Watch on YouTube In this episode of The One-Person Business podcast, we sit down with Renee La Tour, the Business Strategist behind the Ticket To...
In this powerful and inspiring episode, our guest, Sara Murray, dives into the world of sales prospecting and how to conquer the fear that often holds salespeople back from reaching their true potential. With a focus on building confidence and mastering essential skills, listeners are taken on a transformative journey to enhance their sales success.
The episode kicks off by addressing the common fear and hesitation that many sales professionals experience during prospecting. By understanding the root causes of fear, listeners gain valuable perspectives on how to reframe rejection and turn it into an opportunity for growth.
Sara goes on to discuss the four pillars of a confident mindset, providing listeners with actionable steps to build mental resilience and self-belief. Salespeople will feel equipped with the tools they need to embrace challenges and thrive in dynamic sales environments.
From there, Sara explores various ways to connect with leads effectively, enabling sales professionals to establish genuine connections and build long-lasting relationships with potential clients.
We conclude with an in-depth discussion on seven crucial skills required for effective selling and practical tips and exercises to help sharpen these abilities.
Listeners will come away from this episode feeling empowered and equipped to overcome their fear of prospecting, armed with a confident mindset and an arsenal of essential sales skills. Whether you're a seasoned sales veteran or just starting in the field, this episode is a must-listen for anyone seeking to thrive in the world of sales. Tune in now and unleash your full sales potential!
Connect with Sara Murray
- Connect with Sara on LinkedIn.
- Connest with Sara on Instagram.
- Subscribe to Sara's YouTube channel.
- Visit www.saramurray.com.
Resources Mentioned in the Episode
- ACE Your Sales - 3-Day Virtual Workshop, July 25 - 27, 2023. More details and registration can be found at: connect.saramurray.com/ace
"Actions bring your dreams closer."
"Actions bring clarity."
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About Sara Murray
Sara Murray is an advisor, consultant, and speaker specializing in working with leaders to unlock the untapped potential in their prospecting and business development efforts. Sara empowers professionals to enhance their communication skills, approach prospecting with creativity, and effectively address business needs rather than simply push products.
She is the host of the popular podcast "Prospecting on Purpose," where she provides a valuable platform for discussions on prospecting, sales, business strategies, and mindset each week.
With her extensive knowledge and expertise, Sara is dedicated to helping individuals and organizations transform their prospecting approaches and achieve tangible results. She continues to make a significant impact on the success of her clients and the broader sales community.
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Full Episode Transcript:
If I don't close a deal, it doesn't mean anything about me as a person. It doesn't mean anything about the value that I bring. It's just an opportunity for me to finesse and fine tune my messages and make sure I'm clearly communicating my value. So look at any sale that you lose as a learning opportunity.
Welcome to the One-Person Business podcast, the show for solopreneurs, consultants and contractors who are ready to take charge of their business and reclaim their freedom. Join us as we bring you inspiring stories, invaluable insights and practical strategies from successful solopreneurs and industry experts, empowering you to create a thriving business that aligns with your unique goals and allows you to live life on your own terms. Here are your hosts, Joe Rando and Carly Ries.
Welcome to the One-Person Business podcast. I'm one of your hosts, Carly Ries.
And I'm Joe Rando.
Joe, I'm really excited for today. We just met Sara a few weeks ago at one of our events, which I think we'll talk about in a little bit. But Sara, your energy was just so contagious, that when we started talking, we were like, yes, let's have her on this show. For listeners, Sara Murray is an advisor, consultant, and speaker specializing in working with leaders to unlock the untapped potential in their prospecting and business development efforts. She empowers professionals to enhance their communication skills, approach prospecting with creativity, and effectively address business needs rather than simply push products, which I think a lot of salespeople are guilty of. She's the host of the popular podcast, Prospecting on Purpose, where she provides a valuable platform for discussions on prospecting, sales, business strategies and mindset each week, which is key. With her extensive knowledge and expertise, she's dedicated to helping individuals and organizations transform their prospecting approaches and achieve tangible results. She continues to make a significant impact on the success of her clients and the broader sales community as a whole. Sara, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me, Carly and Joe. I'm excited to be here today.
Sales is such a beast. I feel like you even say the word sales and it's like, oh, hey there. Like, how do you eat an LLC one bite at a time? I feel like that's kind of how sales is. But you just talked about Prospecting on Purpose and having intention with your sales process. So let's start with that. Sales and specifically prospecting can be really scary for people. I am one of those people. How would you recommend overcoming that fear?
I love that we're just jumping right into the deep end of the pool with that question, because I do agree with you. I think that prospecting and sales does really trigger some icky feelings for a lot of people. One of the things that I've experienced now that I'm more ingrained in the solopreneur, one-person business world, is that we all need to be our own prospectors. We all need to be hunting for business to grow our businesses. And it's an area that's difficult to outsource, and it's an area that is really scary. So a big part of where I'm building my platform on prospecting is because it is something that comes very naturally to me. I would always joke that being in sales is like being paid to make friends. I realized that I might be more of the exception than the rule on that one.
