One Way to Handle a “Short Term Cash Flow” Objection

If you’re a consultant that works on retainer, you’ve heard the objection,

“Sounds great, but I’m having a short term cash flow problem. Call me in 3 months.”
Now don’t get hung up on the details. Sometimes it’s two weeks. Sometimes they say, I’ve got a big expense coming up. Sometimes it’s some other extra outflow or missed influx of cash, but the big picture point is that your prospect is telling you that they’d buy if they had the money.
Handling the objection is a thirteen step process.
  1. Tell them that you understand. Something like, “I understand. Not unusual. Frankly, if you had enough cash, you probably wouldn’t even be talking with me. Isn’t that true?”
  2. If they say, “Yes.”, skip to #4. If they say, “No.”, ask, “Really, why would you work with me if you had enough money?”
  3. After they share their reason, you’ll say, “Sounds like you’re after growth when you’re not growing and more growth when you are growing. Did I get that right?”
  4. Continue with, “The problem is that it’s not unusual for us to have to work together for 3-6 months before you see significant results and you’d have to invest $15,000 and 2-300 hours in order to make it work. Did you realize that?
  5. If, “Yes.”, skip to #7. If, “No.”, say, “Glad that I asked. Is it safe to say that even if you had the $15,000, you wouldn’t be able to commit the time to make our efforts pay off?”
  6. If, “Yes.”, you’re done. Get out of there! If, “No.”, go to #7.
  7. Say, “wait a minute. This is something that you really want to do? (Wait for yes/nod.) You’d be willing to commit the time, learn new stuff, follow directions, put in the necessary time and do whatever it takes to get the growth that we’re looking for?” (Wait for yes/nod.)
  8. Ask, “Can you use a credit card?” (Wait for an answer. If yes, use it. If no, next.)
  9. Ask, “Do you have a credit line?” (Wait for an answer. If yes, use it. If no, next.)
  10. Ask, “Do you have a close relationship with a banker?” (Wait for an answer. If yes, use it. If no, next.)
  11. Ask, “Can you do a personal asset loan?” (Wait for an answer. Expect them not to know what it is.)
  12. Say, “Don Battis’s company can sometimes arrange for a short term personal asset loan that will allow you to make this happen. Would an introduction help?”
  13. If they say, “No.” you reply with, “So, it’s something else.” Then handle that objection. If they say, “Yes.”, you say, “I’ll introduce you to Don and have him call you.”

Is your sales recruiting strategy aligned to your buyer persona modes?

You all remember Carole Mahoney? Well, here she is again!

First, a disclaimer – I don’t recruit salespeople. I do work with a lot sales people, and I have seen a few great, some good, a lot of bad, and too many downright scary ones. Being an entrepreneur- I am a sales person and because of that, a much better inbound marketer.

I was recently asked by an associate to sit in on a forum for a large, national financial planning company. They want to diversify their recruitment by attracting more women for new financial planners (sales).  I guess, unlike some political candidates, they don’t have binders full of women.

And like a lot of entrepreneurs, they too had been using traditional outbound recruitment tactics. Cold calling, prospecting, getting lists, posting to job boards…

Like many established businesses today who started selling one thing
under one brand decades ago, they are reinventing themselves. Let’s assume that
they have done their homework and built a strategy based on their buyer persona modes. They have
even changed their product and service offering according to what those buyer personae want. Now they are ready for
the next stage of growth and need to scale their sales team.

They know what their sales rock stars look like, act like, and what success to them feels like. Now- where to find them (and be found by them)? How to approach them? How to develop trust with their prospects and sell them? 

They thought, ‘who better than to ask successful and driven women how they can recruit the right types of woman that fits their ideal profile?’ I thought, ‘of course women are better at being consultative sales people (and financial planners) – it is in our nature.’

But immediately after the meeting, I realized that the links and cross over between recruiting internally for the right sales people and then having those same sales people try to identify and connect with customers externally are a lot of the same concepts and processes- just a different situational scenario.

