It’s easy to think of sales as a constant pursuit of clients. However, if you really want to exceed your previous sales records, the best way to go is to get clients to chase you instead. Today’s guest has plenty of expertise in getting clients to chase you for a conversation instead of you chasing them.
Nick Neeson has more than 20 years in the sales profession. He started at the bottom, and over the years he’s worked in all stages of the pipeline, including the pre- and post-pipeline stages. He’s also spent 10 years as a business coach for sales performance coach. Two years ago, Nick switched gears and became a relationship coach. He started Introverted Badass, a company that’s dedicated to helping introverted men find relationship success. Listen to the episode to hear what Nick has to say about his sales background, the seven-step sales letter he uses in his business, and how to leverage several different methods of communications to get prospects to pursue you.
- Nick’s sales background
- The current projects that Nick is working on
- The viability of cold calling as a strategy
- How to get prospects to chase you, rather than the other way around
- How you can use marketing deliverables to help sell the customer
- Nick’s seven-step sales letter
- The benefits of offering something valuable for free
- The leverages Nick uses to raise awareness
- Why it’s important to leverage several different ways of communicating with prospects
Email Nick at: email@example.com
Marylou: Hey, everybody, it’s Marylou Tyler. In fact it was very difficult to decide what to talk about today because Nick Neeson has been in the sales profession for 20-plus years. He knows every stage of the pipeline–the pre-stages, the pipeline itself, and then the post-stages. I’ve asked him to talk about prospecting, and especially his expertise is getting prospects to chase you for conversation as opposed to you chasing them.
Welcome, Nick, to the podcast.
Nick: Thank you, Marylou. Thank you for having me.
Marylou: Tell us about your background. Tell us where you’re at today, and where you started, and then let’s start getting into this conversation about prospects chasing us. I love that topic.
Nick: I’ve always been active in sales, for about 22 years now. I just started like most of the people in sales–at the bottom. I started at a telecommunication company as a hunter. Then, all the things in the career ladder, sales coach, and sales management.
I’ve also been a business coach for sales performance solutions for 10 years and we focused on helping companies become more buyer aligned both from a sales and marketing perspective. There’s a lot of talk about integrating sales and marketing to the buyer journey.
How do you make sure that you can implement that kind of a common language in companies that makes sales and marketing work together based on the buyer journey and how you make it stick? How do you manage the change?
That is what I’ve been doing for 10 years. Two years ago, I made an unusual career change. I went from being a business coach to a relationship coach. Today, we focus on helping introverted men to find their dream woman or the love of their life.
In fact, I’ve been doing coaching with introverted men on their love life as a side thing. Many of the clients that that we have today come from the business. I’d like to say just one thing about it. Many salespeople are actually introverts because introversion has nothing to do with whether you’re shy, or whether you’re confident, or whether you like to speak a lot or not. Usually, it has to do with where do you get your energy.
You see a lot of salespeople, especially in more complex sales, that are introverts. You see a lot of introverted salespeople in account management where relationship building is important. In B2B-technology companies, you see a lot of them.
Two years ago, I made a decision to completely stop doing what I was doing and start a company called Introverted Badass, if you put them together it’s like they don’t intersect with each other, that was intentionally.
To bridge into the topic of getting prospects chasing us, what you need to know is that the solution that I found in making prospects chase our company is something that I just recently found out. I wish I would’ve known that back in my days when I was doing the sales performance business.
What you have to know is we sell high-end coaching programs. It’s B2C, it’s not B2B but the same process applies in B2B markets and I am going to tell you why that is in a second. We sell high-end coaching programs. For example, there is one about 13K for five months, then we have one about between $500 and $2000 a month that usually takes 12 months. It’s not something that you can sell completely automatically over the internet. Once you go above the $2000 range, there needs to be some interaction.
What we have is a free strategy session in which we coach people and then they become clients or not. In doing that business, I wanted to get clients. I didn’t want to have the model that we typically see where you either are going to be doing cold calling or as we’ve seen throughout the years, cold calling. Some people say it’s that, some people say it’s not that. I know that you think in terms of nothing is dead unless—I don’t know how you said it.
Marylou: Nothing is dead until you say it’s dead because your audience may be receptive to some of the tactics from a larger toolkit. You don’t want to give up just because the industry is saying cold calling is dead, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work for your group of people. But you need to test it, you need to have a statistically relevant sample. I’m all about taking the tools that best work with my audience so I get to say whether it’s dead or not.
