Episode 147

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Business development does not just happen. For most of us as agency owners, sales is one of those things we wish we didn’t have to do.

In this episode of Build A Better Agency, we’re going to really dive into sales. I think the reluctance comes down to a fear of rejection. Because of those fears and insecurities, we don’t prioritize biz dev. We don’t put it on the calendar. We don’t make it a must do.

I think the biggest change we can make, and this is my challenge to you, is to just carve out time to connect with your ideal clients. Maybe it’s one morning a week. But as my guest says, if it’s not on the calendar, you’re not going to do it.

My guest for episode #147 is Michelle Weinstein. Michelle has done it all. She’s been on Shark Tank. She has raised over a million dollars for her last company, and she now teaches entrepreneurs how to sell.

At the end of the day, Michelle is a sales strategist. She teaches mission-driven entrepreneurs how to sell without being sleazy.

I think we make sales harder than it needs to be. That’s why I wanted to bring Michelle on to have this conversation. She generously shared some incredible ideas and strategies that you can implement right now.

What if you could make a list of your ideal top-tier clients and actually have the confidence and the plan to demonstrate to them that they’re be losing out by not working with you.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg of our discussion. This is a must hear episode if you are looking to enjoy biz dev and ultimately the fruits of that labor in increased profits.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why saving those email and text “thank you’s” and testimonials from clients is so important
  • Why service-based businesses like ours are easier to sell than products
  • How to block out time for business development
  • The most useful tasks to tackle during your biz dev time
  • Why “bumping into” your ideal clients at a trade show can be a truly winning strategy-and how to prep for it
  • How to research and strategize for your pitch
  • Creating and managing a list of your top 20 ideal new clients
  • How to offer a gift that is something of value, without giving away the store or your trade secrets

The Golden Nuggets:

“You need to do your research. What if you told prospects that by helping these companies, they made an impact on 1 million people altogether? That’s a powerful impact.” - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet “You can’t take your focus off sales. That’s the lifeblood of your business.” - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet “There are so many things you can do with a six-hour period per week that will totally skyrocket your top line revenues.” - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet “If you're trying to get a new, really important client, you have to deliver something of value complimentary.” - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet “’I think we should meet’ is not a good reason for someone to meet with you.” - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet “Get away from the mindset that you are bothering people. Approach ideal clients with the mindset that you're actually doing them a disservice if you don't put yourself out there to help them. - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet “Follow-up is not bothering people. People get distracted just like you do. A follow-up, because they are going to pick someone, and it might as well be you.” - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet “What we do in sales, we're actually just helping people guide to make a decision.” - @thepitchqueen Click To Tweet

 

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We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build A Better Agency podcast, presented by HubSpot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more money to their bottom line. Bringing his 25+ years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey everybody, Drew McLellan here with another episode of Build A Better Agency. Today, we are going to talk about sales, which I know for a lot of you is sort of a dirty word. I know that for many of you, when I talk to agency owners, and I say, “Tell me about your sales process, your biz dev process,” a lot of you talk about referrals and repeat clients and all of that. But, when it gets down to actually having a system or a process around sales, it’s one of those places where agency owners tend to shy away from it. I think we shy away from it for a lot of reasons.

Number one, I think we are afraid of being rejected. I think we are simply too busy. And so, because it’s not a thing we love to do… I’m a firm believer in if something is important to you, and if it’s something you enjoy, you will find the time to do it. I see that every day in my own personal life certainly, but I see it in the agency owners that I work with. And one of the reasons why I think that sales is really challenging for agency owners is that we don’t carve out the time to do it.

As you’re going to hear, and I’m going to tell you about my guest in just a second, but as you’re going to hear in the conversation that we had, honestly part of sales is making time for sales. And so, I’m a huge proponent of actually carving out some time and not being in the office. So, one of the things I like to recommend to agency owners is that you carve out, even if it’s just half a day, that you carve out at least half a day, and you work somewhere else other than at the office because you all know what happens when you get to the office, the minute you walk in the door, they’re lined up to talk to you.

So, maybe it’s a morning, maybe it’s an afternoon. The iffy part of the afternoon is that you oftentimes get caught up in something and there’s a fire, and you don’t get out. So, I highly recommend mornings, and what I would recommend is that you pick a morning a week. So, let’s call it Tuesday mornings, block it off on your calendar, make it absolutely impossible for people to schedule something with you on that Tuesday morning, and be uber disciplined about you not violating it. Because actually, the one who violates it the most is you. So, carve out that Tuesday morning, put it on your calendar, don’t schedule anything, and that is your biz dev time.

That’s your time to work on the prospect list, that’s the time for you to do the research you need to do, it might be the time that you make phone calls or send emails, whatever it is, that’s biz dev time for you. And as ridiculous as it sounds, if you can carve out three or four hours once a week, down the road we’ll talk about doing more, but for now, just three or four hours, you will be amazed at how much you get done and where you go with sales.