What came from the focus group? (some of these might sound familiar
if you are a regular reader)

  • Focus on referrals first.
  • Combine and integrate inbound and outbound tactics. Virtual and in real life.
  • Transparency- bring up their objections and address them before they do.
  • Set the expectation. Be prepared to answer “Why should I do this? Why do you care?”
  • Segment – drill down in the buyer persona mode you are trying to attract beyond the demographics and get to know their psycho graphics. Figure out their why. The rest will follow.
  • Go where they are-think outside the norm. You might think, financial adviser- finance major graduating! What about those who are good a sales and people skills, can’t they learn the service? Where are those people?
  • Approach-according the buyer persona mode! For example: if you want to attract more woman, have more woman doing the recruiting. People buy from people, and from people like them.

Here’s one thing that was probably assumed, and likely the most dangerous assumption they could make, is that their sales profile and their customer persona modes are aligned. If they’re not, that’s a disaster waiting to happen. Like ‘a-strong-independent-female-trying-to-buy-a-car-from-a-macho-chauvinistic-sales-man-who-only-asks-where-her-husband-is’ kind of disaster.

Not enough sales? Have you thought about quitting?

I originally published this post on my other blog in June, 2011. Enjoy.

I recently read a comment by Pete Caputa that went something like “…some people use learning as a substitute for doing….” Today, I was reading a LinkedIn discussion between two business owners who were members of a LinkedIn affinity group for their industry. They were talking about growing sales. The conversation was happening in a group that’s primarily made up of people in their industry. In other words, it was more “learning” and talking without “doing”.

I agree that we have to know how to do what we get paid for. I understand that we need to keep informed to be leading edge, but at some point you have to (don’t be frightened) stop talking to the competition and (brace yourself) HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH A PROSPECT!

Five ideas that might help – 

Quit some of your industry groups and associations. Joins some of the groups and associations that your customers join.

Quit hanging around with people in your industry all the time. Go where your customers hang out.

Quit talking to people that have the same problems and issues that you do. Start talking to people that have problems and issues that you can fix.

Quit talking to people that have the same problems and issues that you do. Start talking to people that can help you fix problems and issues that you have.

Read that again. It’s not a duplicate.

Quit stalling and procrastinating. “A journey of 1,000 miles must begin with a single step.

It’s not rocket science. It’s sales. Take the first step.

Are you STUCK in SALES?

I originally published this article on my other blog in August, 2011. I hope you enjoy it.

tractorLast Friday I talked to a guy who was 60 years old. He had responded to my Last Hurrah post. We had scheduled a 15 minute call, but talked for 69 minutes because I didn’t have another call scheduled after him and Elaine was working. I felt bad for him. He’d bought a franchise a few years ago and the lure of being a $250K business was appealing. Unfortunately, he had spent most of his life working for large companies, first in operations, then in marketing. When he bought his franchise, he thought that he was buying a marketing company. Instead, he bought himself a sales job and now he’s stuck. He was hoping that if he called me, it would be easy. It would be simple, but definitely not easy.


How do you know when you’re stuck in sales?

If you own a small business and you think that sales isn’t your #1 priority…..

If you’d rather do what you do (marketing, landscaping, engineering, lawyering, etc.) than sell…..

If you don’t have enough opportunities in your pipeline, control over your pipeline, or new customers closing…..

If you think that sales is all about knowing the latest tricks…..

If you believe that you, your product or service are the perfect answer to a problem, but the people with the problem and the money don’t agree…..

If you’ve been trying to grow sales at your company, but it hasn’t been working (even if it’s due to the economy, lack of capital, or lying competitors)…..

You are stuck in sales and if you can’t find the reason here, put it in the comments and I’ll reply with whether you’re stuck in sales.

describe the imageSo, what do you do when you’re stuck? You call for a tow!

You’ll need somebody bigger than you.

They’ll have to be prepared to get down in the mud with you.

They’ll need to be on solid ground or they might get stuck, too!

If you need to get un-stuck, get on my calendar.

Coaching Salespeople on Posturing

I originally published this article on my other blog in June of 2011. I hope you enjoy it.

Who do your salespeople identify with when they’re working? Do they think that they’re better than the person that they’re talking with? Smarter? Do they feel that they’re at a disadvantage? Do they think that the prospect has all the power? How do they feel about gate keepers? Can they adjust as they interact with people at different levels of the organization? Do people at different levels of the organization relate to your salespeople?

