Adam Ayers studied mechanical engineering and built a software technology startup after graduating. He is now the Chief Technology Officer and founder of the company, Number5, which specializes as an outsource CTO for celebrities, eCommerce companies, and internet brands. Fifty percent of their operations involve running technology, and acquiring customers, for commerce businesses and executing the data science. The other fifty percent is on custom technology where they build platforms, APIs, and high-performance software on the internet.
When Adam was a child he asked his father what inventors do and the response resonated with him. He was told the best inventors don’t just invent things, they are capable of selling what they’ve invented. That thought motivated him to make things himself, build a team, and sell the things he created himself. As an engineer, Adam has learned to think in frameworks and processes, finding that telling stories are effective ways to negotiate a mutual win and make a sale.
The biggest problem most salespeople face is the tendency to talk more and listen less. People want to be listened to, to be asked questions, and to be understood. This is a factor that other sales reps forget. No matter what you are selling, you must put the clients’ interests first. Listen to them, ask questions, and understand where they’re coming from. You learn to see their problem and present customers with a solution when you sincerely tune-in to what they are saying. This is how they make the buying decision, to trust the solution you present to them.
The ideal ratio is 80-20, where 80% is spent listening to the clients’ story and asking them questions while 20% is spent sharing a story about how you’re going to help solve their problems.
The book entitled, You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar emphasizes the Sandler sales submarine, with the initial point being we need to bond and build rapport with our customers. Showing compassion and kindness and asking people who they are and what they need is the first step to negotiate a mutual win.
It’s a trait that many salespeople need to master to negotiate a mutual win. Being who you are is important because that’s how you connect with people. While compromising is a good thing, you also want to be authentic. Your flaws as a salesperson will make you more human and more relatable to others. A corporate approach in sales is uncomfortable because ultimately everyone is just looking for a smart friend with whom they can make a connection when they’re being sold to.
Adam sells software development, customer acquisition, and data science. These are products the average person doesn’t understand but they know they need it to grow their business. He understands he needs to nurture confidence in his potential clients, that they want to feel good about hiring him. Adam highlights his previous experience, his background, who he’s already worked with, their integrity and what he’s already delivered.
Adam’s team doesn’t sell. Instead, they connect with people – they talk, dine, and get drinks.
While the sales process and negotiations are pretty straightforward, the reality is that it works for his team. When Adam knows that his services aren’t going to fit what the client needs, he is upfront and honest about it. Adam knows his customers need someone who can execute the tasks and if needed, communicate to the stockholders and investors what’s going on.
This approach of combining tech expertise with a personal touch is the core of, Number5, a company name inspired by the1986 movie, Short Circuit. Sometimes, people are hired based on relationships and not on their knowledge about technology.
Their process on how to negotiate a mutual win is shaped around helping clients understand their needs and what their role is to make meet the company’s goals. Adam shows them how his team uses technology to deliver the solution efficiently and effectively.
One company Adam was an engineer for, had the Five Four Club, a men’s clothing line subscription, that quickly rose to popularity. The company needed the technology to keep up with its growth. Adam not only offered the tech to support the growth but as a leader, helped offer resources to build up the existing team. Adam didn’t have to explain how the tech worked but still offered suggestions on how employees could support it within their roles.
Clients say that Adam’s approach is abrasive and shocking until they get to know him. Once they see his process and his ability working for them, they’re on board.
Many salespeople aren’t just selling, they’re also doers. Sales grow with a better job of doing and executing.
Adam is always looking for different tools that will help from a market broad perspective and a sales perspective. For example, CrystalKnows is a plugin that helps you analyze the personality type of anyone’s LinkedIn profile. The results will give you an idea of how to communicate with that person. This is an amazing way technology can start connecting people more effectively and efficiently.
Technology is also helpful for companies that are looking to expand and hire people. The Sales Acceleration Formula, by Mark Roberge, shares it’s not just the experience that’s important, it’s the coachability of the salesperson and their ability to adapt.
This episode is brought to you in part by TSE Certified Sales Training Program, a course designed to help new and struggling sellers to master the fundamentals of sales and close more deals. Sign up now and get the first two modules for free! You can also call us at (561) 570-5077.
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Kristen Estrada is a regional sales executive with SAP Concur covering the South Florida area. She has spent 20 years selling everything from consumables to skincare, legal services, and now cloud-based software.
