Transcript of Tackling the Sales Aspect of Being an Entrepreneur

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John Jantsch:                       Selling is a fact of life. Every business, every entrepreneur sells. It doesn’t matter if you have that in your title. If you’re a business owner, if you’re the founder of a company, there’s a really good chance you’re the top sales person, you’re the VP of sales. How do you make time to act like a sales person when you need to be a sales person. How do you prospect? How do you set goals? In this episode of ‘The Duct Tape Marketing’ podcast, I speak with a sales trainer. I speak with Jim Brown of SalesTuners, and we talk all about how entrepreneurs can tackle the sales aspect of being an entrepreneur. …

Hello, and welcome to another episode of ‘The Duct Tape Marketing’ podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Jim Brown. He is the founder and host of SalesTuners, does a bit of sales and training, and teaching of sales techniques. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. Jim, thanks for joining.

Jim Brown: John, it’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

John Jantsch: I’m going to ask you to actually … and you do this a lot, I know, because I’ve read some of your material about this. Most of my listeners are not bag carrying quota crushing sales people. They are people for whom sales is a very, very, very important part of their survival; but they also do everything else. Think about the talking about sales in the context of the non-sales sales person. Does that make sense?

Jim Brown: Totally, yup.

John Jantsch: I’m going to ask you a bunch of questions about how should they do X? In fact, I have a whole network of consultants who, they’re very survival really is a lot about their ability to sell on one hand, but they don’t think in terms of prospecting and setting sales goals and things, the way that I think they should. Tell me a little bit, in that context, how should these part-time sales people, I’m trying to come up with a right term for them, think about setting goals for sales?

Jim Brown: Yeah, I do. I think we’re all in sales, John. It doesn’t matter if we’re a quota carrying, bag carrying member of a sales team, or the owner of a small business.

John Jantsch: Right.

Jim Brown: Or, honestly, even something else. We are all in sales. I think that when you start to look at the goals that you have in front of you, you got to break those down into the actual steps that you can … use to get there. I think even if you are a full time sales person, you get a big quota, you have to do a million dollars a year worth of sales. Well, it’s very hard to go from zero to a million dollars. You definitely can’t do it in one day. What are those incremental steps? That’s where I think whether you call it the … I just call it the … I just call it ‘entrepreneur.’ If you’re just an entrepreneur, not necessarily a sales person, you’re just an entrepreneur, you still got to break down those goals the same way, in my opinion.

John Jantsch: I know one of the tricks for any sales person, so anybody selling, is getting in front of the right prospects, or having the right conversations.

Unfortunately for a lot of people that don’t consider themselves sales people, a lot it’s like, “Anybody who says they need this.”

Jim Brown:  Right.

John Jantsch: “Wants me to come talk to them, I’ll come talk to them.” How do you make sure you’re getting gin front of the right prospects?

Jim Brown: It’s funny. One of the things that I do with a lot of the people I work with is I call it the divine inventory. It’s an evaluation to look at the 33 behaviors that make up the core competencies of being a successful sales person. Now, again, this is very sales-focused and driven; but one of the behaviors and competencies that are in here is travel willingness. As a sales coach, I don’t want a sales person to have a high travel willingness. What that means is, and I’m just going to give a hypothetical.

Someone calls you up tomorrow, John, and then says, “Hey, I need you in Cleveland. Can you come out?”

A person with a high travel willingness will be like, “Yup. I’ll be there. Already booked my ticket. Can’t wait to see you.”

A person with a zero travel willingness would be like, “Uh, no. There’s no way I’m coming to Cleveland. Why would I even do that?” Neither one of those are good.

What I want is someone to just take a step back and say, “Well, hold up. I would might be happy to come to Cleveland, but can you tell me why I’m doing it?”

John Jantsch: Right.

Jim Brown: “Can you tell me what’s going to happen when I get there?” Just have a little bit of a mystique to just understand the context of what’s going on. When you talk about trying to identify the right person, I don’t want to meet with everybody. I don’t want to talk with everybody. In order for you to determine who your target prospect is, or the target person you need to talk to, I want you to understand why you would tell people ‘no.’ I literally want you to tell us, why would I tell this prospect ‘no?’ I want you to be willing to tell that to the prospect.