You can do little things that show that you understand ‘their’ world, regardless of who ‘they’ are.

On a coaching call recently, the salesperson told me that the chairman of the board had introduced the salesperson to the president of the company. These are excerpts from that intro. “______, I just got off the phone with ____. We were reminiscing about good ‘ol _____ days and some of the projects we worked on together when (company name) was pushing _____ stuff. I understand she worked with you occasionally as well.

_____ is now running a ______ consulting company focused on _____. Some of the things they did @ (company name) in the early days of ___ bear resemblance to some of the challenges we have in (our new company). I think you’d enjoy talking to ____ and getting re-acquainted and exploring possible marketing projects @ (our new company.)

Consider yourselves re-introduced. “

How could the president refuse? During our next coaching call, the salesperson told me that the president had talked pretty freely about history, the team, general plans, but time ran short and they scheduled a follow up call. However, during the second call, the president was less forthcoming and although my client was uncovering reasons for change, the president was holding back.

My client thought that there were many opportunities, but that the president wasn’t making them a priority and was trying to decide how to change his mind. After the first cpnversation, my client sent this email to the Chairman of the Board. “Just wanted to let you know I had a very interesting 45 minute conversation with ____ yesterday, and we’re scheduled to talk again on Tuesday. Thanks for suggesting we connect. Hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!” After the second conversation, my client didn’t want to bother the chairman. I explained that the chairman had a reason for making the intro. He’d want to know what happened with his president. So, my client sent another email to the Chairman. “Do you have a few minutes to talk about the conversation I had with ____ yesterday?” His reply, “I have some time tomorrow morning. I’ll be travelling to the airport at around ______. Maybe we can talk on the way?”

After that call, I got a voicemail from my client that started with, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” Later, my client told me that the conversation was now at the board level and the chairman was coaching my client on how to ‘handle’ the president. My client is now postured at the board level as an expert.

Another quick story about another client. A while back, this client was brought into a conversation by the CMO, who happened to be the son of the owner. The owner was on the call as was the COO, the other son. My client told me that the two brothers spent the whole call arguing and that it was difficult to make any headway, but that they did uncover a few significant issues to did down on. I advised my client to call Dad and lead with, “Are they always like that?”. My client was immediately postured as Dad’s peer. They understood and connected.

Salespeople need to pay attention. It’s not all about your stuff. It’s about your posture.

#FF (Fun Friday Post) Listen Between the Lines

Welcome to the exciting adventures of Men From Maine. Ayyuhhh!
As our action packed adventure unfolds we find Lem and Ephus sitting at the airport terminal in Bangor, Maine waiting for Lem’s wife Effie’s flight to arrive. While they are sitting together Lem elbows Ephus and nods toward an elderly gentleman sitting across from them. Ephus looks at the gentleman and then nods his head several times at Lem and says, “Ayyuhh!”. This goes on for a little while, but before too long the elderly gentleman across the way walks toward them and says, “I’ve noticed that the two of you keep looking my way and nodding at each other. Is there a reason for that?” Lem turns to Ephus and then back to the gentleman with a smile on his face and says, “Ayyuhhh! My friend Ephus and I were observing how much you look like my wife Effie . . . except for the mustache.” The gentleman looks confused and says, I don’t understand. I don’t have a mustache!” Lem and Ephus look at each other and the back at the gentleman and say in unison, “We know!”
So, did you get the lesson? Did you listen between the lines?
Men From Maine is a radio segment on 105.7 FM in Boston with Loren & Wally as the announcers. Every day at 6:15 and 7:15 AM they do a piece with deep down Maine accents.

Make appointments easily

Making appointments can be frustrating. Even when two people want to talk, busy schedules, different time zones and the lag in email communications can make finding a time to talk difficult. Add in a third or fourth participant and it becomes nearly impossible. I’ve used and recommended Tungle for a few years and it eliminated much of the hassle, but recently, Tungle announced that it will be closing it’s doors. They did recommend a couple of alternatives, but I didn’t like them. I looked at a dozen alternatives, registered for 4 services and decided to use

I have a free account. This is what my page looks like. If you click on a time, you’ll open my booking page. I’ve got the duration set at 30 minutes, but the drop down will allow you to select 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes. The form is customizable and (I think.) more intuitive than Tungle. I’ve had a few people use it and got comments like, “easy as pie!”
So, there you go. Enjoy!
BTW, I’ve been talking with candidates to fill three openings to start immediately. If you want in, do it now.

