Ep 31 – The “S” Word: Sales: The Lifeblood of Your Business – Rob Bedell
Presentation of the episode
That’s a good way of putting it. Yes, Gabriel. I mean there’s a negative connotation. A lot of people have about sales, you know, when you sit there and say, when I sit there and say : « oh, I I’ve been in sales for over 30 plus years in sales leadership in 28 years », they’re like : « oh, sales. Oh, oh ! » And again, what I always try to let people know is sales plural ongoing is building relationships that, you know, is a transaction based relationship. Sale doing anything to get that one sale can be a bad thing. And back in the eighties and nineties, there were some bad people out there in sales. And that’s where a lot of this negative connotation of what sales is comes from.
Great. And, it’s really a subject in France. I have a Marketing agency, I’m doing sales and French people are very reluctant to sales and to marketing because money is not such a good thing in a Catholic country. But I thought that in a Protestant country, like in the US, money is something that everybody love and are ready to talk about.
I didn’t know that you have the same problem in the US about sales that we have in France.
Yeah. I think it’s pretty similar worldwide. I mean, I deal with a lot of Companies from international companies. And its sales is different from country to country. That’s for sure. Cuz it’s done a slightly different and you have to adjust to the culture of sales iin that country. But there’s still always that negative connotation.
And once that’s gone, once business owners get rid of that, it’s amazing at what happens with their business. I mean it really, once they realize it, it’s not a bad thing to talk about what I have. It really kind of takes off.
Yes. That’s really important to change the philosophy of what they do in order to be able to run and to grow you, [00:02:00] you need to be ready to grow.
I totally agree with that. And what I would like to discuss with you is all business owners are adapting to the new way we are doing sales today with the pandemics, the virtual selling. Once they have checked that sales is not a bad word, what do they do ? And how do they adapt and how do you help them adapt?
Well, it’s different from business to business because the newer business owners, the millennials that the younger generation a adapted to it right away. They had no problem with the technology. They are using it on a regular basis. The baby boomers, the old school business people had a little bit harder time to adjust to it.
Some of them are getting up now and I think everyone has realized that business has had to be done a different way. Especially during the pandemic. It’s you couldn’t have face to face. But it doesn’t really change the sales process. It doesn’t change how you do sales. You still build rapport, whether I’m sitting in front of you physically or whether I’m sitting in front of you virtually. You can still build rapport with people. And that’s the first thing that you need to do with sales is build that relationship. You know, I can look and see the books behind you. You can see the picture behind me. You know, there’s things that you can build rapport off and, and talk about that builds that personal relationship that builds into that professional relationship.
And I know there’s some people out there that says : « I don’t wanna do personal stuff. it’s just all business ». You’re missing out on a lot of business if that’s the way you think.
Sure. And so first, how do you make a business owner change their mind and their view about sales ? What is the message or words that you use to make them reconsider what sales is ? What sales is ?
As I said, you know, basically. I get ’em thinking about it different because it’s the reason why I wrote my book is I did a webinar for a bunch of business owners about why they should, everybody business should have a sales process that everyone [00:04:00] follows.
Cuz if everyone’s following the same processes, it gets them more customers more often and faster. They kinda like the idea about more money, more often and faster. And when I open it up for questions at the end, they’re like, well, Rob, when I set aside time for my business development, my customer acquisition and I.
Ya mean sales ? Gabriel, you could hear them grown. And I was like, wait, sales is the lifeblood of your business. What do you think sales is? And I got some of the old answers « it’s influence ». « It’s controlling the conversation ». And I was like, okay, you know, something Zig Zieglar calls it giant among people to this day.
But you focused it on the wrong part of their message. And you took that one little thing and you twisted it and made it into something unpleasant, undesirable. Basically, all sales is a starting productive conversation to see if there’s a reason to work together. You start productive conversations every day. You are in sales. Sales is like the human body : two ears, one mouth. Ask a question, then let them answer and listen to what they say.
Here’s how you run a sales meeting. It’s not about policies and procedures. It’s about goals. It’s about success stories. It’s about technique. It’s about rah rah rah. You want your team popped up and ready to run through walls at the end. And when I was done, I was like, are you guys afraid of sales now ?