The other thing that I want to put into your brain before we dive into this conversation with our guest today is one of the things that I think is also intimidating about sales for agency owners is this idea that we have to have this huge list of potential prospects that we have to go after. If any of you have heard me speak at a conference about new business or anything else, you know that I am a firm believer that you should have a list of 25 nano levels, so super small, microscopic level, right? 25 companies that you would kill to work with and that you are going to pursue on an ongoing basis until they hire you someday or they get a restraining order, that’s it.

Honestly, here’s part of the criteria, they should be at least 10% of your current AGI. Don’t waste time chasing after minnows, do not waste the time. I want you to chase after big fish, and when you do chase after big fish, the reality is you have to win one or two a year for you to literally double in size every three years. That’s assuming you keep your current clients, you grow your current clients a little bit. But, in general, one or two wins of clients who are 10% of your total AGI, one or two a year will allow you to double in size in three years. And that’s how I want you to focus your time, and that’s how I want you to focus that one half day a week that you are carving out for biz dev.

So, when all of a sudden you start thinking about I only have to win one or two, that’s a whole lot less daunting. So, let me tell you a little bit about my guest today and why I’m so excited to have her on the show. Michelle Weinstein is a sales strategist. She teaches mission driven entrepreneurs how to sell without being sleazy. She has literally busted through doors and impressed CEOs at billion dollar companies, and she has sold everything from food products to wardrobes to $30000 online education programs to meatballs. She’s done it all. She’s been on Shark Tank, she has raised over $1 million for her last company, and she now teaches entrepreneurs how to sell.

So, I think you’re going to learn a ton from her, I know that I am. I’m ready to take copious notes. But, I think part of what I want you to hear from her is that sales doesn’t have to be scary or sleazy or hard. I think sometimes we make it harder than it needs to be, and I think in an hour, you’re going to agree with me. And so, without further ado, I want to get talking to Michelle, and let her start making you smarter and more excited about sales. So, Michelle, welcome to the podcast.

Michelle Weinstein:

Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, we are going to get excited about sales.

Drew McLellan:

We are going to get excited. People are going to be cheering by the end of the podcast.

Michelle Weinstein:

You’re going to be doing jumping jacks.

Drew McLellan:

Wow. Okay.

Michelle Weinstein:

Yeah.

Drew McLellan:

Okay, we’re going to check on that at the end of the hour. So, one of the things that made me know that you had to be a guest on the podcast is the idea that you understand that entrepreneurs as a whole are not really excited about sales. So, as you know, people listening to this podcast own an agency. They’re in the grind day to day with clients, they are the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker inside their agency, and most of them quite honestly, of all the task that they have, the one they enjoy the least is sales, and the one that keeps their business alive is sales.

Michelle Weinstein:

Is sales, it is.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

And we all have this thing where we want to work for ourselves and we don’t want to work for anybody else, so that’s why you start an agency. And then, you’re like, “Whoa, well, I actually have to do the selling to get the clients.” We’re going to really love sales at the end of this, because that’s how you get paid the big bucks, right?

Drew McLellan:

Right, and most agencies, the way they start, in the first couple years, they can fill the client coffers with people they know, referrals. So, I think at a certain point in time, an agency hits the brick wall of, I have now exhausted my “Rolodex,” and now I actually have to go out and sell what I do to people who don’t know me, who don’t know our reputation. So, at that point, an agency owner is like, “Oh, crap, I got to do this.”

Michelle Weinstein:

Right.

Drew McLellan:

So, how do they get from there to actually having a system and a process? What separates somebody who at that moment is going to be successful at sales and somebody who is going to really flounder in sales?

Michelle Weinstein:

Yeah. So, what I like to do is if you hate that word, sale, it’s like the bad four letter word as a lot of people say, what if you think about as serving your client, right? You started an agency for a reason, and I think you really need to go back and remind yourself why did you start it, what are those goals that you wanted to achieve. Maybe the power of not having to work for somebody else outweighs actually serving your clients more. And if you can think about it from a serving aspect, when you’re going out and doing the networking, you actually get to pick your client, you get to pick who you want to work with, you get to pick your hours. You probably started your own agency for freedom and flexibility. I’m going to just guess that those are two very important-

Drew McLellan:

That’s right.

Michelle Weinstein:

Are those important?

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely.

Michelle Weinstein:

Okay.

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely.

Michelle Weinstein:

So, with all of those being said, I think a lot of times, we need to actually write them down, and you need to remind yourself of these things on a daily basis, because otherwise the sales is just going to be a grind and you’re going to flounder. If we don’t have that mission of why, and the reason as to why we’re doing what we do, and how are you so much different than all the other agencies out there, and why are you so great to work with. When you see that you’re actually able to serve your clients at a greater level and provide unique value propositions and other things that you can offer, it actually… you’re like, “Wow, I’m just actually doing what I love to do.”

Drew McLellan:

Right, right.

Michelle Weinstein:

And you’re not even having to sell.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

And you can take that pressure off. I think we all just put a lot of pressure on us, so I’m here to just remove the pressure and help you see it from a different point of view.