So when I just kind of sat down and looked to chunk it down and break it down, there is a really easy way to build the confidence you need and to start to build those relationships. Then if you can prioritize the relationship part of prospecting, the sales efforts become a lot more seamless. So I really focus hard on building the relationships and the output and the content and the workshops that I do. It's all about first having confidence in yourself. Then how do you take that confidence and start to build the relationships? A really easy way that I like to think about this is oftentimes we put our prospects up on this pedestal. It's either a client we want to work with or an intimidating client. Maybe we already have a client and they're difficult to work with, or we're chasing these people, we put them up on a pedestal, and it's really hard to jump on that pedestal if we're on the ground looking up. A big part of what I focus on and teach is how do we bridge this gap? And the gap is from us on the ground to the client on the pedestal. How do we bridge that gap? The trick is, we don't take the client off the pedestal, we just put ourselves on the pedestal with them. We do that through genuine interest, authentic relationship building, which leads to prized clients. And we could get into all of those in more detail.
Yeah, so all of this to me sounds like a confidence thing, like putting yourself on the pedestal, having self-confidence in yourself, but I think that's something that's lacking for a lot of people. I think you have four pillars of a confident mindset, is that right?
Yeah. So before we can even start to approach this pedestal, we're looking at it, but before we can even start to do the building blocks to get on it, we have to be really solid in our foundation. That is mindset, our own personal brand, and then confidence. I think where I see a lot of people get stuck is that they confuse the word confidence with like arrogance or ego. I think that they're afraid to be confident in what they're offering because they're fearful it's going to come across to the other person that they're just egotistical or they're arrogant in their offer. It's really important to understand that confidence is just feeling secure in yourself and your abilities. And it's not in an arrogant way, but it's in a realistic, secure way. It's this quiet inner knowledge that you're capable of doing whatever that task is.
And ideally it's adding value to your client. So the first piece is to make sure you know that you're not coming from a place of arrogance if you're prospecting. You're coming from a place of confidence. That's a big differentiator. The first pillar that I like to focus on is really being clear on your values. I feel like we hear the word values thrown around a lot, but there's not a lot of understanding on why we need to care about them or why we need to spend time understanding them. When I think about values, if you can, sit down and spend some time and figure out your top three to five values specific to work. We're allowed to have values in different areas of our lives. If we have a family, our values may be different for how we show up with our families as opposed to how we show up in our businesses.
So for example, my five values in my business is professional, fun, creative, intentional and approachable. That's what I wanted to build my business on. Once I have those values, I can understand 1) that I'm taking action that's in alignment with my values. If something is out of alignment, it's a nice little metric for me to make sure I'm operating in alignment with those core values. And if I'm asked to do something or if a different opportunity lands on my desk, but it's out of alignment, I feel confident in knowing that I'm taking action in alignment with my values. That's one piece just from an internal perspective. From an external perspective, if you're approaching a client and you maybe have nothing in common with that prospect or that client, if you have shared values or if you can understand their values, it's gonna make it a lot easier to have that conversation. I do encourage people to sit and take some time and Google a values list. There are hundreds of values, but find the five that really stick out to you and write 'em on a post-it note and hang them on your wall. That's the first pillar to start to build that confidence so that you can approach the client.
You talk about values and we talk a lot about goals. I'm just curious if you see values and goals kind of overlapping? Is it just two different names for the same thing? Obviously with goals you're gonna have things like revenue goals, but just in terms of your base goals for why you're becoming a solopreneur. Because it shouldn't be to become a billionaire. It's not what it's about. I'm just curious if you have any thoughts about tying values and goals and how they relate to each other, in terms of this pillar,
I think that's a great question. I would keep them separate, but I would look at values as your motivator to fuel your goals. That's just more of the inner component that we're building to help give us the reason why we're taking action towards those goals. I do feel like that is a really nice tie in to the second pillar, which is understanding your own personal core competencies. In my background, I've heard the term core competencies used as what's the business' differentiators from the competitors? I like to think of it as your own. It's great for solopreneurs, but you are your own individual business unit. So as your own individual personal brand, personal business unit, what are your five. Same with the values, sit with it and think of five core competencies that make you different from the competitor or different from your colleague or neighbor.
What are your five core competencies? Mine are, I'm a strong communicator, I'm a big motivator, I'm a risk taker, I'm creative. Other words would be, a quick learner, detail oriented, tech savvy, accountability, flexible, decisive. Take time and understand what are your core competencies because when you blend your values with your core competencies together, that's gonna help with that makeup to build that confidence so that you can approach those clients because you're saying, I'm someone who's professional and I'm creative and I know how to add value to their business. I don't have as much fear to try to approach them because of those pillars that I'm building in my own personal confident mindset.