Response to “Does Inbound Marketing Work in EVERY Business?”

Today’s guest post was originally a private email to me from Adam Zais at Wistia. He sent it in response to my “Does Inbound Marketing Work in EVERY Business?” post with the suggestion that it might be a good comment. I think that it’s a good post. Enjoy!

Rick asks an excellent question. I’d like to slightly modify his original short answer…

“Yes, but not in the same way.” (And yes Rick, I will talk about the customer too.)

Here’s my long answer, which includes some stories to make your reading fun and to better make the points.

b2c vs. b2b, online vs. bricks-and-mortar, local vs global, etcetera etcetera. There is an unlimited amount of comparatives to choose from. I’m going with a local restaurant and an enterprise software company (where I used to work, long long ago.) Yes, the concepts of inbound marketing work for both but, as I hope you will see, in very different ways.

My favorite restaurant is True Bistro in nearby Teele Square (Somerville, MA). It’s a vegan place. I eat a vegan diet. I eagerly watched their preparations to open, and I go there all the time. I Yelp about it, and tell everybody I know about it, and it even was featured in my bio in a former version of our website. How did they use inbound marketing to get me as a customer? Well, mostly they studied demographics to decide where a vegan restaurant was likely to succeed. Meaning, they asked questions like, “where are there vegans and how will they find us?” They weren’t thinking about me, specifically, in the least. When they chose their spot, they used a really clever inbound marketing technique….they put up a sign saying “amazing vegan restaurant opening soon!” (Oh, and they had their name on it too.) But they still didn’t know that I drove by the sign on my way to work every day. I tweeted about it, saying something like “there’s an amazing vegan restaurant opening soon!” #truebistro. I got a reply tweet back and the rest, as they say, is history. Inbound marketing? Sure, but a very different use of the concepts then my next story.

I used to work at an enterprise software company…MRP software to be precise. Back when ERP was actually called MRP. Mid-market. Crowded competitive landscape. HP minicomputer-based. Almost all customers were in North America. Boston HQ, 5 or 6 regional sales offices. Four-legged sales calls. Tough biz. So, the sales and marketing veep decides that he needs to get him some sales training to stimulate the team, spur growth, and mature processes. And he hires a leading (maybe THE leading) sales trainer guy of the day. The 4-day class opens with a presentation from the guy that goes just about exactly like this:

We’re all in a room at a local hotel. Nothing but an easel with a flip chart in the front of the room. The guy comes in, doesn’t say anything as he meaningfully gives us each “the eye” (to build suspense I guess), and then with a flourish turns over a bunch of pages on the flip chart to reveal a pie chart. Big circle with a single, smallish wedge drawn on it. (Mind you, he still hasn’t said anything.) Finally, he turns to the room, introduces himself, talks about all his experience and stuff, and then walks back to the flip chart and asks, “Does anybody know what this is?” Of course we all know it’s a pie chart but we’re all not dumb enough to shout out that answer. So, silence. He waits…perhaps a beat too long…and tells us that studies have shown that in any market only about 10% (yes, that was the value of the small slice of the pie) of the potential customers are actively looking for a product or service (he said “solution” of course) from vendors that target that market. Okay, we’re thinking, so what? He then gets really excited to inform us that he’s going to teach us sales techniques to attack the 90% of the people who aren’t actively looking for our product because (he’s getting pretty wound up at this point mind you) that’s a far bigger audience and we all want to kill our quotas and stuff, right!?!?!? So, we’re all dutifully getting wound up ourselves and pounding the desks and shouting and whooping and….well, not really, but sort of and quietly to ourselves. The VP was pretty excited though. Anyway, it wasn’t until years later that I realized what an utter load of crap this was. (I bet you all can see where this is going now.) You’re all probably asking, “Why the hell would you do anything but try to figure out a way for the people actively looking for your product or service to find you?” Okay, I know you want me to wrap this up. Point is, the sales training should have been all about inbound marketing. But in fairness, this was before the Internet so that message would have been really hard to hear. (Oh, you want to know what happened? Nothing really. The sales were just as hard, the forecast was just as inaccurate, and yet the sales trainer got paid.)

