Smart Gets Paid Podcast Transcript
Intro (00:02): You're listening to the Smart Gets Paid Podcast with me, Leah Neaderthal. I help women land higher paying clients in their B2B consulting and coaching businesses, but I've never been a sales person. My background is in corporate marketing. And when I started my first consulting business, I learned pretty quickly that it's about a thousand times harder to sell your own stuff than it is to sell someone else's. So I taught myself how to do it, and I created a sales approach that feels comfortable, makes you feel confident, and it works consistently. And now I teach women how to land higher paying clients in their B2B consulting and coaching businesses. So whether your client contracts are $2,000 or $200,000, if you want to work with more of the clients you love, do more of the work you love, and get paid more than you ever imagined. Then you're in the right place. Let's do it together. Welcome to Smart Gets Paid.
Hey, there, Leah here and welcome to this episode of the Smart Gets Paid Podcast. So back when I was working at a mid-sized tech company in corporate marketing, I was invited to go to a dinner. And honestly, at this point, I can't remember who was putting it on or how it came about, but this was going to be an intimate dinner organized for women in sales. And these big names were going to be there. These prominent women in the selling space, women like Jill Konrath and Nancy Bleeke, Janice Mars, Lori Richardson. These women are huge in the sales space and then there was little old me, Director of Corporate Marketing at this company. I wasn't a sales person. I'd never been a sales person. And I was years off from even starting my own business and needing to teach myself how to sell so I could actually get clients, but I was in corporate marketing and part of my job was to build these types of relationships with influencers in the space who would hopefully then write about our software. And I remember that I went to this dinner and I was awestruck, these women, they had written multiple books. They spoke on huge stages and I was just so impressed by them.
A few years later when I started my own business and I realized that even though I knew marketing, I didn't know anything about selling. And when I realized that I was going to have to teach myself, it was their books that I picked up, these women in sales and in each of them, I learned something, some concept that I wove into what became my selling methodology, which is the methodology I teach in my programs. But there was one book in particular that really changed how I thought about selling into companies.
Leah (02:21): It was the book, Dirty Little Secrets, Why Buyers Can't Buy and Sellers Can't Sell and What You Can Do About It by a woman who is at that dinner named Sharon Drew Morgen. Now Sharon Drew is a sales leader, former tech company founder. And one thing that's unique about Sharon Drew is that she has Asperger's and you might think, “well, what does it have to do with selling?” It's because the way her Asperger's manifests is that her superpower is that she can quickly and clearly see the systems behind things. And in seeing systems, she identified that one reason why selling doesn't work isn't that the people doing the selling are bad at it. It's because you might think you're selling into a company, but you're really selling into a system. And the system has people and teams and competing priorities and work arounds. And it's actually a big reason why selling B2B is different than selling B2C and why the tactics that might work to say, sell an online course to an individual, won't work in selling a consulting engagement into a company.
Leah (03:17): And once I realized that it really unlocked for me, why what I had been doing to sell wasn't working, because I was trying to use tactics that only worked for B2C and I wasn't taking into account how to sell into a system to get buy-in and help my clients navigate their company's buying process. Once I learned that I was able to use that concept to actually sell in bigger consulting engagements. And now it's part of what I share with my clients and I'm touching on it in today's call. So I want to thank Sharon Drew Morgen for opening my eyes to this concept of selling into a system. In this episode, you're going to listen in on my conversation with two business partners, their consulting practice helps companies implement meaningful and effective corporate social responsibility programs. And in our conversation, we're going to start by talking about how to stop wasting time on proposals that don't go anywhere.
And as you'll hear at unearths, another question about fundamentally, how to sell into a company and how not only to sell into a person inside a company, but into the system. This conversation is a one-on-one coaching call from my Signed 10 week program. So I want to say a special thanks to these women for allowing me to share this conversation with you. In this call, you're also going to hear another voice in the background. Well, I mean, not so much a voice as much as crying. It's my son who is in the next room and who is teething at the time and was having a really tough day that day. And even though he was with my wife, his other mom, and she was trying her best to make him feel better. He was pretty upset. So at a few points in the call, you're going to hear a baby crying in the background, but I promise that no babies were harmed in the making of this episode. Take a listen to our call. And at the end, I'll come back and share how you can apply a lesson from this call to your business.
Sponsor (04:48): This episode is sponsored by the One-Page Sales Strategy. So when you think of a business development strategy for a consulting or coaching business, you might picture a complicated flow chart with boxes and arrows and lots of steps, but it actually doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, the strategy that powers your entire consulting or coaching business, your work, and your revenue can be just one page. And when you have that strategy, you can start to clearly see where to spend your time, turn off shiny object syndrome and get to work, getting the clients you want in your business. Because if you're like the woman I work with, you're not afraid of hard work, but you want it to be the right work. So whether you already work with businesses as your clients, or if you want to start, get your copy of the One-Page Sales Strategy and start to create your simple, elegant sales strategy for your consulting or coaching business. Get yours today at onepagesalesstrategy.com.