This is so great. And it's funny, I had a call this morning, a zoom meeting with somebody and it was so interesting, they're not solopreneurs, but they were taking their business to the next level. So the question was they wanted to hire a salesperson to kind of hunt just like we're talking about here. And I said, so you're gonna hire this person, but what are you gonna tell them about what makes you special? "We're really good at what we do and our customers love us." And I'm like, that's great, but they're not gonna be able to take that and go hunt with it. It's not enough. And this is exactly what you're talking about. Kind of laying this foundation out so that when you start talking, you can explain what you're doing and what you're about and what you're good at, in a way that's gonna resonate and make you feel like, yeah, I belong here. Get getting on that pedestal. That's really cool.
Yeah, you have the value in what you bring to the table or what you bring to the pedestal. You have that value. And so even if the other person doesn't know what you bring to the table, you know what you bring to the table. And so that's fuel to get on the pedestal and it makes it a lot more confident and your approach is gonna be a lot more genuine too, because they don't know what they don't know. It's your job to go show them and sell them. That is a really great piece to lead into the third pillar, which is really paying attention to the language that we use both internally and externally. Carly, at the top of the interview, you asked the question about how can we eliminate some fear?
Some of the ways that I like to do that is how I speak to myself. So as we're chatting about what we bring to the table, well, that person doesn't know that they're gonna run into issues here, here, and here. So me reaching out to them is being of service and offering them this thing that I know they don't know. Some of the phrases I like to use is, "of course that person would want to work with me. I am a professional who is a creative risk taker." Use the terms that we've used up until this point. That's one piece. How do you speak to yourself internally? Another reframe that I really like to use specific to sales is instead of I'm trying to convince this person to buy something from me, I like to change it to, I'm opening the door and inviting them to buy. So it's more of a pulling them in and inviting them to purchase this thing that you've built and you have so much value and confidence in as opposed to trying to convince them to buy or push it on them.
I love that you used the word pull. I love that because years ago I was working on a big project and I had to get a bunch of city counselors and things to support the project, and I started thinking about that word and I didn't sell them, I just tried to give them reasons why it was good for the city. I used that word deliberately, pulled, and it was amazing how effective it was. I got only one no vote out of the entire council. But t's a magic approach. I'm just so psyched that you're saying this.
It is. And I think if we can use some of these inner languages, both internally and externally, and the external dialogue is really important too. I like that you used the word pull with our audience. It's really trying to make sure you're aligning yourself to be more of a consultative approach versus a buy or sell approach. If we can use words like, I want to make sure I'm aligning myself with your business needs, I want to make sure that I'm understanding specifically what problems you solve so I can better cater my comments to your needs. Those types of languages take practice. Once you get them in the Rolodex, in the vocabulary, it becomes a lot more natural to use them.
Not to mention that you get a lot smarter because you're listening to them. And that's such a difference in terms of knowing what people want instead of knowing what you want them to buy.
Listening is I think, one of the most underrated core competencies. If you can make sure that you're listening, you find a lot of untapped opportunity that you can go chase. It's a really simple way to just ask questions and listen. And that's a big piece when we go to approach that pedestal. I will just kind of close the loop on our fourth pillar. On the confidence piece, you have to take care of yourself. We have to nurture the relationships with ourself, because confidence comes from a real connection. Obviously I know we hear this all the time, "self-care is important, get great sleep, eat well, exercise." We all know we're supposed to do these things, but if you're not doing these things, you're showing up with an empty cup. Or a half empty cup. If you're running on half empty, people can tell. You really need to be someone who has the energy to go out and do what you say you're gonna do. Do what you can to prioritize self-care, because that's the most important piece, especially in one person businesses.
It's so funny you say that, cause I've had some conversations recently with other professionals. I have two little ones. So we were talking about that and we were saying, it's actually selfish to not take care of yourself because then you're not giving your all. You're not a hundred percent in the areas you need to be. Sometimes people are like, "oh, I didn't get a workout in, or I didn't do this because I was taking care of these people" But you're probably taking care of them at 60, 70%. It's not selfish to prioritize.
And people can tell. I've noticed too, I've been outsourcing a lot more things in my business to help get kinda those ankle biters off my plate. One of the people that I outsourced to kept saying, "oh, we're so busy, da da da da da." She kept saying that and I would think, I'm paying her and I'm showing up saying, "Hey, I know you're busy, but could you fix this?" I think she realized she must have been using that type of language because she said, "Hey, this is my job. Yes, I'm busy, but you're allowed to reach out to me." So just be mindful of how we're putting ourselves out there with our empty cups or our too busy lives because it's coming across to the other people, potentially people that you want to buy your product or service.
Tony Robbins calls it state management. When you go in and you get in front of people, you have to be able to adjust your state to a proper level of energy. If you're burnt out, it's hard to do. If you got two hours sleep last night or whatever, which could really rob you of that kind of ability to bring that energy up to where you need it to be when you're actually talking to people.
