How to Drastically Increase Your Sales and Focus Only on “Critical Selling Conversations” by Delegating parts of your Sales Process to a Virtual Assistant!

Posted by Owen McGab Enaohwo

Justin Roff-Marsh

Are you not getting the results that you desire from your Sales People? Is your way of generating new leads for your business and then converting the leads into sales not working for you? If so, watch my in-depth video interview with Justin Roff-Marsh; a Sales Process engineer and Marketing consultant. In this interview you will discover how to drastically boost your sales figures by only focusing on the most important sales activities which he calls the “Critical Selling Conversations” and also you will discover how to break down your entire sales process into steps so that you can delegate the “hustling” parts of it to a Virtual Assistant. Enjoy the video interview!

 

Video Transcript

 

Owen: Hi, everyone. My name is Owen McGab Enaohwo and I’m the Community Engagement Officer here at H.Y.V.A.™. And you’re watching this interview because you want to discover how to build a sales machine for your business by basically learning how to systematize your entire sales process. And also, once you’ve discovered how to systematize your sales process, you want to discover how to strategically make use of a virtual assistant within your sales process. And my guest today is Justin Roff-Marsh and he’s the founder of Ballistix Management and Marketing Consultancy specializing in Sales Process Engineering and Justin is also the author of the new book titled The Machine, a radical approach to design of the sales function. So, welcome Justin.

Justin: Thank you, Owen.

Owen: I want the audience to know that we’re tackling two big ideas, the first big idea that we want to tackle in this discussion is how do they go ahead to create a step-by-step process sales process for their business? So how do they breakdown sales into different steps in their business hence systemizing their sales? And the second big questions is, once you’ve done that, how do you make use of a virtual assistant to help you with the different steps in that process? So I guess one thing I want to do is I want to reveal to the listeners that you are actually doing this in your businesses. It’s not like we’re just, putting out information but this is the stuff that you’re actually doing. And during this interview we will discuss how you currently make use of your virtual assistant in your sales and in your business. So just before we get started, I wanted to talk more about your background and history; a brief intro to you. How did you become a sales process engineer?

Justin: Well, just to set the record straight, the work we do is engineering work but I’m not an engineer. We employ engineers but I’m not an engineer. The work that we do is very similar to the kind of work that a process engineer would do to in a production environment except we work in sales environment. So what that does means is that we’ve build the infrastructure, the sales infrastructure. We can get to that in a minute. As to how I got here, as a kid, I was a Math and Science buff I guess. There had been a strange sequence of events that I ended up in sales; selling insurance actually in Australia where I came from before I moved to the U.S. and then I sold my previous business. I used to run a team of 15 sales people.

And then I left and started, I was involved in a little start-up where we had to figure out how to scale sales because we didn’t have the same kind of margin we had in the insurance industry. I mean, the insurance industry every time we’ve made a sale that was you know, thousands of dollars of contribution margin whereas in this business it was less than a thousand. So we experimented or I experimented for a few years with Direct Marketing and imported to Australia some of the latest thinking in DM and also experimented with events.

And for us, events was really the big breakthrough and we got to a situation where we were putting large numbers of people through events like 45,000 people a year, it was our biggest year through events and generating a huge volume of sales opportunities for sales people. And that was meant to be a breakthrough. We expected it to be a breakthrough. But what we discovered is that in spite of the fact that sales people had been claiming that they weren’t selling as much because they had insufficient sales opportunities. When we turn the fire hose on them and hosed them with more possibilities than they can possibly handle, we didn’t see a commensurate increase in sales. Where we went from there is really the genesis of Ballistix. We’ve figured out that we could get much better performance out of sales people if we have them do nothing other than face-to-face appointments and we did everything else for them. We plan calendars for them, generate sales opportunities for them of course. I do all the follow up activities for them and have just had them perform nothing other than face-to-face or what I call “critical selling conversations” so that was a big hit back then. And it led to me leaving the company which I was just a minor shareholder and starting Ballistix and that was probably 15 to 20 years ago, almost 20 years ago, so a long time ago.