Nick: What you said is actually true. Part of the previous business, sales performance business that I was in, we acquired a company that was a call center. We sold it a few years later but what I learned from that is that when you have a call center, you go to companies and you actually say, “Hey, you want more leads, you want more appointments? Don’t make your salespeople call call. We will do it for you.”
What we learned there is that cold calling does still work but it is depending on the product market couple and the industry you are in. For some industries, it doesn’t work, and for some it does, it’s absolutely not that.
What you see is a typical evolution that we came from cold calling, then the internet–people can find stuff online. The power that the salesperson has in making an appointment is less because the buyer can, prior to that—as salespeople we have a lot of influence, we had a lot of power because we had a lot of information. If buyers wanted to know about that information, they have to talk to us, so people push back.
The movement to content marketing, lead nurturing, and inbound versus outbound. All of that is great but there’s one thing that I kept noticing is that whether you do inbound, or outbound, or whether you nurture your leads to marketing, content marketing, and that kind of stuff, there’s always a moment where you’re actually chasing prospects.
Even in inbound, somebody calls you and they ask for some information on a product, on a solution, or whatever. The inbound salesperson, or the sales development representative, maybe twice has set up an appointment with one of the outside sales reps. From the moment that they tried to set up that appointment, they get into a chasing mode.
What I keep seeing is that the cost of sales is still a big problem in many companies. Once you start chasing a prospect, whether you get the meeting or whether you don’t get the meeting—if you get the meeting, you’ll see that the hit rates are still low, you’ll see that a lot is still based on the competence of the salesperson, which has tremendous problems in terms of scalability, in terms of time to productivity for new sales reps. You’re dependent of a few key people, a few key salespersons that make the majority of the revenue. That problem should be less thanks to lead nurturing, thanks to leveraging marketing, to educate the market based on the strengths of the company so that the salesperson has to be less skilled in terms of getting the sales, but it just keeps being a problem, it’s getting better but it’s still a problem.
I want my company to scale and I don’t want to be dependent on hiring top performers and eagles because there’s just not enough of them. I was just lucky to find a solution in the internet marketing business. I don’t know if you know about Frank Kern, he’s one of my mentors, and Frank Kern is one of the gurus when it comes down to how you market your business online.
The thing that I learned from him was the following – when you look at getting appointments, what you typically see is you have the salesperson calling, and then now you have a whole marketing nurturing stuff to make the customer ready for the call of the salespersons. But that content marketing is very educational, very nurturing, very corporate, and many of the companies that I work for, they still think that now that we’re on that content marketing train, now that we’re doing that, they still have that idea that marketing is for education purposes than content marketing and then the sales person or the sales development person needs to do the selling. I found that there is a middle ground in there that’s like a gap, that is not covered, and that we can solve with copywriting and direct marketing pieces, whether that’s sending a piece in the mail or email.
What I’m talking about basically is using marketing deliverables that act like mini-salespeople and that literally sell the customer. You have your lead nurturing, your content marketing to educate the market, to get them to the early stages of the buyer journey, to create trust and likability, and all that stuff. There is a middle piece that I found through my mentor Frank Kern in that regard that is about how do I make marketing that actually really sells, whether it sells the product or it sells the appointment.
I prepared here seven things. I have a sales letter that I send to people that come on my website that might have read a blog post or seen one of my videos. That sales letter creates leads that are literally chasing to have an appointment with me. They are literally jumping through hoops to have an appointment with me. Literally, this is not a joke, we have 99% of the people that we get on the free call, and they become clients, literally.
Marylou: That is a great close ratio, people.
Nick: I feel uncomfortable saying it because it’s like, “Man, this guy is saying stuff that’s not true.” It is absolutely true. I’d like to walk through the points, the things that are in that letter so that people can hopefully duplicate it and hopefully get the same results.
Marylou: Let’s do that. That sounds great.
Nick: I’m going to take my cheat sheet. There are seven steps. The process is like this, you have the sales letter of seven steps, and then after the sales letter, they can apply and then they go through a qualification process. The biggest part of the high success rate on the free calls is because we really qualify a lot of people through the qualification process, that’s one.
The second thing why we have such a high closing rate is because when people get on the call with us, they know exactly what the offer is, they know exactly what the prize is, and they actually know that the free call is for a test drive.