Now, this is where I definitely step aside from a lot of your typical sales people, because any buyer is going to be like, “Well, wait a minute. Why would you tell me ‘no?’ I’m the buyer.”

A great sales person is going to say, “Here’s the reason I would tell you ‘no.’ I’ve experienced this, this, and this. If I see these things, you’re not going to be a good fit for me, so I’m going to tell you ‘no.'” It gives a lot of power, John, to the seller at that point.

John Jantsch: I think there’s no question about that. I think a lot of times, people are unwilling to ask some of those hard questions because they’re afraid they’re going to kill the deal. When in fact, they probably should kill the deal if the other people doesn’t have the budget, the person doesn’t have the right attitude about it, the person doesn’t even have the right problem that you can solve.

Jim Brown: That’s right.

John Jantsch: You should get ‘no.’ Unfortunately, I think we’ve all been trained to get ‘yes.’

Jim Brown: Yeah. I’m with you. There’s so many books out there about how to get to ‘yes.’ I do, I’m with you. I want to get to ‘no.’ I would rather get to ‘no’ so much faster than ever get to ‘yes.’ My whole approach to sales is I’m skeptical that the deal is going to close all the way up until the point there’s a contract signed and the check is in my bank account. I’m still skeptical that it’s actually going to close. I’m with you. I want that ‘no.’

John Jantsch: I tell people that all the time; say, “Oh, I … you know, really rocking and rolling. I got this business.”

I was like, “Have you been paid?”

Jim Brown: That’s right. What I like, John, is the verbal ‘yes.’ I got a verbal ‘yes’ today.

John Jantsch: Right.

Jim Brown: Well, can you go to Ruth’s Chris on a verbal yes? You can, get out of here with that.

John Jantsch: Let me drill into one objection that, a lot of times, you want to get to ‘no,’ but you don’t want to flat out say, “Can you afford this?”

Jim Brown: Right.

John Jantsch: “Do you have the budget for this?” That’s what you want to ask.

Jim Brown: Sure.

John Jantsch: How do you get around the budget question?

Jim Brown: Yeah. The budget step in the sales process for me is one of my favorites, because you’re right. That is one way to do it is that, “Do you have budget for this?” But, there’s so many other good ways to do it. I’ll tell a story with this.

A few years ago, I sold to Claire’s, the girls boutique that sells earrings and jewelry, and all that kind of stuff. Their headquartered up in Chicago. I’m up there, and this is probably our third meeting that I’ve had with them. I was selling digital marketing to them at this point.

They said to me, “Jim, we got to have a ballpark, here. What is this going to cost us?”

I said, “Guys, that’s not where we are yet. I have no idea what this is going to cost, because I actually don’t know what you need.”

They said, “That’s fine, but we have to have some kind of consideration of this.”

I said to them, “We have not talked budget. We’ve not talked numbers at all. I haven’t asked for them.” I said, “Okay, look. Ballpark numbers, typically when I work with a retailer the size of Claire’s, you’re looking at about $100,000 per category per year.”

They said, “Well, we’ve got 17 categories.” I didn’t say anything.

They start doing the math, “17 categories, $100,000. That’s 1.7 million dollars. Jim, we don’t have 1.7 million dollars in the budget.”

I said, “That’s great. I never asked for 1.7 million dollars. You told me you needed numbers, and I’m giving you a range of what I typically see an eCommerce retailer of your size spend. Now, how many categories do you want to actually go after?”

They said, “Well, we’ve got $200,000 to spend.” Now I have not asked for budget, but they’ve volunteered it. They told me, “We only have $200,000.” Now, we kept going through this whole process and we ended up getting to …

I said, “Well, which 15 categories do you not want to focus on?”

They’re like, “Oh, no, no, no. We need more categories than this.” Anyway, they ended up being a $478,000 deal based solely on the bracketing that I gave them upfront and told them what I’ve seen other people like them spend.

John Jantsch: Right. All of a sudden, that was cheap.

Jim Brown: Absolutely.

John Jantsch: I’ll give you a scenario that has happened to me in recent years, and to kind of set up this next question.

When somebody reaches out to me and says, “Oh, I read your book. I think you’re the greatest. I want you to come do marketing for me. I’ll pay anything.” It doesn’t always go that way, but that’s one scenario of the inbound lead.