During Kristen’s work with a beauty company, she traveled to Dubai with a great team of male sellers who spoke Arabic. She struggled to feel welcome in the foreign culture but she tried to make the best of it. While she was there, she got sick and lost her voice, but she still had to work.
The last day of the trade show, she broke down the booth with her colleagues and then headed to the airport but she had gotten her departure dates mixed up. Her flight didn’t leave until the next day, and though she tried to negotiate an earlier departure, the airlines wanted to charge her $1,500 to change her ticket.
Kristen knew her employer wouldn’t pay that, so she headed back to her hotel, which was already full. She didn’t speak Arabic and the hotel wasn’t being helpful. Out of desperation, she asked her colleague if she could stay in his room for the night.
Perhaps because he knew that would be uncomfortable, he made a phone call to the front desk and got her room back. She eventually made it home the next day, but it wasn’t a great experience for her. In fact, she feels bad when people ask about the trip because she’s certain that others have great experiences there.
From a professional standpoint, she was able to make some connections at the trade show and even sell some products right off the floor. Unfortunately, the lack of support during her stay left her feeling lost and overwhelmed.
During another trip to Miami, Kristen was working for a small business with a very tight cash flow. Because she was close to the owner, she did her best to protect the bottom line by staying in two-star hotels. She loved the job and the products and the company, so she was willing to do whatever was necessary to help.
She and a female colleague were sharing a room near the convention center in what she calls a “dumpy hotel.” They dropped their stuff off after check-in and rushed over to a trade show. When they returned, there was a “boot” on the hotel door, like the ones you find on your car when you’ve parked illegally.
They inquired at the front desk where the clerk told them that their credit card had been declined. It was odd because the room couldn’t have been worth much more than about $59 a night, but they paid the bill with a personal card, stayed the night, and left the next day to find another hotel.
Every traveler wants to stay in a safe environment, but for females traveling alone, this is especially true. Following these experiences, Kristen approached the company leadership seeking the freedom to book her own travel moving forward. She was willing to stay within a certain dollar amount; she simply wanted to book safer accommodations.
As she has continued in her professional journey, she finds that she still cares where she stays when she travels for business. She considers herself lucky to work for a company that values her safety and knows where she is at all times because of apps and technology. If there’s an emergency, they know exactly where to find her. They can quickly get her out of a sketchy situation if necessary.
SAP Concur is a mobile app that allows users to book business trips. It services 40 million customers worldwide, many through the app called TripIt. TripIt is a free app that organizes your trips and notifies you of changes to your itinerary. It also provides safety scores by neighborhood so travelers can book properties where they feel safe.
Companies of all sizes can benefit from Concur. It’s especially affordable for startups because it provides the ability to book travel and create expense reports.
Kristen usually works with accounting departments or leadership teams who inquire about the small business package. It offers a bundled discount and services an entire sales team.
Once you sign up for the service, you download the app and then connect your corporate card. If you’re using personal money for reimbursement, you submit photos of receipts and the app captures those and sends them to an approver within your finance team who can quickly get you reimbursed.
Kristen’s experience traveling abroad often required her to create spreadsheets for her expenses where she made copies of receipts, provided conversions from euros to dollars, and then waited weeks to get her money back. As a seller, she wasn’t getting paid to create spreadsheets, and she recognized the struggle of keeping track of receipts.
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Dr. Tye Caldwell is the CEO, co-founder, and visionary behind the success of ShearShare. Realizing what the future could hold for both the beauty and barber industries, he created a platform for licensed professionals to move from working in their homes to working in salons, barber shops, and spas. This created not only opportunities to work in places where they could be classically trained, but created an opportunity for increased income as well.
Dr. Caldwell has been in the industry for 25 years. He’s an instructor with a doctorate degree in professional barbering and cosmetology and co-owner of an award-winning salon. Dr. Caldwell is also the author of Mentored by Failure, a best-selling book about how to be successful in the industry.
When he approached his wife, Courtney, with the idea for ShearShare, she admits to being hesitant. He reminded her how they used to have stylists on a waitlist who wanted to work at their salon, but that it was no longer the case. Instead, he had stylists who just wanted to rent a space for one or two days a week.
Courtney liked the old-school way when stylists signed a long-term contract and became part of the team and the culture. But her husband was persistent. He knew he’d rather collect some money on the empty chairs than none at all.
It was a success.
