136 FS Sales and Minimizing Prospects Wasting Your Time with Donald Kelly

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The panelists talk to The Sales Evangelist, Donald Kelly, about minimizing prospects wasting your time.


[This episode is brought to you by Audible. Audible is the first place I go to keep my business skills sharp. They offer over 150,000 books on business, finance, planning and much more. They also have a great selection of fiction that keeps me entertained when I'm just not up for some serious content. I love it because I can buy a book, download it to my iPhone, and listen while running errands or at the gym. Get your free trial at freelancersshow.com/audible]**[This episode is brought to you by Code School. Code School offers interactive online courses in Ruby, JavaScript, HTML, CSS and iOS. Their courses are fun and interesting and include exercises for the student. To level up your development skills, go to freelancersshow.com/codeschool]****[This episode is brought to you by ProXPN. If you are out and about on public Wi-Fi, you never know who might be listening. With ProXPN, you no longer have to worry. ProXPN is a VPN solution which sends all of your traffic over a secure connection to one of their servers around the world. To sign up, go to ProXPN.com and use the promo code tmtcs (short for teach me to code screencasts) to get 10% off for life]****CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 135 of the Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hi everyone! CHUCK: Eric Davis. ERIC: Hi. CHUCK: Curtis McHale. CURTIS: Chuck, you’re recording this time right? CHUCK: Yes. CURTIS: Okay, cool. CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv, and this week we have a special guest and that’s Donald Kelly. DONALD: Hey, how are you guys doing? REUVEN:**Doing great! [Laughter]**CHUCK: Yeah!  Donald, do you want to introduce yourself for our audience? DONALD: Yes. My name is Donald Kelly. I am the Sales Evangelist and I host The Sales Evangelist Podcast where I interview top sales and marketing experts from around the world, who share advice, tips, tricks, strategies on how anyone can become a seller, and that’s either from a freelancer to someone who is new to sales, or an entrepreneur who has their business and hates selling but has to sell to make money and keep the business open. I teach all the basic concepts and principles that could help them go to that level and I do that through the podcast, also through one on one coaching; I do workshops and seminars and so forth as well. CHUCK: Before we get started, I’m wondering, what is the hardest part of selling for most people that you talk to? DONALD: Finding. CHUCK: Oh really? DONALD: Finding, yup. A lot of people have a hard time with finding and starting the process, because if I talk to ten sales professionals or ten entrepreneurs, they’ll say “The hardest part is getting to sit down with someone and to talk them, for them to listen to my project or my proposal or to my pitch, but if I can get to that point, I feel really comfortable.” Sitting down with someone and going forward is great, but it’s finding the right people and having the right message that can grab their attention, that they don’t think you’re a sleazebag. CHUCK: The topic for the show today is Sales and Minimizing Prospects Wasting Your Time. Is there a trick to having prospects not wasting your time? DONALD: There is. You eliminate the ones that are going to waste your time beforehand, and as we go throughout the discussion today, I can highlight and emphasize certain points. I just did an episode – I call it a case study; it’s going out today or tomorrow, and it’s with one of my listeners. He contacted me at the very beginning, episode number 6 of my podcast, and he had a question, and I shared a tip with him, what I call it “Setting the rules before you play the game”, or calling it “The Upfront Contract.” It’s the contract before they even sign to come on with me as their sales trainer or if I’m selling something to them, and you go over basically the criteria. I hate playing football with people who make up rules as you go throughout the game, or just do stupid things to waste time. So I apply the same things in selling – I set the rules beforehand. If we can’t agree on the rules before we start playing the game, then we don’t go forward. Say, for instance, if I’m developing something for someone, I’m only going to give you XYZ amount of time or XYZ amount of mockups, or if I’m selling shares or something like that, you only get XYZ samples. Just things like that you set up beforehand, but I have a whole process that I break down. I can go into it right now if you want, or as we go throughout the discussion, I can explain. CHUCK: What do you guys think? REUVEN:**I’d be curious how you do that. For starters, I just had literally today, two conversations with new potential clients, and it wasn’t clear to me where they stood in terms of whether it was a good match, but it did feel like a bit of a long-drawn-out conversation of twenty minutes with each of them, before we even got to the point where they wanted to raise rate issues, and I wanted to frame it in a way that they wouldn’t be scared and that they could afford me. But anyway, I felt like it was really flubbing it there even though I’m going to keep talking to them, but then I have to worry, “Am I talking the right way?” Anyway, I think that means I’d like to hear it. [Chuckles]**DONALD: Sure. This is a scenario: when you meet with any client or any prospect, the first thing that I typically do with them is sit down and obviously express gratitude, “Thanks for meeting with me,” so forth, and “I know your time is important, my time is important.” I reestablish a timeframe, because one of the things that I hate is when I go into a meeting with somebody and they chat for two hours, and I’m like, “Dude, I’ve got stuff to do.” It’s important to make sure we have the right timing. Their time is important, my time is important, and the same thing with sellers – I meet with sellers sometimes and they’re talking forever, and I’m like, “Dude, I really need to go now.” So you set up a timeframe. If that’s going to be a 20-minute conversation, say “Do we still have 20 minutes on the clock, is it still okay to do – to meet?” and they’ll more than likely confirm and say “Yes.” So when they say yes, we know that the time is established. The next thing I go into is I reestablish. I try to give them an out, because all buyers – Jeffrey Gitomer said, “People love to buy, but they hate to be sold.” I think that we can all agree on that. What you do, you give them an out, because they think as a seller you’re going to trap them into getting your product or you’re going to force them. So I say, “Chuck, if you feel from our discussion today that this is not a fit, is it okay if you would tell me so at the end of the conversation?” and Chuck more or likely will say, “Yeah, I feel the same way. I feel that’s okay.” Then vice versa, I will say, “But Chuck if I feel that from what you’re looking for, if I’m not a fit, is it okay if I tell you so?” and then it’s going to blow them away for the most part, because no sales people, most sales people don’t want to do that. Most sales people want to keep the prospect as much as possible, and they want to hold them, they want to keep their attention. First of all, you’re going to be different, and you’re going to grab their attention with that, and give them the way to get out of the selling process from the very get-go. The next thing that I want to do is, “This is your meeting, so tell me some of the things that you want to get out of it.” They might say, “Well, I want to find out about the rate. I want to find out what kind of work you can do. I want to find out if I should use this Java thing, blah, blah, blah.” You write all this down, and now you