Owen: Wow, I like that! Just so that the listeners understand, is what we are going to learn something that can work in any type of business? I’m just curious.

Justin: Not necessarily. I mean if you’re on online business and you don’t have sales people at all, then this interviews will be of no interest or whatsoever. And I think if you can get by without hiring sales people then that’s fantastic, you should go for it. You don’t really want to introduce them unless you absolutely have to. I’d love to build a business that had no sales people because everyone transacted online and no customer service people because you have a forum where members ask each other questions. I think Github is probably a little bit like that. That’s probably the description of their business model.

But if you’re in a situation where you have to have sales people either inside sales people or field sales people, then the ideas that I will reveal here are going to make sense unless you’re in retail. So if you have sales people, there are two circumstances where this won’t make a lot of sense. One is if you’re a start-up and you’re so new that you’re in probably the initial stages of floundering around trying to figure out what your business models going to look like. It doesn’t make sense to be building infrastructure, if you’re pivoting every 15 seconds. The last thing you want is infrastructure.

Owen: Yeah.

Justin: So you will sacrifice efficiency in order to have more agility. The other type of business that this isn’t going to be particularly relevant to is retail.

Owen: And I’m glad you’re saying that because now the listeners can decide whether or not the interview is a fit for them, and if it is they will know how to apply what they’re going to be learning. So what is the major issue that you have seen so far with a traditional sales approach?

Justin: Well, a typical sales function in a typical business is not particularly pretty. What happens is a management employs people effectively outsources the entire responsibility for sales to these people and these people go out and do whatever they have to do, prospect and find customers and they tend to call them accounts in the standard model. So the reason sales people call customers accounts is because they tend to service them on a long term basis. So that means if I was to work for you, when I joined your organization, I would run around and find a few accounts and then I would take ownership of those accounts and I would establish myself as an interface between you and those customers and I would expect to earn a percentage of those customers turnover from that point forward.

Now of course as time goes on, the amount of selling efforts required to convince a customer who has transacted with you 150 times in the past to transact one more time is virtually nothing. So what ends up happening is that sales people build a little annuity for themselves if they are smart. And they find themselves in a situation where they don’t have to do any selling at all and all they have to do is provide customer service, answer the phone when it rings and turnaround quotes reason very quickly.

But of course from managements position this isn’t a very effective way to run a sales function because you have extremely expensive people who are notionally field-based who in many cases have company cars and the salary that recognizes them for the field work that they’re doing but then who don’t do any field work because they’re in the office all time answering the phone and then providing customer service.

So I always say with the traditional approach to sales you damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you are unsuccessful and the sales people don’t make a lot of sales, that’s really bad. But if you’re successful and do make a lot of sales, that’s really bad too because they end up maxing out and then establishing themselves an intermediary between you and customers and creating essentially a contingent liability for your business to deal with it some at point to the future.

Owen: And I’m thinking maybe the personal leaves and establish all these relationships and then you’ve kind come up back to square one again.

Justin: Well, exactly. That is why I referred to it as contingent liability. You know sales people like to think of customers as their customers not the business’s customers but their customers. And I think where start-ups are concerned and I’m guessing your audience contains a lot of start-ups. It just doesn’t make sense to build that sales model and there’s all bunch of reasons for it and I think if you’re interested in understanding the theory behind why the standard sales model exist in its current form and why it doesn’t make sense and why does it make sense today but perhaps it did in the past, I doubt we’re going to cover all that. But if people want to read the first three chapters of my book then they can read all about the theory.

Owen: Definitely. I’m curious though, so if the traditional sales approach has flaws then what do you propose instead?

Justin: So our proposal is basically to apply division of labour to the sales function and to recognize that sales consist of a whole bunch of activities many of which are quite different from one another and it’s kind of curious that people think they belong together in the first place. If you look at what’s involved in sales there is the promotional aspect; generating sales opportunities, there is the engineering component; discovering requirements and designing and proposing a solution, there’s a pure selling part and negotiation; where you and I sit down face-to-face and arm wrestle over the terms in the contract and then there’s the fulfilment; and ongoing account management. All of those activities are remarkably different from one another and it just doesn’t make sense to have all of those activities performed by the one person so our centralized view is division of labour; we split all those activities apart and we tend to split them on two axes.

