Allison Davis (00:00):
I wish I could tell you that as a business owner, you weren't responsible for it all, but of course you are. You are your sales force, you are your marketing team. Here's what I will say that I believe is extraordinarily hopeful in that it's that quite likely you're already doing many of the components of what an efficient marketing and sales system is for your business, but you're not optimizing it.
Susan Boles (00:36):
Sales are the lifeblood of any business. If you go without sales for too long, you end up out of business. So when you're thinking about maintenance mode in your business, you need to think about how to make sure sales still come in, even if you're not around. I'm Susan Boles and you're listening to Break the Ceiling, the show where we break down unconventional strategies you can use to save time, boost your profit and increase your capacity without all the hustle.
Susan Boles (01:05):
Last week, we talked about the first step in preparing for maintenance mode, by being consistent with your messaging and your offers. You can't operate in maintenance or create efficiency for scale if you're constantly changing what you're selling or how you're talking about it all the time. So if you haven't listened to that episode with Michelle Mazer, go check that one out.
Susan Boles (01:28):
This week, I want to talk about step two in preparing for maintenance mode and that's with your sales process. In order to put your business into maintenance mode, you have to understand how sales come in, how you make sales and how you're going to continue to make sales, even if you aren't actively working in your business for the moment. Now, for some folks, this part is easy. Maybe you sell a course or a program and you're running ads regularly. And those ads bring in enough sales to keep you going in maintenance mode for a while. But if you're in the B2B realm or you focus on one-on-one work with clients, it can be really challenging to figure out how to put your sales into maintenance mode or even just how to make them more efficient.
Susan Boles (02:12):
While sales are one of the first things business owners seem to want to outsource because it's uncomfortable or they just want to offload it to someone, sales are probably one of the very last pieces of your business operations that you should be handing off to people. And that means that figuring out how to put sales on maintenance can be a huge challenge. You can't easily outsource it and it's the lifeblood of your business. So like most other parts of your business preparing to put your sales on maintenance is all about focusing on what works for you, turning that into a process, and then consistently repeating that process.
Susan Boles (02:49):
And my friend, Allison Davis is my go-to when it comes to sales and creating sustainable sales processes. Allison is the sales trainer and coach who ignites growth in small business owners and mission-driven organizations. I have done a ton of sales training. It's one of my weaknesses, so it's something I've tried really hard to develop. And Allison was the person who finally made it click for me that I don't actually have to do all of the things when it comes to sales, I just have to build a sustainable system and then stick with it.
Susan Boles (03:22):
I feel like your approach to sales and sales training is a little bit unique in the world of sales trainings. So tell me a little bit about your approach to sales, sales training, and all of that goodness.
Allison Davis (03:37):
Well, by and large, I don't work with seasoned sales professionals, right? I work with small business owners, with service providers. And so it has to be different because we didn't open our businesses, we didn't get into this to be salespeople. So we have to make sales work. We know that. And what I have found is that big-hearted, mission-driven small business owners, aren't likely to follow what old white dude sales trainers are telling them to do. So it's got to be different. And it's not rocket science. It's basically, you have to look at the strengths and talents that you have as a human. You have to lean into those and lead your sales process, your sales approach and strategy with honesty and integrity. I mean, that's really it. Oh, and have a plan. Right? We know, and we do have to have a plan.
Susan Boles (04:37):
So one of the issues for me personally, when it comes to sales or marketing stuff, is that I feel like I have to do all of the things and it gets super overwhelming. And it's one of the reasons why for a very long time, I did not have marketing systems, sales systems. I just, I got so overwhelmed by all of the messages telling us that we have to be doing all of it. Do we really need to be doing all of the things? Or are there a few things that we should be focusing on to get the most effective use out of our business development time?
Allison Davis (05:12):
Yeah. I wish I could tell you that as a business owner, as someone who really does have it all on your shoulders, I wish I could tell you, you weren't responsible for it all, but of course you are. You are your sales force, you are your marketing team. Here's what I will say about it. There's a lot of running around like chickens with our heads cut off syndrome that's happening, which is why I believe, and tell me if I'm wrong, but that's why I believe we actually resist putting in systems, the very thing that could help us. We're just so overwhelmed that we actually push those away. We're doing an ostrich with the head in the sand. It's really hard. It's really hard to get the perspective we need.