have your outline of the agenda for the first meeting, so you know exactly what to discuss and what they want to learn. Then when we get to the end of it, I review that. “Did we discuss XYZ Java blah, blah, blah, rates and so forth?” and then you find out, ask them, put them on the spot, “Now, from what I explained, do you feel that we’re a fit to move forward to the next step or do you feel that it was okay if we were not to go forward?” It takes some balls and it takes some guts to do stuff like this, but it puts it in a way that it’s different and it makes you find those people who are really interested from the very get-go. I can tell you from the times that I do this, I probably have had fewer people who would flake on me because they know from the very get-go that I’m not trying to bend their arm into anything. Does that make sense? CHUCK: Mm-hm. REUVEN:**I have to say, I’ve never ever had a meeting where anyone on either side, I think even close to this, and if someone else did this to me, I’d be so incredibly impressed. So I’m totally going to take that. [Laughter]**CURTIS: I would say that’s fairly similar to what I do. I frame the whole initial conversation around us finding a good fit, and if I’m not a good fit for you, then you should go find someone who’s a good fit for you, and maybe I know of someone that I can refer you to. But I only want to work with people that are a good fit between both of us, because that’s how we produce our best work. DONALD: I would agree exactly what you meant with that. The crazy part about it – I love the part that you mentioned about finding somebody that’s a good fit for them. Say, for instance, when I sold a soft – not software – managed IT services at one point, fresh out of college, and we had competitors, and the competitors didn’t deal with big ass clients as we did, but I would find little mom and pop shops saying, “We want to do this but it’s too expensive.” I would just pass them on to my competitor, and it was a good referral for them because they deal with the smaller people, if that makes sense, and it builds good will amongst that community. I don’t believe in having competitors in a sense of hating, but I want to keep them close to me so I can know what they’re doing as well. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense to me. A lot of times it feels like I have clients or prospects that I’m not sure if they’re not sure, or I’m not sure if they’re just stalling because they’re waiting for something in particular. How do you figure that kind of thing out? DONALD: In the initial meeting or just throughout the process? CHUCK: Just throughout the process. DONALD: What I typically do, again, it’s a similar thing, is I reiterate that. The great thing about us as human beings is that we forget all the time. Sometimes in my first meeting I might tell them something, but then they all of a sudden forget about it. So I bring up the process every single meeting I meet with someone, just to always give them the opportunity to get the out. It’s also, you want to establish in your rules before you play the game, in that first meeting you can tell them, or in every meeting, “We want to make sure we have a clear outcome, so by the time we’re done, you know what’s going to be the next thing” and you frame it in a sense that you make them feel that they’re in charge. You can say, “Well John, I really want to make sure that you know what’s the next step, because I hate going through a process where I’m confused or I have this mystification of what the next step is going to be. So I want to make sure at the end of every meeting that we meet, you have a clear understanding of what the next step is supposed to be.” I reiterate that every single meeting, and post that meeting I will send an email as well, “Hey John, it was great chatting with you. We spoke about XYZ. This is our next goal, next step. I look forward to talking to you then” so they can have an understanding beforehand. And then, during that meeting I bring it up, explain the – recap about our previous meeting, and give them the opportunity, the same upfront contract or set the rules before we play, remind them what the rules are, and if they have a desire to opt-out, then they can opt-out then. You want to minimize that challenge of going all the way, doing the demonstration of your product and services, giving them quotes and proposal and they come to that point where they fall off. I hate that, so I’ve done as much as I can to minimize that upfront with this before we get to that point. If I find that I’m getting a ton of people falling off beforehand, that’s great, because now I don’t have to have them go throughout the whole process. It just helps me to refine who are those ideal and who are those perfect fit. Does that help make sense there, Chuck, with your situation? CHUCK: Mm-hm. The other one that I really - oh go ahead. CURTIS:**I craft my first email to do that as well. I have a standard set of probably three questions [inaudible 11:45] up to, say, six or seven, depending on what the client sends me technically, but I don’t even respond. If I don’t get that email back, then they don’t even get my sales pipeline because they’re not worth it. I’ve had a number of saves recently where eventually the client comes back because I keep saying, “You need to respond to these questions, you need to respond to these questions” and their budget wasn’t there. I got called a shill recently because I wouldn’t respond to them, and without actually answering my questions. It’s saved me tons of time. It lets me respond to plenty of leads but waste time on very little, because it’s just an email template as well.**DONALD: Curtis, can I pose a question to you? How did you get to that point where you started doing that? What happened? CURTIS: I converted from being a technician to being a programmer to running a business, and I started learning about sales, and then I started crafting an email and had a friend or two that helped me, that gave me templates that were theirs and eventually I rewrote it to be exactly what mine is now. DONALD:**Yeah, because I feel that a lot of people tend to be, and I think a lot of folks tend to get really afraid of offending the prospects, that they don’t do stuff like that, or they think, “If I say this, I’m going to scare them away” or “If I’m this blunt, they might get offended.” Well, it’s either one, you do it now, or two, it’s going to linger and then they’re not going be a benefit and you’re wasting your valuable time that you could be working with people that are going to fit. I think a lot of people – when I say a lot of people especially myself, when I first started off I was just deathly afraid, I really just didn’t want to offend people. I really wanted to be the people-pleaser, but you can’t please everyone, because everyone is not a – [crosstalk 13:24].