Owen: Okay.

Justin: The first decision is what should be done in the field and what should be done on the phone. And if there’s one activity that should be done in the field and another activity should be done on the phone, our starting point is to say, under no circumstances do we want one person doing those two activities. And then the second axis that we can split activities on is sales vs. non-sales. So obviously we want to split customer service away from sales and we want to split requirement discovery and solution design away from sales.

So the end result is that we leave sales people in a situation where they perform nothing other than the critical sales and conversations. So, if we’re talking about “field sales” people they are in the field 100% of their time going from appointment to appointment to appointment. If we’re talking about “inside sales” people then they sit there with the headset on and they have 20 or 30 meaningful conversations a day and they don’t do anything else. No proposals, no quotes. They are either talking on the phone and typing in CRM as they talk or they are taking lunch or having a stretch break at some place.

Owen: While doing research for questions for you, I came across this quote on Mixergy where you say, “Stop chasing them and traffic instead.” Can you explain that?

Justin: Yeah. I think I was pointing out that that increasingly; you need to generate sales opportunities online. It just doesn’t make sense, the traditional approach of generating sales opportunities by sales people who went out there and flap around and turned over rocks looking for people to sell to.

Owen: Yeah.

Justin: In my opinion it was economics to that in the past but it no longer is economic particularly here in the states. If you want to talk to senior executives which are certainly the market that we target, if you want to talk to senior executives you just cannot pick up the phone and call them. They don’t answer their phones. My wife works at a company… actually she just changed companies but I remember the last company she worked at. I was in there one day. She’s a manager but her and her engineers had phones and I’m standing talking to them and the light on their phones were blinking and I said, “Why are those lights blinking?” and they said, “Because the phone is ringing.”

I said, “Why do you all have the volume turned on? Don’t you answer your phones?” and they said, “No, no, no. We don’t answer the phones and the only people that try to call us are recruiters” so all that communication internal and external was via e-mail and instant messaging. The phones had become essentially useless because there were bloody sales people on the phone all day long trying to reach them. And even a senior executive in the a position where they do have to talk on the phone, increasingly what happens is they’re switching on the call announcement service on their PBX meaning that the caller if they’re not recognized in the system has to announce who they are so that the executive can determine whether or not they want to answer and that’s assuming that they don’t have any executive assistant.

So you know, it’s just not practical to cold call anymore and it’s certainly not practical to have sales people trying to chase down sales opportunities. You need to figure out how to generate sales opportunities online and I would go even further and say that, “If you can’t generate sales opportunities online then you don’t have a viable business and you should give up now, pivot and change your business model rather than flogging a dead horse.”

Owen: Can you go into that a little bit more because I know the listeners will want you to dive in deeper and be like, “Let me see what Justin will say next!”

Justin: Okay. So let’s assume that you spoke to me and you said, “Justin, I have a business.” and we spent 2 years trying to figure out how to generate sales opportunities online. We did all sorts of tests to generate sales opportunities using web forums and we failed to generate sales opportunities online. We couldn’t make it work, we couldn’t make it economical so what we’re doing now to generate sales opportunities is we have a couple of people in the office cold calling and they’re generating sales opportunities. I would say to them give up, close the business, go home because it’s dead already and you just can’t – you know, it’s not scalable. It’s not sustainable, it’s not scalable. So, if you’re on a position where you can’t generate sales opportunities online then your product isn’t finished yet.

Owen: And so by saying generating sales opportunities online; is that one taking a content marketing standpoint where you’re basically creating content at your potential customers you know with questions they have in mind and basically answering the questions by your content?

Justin: Well, that’s generally how you do it. It depends on what you’re selling. I mean if you’re selling a physical product, it might be that you’re offering people samples online. I mean if you go back to the father of advertising, what was his name?