Allison Davis (05:56):
So here's what I will say that I believe is extraordinarily hopeful in that it's that quite likely you're already doing many of the components of what an efficient marketing and sales system is for your business, but you're not optimizing it. So I'll give you an example. Most of the small business owners I work with are coming to me and they're saying, "No, Allison, I'm doing all the things. I have a newsletter. I'm doing a ton of thought leadership. I will speak anywhere that they'll have me and it's not working. It's not happening. I'm networking my head off. I'm in every Zoom room and following up on LinkedIn and I'm not getting any new business."
Allison Davis (06:40):
Okay. So let's take that as an example. You have to do most of those things, that's for sure, but where the efficiency is and where the good news is, is that it's usually just a few slight tweaks to do it better, more efficiently, and to take much less of your time and much less of your precious energy. So you ask me, do you really need to do all the things and I'm saying, well, yeah, you got to do every part of that funnel, but we can probably take what you're doing and make it way more efficient and hopefully more enjoyable.
Susan Boles (07:16):
Tell me more about how you make it more efficient.
Allison Davis (07:20):
Yeah. All right. Let's drill down. So Susan, I know that you go out and do some public speaking. I mean, such as it is going into 2021, right? We're doing it in Zoom rooms, right? You're going out and you're speaking to audiences. And a lot of small business owners do that. And what they're then doing is the Zoom room goes off and they're waiting by the phone for it to ring. Like hopefully they made a good enough impression on everyone that was there, that those people opened up their laptops, went to their website, sought out that contact information after 70 clicks. And then finally figured out how to contact you. Consumers today, don't do that. We need to make it way easier for them to make a connection with us to want to come into our community.
Allison Davis (08:05):
So the tweak there is that any time you're speaking, I don't need you to overly pitch yourself. I don't need you to give every detail of how you work with people. You know what I need you to do? I need you to have one really compelling resource, an actionable resource, whether that may be, I don't know, a checklist, a worksheet, something that will take what they learned from you in that session and apply the learning immediately. And for them to get it, they got to give you their email address.
Allison Davis (08:36):
Now it seems so simple. There might be people out there listening, being like, aha, but seriously, are you doing that? And are you getting those email addresses? Because once you have those people, you can proactively reach out and take the next step. So you see what I'm saying? If you're a talking head and you're out there talk, talk, talk, talk, but you're not actually receiving these people's contact information, you can do nothing proactively in the sales process. And that leaves you completely with your hands tied.
Susan Boles (09:07):
I think one of the things where you and I overlap so much as creating these systems that allow you to operate consistently, I think is probably the key.
Allison Davis (09:23):
Susan Boles (09:24):
Consistently versus not just here and there occasionally. It's consistently operating systems that are able to still function when we're talking about bare minimum, when you have very little capacity, what still needs to happen in your business. And I think one of the things that I really love about your approach is that that's a real focus of your sales training. Your approach is creating these systems that allow you to drill down on the things that will matter for your business-
Allison Davis (10:05):
Susan Boles (10:05):
... because the sales strategies, the marketing strategies that will work are different for everybody. So while you have to be doing each step in the process, what those steps look like might be different.
Susan Boles (10:20):
But the thing that I love about your approach is that it's systematic and it's focused on the ability to be consistent.
Allison Davis (10:32):
Susan Boles (10:34):
I had a friend say once, "Don't create systems that require 100% of your effort." You're talking about, create a system that requires 15% of your effort, that you can deliver easily.
Allison Davis (10:49):
A couple of things. One, I'll say this, aside from technology, there's nothing new in sales. You have to get in front of the right audiences. You have to qualify them, then engage them, then have a sales conversation, then perhaps have some kind of proposal process, if it's needed. Then you have to feel those objections, negotiate and close. Boom. Easy, right? But what you're alluding to and saying is, and it's going to look different for every person. And I think that's where we get caught up is we have old-school, outdated tone-deaf sales training that tells you, you must do it this way, this way, this way. It doesn't jive with most business owners. And then there's no one there to help them customize it. There's no one there to help them put a system in place that's not going to take 100% of their time, but rather 15. And it's important that even that 15% of the energy you put in feels like you. It feels like something you might like to do anyway.
