Sales and Business Development

with Frances Pratt

Welcome to the latest episode of the 40 plus business show and I am today with Frances-Pratt who is the founder of KISS to sell. Frances, good morning.

Good morning.

Great to have you along.

Thank you.

We are going to talk a little bit about sales and business development which is your passion.

It is.

I thought I would start by getting you just let the listeners know a little bit about yourself and your experience in sale and business development and what you do now.

Ok, thanks Hunter. Welcome everyone, and I know for some of you the word sales make you go “eurgh”, so those people and everyone else that is why I set up KISS to sell. My background I have spent more than 20 years in sales and the majority of that has been with small businesses and I have sold everything to everybody. I have sold to Mum and Dad businesses, individuals, multinationals, publicly listed companies, just lots of different things. I was lucky enough very early in my sales career to get some great mentoring and coaching, and I was a bit of a natural. You know people say they are natural born sales people but I think on top of that I was able to get the strategiy and ideas and cogs that make it all work. While I was working, and I have owned my own businesses, I have been part owner in businesses with other people. While I was doing all that fun stuff I did a NBA and a Graduate Certificate in Change Management and then I decided, because after you have got a NBA the logical next step is to be a consultant, right? That is what I did. About 7 years ago now I set as a consultant to help companies, big and small understand sales and sales people because there is a massive hole in peoples real understanding of what great selling is, so for all those people who cringe or go ‘I can’t seem to get it right’. It is because no one has ever taught your or shown you the key things and cogs that make up a good sales process and I am here to correct that wrong.

Very good. We are all about giving people the advice and the process because I agree with you, the mystery or the concern about doing something is because you just don’t know the steps you need to take and people will be more capable if they have that knowledge, rather than operating from a mystery.

Exactly.

Frances, tell me in your experience, take a business owner for example, and often business owners are doing sales roles themselves because they are doing everything. What are the challenges you see in small to medium business and the owners? What challenges are they facing in relation to sales and business development?

I think the main challenges I hear from people that I talk to is (inaudible). They know once they get in front of someone and it is the right type of client, that they are pretty good at closing the sale and getting new clients on board, but it is just having that continuity of the right client coming through and the continuity of the time spent to nurture them through to the sale. What we tend to do is we kind of panic. We go ‘this contract is nearly finished’, or ‘we need more of this…’ or whatever. That is because we are in a state of lack at that point, that often brings out what I call the sales mythology. When you are on your game, and this can relate to you as a sales person inside your business but equally to employing a sale person, either we are a god or a beast in sales. We are god when it all comes easily and it I just magic and we are a beast, well the sales person is a beast when they are not performing and it is everyone else fault and we tear our hair out. I think, like all mythology’s their elements of truth in all of that but there is also elements of mystic and avail of misunderstanding, so that is what I think the challenge is.

Let’s take a small business owner, what would be two or three things you would say to them as a tip to improving their sale approach or their sales system in their business?

Love it, the first thing that I do with people is to get them to really focus on the client and that client journey. How do they come to you? Why do they come to you? What is their pain? How do they describe that? What words do they use? How do they feel? And then how do we then walk beside them to help them make a good buying decision for them. That to me the client journey and a good buying decision doesn’t mean them saying yes to you, as good buying decision means that it is done in a timely manner, they feel confident and comfortable with that decision and that decision might be a yes and a no. Yes, there is room for maybe but when I find you have got a good healthy process the maybes diminish and people move through that process more eloquently and efficiently, and everybody feel more confident. That is the first thing, sorry go on.

I was going to say I like your concept there that yes and no are equally good for the customer. I have come across quite a few sales gurus who seem to think that every business should be able to sell their product to every person they speak to.

