A key factor to business growth is making sales, which is why Clate and Scott say that small businesses must grow a culture of selling. That means you have to get over rejection and become a master closer—like Scott! The key is having a great product. If you do that, then selling really becomes serving, because you’ll know you’re selling something that will improve the quality of someone’s life. You don’t have to put on on your plaid used car salesman jacket, but you do have to get persuasive, so Clate and Scott give their recommendations for fostering that sales instinct.
Mentioned in this episode: “The Master Closer” by Mike Kaplan
Clate Mask: Welcome, everybody, to this episode of the Small Business Success podcast. I’m Clate Mask.
Scott Martineau: And I’m Scott Martineau. We’re co-founders of Infusionsoft and today we want to have a little discussion on the importance of creating – why are you smirking at me? The importance of creating a culture of selling. I remember when we would go to marketing conferences early as we were struggling in our business, Dan Kennedy always talked about the likelihood of success dramatically goes up if the person starting the business has done some sort of toe-to-toe selling. I always thought that was really fascinating.
Clate Mask: Yeah. And I think the whole point here that he was making, and I think the thing that we see over and over again is if you are afraid of rejection, then you're afraid of success in your business, so it’s not going to happen. You’ve got to be able to push through that rejection, and I think that’s what a lot of – you know, when we heard a lot of leaders and speakers early on in our business talking about it it was like yeah, if you’ve had experience selling, you’ve had experience with rejection, so you got a real chance of fighting through it.
Scott Martineau: And I don’t think it’s just rejection. It’s also getting, for some people I think – and by the way, Clate is more naturally oriented towards sales than I am, but there is also a hurdle of –
Clate Mask: What do you mean? I thought you were the master closer, Scott?
Scott Martineau: Ha-ha-ha-ha.
Clate Mask: When I first started with Scott and Eric, they had this book called Master Closers, and they said, “Listen, if you're going to do the sales work, we think you should read this book.” That’s why I’m giving a jab about it.
Scott Martineau: I am a master closer. So that’s why I’m going to impart my wisdom to you. But, no. I’m speaking of the – I don’t know that it’s always rejection. I think it’s also getting comfortable with the idea that people are going to part with good amounts – you know, large amounts of money in exchange with for your product or service and that’s – I mean, that in essence it takes you getting to the place where you really understand and believe in the value of what you're selling to the point that you feel great about that transaction that you're about to create.
Clate Mask: Yeah.
And the reason why Scott and I wanted to talk about selling is we’re – we have a strong conviction of the importance of this for business owners that are trying to break through because so often what we see is a business owner that just has that fear of selling.
They just have a resistance to it. They’ll find anything else to do other than doing that sales work, and it’s like well, it’s not going to work. You can learn and study and make a better mousetrap, a better product all day long, but it’s not going to sell itself. You have to actually sell it. The saying goes, “Nothing happens till somebody sells something.” You have to sell.
Scott Martineau: I’ve always found that spreadsheets are a great distraction from selling. You can go as deep as you want. Get yourself lost in it.
Clate Mask: Exactly. [Laughs] And despite what Scott says, I’m not a master salesperson either. Early on in the business, I found myself in this exact situation and I was talking to my dad one morning and he was, like – I was telling him just how – I hadn’t made my first sale yet at Infusionsoft and I had a bunch of different people in the pipeline. This was back when we were doing custom software. He’s, like, “So tell me what you're doing.” And I kinda told him and he early on had been in sales.
He’s a teacher and his whole career was a teacher. But for the first few years before he began teaching, he was in sales. And I told him what I was doing and he said, “Can I give you some advice?” And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Sell.” And I was, like, “I thought that’s what I’m doing.” He said, “No, you're not. You're talking to them. You're telling them about the information. You’ve got – do you believe in what you're doing?” “Absolutely. Scott and Eric are amazing software programmers. We are creating just really cool software for people.”
And he’s like, “Then sell it. Sell it hard. Be persuasive and know that they’re going to be better off if they buy what you're selling.” And that concept that selling really is serving is something that is a trite cliché, but it’s the truth unless what you're selling sucks.
