Episode 114

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Based in Dallas, Stephanie Chung and Associates offer sales training, executive coaching, and small business mentorship services nationwide. Among her products is the High Ticket Selling Made Simple course, designed to help small business owners sell more and make more. As a former sales executive in the aviation and private jet industry, Stephanie has mastered the art of high ticket selling and has mentored, coached, and developed some of the highest paid, most elite, sales professionals in the country.

Serving business leaders, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals, Stephanie Chung uses her proven executive coaching and sales training expertise to drive your top line sales. Chung is an executive coach, trainer and advisor backed by more than 25 years of team management, business development, and sales leadership experience. Chung is also a public speaker, a contributor on ABC, CBS, NBC and author of “Profit Like a Girl: A Woman’s Guide to Kicking Butt in Sales and Leadership” and “Embrace the Suck: How to Grow and Succeed in Business.”

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Doing sales right by caring about who you’re selling to and solving their problem
  • How to identify your ideal prospects and actually get in front of them
  • The importance of adding value beyond what you broadcast on your website
  • How letting people talk about themselves increases the chance of a sale
  • Why the agency owner is the best person to make the sale
  • What to do to get comfortable with sales
  • The five stages of sales
  • Making the close extremely easy by setting it up from the beginning
  • The importance of not being vague about when you’re going to follow up
  • The preemptive strike: overcoming common objections from buyers by bringing them up yourself first
  • Using silence as a tool when selling
  • Why you can’t afford to spend time chasing people around
  • How to get people to want to be your client

The Golden Nugget:

“Give buyers an opportunity to think by using silence as a powerful sales tool.” – @CoachStephChung Share on X

 

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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, 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 the bottom line. Bringing his 25-plus 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. I know you hate it, I know I talk about it a lot, but one of the biggest challenges for agency owners is new business business development and sales. And while I know all of you wish that you could hire the perfect salesperson so you didn’t have to do it, you and I both know that in many cases, the agency owner is the best sales person for the job. So today, we are going to spend the entire podcast talking about sales, how to do it better, how to get more clients, how to drive high-ticket sales. And I have the perfect guest to do that.

Let me tell you a little bit about our guest today. Stephanie Chung and Associates, so we’re going to talk to Stephanie today, they offer sales training, executive coaching, and small business mentorship. Among their products is the High Ticket Selling Made Simple course, designed to help small business owners sell more and make more, which all of you should be underlying in your head already. Stephanie is a former sales executive in the aviation and private jet industry, and she has mastered the art of high ticket selling and has mentored, coached and developed some of the highest paid, most elite sales professionals in the country.

She’s got a bunch of freebies that I’ll tell you about in a little bit, but let’s dig right in and talk about how business owners can be better sales folks, and how all of you who typically are selling items that are pretty high ticket priced, how you can make more of those sales more quickly and more easily and ideally, and I’m sure we’re going to talk about this, aligning your business with prospects who are going to be long-term clients for you. So, Stephanie, welcome to the podcast.

Stephanie Chung:

Thank you so much, Drew. I’m so excited to be here.

Drew McLellan:

From the very early age, were you like the kid with the lemonade stand, you’ve always loved sales?

Stephanie Chung:

You know what I was? I was the military brat. I always say I was a professional new kid, which that basically meant I was the military brat, that we moved every two years of my life. So my dad was in the Air Force. And what that meant for me is I always had to be the new kid, I always had to be the one making new friends, I always had to figure out how to fit in, and all of that. So I believe that that really did set the groundwork for me to be able to connect with anyone, communicate with anyone, and to get everyone to know me, like me, and to trust me.

Drew McLellan:

Which is all about what sales is about, right? Know, like, and trust.

Stephanie Chung:

Exactly. Exactly. The most important part of the process.

Drew McLellan:

For many agency owners, and I suspect many business folks, regardless of the kind of business they own, sales is a little bit of a dirty word. And a lot of account people, so think of them as client service/salespeople inside agencies, bristle when we talk about the sales side of their business. Why do you think people are so adverse to the idea of the fact that they have to sell something?