Jim Brown: Yeah.

John Jantsch: Whereas if I’ve targeted company, I think “Oh, this is a company I’d really like to go after.” I pitch them, I start telling them stuff. I start building a relationship. All of a sudden, it’s like, “Okay, this is great, but why should we hire you instead of somebody else?” More the inbound versus outbound, where do you stand on that today?

Jim Brown: Well, I think you have to do both. I’m the type right now that I still make cold calls every single day. My goal is to make 30 a week, divide it by five days is six. I have to have six cold calls per day. Mine are obviously very targeted at this point. I think you have to have both. I have a podcast myself that gives me a little bit of inbound leads. You do. You truly do have to both to get the right clients that you want.

John Jantsch: One of the things that … because a lot of people want to say, either/or, or one’s better than another. Actually, I think effective inbound marketing will make your outbound marketing more effective, and vice versa. I think a lot of your cold calling that you’re doing on people, and then giving them the opportunity to maybe share content that you’ve produced, is probably going to make your inbound marketing more effective as well.

Jim Brown: That’s right, I tell a lot of people, “Do be careful of those who say you can only do something a certain way.” There are people out there saying that social selling today is the only way that you should be selling. There shouldn’t be any cold calls. There shouldn’t be any whatever. You should just be social selling. But it’s fascinating to me that I have never actually bought anything from them, socially; but yet I get cold calls from their people trying to sell me their social selling product and their social selling work course.

I’m like, “That’s interesting. Why wouldn’t I just buy from you socially if that’s the only way to do this?” You definitely got to be careful, John, of anybody who says there’s only one way to do things. I completely agree with how you positioned that, is I’ve noticed that when I’m doing my outbound calls, even if I don’t connect with them, even if they don’t return my voicemail, I have my contact them again in two, three months … They’ve reached out to me on my web forms or via they’ve heard my podcast, or they’ve done something else with an interaction.

Then, I’ll even remember, “Hey, I think I called you two, three months ago.”

“Yeah, you know, we were really busy. I was really looking forward to talking to you and just didn’t get a chance. So when I saw this new whatever content came out from you, I knew I had to reach out to you at that point.”

John Jantsch: Well, and I know in my experience, I’ve gotten cold calls before where maybe somebody’s left a message. It sounds interesting.

Well, the first thing I do is turn to the web and say, “Who are these guys?”

Jim Brown: That’s right.

John Jantsch: Their inbound presence, or at least their educational content is … I’m going to be exposed to that, because it was there.

Jim Brown: Yeah.

John Jantsch: I think they do have to go together. Let’s talk about some of the things that trip sales people up. Or, I should say, non-sales people up. Most people just hate … cold calling. They hate the fear of rejection. They have fear in general around what they think of as selling. How do you overcome that?

Jim Brown:  Well, I don’t know that you ever overcome it. Look, no one likes cold calling. I don’t like cold calling, and yet I do it every single day; and I’m actually pretty good at it. But, I don’t enjoy it. We do. We’re brought up with this sense of we don’t want to get rejected. We want to have … all that kind of stuff.

What I tell people is you have something valuable that you need to share with other people.” Think about it this way: I don’t know that any of the listeners out there are creating a cure for cancer. Maybe they are, and godspeed to them if they are. Let’s assume for a second that you had created the cure for cancer. Who would you call on and tell them that you had the cure?”

John Jantsch: Right.

Jim Brown:  Everyone!

John Jantsch: Right.

Jim Brown: Right? You would not let anyone stop you from getting to every single person that’s ever been affected by this ridiculous disease. You would make sure they knew. Now, granted, your product or service is probably not that revolutionary, but you have something of value that you’re trying to offer to someone that you think has that need. You owe it to not only yourself, but to them to at least expose them to it and have a conversation about whether or not it makes sense to go any further. I think you owe it to both parties.

John Jantsch: All right, so let’s go with the next one, then. These go hand-in-hand. Price. How do you get the posture to say “No, dang it. This is what I charge and I’m not going to look at my shoes when I tell you what I charge, and I’m not going to get beat down over price, and I’m not going to cave the first time somebody says, ‘Can I get a deal?'” How do you get that posture?

Jim Brown: Well, this honestly goes back to being a kid again. We grow up with money weaknesses. I don’t know about you, but in my household, you didn’t talk about money in that house. You definitely didn’t ask your mom and dad how much money they made.

