237: Show your prospect consequences

When I started selling Lead Cookie, it was honestly so easy. 

Lead generation is one of the most in-demand services. 
It's close to the money.
And, as a result, it's quite easy to sell.

But as I shifted my time over to sales for Content Allies, I found that I was faced with a challenge...

Content isn't a priority. It's a long-term investment. 
As a result, the inevitable delay of deals, or the response “We can revisit this in a few months,” would be the objection.

As I've learned to optimize my sales process from Damian Thompson, one thing became very clear...

I need to show my prospects the consequences.

What are the consequences of not investing in content?
What deals will they lose due to lack of trust and credibility?
What referrals won't happen because you they are not top of mind?
What speaking engagements won't happen due to lack of credibility?

The key is to paint the picture of these consequences in the sales process so the customer can see it.

This compels them to action. 
Show your prospects consequences. 

236: How to structure a 2-call close

For a long time, I always tried to sell all new customers in one single call. 

During 30-60 minutes, I would learn about their business, explain ours, and then close the deal. 

It was a lot to go through very quickly....

But over time, I've learned a new process from Damian Thompson that helps not only from a time management standpoint, but from a trust standpoint.

Use 2 calls...

On Call 1 - Keep it to 30 minutes and focus on discovery. Focus 100% on understanding the client, their needs, motivations, and pain points. 

Keep talking about yourself to a minimum and end the call by saying, "So I want to think this over and then come back to you with some thoughts on how we could help."

On Call 2 - Repeat back the customer's pain points, motivations, and objectives to show you heard and understand them.

Show them how you can alleviate their pains, and then connect that all to the solution you are providing. 

Then explain your offering and ask for a commitment.


--


2 calls builds trust as your sales process is split over time.
It feels more natural and less rushed.
And I've already seen results since implementing. 

235: Sales is worth mastering

To many of my audience members, they look at me as someone who "has sales figured out." 

I've published much of my sales process online.
I've shared my call scripts.
And I've been able to hire a salesperson to replace me at Lead Cookie.

Yet, I'm still no master... and I recognize that.

As I ramp up Content Allies, I'm working with Damian Thompson as a sales coach. 

I'm going back to the basics of sales again, and I'm rebuilding my Content Allies process from the ground up.

I'm breaking assumptions that I had, and trying new things to get even better.

I do this because I know that sales is a skill.
It's something that you can always improve at. 
And it is one worth mastering.

Because your ability to sell, and build sales systems, is one of the biggest bottlenecks you will have in growing your company and removing yourself from it. 

So spend the time mastering sales. 
It's a worthy investment. 

Not just for the money.
But for the freedom that mastering these skills can provide. 

234: Culture is what you do, not what you say

Your company culture is a direct reflection of you as a leader. 

It's not about the values you write down.
Or what you say your culture is.

Your culture is what you live, breathe, and do every day.

Whatever you do, your team will mirror it.

Work 12-hour days? Your team will too.
Have a good work-life balance? Your team will too.

The hard part in this is that you have to look out for even the smallest behaviors that can become habits in your company.

A common one could be ragging on a frustrating customer behind their backs... It's natural to want to complain at times. 

But when you do that in front of your team, then your team starts to do it as well.

And soon it becomes part of the culture and creates a wrong mindset about your customers.

Every action you take as a leader has downstream results to your culture.

Be conscious of what you do. 

233: Written communication is key

Matt Mullenweg of Automattic has a practice where he interviews all new hires, at first, through live chat. 

Jason Fried of Basecamp puts written communication skills central to his hiring process. All designers have to do a test design project and then write up  and explanation of why they designed it how they did it. 

In companies of programmers and designers, you would think they would look for the best designers or programming skills... but that is not the case.

They look for the best writers and communicators.

At some point, the skills of an individual don't matter if you struggle to communicate with them.

A great designer is no good if they have an ego and can't communicate properly with the team.

In today's age of Slack, email, and project management tools, so much of our work is done online. 

So when you are looking for new candidates for your company, test their writing. 

Email back and forth a few times before hopping on an interview.
Consider holding your first interview over a live chat.

It's different, but in most remote companies, you will spend more time writing with this person than speaking directly.

232: Why case studies work

Case studies and success stories... these are cornerstones of nearly any business. We rely on them, and they are effective.

But why do they work?

Simply put, no one likes to be alone.
They like to know others have gone before them.

And, the more relevant the stories of those that have gone before them are, the more connected the prospect will feel to the story.

It is your job, in sales and marketing, to make prospects feel like they are not alone. 

It is your job to make them feel like they are entering a safe place full of other people just like them.

This is the power of case studies.
This is the power of social proof. 

No one wants to be alone.

231: Be honest with your team

It baffles me how many entrepreneurs I meet who seem to have this adversarial relationship with their employees.

They try to negotiate their rates down.
They try to hide information from them.
They try to put on a front like they have it all figured out.

Why? What's the point of trying to be a hard-ass boss?

Instead, what if you were open and honest with your team? 

You hide nothing. 
Not the good.
Not the bad.