Oh, and I think that is deeply wrong, because great selling is actually knowing your niche and knowing who you appeal to. If people go and have a look at my KISS to sell stuff I talk a lot about women in business and about mum-preneurs and that sort of stuff, because that is my primary market. Do I coach men? Yes, but my messaging appeals to those people irrespective of their gender. I think if you can deeply understand a few people and do that really, really well, I am a bit of a Seth Godin fan and he talks a little bit about that. The deeper you can understand the emotion of where these people come from, the words that they might use then the better you are to be able to pitch yourself in a way that person will listen to you and go ‘she is speaking just to me’. That is what you want, that is how you engage. That is thing one, understand your client journey. Thing number 2, once you have mapped out that journey, it might be 6 or 7 steps, it might be whatever it is. Know your numbers, so if you need 100 clients, 10 clients or 2 clients. How many people do you need to get that initial engagement with? How many do you then do step 1? Step 2? Because people leave during that process, which is normal and natural. If we had a process that is just positive and growing, that is what we call “cancer” and a good sales process is an eco-system. We want to people to flow in and out nicely. We have got to know those numbers so that we don’t have… I remember coaching someone and she was new to real estate. It was kind of a second career for her and she was an older woman and she had just launched in to real estate. She was telling me all these problems and I said, “How many deals do you need to close?” and she said “three”. I said “Great, how many in your pipeline?” and she goes “three”. I said, “that is why you are so anxious”. If you have nine in your pipe line then suddenly if somebody says no or delays or whatever. You don’t have that tightness in your throat going ‘eek, now what do I do?’. Knowing those numbers set you free.

We often have this conversation with scarcity with clients, is that you don’t want to operate on scarcity because then you feel like you do have to close every client or every lead that you received as appose to going, what is the natural evolution through our process. We might speak to 10 people and we close 4 or 5 or whatever.

Yes, and the numbers, exactly, and if you are tracking those numbers and you know those numbers then you will become better informed with those numbers overtime so you can use some kind of normal metrics and I have got a spreadsheet that is in my blog post area that helps people do that and the are not necessarily right, but to me it doesn’t matter. If you start with numbers and then you track the numbers then you will understand what the numbers are overtime. The journey, knowing the numbers of those journeys and then I think the third thing to get rid of that feast and (inaudible) is to set up a rhythm within your business where Tuesday mornings is your sales calls and Thursday mornings is you follow up calls and whatever that happens to be. So you know you are doing the inputs of those journeys, you are meeting those people and you are taking them nicely through those journeys and when you are sitting down with someone. Let’s say you are having a conversation with them and you can say ‘look normal Thursday morning is when I do my follow up calls. Would be ok, if I gave you a call at 9:30 on Thursday morning’. They respect, the person listening to you, your potential client respect that because they think ‘this person knows what they are doing. They are in control, they know their sale process’. They might not think it to themselves in those words but that builds trust and it builds a confidence in you and how you run your business and for you there is a pattern and a rhythm to that, that helps you be more successful. When we are doing feast and (inaudible) we lose, it is a bit like if you go running, I am not a runner so maybe that is a bad analogy, but if you run everyday then you get better at it. If you run once a fortnight it is not the same impact so having some regular sales time, build your sale muscle and therefore builds your sale confidence.

Excellent advice. Throughout our program we do talk to business owners about scheduling and having in your words rhythm for things. To be a good business owner you need to schedule a time to do those things that you need to do as a business owner and having selling time, having time to write your plans, having time to check that what ever is being produced in your business is high quality. All of those things are very important and a lot of business owners get stuck doing one thing. The day to day, the admin or whatever and they miss out properly scheduling time to do the important things in there business which obviously includes selling.

Absolutely, Hunter and I think when you add to that a lot of people have mistrust or fear around sales. It is easy for them to put that to the bottom of the pile.

I want to move on a little bit now to another group of customers. Something we see in our conversations with customers all the time is a certain desperation about where the next new customer is coming from and when we ask them ‘well, what about your existing customers?’ we will often get a bit of a blank look and sort of say ‘have you communicated to your database recently?’ and the answer is ‘no’. Tell me about existing customers? Do we ever stop selling to customers?

