Here’s a chapter for “how NOT to close a prospect.” Last month Ryan Markel brought to my attention someone who is teaching MSPs how to grow their sales departments, suggesting we engage in some manner.
Initially, I’m very interested, as I’m ever interested in bringing fresh new moneymaking ideas to my members. I instantly have ideas about how I can use someone with his purported skills to deliver more value to our members. We discuss perhaps hiring him to work with our Producers Club and Accelerators members to build out a detailed sales playbook, complete with a hiring process, compensation plans, management playbook, etc. Maybe even run a Sales Managers’ Accountability Group.
A BIG project that would not only mean a good payday, but also put him in front of 600 or more MSPs who are potential clients for him. Now, just in case you’re not picking up on it, this is a BIG opportunity. Sponsors pay us millions of dollars a year to get access to our members, and here I am, offering to PAY him for the privilege.
But here’s what happens…
First of all, he’s “heard” of my name but admits he knows nothing about us. Now, I have no grand illusions about my popularity and fame. However, if I was a sales or marketing consultant in THIS industry, I would make an effort to at least be familiar with anyone who is working with MSPs in that capacity for a variety of reasons, especially if they had a big following (as we do). For me, I’d want to know what they’re doing to LEARN. My motivation would be to see what they can teach me to make my business better or to better advise my clients. Him? Nothing. No interest, no curiosity. BIG strike one.
Lack of intellectual curiosity is a sign of intellectual laziness.
When Robert Herjavec visited our event on multiple occasions, he frequently whipped out a notepad he carries with him everywhere in his upper shirt pocket to jot down notes. He was VERY curious about our business model, our clients, our market, what we sell, how we sell it. Again, this is a reflection of HIM, not of my genius or fame. I’ve noticed the same curiosity with all the high-performance entrepreneurial speakers we’ve had, including John Mackey, Daymond John, Steve Forbes, Kevin O’Leary, Mike Rowe, Jesse Itzler, etc. They’re naturally curious about business and will ask a lot of questions about our audience, what we do, what YOU do, how we make money, etc.
But the biggest Costco-sized bucket of you’ve-got-to-be-shitting-me was when I asked if I could see a video or presentation or book or anything to better understand his philosophy, approach and methodology to building a sales team. Obviously, before I start dragging him out in front of my clients as “the guy” to listen to about building a sales team – or even consider hiring him for a consulting project – I need to at least understand his process, his approach and ideally see him in action. His answer? “Talk to ______. He’ll tell you everything you need to know.”
GEEZ. Could you be lazier?
I’m not going to say who the person is he referred me to talk to (hence the blank), because it’s irrelevant. I learned everything I needed to know from his response to a simple and very reasonable request. Imagine a prospect asking you for an outline of YOUR process for managing and protecting a network before they hire you. Would you say, “Oh, just call this person. They’ll tell you everything you need to know.”
Does that person WORK for you? In this case, they didn’t. They weren’t even an active client. Does he have ANY control over what they might say? Of course he doesn’t. Is this person an expert on your mythology? He’s not. He put the entire responsibility of selling himself on another person who does not work for him, is not an active client, is not versed on his methodology, cannot negotiate on his behalf and knows nothing about his fees, availability or approach…a random act. And THIS is the guy who is teaching others how to SELL?
Sadly, this is very similar to a response I received years ago when looking to hire a sales speaker for Boot Camp. I was referred to a guy who was supposed to be the top Sandler Sales trainer in the country, who I was told was their *top* speaker. When I requested a video of his main-stage presentation, I was sent a horrible, out-of-focus, poorly lit 10-minute video someone took with their iPhone of him presenting. It was like a Blair Witch video – jumping all over the place, unsteady, some guy’s head blocking him half the time because the video was shot by someone sitting in the second or third row, going in and out of focus.
The guy shooting the video was sniffing and clearing his throat LOUDLY on the recording, and I was barely able to hear what the speaker was saying. I couldn’t get through it. Didn’t need to. The lack of professionalism spoke louder to me than anything he could have possibly said in the video. I’d be embarrassed to send that. I’d lie and say my dog ate all the videos or I was hacked with ransomware and all my videos were deleted before I’d send THAT kind of video to a prospective client looking to hire me.
Now, to my point of telling you this story…
If you want to succeed in sales, you MUST be able to demonstrate your expertise, competence and professionalism. You NEED to be able to explain your methodology, your approach to achieving the results you produce, the work that you do. THAT should be part of your unique selling proposition, your secret sauce. It should be built into your Shock-And-Awe box and steeped in your sales process. To the left is a detailed outline of “What Robin Robins Marketing Is.”
It’s steeped in what makes us different, our core philosophies and our approach. If someone wanting to hire me needed to know MY approach, or to see a video of me in action, I sure as hell could deliver it with professionalism and speed. That in and of itself speaks volumes, as does someone’s inability or outright unwillingness to provide it.
I believe that if you cannot explain in a compelling way how YOUR methodology is better than that of all the other people vying for that prospect’s business, you don’t deserve the sale.
Another point I want to drive home here…
When a prospect makes a reasonable request for something they need to know, see or get from you before they hire you, LISTEN CAREFULLY to what the prospect is asking for and give it to them. Not what you think they should have. It’s NOT what you know is “best” for them. And NOT what is EASY FOR YOU to send them. WHAT THEY ASKED FOR – and do it with speed and enthusiasm.
A prospect shouldn’t have to drag it out of you or wait to receive information that helps them make an intelligent, informed decision. I’m not against someone providing a reference to talk to in addition to my initial request – but that’s NOT what I asked for. If he didn’t want to provide what I asked for, he could say so and tell me why. But in the speaking and consulting business, it’s absolutely reasonable for a prospect to want to see a copy of a book you wrote, a video, something to evaluate your “talk” before hiring you to deliver it.
I’ll leave you with this additional final thought. Before you hire anyone to advise you, be sure you look at everything they do. How they market and sell themselves. How quickly they respond. What they do to follow up (or not). You can learn a lot about someone’s professionalism and competence by watching what they DO, not what they say.