Stephanie Chung:

Well, I think there’s really two things to that. The first one is that it was just done so poorly for so long. We all have that vision in our head of this pushy, obnoxious salesperson who’s pushing things down your throat that you really don’t want or need. So that’s part of it, but then the real, real root of the matter, Drew, is people just hate being rejected. At its core, that is truly the problem. There’s a long history there. But when sales is done right, it’s actually very, very easy because it’s nothing more or less than a human connection and a conversation taking place. That’s it.

Drew McLellan:

So when you talk about sales being done right, what’s the recipe for that? What does that look like?

Stephanie Chung:

Ooh, that’s really good. This is my definition of sales being done right, it’s not about sales. I would say selling is for losers, it’s really all about, how do you solve someone’s problem? And though we hear that a lot, really what that comes down to is really honestly, Drew, caring about the buyer in front of you or the prospect in front of you, what is it that they need? All of us are so incredibly busy, and I know you and I were talking about it before we went live, but everybody’s so busy these days. And so we know the research and I know that your folks, especially because they come from the marketing and the agency side, they really know the research.

So we know that well over 80% of all folks, before they agree to talk to us on the phone or communicate with us via email, they’ve most likely already checked out our site, checked out our any social media or a digital footprint out there. So they have a pretty good idea what it is that we provide. And so they’ve agreed that we’re worth their time. Again, we’re all busy. So the fact that they’re going to talk to you or meet with you, or at least return your email, says that they’ve done enough initial research, you’ve piqued their interest enough for them to have the conversation.

So when I say it’s done right, it’s really about you going in, asking the real questions that get to the core of the matter, not the fluffy surface stuff, but really the reason as to why am I here really? And once you ask those questions and you really listen intently, you’ll be surprised how much people will tell you. And so your job isn’t to go in and ask one question and then start shoving your product or service down their throat, it’s really all about, “Let me just keep getting you talking and asking you questions that are relevant. So that the more you talk, the more I can better understand whether or not I can, A, help you. And if in fact I am the best choice for you, then together we can co-create what that’s going to look like. How are we going to best solve your problem together?”

Drew McLellan:

So for a lot of agency owners, what I hear them say is, “If I can get in the room with somebody, if I can get in front of somebody, then we have pretty good odds, my hit rate is pretty good, but how do I get someone to give me that time?” So back when you were driving high-ticket sales, how did you get in front of somebody who might need to buy a plane? Because I don’t walk around with a sign on my forehead that says, “I’m in the market for a plane.” So in a difficult B2B sale, like what you were doing, how do you identify the right prospects and how do you get the opportunity to actually have that conversation with them?

Stephanie Chung:

That’s a really good one because there’s so many layers to that. The very first thing is you want to be able to do your research, and because they may not need it now, but maybe they’ll need it later. And so do your research to figure out who your ideal client is or ideal prospect is, where do they hang out? Who’s your current favorite customers? And what are the common denominators? What’s their educational background? Where do they hang out? How much money do they make? What’s their titles? All of that, what’s going on in their company?

And this is the piece that a lot of people miss. They are so focused on trying to call on that particular client, or prospect, or end user that they really don’t do the research to figure out, “Well, what’s going on with that company.” For an example, if I’m dealing with a high-net worth individual, well, he or she is a high-net worth because they either run a company or they ran companies, or maybe they’re a high-up officials in some type of government or what have you, but as much research and information as I can possibly get about not just them, but about the company as well, that will help me understand what’s keeping them up at night.

For an example, if I’m going after, let’s say in my world, it may have been CEO or my former world. So if I’m looking at a CEO who I know is a high-net worth because I can pull all their data in regards to how much do they make and what were their bonuses, especially if it’s a publicly-held company, but then I’m going to also start grabbing the annual report. What does that tell me? Because the first executive summary part of the annual report really does give you some really good insight as far as what are they at least trying to convey to their board members, or shareholders, or employees, or what have you.