**CURTIS: Yeah, you can’t. I think that’s always funny, because it’s some random person that you’ve never even met. It’s not your stylist or a friend or anything, and you’re worried “they might not like me and I will never see them again, and I will never get an email from them again,” yet I am concerned about what they say. Part of the way that I changed is I really – as I changed my mindset to be thinking of a good fit, I’m trying to help them find the best fit. So even when the client – they didn’t call me specifically a shill, but they basically told me I was a moron and he found someone way better for him somewhere else at a third of the price, and I responded with, “I’m very glad. I think you found a perfect fit for your project. Good luck.” because that’s what I want him to do. Any client, I want them to find the perfect fit for their product. It may be a pricing fit, it may be even an interaction fit, it may be that there’s a better developer for that type of project. Yeah, that’s what my goal is every time. REUVEN: Smart! I would like to see your templates too, that would be awesome. CHUCK: What about the people that don’t get back to you? There are people that I have talked to and I wind up emailing them, and I keep emailing them, “Hey, I’m wondering about this and I’m wondering about that” and they just never seem to get around to anything, and that wastes time. DONALD:**Personally what I do, I just put those in the pile that’s not my fit, if they’re not responding. Or put it like this – if they’re a reasonable sized business and it may be something that really, it’d benefit me investing time into it, what I will do is I will contact them, reach out to them in different avenues, because I know it’s a sexy-sized business, it’s a decent sized business, I know it’s a fit from our previous discussion. Because one of the things that I recognize, especially with some business owners, is that they’re busy. Unfortunately, Donald is not the first thing or the only thing on their mind. They may have problems within their HR, they may have problems with something in the organization, maybe legal issues, something that may be going on, and it’s important to understand that maybe something up, it’s not necessarily that they’re not interested. But if it’s someone I recognize that is not necessarily going to be a right fit, it’s a small thing and I’ve tried and I’ve done multiple avenues, I’m not going to waste my time. I’m just going to scrap it and focus on one that’s going to be beneficial. So small little deal, I know it’s going to be dragging me through the whole process, I just said “Scrap it and forget it.” But if they’re recognized as a fit but I haven’t been able to hear from them, I assume that something came up and I’m going to do multiple channels to get a hold of them, whether that’s email, phone call, carrier pigeon, maybe a threat, okay maybe not a threat, but you get the point. [Laughter]**CHUCK: I’d love to see your carrier pigeon templates. DONALD:**They’re great. These are some Jamaican pigeons. They’re pretty awesome. [Chuckles]**CHUCK: That’s right; I always forget you’re from Jamaica. DONALD:**Yeah, man. [Laughter]**CURTIS: I think for my follow up, if they don’t respond to that first email, I don’t even bother because it’s just a waste of my time. If they’re not willing to respond to that, even, say, with the guy who basically called me a shill, I wrote back and said “I only want to work with clients that are going to take the time to give me thoughtful responses” because his first response was, “Hey, can we get this project to cost less?” and I was like I just asked – we didn’t even talked about the cost yet. After that point, in the long-term, it does depend on the client. I have one listener to the show who runs an agency, a Rails agency, and he looks for some WordPress work occasionally, and we haven’t worked together yet, but I still follow up with him every quarter because it was a good banter back and forth, and just to stay on the top of his mind. Eventually there may be some work, and typically the work from that would be enough that I could probably follow up with him for five years, and every quarter, and be fine. Honestly, the emails he gets are templates as well. DONALD: Another thing that you can do to keep top of mind is, especially if it’s someone that you know it’s going to take a while but you recognize there’s a fit or whatever, I set up Google Alerts on them and also on their organization and on the industry. So instead of each time I email them, instead of saying something like “Hey, how are you doing?” or “What’s going on with the project?” I simply say, “Hey, I found this in the blah, blah, blah” or “I saw this about your company” or “saw that you were on XYZ podcast, great stuff.” “I saw that this has something changed in the industry” or “iOS is doing this, blah, blah, blah. I thought this might benefit you.”  You send them something and initially when they get the email, it’s like “Okay, it’s something that he’s providing to me and it’s not following up” but inadvertently they’re going to respond with a follow up and let you know, “Hey, this is where the project’s at.” I did that particularly with one of the most recent one, with the school district, because I still do software sales in the daytime and it was a school district that they found something cool happen in the newspaper, in their community, and I had a Google Alert set up. So I said “Hey, I thought this was really cool” and sent it to them, and I got an update on the project because I was staying top of mind without just saying, “Give me, give me, give me” or “What’s going on? What’s going on?” Does that make sense? REUVEN: I must say I like that idea but I can’t imagine having Google Alerts for all the people I speak to. It seems like an overwhelming amount of email and alert to be getting. How do you deal with that? DONALD: I focus on the ones that, again, the ones that are more so promising further along in my pipeline, or say somebody like that I know they’re going to be a long process. They’re a fit, but for some reason or another we know we’re going to have a long process. I don’t have tons of those, but the ones that I do have, there's a few and I have another Gmail account which I just send stuff to anyway so it’s not my main one. CURTIS: Yeah, and all year long actually I just tag articles that are interesting in my field for ecommerce, and every quarter when I have stuff come up, or when I have a reminder come up for high-value clients that I like, I just look through Evernote and find one that I haven’t put their name at the top of because I’ve sent it to them already, and send them a new article and be like, “Hey, I found this.” Unless I find something very specifically tailored that triggers them in my mind immediately. DONALD:**Yeah, that’s very smart. I need to practice that with my Evernote. [Chuckling]**CHUCK: Are there any tricks or tips to getting things to close more quickly, or is it more about making sure it’s a good fit and taking as long as it takes to do that? DONALD: Good question. As far as making it a close more quickly, I make sure – this is just from my analysis of my clients that I’ve worked with, the good and the bad – the ones that have closed quicker are the ones that I set the rules with beforehand. The reason why they closes quicker is, and there’s three things you got to have: you got to make sure you’re talking to the person who can make the decision, you got to make sure they have the challenge or the pain that’s going to cause them to act, and they have to have money, they have to have budget. Any of those two without one, usually causes the problem or causes the delay. Say, for instance, they may not be the decision maker, they have to report to the decision maker, it’s annoying because now you’re going to elongate the process, you have to go through a third party, a different individual every time and so forth, and so forth. Or if they don’t have budget, they’re going to elongate the process themselves; they’re going to tell you all different types of stuff that’s going to come up, “We’re trying to get this” or “We’re trying to do that” or “I like what you work, your sketch up. Can we do another demonstration?” A lot of times they may not have the money, they may not be the decision maker, and if they definitely don’t have the challenge, then don’t waste your time trying to create pain. If they’re not a fit for you, they’re not a fit, but don’t try to create pain. By applying those three things and the upfront contract beforehand, that minimizes my sales process tremendously, and I can speak from the times where I’ve done it and times where I have not done it, when I started off early on in sales. That’s some of the ways that I help to speed up that process. The other thing too that I forgot to mention this is that you have rules set or the agenda that the next step set beforehand, and you’ll be finding it’s crazy too, try it. You should ask the prospect, because no one goes into a buying situation not understanding that they have to give up money to get something in return. CHUCK:**Are you sure? I’ve talked to some people. [Laughter]**DONALD: Drop them! REUVEN: Do you know how many potential clients call me saying – and we speak for a little bit, and I’ve gotten better at making this clear upfront, but they say, “Oh, you mean you’re not willing to work for equity?” and they’re shocked by this. DONALD:**Yeah, about that. [Laughter] No way!