Susan Boles (11:52):
Allison Davis (11:53):
And the second thing I'll say is, if there's one thing, you talk about capacity, we can't even have a business conversation today without acknowledging that. All of a sudden we are homeschooling, we've become teachers. We can't leave the house. There's so many things at a capacity issue. There are barriers everywhere. There are obstacles and hurdles. So some of us are at this place. It's like, listen, what's the one thing you'd have me do? Okay.
Susan Boles (12:30):
We may or may not have had this conversation.
Allison Davis (12:31):
Yeah, we may. Right. And we may or may not have it again and again, right, in the coming months. It's just, it is what it is. And I want to answer that because I think that that is important. If I could only do one action in my business every month, like clockwork, it would be hosting my sales roundtable every month, never skipped for one hour every month. I invite everyone I have met in the last month. I invite every person who is somewhere in my sales funnel. I invite anyone who's fallen out of my sales funnel, is in the abyss and I don't know what happened to them. I invite anyone who is important to me and my colleagues, my partners, you. I invite you all to come and talk about sales in a round-table fashion with me for 60 minutes every month because it is single-handedly the most efficient action I take that keeps conversations moving forward, that gets people, their interest really peaked in working with me and how I can serve the people I really care about.
Allison Davis (13:39):
So if we're talking about borrowing audiences, and then I give a great resource and I get some people who are like, "Yeah, take my email. I want that thing." The next logical question is, what the heck do I do with them? Well, right now, what? Do I have to follow up with 50 individual people? Heck no, that's not efficient. That's 100% of your time. Take 15% of your time and invite them to something that is going to be really useful to them. And for me, that is that monthly roundtable.
Susan Boles (14:08):
I think, at least for me, as you and I were walking through this process and I was deciding how I was going to implement this for ScaleSpark, I had to think about what felt right for me and was also within my own capacity to consistently deliver. I guess, one of the learning, the takeaways for me after producing this podcast for a year and a half is the consistency that creating the systems to put in place, it's going to happen every single time was huge. And I needed to be able to find a way to do that from a marketing capacity because I mean, the show was only sort of marketing, but I needed to be able to do that in a one-on-one kind of real-world context. And it also had to be something that was in my capacity to deliver. And so I personally loved the roundtable for that.
Allison Davis (15:17):
Yeah. Not only is it sort of time-efficient, but let's talk about the energy efficiency too. So I was on sales teams for more than 16 years, right? The difference between me and most business owners is that I've just had that much more practice, right? The word no does not affect me at all. I've heard it too many times over the last 20 years. So, I am a seasoned sales professional. I have more practice. So I love cold calling. I love getting someone on a sales call, but here's what I noticed five years ago when I really started working with small business owners that nine times out of 10, the act of going from meeting someone to having an actual sales conversation was so painful.
Allison Davis (16:05):
And it ended up being time inefficient, but really where the inefficiency was was the energy because it didn't feel great to meet someone, identify, hey, you'd be a great client for me. And you think you're getting the vibes from them too, but that awkwardness, if they don't raise their hand and say, "Hey, I want to learn more about what you do. What does it look like to work with you?" That's easy, right? When they don't do that, what the heck are we doing with them? And we hem and we haw-
Susan Boles (16:35):
Yeah. You're talking about it and it's making me, like I can feel the uncomfortableness just bubbling up for me. I'm like, ah, yes. No. No.
Allison Davis (16:44):
When I talk about this, I probably shouldn't because of copyright infringement everywhere, but when I talk about this, if I have slides up, I just put a big old picture of Alec Baldwin from Glengarry Glen Ross on the screen. And everybody knows what I mean. Everybody knows what I mean. It just feels there's a certain sleaziness or you don't want to come off as desperate or grabby by being like, "Hey, I just met you. Do you want to talk about working together?" That does not work for everyone. If it works for you, you are a unicorn, continue doing it. That is wonderful. But-
Susan Boles (17:17):
I feel like for people that it works for, they became sales professionals.
Allison Davis (17:20):
It works for me. I don't mind it.
Susan Boles (17:23):
I feel like those people naturally gravitate towards sales as a career.
