On today’s episode of The Engaging Marketeer, Darren speaks to David Kelly, who is an expert when it comes to sales and the world of BNI (Business Network International).
Here, David discusses how he has managed to bring visitors in the thousands along to meetings, along with his top tips and tricks when closing a sale.
Darren: Sales is one of the main things I wanted to talk to you about, because that’s kind of your main bag – your speciality. In your years of experience, what are some of the most common things people do wrong then they’re trying to make a sale to a prospect?
David: So, firstly, when you’re talking about sales; sales and marketing for me should be like one and the same. In so many businesses I have worked for or consulted with, there were so many of them where the sales and the marketing teams didn’t speak. One of my first ever roles was for one of the biggest office supplies companies in the world, and the sales team and the marketing team never spoke to each other. At the time, as a salesperson, I thought all marketing did was create flyers. We’d get these flyers once a month at the team meeting so we could go into businesses and hand them out, but that was literally it. The company never spoke to us about what clients were needing on the ground, so we weren’t engaging with them in any way.
Now, when I’m speaking with businesses, the biggest thing for me is to identify whether the sales and marketing team work together, and who’s accountable for what. Because a lot of the time, companies can have call centres with scripts that have been written by people in marketing who have never done a sales call in there life – or even worse, someone from HR!
David discusses the importance of communication between departments in business
The important bit for me is making sure sales and marketing are actually working together, and the different departments are on the same page as to what they’re trying to achieve. The results are the bit that I’m particularly big on – sales become much easier once you add value. One of the main areas I work on with people is to help them to understand how they can build their value proposition, so that they don’t have any competitors in their marketplace. Effective marketing is attracting the customers you want and repelling those that you don’t. My focus is on how to get business’s in front of the right target audience to lap up, and just as importantly make the people who aren’t the ideal client think, “Oh no, that’s not for me”.
Darren: That’s an important thing I think you’ve mentioned there, and I had a rant about this the other day actually, about repelling the clients you don’t want. Because there will always be people you don’t want to work with, and when you’re new in business, you don’t realise this. You want to take on every client you can get, because every client is money, and you don’t want to turn away business. How important is it, do you think, as you grow, to turn away the clients you don’t want?
David: I completely get that mindset, and I’ve been there on more than one occasion. When you first set up a business, you need clients coming through the door, you need to put food on the table, you’ve got rent to pay or mortgage payments to make. It can be really difficult to turn clients away, and I get it, but the problem is that if you set a business up without the strategy behind it as to where you’re going, you start taking on far too many clients. Tradespeople in particular are notorious for it – they work 16 hour days, five or six days a week, because they accepted too many clients and didn’t put a strategy together.
What I try to do when working with people is to try and give them a sales strategy that works for them, so that the business is working for them, rather than them working for the business. If you get a load of clients that are not your ideal customers, the result of you’re trying to deliver is not what they want, and then you’ve either got loads of clients that are taking loads of your time, which is the one thing we’re all limited, on or the clients that you’ve got on board don’t value the service or product that you’re selling. So, I tell people to be confident enough to know when a client is not a good fit for them, or vice versa.
There’s a guy called Pedro Adao – I don’t know if you’ve heard of him – but I heard him say something years ago that really resonated with me. He said, “once you’ve found your people, you find your purpose”, and it resonated me because at the time, I had some clients that I maybe didn’t even really like.
Darren: I get that – it makes your life a lot easier if you work with people you actually like. If you’re working with businesses that you don’t necessarily like, and you dread seeing their name when the phone rings, it’s just going to add to your stress. It makes you not want to do the job. It’s much better to have clients you actually enjoy working with.
Darren: One thing you mentioned earlier was something most businesses aren’t really aware of, and that’s value proposition. Most people will talk about their services and what they do, but they don’t know what a value proposition is. Could you explain more about that?
It’s not what you’re selling – it’s how you sell it
David: Something I often say to people is, “nobody wants what you’re trying to sell”. Instead, I try to get them to understand what they’re doing in their business that adds value to their proposition, that their clients may not necessarily be aware of. You need to make people understand the value of what you’re offering, because if everyone is selling the same thing, you’re not going to get any traction.
Usually, all people want to know is how quickly they can have something, and how much it costs. If you’ve spent years crafting a perfect solution for your market, you need to make them aware of it. If people see your products or services as no different from what any other business is selling, that’s when you start to get price objections. You need to make your audience aware of the uniqueness of what you’re offering, to help you stand out. The thing I’m always conscious of with my business is to never negotiate my own value. I don’t try to sell to everyone, but people buy from me because I try to build as much value as I can into what I do. When people implement my strategies and they work, people can sort of say, “Wow, if that’s the free stuff, I wonder how good the paid stuff must be!” That’s what I try to get across to people that I work with too, as it can help them engage more with their target audience. It’s really important when you’re dealing with a prospect get on the same page as them, and figure out what they’re trying to achieve.