**CURTIS: I think when you talked about your challenge, I think an important thing to talk to them about is, “Is this the most painful thing that you have? What else could you be doing that could be more important or provide more value for you?” Because even if you’re talking about a pain, if it’s fourth on the list of the CEO, then it’s possibly not even going to happen, they’ve got three other things to fix first. DONALD: Yup. CURTIS: Finding out what that most important thing is, and if they say, “This is important to us, but we have these two other things that are entirely unrelated to your sales process and to what you provide” then knowing that this is going to again go longer. I found that the longer I take my sales process, the better it is, and the only way that I can do that is because of savings that I have or other leads that I have coming in, so I could technically go for six months I think at this point, and not worry about it, not need any cash for six months and still around. But elongating my sales process, as I made it longer, actually I’ve been able to charge more and do better with each client, so that the distance I can wait is even longer each time. DONALD: I think some of the things that might tie with that, Curtis, is it depends on the industry too. It depends on what you're doing. Like in the software sales world, my processes sometimes are longer, and the Sales Evangelist sales process – those tend to be a lot smaller. It just depends on especially listeners, depending on your industry and how your business is set up, that there are different metrics or different ways to do that, but I like that model that you just mentioned for your organization. CHUCK: I'd also point out though, that your sales process is probably longer than you think because I’ve had people listen to your podcast for a while, and then decide to contact you about whatever. DONALD: That’s true. CHUCK: Your sales process includes the time that they’ve spent listening to you, talk about sales on your show. DONALD: Yes, good point with that. Yeah, I guess it depends on where you start up, but from an inception, from them listening and so forth, yes. CURTIS: Yeah, and your sales process starts with every interaction, right? DONALD: Oh, for sure. CURTIS:**Every interaction is part of your sales process. When I have clients, when I spend a bunch of time earlier this year on my agency site properly, the clients that I got – actually I got more clients. They were better vetted, the cold clients, better; they’re almost as good as my referrals at conversions, because of how I frame that. Even down to my contract, “Here’s this final document I’m sending you, and if you don’t like the tone of that”, it basically convinces them to say no to me, and I’ve already spent that much time on the sales process. But that’s fine. I’d rather have them say no. It’s like getting married – you’d rather have someone say no at the altar and deal with a little bit of pain than twenty years later decide that this has been a terrible, painful twenty years, right? [Laughs]**DONALD:**Good point. I need to make sure my wife didn’t think that same way. We just got married a year ago. [Laughter]**CHUCK: Congratulations. DONALD: Thanks man, I agree. There’s a book called The Challenger Sale – a really, really good book. The concept behind it is educating the buyer. Because most of your clients, they’re coming to you for a particular thing, usually around development I imagine, or if you’re selling shares people are going to come to you because they want to buy a share. What if you can provide education that can attract them or educate them enough about shares beforehand, that it makes it easier from the interaction or from the point they start talking to you, communicating with you, for your process to close? Say, my podcast is that way and the same thing with your podcast – you provide so much value and so much education in your content that people are educated before they come into the whole process and it speeds it up in the end. Some people have blogs where they write a lot of great information or whitepapers or they give a lot of webinars – it provides that free education. When you educate people on stuff they probably never thought about, about shares or about development or about software or about selling, and it makes it so much more easier for them to be convinced that you’re the right fit for them once you start having that two-way communication as opposed to them listening to the show. CHUCK: You mentioned that the hardest thing for people in sales is finding. Are there things that you do or teach people to do that help them get better at that? DONALD: Yes, it’s practicing it, doing it. I find that a lot of folks who are my sales clients or some of the sales folks I’ve interacted with, the reason why they have such a tough time most of the time is because they don’t have any practices in place to find people. It’s like they have a great product or a great service or great technology, and they think people are going to flock to them without doing anything. What I recommend is to do a variety of things, from in-person to web-based. I might say, “Well, tell me about your LinkedIn profile. What’s your LinkedIn profile like? Or what’s your LinkedIn activity like? How about your Twitter activity? What groups are you a part of? What local networking groups do you attend? And also what kind of information are you providing? What kind of education are you providing on your website?” They might say, “I work for a particular company.” I’m like, “Well, I don’t care. Do you have your personal blog that you’re educating the industry on? Or do you have your own podcast or your own medium to provide information to your prospect?” And then I also still believe in the concept depending on the industry, that cold-calling could still help you. That’s based on, if you know what you’re doing, that’s going to be not the majority of your time, but I recommend doing a little bit of it, practicing, fine-tuning your skills. You do a variety of finding activities, and then capitalize on the ones that worked the most the effectively for your industry. But in order to find out which ones they are, you can either, one, find out what other top performers are doing in the industry, or if you don’t have the leisure of getting access to top performers, try the different ones, and focus in on the ones that give you the best return. I keep doing my podcast because it provides me the greatest return on new customers, and I also find that for me, with the sales training, if I give workshops or do workshops with other sales educators, I find that I gain new clients with that as well. Cold-calling – I still do some of that because I contact schools and different things where I speak at, but it’s not the majority of my time. It’s a small portion of my time that I might send out, and even when it’s cold, it’s still warm because I do enough research on it to know who I need to get in touch with and if there are any common connectors, people that I can get introduced to. I do a variety of activities and then I minimize it down to the ones that worked the best. So anyone who’s out there who are trying to find people, I recommend that. Start with a broader base of activities, and then start focusing down