They said : « No, that’s actually kind of easy ». I’m like : « it is if you let it be. So you don’t need to complicate sales ». And I think that’s what happens with a lot of business owners is they don’t understand what sales is. That’s again, why I ended up writing my book. It is to explain to them what sales is. In my book, there’s not techniques. It’s just about a high level of understanding of what sales is.
The reason why you wrote the book is really because you met a lot of business owners that are reluctant to sales. What would be the proportion of Business owners that you met in this position ?
It’s funny cuz when I sit down with business owners and I decide if I’m gonna work, if we’re deciding if we should work together or not. I usually ask one question. If I came into your busines,s in a sales capacity, and just wanted to kill it, 200, 300, 400% a goal, what do I have to do ? And [00:06:00] 80% of the time they’d look at me and say you want me to answer that ?
I’m like « yes », they’re like they have no idea what the sales process is. 10% of the time they sit there, just go sell. And I’m like, well, what does that mean ? Well, you just go sell. I was like explain to me what that is. And they don’t know 10% of the time they go. Here’s the process here.
Here’s our benefits. Here’s the benefit of working with us. Here’s our value proposition. They have a, somewhat of a sales background. They don’t need to work with me. And it’s not like business owners. You know, not smart. It’s just that they didn’t get into their business because they wanted to sell, they get into their business.
because they’re passionate about what their offerings are. And so what, and it, it’s funny Gabriel, cause I explained to them like : « you realize you’re all in sales ». They’re like : « no, no, no ». I’m like « you got people to give you money to start your business ». You got vendors to give you lines of credit. You got people to work with you, that’s all selling.
What your I, and they. Oh, and usually it’s it’s at that point that they get it, that the, the light switches and they’re like, oh, I guess you’re right. That is kind of sales. I didn’t really think of it that way. And then, as soon as that light switch goes on, they’re like : « okay, sales is not a bad thing anymore ».
Okay. I get it. We’re just seeing, getting people to work together.
And so the idea for them is to sell more and to adopt a sales process and go do the sale ? Or in fact, the best solution in this case is for them to recruit a sales manager or new sales and train them.
Well, and one thing I I’ve work with every business owner is, and it’s funny.
I had a conversation online with a colleague of mine is I get every business owner to realize what part of the business that they love. And let’s keep them focused on that part of the business. Anything else that they’re not good at, or they don’t like doing outsource it? So, yes, if you get sales, but you really don’t like doing sales, bring in a fractional VP of sales or a business advisor like myself. If you don’t like accounting, bring in a CPA, have them do that. If you don’t like warehousing, bring in a warehouse manager. Whatever part [00:08:00] of business that you are good at, let’s stay focused on that, because that’s the way to grow your business.
And let’s bring in the other experts that can grow your other parts of your business.
So the idea for a business owner is not necessarily to become a great salesperson, but to accept the idea of selling and recruit a great seller ?
And guess what? There’s some business owners that are great at sales.
But the one thing that I always work with them on is they can’t be the only conduit for their sales. Because if it is then, it’s bottlenecked and you’re not gonna grow beyond you. What I’d work with those business owners is we build out the sales process together, because they have a sales process. It’s usually stuck in their head, but it’s like : okay, let’s go step by, step on what you do and, and how you do it every step of the way.
And let’s train other people to do what you do. But the other business owners that don’t like sales, yes. Outsource or find somebody that’s really good at it. And what I always tell them is find somebody that understands your value proposition. What value does your business provide to others?
And that’s really interesting.
And for them, are they able to express their value proposition ? And is it not the role of the new salesperson sometime to be able to express the value proposition to the rest of the world ?
Possibly. It’s so funny. I have an exercise that I do with every business owner and I’m gonna give it to your audience.
So they’re gonna get this for free. They’re gonna be able to go out and do this for their business and see if their value proposition’s right. I did this with a father/son team. They were at insurance inspection company. They had the best product in the industry, and I said, why should people do business with you?
They said we have the best time service and quality time service and quality. I’m like, all right. I went out to their three best clients. I sat down with them and I’m like : « listen, insurance inspection company, dime dozen. Why do you work with these guys? They said, Rob, in this industry insurance, there’s always gonna be problems.
And when there are problems, we know we can call or email them, they’ll find out what happened, who’s involved and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and get back to us within 24 to 48 hours. [00:10:00] And I was like, huh? I was like, that sounds like good customer service and communication. They’re like, yep. They do it.