Darren: That’s important, and it applies to anything you’re selling. We had a client recently who was offered a cheaper website elsewhere, but they came straight back to us within the hour, because they read the other company’s reviews and they were terrible. Sometimes, the cheaper option is the more expensive one in the long term.
David: That’s it – so the client’s objection wasn’t necessarily about the price. He wanted reliability. You need to know what your customer wants in order to be able to sell it to them. You can’t always guarantee a result by a certain date, but there are certain things that are in your control that you can guarantee. If you can take on board what the client is saying and agree to work with them to meet a certain target or goal, you stand yourself out because you’re not just focusing on the front end: the price. If you can reassure people that your mission is to help your customer achieve a certain result, rather that just trying to sell to them, it really helps single you out in the market.
Darren: I found that to be the case almost all the time when somebody has a price objection – it’s very rarely the price that’s the problem, it’s usually a mask for something else. So, the best way to proceed is by finding out what goal that person wants to achieve, rather than just trying to sell to them. We get it a lot when people come to us wanting Facebook ads. We can do it, of course, but often, we have to question them as to why they actually want that service. If we can identify the goal, then we can work backwords and help them achieve what they need, rather than just trying to flog to them.
David: Exactly. If you’re in the position where you’re getting price objections, it’s probably because you’re allowing your prospects to see you in the same light as your competitors, even if you’re 10x better than them. You need to become almost like a “problem finder” in business. Most people go, “oh, I’m a problem solver”, but if your clients know they have problem areas, than most likely they’ve turned to other companies to try to find a solution, so it might be too late. If you can identify problems in a business that they didn’t know they had, you’re in a marketplace of your own.
Darren: Let’s talk about BNI. I think you’ve been in it for about eight years now – which is like a prison sentence! What was your experience when you first went in?
David: Yeah, I’ve been a member for eight years. Still a member of the same group! Initially, I’d maybe visited about four times over the course of two or three years, and all those meeting were in a golf club in the middle of nowhere. I would always turn up in a three-piece suit, because I thought that’s what businesspeople had to do, and I’d get to the door and people would be there looking like plasterers just coming off a shift. I just couldn’t see how it would fit my business, or help me make contact in the areas I wanted to work with, which were businesses like law firms or recruitment agencies.
Anyway, a friend of mine called me when I was driving one day, and asked me to come to another BNI meeting as a favour. I felt a bit deflated, as they obviously hadn’t been working for me, but I agreed to come along one last time to help him out. Turns out, there was about 70 people at this particular meeting, one of them an employee of a big company I’d been desperate to work with. I started going week after week, and began to pick up some vital connections, while building up really strong relationships with people. One day, my boss (who I worked for at the time) called me and told me I had to stop wasting my time going to these meetings, as I was missing out on the time I could have been making sales calls. Things got a bit heated, and I ended up putting the phone down on him. I knew things were really picking up at the BNI meetings, and I was getting fed up of the constant micromanaging and targets back at the office. Long story short, I made the leap and decided to quit.
David took a leap of faith, with the help of his connections
Because of all the connections I’d made at the BNI, I was set up on my own within a week. I’d built up a relationship with someone from a printing company, so he helped me out with some business cards; he even designed me a logo. I got on the phone to a service provider I’d met a few weeks ago, who set me up with a phone and a new business email, all those kinds of things. All this became possible off the back of the contacts I’d managed to form from going to those meetings. It was the best decision I ever made.
Darren: That’s incredible. One of the key points of that story is that a lot of people don’t realise the hidden benefit of joining BNI, and that’s the support you get from everyone. You get to build relationships with people you really trust, and you can rely on them to pick up the phone, because you have that rapport with them.I think that’s a lovely thing to end on. If anyone’s listening to this and really wants to work with you, what’s the best way for them to reach out?
David: LinkedIn is where I spend most of my time, and where I tend to engage with a lot of people. We’ve also got a website, Sales Union, which is where I tend to publish a lot of my training courses, and I also have a podcast, which is designed to be short sharp snippets of business advice that people can implement of a daily basis.
Darren: Thanks, David – I’ve loved this. You are a tour de force of passion for sales and BNI, and it’s been a pleasure talking to you.
David: The pleasure’s been all mine.
More about David:
David Kelly is a sales training expert based in Manchester. Co-founder of Sales Union, a public speaker, podcaster and conversion coach, you can connect with David on his channels below:
About your host:
Darren has worked within digital marketing since the last century, and was the first in-house web designer for video games retailer GAME in the UK, known as Electronics Boutique in the States. After co-founding his own agency, Engage Web, in 2009, Darren has worked with clients around the world, including Australia, Canada and the USA.
Engaging Marketeer: https://engagingmarketeer.com
Engage Web: https://www.engageweb.co.uk