It won’t be suited for every business. I’m selling in B2C; Frank Kern is selling in a B2B environment. He’s selling consultancy services to other businesses, to consultants, and to coaches. His fees are I think $5000 for one hour of coaching with him on the phone. It’s ridiculously expensive and he uses that exact same process to sell $100,000 packages. It’s perfectly applicable to B2B. It’s perfectly applicable to B2C.
If you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, “I’m not selling services. I’m selling a product.” I tell those people, “Don’t throw away the ID too quickly,” because that’s something that I’ve seen so many times happening in the corporate world. People have an ID, if you don’t really tell them, “You have to do it like this in your business,” they’ll instantly come up with that objection, but that’s different in my own business, it doesn’t work.
I’d like to invite everybody to look at this and ask themselves, “How can I make it work?” Because there’s always a way to come up with something.
Here are the seven steps. All of this is literally from Frank and I’m not taking any credit but we use that process and it works very well.
The first thing you do is you have a sales letter in which you offer your help for free, and that free help that you can give that is something that should be of value to the customer. It could be a free assessment that you’re giving, whether that’s technology services or technology solutions.
I’m sure you can find some kind of an assessment that you can do, like an asset to be assessed or it could be a demonstration for us. We build a customized dating plan for introverted professionals. We tailor a plan for them to get their love life under control. That’s step one, you talk about the stuff that they can get for free.
Step two, is explaining the benefits, so that’s classical sales, you explain the benefits of it. In our case, many of our clients are professionals, introverts, and so we tailor the plan based on their time management needs. Instead of turning their life upside down, we help them get all of that done within the timeframe, without having to put too much effort in it, and that’s a value to our customers.
At this point, you did two things. First of all, you offered something valuable for free. You explained the benefits. At this point, the prospect who is reading that is thinking like, “Why the hell are you doing that for free? What’s the catch?”
Step number three is explaining why you are offering it for free. What’s really important there is to be honest and transparent.
By the way, if somebody wants to read it, they can go to my website, opt into one of the freebies and then on the thank you page, you’ll have the sales letter and the name of it, according to Frank Kern, is The Irresistible Intrigue Offer. So it creates irresistible intrigue.
In step three of that letter, we explain why it’s for free and you say the reason why we’re doing that for free is because we know that a certain percentage of the people that will do this session, they will become a client. Explain to them what they get as a client. Here’s what we offer and here’s exactly what it costs.
I could hear some people in the audience thinking, “Yeah, but we have solutions. We work tailor made. We cannot do something like this. Every situation is different. That’s not true.” Even if you work tailor made, even if you can give a price, you can still give a price for or an indication.
For example, if I would go back to my business within the sales performance industry, I would say, “Listen, to implement this kind of sales methodology with this kind of sales enablement and this kind of coaching or whatever, we have packages. Between 30K and 40K, if you have a sales team of X people.” So you can always find a solution for that.
Explain why it’s for free. You give the price for it and at that point people are still going to be skeptical. They’ll be thinking, “Okay, they’re giving me something valuable for free.” They say that just to get clients but I don’t want to have a sales pitch in disguise. You want to eliminate the sales fear. The way you do it is you’ll literally address it in the sales letter by saying, “Listen, this is really something of value. This is not a sales call in disguise.”
If you’re offering a free assessment or whatever it is that you offer, make sure that you position it and make sure that it’s really clear, that it’s not a sales pitch in disguise because otherwise, they are going to think, “Man, you’re just coming over. You’re just going to do your sales presentation and you’ll present that as if it’s something that’s valuable for free, which by the way if you’re good at sales and you do a really good needs analysis and problem diagnosis, I know from experience that clients actually would pay for that because there’s not many people who really do that good.
You really want to make sure that they understand that and then you take it one step further in the positioning by doing a complete risk reversal on it. What we say then is, “Listen, it’s not a sales pitch in disguise. It’s real value. We’ll really work together.” By the way, everybody can say that, so here’s my promise to you. If we get pushy, if there is the slightest hint of sales in that conversation, I’ll give you $200. In fact, if you find anything unpleasant in the conversation, if you think that we wasted your time, we’ll give you $200. We’ve never had in the history of the company to almost three years that we exist, never ever did we have a single person even ask for that $200.