Everyone loved the experience and flexibility. So much so, that they began to call other salons to find spaces for stylists who were traveling. Word got out quickly. More and more stylists called looking for spaces where they could work by the day.
Fast forward three years and the Caldwells knew they were on to something.
The beauty industry, as a whole, has been archaic for years, according to Dr. Caldwell. With only four ways to actually work – by commission, by renting a booth, in a salon, or as an employee, stylists were unable to work where and when they needed.
The Caldwells wanted to change that and they knew technology was the key.
These days, because of advancements in technology, people can press a button to get a ride, to have food delivered, or to rent a room in someone’s home instead of a hotel.
The beauty industry needed to be more on-demand as well. Because they both serve on advisory boards for beauty schools and barber colleges, the Caldwells knew it was something the next generation wanted.
ShearShare is the first mobile app that allows a stylist to rent a salon or barber shop space by the day. Taking three years to fully develop and implement the idea allowed them to realize the different ways it would, and would not, work.
The industry is fragmented in some areas which made it difficult. Barbers differ from salon stylists who differ from cosmetologists, for example. The Caldwells had to consider the viewpoints of the various professionals and they had to consider both sides of every issue from an owner, and user, viewpoint.
Once they listened to what the stylists and clients really wanted, the app began to take shape.
Users, for example, want to know that the stylist is licensed and how long the stylist has been in the industry. Users also want to see pictures of the salon, read reviews, and see map locations.
The Caldwells had no idea, however, about how to start a business or find investors. They only knew that the app they wanted to create hadn’t been created yet, so they drained their savings account and hired someone to build it.
Looking back now, Courtney is glad they spent three years as a concierge service. It allowed them time to learn the questions that stylists always asked as well as the expectations of the host salon. They learned the required data that the app would eventually need to succeed.
The app works similarly to an Airbnb app in that the Caldwells are paid a percentage of the booking fee whenever a stylist reserves a space. Word-of-mouth is the best way to grow in the beauty industry so the Caldwells visited salon owners and attended many stylist events to fan the flames of interest.
The fear of rejection never entered into their minds because they knew rejection was simply part of the process. Instead, they were determined not to quit.
Many entrepreneurs sit on their ideas because they are waiting for approval from someone else. The Caldwells understood from the start that not everyone would sign on right away, or realize their vision.
It is easy to give up when those around you don’t share the same dream. Once they plant a seed of doubt in your mind, it is easy to talk yourself out of trying to achieve your dream.
The one-percenters of the world take that next step. It is how we know the name Oprah Winfrey, or Tyler Perry, for example. They are the people who kept with it. They moved past the rejection and the negative comments.
Look at the people who are doing successful things and know they are doing so because they put their mind to something and because they possess the willingness of heart to achieve it.
Focus on your dream, stick with it, and keep pushing.
The Caldwells were able to lean on and support each other. They had no technical background upon which to build the app but they knew people who could. And they had already proven the marketability of the idea.
Despite the complications and challenges, they knew it could be done because they had listened to their customers. They knew the struggles of both the salon owners and the stylists. The Caldwells were able to bridge the gap by talking to people on both sides of the industry.
The Caldwells credit the beauty industry community, which they have been a part of for over 25 years, as the foundation of their success. Instead of emailing or posting on Facebook, for example, they send text messages to their community. They know from experience that it is the best way to reach a stylist or a barber; folks who don’t carry their laptop to work.
They found a way to use today’s technology to meet the new demands of a business that has been around for generations.
Dr. Caldwell knows that you must turn your idea into a solid plan. Then, find a mentor and build relationships with people who can give advice and breathe optimism into the plan.
In the case of ShearShare, they had a friend who was able to connect them with app developers, who in turn told them about a contest for new businesses, which pushed them into an incubator.
It all boiled down to having solid relationships.
When Courtney thinks back to the early struggles, she is thankful that they had people they could rely on. It got them through the days when things weren’t going as planned.
She is also thankful that they were not afraid to make cold calls. Don’t ever think that someone is too busy or too successful to help others. Courtney has found, instead, that once people realize you are trying to do something positive, they are willing to give back and help.
The best piece of advice she ever received was from her husband: “Just jump. Grow your wings on the way down.”
You can learn more about ShearShare at www.shearshare.com. The Caldwells are also on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. If you’d like to follow Dr. Caldwell’s crazy life as a startup founder in the beauty and barber space, you can find him on Instagram at drtyecaldwell.
