If there was an episode you’d need to memorize and utilize every single day, it’s this one! Our host, George Leith, dives deep into the piece of the sales process where most salespeople fail: 30 days after the sale. He explains how to provide the most value, and how to set the stage for success in the future. It’s time to stop sticking your head in the sand, and start walking confidently into the post-sale meeting with your client.
George: If there was one edition of the Conquer Local podcast you should commit to memory and use it every single day it’s this one. It’s where most salespeople, in my experience, fail. And it’s the spot where you should be bringing the most value to the sales process.
So, I wanna tell you a story about sales. And I’ve got a somewhat famous line where I believe that I could pretty much sell anything to anybody once. The proverbial “Ice to an Eskimo”, if Eskimos actually needed ice. But when you think about that analogy, and everybody saw the cartoon where there’s a sales guy and he sold a refrigerator to the Eskimo, horrible sales person, because I don’t think Eskimos need refrigerators. I’ve never been… Anyways, that’s what this whole thing is about, is needs-based selling.
But I also wanna talk to you about another place where I think that salespeople fail and it’s the spot where they should be bringing the most value to the sales conversation. Let me tell you a story about the good old days in the radio business. I’m gonna go back to the early ’90s. It really was the glory days, you could still smoke. I actually never smoked, but I knew lots of people who smoked. My friend T Bone here, who’s producing, he would just smoke right in the studio back in those early days of the ’90s. It’s crazy.
But let’s talk about the real crazy part about the early days of the ’90s, and I think this didn’t just happen in radio, by the way, so I’m not picking on radio people. I’m talking about any sales people. The sales call that I dreaded the most was after I had made a big sale and I had to go back to see the customer to see how the thing that I sold them worked. I usually liked to go back with a dozen donuts and some concert tickets, or maybe some sort of a movie pass. Movie passes were also a very nice thing that you could drop off. As a media rep, we had all of those things because we were doing barter and trade with our customers and we had these things in our arsenal that we could drop off and it was that follow-up call.
Now, the follow-up call was always to sell something else but you had to face the barrage of comments from your advertiser about how their ad campaign had run.
So, let’s look at the sales process. We would go in and we would sell some sort of a package that was given to us by our sales manager. The sales manager created the package because they were trying to hit a monthly budget figure that was given to them by the station owner. That was really the cadence that was going on. In the newspaper business what we would do, and I eventually moved into the newspaper business and own my own publishing company, we would send a sales rep in and we had a weekly, so we would send them in on a weekly basis to say, “Do you wanna run that ad again? What do you wanna change in it?” That was our process around sales. There was no consulting, no needs analysis. We were just happy to get the same ad.
And what would happen sometimes, if we were super lucky is the advertiser would say, you know, “I’m having a big sale I’d like to increase my ad size to a half page.” And then we were trained to say, “Why don’t we put some color in it? Why don’t we put some color in that to really get people to see your ad?” And that’s how the sales process would work.
Some of our guests talked about that as selling widgets. You’re just selling the product, you’re not selling the solution. So, it makes sense that salespeople would fail around talking about what happened with the campaign because it was the thing that legacy reps shied away from. It was the thing that me, in my early days in the media business, was taught by my sales manager that you had pivots. So if they said, “Hey that campaign didn’t quite…I didn’t quite get the people coming in that I expected, didn’t quite get the traffic.” You always blame the media mix. You are like like, “Oh, I don’t think we had the media mix right. We maybe should have run some more ads here or maybe the creative wasn’t right. Maybe it was the ad that we ran. You know, I was thinking about that ad, you sent it over from the other station in town. I think I could probably get you a better ad from our production department. I think our people could write a better ad, or produce a better ad, or our graphic design…”
So there was all sorts of things that we had to deal with that objection. The objection of “I don’t really think I got the return on investment from this so-called investment that you said that I was making.” That was the other thing that I thought was really interesting as I look back at my career selling widgets, or selling spots, or selling rectangles on paper was that when we made the presentation we had these beautifully crafted presentations. In fact, I think radio and newspaper were some of the first people to get a laser printer because then they could put their client’s logo on there and then it was always like a three or four-page presentation. It had the cover page with the person’s name that you’re making the presentation to. And then it had the overview page which is where you regurgitated some of the value. And then it had the Investment Summary page, and that’s where you went through all the things that were bought. And then you had the signature page where the client was supposed to sign on the dotted line and you weren’t supposed to leave the office until they did that. That was the presentation.
But there was no real talk during that presentation of “We’re going to run this. You’re going to see these many people come through the door. Those customers are worth X to you. What is your cost to acquire a customer?” That was a question that we would never ask. We would never say things like, “I could help you get these customers and they’ll have this value for you and that will support the investment page.” It wasn’t really an investment although we were taught to say that it was an investment. It was more of “Here’s the cost of my widget, I need to sell it so my sales manager doesn’t fire me and so we hit budget and I can feed my family.” That was really what was happening under the hood of this whole thing.
So, when I talk about the thing that most salespeople always fail on, it’s because the sales people that we have a tendency to work with have come from legacy media where they were selling widgets, they were selling rectangles on paper, they were selling spots. An interesting thing: one of my sales trainers taught me that you should never sell a spot because a spot is very small. What you should sell is an announcement, because it sounds bigger. That is Sales Training 101 back in 1990 when you had a radio sales trainer come in to say… Anyways, I digress.
Let’s go back to my point. I made a bold statement “This is the one that you should remember. This is where salespeople fail. This is where you should be bringing in the most value.” So when we talk about that sales process, or we gain insights, and we do research, and we’re a student of the customer, we’re asking questions, and we’re looking for the nuggets, and then we develop a strategy that matches the needs of the customer, and then the very next step.