Guest 1 (05:46): What we find is that we have very little issue getting initial conversations. People are interested in the topic. They know it's important. So where we struggle is, I think in two parts. One is having enough of those conversations because while our networks are quite strong, they only know far in order to have that real pipeline at the top of the funnel. We just need to have a whole lot more of those conversations and they need to be more well vetted. And then the next piece is how do we translate that initial, like, “wow, this is so cool” to give us specific ideas about how you can help us. And so I think we're definitely learning about the kind of painkiller versus vitamin and hearing our value and all of that kind of thing. Once we get a client they're really happy.
Guest 2 (06:35): Yeah. I mean, we just, we have no problem with the doing and pleasing customers once we get them, it's just that other part, landing them and showing our value.
Guest 1 (06:48): At the end of the day. I think what's the most important thing to focus on is how do we get better leads? How do I identify the right leads? And then how do we convert those to projects? That's where we see, kind of, our big pain points.
Leah (07:03): Well that, that sort of is the thing, right? It's like, how do we. . . So really, we need two things. We need more leads and then we need to close them.
Guest 1 (07:13): So basically, like, your whole system, if you could just . . .
Leah (07:16): You know, I make light of it. Right? But it's worth sort of saying like, yes, this is. . . I'm sorry, if you can hear that in the background. But there is, you have to sort of look at it at every stage, you know? Which is what we're going to start to do. And a couple of things sort of jump out at me. The first is when people come to you and you have these conversations, how do you sort of move it forward? Right? And I think the challenge is that what you offer, it does take a little bit of education. And because it's taking education on what the value is and why people would want this. It also takes a lot of education on how to buy it.
Guest 2 (07:56): We looked back at last year, I think we spent way too much time, like putting out pretty proposals. You know, everyone's going to say, sure, shoot me a proposal and we just wasted time spinning there. And so sort of thinking through that interim step, like how do we get them something crisp and clear, and clean that gets them really excited about the approachability of doing something with us. And so we need to be able to create like a kind of mini proposals. Almost in saying, here's our offerings, here’s what we could do, here's how approachable it is. So I just see it as like, sort of a breakdown from an even bigger proposal, but an interim step of just getting them staying in the conversation like, Oh, let me go find five grand or let me go find eight grand or whatever they're fighting on.
Leah (08:49): And so when you say, I want to get them interested in enough so they're going to say, I'm going to go get five grand or eight grand or whatever, the thing is that they may have no idea how to do that. You know, they might know, Oh, I have to go talk to finance, but they don't actually know how to do that. So, really I would sort of add one thing onto your sales process, which is, you're not just sort of selling to a person or a team or committee. You have to think about it in terms of, you're helping them sell internally and you guys have to be experts on how to buy. So you can think about it like you're selling into this massive knot. You know, envision a big knot, like with rope or whatever, your sales process has to sort of loosen that and unravel it.
Leah (09:37): So think about things like, you know, what does your client need to sell internally? You know, so you might uphold part of your sales process or your discussions with them might be something like, here's how we've seen people get budget for this. Right? Here are ways to bring this to finance or whoever, you know, is this sort of overseer, not just writing the checks, but like making the decision. If you have found in the past, it's easier to free up marketing budget than it is to free up another budget, then try that. So that's one thing to think about as you sort of look across your sales process. And another way to change the sales process for you guys is it's not just understanding what their needs are, what their value is that they're truly looking for, which, you know, you are going to start to learn in module five.
It really has to be doing discovery about the sale. How this works in a company, because you have to understand what's in that knot. You know, you have to understand what the ropes are in order to help them unravel them. The benefit for you guys is that's going to uncover things like, are they even ready for our proposal? Because I don't want you creating proposals for people who say, “yeah, sure, send us a proposal.” That's a stall tactic. And that takes work for you. And that's a waste of your time. And so in light of that, it's not about creating a smaller proposal or a mini proposal or whatever. It's about really understanding. Walk me through, you know, if you were to take this to somebody tomorrow, what would that look like? You start to lay out the red carpet for them to take the action that you want.
Guest 2 (11:18): Yeah. I think in general, when people think of corporate responsibility consulting, it's sort of those buckets, still people are trying to figure out where it comes from. Is it marketing, is it HR, is it, you know, a branding, all those sorts of things.