Owen: Conrad Levinson or…

Justin: I think it was the chap Claude C. Hopkins who wrote the book Scientific Advertising and he talked about “couponing” and this is many, many years ago and Scientific Advertising. And in fact the book is so old that it’s now in the public domain. You can just download it online.

Owen: Yeah.

Justin: But in that book he talks about using coupons and I’d advice any of you reader who haven’t read that book to Google it and go read the book. It’s invaluable! You’re essentially doing exactly the same thing nowadays. History has come full circle online. You’re either giving away sample which is what that book talked about or you’re giving away content and if you think about it, content is a sample.

Our approach is to give away this book and in reality, we don’t give away the book, we give away the first three chapters of the book. But people go and they fill out the online form and request it and then we send the book to them. The reality is it’s a sample. It’s not a physical sample of a concrete product that we sell because the product is intangible and we’re the service provider but it’s a sample, it’s a sample of how we think, it’s a sample of the basic methodology. So I think yeah, what you want to be doing online is no different from what advertisers have been doing since the beginning of advertising. You want to be giving away samples either physical samples or perhaps virtual samples.

Owen: And so, I’m sold on the idea that we need to change the whole way we approach marketing and sales in the old approach and now focus on creating step-by-step processes for the sales basically dividing labour and centralized scheduling; essentially turning the sales process into kind of like a factory. So now the listener agrees with you on the need for a change, so how do they create their own sales process from scratch to match this whole new model?

Justin: So I think the trick is to start at the end and look backwards. When we talk about process, we kind of assume that the sales transaction isn’t going to occur at the first point of contact. So we assume that there is going to be some sequence of activities and you need to start by figuring out this sequence. So you want to start at the end. It might well be that let’s say you’re selling a conference and it’s going to $15,000.

Owen: Yeah.

Justin: You would start at the end and work backwards and the way that you would work backwards is you would ask yourself, “Can we expect or under what circumstances can we expect somebody to give us their credit card details on the telephone for this $15,000 conference?” Can we expect them to do it after providing their e-mail addresses on the landing page or in a gateway page on a blog or a website at first point of contact? “Perhaps not,” so we need some intermediary objective.

So when you talk about the sales process and really the technique what we’re talking about a procedure and not a process. So when we’re talking about the sales procedure, what we’re really doing is talking about breaking the ultimate sale into a series of smaller sales and selling from each step up to the next.

So really it’s a matter of figuring out the steps and some of the steps you might be able to automate. I mean you may be able to use AWeber for example to get the first sale which is AWeber in conjunction with your landing page which is convincing someone to surrender their e-mail address.

In our case we do that first. In our case the sequence is if somebody visits my blog they will generally surrender their e-mail address first and they’ll get plugged into an autoresponder which encourages them to request a physical copy of the first three chapters of the book. So that’s the second sale—that happens automatically. And if they request the first three chapters of the book, they get transferred to another autoresponder that encourages them to book what we call the Best Practice Briefing which is a telephone consultation and they do that by selecting a slot in an online calendar. So that’s automated as well.

Owen: Yeah.

Justin: And then after the Best Practice Briefing then we will manage that opportunity manually for the next two or three steps until we either lose it or it becomes a sale.

Owen: And basically what I seem to understand from that is we’re looking at the sales entire process, starting from the end result by breaking it down into steps in a funnel and figuring out, “Okay. Which steps do I will need to eliminate all together because it’s probably not even necessary and then which steps can I automate because a machine can handle but the ones which I cannot automate, okay which ones can I delegate to somebody else because they are not the best use of my time and then which one are the critical selling conversations that I should handle by myself?”

Justin: Yeah. So let’s continue that thought. If you think about how you’re going to divide up your responsibilities for the various activities as we’ve identified some of those activities can go over machine in other words a list with an auto-responder the sequence in AWeber. The remainder of the activities obviously need to be performed by humans but the question then is which humans? If you have someone who is capable of selling it doesn’t automatically follow that that person has to perform all of the activities because if you think about the activities that are performed by a human as part of the sales process, so the opportunity management process.