Scott Martineau: Right. And we’ll talk more maybe about tactical approaches in selling. I think today it’s really around the mindset of selling and the importance of that. In one of our podcasts, we had a guest, Mark, who is an attorney and he used the word sales. He’s like, “We realized we had to go get some sales.”
And it was a cool interaction in that podcast because Clate pointed out the fact that a lot of attorneys – it’s like, “No, no, no. I’m not going to do sales. This is a law practice.” But there’s – when you step into business on your own, you're inherently saying, “I’ve got to wear a bunch of different hats. I’ve got to be able to market. I’ve got to be able to sell.” And I’m not saying that it has to be the favorite thing and that eventually you won’t have some – you can’t have somebody on your team that does that.
Clate Mask: You don’t have to put on your plaid jacket and be used car salesman. But you do need to recognize that what you’ve got matters and it makes a difference for the right customer. Go find that right customer and make sure that you persuade them to get the benefit of what you're offering.
Scott Martineau: And in almost every case, I think that the lifting power that gets a business off the ground at its root is sales.
Clate Mask: Absolutely.
Scott Martineau: It might show up in different forms, but it is sales.
Clate Mask: And it’s this mentality that holds back businesses from ever growing. So if you’ve got one, two or three employees, there must be –
so one or two or three people in the business, there must be somebody who takes on the responsibility of sales. Somebody’s got to own that. And usually it’s the business owner who realizes, it’s not going to happen unless I sell. We have a lot of business owners, a lot of entrepreneurs end up doing that. That’s necessary unless you’ve got somebody you can hire who’s just a great salesperson, but most of the time when you do that, they end up not selling it very effectively because they don’t understand it the way the business owner does.
Scott Martineau: Clate, what recommendations do you have for those of us listeners who are – I’ll put myself in the category, but who just don’t naturally have this instinct of sales. What would you recommend?
Clate Mask: Set aside a certain portion of your day that all you do is sell. And I remember very specifically in our early days when – ‘cause I wasn’t just selling. I had sales and – I did everything except for write software, and you guys did nothing expect write software. I had a bunch of other responsibilities. And it was very easy for me to get up out of my chair, go do different things, busy myself in other ways.
And the discipline that I realized was I created a block of time during the day that was just for selling and I kept my butt bolted to that seat. And that might kind of funny but what noticed was if I didn’t actually intentionally stay in the seat, focused on the sales work, it was really easy to get distracted to do other things. My advice is not very glamorous. It’s probably not very deep. It’s just stay in the sales seat. Create a sales seat and stay there and do sales work. And what will happen is you will get better and better and you’ll start to learn the words, the talk tracks, the phrases, the things that really resonate with your prospects.
Scott Martineau: Now I’ve got a time in the day where I can work on my spreadsheet. No, there might also – if you're in my seat, you might also need to say, “Hey. I’m going to have a goal to have this many contacts or this many conversations.” And then maybe the only thing I’d add would be selling is a process and there’s a pipeline.
And as your business matures, there will be, maybe, a bit more maturity to your funnel. But I think you always need to be planting seeds as well as trying to close and make sure that you’ve got a decent pipeline going. I would say, also, just keep it simple in the beginning. Don’t overcomplicate things. Just start with getting some points on the board.
Clate Mask: Yep. Make sure you avoid the pitfall of believing that your product or service will sell itself. It won’t. and it’ll actually kill your business, if you don’t take on that responsibility, so good luck to you in your work of selling. And I know that if you’ll take what we talked about here, it’ll make a big difference for your business, you know, break through some of the hurdles that’re holding you back right now
Scott Martineau: Who’s the copywriter that said creating sales and revenue solves all of the problems that not having revenue creates? [Laughs]
Clate Mask: [Laughs]
Scott Martineau: So simple, but yet, so brilliant. Who was that? Gary Halbert, I think it was the one who said that.
Clate Mask: Sales solves all problems, which is a little bit of an overstatement ‘cause sometimes you can actually have some big problems when you're selling a lot. But that is the 1 percent of the problems vs the 99 percent that are created when you're not selling.
Scott Martineau: All right. So if you find yourself struggling to create a culture of selling in your mind or in your business, hopefully these are a few helpful tips for you. That’s all for this episode of the Small Business Success podcast.
[Music playing] Clate Mask: Tune in next time for more tips and great stories from successful entrepreneurs.