So that gives you at least a good place to start. What’s the culture? What’s the tone? And what’s the priorities for that particular individual. So never skip the annual reports or any kind of press media stuff that you can find, because if they’re worth going after, especially in today’s day and age, there’s somewhere along the line, there’s some information on the web about them. So we want to do our homework. So we come to people correct. And I think that’s really important for everyone to know. No one has time to just meet with you for the sake of meeting with you, we’re just all too crazy busy. So you really want to do your homework on the front end.

And flip side, if you’re trying to sell your services, not every person’s the best candidate for your service.

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely right.

Stephanie Chung:

Yeah. You don’t want to waste time with those people that are just not a good fit for you. So do the homework and the research on the front end. The second part is, also one thing I’m like, this is like a pet peeve of mine, Drew. So if you don’t mind, I’m going to go on a tangent for a second.

Drew McLellan:

Have at it.

Stephanie Chung:

It’s about time. One of the things that’s really, really, really important is that you want to make sure that you are adding value beyond what your website says. And here’s what I mean by that. If someone, they’re looking for, let’s say, a new agency or anything along those lines, well, they’ve probably gone on the web, done some research, they’ve talked to friends, they’ve talked to colleagues, they’ve talked to people maybe at the golf course. They’ve done a lot of due diligence in their own investigative research.

So by the time they agree to actually meet with us, the last thing we want to do is regurgitate the same stuff that you see on our websites, or our marketing collateral, or what have you, because then at that point you’ve no longer added value, you just are walking-talking website. And nobody has time for that.

Drew McLellan:

You’re just regurgitating the fact sheet.

Stephanie Chung:

Yeah, absolutely. So we want to make sure that we are respectful of their time, so that one, they feel like it was a good use of their time. And two, they invite us back, and three, they do business with us. So how you get in and really how do you get into the customers to do the research, figure out who they are, and then start really working that web, if you will. We’re all two or three people away from knowing everybody. So who do you know? Grab the social, LinkedIn’s a great place, but grab any of the digital footprint stuff off there to figure out who do I know that knows this person? That’s a very good place to start.

And then if you also, when you start connecting with people, whether it’s social media or just calling them or trying to figure out what associations they belong to, and perhaps you use that as a vehicle to network to break into that desk circle, if you will, but you want to make sure that you’re having the conversations, not about you and your service and what you do and how you can help them, again, only thing people care about, I don’t care how special we all think we are, Drew. The only thing they care about is how can you or your product make my life or my job easier? That’s it. So we have to come from that stance.

So I always say, when you’re at a networking event, the last thing you should be ever talking about is yourself. There’s so many other things to talk about, and if you do it correctly, then they start asking you, “Oh my God, I’ve been talking so much to you, tell me about yourself. What do you do?” And that’s when you know you’ve got the opening, and not one minute sooner.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Well, it’s the old cocktail party rule, Which is, there is no one you want to get away from more at a cocktail party than a person who talks about themselves all the time.

Stephanie Chung:

Exactly. And you want to hear something cool? Is that when we think about the brain science and a lot of what I do on the high ticket selling side, especially my coaching practice, is I work a lot on the science side of it. One thing I love about marketers, which is probably most of your listeners, is they are light years ahead of this than the sales teams. They get the brain science, and they get the neuroscience, and they get a lot of those dynamics that sales is just now starting to tap into. But when you think about what the brain is doing subconsciously, what chemicals are being created when a sales conversation has taken place, trust and distrust, remember I said earlier trust is the most important part of the entire process of sales?

Well, trust and distrust are created in two different parts of the brain. And so when we are trying to create trust, which ultimately, when we’re tapping into the prefrontal cortex, which will build the dopamine and the oxytocin and the serotonin and all those feel-good drugs, really, the best in the easiest and quickest way to do it is just to ask people questions about themselves, because that’s why we all love talking about ourselves, because it truly gives us a chemical reaction in our brain and we feel super good about it. And here’s the thing, they then will attach that really good feeling to you.