John Jantsch: Yeah.

Jim Brown: I think that’s just a terrible existence, in all honesty. I talk openly with my son, who’s only four at this point, about money and what it means; because I want to get that ingrained in him. When I take a look back and think, I grew up in a very poor household, John. A thousand dollars was a tremendous amount of money to me. I remember starting my first business and getting my first thousand dollar sale. To me, that was a lot of money. I didn’t realize that at time, it still took me a while, but what I realized was the company that I sold that to for them, a thousand dollars was not a lot of them. They were in a different position completely.

I fast forward to my next company. The first company, thousand dollar sale was my largest. The next company I go to, my first sale was $5,000. My first sale. Now, this is … It’s blowing my mind. This is a lot of money. Fast forward, and now the next deal that I do is like $10,000 a month. Now it’s $120,000 deal. I’ve now gone all the way up. The largest sale that I’ve done is a 1.2 million dollar deal, two commas. What I had to realize is I can’t let people buy with my wallet. I can’t expect them to buy with my wallet. 1.2 million dollars, it happened to be Sears. Again, in Chicago. Chicago used to be one of my biggest territories that I sold into. I sold to Sears, and 1.2 million dollars, while still a ridiculous amount of money for me and most people, was a rounding error to Sears.

John Jantsch: Yeah.

Jim Brown: As we start to think about this, how we get over that and how do we not get beat down on price, is we need to show the value. I don’t mean justify your value. What I mean is you got to get the person you’re talking to understand what that value is. One of the ways that I like to do that, John, is to understand the gap between where they are, status quo, and where they want to be.

Let me give you an example. I sell sales training. It’s what I do. Not too long ago, I was with a company. We went through the discovery process. They illustrated that they had a 1.4 million dollar gap in sales from where they were today for what they told their investors they were going to hit, to where they needed to be by the end of the year. Again, this was a few months ago.

I said to me, “Okay, wow. 1.4 million dollars. That’s a lot of money.”

They’re like, “Eh, it’s not that much, but it is something we need to overcome.”

I said, “Okay. Well, let’s assume that we can fix this, and whatever solution we put in place will fix your 1.4 million dollar shortfall. What’s that worth to you? What would you be willing to pay for that?”

They kind of hem and hawed a little bit, John, and they said, “You know, honestly, we’d be willing to pay $150,000 for a solution like that.” I’m going in my head, I already … You got to have this, you got to have your baseline. You got to know where you sit. My number for them was going to be $45,000. Now, I didn’t want to reveal that to them.

After they said 100 to $150,000, I said, “Look guys, here’s the thing: I got two responses to that. First off, this has been a problem for three years for you guys. You’ve done nothing to convince me that you’re actually willing to make any investment in fixing your problem, right?” Put them on the edge a little bit. Then I said, “But here’s the good news: if you choose to, which again, I’m not certain you’re going to, my solution isn’t going to 100 or $150,000. In fact, it’s only $80,000.” Which was $35,000 more than I was going to charge. They’re like, again, they anchored themselves high.

They’re like, “Oh my gosh, yeah. We can do this. We’re in for that.”

John Jantsch: The other thing I love about, because I use that approach all the time as well, is to get them to see what it would be worth. We talk about customer lifetime value, and all those things where it’s like ‘Okay, my marketing is going to bring you X new customers, but that’s going to mean X revenue. What would that mean if you had that?’ What it also does, in my mind at least, or in the client’s mind, too, is it gets them thinking about I’m no longer a cost, I’m an investment to get to where they want to go.

Jim Brown: That’s right. It’s all based around value at this point.

John Jantsch: Yup.

Jim Brown: Again, you could even … One of the things that I want to make sure that we talk about as well is you also have to connect with them on a personal basis. We’re talking right now all about the intellectual sale about the business, and the ROI; but what I have found, John, is that people don’t buy intellectually.

John Jantsch: Yeah.

Jim Brown: They buy emotionally and rationalize after the fact. When you start talking about what would this be worth to you, start talking in terms of could you buy that new car? Could you get the promotion? What could you personally do if you hit this goal that you’ve set for yourself? Then you start tying the value to that as well. All of a sudden, they’re moving mountains to get you into their company.