No. I think one of the big sales problems that people have in their head is that the sale stops when someone says yes and to me great selling is all about customer service and being customer centric, of course we can’t stop selling to that person. As a professional sales person the minute I started in a new business the first thing I would do is go and make sure I go and talk to all the existing clients that were under my control because every single time they had been under sold to. Every single time. I am sure that there is the same thing in lots of people’s businesses that are listening to this. If you have that little twinge in your tummy that says, ‘maybe Fran is right about that’ then here is what I suggest that you do. I think the reason that happens is because we forget or we don’t understand that in the dance of sales we are leading that dance. We have a discussion with our clients. We say ‘oh, we would like to dance with you’ and they say ‘yes, that would be nice’ and you say, ‘I think we should do a Viennese waltz’s’ and say, ‘maybe a cha, cha’. Anyway you make an agreement about what the style of dance is, but the truth is that you then lead that. it is your job to lead that. We forget that during the pre sales, but equally we forget that once just because we have danced with them and then we go and dance with some other people doesn’t mean they drop off our dance card forever. Again, it is important for us to take the lead in that and what I like to do is use my rhythm idea again, and go back and do reviews. One thing is that people always have feedback for us, but when we invite that feedback we actually get more feedback and better feedback and in and in a eco system the number way you are going to improve your business is by being in touch with what actually your client is experiencing, what is great about that, what is not so great about that, what the one thing they would change about what you do or how you do it. I think that is really, really important. Also I think that is born of we make so many assumptions about what our clients want and don’t want and a review component with your clients allows you to put those assumptions to them. Instead of thinking that person doesn’t need x, y, z from me. You might have a conversation with them. Let’s say you have sod them something and you come back and do a review point and let’s say you have that assumption that they don’t need another service or product that you have. How that might sound is, I always call me practice client Bob so, Hi, to any bobs who are actually listening today. I am not directly to you but to my client. I would say ‘Hi, Bob. Thank you so much for buying x,y,z. How has that been for you? Can you tell me a little bit about your experience? What was the sales experience like for you? What was the delivery experience? Were there any gaps between those two things? What was the best thing that you found from using that’s service or product? If there was one thing I could improve about my business in that sales and delivery area what would that be?’ and just listen to what their experience was and what you could change and what they are telling you. A great reason to do that, is that gives you awesome stories then to use with new potential clients because you are listening to their words, how they feel, how you made them feel, what the positives were and how to diminish the negatives or potential risks around what you are doing. Then it is a beautiful Segway in to ‘you know Bob, I did notice in your business that you had this, this and this and I kind of assumed that you might not be interested in this but I just wanted to have a conversation with you about that’. Instead of making that assumption and sitting back and not asking I am making that assumption explicit and having an open discussion about that. Bob could turn around and go ‘you know what Fran, your assumption was bang on and absolutely don’t need that. I am so happy in that area’. In which case I go ‘fantastic, thank you so much’, but it is not that thing in the back of my head and go ‘I wonder if Bob needs that’. Equally he might turn around and go ‘do you know what Fran, I do have that but it is not working so well for me right now’.

Great Point

And then those review points depending on your style of business, depending on what you are selling, depending on the client and their size and their importance to you. Set up regular reviews where you have that conversation that just looks at ‘hey Bob, tell me what has been happening in your business. Tell me what you are looking forward to in the next 6 months or 12 months’ and then giving you the opportunity to share back or here is what has been happening in my business. I have added this product, I have been doing this and giving you the opportunity to share back. Share back or here is what has been happening in my business. I have added this product, I have been doing this and this is what I am looking forward to in the next 6 months. It is just having that pattern and rhythm whereby we get to share with our customers what we are doing and what they are doing and that will naturally bring opportunities up to the surface.

I really like that concept of review to, because it is not as if you have scheduled a sales call, you have scheduled a review call which is effectively just giving you an understand of where that customer is at and how things might have changed since the last time you saw them. We have quite a few businesses that we work with that their frequency of the time that they are talking to their customers us way below what it needs to be, particularly in today’s market. Everything is changing so fast, all of our businesses are potentially victims of disruption from other new technologies and new styles of doing things. I like the fact that you are advocating regularly communication, regularly conversations with customers just to understand how you are doing and how they are doing, and what comes out of that.

You will see opportunities arise on an individual basis but equally because you are so in touch with your clients and how they are going and what is happening for them. You have a great opportunity there to see a pattern and without those conversations you don’t get the individual opportunities and you don’t get the broader view or what is happening for your ideal client. Because an ideal client isn’t someone who sits back to the god and beast on Mount Olympus. They are actually the people you love working with today and the deeper you get to understand them the better you are able to serve them and the better you are able to attract people who are just like that.