The beauty of self-employment is that we can structure things the way we need them to work for us. So if you are on a call and you don't need to be in front of your computer, I call them walk and talks. I love my AirPods. I'm like, let's go on a walking meeting. Let's just knock this out over the phone. You have to stop. Our phones are so cool. You take notes on your Google Drive. We can build a life around prioritizing self-care and setting boundaries with people. As long as you're communicating, I think most people are really well receptive to it.
I would absolutely agree. Well, so now that our confidence is up here, and we're ready to rock and roll, you mentioned earlier that about the connection with prospects. Once you're competent and you can actually go out there into the wild, what are some ways people can connect with leads so that the process becomes easier?
This is my favorite thing to talk about. When we talk about people who are up on this pedestal we're trying to get to, I have two real steps that lead to the third step. The first step is to establish genuine interest. This is where listening comes into play. This is where we can start to, I call it, cracking the door to a relationship. Specifically in the solopreneur self-employed world, I actually think we have a much easier time of doing this with people. One really easy example that happened, actually on the LifeStarr Solopreneur Success stories. I joined that call and loved the content that was being presented. I asked a question on the call and someone used my approach back at me.
It worked brilliant. A gentleman named Doug sent me a note on LinkedIn and he said, "Hey, I'm on this same call. You asked this question I had and I didn't know I had it. I actually think we have some synergies in our business. Would you be able to connect?" I don't remember exactly what Doug used, but the script I use is "I'm meeting so many people in my networking efforts, I would love to learn more about you and your business so I can keep you in mind as I'm reaching out to other people." I do think in this world there are a lot of synergies to collaborate, to refer business.
It's a really easy way to just have that first connection point and it's coming from a place of genuine interest. I want to learn about you and your business, but also adding value. Because if I know about you and your business, when I meet someone over here, I may be able to present your services as I'm having those conversations. This genuine interest piece has to be genuine. That's one of the big pieces of it because people's BS antennas are highly tuned. But, I think it's a really easy way to make sure that you're adding value by expressing interest in who they're as an individual or what their business business does.
I love that you met on the Success Sessions.
It's so cool. It was funny cuz Doug was telling me what his business is and it's all of the things I know I could do, but they're not my zone of genius. I told him what I like to do and he goes, that's not my zone of genius. So we're looking to see if there maybe collaboration there where it's a tag team partnership. I've been having a lot of those types of connections and structures with people and it's really fun because you get to meet other people that are of that caliber too, they're in the same space. I've been really enjoying it. When is the next one, Carly,
Funny you say that. So if you're listening to this episode, this is going live on July 18th, the next Success Sessions event is on August 2nd. You can go to our website if you're listening to it after August 2nd to see when the next one is coming up.
Just click on event in the main menu.
I would try to say the url, but my time is tied today, so that is just not going to happen. Sara, moving me right along, you have seven crucial skills for effective selling and I've just learned so much already on this episode. Can you share those seven?
Yeah. I'd be happy to. I do have a podcast mini series on this, so if you want to do a deep dive, that's a great resource. The first crucial step for effective selling is prospecting. You have to go hunt for business to get clients. A big part of of my platform and the show is around prospecting. I'm gonna kind of skip through that one cuz I know we've been talking about it a lot. The second piece that does tie into what we've been speaking to as well is understanding our client's business model. It's really important that we don't assume we know what it is. And that includes your prospecting and your networking efforts. It's really important to ask questions and it's really important to actually listen to the answer. I think when we meet new people, we get into this piece where we're so worried about our own introduction, that we don't necessarily listen to their name. We don't hear their name, which is a really important piece.
We're focused on what we want to say. I would implore you to just be really present when you're meeting new people. And when you meet someone and you're about to pitch or you're learning more about their business, definitely don't assume. I think people have fear that if they ask about their business model, it comes across that they're not prepared. And that couldn't be farther from the truth. You could be super prepared, but if you don't ask, then you may spend your whole pitch or your whole presentation talking about something that's not relevant to them. One easy script people can use is, "Hey, Carly and Joe, before we get into this interview, I'd love to learn more about the one person business podcast so that I can better cater my comments to your audience's needs." Just ask that question because they're gonna tell you.
One easy example I use in my corporate career, I used to sell to architecture firms and developers and interior designers, that bucket of professional services, and if I were to go into a presentation to an architecture firm and their whole website has pictures of hotels and I go into my whole pitch talking about my solutions for hospitality. Then at the end of the presentation, I realized that they're working on a bunch of hospitals right now. I kind of wasted everyone's time and I didn't run my meeting the way that would've resulted in the most success. So by asking this question upfront, it shows that you're interested about them and then the rest of the dialogue can be very geared towards what's going to make them money, what's going to solve problems for their business. So that's two.
The third crucial skill for effective selling is to use storytelling to illustrate solutions instead of pushing product. If we ask that question at the beginning and we have a better understanding of their business model, then we can weave in stories that are going to speak specifically to their needs as opposed to just, here's my widget, here are all the bells and whistles that it has. I think we get in this rut where we get so excited that we have a meeting, we go straight into talking about the product, and we miss a huge opportunity to use storytelling to really make that more memorable.