Allison Davis (17:26):
Well, yeah, because if you can do that, you make a lot of money. You don't need your own business, I mean-
Susan Boles (17:31):
Yeah, my husband is like that. He's like, "I don't care. I'll just talk to whoever. Why is this a problem for you?"
Allison Davis (17:34):
Yes. Yes. Well, Susan, also, you know that every single one of my clients takes the Clifton Strengths Assessment. So we learn what our top five strengths are. And for some of us it's very clear, oh, you can talk to anyone. You're alive in a room full of 100 people and you want to see how many people you can meet. And then for the rest of the people in the world, that is not the case. They enjoy deeper relationships. They care about learning. They care about facts and figures. And it's not this like, "Hey, never met a stranger. I like to meet everybody. I mean, it's a party." You don't have to be like that to be a sales person or to sell your services, but what is required of you is to know thyself and work within it.
Susan Boles (18:29):
Yes. Yes. And find a way to make the sales process work for you and feel comfortable with your own strengths, your own natural inclinations. It's interesting, so-
Allison Davis (18:47):
Yeah. Because that's ultimate efficiency. That's the ultimate efficiency.
Susan Boles (18:52):
Hey, there it's Susan. If you've been listening to this interview and it's making you think about some of these issues and ideas, and you wish you could talk to some other real live business owners about it, I wanted to invite you to my free monthly roundtable, Dollars + Decisions. Once a month, I get together live with a group of amazing business owners, just like you to geek out on money and operations and workflow and software, all that stuff that you hear me talk about here. The roundtable is kind of like a live interactive version of the podcast. So I would love to have you join me. To sign up for the next roundtable, head to scalespark.co/dollarsanddecisions, no spaces, no hyphens, or you can just click the link in the show notes. Hope to see you there.
Susan Boles (19:42):
So back when we owned a retail running store and we were training actual salespeople, it was really interesting to look at everybody's different styles of how they sold. And everybody was very effective in their own way. So like my husband, Josh will come up and he will become your best friend. By the time you leave the store, he would have known probably somebody in your town, your small town, like in Nowheresville, Mississippi, he will know somebody from your town or he will have connected with you in a very personal way that you leave and you feel like you're his best friend. Like that's just who he is. That's how his sales process works.
Susan Boles (20:27):
Where for me, I would sell shoes based off of what functionality do you need? Let me explain to you why this is the right tool for your functionality. So I would come at it from a more operational and systematic kind of way, surprise, surprise, but more of a technical way. And what was interesting is, as we started to kind of look at how each person used their own styles, they were all really effective, but we could also figure out a particular buyer that came in-
Allison Davis (21:00):
Susan Boles (21:00):
... that you would start talking to them and you would realize, is this a buyer that wants the technical functional information that I should be selling to? Or is this somebody I'm not necessarily... That's not how they want to be sold and I need to call in Josh and be like, "Hey, here's your person, bring a beer over, let's do this."
Allison Davis (21:18):
Yes. And the more practiced and seasoned you get, if you don't have the luxury of having a team where you can bring in your technical person, you're detail-oriented seller versus your Josh who is just going to be best friends with everybody, if you don't have that luxury, do allow yourself the room over time to become a little bit of a chameleon, to adapt. Now, when I talk about this to my big-hearted mission-driven clients, every so often, I'll get like a stank face from someone like, I'm sorry. You're telling me to be authentic. And you're also telling me to change who I am in order to make the sale. Is that right? I'm supposed to go from Josh to Susan in a matter of moments. And that's not really what I'm saying.
Allison Davis (22:13):
I mean, it is, but really here's the kindness in it is that each individual human... I mean, we don't need to get into the detail, Susan, but you couldn't be more right. There are four sort of buyer archetypes out there in the world. Some of them need more details. Some of them need to just be positive, happy-go-lucky and make the sale, blah, blah, blah. I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is the kindness, the integrity is to know your value in the service that you bring forth into the world. And if you really believe in it, and if you also believe that there are different buyer types out there, you can create a container in that sales conversation that leans into who they are. So if you get a quiet, more contemplative buyer, don't be Josh. They don't want a best friend. Right?