towards the ones that provide the most meaningful results and practice those and do them religiously and habitually throughout the week. If you’re going to go to a networking meet-up, make sure you do that. If it’s every Wednesday, you go every Wednesday. If it’s going to be a podcast, I need to put out two episodes a week; I put out my two episodes a week. If it’s going to be a workshop, if it’s once a month then I’m going to do a workshop once a month. Does that make sense? CHUCK: Mm-hm. REUVEN: Yeah, absolutely. CURTIS: Yeah, one thing I see though, often from developers, is that they go to do that and they go to write their content for their blog posts, but they write to other developers which are not their clients. DONALD: Oh yeah. CHUCK: Well, that never happens. CURTIS:**If you don’t write, maybe. [Chuckling]**DONALD: And how do you get around that yourself, Curtis? CURTIS: Well, every client interaction asking me some questions about your process or about whatever you’ve done, write them down, and then answer them. Every time you interact with any client, they’re going to ask you questions. CHUCK: Wait, you got to talk to people? CURTIS: At some point. If they answer my first email and I want to talk to them, then yeah, I tell them they can book a call. DONALD: And Marcus Sheridan – I had him on my episode, a couple of episodes back, and that’s what one of the main things that he discussed was that every single question he gets from a customer or from a prospect, he writes it down and he answers them in a blog post. The reason being because if that person is coming to you asking a question about development, the likelihood of somebody else coming to ask that question is really, really high. So providing – that’s why I say give education, give information. Those are some of the things that I put on my podcast because I get questions from listeners, I get questions from other sales people, and I answer those in the form of episodes or in the form of some kind of content. The great thing about it is that it speaks their language, because I use words that they’re asking or phrases that they’re using, and it triggers in the mind of other people who are just like them out there listening. REUVEN: This is, I guess, similar in that – I mean I do a lot of technical training, and I’m always trying to prove my chops in that, that I can explain things, and so often ideas for blog posts on my blog come from when I’m teaching a class. If someone asks me a question, I’m like, “Hmm, I never thought about that before. I’m sure other people are interested in that.” Now, this means that I realize this is not going to go out to the people who are running businesses – they’re going to have a different set of agendas. And so, I’m trying to, to some degree, rejigger my direction of at least some of my posts to be more business-oriented, but I still find it useful to sort of say, “Look folks, I know what I’m talking about. I know how to explain it.” And I’m hoping that will trickle down. DONALD:**Love the phrase that you used about rejigger. I’m going to start using that. Rejigger. [Laughter]**CHUCK: What did you do in the first place? Jigger? DONALD:**Yeah I put jig, but now – [laughter]. I used to get jiggy with it [chuckles].**CHUCK: What are some of the more common mistakes that people make when they’re trying to sell? DONALD: They get offended. That’s why I love Eric’s personality so far. I mean, I love all of you guys, but what I mean by it is – Curtis, you said you have your straightforward mentality where you send the email, and I feel that you’re not going to get easily offended, right Curtis? CURTIS:**I have way better things to do with my time like massage my beard than worry about [crosstalk 31:31][laughter], to be honest.**CHUCK: Deep tissue rub on your beard, got it. CURTIS: Yeah. DONALD:**I agree with you. The problem is that it’s really hard to teach that to people. The way I teach that, the way I’ve learned it was, separate your identity from your role. Say, for instance, people might call and say, “I’m afraid they might reject me. They might not like me, blah, blah, blah.” I’m like, “Okay, get over yourself. The fact of the matter is, not everyone’s going to like you first of all. And two, they’re not rejecting you, they’re rejecting your role.” You have [crosstalk 31:59]**CURTIS: But that’s hard to divorce. As a freelancer especially, it’s hard to divorce your personal worth from the success of your business, or from hearing no, because you’re so tied to it personally as opposed to being an employee. DONALD: You’re right, it is tough. What I mean by it in a sense though – let’s put it like this. Let’s say, I go to some ABC company and I’m working with them and trying to sell them the product or services, and it’s the initial phase, initial area, and they reject it; it’s not necessary that they reject Donald Kelly. What they rejected was they rejected the sales person, they rejected the process that I teach, it wasn’t a fit for what they’re doing, and if I recognize that I’m still a ten no matter what. This is what my sales trainer did with me when I first started, he said, “Picture yourself, you’re taken and you’re put on a deserted island. I take away all of your roles. You’re no longer a father, brother, uncle, husband, whatever. How would you rate yourself? Your identity? Your self-worth?” and usually people say about a five. His concept is, it doesn’t matter what, you are born a ten, ten being the highest. You’re always a ten. Even if someone rejected you as a developer or rejected you as a sales person or rejected you as a business owner, that doesn’t mean they rejected you as an individual. If you’ve got to learn it’s really tough, you learn to separate that, and just learn to move on. Recognize that there are more people out there who are going to be a fit for what you’re doing, and that if they reject you, they’re rejecting that role. They’re not necessarily rejecting you; they’re not offending your family line or calling your grandfather an idiot or your bloodline. It’s just that they’re rejecting that particular role. REUVEN: Right. But it definitely took a long time for me to be able to make that separation between me the person and me the business, or even just not taking it so, so personally. DONALD: Yes. CHUCK: The other thing though is that I always worry that I’m not seeing something. For example, I’m not seeing that I’m just not communicating well what the value is, or I’m not, whatever, something else. So I worry about that. Are they not buying because they don’t need what I’m offering, or are they not buying because I’m not communicating well what it does for them? CURTIS: Have you ever asked them, Chuck? The worse they can do is not answer your email. They already said no to you. CHUCK:**Yeah, that’s usually the answer I get, is no answer. [Laughs]**REUVEN:**I actually tried that. [Crosstalk 34:22]**CHUCK: Or be like, “What was it that made you decide to go with them?” and I never get an answer. CURTIS: Really? Oh, I got an answer before. I don’t ask much anymore, but have you guys ever done an after action review? CHUCK: No? REUVEN: What is that? CURTIS: That’s a military term, and you basically do three things: What went really good about the interaction, what about it didn’t go so good, and how could I improve it – how could I make sure that that bad thing goes better next time. CHUCK: Hmm, interesting. DONALD: You have a military background, Curtis? CURTIS: No, not at all. I just read about it; I read a lot. DONALD:**It’s very true to do stuff like that, and sometimes you can do in a soft way as well, especially if they’re on the call with you. You always give them an out, Chuck, and this is what I always say if I’m on a call, I had a conversation with them or a meeting, I just say, “Just out of curiosity” or “Is it okay if I ask you a question without you getting offended?” You