Overview of Seal the Deal
Each step begins with the dialogue from the corresponding telecourse session for that topic, and it is followed by additional guidance, strategies, worksheets, and guidelines. I recommend going through the sessions in order, as they build on one another, but each chapter is also usable on its own, so if you prefer to skip around, you will still benefit. At the end of the book, you will find additional resources and your own Strategic Business Development Action Plan for Networking, Marketing, and Sales template. If you approach this book as a self-study course, you will alter your mindsets about sales and walk away with actionable steps for building your business your way.
Why do I know this stuff works? Here’s a bit of my story. When I left my career as a schoolteacher, I learned how to network by spending six months engaged in informational interviews—meeting everyone I could possibly meet to figure out what I would do next. How would my teaching skills transfer to the corporate workplace? The pattern that emerged from that experience was that people kept saying I should get into consulting and coaching. In fact, a few of the folks I met during that six months of interviewing wanted to hire me as the coach for their employees and clients! Thus, I started my business because I had clients. After two years, the initial engagements came to their natural conclusion, and I had to quickly learn how to generate new business. Applying what I knew about networking, and integrating a few marketing activities, I was able to go from $10K in debt at year two, to generating sustainable six-figure revenues by year three of my business. Then I learned how to integrate sales activities into the game. The first year that I used the whole system in an integrated way in my own business, I was already six years into self-employment. I formatted the selling system by combining my networking and marketing experiences with the core concepts from sales training that I had been co-facilitating for lawyers and legal service providers—and I began to apply it to my own business. The system works for experienced consultants as well as those just starting out. How do I know it works? Because I’ve sealed the deal in more than 110 companies and firms worldwide, and I started as a schoolteacher!
In my first year of applying the selling system you are about to learn, I saw a 95.6 percent increase in annual revenues. Does that sound like something that would interest you? If so, I encourage you to systematically do the homework actions and answer the questions in this book, and treat this book as if it were your personal sales coach. Here are some of the basics we’ll be exploring more fully:
Barriers to Effective Business Development • What are your current mindsets about sales and marketing? About
business development in general? About networking?
• What gets in your way? What are the obstacles that prevent you from making lots of sales?
• Where do you get in your own way?
• Where are you repressing your real and authentic self in an effort to fit in, impress partners or clients, or manage others’ perceptions about you?
Exploring Barriers to Effective Business Development
s Mindsets s Perceived Obstacles s Real Approaches
s Strategies for Authenticity
• Whatstrategiescanyouemploythatwillallowyoutobringforthyour full and authentic self toward a meaningful purpose?
• Who are your allies?
• Where can you deepen relationships or create partnerships that will expand your sphere of influence and forward your business development goals?
The Power of Rainmaking
Successful rainmaking begins with developing your own concept of what result you want from your business development efforts—you can’t get there if you don’t have a clear idea of where there is. Know where you want to go with your business and design steps to take it in that direction. The first step for many of us is to perfect a deep understanding of the sales cycle— and when and how to bring our best targets into it. Key strategies are to zero in on prospective clients you have identified in or through your network and to never, ever fail to ask for referrals. In other words, rainmaking means you are in perpetual business development mode—continually networking, marketing, and selling.
Rainmaking Is a Process s Understand the sales cycle
s Identify a meaningful purpose for your business development activities
s Focus on your network relationships
s Ask for referrals
s Engage in constant activity and follow through
Seal the Deal
The Numbers Game s Cycle time: 6 months to 2 years
s 10 calls to get through to 6 people to schedule 1 sales meeting
s Referrals: 10 calls gets through to 8 people and yields 3 to 4 meetings
s 100 calls yields 10 meetings, which yields 1 client
Playing by the Numbers
Allow me to explain. The numbers I quote throughout Seal the Deal are based on general research and, of course, vary greatly depending on the individual, but you can use these numbers as a baseline for understanding the numbers game involved.
• It takes 10 calls to get through to six to seven people to set up one meeting.
• It takes 10 meetings to get 5 second meetings to get one client.
• Therefore, it takes 100 calls to get 10 meetings to get one client!
• The figures for referrals are much better: 10 calls will get through to eight or nine people and yield three to four meetings or more.
• The entire process, from meeting a prospective user of your services to getting business from them, could take anywhere from six months to two years. That means that if you stop making calls to set up meet- ings to get new clients, in roughly six months, you will find yourself with a paucity of work.
This is why you need to engage in constant activity and follow through! Much of the sales process is about momentum.
Overview of Seal the Deal
Know When to Get Out of Your Own Way
s Remember: Silence is leverage.
s Don’t PITCH, analyze. s Remember the 80/20
s Conduct an investigation.
s Tell stories instead of benefits.
Getting Out of Your Own Way
An ongoing theme throughout Seal the Deal is avoiding self-sabotage— learning ways to get out of your own way. For example, know when to stop talking. Listening is the key to getting golden nuggets of information from your prospects as well as to eventually getting the business. Use silence to put the ball in their court.