Not a lot of other people do. Gabriel I’ve asked three of them. I’m like : « what about time service and quality ? » They all said the same thing. If you’re not doing time service and quality, you’re not working in this industry. So we changed the value proposition from time service and quality that all the other inspection companies were beating their chest about to : Hey, we have the best customer service and communication when their problems, and there will be some will pop up, we’ll be there with you. We’ll take care of it fast. And get rid of it as soon as we can and get you back to your normal business. That next year, the grew 26% year after that’s 63, cuz we’re speaking to the market in the market’s voice. So for your people out there that are watching, for all your business owners, go out and talk to your three best clients. They may not be your biggest ones because sometimes we know the biggest clients are pain in the rear end, but the ones you love working with, they love working with you. There’s good margin there. Ask them three questions. First question : « What value did we provide that you expected ? What value did we provide that you didn’t expect ? And what’s the best thing about working with us ? »
The first two questions are just to get them talking. It’s that third one, that’s a hook. What’s the best thing about working with us? If they’re all saying the same thing, that is your value proposition. I can almost guarantee you it’s probably different than what you’re using now.
That’s for sure. And so what your own customers are saying about you ?
Did, did you make the insight with them?
Yeah, and you use their language and their voice and express it to other prospects. Cause now you’re speaking in the customer’s voice, not in yours. I worked with this Australian company that was coming to the US and they did marketing for orthodontists and they had this 20 page deck that was jam full of information.
And I sat down with them, they flew into town. I sat down, I looked at the deck, I looked at them and said, I’m not gonna read this. And they’re like, what? I said, you’re paying me and I’m not gonna read this. Why do you have all this information there ? And they’re like, well, it’s everything they need to know to make a decision.
I’m like, no, it’s everything you wanna impress them with your vast knowledge and all the things that you do that make you so great. It’s not what they need to know. So we did that. We went out to their three best clients. We asked them those questions. We reduced [00:12:00] that 20 pages deck to a one sheet with four bullet points on it.
The next week sales rep calls me up. She goes, Rob, they’re reading it like, well, Brooke, they’re supposed tos. Rob. They’ve never read anything I’ve ever sent them before. So by simplifying their sales process and simplifying what they said to their audience, we reduced their sales cycle eight to 10 months and increase their customer base 33% in four months.
Great. That’s a good example. And really what I understand that with business owner, you, you, you have to make them think about what they do, about their value proposition, about the, the fact that they are all also doing sales. Is it harder to work with business owners than with salespeople ?
It depends. I mean, every business owner is different. I mean, I’ve worked with some business owners that are, were just a pleasure to work with. And again, sometimes I’ll sit down with a business owner and I say, I ask them a question : « Do you know everything about your business ? » And if they say yes, I say, I can’t help you.
Because I don’t know everything about my business. That’s why I work with other colleagues that help me out. And if you think you know everything about your business, then I can’t help you cause you’re not open to new ideas. But most business owners, especially through the pandemic, everyone has felt the shift. You know, especially you’re talking about working virtually. People kept asking me, are you used to working virtually ?
I kept telling like I’ve been working virtually for two decades. I’ve done this well before this started. It’s just the way I’ve done business. But it doesn’t really change things too much, or it changes a little bit. If you’re sitting in front of me physically, or I’m sitting in front of you like this, like we’re sitting in front of each other right now, you can still build report.
You can still, you know, do all the things that you need to do. It’s just, it feels a little bit different. And so what I always tell business owners do is when working remote, make sure that you and make sure that your staff take breaks. Because one of the things that I’ve seen a lot of people do during the while working virtual is they forget to take a break.
They forget to get up and walk outside, take a breath of fresh air. And it’s [00:14:00] hard sometimes. I mean, there’s been times when I’ve, it’s, you know, six in the morning, I’m in front of my computer working. I look up it’s eight o’clock at night and I’m sitting in my sweats. I’m going, wow. What happened to this day?
it’s so I actually scheduled time in my calendar to get up, go take a walk, get up, get outside and do things. That helps keep you balanced. And when working virtually, you have to have that balance. You have to be able to detach a little bit, go get breath of fresh air, come back in, then you’re fresh and you’re sharp again.