let them know beforehand, or give them an out. Again, more or likely they’re going to say yes. People don’t usually say no. They might say, “Depends on what it is” but for the most part what I get is, “Sure.” I say, “Just out of curiosity, what was it about ABC company or ABC developer, that you went with them? I just want to make sure I improve myself for the future.” And they say, “Well, to be honest, this is what I like and blah, blah, blah.” Usually then, you can maybe, sometimes you can remedy and save the situation, but sometimes it’s just that’s what they want, it’s just not a fit, so just be okay to leave. But I usually, especially if it’s an email, I just say, “Is it okay if I ask you a question” or whatever. “Is it okay if I ask you something without you getting offended?” More than likely they’ll respond to that, because they really want to know what it is, and then they give you the information. Or I can even say, “Off the record” – nothing is off the record, but if you say “Off the record” it’s amazing what happens, they’ll start opening up. “Holy crap, this is not going to the NSA? Well this is what it is. I went and robbed the bank down the street last week! It’s off the record right?”  [Laughter]**CHUCK:**Yeah, it’s in my inbox! Google knows about it now. [Laughs]**DONALD: But people love to rescue others and they love to rescue you, so if you frame it in a way that you’re in distress, you put it like that, they want to make you okay. Just say, “I’m trying to improve myself and improve my business. If you don’t mind me asking, would you be willing to share with me what you like about blah, blah, blah, so that I can improve myself?” And you’ll be amazed what happens. CURTIS: I think that’s hilarious, because we’re reversing the sales dynamic that we just talked about, of people saying no or you wanting to help people, so it’s hard for us to say no, but we’re reversing it to get them to help us in that instance, to improve our pitch next time. DONALD: And it’s amazing what happens with that. I’ve had people tell me stuff and then I turn around and use that same exact line they tell me, with somebody else. You’re right, it improves it, and now I know people who are a good fit. CHUCK: That’s interesting. DONALD: It’s science man. It’s the science of selling. CURTIS: Art! REUVEN: I guess, although really, I’ve tried, maybe I haven’t tried enough different ways or real different permutations, but I definitely send email after things didn’t work out, if someone decides not to go with me, and I was very honest. Maybe I didn’t do it in the multiple steps that you’re suggesting, but I said, “Look, I’m just trying to improve my business and prospects of the future. Can you tell me a little bit about why you didn’t go with the proposal that I gave you?” and I don’t think I’ve ever, ever, received a response to anything like that. DONALD: So, let me try this. Again, if I’m a business owner, I just make it very, very small, very, very simple. Just say, “Hey, congratulations! Good luck with that. Just out of curiosity, what was it that made you go with them? Like two, three sentences.” or “Just out of curiosity, what made you go with XYZ?” or “What are some of the things you liked about blah?” and I just like the idea of keeping it simple, something that they can respond to within a couple of sentences. Don’t make it sound like, if it’s like “Why you rejected my proposal.” You don’t want to make it sound a little desperate, you know what I mean? But you want to make it sound like something that they can give you a quick response to. Like, “Oh easy. They do blah, blah, blah. And you don’t.” REUVEN:**No really, when I write these things, I actually am interested in hearing how I can improve, and I am truly interested in seeing them succeed. As my PhD advisor said, “It has the advantage of being true.”  [Laughter]**CURTIS: One of the big things that changed for me to get responses on a lot of this stuff is I wrote my email templates when I wasn’t writing the email to my client specifically. I wrote the generic version of it. I wrote something to my client, and then I sat down and at a different time of day, when I’m not doing any email, wrote what I wanted, what would my ideal interaction with that client look like, and that’s the email template I used for things. CHUCK: I like that. I like the idea of doing things like that. Because it takes all of the emotion out of it, it takes all of the “Well, I’m frustrated because I was pretty sure that they were going to take me up on whatever it was I was offering, and they didn’t.” REUVEN: At the same time, I’ve definitely found being positive, being encouraging with people, even if they don’t go with me, only has advantages. The number of times that it hasn’t worked out with a potential client, and then a number of months later either they come to me with another project or a different project, and they say it didn’t work out with who they went with, or they recommend someone to me, is very high. If I were to get really angry with them right, “Why didn’t you go with me? It would’ve been in your best interest” that’s just not going to be good for anyone, including for me. CURTIS: Again, that’s why I focused on fit. So when they say, “I went with someone else” I’ll say, “I’m really glad you found they were a good fit. I’d love to know maybe exactly why they were a better fit than me.” CHUCK: Oh, that’s a terrific angle. CURTIS: I’ll recommend – I do ecommerce a lot, but there are certain types of ecommerce projects that I just send to my friend Daniel or I send to my friend Justin, because it’s simply a better fit. Am I technically capable of doing it? Absolutely! But that is not the type of project that really gets my blood boiling. That’s something that they do better, and so I send it to them. And vice versa, they send me stuff that they could technically do, but it’s just a better fit for things that I enjoy, and that I do well. CHUCK: Yeah, I really like the angle of – I frequently have proposals come my way and I always want to make sure that I or somebody I know is a good fit. So I would like to meet the people that you ultimately chose, and I would like to know why you chose them so that I can help make better decisions in the future regarding who I refer people to. CURTIS: Yeah, and maybe this other person will be a better fit than people I know right now, for clients. CHUCK: And it’s true. I like being the ultimate connector, but it’s also true that then I can look at it and say, “Is that something that I need to learn how to do?” DONALD: Good point. CURTIS: Yeah, maybe the other person had a process around something that you just don’t have. I've been meaning to get to it, but when you look and see, “Okay, that lost me almost a 15,000 dollar programming job. Is it worth spending a day or two, for 15 grand in the future, possibly?” CHUCK: Yup. DONALD: Yeah, I love that. I love the fact that it gives you the opportunity to – it just better arms you for next time, it better prepares you for what to do, or it gives you how to better angle your product or your service in the future. If I have a lot of people asking for that, then shoot, I need to do that. CURTIS: But it can enlarge your network too, right? Contacting other companies and saying, “Hey, I hear you won this project with them. That’s awesome. Congratulations. This is what they said they really loved about you, and I would love to talk to you to see if you’re a better fit for some of the contacts that I would get, because you’re obviously a better fit here.” I send those sometimes to people that I’m getting newly introduced to, but that’s how I got a lot of the contacts that I have now. So I say, “Hey, I hear you’re awesome at this. I would love to chat with you for 15-20 minutes and just figure out where your fit is, so that I could send people to you.” CHUCK: Yeah. The other thing that I have