I was having a conversation with a consultant today about stuff and he said, "I went looking for your services page today and I couldn't find it. Can you point me in the right direction?" I replied, "Huh?" He said, "Yeah! You know, what you do for your clients. How you help them. What your services are. I've been thinking that I need to start thinking about that. So, I went looking for the page."
I'm thinking, "Oh no! Now I need a services page? Why can't people just tell me what they want?", but that's not what I said. What I said was, "I never know what it's gonna take. So, when they ask, I just tell people, 'Let's have a conversation and figure it out.'" He replied, "OK, I'll do that."
But the exchange got me thinking that maybe I do need some sort of a services page, with a form and everything. So, what's important?
Impact is important! I wrote this article a year ago that explains it pretty well. If you're a $1,000,000 company and working with me adds $100,000 to your top line, you'll probably like me, but if you're a $45,000 company and working with me adds $100,000 to your top line, you'll love me. That's impact! You'll not only love me, but you'll tell the world about me. So, if you're not the type that evangelizes or if you're not looking for a huge impact, we probably won't work together.
Commitment is important! You will need to do whatever it takes. Period! Whatever it takes. I talked with a business owner earlier this year who had a $1M business and said that he wanted to be a $2M business. Honestly, typically, doubling the business is impact. He even had a nice sounding, non-monetary reason for wanting to double his business, but "nice sounding" is the key. I'm a jerk! (Ask anybody.) and if you give me "nice sounding", I will challenge it and if you're not committed, it won't hold up.
Urgency is important! I don't want a job. I want an evangelist! I don't want you to say, "I paid Rick a gazillion dollars a year for most of my life and he made me successful." I want my evangelists to say, "We paid Rick a ton of money and we doubled our sales in 3 months and we doubled them again in the three months after he left!" Anybody can double or triple sales in a lifetime. You have to do it in 3-6 months.
So, if I had a My Services Page, it would look like this.
If you believe that you've got the important stuff, here's what I do.
Where are you today? (i.e. how many clients, MRR, annual sales, whatever)
Where do you want to be? (i.e. how many clients, MRR, annual sales, whatever)
What's the difference? That's what I do. Get you to grow the difference. Those are my services. Whatever it takes, if you've got the important stuff. Remember....
It's not about me.
It's about YOU!
I had a fun conversation today with Omar at Amazing Riviera. He had attended the interview with Mark and Matt a couple of weeks ago and he had a couple of questions regarding close rates and the difference between working inbound leads and more traditionally generated leads.
I'm sharing the same thing that I told him. If you want to increase your closing percentage, whether you're working inbound leads or traditionally acquired leads, you must stop making it about your stuff, your price and your process. You need to make it about your prospect's motivation, their timeline and their process.
Like I said, it was a fun conversation and I think that Omar is itching to change. I look forward the owner of his company calling me. After I hung up, I thought of two examples that I wanted to share with Omar, but also with you.
Elaine and I own a time share at a ski resort and have traded it for a tropical vacation for many years. A few years ago, both of her parents and my father were struggling health-wise and she and I were pretty busy with hospitals, rehabs, etc. All of a sudden, everybody stabilized and Elaine said, "It looks like everybody's gonna make it through the week. Let's go somewhere. So, she called RCI and said something like, "For the past couple of months, we've been dealing with.....It looks like everybody's stable and we're not gonna have any emergencies. Where can we go right now that's warm and relaxing?" A ten minute phone call and we were on our way to Mexico.
A few years later, we had an ice storm in New England and we lost our power on December 11th. We got it back TEN DAYS LATER! We went to church and I wrote this post about the unexpected. Then Elaine called RCI. Told them about the ice storm. 10 days without power. Freezing weather. Showering at the high school or the office. Then she asked, "Where can we go that's warm?" Punta Cana!
Now think about it. If your customers called and told you their "WHY!", would price matter? Would you have to give them a "first call bonus"? Would there be any, "Let me think about its?" Slow down. Find out why? Why today? Why warm? Who with? Why them?" Something special? Tough day? What's going on in their life and how can you make it better.