What we have by now is you gave them an offer for free. You explained the benefits. We said why we’re doing it for free. We were honest. We gave them the price and we said what they get. We say, “It’s not a sales pitch in disguise.” We reverse the risk now, they are really intrigued, “These people must be really sure of what they are saying if they can make these kinds of claims.”
Here’s where some copywriting comes in, what you want to do now is you want to take it away and qualify them. What we do now in the sales letter it’s saying, “Okay, it’s for free. We’ll give you $200 if you’re not happy. It’s tremendous value but that’s not for everybody. I just can’t take everybody.”
By the way, it’s the legitimate scarcity because when you’re having a sales conversation, a good sales conversation should be consultative. You’re limited by your time, so we say, “We don’t have time for everyone. We can only help people that have these, and these, and these, and these criteria.” In those criteria what you’re doing there is you use your ideal client or your ideal customer criteria in there.
We finish with scarcity, which is like, “Apply now because we only have so much time in the day to do it.”
That’s basically it. These are the seven steps. Once they apply, they click a link, they go to a qualification form, and they have to answer the criteria. We ask stuff like what are their goals? What is keeping them from reaching their goals? Are they in a place financially to invest that kind of money in coaching? You could basically put whatever is important to your business there.
People are literally jumping through hoops to get a meeting with you and you are positioned like the guru on the mountain. If you want to talk to the guru on the mountain, it’s not easy. You have to climb the mountain and that’s why you make people qualify to you.
It wouldn’t work just by making people qualify. The thing that makes it work is by offering something really valuable for free, having the risk reversal in it, which makes it really intriguing, and then doing the takeaway.
We have seen tremendous results with this. The most important part of it is that I have coaches whose time to productivity is within a month because even without a lot of sales experience because the process, people are hoping to get on a call with you.
Marylou: Most definitely. I love the different concepts that you’ve put into this letter and I think everyone who is listening, they want to get a copy of the letter. I’ll put the link for them to find you and get on your list so that they get this letter. What I would recommend everyone do is deconstruct what Nick just said in this podcast. Deconstruct that letter, find those seven steps within the letter itself as an exercise, and then re-craft one similar in scope to what he did because it is all about for us.
Trying to disqualify those people with whom who are not going to have a good fit, that’s why we have this step called, “Are we a fit?” We’re trying to figure out from the thousands of people that are potentially in our database, which ones are the ones that we want to spend time with because time is money for us. So I love that idea, Nick.
Let me ask you a question about the letter itself. How do people find you in order to go through this process? What are some of the things that you do? What are some of the levers you pull to build awareness around you and website and get to that link?
Nick: Do you want to know where people could just go to that letter or do you want to know the process that we use to get them there for the educational program system?
Marylou: I want to know the types of leverage you pull in order to get awareness around going to the site to get that letter.
Nick: First of all, I just want to reiterate, I don’t take any credit for the letter, it’s Frank Kern’s at frankkern.com.
There are three things that we’re doing right now. We have a blog. We’re doing a guest post and podcast. We’re now heavily testing with YouTube advertising.
The thing that I have the most experience with for the moment is the blog. People come to our blog and the blogs are like 2000-3000 words. I have a blog of 11,000 words, 3000 words. It’s really content rich. Seriously, we try to make our free stuff more valuable than the paid stuff in our industry.
People get on the blog, they read that and they say, “That’s interesting,” or they hate it. They love it, they hate it or somewhere in between, but if you love it, you read it, you say, “Man, I’ve got a lot of help here. I’ve got some results in advance.”
A technique that works really well for us is what we call the content upgrade. You have a blog post where you really help people on a certain topic. For example, in our case, it could be how to get a girlfriend, or it could be how to do the first date—different topics for people with different needs.
Let’s say they read the blog post about Eleven Tips For Having A Good First Date As An Introvert, and they say, “Wow, that really helped me,” so we don’t hold back, we really give a lot of stuff. At the end of the post, there’s a content upgrade that says, “Hey, if you like this post, do you want a free ebook about the first date?” or a cheat sheet or whatever.
Through that way, we get really high conversion rates on those blog posts and we get people into mailing lists where we can send them the letter that I’ve just talked to you about, but those people actually are not so cold as audience anymore because they just read a few of our blog posts.
