Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
I spend a great deal of time developing my personal brand. From posting on LinkedIn to recording my podcast, the goal is to create content that attracts clients and opportunities. Why? Because I’m horrible at sales! Here’s a quick example of how bad I am.
Courtesy of Brian Cristiano
One time I was chatting with a prospective client on the phone, they asked my rate, and I told them. Then they said “Hey, can you repeat that? You broke up a bit.” And for some reason I told them a lower rate the second time. I have no clue why – and I suspect they heard me loud and clear the first time – but that’s how bad I am at sales.
That’s why I was so excited to chat with Brian Christiano for this week’s episode of the podcast.
Brian is the CEO of Bold Worldwide, an advertising and consulting agency that has helped transform many prominent brands including Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, and the New York Mets. More impressively, he started his career at 16 with no connections, just a video camera. He then created a skate video which he sold for $40,000. Today, he helps other people develop the skills they need to win in business and in life.
And if you’re anything like me, he’s going to provide some valuable tips on how you can get better at sales.
Here are a few of my top takeaways from the conversation.
How to shorten the sales cycle
A sales cycle is the process used to turn a lead into a customer. Unfortunately it can take weeks or even months to complete. And what are you doing during that time? Hoping, wishing and waiting.
Of course you can send a generic “just checking in” email but after a while you may run out of excuses to check in or unintentionally come off as a combination of annoying and desperate.
So, what should you do instead? Brian shares his advice.
“You need to give value and build a long-term relationship. So think about how you can help them even if you’re not actually trading commerce. Can you point them in the right direction? Can you give them a resource? Can you connect them with somebody? Can you find an employee for them? Even if it’s completely unrelated to what you do. I’ve always found that when you help someone out in one way, shape or form, that relationship bond becomes strong.”
Generating sales is based on building relationships. The more effort you put into building that relationship, the easier it will be to close the sale.
How to win bigger deals
If you want to make more money, you need to solve more expensive problems. Bigger deals often involve bigger – more expensive – problems, which is why they’re so complex. Unfortunately that can lead to long, drawn out proposals with no guarantee of success.
During our chat Brian shared his “Wedge Strategy” which is designed to help you win bigger deals, faster.
The name comes from the process of chopping down a tree and even though I spent two summers as a landscaper, I’ll spare you the details. In short, the easiest way to chop down a tree is to first drive a small wedge into it, then back cut on the other side.
So, as opposed to hacking away at the tree for hours, that one small wedge helps you take down the entire tree much faster.
Brian explains how you can apply this to your business. “It’s the same thing from a sales perspective. What is that wedge? It’s something you can easily sell. It might be strategy, it might be consulting, some small piece of your process or some small piece of your SAS solution or your product. You just need an initial step, just to get them in to show them that you’re listening and understand them.”
And once you get that wedge in you can then upsell them to larger projects. The entire process is accelerated since they already know, like and trust you based on that initial smaller project.
How to avoid getting ghosted
What’s worse than getting ghosted by a prospect? Getting ghosted by a prospect who still engages with your social media content. As you may have guessed I’m speaking from experience but I’ll avoid the temptation to go on a rant.
Getting ghosted is a frustrating yet common situation. Brian shared one of his favorite tactics to avoid this from happening by taking command and control of the situation. It all starts with asking an extremely important question during the initial sales call; “When do you need to get started by?”
Brian mentions why this is so important.
“When you can put a pin in a timeline, then you can create urgency around it. And this is when you reach back out and you say, ‘Listen, I was looking at everything that we proposed and I realized based on the outcome you want and when you want to correct this problem by, we actually need to get this going in a couple of weeks. And so I put the team on hold for you because I know that this is important to you. Should I keep them on hold for the next couple of weeks or should I move them onto another?’ I’ve had hundreds of people send this kind of a message out and almost a hundred percent of people respond.”
And to be honest, if they don’t respond to that, you probably don’t want to work with them anyway. Just keep it moving and save your energy for a prospect that’s excited to work with you.
Those were a few key takeaways from my conversation with Brian. To hear the full conversation and get access to additional resources tune in to this week’s episode of the Launch Your Business podcast.
Have questions about launching your business? I’ve partnered with ChatterBoss to provide free office hours where you can ask me questions and get them answered live. You can learn more and sign up here.