It’s important to recognize that the greater majority of those activities are not selling in a pure sense, they’re hustling. So I draw this distinction as you know from the Mixergy interview between critical selling conversations and hustling. And hustling is phoning the client saying, “Dude, where is the order?” It’s phoning the client saying, “Hey, you mentioned you’d like to schedule this next appointment next Wednesday.” 90% of the customer contact that sales people have is hustling not selling. So our attitudes is take the hustling and give it to a good tenacious administrative type of person and have the sales person focus only on performing critical selling conversations.

Now for start-ups, one of the benefits of this approach is you end up discovering tha you don’t need a sales person because what you discover is the actual total volume of critical selling conversations that you need to have in order to meet your sales objectives so low that the founder can do them themselves on an ongoing basis. So what ends up happening is you can build all of the necessary sales infrastructure that we’re discussing here, minus the sales person which is the expensive risky bit and the founder can fulfil that role until a business gets to a size revenue of maybe 5 plus million a year in sales where it’s necessary to go and have a dedicated full time sales person.

Owen: And I love how you made the distinction saying, “Okay. There is the hustling part of the sales and there’s the critical selling conversation.” I totally forgot, so how does the person listening to us now make the distinction of what should we consider the hustle and critical sales conversations?

Justin: Well, one of the easy ways is how long it does take? If the average call takes less than 5 minutes, it’s hustling, less than 10 minutes, it’s hustling. If the call takes 45 minutes to an hour and a half or longer then it’s a critical selling conversation. But, if you’re looking at just the duration of the calls and nothing else, you’ll find that if you put all of the calls that you’ve made into a list based on the duration length, you will notice that they bifurcate, there are calls that are extremely short on duration and there are calls that are extremely long in duration and nothing in the middle. The ones that are hustling are short and the ones that are critical selling conversation are longer.

Now you could do the same exercise with the content, you know the nature of the content had technical is it but probably the duration is efficient. So it’s pretty easy to tell a difference between them. To ring a customer and say, “Hey, you said you wanted to proceed. I haven’t got the order yet. Dude, where’s the order?” What I’d like to call it is, “Dude, where’s the order call?” That clearly is not selling. That is hustling. And one of the problems with having sales people do that is that they might chase down the one or two opportunities that they are particularly excited about that they have the capacity to handle but they ignore the other 50 because their capacity maxes out, whereas a good tenacious administrator type of person who sits in front of the CRM with an headset on and is really agnostic to the various opportunities. They just want to get through the workload. Those people will hustle and follow up tenaciously.

Owen: So like now, you broke it down and I’m curious. What would be those activities or tasks that are part of the sales process that we can delegate to a virtual assistant? Maybe we can talk about how you do it in your business and to add more colour and depth on what you’re about to share.

Justin: The terms I use is “executive assistant” not virtual assistant because of the fact that there is nothing virtual about Charlene who’s my EA. And the role is such an important one that it needs to be a very real executive assistant, not a pretend executive assistant. So let us not to say that but if by virtual, we may not on premise that I’m quite comfortable with that distinction because in fact Charlene isn’t co-located with me. She’s based in Chicago and I live in LA because the weather is better here. And in fact the secret that many people don’t know this that even though Charlene has been a full-time employee of Ballistix for probably 3 years, 2 or 3 years I would guess, her and I had never actually met face-to-face in person.

Owen: And that’s the distinction we make when we say virtual that the people who are hiring virtual assistant and not located physically with them.

Justin: Yeah. I’m aware of that. And in this plays right into your court because what I’ saying is the role is such a critical one. You need to take it seriously. So our approach is to take all of the activities that are clerical in nature or are hustling in nature and give them to the executive assistants. And we have been quite rootless about trying to take activities off Charlene and embed them in the infrastructure. So for example, the autoresponder sequence in conjunction with AWeber on the blog, those were the activities that Charlene used to perform but we looked at them and we did some split test actually where we compared the job that a machine could with the job that Charlene could do and discovered the machine to just as well which meant that we could free Charlene up of that enormous volume of sales opportunities and let her focus on the later stage higher probability ones.