As a reminder, I'll talk sales with anybody for 15 minutes, even if you're boring. Click here and pick a time.
Image creditRick Roberge
If you look at the sales profession, you may begin to wonder if they're proud of what they do or if they're feel that it's necessary to disguise who they are. Look at their business cards and read their titles, advisor, consultant, expert, facilitator, account executive, account manager, anything but salesperson.
I recently had the opportunity to listen to my son, Mark, suggest that it's not "always be closing", but it's "always be helping". I also listened to my son, Matt, share his story about building his bookkeeping agency one client at a time. When he sells, it's different from when one of Mark's 100+ salespeople sell. It's different, very different and most solo-preneurs, VSB owners and "mom & pops" relate to Matt's story because they don't think of themselves as salespeople. They are what they do!
(If you haven't listened to that interview, click on the Blue "Free Webinar" link on the sidebar of my blog to get the recording.)
OK, back to "Consultant Sales vs Salesperson Sales"...
I'm also aware that there are some changes happening in the Inbound Networkers Group on LinkedIn and the conversation is leaning toward having experts speak to the group on topics that the group is interested in. It's an open group. Feel free to check it out.
So, my first thought was to write an e-book, something like How to Build a Consultancy Right from the Start, or How to Make Your Consultancy Self Regenerating for Life, but it really sounded like a lot of work.
So, I have two suggestions.
If you're just looking to kick start your consultancy with a few good clients that will listen to you, pay you, love you and evangelize for you, sign up for Getting Sales vs. Learning How to Sell!
If you'd rather join a group of like-minded consultants, check out this new group of Professional Consultants.Rick Roberge
I have several 'helping' conversations every day. One of the people that I spoke to this week mentioned a new service called Clarity. I poked around, then signed up and added a new module to my sidebar.
If you click on any of the links, you can check out my profile and explore their whole site. If you have any great ideas on how to use it, etc. please let me know.
Today, one of the people that I was talking with said, "Clarity looks interesting. I wonder how effective that will be. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to afford your 16.67 per minute fee!"
My reply was, "Regarding my fee... It's never a question of affording the fee. Rather, it comes down to can they afford NOT to pay it!" Here's my logic. If you bought an hour of my time and I helped you close a $10K sale, would that have been worth it? If we spread 10 hours out over a few weeks and it resulted in 4 new retainer clients, would that have been worth it?
If you make it about the number of hours, the hourly rate, and you, nobody will be able to afford you. If you make it about your client, their dreams, needs and compelling reasons to make change(s). Then help them figure out the consequences of doing nothing and the cost of those consequences, they can't be able to afford to not pay your fee.
Please, please, please get this into your head.
It's not about you. It's about them!Rick Roberge
I originally had this scheduled for #FF-Fun Friday Post for tomorrow, but as I thought about it, if you do not understand the impact of listening, it is not funny. It is sad. Please get the lesson.
Watch what happens when you stop trying to fix things and you just listen.
It's Not About the Nail from Jason Headley on Vimeo.Rick Roberge
Sometimes I wonder why Dharmesh Shah isn't required reading for everybody. This is an excerpt from today's article, "9 Qualities Of Truly Confident People"
#9. They only seek approval from the people who really matter.
You say you have 10k Twitter followers? Swell. 20k Facebook friends? Cool. A professional and social network of hundreds or even thousands? That’s great. But that also pales in comparison to earning the trust and respect of the few people in your life that truly matter. When we earn their trust and respect, no matter where we go or what we try, we do it with true confidence – because we know the people who truly matter the most are truly behind us.
I don't think that I need to add anything. You can read the entire article here.
Also, the latest issue of Sold Magazine came out today and I'm pleased that they've included two of my articles.
Page 44 - "Developing Confidence & Personal Motivation"
Page 46 - "Developing Relationships and Their Impact on Your Influence"
Both are true stories with a lesson (or two). You can read these articles (and dozens of others) at Sold Magazine.
BTW, if you like the magazine, have it sent to your inbox...Rick Roberge
As you probably know by now, I really enjoyed doing the How to Close Inbound Leads interview last week with my sons because I've tweeted about it and written about it all last week. Today's question is a bit of a twist. Were you listening to the right person being interviewed?