John Jantsch: Well, now I’ll tell you, the other thing having those conversations will do, I’ve found, is a lot of times, you will actually uncover things that you weren’t expecting. A lot of times, I just assume that they want X in sales, or X in growth. Maybe what they want is less chaos.

Jim Brown: Yeah.

John Jantsch: I don’t think you can ever assume the value based on what you think they’re trying to accomplish. If you’re not asking those questions, you may be selling to the wrong thing.

Jim Brown: You totally are. I don’t want my sales people to have any assumptions; even if they know the answer. For instance, I got a client who sells to car dealerships. They’ve done all this research. They know that on average, a brand new car will net a $5,000 gross profit margin. They know this. They know that data.

They’ve just been calling and hammering people on the phone, and telling them, “Hey, I know that when you sell a car, you make $5,000. So, if I just help you sell one more car, this is worth it, right?” Instead of you telling them the data you know, get them to reveal that data to you.

John Jantsch: Yeah.

Jim Brown: If you start to ask and say, “Gosh, you know, you guys probably sell a lot of cars. Hey, when you sell a car, what’s that even worth to you?”

You’re playing the role of a dummy on purpose, but when they tell you, “Well, you know, when we sell the car, we make about $5,000 on it.” Once they’ve done, they’ve said it in their words, they can’t take it back anymore. If you just give them the information, they can tell you you’re wrong all day long.

John Jantsch: Yeah. All right, last objection that I hear all the time, because again, most of the folks that I’m working with are juggling a lot of balls, not just full time sales. How do you manage time? How do you carve out time to do prospecting every day, cold calling every day, proposals every day?

Jim Brown: This goes back to having your first question, this is where goals come into play. Whatever your goal is. Again, I just use it for simple numbers, but let’s say you want to do a million dollars in revenue over the next 12 months. It’s very hard to go from zero to one million. You have to understand what the daily things that I need to be able to do. Again, for me, it’s literally six cold calls. That’s it. I have to do six cold calls a day. It can seem overwhelming if I hadn’t broken that down into that incremental step, but that’s how I do it. If you don’t do it, that’s where, John, you know you get into the feast and famine mode.

You start to do a couple sales and now you’re like, “Well, I can’t do any more sales because I wouldn’t be able to deliver on the work.” You stop selling.

John Jantsch: Yeah.

Jim Brown: Because you’re good, and then all of a sudden, two months later, you have nothing in sales. It’s just a rollercoaster you don’t want to be on.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I tell you the thing I love about that idea of keeping it going and having that consistent flow is if you’ve got more leads than you need, or more people that want to hire you, you get to A, raise your prices, and B, really be selective about who you want to work with. I think that’s a beautiful thing, too.

Jim Brown: Saying ‘no’ to people is one of the strongest positions ever for you to be in.

John Jantsch: Yeah, yeah. No question. People really want to hire you when you don’t want to do business with them.

Jim Brown: That’s right.

John Jantsch: Tell us a little bit about SalesTuners and how people can get ahold of you and find out about your work, Jim.

Jim Brown: Yeah. SalesTuners is a couple things. It’s part sales training and coaching, and part podcast. I’m a master of … or I want to be a master of my craft, so I’m always trying to find the best sales people out there and interview them about the things that led to their success. I do a weekly podcast on that for me to learn, and I share with an audience. Then, on this coaching and training side, I work with small business owners, and even tech start-ups about how to get more out of their revenue engine.

One of the ways that they can do it … We talked a lot about goal setting today. I’ve got a roadmap I made available for your guests at It’s a workbook. You’re going to have to put in some work; but you throw in that end goal of whatever it is you want, a million dollars, $100,000, it doesn’t matter. It’s going to help you break down the daily things that you’re going to have to do to make time in order to get to that end goal.

John Jantsch: Awesome. We’ll have the link in the show notes for those of you that jump over to ‘Duct Tape Marketing.’ Jim, appreciate you showing up and taking time to share your insights. Hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the road.

Jim Brown: Really enjoyed it, John.

John Jantsch: Hey, thanks for listening to this episode of ‘The Duct Tape Marketing’ podcast. Wonder if you could do me a favor, could you leave an honest review on iTunes? Your ratings and reviews really help, and I promise, I read each and every one. Thanks.


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