But for me, I’ve got to say we established the same approach for all of our times. For me Charlene, if you look at everything associated with opportunity management, Charlene does all of the clerical work and all of the hustling. I only perform critical selling conversations and what that means to us is that if we’re selling an engagement and a typical engagement for us is $90,000 to $100,000 a year. If we’re selling an engagement, I will have probably three critical selling conversations. There will be a web conference. There will be a 2-day on-site workshop and then there will be a lunch meeting where that engagement is handed off to the consultant who is going to manage it on an ongoing basis.

So in spite of the fact that it’s a huge amount work associated prosecuting those opportunities and there are a hell a lot of conversations, I personally only have three conversations, sometimes less. So that’s the potential. If we look in CRM, if you look at the number of opportunities that have opened which is a good indication of the value of Charlene, my executive assistant, we’ll discover that we have far more opportunities open than a single sales person could possibly manage. There are actually 9,000 sales opportunities in here. We have 208 opportunities open at this point of time.

Owen: And wait, let’s make the distinction. You said there are 9,000 in there but not all of them are open. You’re using different terms so that people listening can understand. What do you mean when you say “open”?

Justin: So of all of the opportunities in our CRM, many of them or most of them are closed meaning they’ve either been won or lost in the past. So of the 8,000 or 9,000 in there only 208 of them are open and open means they are still current. We’re trying to close them and of course you close an opportunity one or two ways by winning it or losing it want to win all of them but the reality is if we want all of them, we wouldn’t be able to handle the volume of business. Our expectation of the opportunities that are open, we’re going to win a small percent. We’re going to win you know, maybe 10% of these opportunities.

Owen: So game on numbers. And you mentioned something in my research, something about Charlene, your assistant being your master scheduler in your sales process.

Justin: Not really in our case. I think the point that I was making was that in some cases we have worked with particularly small organizations where we’ve said to the founder, “Look, you should be doing the selling.” Let’s assume it’s a technology company and we have a technical founder. We’ll say to the founder, “Look, you should be doing the selling and we know that you are the chief architect or whatever the case is, the head of production or head of design or head of engineering. But the reality is the commitment required for selling if you have an executive assistant is two or three conference calls a week or 5 conference calls a week so the impact on your capacity is negligible.

So what we were saying in that case is look to enable that. Get yourself an executive assistant and make the executive assistant the scheduler not just for your sales activities but the scheduler for you as a whole; in other words get yourself a proper executive assistant. And in some cases we go even further and say, “Look, if you don’t have an approach to scheduling in the firm, it might actually make sense to establish your executive assistant as a master scheduler for the firm as a whole.”

So a lot of case when we go into organizations that they are suffering from growing pains and fulfillment or the production is chaotic. We will be helping them to adopt the more formal approach to scheduling the production side of the business. Now if we’re doing that and it’s a small business often times as particularly if the founder is working on both sides of the fence, the production side and the sales side.

Owen: Yeah.

Justin: We will say to the founder, “Look. You need a scheduler in both these areas. Let’s just get you an executive assistant and make them a master scheduler for the firm as a whole.” And when you grow, you know, you might be doing you know, 300,000, 400,000, 500,000 a year now when you get to a couple of million dollars a year, then you probably want to split that in two and have a production scheduler or project scheduler depending on the nature of the firm on the production side and then have your executive assistant pull back and just focus on working and managing your calendar with the primary focus of putting critical selling conversations in it.

Owen: And I have two more questions. The other thing is since you’re making or basically breaking down the sales process with some procedures and different steps. Is that kind of documentation that has to be involved and so that when you bring someone to the team, they know exactly which or how they are going to be handling parts of the sales process? Is that something that happens?

Justin: Yeah. My book isn’t published yet but it’s on my blog. If listeners want to go to the blog, they can read all but the last chapter in fact, the penultimate chapter I’m putting on the blog as soon as I hang up here. There’s a chapter there where I explained exactly how to go about flow charting your sales process, so you need to draw it out. And by the way, I looked at your new product and I love the idea of the checklist driven approach to automating procedures. I think that’s very cool.
Owen: Thank you very much.