Allison Davis (23:07):
So create an environment that is conducive for that person to make the best decision for themselves. You're not strong-arming. You're not manipulating. You're creating an environment that's best for them. I don't know if you've had this happen, Susan, but there are some buyers in the world, I call them our empire builders. They're on a rocket ship to the moon. They're building a business. They ain't got time for nothing. They're smart. And they're looking at you and they're saying, "What do you got for me? I've built this. What could you possibly do for me?" And you're thinking, why the hell are you here? I feel like I'm being interrogated. What is wrong with you?
Allison Davis (23:43):
What I have learned over the years is that what that human wants is to be challenged. You're on a rocket ship to the moon. I see what you've built, but you're on this call. So obviously something's not working. What's up? They want to be challenged. They don't want somebody to fall at their feet. They're not going to trust that. They're going to be off to the next. So there's so much more to uncover there. But what I'm saying is you can create an environment and act accordingly to bring your truth forward, but also match them toe to toe in the energy they're bringing to the conversation. And that also is efficiency.
Susan Boles (24:16):
Oh, I love that. Tell me a little bit more about that.
Allison Davis (24:20):
I have to give credit where credit is due. I, a number of years ago was on a sales team and the business owner introduced Dani Johnson's work and it's called GEMS, G-E-M-S. You can go look at all kinds of different buyer stuff. My opinion, is this is all very similar, but let's go with Dani Johnson. You can be a ruby, a sapphire, a pearl, or an emerald. And this was drilled into me on this sales team. So, I just know it inside and out. That empire builder, she's a ruby. The other end of the spectrum, a pearl. They are soft-spoken. They don't care about making money. They care about impact. They care about the work they're doing in the world and the betterment of others. It doesn't mean a ruby doesn't care about that, but in a sales conversation, this is an important differentiation. The ruby loves money too.
Allison Davis (25:14):
And then you have the emeralds, which Susan, I wonder with you're really looking at the shoe, you're talking about the technical aspect of the shoes, and the emerald buyer is detail-oriented. They're going to ask you 20 questions about every nuance of your service to make sure they understand it inside and out before they buy it. On the other end of that spectrum is, I wonder if we're a Josh here, we're certainly an Allison here is a sapphire. A sapphire doesn't want to dwell on the pain points, any of that old school sales training that's like, you got to expose all their fears and then you got to exploit those fears and all of that. Well, it doesn't work on anybody, but it really doesn't work on a sapphire because we're like, "Yeah, I like you. Here's my credit card." That's a sapphire.
Allison Davis (26:03):
And so if you want to sell a sapphire, do not dwell in the negative. Paint a picture of the positive future. Don't try to go sort of like a high-end view of what's going on or an overview of what's going on. With an emerald, you got to get in the dirty details. How long are the sessions we're having? What kind of worksheets are you giving me? What is the log it like? I mean, exhausting for me as a sapphire, but worth it to stay in the details if you really want to work with an emerald buyer.
Susan Boles (26:33):
So it's really interesting is that while Josh sells like that and I sell by the details, we are complete opposites. So I am not detail-oriented when it comes to buying things and Josh will spend hours. Like I refuse to go shoe shopping with him now because I just can't. I can't.
Allison Davis (27:02):
Susan Boles (27:05):
I'm like, "Yep, let's do it. That sounds good."
Allison Davis (27:07):
Oh my god. As a sapphire, I am famous for calling up a coach or any service I have bought to say, "Now, can you remind me again, how many sessions we have?" I have no idea. I have no idea what I bought half the time. It's just, if I believe in the outcome that you are painting a picture of, I have a good vibe about you, I like the price, I'm going to buy.
Susan Boles (27:32):
Yeah. I mean, I do a little bit more detailed analysis in terms of I want to be aware of what the payoff is for this investment. So if you're selling me services that are supposed to get me more clients, how many more clients do I have to get in order to pay for your services?
Allison Davis (27:55):
Susan Boles (27:55):
But that's generally, as far as I go. I'll do a little ROI analysis and cashflow analysis, make sure I got the money for it, but that's about as deep as it goes. After that, it's all about do I like you? Do I believe in this? Do I believe this is going to fix my problem? Okay, great. Let's do this.
Allison Davis (28:11):
Yes. Yes. Let's go.
Susan Boles (28:13):
I'm a very easy sale once I get on a sales call.
Allison Davis (28:15):
I know that about you.