When we were setting the interview up, Matt said, "I don't know if I'm the right person to be doing this, but I'll do my best." He was thinking that Mark, with his international reputation on inbound, or me, an old guy that's made a lot of mistakes might be more relevant. Who would care what a 34 year old bookkeeper might have to say? Here are a few reasons (in no particular order) that I think Matt brought the most value to the interview.
I could go on, but let me ask, "Does this sound like you?" Does it sound like who you want to be? I've noticed that most of Matt's friends like to fish, ski, bike, hike, be outdoors in clean air and are like him, or they're jealous and want to be like him. Do you have fewer than 4 employees? Do you work to live or live to work?
- 80% of businesses have fewer than 4 or no employees
- Matt is a bookkeeper and by his own admission, is anally analytical, risk averse, and financially conservative. (A funny story: a few years ago, Matt called to tell me that he had won $2,000 at a hold 'em tournament. I asked what he did with the money and he said that he bought breakfast for his friends and funded his IRA. Seriously?)
- He's 34 and owns a condo on the ski shuttle route in Utah. So, that he can ski Alta every day when he's there.
- He also owns a house that's bigger than both of mine combined on a river in Montana so that he can fly fish every day when he's there.
- He's got a truck, a car, a raft, a trailer for the raft, and all of the other toys and equipment that you would expect and avid outdoorsman to have for TWO expensive sports.
- His employees and clients are the same kind of people. They like the outdoors and work so that they can spend more time outdoors.
Here's a few of Matt's thoughts from the interview.
So, yes, Mark and Bob are good at what they do, but if you are a DIY kind of business owner, Matt was where you are and is probably where you want to go. You can listen to the entire interview at How to Close Inbound Leads.
- We're small enough that we know our clients well. We do the marketing and the sales and we deliver. So, we know pretty quickly who will be a good client and who won't.
- Your marketing and sales process has to be personalized. It's not one size fits all.
- Ask them a really tough question that everyone else is afraid to ask. It could be controversial or slightly borderline insulting but it makes you stand out to your prospect and it’s not the same old thing that everyone else is pitching them. It makes them pay attention to you and believe in you.
One last thing...
I know that Matt is much more than a bookkeeper to his clients because I've gotten to talk to some of them and it's clear that they talk about fishing, skiing, marketing, sales, beer, good food and a bunch of other stuff in addition to bookkeeping. You can contact Matt here
I hope that you find these real life stories interesting and I'm very interested in your comments and opinions as to what you believe is right.
I recently had the huge pleasure of being interviewed by Bob Ruffolo of Impact Branding & Design along with both of my sons, Mark and Matt. Before I get to the title, both sons are awesome and I really enjoy that I get to know them both personally as well as professionally. We're not clones and don't agree on everything, but the world is definitely better with them in it. You're welcome!
The impetus for this post actually came from one of Mark's answers in the interview. Bob asked, "How does inbound marketing affect the notion that you should be closing on the first call?". Mark replied, "...don’t always be closing always be helping...", and generally I agree, but wonder if sometimes in trying to "help", we actually cause more harm.
Let me offer three different situations.
As you may know, anybody can schedule a call with me using this link. Recently, someone used the link and set the following as the agenda.
"I have already identified prospecting and sales process as thing I need to do and am taking steps to put them in place. One of the things that I need to overcome is my need to educate people when I talk to them. I'd be interested in concrete steps to avoid giving unpaid consulting and replacing my need to educate with something useful. I'd also be interested in tips on how to not accept stalls by the prospect."
I answered his questions and was helpful, but I'm pretty sure that I did not help. He's been struggling for a while. He's stuck and he's trying to figure it out and fix it himself rather than commit to getting outside help. I suggested that he read, Switch and never offered to coach him and he never asked. I have two concerns. He may go out and try to do what I suggested and not be able make it work. Is he gonna feel like a bigger failure or is he gonna think less of me because my "helping" didn't work?