Can I just pick up this is a question with out notice I suppose. Pick up on that concept of serving the client. I want to turn the sales person role around now and look at it the other way. We often see sales people as the person who goes out in to the world and comes back with the fatted calf so to speak, but I also like to see sales people as the advocate within the business for the customer. When they are in the office or in the organisation they kind of represent the customer and I am interested in your thought on the concept of how sales people should think of themselves as kind of the protector of the client within the broader organisation that they working with.

One of my favourite topics. When I am coaching sales people and business owners who are managing sales people because they equally need to understand this role, because form experience sometimes when the sales person comes back with information from the clients that the business doesn’t want to hear, that can be a very uncomfortable situation. Just like with any feedback we need to encourage that, even if it stings a little when we hear it. The role that I put for the sales person is a white knight. As a white knight, I sit between the business and the client as a white knight sometimes I need to protect the business from the client and sometimes I need to protect the client from the business. Sometimes clients make the wrong requests or they get the wrong end of the stick, so if you have got a good relationship with your client as a saes person you should be able to pull them up and protect the business, but equally when they have a valid point you should be able to go in to that inside the business for that client and find a good client centric resolution that makes sense for both the business and the client. Often when the sales people, I was working with a business where there had been a lot of client unrest and the sales people as a team had, it is kind of like a compass. They had gone a little bit far to protecting the client because of what had gone on. Sometimes that needs to be recalibrated because experience has forced it, not forced it but meant that they have got a limp, so they were leaning one way.

Good point. I like that concept of being a white knight and protecting both the business and the customer depending on the situation that occurs. Francis, tell the listeners of the show a little bit more about your services. Let’s say they have had a listen to this and they want to know more or they would like to get you to help them in a little bit more depth. Tell them a little bit more about KISS to sell.

Thank you. I think my main thing that I am going to start with is often when people have been to sales training or a sales trainer or a sales something it is the delivery of a formula. You do a and then b and c and d and then suddenly everything is magic. That is not how I work. What I know is that all of you as business owners, if you are still in business then you know how to sell. My job isn’t to teach you how to sell, my job is to help you understand how you sell and how to do it better. I think that fundamental difference has been really, really powerful for my client. I think the first thing I do with people is, if they are in a situation where they are just starting out and they are really lacking that confidence around and they have that ‘I don’t want to push myself and I don’t want to feel sales like I am a used car salesman’. Then what I do I start with them around mindset, around how do you think differently about selling and what are the things you can put in place that actually educate you through action and that is not actually the case. People wont cringe and run away. A big chuck of that is mind set so that is where I start. Then I look at actions because if we are going to have the right mindset then we have to do that in the right way that reinforces that mindset. That is things like helping people map out that client journey, helping people understand the right words, how do they pitch, how do they take people to the next step, how to do they run a meeting, how do they write a proposal in a way that people are actually going to want to read it, how do you negotiate and deal with objections and then how do you sign people up and celebrate. What are all those action components and often these are subset, a mindset subset to each of those but definitely I am an action learning advocate. They only way you build your sales muscle and your sales confidence is by doing it. I can’t teach you how to be confident but I can teach you how to be you and then the last thing that I focus on is the results. Often when people think about sales results all they think about is that number, ‘I have sold 3, 2, 7, 50 million’ whatever it is and I think the preoccupation with the end is part of the mindset problem. With results I get people to focus on much more immediate results then that. Did I talk about my business and was someone interested? That is a result. Did I invite them to have a coffee and talk about that further? and did say yes that is a result. Did they say no? That is a result. Did I listen well? Did I really get to understand if this person is interested in buying? And how I might help them? That is a result. Every single stage of that client journey there are results in bedded in there but if we only focus on the end result, it is a bit like the dating game. If you are only focusing on the end result, we know what happens in the process and it is the same in sales. If we love and our present in the process then the end results will sort themselves out. They are kind of the three areas that I work with people and that is either one on one coaching or group coaching.

Francis, thank you very much for giving some time today to tell our listeners a little bit more about the process and also how you work it. Francis Pratt founder of the KISS to sell program. I appreciate your time.

………………………………………………………………………………………………

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Hunter Leonard

Passionate about writing, business, cooking, photography, music. Aiming to be a renaissance guy.