When you are honest and transparent with your team, then you have nothing to hide.

You are who you are.
And they can trust your word because it is true.

Lying to your team and concealing information is useless.

Be honest.
When you have nothing to hide, you can live in full integrity. 
And when you have nothing to hide, it brings power to your energy every day. 

230: Agitate your customer's pain

For many businesses, your offer exists in the "nice to have world." There is nothing wrong with this, but for many offers, your solution just is not going to make or break someone's business.

And the further that solution gets away from the money in their business, the less urgent it feels to the customer.

If you are commonly losing deals to no decision, then your solution is not urgent. The customer simply doesn't feel enough pain to make a change.

The ironic thing is that, many times, it is in the customer's best interest to move forward, but they still don't...

So how do you get them to move forward?

You agitate their pain.
You probe with questions to understand why they want this offer.
You ask questions to uncover consequences of not taking action.
You ask questions to uncover the possibility of taking action.

You uncover all of this information, and you bring it front and center for your client.
You get them to say it, and then remind them of that when it is time to make the purchase.

Customers won't move away from the status quo unless they feel pain.
It's your job to agitate that pain and compel them to move forward. 

229: Understand your customers why

If you want someone to buy from you, you need to deeply understand their why.

No one buys a product or service for what the product is.

They buy it for the outcome it can produce in their life.

"So how do you figure out what that why is?" you ask.

Yesterday, I dug deep with a customer to really understand why they wanted to invest into content marketing for their business and here is the laundry list of reasons that came up.

  • To appear more credible in front of their customers

  • To appear unique and differentiated by sharing their perspective

  • To change the perception of the firm so they can charge for higher value strategic work

  • So they can build an audience to market additional revenue streams to

  • To remove revenue peaks and valleys

  • To increase close rate of existing deals

  • To grow their business to the next level

Content may be what they are buying.
But what they want is all of these results.

Dig deep. Pull these out of your prospects and show them their why. 

This will compel them to action. 

228: Pay your team fairly

Comp plans- whenever I find myself talking with other entrepreneurs around comp plans, they always seem to be at a loss for how to structure this with their team.

They are trying to find some mathematical formula that will drive perfect alignment with their team. 

And, often, they are trying to figure out how to pay them the least while motivating them the most.

While a good comp plan can be useful to motivate your team, it's not the holy grail.

What, if instead, you just paid your team fairly?
And, what if you had open communication with them, and structured their pay based on market rates and the value they bring to the company?

And instead of trying to negotiate them down to pay them as little as possible... what if you tried to pay them the best you could for their role?

Negotiating your team members' salaries down hurts you all around.
Pay them what they are worth, treat them well, and they will work wonders for you. 

227: What is the real problem you solve?

The problem your business is solving is rarely the real problem the client has...

For example, with Content Allies, I set out to turn consultants into thought leaders through content marketing.

But that's not the real problem...

Each customer I talk to has their own "real problem."

For many customers, the real problem is I know I need to be doing content, but I just don't do it. I need a system that forces this to happen.

Or they may be struggling to close enough sales, and they need content as a means to build trust with their prospects.

Or they may have something to say, but they struggle with writing. It takes them 8 hours to write a short article.

Each prospect has their own real pain...

My value proposition promises a bigger vision... but to get a customer to move forward, I must really tap into their deepest pains.

That is what compels action forward.
Get clear on the real problem you are solving for each prospect.

226: Talent is grown

Recently, I had one of my team members get poached.

A growing tech company, with way higher margins, swooped in and gave my team member an offer they couldn't refuse.

To some people, this may upset them.
They may get scared because someone is stealing "their talent."

But the reality is that talent is not a scarce thing.

While it's no fun to lose a great team member, it's not the end of the world.

At my companies, we hire people with great attitudes, and then we grow and train them into owning their roles.

People learn and grow in their careers when they come here, and we give many of them opportunities unlike they ever had before.

If I looked at talent as a "scarce resource," then I would be upset when I lost a team member.

Instead, I know that talent is not scarce.
We can hire good attitudes and nurture them into great leaders for their role.

Talent is not scarce.
Talent is grown.

225: Sculpt your life

My life, these days, is absolutely incredible.

The freedom I have over my time
The personal relationships I have
The companies I have built
The amazing teams that run them
The income that I am making
The fulfillment that comes from it all

Yet, this did not happen by chance. I did not "hit the jackpot" with some brilliant business idea.

Instead, I sculpted this life.

Everyday, I removed things that did not serve me.

And every day, I kept focusing on the things that brought me closer to the man I desired to be.

Day by day, month by month, and year by year, my life transformed itself.

You don't build an amazing life with a fast sprint or some brilliant moment.

You build an amazing life by sculpting it.

Stripping away everything that is not serving you...

Until all you're are left with is the amazing life you always desired.

224: More, more, more...

We live in a society obsessed with more.
Buy a Mercedes... oh, but why not a Tesla...
Buy a Tesla... but, oh, why not a Lamborghini...

Our society takes pride in constantly spending more.