Drew McLellan:

So, from that though, I still have to put together a list of people that I think we could serve well, and I have to connect with them in some way.

Michelle Weinstein:

Yeah.

Drew McLellan:

So, is there a, especially for a service industry, because I know that throughout your career, you have sold everything, so that’s…

Michelle Weinstein:

I have.

Drew McLellan:

But, stuff, tangible stuff, and also services-

Michelle Weinstein:

And services. So-

Drew McLellan:

How is it different?

Michelle Weinstein:

For the products versus the services?

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, what do we need to know?

Michelle Weinstein:

I mean-

Drew McLellan:

What do we have to do that’s different because we’re selling something intangible?

Michelle Weinstein:

Well, I think the biggest thing, if you’re having a service based business which is what I focus on know, the biggest thing that I try to get are your brag book in place, your testimonials in place, your success stories, your reviews on your service and products. Just think of all of the non product based items that you… It’s not a food product, because they can’t taste and say, “Oh yeah, that tasted good.” You can only rely on maybe what someone else said of your service.

So, I like to call it the brag book, the brag bible, your testimonial book, your emails of how people have actually implemented what you showed them. So, for your agency, maybe you helped a website get from this traffic to this traffic, and then you had social media from here to here. So, whatever the emails are coming in from your client, of your successes, you want that also. Maybe it’s text messages, I get a lot of text messages from people that I’ve been able to help, and I keep them, and then I make an image collage of it, and I share it with other people. So, with a service based business, I actually believe it’s easier. It’s much easier to serve and help people in a service based business than it is in a product.

Drew McLellan:

See that, okay listeners, it’s easier for us to sell-

Michelle Weinstein:

It is.

Drew McLellan:

Than if we had-

Michelle Weinstein:

It is.

Drew McLellan:

Something we were trying to get on the shelves of Costco, so there you have it.

Michelle Weinstein:

It is night and day easier because you can make an instant impact, right? You can make-

Drew McLellan:

In the first 10 minutes, you’ve taken off all the pressure, and you reminded them that it’s easier. They’re crying with joy by now.

Michelle Weinstein:

Right, but it doesn’t become just easier just like with the snap of your fingers.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

You actually have to do a little bit of research and work, which is probably right at your fingertips, you just haven’t actually spent like, “Okay, I’m going to block out an hour this week, and here are the five things I’m going to do. I’m going to put my brag bible together, I’m going to go through my emails and actually compile all of the great emails that I’ve gotten from all of the clients that I’ve served, and look and see what results did I actually achieve.” Another thing you guys can do is put a conglomeration of all of your emails of who you helped. So, if you’ve had 10 clients for example, and let’s say all 10 you started from scratch with these companies. I’m making stuff up right now, but just listen along.

What if you said that with helping these companies, they made an impact on one million people altogether. Well, that sounds pretty impactful. So, you need to see… I don’t know what kind of companies you’re working with in your agencies, but think of… I’m sure they’re kind of all niche specific, so maybe it’s meal companies like my last company, and you’ve got five clients. And together, you’ve been able to help change the lives of over one million people by helping them eat healthier, one meal at a time. That’s very impactful, and if I were a prospect, I’d be like, “Wow, how did you do that? I want to know what services that you were able to provide.”

But, you have to set up the time to do it. You have to block out the time in your week to actually compile all of this. Go through your text messages, I’m sure you guys get text messages all the time from happy clients.

Drew McLellan:

Right, so let’s talk about that blocking the time out. So, you and I were talking before we hit the record button that most of the listeners are agency owners, who along with having to sell in the business, they’re serving clients, in many cases, they’re dealing with HR issues or dealing with finance issues or talking to the banker. And you made a comment to me that I want to bring into the recorded part of our conversation about that there’s sort of a way to structure it so that sales is one of the vital priorities for this business owner. So, talk to us a little bit about that.

Michelle Weinstein:

Yeah, the sales is the lifeline of your business, right? And we all started our businesses, our agencies for that freedom, and the time. And now, you’ve got 20 employees, and now you’ve got people requesting time off, you’ve got an HR issue, you’re in labor court with an employee who did something wrong, you hired a horrible 1099. I get it, I’ve been there myself.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Michelle Weinstein:

But, you can’t take focus off the sales. I mean, I dealt with a really, really tough patch. Like, my COO was not doing anything right. I understand how you guys are challenged in this area, but I still had to block out time just for sales and just for reaching out. I didn’t just get into Costco, that took calls and emails and more calls and more emails. So, I just structure it. I always say that whatever you put in your calendar will actually get done. If you don’t put it in your schedule for your week, it won’t get done. And then, a whole week is going to-

Drew McLellan:

Right, someone else will fill that calendar, right?

Michelle Weinstein:

Someone else will.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Michelle Weinstein:

And even today, I block out… I have a podcast too, and just to even bring on really awesome guests, I need to block out at least one to two hours per week to do my outreach. It’s almost like what you guys are doing to get