A while ago, I was introduced to an entrepreneur that had already succeeded and was starting a new venture. I was interested in his space and made several 'inner circle' introductions. He liked my style and asked if I'd be interested in working with him. We started, but it wasn't smooth and a few weeks in, he told me, "that I was 'a piece of work' and not everybody's 'cup of tea', but he was trying to acquire the taste and counting on me to grow his business." As it turned out, we stopped working together after two months because what he told me that he wanted to sell was not what he wanted to deliver.
I'll get to the third situation in a second, but I'd like to ask you a question. I don't believe that I had a positive impact on either of the people above. People don't have to pay to use my calendar link for a free coaching call. I did charge the second guy for the two months that we worked together. Which is better, to not help and not get paid or to not help and get paid?
OK, third situation. On April 20th, I received an email from Twitter that indicated that ImpactBnd had started following me. I thought that they already were. So, I sent this tweet. Bob used my calendar link ro schedule a call and we spoke on April 24th. He's a pretty sharp guy and our conversation was easy and non-salesy. During the conversation, he mentioned that he was going to write an e-book titled "How to Close Inbound Leads" for his clients. I immediately thought, "What do you know about closing?" (Sorry, Bob.), but before I could say it, he asked, "Hey do you want to contribute?" I asked, "What if we could do an interview-style webinar instead of an e-book? Maybe I could get my sons, Mark and Matt, to be involved to offer different perspectives. That happened. Now, what's the point? Relating back to Mark's point, "always be helping." Bob didn't need to be a client for me to offer to help and he and his team did a good job on the webinar.
So, your thoughts on helping vs. closing?
BTW, you can listen to the entire webinar if you want to know How to Close Inbound Leads. I hope it helps!Rick Roberge
On 4/18, I noticed that Robert Kelly had visited my profile on LinkedIn. So, I sent my standard inmail. He replied. We had a conversation. He was very interesting and I asked him to write the following article. Enjoy and I hope that it makes you rich!
The Federal Government Represents a Tremendous Opportunity for Inbound Marketing Agencies
Inbound marketing firms aggressively ply their trade seeking to acquire large and small businesses as clients. Few inbound agencies I have spoken with, however, have ever given thought to pursuing the world’s largest client, the U.S. Federal government. The reasons are varied:
- The government is too large
- Federal agencies only buy from large prime contractors
- Government contracting is too complicated
While these perceptions are understandable, they are largely overstated and cause far too many small firms to miss out on this lucrative market.
Dispelling the Myths
The Government is Too Large:
Yes, taken as a whole, the government is the world’s largest client, buying well over $500 Billion worth of products and services each year. But the government is not really a single monolithic organization; rather, it is a confederation of hundreds of smaller organizations – cabinet departments, agencies, bureaus, and offices spread throughout the U.S. Each agency has its own unique mission and needs. The good news is that agencies are very open about their needs and they all play by the same rulebook on how they buy from vendors. Once you understand the rules, it can be easier to sell into the government than some large multinational firms.
Federal agencies only buy from large prime contractors
This is one of the biggest misconceptions that cause some firms to avoid marketing to federal agencies. In fact, Congress has mandated that federal agencies direct at least 23% of their purchases to small businesses. Set aside contracts also exist for special businesses such as women-owned, veteran owned, and disadvantaged, to name a few.
Government contracting is too complicated
As a result of corruption and incompetence over the years, government contracting did indeed become excruciatingly complex and formal. Recognizing this problem, and its impact on small business, congress passed simplified acquisition laws that have resulted in several programs that make doing business with the federal government much simpler. Not simple by any stretch, but not the horrible image that many business people too often accept as true.
For example, the GSA Schedules program enables businesses to obtain a single contract to sell to any federal agency. Think of it as your license to hunt – a stamp of approval. This contract contains pre-negotiated terms, conditions, and pricing. Pricing is based on the firm’s commercial sales practices, not on some complex government accounting rules. Therefore, once the contract is in place, agencies and vendors can focus on scoping out the work to be done rather than the contracting issues. Best of all, agencies are allowed to quickly buy from the firm using far less paperwork than traditional government procurements. The average award time for a task order under a GSA contract is 15 days, versus 264 days for a traditional government contract.