So they’ll say things like, “I really like that Drew. I don’t know, there’s something about him, I really like him.” And all Drew did was ask a couple of questions and let him just keep talking about himself.

Drew McLellan:

Are all of those chemicals produced if I’m asking you about you but we’re talking about something like your business challenges that is stressful or has you worried, or does that not trigger the same chemical?

Stephanie Chung:

Exactly. That’s a great question. So when you start getting more into almost the second phase of the stages of sales… There’s five stages of sales, so that’s really like stage two. You start asking people questions to get a better understanding of what it is that they need. Absolutely, you’re tapping into the prefrontal cortex at that point as well, but it’s not necessarily creating the same chemical effect. It’s thinking, it’s doing some problem solving, it’s doing some decision-making, all those processes are held in that part of the brain, but it’s not necessarily producing the same type of chemical at that point.

Drew McLellan:

So I want to produce the good chemicals first to earn their trust, and then I have implicit or explicit permission from them because now they trust me at least to a certain level to tap into something that maybe is more challenging?

Stephanie Chung:

Yes, absolutely. And that’s a really good point because the brain itself is pretty lazy, and so it’s always trying to conserve energy. And so every conversation, everything that goes on the brain is constantly scanning, and it’s asking itself, “Do I need to exert energy into this, or can I conserve the energy and put it towards something else?” It has a whole body to run. And so you’re 100%, your wording, Drew, is perfect. The more you can get someone to trust, we get those feel-good chemicals going, then what happens is the brain does release and go, “Okay, well, now we’ll let you in.” And then that’s when you get more into the executive thinking, and the problem solving, and to your point, really trying to discover what it is that we’re trying to hopefully help them with.

Drew McLellan:

I know that you talk a lot about, and I know a lot of your experience as a whole, this whole idea of high-ticket selling. And obviously, in the agency world, most of what we agency folks sell comes at a pretty price. So what’s the nuance or the difference between if I’m trying to sell you something for $100 versus $100,000? Where does selling shift and become different? And I’m now looking for the dollar amount, I’m looking for the behavior, or what do I need to do different if I’m trying to sell you $100,000 marketing package versus I’m trying to sell you a $100 raffle ticket?

Stephanie Chung:

Yeah, absolutely. So really, the technique of sales is the exact same, regardless of the ticket item price, but what makes the difference is, one, the sales person. Let’s reverse what you just asked me. What would you expect from a sales person who’s selling $100 item versus the quality of a salesperson who’s selling an item for $100,000? You would expect them to be completely different people. Right, exactly. So I like to use that, and that’s why I love your question so much, because I want people to reverse it. So it’s not the technique itself is the exact same, but really, it’s about, how different do you want to be perceived out there?

Do you want the prospect or the buyer to feel like, “Yeah, this person really knows their stuff. This person, I want to do business with because they didn’t just come in here and tell me about how great their product is, but they really sat, listened and truly understood what it was that I need, and I felt like we were a partner trying together solve this problem, versus them just trying to shove something down my throat I really didn’t know if I needed in the first place”? So it has less to do with the technique and more to do with your own personal branding, in how you’re trying to build that trust and create the feeling that that prospect, client, buyer will have about you moving forward.

Because we’re all a brand within the brand, it doesn’t matter what company we work for, we’re our own personal brand as well, and that’s who they’re deciding to do business with first, before the company comes into play.

Drew McLellan:

I’m thinking in my head as you’re talking, which is exactly why the business owner, an agency owner is often the best suited person for the sales, because they are often the most knowledgeable in terms of the work that they do, the results they can deliver. And so they have a different level of conversation around the business challenge with a prospect than an “sales person” is going to have.

Stephanie Chung:

Absolutely. It’s like when you think of, I go on back again, not have to pick on retail salespeople, but we’ll use them as an example. When you go into any retail outlet, they’re not going to ask you a lot of questions unless they come from the luxury side, then they may be trained on doing this, but your average, you go into Macy’s or JC Penney’s. If they talk to you-

Drew McLellan:

Right, if they acknowledge your presence.