Susan Boles (28:17):
I know. I think when we got on the sales call, you were like, "We should have a sales call." I'm like-
Allison Davis (28:24):
"Should we need one?"
Susan Boles (28:26):
"Can I just buy it?"
Allison Davis (28:27):
So let's tie this all together because the efficiency in my sales process and the sales process I teach my service providing business owners is you're going to go out and you're going to meet folks. You do you. If you're Josh, get in a room or a Zoom room that's as big as you can handle and make all those connections. If you're like the other half of my clients, have some really deep one-on-one time to connect over a coffee chat or a coffee Zoom with someone because that's going to be most effective for you. Know thyself. Go borrow audiences, but be darn sure you get those email addresses. And then what do you do with them? Invite them to something, a consistent invite. That roundtable that you're doing, Susan, that I do consistently, that is the efficiency of it. And once you do that, getting folks into sales conversations, it changes.
Allison Davis (29:24):
I'm not going to say, oh, all of a sudden it's easy and you don't feel weird. If you're a person whose skin crawls a little bit at the thought of selling someone, it doesn't necessarily make it all better, but what ends up happening is this. I just had a sales call this morning for my Sales Breakthrough Mastermind. And the call happened after the woman had gone to two sales roundtables. And I had the exact same sales conversation with her that I had with you, which is, I already know I want to do this. I just have a couple questions. And that is a really big difference between, "Hi, I just met you at this networking event. Do you want to sit down and get to know each other's entire histories and what I believe and what you believe, and then make you a pitch?" That's ridiculous, wildly inefficient. You don't even know if that person is an ideal client for you, or if they jive with your philosophies and your approaches to things. By the time I got on that call this morning, we were simpatico and we just had to work out the details.
Susan Boles (30:27):
I love that. I think that's a perfect place to start wrapping it up on. So where can our listeners find you if they want to connect or learn more about what you do and your amazing program?
Allison Davis (30:37):
Thank you. I would love for you to visit allison-davis.com. And the first thing I'd love you to do is come join a roundtable, bring your questions, actually get something that can help you carry your business forward.
Susan Boles (30:52):
Creating a sustainable process around your sales is all about figuring out what works for you, something that you can do consistently with pretty minimal effort. For me, this means that everything I do has to have multiple functions as an asset. So I repurpose podcast episodes to create blog posts and email newsletters. I can repurpose episodes into mini audio courses or as part of my email welcome sequence or as fodder for social media posts.
Susan Boles (31:23):
But by far, the most versatile asset for me has been my monthly roundtable. Each month I host the Dollars + Decisions Roundtable, and everyone gets invited. It's the call to action here from the podcast. It's what I invite people to when I'm borrowing other audiences and running workshops. I mentioned it in emails to my list. It's the main invitation on my website. And it serves a ton of purposes: as an email opt-in, as a call to action, as a nurturing tool, a relationship builder, a networking tool, and a place where I can go to get a ton of customer research.
Susan Boles (31:57):
So I mention it in a lot of places, but it actually only takes me about an hour or so a month. So it doesn't really take up a ton of my time. It's really sustainable and it's versatile. And that's my takeaway from all of my work with Allison and from this conversation, it doesn't really matter what format your sales and your nurturing process takes. It's about finding something like your own roundtable, something that's relatively easy for you to do, functions as a flexible asset, and it works to bring folks in your door consistently. It doesn't have to be big or hard or take a lot of time to bring a lot of value. And it should be something that feels easy and fun to you. But letting go of feeling like you have to do all of the things and just focusing on doing the one thing that works for you consistently, that's where the maintenance magic comes in. There's efficiency in the consistency.
Susan Boles (32:55):
So here I am, I'm walking the walk. So here is your invite to my Dollars + Decisions Roundtable this month. It's a group of business owners, just like you digging into the details of how to get into maintenance mode. So if you've been listening to these episodes and you want to talk through maintenance mode in your own business, I'd love for you to join us this month. You can sign up at scalespark.co/dollarsanddecisions, or just click on the link in the show notes. Hope to see you there.
Susan Boles (33:23):
Break the Ceiling is produced by Yellow House Media. Our Executive Producer is Sean McMullin. Our Production Coordinator is Lou Blaser.