Justin: Yeah. I don’t know if you listeners know about that.

Owen: Yeah. He’s talking about SweetProcess; a tool that my co-founders and I are creating that will allow you to document procedures for your business. That’s what Justin is talking about. Go ahead.

Justin: I thought that was very cool. Yeah, the first thing you need to do is once you’ve figured out what the sequence is you need to draw it out. And you need to draw not just the sequence of activities but you also need to draw the hand offs. So this person does these three steps and then hands it to this person who does these three steps and hands it to this person who does these two steps. And the CRM becomes a vital technology for managing that, not so much the routing. CRM’s don’t bring much to the table where routing is concerned. And I think that’s where your SweetProcess might make a lot of sense but they certainly provide repository for all of the data that various parties require in order to work on the opportunity at different points in this life cycle.

Owen: So you mentioned several tools that you use and you said AWeber for the auto-responder. As part of this specifically for sales, which are the tools that you use? Because, people might want to know.

Justin: We use Vtiger got from the CRM. So Vtiger is an open source CRM and it branched off SugarCRM at some point in the development of sugar. I love Vtiger. It’s not as pretty as SalesForce but I’ve got to say any functionality that you reasonably might expect when using SalesForce, if you’re doing less than $10,000,000 a year in sales, Vtiger is extremely capable and I like the architecture of it. It’s very nice to work with. You know, it’s very easy.

One of the challenges we have is not just getting records into CRMs but performing edits on records on mass that are in CRM. So with a lot of them it’s very difficult. So yeah, we use Vtiger for ourselves and we host it for many of our clients. So that’s a CRM. For the lead management, AWeber, AWeber is great. You can use it to host forms. I’m sure all your clients and all your followers know but you can use it to host forms to run auto-responders. And we have integrated AWeber with Vtiger to make it easy to transfer data between the two.

Owen: Okay.

Justin: For e-mail broadcast, we have a fairly big list. I think we have a list about 60,000 e-mail addresses. So we use PHPList which is an open source email broadcast client in conjunction with SendGrid which as a SMTP provider. I think rather than using constant contact of any of those sorts of services, if you send lot of volumes of e-mails, I think with SendGrid we can send 100,000 e-mails for $70 a month and PHP List which is a front in client. You put PHPList and SendGrid together. You essentially have a tool that’s much, much more powerful than say constant contact and it cost you $70 a month as opposed to send 100,000 through one of those other tools would probably cost you $300 to $400 a month.

Owen: Definitely.

Justin: What else do we use? Well, we have a development team so we use Jira for backtracking and so on.

Owen: For routing specifically, you mentioned how you have created the steps and the process which says who gets routed what and when. What do you guys use for routing? I would assume that this is some kind of project management tools.

Justin: No. We tend not to. I mean the structure of the CRM tends to make it reasonably easy. So I’ll give you a practical example. Here’s a better example, a promotions person generating sales opportunities for a sales person’s executive assistant and then the sales person, so consider those three people in the flow.

Owen: Yeah.

Justin: The way that the CRM is structured the promotions person uses the campaign module to run a campaign and then we would have them once they have run a promotional campaign mass/batch generated sales opportunities in the opportunity module. So what that means is if you’re a sales coordinator you come to work one day and then bang, there’s 20 new sales opportunities sitting in the opportunity module. It just popped in there for you. So, your job then is to prosecute those opportunities and as a result of prosecuting these opportunities you book appointments in the sales person’s calendar and or the founder’s calendar perhaps.

Owen: Yeah.

Justin: Now, the sales person gets up the next morning and he looks in his Galaxy3 and there are a whole bunch of appointments that appear in there as if by magic. So the routing is something that exists in theory but it in practice it seems to be a bit easier than that because of the fact that people are working on different locations. The sales person works in the calendar. The sales coordinator works in the opportunity module at the CRM and the promotions person works in the campaign modules CRM.