noticed though is I have referred out a few people, and the thing that I’ve noticed is that if I refer the workout, when they have another problem, they come to me, they don’t go to the other guy in a lot of cases. They're going –. CURTIS: Why do you think that is, Chuck? CHUCK: Well because I gave them a solid referral the first time, and they know that I'm going to –. CURTIS: Digging deeper, why do you – yeah, keep going. CHUCK: Because they trust me, ultimately. CURTIS: Yup. That’s exactly what I think, that you gave them a recommendation that was in the best interest of their business, not yours. CHUCK: Yes. DONALD: I’ve heard the statement, “Treat other people the way you would like to be treated.” But somebody taught me even this further, “Treat other people the way that they would like to be treated” and the principle is that best interest. It’s what’s in the best interest for them, and if you do that it’s an oxymoron because people might say in that particular situation, “Why am I giving away business?” To the shallow minded people, that’s what they will say, but to the people who really think deep or further about relationship and about trust and helping provide value, then in the long run, it’s reciprocity. People are going to come back to you and you’re going to find more business. It never ceases to amaze me how it works out like that all the time. CURTIS: I’ve been super bummed occasionally when I send a project to one of my friends and he’s like, “Thanks! That was an awesome project. It’s 20 grand for 2 weeks of work” and I’m like, “Man that was a killer project.” But it wasn’t the right – I think 20 grand for 2 weeks, that’s awesome, but it wasn’t the right fit for me. I get referred work from friends, that has me currently booked to the middle of January, so it does come back at some point. DONALD: Amazing. CHUCK: Alright. Well I have one more question for Donald. You’ve talked to a lot of people that do a lot of selling. What I’m curious about is, what are some of the common themes, and then what is the most profound thing that you’ve picked up talking to all those people? Yeah, I guess that’s two questions. So start off with the common themes that come up. DONALD: Okay, from other sales experts or just from sellers in general? CHUCK: Yeah, so just talking to people in general. What are the common themes that come up throughout your conversations with other sellers? DONALD: With other sellers, I find that a lot of them find themselves falling into mediocrity, which is basically they become mediocre in their selling. Because no matter who you are – and I’m not sure if this is the same thing with developers as well – you might get training or you might learn a certain skill or certain way of doing something, and it was awesome, you invested a lot of time and money into it, but then the problem is that it’s not practiced. It’s not done, again, habitually. It’s not something that they consistently go back to. Someone might have received hundreds of thousands of dollars of sales training, and they might apply for a month or so, but then quickly start going back to the old way. It’s how do you maintain that. What I see is that there’s that rule that 80% of the business come from 20% of the sales force, and the 20% - the top performers – they’re the ones that usually have systems or practices in place that keeps them going consistently. They don’t have this spurt of “Ooh, I got training. So I’m just going to do training for this next month, or the next three months, and then fall back into my old ways and forget the material.” They practice every single day. This goes across many different organizations, especially within sports. We find a lot of average athletes, but what separates them from the superstars is the superstars give so much more even when they don’t have to. They improve themselves and they practice; they're consistent. A lot of sellers that I interact with, they might find themselves, “I find that I'm not growing my business enough; my pipeline is becoming stagnant; I'm not hitting my quotas.” Or business owners, “My business is drying up” or “I'm not finding enough deals” and you talk to them and they know a lot of the basic principles, but knowing and doing is where some of the huge challenges come. It’s knowing what to do and actually doing it, and I feel that a lot of people are not willing to do that. People are not willing to do the hard part of practicing and doing what they know they need to do, and as a result, they end up in mediocrity and they end up in that middle ground. They don’t suck because they have some things that they know, but they're not great because they don’t apply all the things that they know they need to do. that’s the answer to the first question. CURTIS: I think they don’t keep practicing and training, right? I was just reading about one of the best female Canadian soccer players and the coach hadn’t met the whole team yet but looks out and there's one person in the pouring rain in 2°C, so 37 or 38°F or something, and there's only one person out there practicing. He goes up and he’s like, “What are you doing?” She’s like, “I need to practice these basic skills. Here’s the basic skills I need to practice; I need to train every day to do this.” Every day, she is out there training to do that and she is the highest scorer on our soccer team forever, blowing away all the records. DONALD: I couldn’t agree with you even more. It’s the same thing. Especially if you have people work for a business owner, they might say, “Well, my company is not giving me training” or “I'm not going to give any time after work to train or to learn stuff” or “I'm not going to go and come in early to do material.” When I started off in selling, in software sales, I was the grunt. I was the youngest of youngest and I out-beat people who have been in the industry for 15, 20 years because once I sold the CEO that I could do the job if I got the training I did. So instead of giving me a full-time outside sales sales professional position, he gave me an inside sales job. I needed to prove myself, so I got to work before everybody else and I studied the materials. I went and listened to other information like online and watched YouTube videos. I had to better myself to out-beat those that were further ahead, and when I did that over time, practicing that consistently even though when I went to outside sales, you're right – I started becoming one of the top performers, and that’s when I started reengineering the process of what happened. How could I share what I've learned with other people? And that’s what I've done building the sales evangelist brand. CHUCK: Awesome. DONALD: And then, the second question; I totally forgot. I just turned 30 recently so I forget stuff easily now. CHUCK:**Yeah, you're an old man now. [Laughter]**REUVEN: Oh yeah. CHUCK: The other question was, what's the most profound thing you’ve learned in interviewing so many top sellers? DONALD:**Oh man, interviewing so many top sellers, I find out that a lot of them love to read and they're students of learning. They continually learn. If I go back to all our episodes, a lot of times they would tell me, “I learned this from XYZ” or “I learned it from this book,” and it’s the fact that they consistently [inaudible 48:51]. I guess it kind of ties into the same area, but the fact of the matter is, that’s what makes them so elite is that they're consistently improving upon what they already know. Say, for instance, you interview somebody like Jill Konrath and you're like, “Yeah, she knows everything” but then you realize that she’s still growing in her knowledge. Or Jeffrey Gitomer, people like that, they consistently talk about, “You know, you need to look at this book,” or “Look at this!” – not only their book, but other stuff. It fascinates me that they do that. The other thing that I realized too is that the really good sales people are not sleazy. Interviewing with a lot of these experts and top performers, it’s a different class of sellers; it’s a different class of entrepreneurs – people who are not just in it for themselves or in it for a quick win or just trying to do whatever it takes to get in the business. They actually emphasize the concept that we discussed earlier of value and they are pretty successful and they practice some of the same things we talked about today as far as looking out for that client, looking out for that prospect, what's the best interest for them. These are some of the little things I've taken and I've learned and applied to myself so I can – I still think I need to get to that level someday and further, so I'm still continually growing.