I just want to say storytelling is such an underutilized tool for selling and for marketing and just generally engaging people. We are storytelling and story consuming animals. That's the way we're built and it's magic. I struggle with it to make myself do it. But it's always a good idea.
I did some research prepping for the podcast episode about it. I learned that when the human brain receives facts and figures, data numbers, et cetera, it only lights up in two areas. But when we hear a story that weaves in those things, our brain lights up in seven areas. So it makes it a lot more memorable. If we have a tool that can make the brain light up in seven areas instead of two, why wouldn't we use it? One piece that I think is really important, especially if you are selling a product and you aren't talking directly to the decision maker. In a lot of business to business environments, we're selling something that may need buy-in from other people at the company and we may not have a seat at that table with that decision maker.
If you can, use storytelling to get the person. I call this a train the trainer environment. You're speaking to someone who may have to go sell on your behalf. If you don't have the audience with the decision maker, how can you use storytelling to help that person more effectively sell your product? Here's one example I like to use. I used to sell a lighting technology product and I would sell to hotels. A lot of the hotels built around the coast had these regulations for turtle nesting or bird nesting seasons, so all of the exterior lighting on the hotel would have to turn like a really dim orange color so that when the baby sea turtles hatched, they would swim towards the ocean with the moonlight reflecting on the water as opposed to the electrical light on all of the buildings along the coastline.
If you're selling to an engineer or you're selling to anyone and they're just peppering you with questions and you're answering those questions, their brain might get it, but it may not retain it. Then if that in engineer has to go sell to the hotel owner, if he goes and approaches that hotel owner with the lumen output and what the code requirements are, all the, I don't want to say the nerdy engineer stuff, but all of those facts that the engineer might get, that hotel owner doesn't really get it cuz it's not necessarily speaking to his business model. But if you tell the story about the baby sea turtles making it to the ocean, then that hotel owner, of course is going to want to be in compliant not only by the law, but it's the right thing to do to be a member of that community. All of these skill sets really start to build on each other.
It's so funny, my first boss when I was in high school, I interned at a marketing agency and my boss then is now the president and CEO of this firm. She is one of the smartest women I've ever met, especially when it comes to marketing and sales and her degree was in English. You always have these people who are like, oh, I majored in advertising, I majored in PR and I'm like, this English major is at the top of her game. And I think it's through storytelling, it's so important on all aspects.
Absolutely. I've only ever sold technical products and I am not an engineer. I feel like I could take something super techy right now and go sell it to someone by just asking questions about their business model and then finding different ways that the product can help support that. But a lot of that is through some of these softer skills that aren't as focused on when you're onboarding or you're new to sales or you find yourself in sales. That's a really big piece, the ability to tell stories. The fourth pillar is really important. This is the ability to overcome objections and to really use this as an opportunity to turn into expressions of our expertise. I like to think of it as a volleyball game. You're being served an objection, you just answer back with your objection and you go with this back and forth piece on question, answer, question, answer. If you're able to proactively address that objection before they even bring it up and weave in a story as to the why you have that, that's gonna just show that you know what you're talking about. It's going to eliminate the back and forth volleyball and it's gonna keep you in the driver's seat as you move forward.
So true. Objections are people telling you how to sell. They're telling you what they need in order to buy from you. I think when you talked earlier about fear, That is the scariest thing. It's like they're gonna say no, they are going to reject me. It's really disconcerting. Carly, I think you speak to this sometimes that rejection and being so painful yet if you think, no, they're just telling me how to sell. Now it's not scary anymore.
Yeah, I'm a big people pleaser, so rejection to me, I take it really hard sometimes. But I'm working on that. I will also say I'm playing in a tennis match this afternoon and I just know in the back of my head now I'm gonna be like, answer/objection/return volley,
One really easy tool that I'd recommend people do if they're fearful about rejection is start to keep a list as you get them. It's funny because I'm one year into my business and I will still have meetings and I don't know all of the objections that are coming my way. So you could almost look at it as a gift. When you get one, it's like, Ooh, I got another one to add to the list. I have another opportunity to show my expertise. I would almost implore everyone to write down all the objections you get. Write down your answers, and almost practice them. I would also encourage you to find ways to pivot it into an area where you can speak to storytelling or business model.
I can share a quick example here. One of the products that I've sold in my career, it was a bioethanol fire feature. A fire pit that was made where the fire source was fuel made from corn. Similar to how we make vodka or whiskey in the US, it's a bio, which means food and beverage category production. Basically picture vodka burning in a fireplace. Because you had that, I would use it a lot in hotels where if they had pool decks that they needed to move the fire pits and they couldn't have a hard gas line if they needed a fire feature inside. But because it was fire, it was a product people had never seen before, we would get stuck in this volleyball game and it'd be like, what's the fuel source?