Owen: Well, Justin. I really appreciate you taking your time to really break down sales into step-by-step processes and so that people listening can figure to handle which part of the critical sales functions for them to handle, as well as which part is to automate, as well as which parts to delegate to their virtual assistant. Is there one thing that you want to leave with the audience on how to get started with the sales process? Is there something that you want to leave with them? The thing they have to do to get started while creating the sales process.

Justin: Well, I mean, can I plug the book? What you really want to do before you do anything else, is go and read this get access the first three chapters of my book “The Machine”. If you go to my blog and subscribe to the blog, you will be given the opportunity to request the first three chapters of this book and get sent it in the mail actually. So we send you the physical first three chapters. So now the address of the blog is SalesProcessEngineering.net. So go to the blog.

On the top right hand side there’s a little tab, you can pull it down and subscribe to the blog. That means you get the blog post in your e-mail plus you get an offer to get the first three chapters. While you’re on the blog, forget about it just the first three chapters. If you’re interested in this thing, you really want to read the whole book and you can read it free while you’re there on the blog.

In terms of just one step that people can take without reading the book. What might it be? I think a good starting point is to stop thinking about sales as some sort of black art that occurs in some sort of impenetrable box. You need to start thinking about sales as a process and if it isn’t a process currently or a procedure currently then that’s something that certainly you need to fix. So if you’ve been treating sales as something that happens over there somewhere, you know pointing in the general direction of a sales person, you need to start to take an interest of it.

And if you’re an engineer then you already have the requisite capabilities to do this. You know, you need to start by drawing out the damn sales process. If you say to your sales person if you have a sales person, “What is the opportunity management process look like?” They’ll stare at you as if you’re retarded and they’ll say, well it’s different every single time. But of course that is further from the truth. People tend to purchase using the same basic set of steps and sales people tend to sell using the same basic set of steps.

And if you actually start to map what is happening, what I say to sales people, “Okay, fair enough. There’s too much variation here to make generalizations. Don’t talk to me about generalizations. What’s the last sale that you made?” And they will volunteer the last sale. I’ll say, “Tell me exactly what were the steps.” They’ll tell me the steps. They’ll say, “Good, got it.” “Now what was the sale you made before that one?” And I’ll say, “Tell me exactly the sequence of steps,” and they’ll tell me, “Well, hang on. This is exactly the same as the first as the last one.

They’ll say, “Well, it seems like it.” “Good. What was the sale that you made before that one” and they’ll tell you the sequence of the steps and then you say, “Hang on. This is a hell of a coincidence. This is like we threw a dice and we’ve got six, three times in a row. It’s exactly the same, man. Give me the next one.” Eventually the sales person will say, “Okay, smart ass. I get it. They’re all the same.” And they are remarkably similar which means once you recognize that there is a sequence then you can start to ask is this the optimal sequence? And of course that question takes you in two directions. One direction is we could change the nature of the workflow, we can change the routing.

We could take buyers on a different journey that might work better for us and better for them and of course the other direction that it goes in, “Well, is it really necessary for the sales person to do all this?” Or if you are the founder, “Is it necessary for you to do all this? Can we separate the inside stuff from the outside stuff and can we separate the hustling from the critical selling conversations?”

Owen: I love that. I love how you broke it down with an awesome analogy. And Justin, how best can anyone who’s been listening so far, how best can they get a hold of you and reach out to you?

Justin: Actually don’t post my address on the website. It will get scraped. But my address is Justin dot roffmarsh at ballistix dot com. But probably the easiest way is to just go to FourAppointmentsaDay.com and click on the contact tab and just respond in the contact form there and that will come to me automatically.

Owen: Thank you very much. I really appreciate you doing this interview. And if you’ve been listening so far and if you found this interview useful, please go ahead and share with other entrepreneurs out there. And also please do one thing, reach out to Justin and tell him thanks for doing this interview. Justin, I appreciate you. Thank you very much.

Justin: Thank you, Owen.

Owen: And we’re done.

 

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