That’s true. And it especially true when you are having customer meeting after customer meetings. And if you have no stop be between them, you don’t realize where you are.
And again, it just, it just takes that planning. And sometimes I have some colleagues that are just go, go, go, go, go, go. And I keep telling them : « put a just a five or 10 minute gap in there ». Where is your time ? It’s you go walk outside, you walk around the block. I make sure I schedule, walk my walk.
I’m very fortunate. I live in Santa Monica, California. So I can walk around. I can see the ocean and see the beach. And so, it’s nice to get outside every now and take that walk. And regardless of how hard things are, when you take that walk and you get outside and you enjoy the environment you’re in, you can sit there and say, it’s not that bad.
And that puts you in the right mindset to get back in and do the virtual thing again.
And that’s interesting because selling is also about getting the « no » answer from customers, that doesn’t answer to your calls, that doesn’t like your proposal and so on. How do business owner accept the « no » and, or do you help them to accept the « no » answer ?
I accept the no, when they say no, Rob never call me again. Other than that, there’s upselling and downselling. If someone doesn’t like what you’re offering right now, do you have something else that they can buy that it’s a little bit less of a, you know, it’s more of an introduction to you [00:16:00].
And Gabriel, we could spend a week talking about different sales strategies and what you do to know. I mean, actually one of the best clients I ever gotten was out of a no. It was when I first started selling, I’m gonna date myself here. I was selling classified advertising. That’s when newspapers were allowed on classified ads to make money.
And I was selling to a lawyer and I was all excited about it. And I was like, what type of law do you practice? And he’s like, well, I do business to business transactions. I was like, oh, I was like, this probably won’t work for you then. Cause this is more DUI divorce, criminal law. It’s like, you’re not gonna take my money.
I’m like, I’m a sales guy. I’ll take your money. But I don’t think this is gonna work for you. And, but if you know, any DUI divorced lawyers or things that send them my way that next week, from that no, I got three clients. One of them became my biggest client. So « no » doesn’t mean you’re not gonna get business. When somebody says no to me : « Hey Rob, I don’t need your services. »
I said : « do you know anyone else that possibly could ? Do you know anyone else that needs coaching that wants to get their business to that next level ? And a lot of times they’re like : « yeah, I do. ». So even if the person you’re speaking to doesn’t need what you have, it doesn’t mean that they don’t know someone that does,
And your business owner are ready to hear a no from their customers ?
When you, when you put it in the way I just did, I think they’re more accepting to that. It’s like, okay, because guess what ? Not everyone wants your product. Not everyone needs your product. Nike, Coca-Cola, they don’t market to everyone. They’re huge companies, they’re hugely successful, but they market to their audience.
Not everyone needs the product or service that you have, period, hands down. Accept that. And if you accept that, then you can sit there and say okay, the person I’m talking to right now doesn’t need what I have. But do they know anyone that might ? And you’d be surprised how many people are willing to sit there and say, yeah, you know, something, go talk to, you know, Mike and Doug down the street.
And then when you call Mike and Doug and say, Hey, Mike Gabriel just told me to give you a call. You know, [00:18:00] he said, you might be needing what I have. Mike’s gonna listen to you because Gabriel referred you. And that’s the way interest now instead of just having that one sale, I might actually have two.
Great. Thanks a lot Rob ! I really loved our conversation about business owner and the way they accept or not the idea of being a salesperson and the way they evolve into sales and adapt to the new reality of sales. And I also really love your last tip about how to turn a no into a referral, which is really interesting.
If our audience is interested to contact you or should they do ?
Probably the easiest way to get me is on LinkedIn. And if you type my name on LinkedIn, you should be able to find me pretty easy. Or, you know, there might be a couple of us, but you’ll be able to find there’s not that many Rob Bedells, but you’ll be able to find me there.
And that’s probably the easiest way to connect. Or if you want to email me, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great. And you also have your book on Amazon, which is « the S word ».
Yes. You have to look for book by Rob Bedell. Cause if you look for « the S word », you’ll find a book on socialism that way that’s,
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Would you be interested Rob, to test the product and to have a demo ?
I am always looking for new sales tools. That’s what keeps [00:20:00] me sharp and keeps me in the industry. You always gotta look what’s out there and how to make the whole process easier. So, yes. Great.
Thanks a lot Rob and see you for the demo.
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