This episode is brought to you in part by our TSE Certified Sales Training Program, which teaches you to improve your sales skills, find more customers, build stronger value, and close more deals.
The next semester begins in March.
This episode is also brought to you in part by mailtag.io, a Chrome browser extension for Gmail that allows you to track and schedule your emails. It’s super easy, it’s helpful, and I recommend that you try it out.
You’ll receive real-time alerts anyone opens an email or clicks a link.
I hope you enjoyed the show today as much as I did. If so, please consider leaving us a rating on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Stitcher, or wherever you consume this content and share it with someone else who might benefit from our message. It helps others find our message and improves our visibility.
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Today on The Sales Evangelist, Patrick Shaw will talk to us about using technology to convert leads. If we use technology and software, we can work smarter and not harder.
Patrick is the founder and CEO of RapidFunnel, a mobile-based permission marketing app created for direct sales, small businesses, and franchises.
It isn’t enough to just have leads; we have to build relationships with and nurture our prospects.
We must have systematic ways to keep up with our prospects and our sales processes.
In the early days of his career, Patrick said he was guilty of putting dollar signs on people’s heads. He felt bad about it, but he also realized that the number of people he spoke to was directly related to the amount of money that he made.
Patrick started to wonder whether he could shift his priorities so that he could improve the quality of his prospect’s life and put his own needs completely to the side.
He wondered about making the process easier and more comfortable for both the salesperson and the prospect as well.
The conversion success rate often depends on the type of organization it is and where their leads come from.
Massage therapists, for example, believe in what they’re doing, but they don’t think of themselves as salespeople. They’re very uncomfortable coming off as “salesy.” They suffer from a very different problem than someone who is in sales.
Many times it’s a question of efficiencies. Are they creating real efficiencies? Do they have systems and processes in place that make them more efficient than the person trying to do the same task manually?
Patrick loves Stephen Covey’s book The Four Disciplines of Execution.
1. Focus on the wildly important. Whether you’re a salesperson or a company, what are your wildly important goals? Usually it’s involved around increasing revenue.
2. Act on the lead measure. If your wildly important goal is to increase revenue which comes through sales, then what’s the lead measure? For almost all companies, it’s prospecting and followup.
3. Have a scoreboard. If there’s no scoreboard, you don’t know where anyone stands during the game. When people have something wildly important, they’ve identified their lead measure and they have a scoreboard based on that lead measure. There’s a cadence of accountability where people hold each other accountable.
4. Develop a cadence of accountability. With a scoreboard, there’s a cadence of accountability where people hold each other accountable. it changes the dynamics of an organization.
The cadence of accountability can be difficult to create if you don’t have a scoreboard. At RapidFunnel, we measure the quantity of the exposure and the quality of the exposure. We can tell you the number of unique exposures you make, and the quality of that exposure based on the engagement of the prospect.
He does note that accountability is never about pointing out those who are failing but rather about highlighting those who are doing proper activity.
Technology often makes things more difficult because there’s only so much bandwidth. If someone has to create all their own content for a platform, they’ll be stretched thin.
The lead measure isn’t creating content and becoming a marketing expert. We want to make it simple for the sales reps to tell the company’s story.
You can’t automate a relationship, but here’s what RapidFunnel can do: it can tell you when your prospect is watching the videos that you sent him. It can tell you how long he watched and what he watched.
You can then pick up the phone and call him, and he’ll say, “Hey! I was just watching the videos you sent me.”
It’s discovery, and it’s personal, but it’s automated.
The key is to leverage technology that adds value without sucking you in time-wise.
The reason so many large organizations fail at social media marketing is because they add branding to their personal contacts. The very essence of social is relationship-based, and your prospects have a relationship with you, not your company.
Whether you’re leveraging technology or not, work harder on yourself than you do on business. Spend 10-15 minutes a day getting your mind right, seeking clarity about your goals and your purpose.
Determine the value you’re trying to create in the marketplace because the answers will come when you do. Continually educate yourself and have a growth mindset.
You will leverage technology the right way as long as you focus on the bigger picture.
There are only so many hours in the day, and you’ve got to be judicious with your time.
If you’d like to connect with Patrick, you can find him at RapidFunnel.com and request a demo or more information. You can request a demo or simply request more information about the platform.
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