No one likes to be pitched. It is better to use the time to determine with the prospect if it makes sense to do business together. Analyze their needs, their situation, what they are committed to doing/accomplishing, and where you might help. Approach the conversation with the assumption that you may not be the best match for their needs—and a willingness to walk away.
In the long run, 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your clients, so focus on providing excellent customer care and seeking repeat business from current clients. Ask them for referrals frequently throughout the engagement life cycle. Do not just ask for referrals at the end of a project, but plant seeds at the beginning and make referral requests throughout your service cycle with a client.
Seal the Deal
In any sales meeting, the listening/talking rule is 80/20—you should do 80 percent listening and only talk 20 percent of the time; the client should do 80 percent of the talking. Thus, to prepare for client meetings, you will be well served to prepare questions that will open up the client responses.
Apply the investigative, inquiry skills you already have to the sales meeting. Don’t assume they can use your services; investigate the possibility with the prospect of where it makes sense to work together in a way that best serves their commitments/goals/objectives.
Tell stories that illustrate your results, wins, and successes with other clients so that your prospects can see themselves in your story and assume your services are the solutions to their needs.
People Buy from You for a Finite Set of Reasons
Once you understand that there is a set number of possible reasons someone might buy your services, you can step aside from the personal attachment to the outcome of getting clients. Once you know the finite list, you can have more control over your reactions to the process. Your list might be like what the Sandler Institute teaches: People buy from you either because of their
Create Space, Be Real
s Trust yourself. s Listen. s Create space to breathe.
s Align with your authenticity and commitments.
pain and the belief that your products or services can eliminate that pain for them, or because they believe that your products and services will increase their pleasure or joy in some way.1
While the Sandler training is very powerful and useful, my list is a little bit different. Inquire within yourself to determine what your list looks like. People buy from you because:
• They like you. • They trust you. • They value the service you provide. • They want your products or think your services will help them. • They have some problem that you can help them solve. • They trust the person in their life who told them about you.
If you keep your list in mind during your sales process, you’ll know that once one or more of those things are sufficiently present in the other person (organization, etc.), then you can close the deal. The list above provides your litmus test for readiness to approach the close. Likewise, if none of the above is present in sufficient quantities to score the sale, it would be foolish to ask for business at that time.
No One Is on the Bench
Networking and business development are not spectator sports. Not only do you have to be in the game, on the court, out in the field, or whatever metaphor speaks to you, you must think of everyone else in the world as also being in the game with you. There are no benchwarmers, which means that none of your interactions with any other human being is ever wasted. Every moment is an opportunity for building relationships—for speaking your vision to everyone all the time. Another critical piece of this mindset is to operate from the assumption that everyone wants to help you. This assumption will allow you to make big, bold, outrageous requests that will encourage and invite people to contribute to your growing business and blossoming self.
How do you actively stay competitive in this rapidly expanding market? If you are not networking all the time, what is in the way of that? Even if you
Overview of Seal the Deal
Seal the Deal
spend most of your time with fellow coaching or consulting colleagues, they can be great networking and business development resources for you. Staying competitive in the market may not actually be about competition.
Think about competition for a minute. In a personal services business such as consulting or coaching in organizations, even though you and all your would-be competitors offer similar or even the same services (assessments, 360-degree assessments, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, individual coaching, team coaching, situational leadership, presentation skills, etc.), so much of what you do is unique to you as an individual. When you think about it that way, do you truly have competitors in your market?
Here’s a mindset that better serves coaches to expand their offering into organizations and be able to provide larger-scale interventions than individual coaches: I’ve heard it referred to as coopetition, an amalgam of cooperation and competition. The idea is one of collaboration with competitors, or turning competitors into partners, by building alliances and joint ventures as a business development strategy. If you struggle with staying competitive in the market, identify those you perceive to be your biggest competitors and approach them to create coopetition arrangements that serve everyone and the greater good of the client organization. It is the old win-win concept that we facilitate our clients to attain, now applied to your own business growth strategy.
There is a psychology of selling, and it is equally important to manage your own psychology as well as understand the game from the prospective buyer’s perspective. Selling coaching and other professional services is very different from selling products or programs. These services are abstract and intangible—it’s not like you’re selling Fuller brushes or Girl Scout cookies! You’re selling concepts, competence, confidence—a host of outcomes that often are years in the making.
Navigating the System
The Seal the Deal process uses clear navigation points and basic foundational elements. There’s an assumed baseline of credibility: You have the training, experience, education, and credentials to deliver the service (whatever it may be) and get results. You have a track record of proven value (results/worth). You understand and can facilitate a sophisticated interview. You recognize when your prospective client is an educated and savvy consumer/user of your services. You are aware of and can manage your mindsets and attitudes during the process. You understand and can keep all your activities clear and consistent within a specific sales cycle. You constantly fill and track your pipeline of leads. You know your numbers and what it takes to play the numbers game to move people through your sales process. You build your business routinely using the technology of referrals, and you are always networking.
These are the basics. Of course, there’s much, much more to each one of these elements, hence this book. Read on and have fun!
1. See their website at www.sandler.com/.
Overview of Seal the Deal