What's it made of? How hot does it get? Can I roast marshmallows? What if my dog jumps into the fire? It was the same objections all the time. I would snip that in the bud immediately. I would spin it in a way where it would speak to the client's specific needs and business model. Mr. Hotel owner, this fire pit is gonna be a marketable amenity feature. You could put it on your website, you can advertise that you have fire elements on your property that's gonna make people want to stay here over the competitor. Number two, don't worry about the fuel cost because you're gonna have so much food and beverage sales because people are gonna hang out and order drinks around your fire pit. This fire pit's gonna pay for itself in your first round of drinks. So it's a non-issue. Find ways to really get ahead of those objections and weave them into ways where you're going to speak to their business model.
Are you saying to lead with that before they even raise the objections?
If you can, yeah. That would be a more proactive approach. That takes a little finesse in practice. Another example, I read this in an article so this is not my example, but I thought it was really brilliant. There are a lot of people interviewing for jobs right now in the job market. One of the objections that I was reading the person had is that they were slightly older and would be reporting to people who were younger than them. Even though the objection might be in the other person's head, and they don't say it out loud, you can use this opportunity to say, "you may be wondering how I would feel working for someone 20 years, my junior. Well, I gotta tell you, I'm really excited and lit up about it because this reason, this reason, this reason" Find ways if you think they're even unspoken or spoken objections to make sure that you're finding the business model and the opportunities to get ahead of it.
This is really good stuff. It happened to me. Years ago I had started with a partner, an enterprise software company and we were the high priced leader in the industry in the sense that our prices were higher than anybody else's. We didn't have as many customers as other people, but we'd go in and talk and we'd be bidding on something and they'd come back and go, "well, you're the most expensive." And we'd kind of go, "yeah". We would then lead with, before we even got into it, "Look, we are the highest priced solution in the industry. The reason for that is because we are the only truly enterprise solution and doing that and it costs money." We would basically put that objection aside, so there was no more bidding. If it wasn't something that they wanted to do, they'd walk away and we didn't waste time. So it was really great.
I think that's crucial. I think that's a big part of making sure that you're able to address objections upfront so you don't waste people's time. And if you ask that question about business model at the beginning of the sales cycle, you may understand really quickly that there's not a fit. Then instead of everyone spinning their wheels and at the end not getting the deal across the finish line, I love that you just adjust the objection upfront because it's okay if things aren't a fit.
Especially as a solopreneur, that time you spend selling, it's not generating revenue directly. So you don't want to spend it on deals, you're not gonna close.
Right. I think if you can even find ways to address those objections on your website before the inquiry even comes in. That way you know, hey, this is a premium service, maybe if it's appropriate, put your prices on the website so that you know neither party is gonna be spinning their wheels.
Do you remember that ad from, it was so long ago, you probably were young, but there used to be this ad in Time Magazine and things and it would be this exercise machine and it would say some crazy price, like $14,995. And that was all it said. Then there was a phone number and this thing went on for years. And I'm thinking they must have been selling. It might have been $1,400. This was going back a few years. But it was just this crazy number for this machine and it worked. Like I said, this was going for years. I'll see if I can find a link to that ad cuz it was crazy.
That speaks to confidence too. There must be a reason why this thing's so valuable. There must be a reason why this thing's so expensive. I think if you have that confident mindset too, then the pricing conversation becomes a lot easier because you know the value that you're bringing to the table and you know how to address all of their objections. The fifth crucial skill is using proper sales assets or enablement tools. I'm not gonna spend that much time there, but making sure that you're using the right pieces of collateral to really communicate that message. In my fire pit example, I actually made a brochure that was a commercial program for fire features and I put the pricing of the fuel right on there cuz it was always a question.
Use that opportunity to build your sales assets to address objections and tell stories. Then my sixth crucial skill is to stay in the driver's seat. I think a really great example we've already discussed is that volleyball game. If you let your client take you off course, you're never gonna get to the finish line. When I go into meetings, and the reason why my platform is called prospecting on purpose is I go into every meeting with an intention of what I want to get by the end of the meeting. So sometimes you tell the person upfront, sometimes you don't, but at least have a plan. If I'm taking this person to lunch, I would really love to see potential partnership with them. I want an introduction to this person. Then I always bring things that I can offer to them too.
Again, whether they know it or not. I might know, hey, I see that you're looking to expand here. I know someone over here, send me an email blurb and I'll send it over to them. Find ways to add value because you're not just withdrawing, you're not just taking. We have to add deposits into that bank account before we can take, but a really easy way to stay in the driver's seat is to know where you need to take this call at the end of the call where you need that client to be to either get to the next phase in the process or to close the deal.
Yeah. This is so true that you can get taken off course, especially if you're dealing with C-suite people, and I'm not sure everybody does, but some people, some solopreneurs are going into C-suites, even if it's not for, large companies. But those people so often can just drive the process and try to take you off course just to match their agenda. What do you do about that?