So, how does all this relate back to the what we asked at the beginning? And how does this relate to the customer, as I promised you and Rick I would do?

Well, in the first example True Bistro employed inbound marketing principles BEFORE entering the market. Once in the market, they focus on social media as the main driver of their inbound marketing approach. In the second example, and if time-travel were possible, the company would employ inbound marketing principles AFTER entering the market. And, they would be focusing on search as the main driver of their inbound marketing approach.

But despite the differing manner of employing an inbound marketing strategy, I disagree (politely) with Rick. I believe it works for EVERY customer of every business. The tools and techniques may be different, but it definitely works.

Send all complaints, disagreements, flames, etc. to Rick.

Happy selling…I mean…inbounding. Peace.

Adam Z

BTW, you can talk with Adam, Rick and a bunch of other folks any Thursday at this on line meeting. Come on by.

Turn Sales Around in 10 Weeks

Have you looked at the calendar today? There are ten weeks left in 2012.

Was this your breakout year? Did you?
Have you accomplished 80% of what you set out to do this year? What will you do with the remaining 20% of 2012?
Do you realize that some people will get as much done in the next 10 weeks as they did in the prior 10 months?
Will you redouble efforts? Do something different? Close 2012 out strong?
Or have you already said, “Wait until next year!”?
Speaking of next year, what’s your plan? Do you have one? What will be different? Who will hold you accountable? Are you hoping or have you already started working?
It’s simple, actually. What’s your goal? Why? No, really. deep down why?
What’s your plan? What are the benchmarks? What are your obstacles? How do you handle obstacles? No, not go through them or around them. You’ve said that before.
Changing your life, exponentiating sales, doing what you’ve never done before is totally doable, but nearly impossible if you end this year the same way that you ended 2011 and start 2013 the same way that you started 2012.
If you want to be a Rock Star, you can start today. Just use the “schedule a call” link on the right side bar or send me an email at Rick at RickRoberge dot com. Save 2012 and kick start 2013 with one call.

What is the Value of a Referral?

I don’t mean how many dollars is a referral worth or how much time does it save you. What is it that makes a referral valuable? How do you know it’s valuable? What does the referrer have to do in order to make it valuable?

Here’s what happened. On Wednesday, the 10th, I met Lori. On the 11th, Lori introduced us via email. Barry,
I’m connecting you to Rick, a very personable and helpful… Rick, Barry is a smart technologist… (There was more, but it would make Barry and me blush.)
So, Barry and I spoke on Monday and Lori was right. He does have some cool stuff, but I see two things. He could use some help bringing his idea to market. I know several people who’s client’s need his stuff. So, on Tuesday the 16th, I send three emails and introduce him to Fred, Mike and Tom.
Fred replied, “Barry, I am out of town this week – how is next week?”
Mike replied, “Absolutely Barry. I look forward to the conversation.”
Tom replied, “Hello Barry and thanks Rick.
Barry, I chat with vendors on the last day of every month. If you would like to get on my calendar you can do so here. I look forward to chatting with you!”
OOPS! So, I replied to both Tom and Barry, “Barry, don’t bother. Tom put you in the wrong box.”
So, back to the title. What is the value of a referral? Which reply do you want your referrals to give to the person that you’re referring? Fred’s? Mike’s? Tom’s?
Here it is. Fred and Mike respect my opinion and when I suggest that Barry is worth a conversation, they trust my judgment and he gets the benefit of the doubt. They are predisposed to trusting him and will treat him with the same respect that they would treat me. Somewhere along the line, Tom and I got out of sync and I no longer have that same level of trust. Tom is not a referral. So, I took it back. I don’t know if I did something to Tom or he has marital problems, business problems or none of my business problems, but we no longer have a relationship that referral worthy.
The value of a referral is your ability to give them a piece of your reputation to keep them from starting as a vendor.