**CHUCK: Awesome. Alright, well let’s go ahead and do some picks. Curtis, do you want to start us off with picks. CURTIS:Absolutely, Chuck. I was hoping you'd ask [chuckles]. I'm going to start with Blogo. Blogo is a blog editor to write your posts in, but it actually interfaces with Evernote. The great thing about that is when you look at Evernote later, so when I do a final iteration of my notes and I look at Evernote – since I put all my research in there which we talked about earlier in the show – I see related notes. I could see other articles from other articles that may pertain to what I'm writing about that I can link to or that I can reference. Evernote is also, in the future, about to release something they call Context, where it’ll actually find other things outside of what you’ve just saved as well. They had some partnerships – I forget who it was, but I listened to that on triangulation. I use Blogo because it’s a nice, pretty interface.CHUCK: Alright, I’ll go ahead and throw out some picks out there. I've mentioned this book before, but I've been reading it again and it’s just – I'm really enjoying it. It’s really having this effect on me and pushing me to outsource a little bit more of the work that I'm doing. It’s called Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker, and it’s pretty awesome. He has all kinds of information in there. Just to give an example, I've been working on this video series for Ruby on Rails developers, and so I spent about – well, I won't tell you. I spent a few hours recording and I spent a few hours more than that trying to edit my video, and there are people out there that you can hire to do the video editing. So I reached out to a friend of mine and he does video courses for a company called Pluralsight. If you're in the .NET space, they're pretty popular, and they're kind of gaining ground in a lot of other areas for programmer training. Anyway, I reached out to him because he outsources his editing and so he put me in touch with a guy that he hires to do his stuff and that got me just some terrific contact for somebody that can do the editing probably in a bit less time because he’s more practiced at it than I am, and it cost a whole bunch less because he’s not a domestic person. Anyway, I've really enjoyed that, so I'm going to pick that book; I can’t recommend it highly enough. And speaking of outsourcing work, I'm going to put a plugin for Mandy. She’s my assistant; she does all of the editing and show notes for the shows, and it’s just a terrific help in pretty much everything. In the book, he talks about general VAs and he talks about hiring specific people to do specific jobs, and so I've been reaching out and trying that out a bit – not a ton, because it’s usually just easier to ask Mandy to do it and she gets it done the way I want it done. So yeah, I'm going to recommend Virtual Freedom and DevReps, if you go to devreps.com – that’s Mandy’s company. Reuven, do you have some picks? REUVEN:Yes, sure. I'm just going to have one pick, which is a new – or not that new – podcast on NPR, which is a game show. Wait wait…don’t tell me! is a pretty well-known one; there's a relatively new one called Ask Me Another, which is word games and puzzles and it’s I think aimed at a younger audience, but it’s a lot of fun. If you like the music of Jonathan Colton, he is as they call him their house band [laughter] and so he’s just there every week. They're like, “Everyone welcome our house band, Jonathan Colton” and he does all sorts of very funny musical puzzles as well, where he replaces lyrics with all sorts of funny stuff. It’s definitely worth listening to and highly enjoyable, and you might even learn something, although I doubt that’s really the intention in any way, shape or form. Anyway, that’s it for this week.CHUCK: If you wonder how one man could be their house band, just go look up some YouTube videos of Jonathan Colton – not the music videos, but of him actually playing on his little sound board, and you'll figure out pretty fast that yeah, he can be a whole band. REUVEN: He’s extremely talented and it comes through in numerous ways in each show. CHUCK: Yup. Donald, do you have some picks for us? DONALD: Yeah, a couple of things. One – I kind of gave one of them away already. It’s called The Challenger Sale, and I think that would benefit anyone in selling or anyone who’s an entrepreneur, or anyone who has to sell their product or services. It’s an awesome book. The other thing that I recommend is an app called Refresh App. I'm not sure if any of you’ve heard of that, but Refresh is pretty slick. It’s almost like a spy app; it allows you to – if I have a meeting with Joe Johnson tomorrow, Refresh will pull information from his LinkedIn and Twitter and provide that information to me, so that I can go into that meeting well-armed, so I know that Joe – it says that Joe here recently supported the baseball game or recently tweeted about this, or talking about this on Facebook. So now it allows me the opportunity to go into the meeting and I know some of those things that’ll kickstart our conversation, so I can, instead of twiddling my thumbs, I know he loves baseball, minor league baseball, and start the conversation somewhere around that. That’s some of the things that I'd recommend, so I love that app. Refresh App. CHUCK: Alright, well thanks for coming Donald. It was great to talk to you. It’s always fun. REUVEN: Yeah, it’s fascinating. DONALD: Thank you for having me. CHUCK: If people want to connect with you or find out what you’ve been up to, what's the best way for them to do that? DONALD: You can go to thesalesevangelist.com, or you can connect with me on the Twitter. My Twitter handle is @DonaldCKelly. Those are the places that I hang out a lot. CHUCK: Alright. Well one other thing, we are doing our live Q&A again on the 25th of November – I think that’s the right date. It’s the week of Thanksgiving if you're in the US; it’s going to be on a Tuesday, and so you can go to freelanceresanswers.com and sign up and then we will get you all the information on how to join up. Go check that out, and other than that, we’ll wrap this up and we’ll catch you all next week. DONALD: Hey, thanks so much guys. I appreciate it. REUVEN: Bye everyone! CURTIS: Ciao! [This episode is sponsored by MadGlory. You've been building software for a long time and sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. Work piles up, hiring sucks and it's hard to get projects out the door. Check out MadGlory. They're a small shop with experience shipping big products. They're smart, dedicated, will augment your team and work as hard as you do. Find them online at MadGlory.com or on Twitter @MadGlory.]**[Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN.  Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more]**[Would you like to join a conversation with the Freelancers’ Show panelists and their guests? Wanna support the show? We have a forum that allows you to join the conversation and support the show at the same time. Sign up at freelancersshow.com/forum]

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