We create goodwill with them. We help them. When you stack the sales letter on top of that goodwill—that’s really important. You want to create goodwill and then you stack that sales letter on top of that goodwill and the combination works really well for us. But again, I found it through Frank Kern so all the credit goes to him.
The thing I want to say is I really wish I would have known that back when I was in the sales performance business because there are so many companies out there in the corporate world, in the B2B world that if they would find out about this or if they would look at one of those products of Frank, they would look down their nose at this, “Oh, this is not for us. We are more corporate,” and I would really urge the audience to get past that.
One thing, if you read the sales letter on our website, there is some language in there that I would never use if I still would be in my B2B environment selling sales performance solutions. When you read that, don’t make the mistake of thinking, “Oh, I would never say that so it’s not going to work.” Think about the principle behind it.
Just for example, you’ll get $200 if you don’t like it, the title says, “Here’s my giant ball’s promise to you, if you don’t like it, you get $200.” That is language that I would never use in the B2B environment, but it is language that really resonates and works with the audience right now. I can already imagine somebody reading this and saying, “What the heck is this? I would never say something like that.” Don’t use those words but don’t throw away the idea. Think about the principle behind it. There are so many things that we can learn from that direct marketing world that is frowned upon by many people in the corporate world, but we can learn a lot about from them.
Marylou: Definitely, I’m a big proponent as you know on that topic. I include a lot of persuasive copywriting inside the body of the emails that we use in sequences for the different stages of prospecting pipeline. Direct response is another area that works very well. What we’re trying to do, Nick, is really leverage the different ways to communicate, some using technology, some using hyper-personalization, so at the end of the day, we’re just hooked up with meetings that are meaningful, that can generate revenue at a higher clip. Close rates of 99% would be nirvana for us, but if we can get above our typical 8% to 10% to 40%, wouldn’t that be great?
I do appreciate you sharing this with us and I encourage the audience to look at the context behind the letter like Nick said, not the letter words itself, but the context, the flow, the structure, the story arc, and that’s what we want to replicate and try out and test in our business-to-business or even business-to-consumer sequences and our lead gen practices to help us like a mini-sales executive that is sitting next to us, doing all this work with us, and for us while we’re sleeping. That’s the goal.
Nick: Exactly. I remember your talk when you referred to Eugene Schwartz and when I saw you and the way you speak about stuff, I thought, “Oh my god, she came to the same conclusions,” packaged in a different way, has probably a lot of other insights than me, but yes, there is so much that we can learn from that world.
If you look to it, I agree to what you’re saying—look at things like if you know Bruce Lee, Bruce Lee invented Jeet Kune Do. Jeet Kune Do is actually the art of Kung Fu, but the style without a style.
You have Karate and Karate says, “Karate is the best,” then you have jiu-jitsu says, “Jiu-jitsu is the best,” and you have Taekwondo says, “Taekwondo is the best.” Bruce Lee said, “Every style has its limitations. Take the strong sides from each style and adopt it to what works for your business.” That’s really applicable to sales and marketing as well.
Marylou: Totally, and my audience knows that we steal what works. Wonderful, we’re at the top of the hour and I want to be respectful of your time and the audience.
Nick, what’s the best way for us to continue to get know you, to reach out to you about questions? We definitely want to get on that mail list to see what this form looks like and then intro-sales letter. What’s the best way to do that?
Nick: If you want to get a feel of what we’re doing, if you want to see the letter, you want to see the content, just go to the website. It’s introvertedbadass.com and on each page you’ll find a way to opt in for some freebie. Every page is optimized. It gets your email address. Go on it, read the stuff. We really give a lot of free stuff a lot of free videos. That’s something that you can find out there.
If you have questions about the stuff that we talked about, you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to help you with questions about sales performance or even about the process that I’m following.
Marylou: This is certainly meant to anyone who is a solo entrepreneur, anyone who’s in all roles of sales and those of you who are pure business developers day-in day-out doing this. It gives you an opportunity to have a conversation with your marketing folks to ask them to put together a small campaign for you based on persuasive marketing.
There’s a lot of ways you can leverage what you’ve learned here today no matter what your role is in a large corporation, small corporation, or if you’re a solo entrepreneur. I recommend that you take a lot of what you’ve learned today and start applying it.
Nick, thank you so much for your time. I very much appreciate it and this has been a great, great time talking with you about this topic that we love.
Nick: Thank you so much for having me. Thank you, so much. It was really fun being on the show.