Growing pains are tough but what if you had a way to eliminate those through operations, strategy, and leadership advice?
Karl Sakas is the President and Founder of Sakas and Company and today, he shares with us some great insights into making your company more effective through eliminating growing pains, things which you can apply to your own sales and marketing.
Some of Karl’s clients have compared him to being the business consultant of Don Draper in the series Mad Men. That said, Karl is a business consultant and coach to owners of marketing agencies around the world. He helps people use systems and process to overcome human nature.
Here are the highlights of my conversation with Karl:
Issues that cause growing pains:
- Being too good at sales but no people to fulfill the work
- You can have too much work coming in and you may not have people to fulfill it and this creates a problem.
“Prepare for the expected so you can improvise the unexpected.”
Have a list of sales exclusions in your scope document. Hear all the things you’ve talked about as possible and then once you start negotiating on the price, have a list of those things that the client wants to exclude and include them in your official contract and documentation so they’ve signed off to those exclusions to prevent headaches in the later part of the process.
Strategies to eliminate growing pains:
- Define your ideal qualified prospect.
Sort out who is ideal for you based on the following considerations:
- Who has the money to hire you
- Who are the people you like working with
- Who needs your help and who wants your help
Once you’ve identified your ideal clients, do a “fast failure” on them. If someone is not a good fit, refer them elsewhere then move on. Don’t waste your time with people who are not a good match for you.
- Follow a process.
Without following a process, you end up getting into a leadership stage without realizing that your clients were not a good fit. For instance, you didn’t talk about the budget and then you’ve already sent a contract and they admit they don’t have the money or you’re probably talking with clients who really had no intention to buy.
The idea of the process is that you’re not moving forward until they’ve proven certain things about them.
- Do a pre-intake survey.
Before going on the phone with anyone, you want to be fairly certain that they are likely a good match. The goal is to sort out those who fit your services.
A pre-intake survey is a survey (using SurveyMonkey or Google Forms) Karl uses to elicit information based on these five questions:
- What is your contact information?
- Why did you start your business?
- Are you leaning towards running a lifestyle or a high-growth business?
- If you could wave the magic wand, what’s different a year from now or five years from now?
- What questions do you have for me? And if you’ve worked with another coach before, what do you like and not like about the relationship?
People can fill out this form in ten minutes. Based on the responses, Karl is usually 80% certain about whether it’s a match or not.
When to implement this:
Once you’ve sorted out that they sound like a baseline match and they’ve already seen your price, set up a call. In that process, ask them to fill out your pre-intake survey in order for you to dive in deeper during your call.
Benefits of the pre-intake survey:
Frame it to them that this is a part of your process so this gives people a sense of how organized you are and how you have processes for things.
If someone doesn’t fill out the survey, it’s a sign that it’s not a good fit. So this is a way of qualifying your prospects.
Applying Improv Skills to Your Business
Prepare for the expected so you can improvise the unexpected. Karl too improv comedy classes which he found really helpful in learning how to improvise that significantly helped at business. If you’re not great at it already, sign up for an improv comedy class.
One of you can learn from improv that you can translate to sales is the ability to pay attention to other people around you. Because if you only think about what you want to say, you’re not paying attention to what your prospect needs.
Karl’s Major Takeaway:
Again, prepare for the expected so you can improvise the unexpected. It bears repeating!
About Karl’s book, Made to Lead: A Pocket Guide to Managing Marketing & Creative Teams
This book is great for people currently managing others and who want to manage others. If you’re an employee and have a terrible boss, leave a copy at their door.
Karl is giving a signed copy of the book. To get a chance to win this, simply go to our Facebook group, The Sales Evangelizers, and simply post this:
“Donald and Karl, I want the book!”
Connect with Karl on www.sakasandcompany.com
Karl’s recommended resources:
- Example of Karl’s 5-pre-intake survey
- Creating a sales qualifying process
- Newsletter for agency leaders
- Made to Lead book (paperback and Kindle)
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