This is where you gotta spend time in your overcoming objections, skillset building. Then I would encourage everyone to make a map of the ideal sales cycle. Step one, I got this opportunity. What sales tools am I using? What stories am I using to get to step two, step two, da, da da. Same process, find, map it out. If you keep getting the same objections in your pitches that are getting you stuck, find a way to craft a pivot point in your objection or just get ahead of it. If you find the same C-suites asking you the same questions, how can you weave that into your presentation and address it maybe not right at the beginning, but address it at one stage in that process so you know you're not gonna get taken off course.
Obviously you don't want to be disrespectful, you want to answer the question, but you can do so in a way where it's, Hey, Mr. Client, Mr. Prospect, that is an amazing question. I'm right there on the same page with you. I knew you were gonna ask that, so we're going to get into it towards the end of the meeting because I have some tools that are gonna make it really clear to you. Find different ways to have scripted responses. I know scripts are kind of yucky term, but it's going to help with your confidence. And if you keep getting the same things and you keep getting stuck, you need to find ways to pivot.
I have a question with that. My default for things when I'm uncomfortable is humor. If I were selling and like I said, I'm not the best at sales, maybe this is not the right approach, which is why I'm asking, if I saw something going off course, I think my first go-to would be like, whoa guys, I'm driving this ship. Let's get back on course and I'd say something or try to be funny. Is that appropriate or should you not be like, oh, I'm driving this boat, blah, blah.
I don't think you need to say it so literally, but I do think you can make jokes. I'm gonna just use Joe as an example. Let's say Carly's pitching to me and Joe keeps interrupting her, keeps asking questions. I think then you can say, Joe over here keeps trying to throw me off my pitch game. I think you could still use humor in a way where you're addressing it, but I think you could spin it in a way where it is just aligning yourself with them. Like, Joe, I love that you're asking questions because it means that I'm keeping your attention. I think you can find different ways to still use humor, but keep it where you are on the same side of the fence still. It's like, hey, stay with me because I know I'm gonna get you what you're asking and that's a way to show your expertise as well.
Read the room. There are some people that love humor and there are some people that have never laughed in their lives. You definitely want to read the room anytime you're being funny, I think.
Yeah. Usually the way to read the room is at that beginning of the presentation by asking business model. I would always carve out some time at the beginning and the end of your meeting. If you have an hour, give yourself five, 10 minutes at the beginning to say, Hey, before we hop into this call, I want to make sure I'm understanding everyone's needs. Would you mind if we did a quick intro round, da da da da da. Find ways to understand who everyone is in the room. If it's a virtual meeting, write their names down on a notepad. I like using people's names, it forces them to listen to you and not get you to stay in the driver's seat. Then really what you're driving to is to close the deal. If you can leave time at the end to ask questions, take whatever action item you need to do to get to the next step in the sales cycle. If you take your pitch all the way up to the minute mark, you don't have time to say, Hey, who else needs to be involved in this decision?
What's the next step for follow-up? Hey, let's look at our calendars right now while I have you on the phone and lock in a follow-up date. You have to get to that next step by the end of that meeting to close the deal. And that's our seventh crucial skill, the ability to close the sale. Ideally, my dream scenario is to generate repeat business from that client because we all know it's a lot easier to build business with clients that we have versus go out and prospect for new ones.
So how do you close a sale?
Great question. I think one of the biggest pieces for me is with all of this confident mindset that you've built and all of the skill sets that you've proven up into this point, one of the biggest assets in closing is the relationship that you established at the beginning. This is why I focus so heavily on relationships. Relationships usually aren't a problem or they don't appear to be a problem until the end of the sales cycle. Where now all of a sudden you're complaining about price, or now you're nickel and diming, or now there's a another person who has to be involved in the decision and you've never heard that person's name throughout this whole process. So closing the sale becomes a lot easier if you've done all of these building blocks up until the closing point.
If you have that relationship with the client when you build the relationship, the business side of things becomes a lot more seamless. Why wouldn't I want to work with Carly? She's added so much value to me. She understands my business model, she asks me questions and listens to my responses. It almost becomes a no-brainer. Why wouldn't I work with this person? You've done all of that foundation length, you've aligned yourself on the pedestal with them, and you ran them through the sales really strategically by showing you know what you're talking about. The closing side becomes a lot easier if you've done all that work. One piece I really like to think about is to detach yourself from the outcome. I know it's kind of scary, especially in one person businesses, I can very much speak to that. If I don't close a deal, it doesn't mean anything about me as a person, it doesn't mean anything about the value that I bring. It's just an opportunity for me to finesse and fine tune my messages and make sure I'm clearly communicating my value. Look at any sale that you lose as a learning opportunity and then the sales that we win, you can have a little bit more of a detached outcome, but make sure that you are driving the whole process and you're gonna be there for them. Closing becomes quite easy.