And you can even start doing it, as early as possible, you should start to set the stage as to how we are going to measure what’s going on and that I am not going to be afraid to sit here and talk to you about the key performance indicators. I am going to be the one that’s going to walk you through the dashboards, the metrics, the email alerts, whatever it is that you’re providing to show that customer the value. I, the person that made the sale, the account executive, the person that is your single point of contact at the organization that owns the relationship with the customer is the one that is going to walk them through that very important…it is, by the way, the most important piece, because it shows them that it worked.
It’s the thing that we expect from purchases. You buy the computer, you get it home, you take it out of the box, you flip the switch and it actually works. This is the moment. That is the moment where what you sold the client, you prove that it actually worked, is when they get to see that report at the end of whatever the cadence is going to be.
For some things that we’re selling it should be weekly, for other things it should be monthly. I’ll tell you the person that I will beat and that I’m hoping that you on this podcast will beat every time is the salesperson that’s selling digital marketing solutions on an annual. Ha! ha! I am going to crush that every single time because that means that they’re just coming back to see the customer once a year. The world is moving too fast folks, you can’t do that stuff anymore, you need to go back to see the customer on a monthly cadence. Somebody better. If you can’t as a salesperson because you’re the rainmaker that just brings the deals in, you’ve got to have somebody on your team that can walk back in on a monthly cadence or somebody else, a competitor, is going to eat your lunch.
Annual contract without going back see the customer—lazy. You’re gonna lose the deals. It’s gonna happen. Monthly cadence—now that’s the way to go. Even 90 days, “Oh, I’ll go back and see him in 90 days.” The only reason you’re waiting 90 days is you don’t like what was inside the report. You’re trying to hide. You’re doing what I call ‘ostrich client follow-up.’ Stick your head in the sand and hope the client doesn’t notice. Listen, you’re just gonna lose the deal. It’s going to be that magical c-word called CHURN. You’re gonna be counting that in your churn numbers and not counting it in your growth numbers. Go back see the customer monthly. Even if the results aren’t what you kind of expected, you’re gonna have to do a bit of a spin on it—don’t spin. There’s no time for spinning anymore. Go to the client say, “It didn’t quite work the way that we expected, here’s the things that we’re going to change and we expect to see this result. I’ll be back in 30 days or I’ll phone you in 2 weeks and tell you if we’re moving down the track.”
We’re not in a place anymore where as a trusted provider that you can do the spin thing or you can lie to the customer. You know, I thought about this the other day when I was training young salespeople. I never really put it into training before. I’m like, “Don’t ever lie to the customer.” And then I started to think of back in the day. Yeah, I was probably kind of lying to the customer back in the day. I’m like, “No, it was the media mix!”, although the ad was bangin’ and it was a great ad. It touched me emotionally.” I was like, “No, I’m gonna call the media mix because I have to explain why there was nobody listening to my station when I scheduled the ads to get the result for the customer.”
So, we always, when we’re talking to young salespeople especially, we say, “Don’t ever lie.” Here’s the reason. It’s called the Internet. It’s called Google. Everyone has one. There are more phones in the world than there are toothbrushes. And that’s disgusting because there’s a bunch of people walking around talking on their phone that didn’t brush their teeth today. But my point is that that phone is a computer and it has a search engine, and when you say something to somebody you can damn well bet that the next thing that they’re doing is searching to see if you told them the truth or not. There’s entire populations out there that are self-diagnosing. Something happens to them physically and then they’re asking the doctor online what’s wrong with them before they go to a real live doctor. That’s the world that we live in.
So if you’re a salesperson, here’s the piece. And if you commit this to memory and you make it a part of your DNA, you infuse it into your character as a trusted local provider, you bring the most value by setting the stage to measure the ROI. I am going to show you with these dashboards, and these reports, and this technology, how this is performing. I’m gonna be the person that you can come to if you have a problem. By the way, I have a toll-free number so that the phone call doesn’t cost you anything. Here’s my cell number, you can text me if you have a question at any time. That is where you’re going to bring the most value.
So my point at the top of the broadcast was the place where I see salespeople, account executives, marketing consultants, whatever you’re calling yourself today, failing the most is around that setting, the key performance indicators, KPI is the term, or the proof of performance by not setting that bar that I am going to be the one to walk you through it.
Now, you see my point. If you set that bar that you are gonna be the one that’s gonna walk them through it. You were the one that convinced them to buy this thing. You were the one that convinced them to make the investment. You’re going to be the one that’s gonna walk them through to prove that it worked and what you’re going do to adapt the tactics, to adapt what you’re doing inside the strategy to make sure that you’re hitting those marks. That’s where you’re able to bring the most value to the sales conversation.
Yes, please do your research. Yes, please develop a great strategy. Yes, please have best of breed products and solutions that are part of that strategy. Yes, please build a beautiful presentation that explains the stories so the client understands what you’re talking about. Yes, please have resources under the hood where they can dig as deep as they want if they wanna find out more information. But for God’s sakes, please make sure that you’re the one that delivers the proof of performance to the customer at a regular cadence. Don’t ever hide. Be there for that client. Hold their hand, walk them down the path of the wild wild west of the Internet and digital marketing, and you will get yourself a customer that is delighted and that will continue to work with you, and who knows, you might even be able to increase that spend and give them more things that can help their business and help them reach their targets.
That’s the Conquer Local podcast for this week. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.