We spend more, so we must earn more to match.

But what if we still earned more... but didn't spend more.

According to a study by Gallup World Poll, $105,000 per year in salary is the cutoff for a rise in happiness and a rise in income.

After that, more money shows no effect on happiness.

$105k is enough to buy a reliable car, and to not have to worry about funds. You can live a very comfortable life, worry-free of nearly all financial issues at this level if you are smart with your money.

So why buy the fancy car?
Why spend thousands on new clothes every year?

What if, instead, you gave more money away?
What if you donated money to help others, or a cause you cared about?

Would that bring more satisfaction than a sports car?

223: Revenue is a vanity metric

Oh wow, that guy has such a big business! - That is what I used to think when people posted their revenue numbers.

As a reader, your mind fantasizes about that number, and in many cases, you legitimately think that they are making that much income...

But that's not the case at all.
Because revenue is a bullshit vanity metric.

As an example of this, Lead Cookie is doing roughly $55k in monthly revenue, yet our margin is really closer to 15-20%. We have a big team and a lot of costs.

So while I can boast revenue numbers all day, I'm not rolling in cash over here. I have a great business, but it's probably not putting off the fantasy cash that most people dream up in their head.

Counter that with a friend of mine who has a software business. They have 3 team members and ~$55k in monthly recurring revenue...

While I don't know my friends exact margin, our conversations made it very clear that he was pulling in far more profits than Lead Cookie.

So when people boast their revenue, look at it for what it is.

They may have $1M in revenue but $950k in costs to get there.

Revenue is vanity
Profit is what counts.

222: Keep showing up

Every day, I write one of these Dailies... today I really don't want to.
I'm exhausted. I'm tired. And frankly I don't feel that I have too much to say...
But I committed to doing this, so I am showing up anyway.

I open up the text editor, and I just start writing.

Today may be no good, but it keeps the momentum going.
And that momentum will help me write something better tomorrow and the day after.

If you want to build anything great, you have to be persistent.

That means doing the work, even when you don't feel like it.

Keep showing up.

221: Be careful with your words and actions

As the owner of a business, anything you say or do leaves a massive impact on your team.

Any small idea or comment you make can send your team in the wrong direction if it's interpreted as a priority.

The mundane, non-important actions you do to occupy your time make your team feel they must do the same.

Whatever ideas and actions you put out into the world, your team will mirror those back to you.

So if you want your team to be focused,
then you must be focused with your words.
You must be focused with your actions.

When you get distracted and off track, they will follow.

To lead others you must first lead yourself.

220: Your stories are BS

For my entire life I told myself I am not a musician.
Yet in a matter of 3 months, I learned piano and produced my first electronic track.

All it took was for me to realize that my stories are self-made limitations that I put on myself.

These stories are rooted in your childhood.

When I was in middle school, I brought home a French horn and my dad got annoyed at me practicing. So I didn't practice and believed I was a bad musician.

Not practicing = Not playing well = A story I tell myself that I am not a musician

On the flip side, in high school, I had my first sales experience selling ads for my high school newspaper.

I walked into a few businesses and said, "Would you like to buy an ad? Here is a rate sheet."

They said yes because it was super cheap marketing.

Early first sales success = Confidence that I can sell = A lifelong strength as a salesperson

Those early experiences you have in your childhood define you.
The positive or negative feedback you experience the first time you try something sticks with you.

But regardless of whether your first experience was positive or negative...
It's all a story.
And you can change it.

219: Optimizing your team

For a service-based business, labor is one of your most expensive line items. Every other cost will pail in comparison to how much you spend on labor.

Yet, most companies spend too much time focused on trying to cut other costs. Saving $10 on SaaS here and there...

Instead, if you want to increase profitability, you should be focusing on maximizing your labor.

Figure out how to get more out of the team you have.
Improve your systems so they can do more in less time.
Find where there is excess and make the necessary cuts.
Educate and invest in your team so they can produce at higher levels.

This is hard for most service-based business owners to realize, but at the end of the day, your people are your biggest assets.

You need to invest in them.
But you also need to optimize them.

Your ability to maximize your teams output is the key to a profitable service based company.

218: Constrain yourself

When you are staring at a blank canvas, it's hard to even get started.
But it's harder to make something decent.

When the possibilities are endless, it's hard to know where to go.

This is true of writing, building businesses, or any sort of creative act.

To fix this, simply give yourself constraints.
Define your own rules.

For example, as I decided on what business model I wanted to pursue for Content Allies, I was very deliberate.

At first, I started with a blank canvas, and it was overwhelming...
Then, I narrowed down to an agency / productized service model.
Then, I narrowed down to content marketing as a realm of focus.
Then, I narrowed down to consultants- as a persona- to target.

Before I narrowed that down, I was paralyzed. I didn't know what to do.
But that narrowed niche gave me clarity.

The niche provided the rules of what we did and who it was for.

This made everything else easier.

Instead of a blank canvas, I now have a clearer vision and path to success.

Give yourself constraints. It will 10x your creativity.