say yes. If it's a problem now and their boss agrees. The other strategy you can use is to say, "Well, sounds like you have a problem. I think we could do x, y, and z. Would it be helpful to bring your boss on, just so I can share my opinions with them? And you can be on the call too, to add your two cents." We want to put them in the position of looking [inaudible [00:56:02]. Right? So you can involve them as well.
Hal: 00:56:06 Okay. Okay, awesome.
Liston: 00:56:07 Yeah.
Speaker 4: 00:56:07 I have another question.
Liston: 00:56:14 Let's do it.
Speaker 4: 00:56:17 Do you do Zoom calls, like video conferencing primarily when you meet new clients?
Liston: 00:56:25 I do. I prefer it. You know, I've worked with a lot of people in tech, so they're used to just sitting at a desk on video chat all day.
Speaker 4: 00:56:33 Yeah.
Liston: 00:56:34 So that's not been an issue at all. If I were working with kind of lower tech folks, I'd probably just call them. But what I do in my Calendly link is it has the Zoom link in there, but I also ask for a phone number in case there are tech problems. But I also want to build up my CRM. But if they have a problem connecting, then I'll just dial them up. The reason I like Zoom is ... I think we talked about this before ... is I love ... it creates a much stronger connection because they get to see me, and they can make a judgment. Do I like him or not? Just like I want to make a judgment about them.
Speaker 4: 00:57:11 Yeah, absolutely. And so far, I haven't had clients who are willing to do video calls. It's very few. So I don't know if I'm making it ... and I get the option of phone or video conference. If I take away the phone option, maybe I'd get more video conference. Have you had any pushback on the Zoom calls?
Liston: 00:57:37 Maybe once or twice, like "Hey, let's just do the phone 'cause I'm out and about", or something like that.
Speaker 4: 00:57:42 Okay.
Liston: 00:57:43 But I don't give people the option. It just says, "We're meeting over Zoom and here's the link." And I just assume if that's a problem for them, they'll let me know.
Speaker 4: 00:57:54 Okay. Thank you.
Anthony: 00:57:56 Could I just add ... I've had some people [inaudible 00:57:58] they don't do Zoom. And so I add ... I'll say, "Look, we'll meet over Zoom", and I say, "It's like Skype." Zoom or Skype [inaudible 00:58:11] say "I hate Skype". And yeah. And that ... so that's sometimes a point of confusion, is that they've never heard of it, they don't know ... "Do I need to download it?" Like, they're just ... so I just send them the link and yeah, it's ... and then it's fine.
Liston: 00:58:29 Yeah, I agree. I haven't had a big problem with it. You know, if someone's on a desktop, then it shouldn't be a problem at all. Other questions? Elise, Anthony? Anthony, I have a question for you. Is that a live bird over your right shoulder?
Anthony: 00:58:52 Yes.
Liston: 00:58:53 It is?
Anthony: 00:58:55 A live bird? Probably not. That one?
Liston: 00:58:59 Yeah.
Anthony: 00:59:02 Uh, no. No.
Liston: 00:59:04 I was going to say, you're so cruel. Okay.
Anthony: 00:59:09 It actually makes a sound like a live bird, but it's not a live bird.
Liston: 00:59:15 Uh-oh. [inaudible [00:59:16]
Anthony: 00:59:15 You've started something. What is it?
Liston: 00:59:21 Any other questions? Anthony, Elise? Hal? Sam?
Hal: 00:59:26 I do have one techy question for you.
Liston: 00:59:28 Uh-oh.
Hal: 00:59:30 No, it's not that techy. But I've found your advice for using Todoist, that Chrome extension, helped a lot for me to follow up with the large number of LinkedIn outbound contacts?
Liston: 00:59:45 Yes.
Hal: 00:59:45 How do you ... I notice in your presentation, you put that as five percent of your effort. Like, you know, just kind of tracking leads and capturing them. Do you put them all into a CRM, or do you only input folks that you think may move to the next step into your CRM?
Liston: 01:00:05 Yeah, okay. So for everyone else, what Hal's referring to is if we're using LeadGen as a primary, or LinkedIn as a primary LeadGen source, how much time do we spend doing LinkedIn lead generation? A ... and B, how do I track that, correct?
Hal: 01:00:05 That's correct.
Liston: 01:00:21 Okay. So A, no it's not five percent of all the sales you do. Right? What I'm saying is once a lead comes in ... so after you talk to someone on LinkedIn and they're like, "Yeah, this is great, let's talk" ... dealing with that lead is about five percent, right? Now it's a lead. I only put them in if they express interest, right? Or book a call with me. Otherwise, I won't put them into my CRM, but you're hitting on one of my big pain points right now because even the Todoist process kind of sucks? So I'm looking for a better way to do this. And I think I have an answer but I don't want to share it yet, because it's like ... it involves bolting together four different pieces of software, so it's messy still. Yeah. So let me get back to you on that one. But it's a pain in the ass to track. The main thing I've been doing, Hal, is just going through my LinkedIn message inbox, and then manually messaging people or just archiving them. That's been the main thing that I'm doing, and it's ... it just sucks. There's no two ways about it; it sucks.
Hal: 01:01:43 Cool, awesome. Well at least right now, I have something on my calendar with Todoist, so now it's going to be curious in terms of qualifying. But that makes sense, 'cause I know the folks I'm working with, they reach out to so many people per day, that it's hard to even track them all. So it sounds like once you have that conversation, that's when ... that's your trigger point, of tagging them.
Liston: 01:02:05 Yeah, so I'm going to build something a little bit more sophisticated than what Jake is doing. That's my goal, because I don't want to hire someone, but I can ... yeah. Basically, it'll send leads on to a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet will send leads into Pipefy, and then if they reach a certain stage in Pipefy, they'll automatically show up in my CRM. So that is a pain in the butt, but if it works after I build it, then it'll just continue to work. So I'll let you know.
Hal: 01:02:40 Cool. Thank you.
Liston: 01:02:42 Uh-huh. Anyone else?
Anthony: 01:02:49 So the next step for us in terms of this checklist thing-
Liston: 01:02:57 Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Anthony: 01:02:58 Yeah. So should ... [inaudible [01:03:01]. Yeah.
Liston: 01:03:00 So what do you do next? Is that the question?
Anthony: 01:03:05 Well, yeah. Good question.
Liston: 01:03:07 All right. Yeah, so what I'm going to do is send you the slides. I'll send you a recording of this. I think that the biggest thing that I would say you should implement right away if you're not doing it already, is sending an agenda, and then a call recap. That's huge. And then always giving clear direction for your next step to your prospect. I can send you ... in the slides is the qualification checklist, where you're ... it's budget authority, [need 01:03:36] timeline, do I like this person, can I get them results. But I think the bigger thing is just linking the professionalism to your process, so that's where the agenda and the recap come in. And always having that next step in mind. Right?
Liston: 01:03:52 That's going to make the biggest difference for you in terms of success.
Anthony: 01:03:56 Thank you.
Liston: 01:03:56 Mm-hmm (affirmative). All right, well if there's nothing else, I am going to send you all the slides and the call recording. And I want to give you the heads up that I'm rethinking [Pody 01:04:13] a little bit, because it's been a giant pain in the ass for me on the back end, but I will keep you posted there. I don't think there are any changes that will affect you or what you're getting from me; it'll just be kind of like a heads up, and then I'll be reaching out to you individually once that happens. All right?
Hal: 01:04:34 Cool, thanks Liston.
Liston: 01:04:35 Sweet. You're very welcome. It's so good to see you all.
Speaker 4: 01:04:38 Thank you so much.
Liston: 01:04:40 All right, bye.