Stephanie Chung:

Then they’re not going to really ask you any in-depth questions. Because at the end of the day, they don’t care, they’re just like, “Can I help you?” You say, “Well… ” And then they just walk on before you can even answer the question. So that’s different than, going back to your point, the agency owner. The agency owner, when they’re in the presence of a prospective buyer, they’re going to expect, because this is the brand, this is the person, they’re going to expect a completely different conversation from the agency owner, as they should. Because this person started the business, has a story behind, not just what they can do. Because for the most part, everybody can do the same thing, honestly, but it really comes down to, why would you do business with me? What makes you different? And that’s a story that only they can tell.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and they tell it uniquely by… The best agencies’ sales people that I have seen, the best owners who are also good salespeople are the ones who just roll up their sleeves and dig in and start asking interesting questions and then follow-up questions. And at a certain point in time, to your cocktail party example, the prospect almost has to say, “Well, wait a second, tell me about your agency.”

Stephanie Chung:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), exactly. And they’re telling the story from just a place of authenticity. I always get messed up with that word, but you know what I’m saying, right? Just a unique place that, again, others can say it, but it’s not the same because they lived it.

Drew McLellan:

As much as I hate to do it, I’m going to stop you for a quick second so we can take a brief pause, but I want to get right back into this conversation.

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast and you find that you’re nodding your head and taking some notes, and maybe even taking some action based on some of the things we talk about, you might be interested in doing a deeper dive. One of the options you have is the AMI remote coaching. That’s a monthly phone call with a homework in between. We start off by setting some goals and prioritizing those goals, and we just work together to get through them. It’s a little bit of coaching, it’s a little bit of best practice teaching and sharing, it’s a little bit of cheerleading sometimes. On occasion, you’re going to feel our boot on your rear end, whatever it takes to help you make sure that you hit the goals that you set. If you would like more information about that, check out agencymanagementinstitute.com/coaching. Okay, let’s get back to the show.

So for agency owners that are listening and saying, “Intellectually, I understand all of this, but I hate sales, or I’m afraid of sales.” What are some things that they can do to get more comfortable? Because I don’t care how good an agency you are, there is client attrition, there are clients who have business slowdown. So an agency has to keep going and finding more clients. And many agencies rely on the referral method, which is, whoever walks in the door, I have to take as a client because somebody else told them to come see me, whether that fits the kind of business I want to build or not. I’m not suggesting that referrals are not a great way to grow your business, because they are, but sooner or later, even the most reluctant of salespeople inside an agency has to get off their duff and go out and try and get a new client or two. How do they get more comfortable around that?

Stephanie Chung:

Yeah. What I would say, Drew, is, this is going to be my tough love, because I tell this to everybody. I was speaking at a conference recently and someone asked me this question in regards to sales. And they were all business owners. And I said this, and I’m going to say this, and I hope you’re listeners still like me when were done. But you have to come to grips that if you own a business, you are first a sales person, and then you are an entrepreneur second. So whatever it is that you own, that’s secondary, the first primary goal and where you have to really come to the realization is that you’re a sales person, period.

So if you like it, you don’t like it, you’re afraid of it, it intimidates you, whatever, you’ve got to get over it, because without any sales-

Drew McLellan:

So in other words you’re saying, get over yourself?

Stephanie Chung:

Get over yourself, yeah. No sales, you have no business. And so, one thing that I would say is, first, make the decision that you’re going to stop using that as an excuse. No longer are you allowed to say, “I don’t like sales, I’m not good in sales. I just can’t get it. Nobody wants to buy from me. Everybody wants to… “You can’t say all that because a lot of it is just-

Drew McLellan:

“I’m an introvert, I’d rather do the creative work,” blah, to blah, to blah. Right?

Stephanie Chung:

Exactly. If you’re an introvert and you’d rather do the work and you hate selling and you run the show,