Guest 1 (11:32): That makes me think about exactly who is our primary contact. You may have some thoughts about this, Leah. So, you know, there's sort of two ways we can go about this. One is so typically we like to work with companies like midsize companies who may or may not have an official community affairs, CSR person on staff. A lot of times, it's like a young person that's been given the role through marketing or communications. We kind of liked that space where it's like, they're doing it, but they're not doing it well yet. The challenge with that is that young person is not typically going to push up in their organization, I don't think. And so we're like, okay, maybe we should only be going from decision-maker level. But the challenge with that is that there's not a decision maker who's tasked with community stuff typically because they're just giving it to the low level person. So you go to the CMO. Do you go directly to the CEO? They’re certainly the face to push it down. Then you have a lot better chances of getting traction. So you have any thoughts about that conundrum, Leah.
Leah (12:42): Yeah. So there are two questions sort of wrapped up in here. The first is where do we start? And the second is you raised a question about vetting earlier, so let's start with the vetting thing. So I think part of the process for you guys is understanding what are the markers that would distinguish a good client or somebody who's ready for us? You know, part of this is if somebody says we've never had a CSR program before in our history, we're starting to do this now. You know, you guys have to decide, is that a good signal for you? Or is it not a good signal for you? If somebody says we have a CSR program, we put our office manager on it. I have seen this actually given to an office manager, is that a good signal for you or a bad signal, right?
(13:27): And so it's probably worth thinking about what are the conditions under which you could be successful. Not just successful selling, but also successfully implementing. If they've given us to a junior associate or whatever that might mean that you could be very successful in the delivery, but really hard to sell in, right? Because this person doesn't have the agency leading to the sort of next part of this is, does that mean that we have to go high, right? Do we have to start high in the organization? The challenge there is that, yes, it's probably true that the CMO or the CEO or whatever is the ultimate decision maker on this. The person who sets the strategic imperative that says this is important, but they're also the person who is the hardest to get on the radar, hardest to get their attention. It has the least amount of time and has the least likelihood of getting back to you on anything, right?
(14:20): So there's this other sort of role that you're gonna want to think about, which is if the CMO CEO person is a decision maker. Another person in the organization is what's called the champion and the champion is the person who sort of takes up the cause and will take you into an organization. It will socialize, it will take it up the ladder and having a great champion is even better than being connected directly to the decision maker. For all the reasons we talked about, the CEO is not going to take your call. A champion is somebody you can work with. So even though you're sort of selling to the champion, what you're really doing is you're an ally to the champion. So the champion can sell internally. Does that make sense? Yeah. So the question then becomes, who is the right champion? Is it the marketing director level? Is it a VP that's where you're going to want to start?
Guest 2 (15:15): Yeah, I mean, I agree with you. I actually really like your discussion about markers that distinguish a good client for us and just talking that over. So there are really different markers. Like sometimes people are really grassroots and we're really good at taking them into more formality. And sometimes their grassroots has been around a while for two or three years and they are really ready to scale it and make it much more professional. Like one's a structure and one's more professionality and process. And, you know, we typically don't go after someone like Chevron or whatever that already has, you know, a full scale team and has their initiatives and annual reports, like, that's not really our sweet spot. And so there's this whole where to start, you know, and I think you've given us some food for thought around, like where to start around finding that champion or identifying. I do typically think VP and kind of marketing director position is a pretty good place for us to be in general.
Leah (16:16): If it's going to be a good exercise for you guys over the next couple of weeks and we're going to do this in week 4. So thinking about, cause you have the tools, you have Pack Your Pipeline, you know, you're going to have these templates and all these things that you're learning here. It's just a matter of where to point it.
Leah (16:35): All right? So there's a lot we talked about here, but I want to call out one thing in particular that you can apply to your business. It's this idea that your clients may absolutely need your help and they may need the solution that you provide, but they may not know how to buy it. And that's especially true when you're selling into medium or large companies. So as a consultant, it's actually your job to help your clients understand and navigate their own buying process. So asking smart questions to understand how decisions get made in a company, that's going to give you really great information to help your sales process. It's going to keep you from wasting time on proposals that don't go anywhere and it's going to help your client, your champion, selling the work on your behalf. And just a little epilogue to this conversation. A few weeks after this call, one of the women you heard speaking, posted in the Signed Alumni Group that they had sent out their first proposal using the approach I shared with them in this conversation. Not only did the client say yes, but they signed on for an even bigger project and a lot more money than even these women originally expected.
Leah (17:37): Hey, thanks for hanging out with me. If you liked this episode, take a second and click the subscribe button wherever you're listening to your podcasts. And you'll be notified as soon as I release a new episode. And if you're listening on Apple podcasts, I’d so appreciate it if you took two seconds and left a rating or review. This tells Apple podcasts, hey, there's good stuff in here, and they'll recommend it to other listeners who might benefit from these lessons for their business. So please take a second and add a rating or a review. Thanks. So that's it for now. I'll see you next time on the Smart Gets Paid Podcast.
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