It's a skill set, right? What you're saying here is that while there are naturally born salespeople, anybody can develop selling skills and I can attest to that because when we first started that enterprise software company, my partner and I were both technical. We're both techie types and we were the worst salespeople ever. We didn't close a deal in six years and we had a few deals because of relationships, but just coming out of the box cold, we didn't close anything because we would just figure yeah, let me show you what I can do, I can do this. Instead of, what is your problem? What do you need? What are the issues? What are you dealing with in your business, your business model. Instead of asking those questions and just tailoring this, and it was extensive. The people would just basically wither and die listening to this hour long presentation feature fest. So you are right on. Then by adjusting that approach to more of what you're talking about, it works, mainly by hiring a talented salesperson.
Well, I call that product vomit. Joe, you just threw up all over them.
I think you said feature fest. That's better. Maybe I need to reframe that or you're pitch slapping them, that's a good one too. I agree with you and I think it is something that is totally learnable. That's a big part of why I left my corporate job because I got so much joy and value out of just being my authentic self. I would sell to C-suite, I would sell to very high profile decision makers. I was selling projects of the millions of dollars repeatedly. And I did it just by being able to build relationships and use these skills. So that's where I'm taking the business to. That's really the platform that I'm building on because I do see a really big hole in the market for some of these. It's a balance of hard and soft skills.
Absolutely. Well, Sara, I have no doubt that you'll help so many people be successful. With that, I have to ask, what is your favorite quote about success?
I have two. They're very similar, but they're all around the concept of action. For years, my favorite quote was, "actions bring your dreams closer." Now that I've been in my solopreneur journey, my favorite quote right now is "actions bring clarity." It's so interesting because I look back. I just hit my one year mark and I look back at things that I did and I'm not sure I should have done that Marketing of Networking event. I'm not sure I should have done this virtual event, but every time I take action, I can point back to these different pieces I took. It's very clear that I got this piece of business from that action, but I didn't take that action without knowing what was in front of me. This opportunity wouldn't have happened. So actions bring clarity. A really easy way I like to look at it is, you're holding a flashlight and you can only see what's immediately in front of you. The only way for the path to appear is to keep taking steps because then the path's gonna keep appearing, but you have to take action. That action has been driving the whole business and it's been magical. It's been great.
Sara, I have to thank you. Sometimes when you hear that sales is gonna be the topic of something, a lot of people are like, oh, well I've heard this, or I know I have to do this. You brought so much value today that I have never heard before. In all my listen ins on webinars and everything for sales, you just bring something very unique to the table and I think our audience will agree. So where can people find you? Social website? I think you have an event coming up. Tell us everything.
My email is really easy. It's Saramurray.com. A lot of my services are around more enterprise teams, but with the launch of my podcast, I had a lot of people reach out as individual B2B sellers, corporate professionals, a lot of entrepreneurs and solopreneurs. So I'm experimenting. I'm taking action on something, but I am doing a virtual event. It's called Ace Your Sales. It's going to be a three day paid event on the week of July 24th. It's July 25th, 26th, 27th. That's Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at 9:00 AM Pacific time for only 90 minutes a day. Each day we're going to focus on the ACE method. A stands for action, that's day one. How are you prospecting for business?
How are you getting the sale? How are you identifying your big rocks to really move your goals forward? To circle back on Joe's goals, comments. Day two is communication. This is where we talk about storytelling, business model, weaving the stories through the sales process. Then day three stands for execution. How do we overcome objections? How do we stay in the driver's seat and how we close deals? I'm really excited. I've never done anything like this before. I think it'll be really impactful. There are a lot of people signed up already. It's different industries, so we'll have different examples, but a really easy way to just sharpen your sales skills with a pretty low time commitment. So that's July 25th through the 27th. I'll send you the link, Carly, for the show notes, but it's Connect.Saramurray.com/ace
If for whatever reason you're listening to this after the event date, be sure to visit Sara's website after that. I'm sure future events will be posted there, but this will be launching on July 18th. So if you're listening now, go sign up.
Well, Sara, happy one year anniversary for your business. We are so excited to see where it goes and to stay in touch and everything. Thank you so much for coming on this show.
Yeah, thanks. It was great.
Thanks to you both. I really appreciate what you're putting out into the world. I think that we need more and more platforms like Lifestarr and the One-Person Business Podcast. Thank you for having me.
For listeners, I say this every time, so this should be no surprise, but be sure to subscribe to our podcast. You can find it anywhere you listen as you're listening right now. And be sure to visit lifestarr.com where you can find a plethora of resources for every one person business owner. We'll see you next time.
You may be going solo in business, but that doesn't mean you're alone. In fact, millions of people are in your shoes running a one person business and figuring it out as they go. So why not connect with them and learn from each other's successes and failures. At Lifestarr, we're creating a one-person business community where you can go to meet and get advice from other solopreneurs. Be sure to join in on the conversations at community.lifestarr.com.
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Watch the Episode on YouTube In the ever-evolving landscape of solopreneurship, a recurring sentiment among solopreneurs is their aversion to...