Another government program that simplifies agency procurements with small businesses is call SAP, short for Simplified Acquisition Procedures. For contracts valued at $150,000 or less, agencies are usually required to issue RFP’s using the SAP program, which minimize the agonizingly long proposal submissions endemic to larger government contracts. Better yet, these solicitations are typically restricted to small business.
Would Agencies Buy Your Inbound and Content Marketing Services?
Absolutely, agencies buy advertising and marketing services all the time. In FY 2012, Agencies bought over $425,000,000 worth of advertising and marketing services from firms who had a GSA Schedule 541 contract. Schedule 541, entitled Advertising and Integrated Marketing Solutions, or AIMS for short, allows vendors of web based marketing, graphic arts, advertising and other marketing services to sell to federal agencies.
Another interesting stat comes from the Office of Management and Budget . Next year, the federal government will spend more than $1.4 billion on Web Infrastructure and Web Content Management Systems. What are they going to be doing with all that technology? Social media and content marketing of course. Yes, agencies do “sell” their programs to stakeholders!
Todd Park, the White House CTO, indicates that half of these projects will be under the $150,000 SAP threshold. Many of these projects will entail:
- Web design & development
- Content Management
- Social Media Marketing
- Mobile Application Development
- Video Production and Transcription.
Yes, the federal government is the world’s largest client, but all agencies buy from small businesses and they are looking for fresh ideas to help them accomplish their agency’s mission. Inbound marketing is an ideal solution for these agencies.
Federal Contracts for Inbound Marketing Agencies
TurboGSA will be hosting a free webinar entitled, “Exploring Federal Contracts for Inbound Marketing Agencies” on June 12, 2013 at 11:00am ET.
The webinar will cover the
- opportunities for inbound marketing firms,
- how GSA contracts can grow your business,
- advice on pricing to become a player in the market, and
- free programs you should register for to be notified of opportunities.
This webinar is presented by TurboGSA. TurboGSA is a leading federal business development consultancy specializing in helping small firms obtain GSA and other government contracts. We have helped more than 500 firms succeed in the federal market. Presenting this webinar will be Robert Kelly, Founder and Principal Consultant at TurboGSA. Following several years in Government service in the early 1980s, Robert began developing Federal business in 1985 for firms in the Washington DC area. Starting his own business in 1998, Robert helps firms expand their federal contracting business.
Sign up for webinar here.
What kind of business are you?
What kind of salesperson are you?
Are there 100+ salespeople in your company or are you a solopreneur? Are your salespeople 20-somethings and always on their smart phones or have you been selling for 40 years and are trying to figure out Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging? Do you have a marketing staff or do you do all the marketing, all the selling, all the delivering, all the billing, plus take out the trash?
Next Tuesday, Bob Ruffolo at Impact Branding and Design will be interviewing my sons, Mark Roberge, SVP of Sales & Services at Hubspot and Matt Roberge, CEO and Founder of Salt Lake City Bookkeeping (a Hubspot customer) and myself in a live webinar format. He will be asking us questions about how we close inbound leads, what we do differently, and why? Questions like:
- How does the size of your business change the way you approach an inbound lead?
- There is a saying that you close on the first call. How does inbound marketing effect this notion? Does it assist in effectiveness of your first call?
- How does a business of your size track leads in the various levels of a sales funnel? Many small businesses struggle using a CRM as part of their sales and marketing alignment efforts. What advice would you give to help them get to the next level?
- What's the biggest mistake you see when sales reps are trying to transition from a more cold/outbound style of selling to an inbound style of selling?
- What advice would you give to get buy-in from the decision maker when the main contact is an influencer and your struggling to get to the decision maker?
- How do you handle a lead that is not educated enough to be sales ready? Do you send them back to marketing to nurture or does is the sales team responsible for the further education?
- What's the most important metric that you monitor for a business of your size?
- What are some tactics that you would use to help an opportunity pull the trigger when they're almost ready to close, but they're stalling?
What question would you ask if you had the chance?
If you'd like to listen in live and/or hear the recording, register here