It’s the bane of nearly every small business – sales. When you’re not selling enough, do you need a new product, or is there a way to better refine what you already have? We bring in JImmy Talbert, Infusionsoft’s conversion marketing manager, to discuss this listener-submitted question about how to get more sales.

More often than not, the problem isn’t a tool, skill, or product. The problem is that the the process isn’t focused enough. Jimmy talks about what you sell specifically and who to sell it to, finding the perfect customer, creating a logical progression, and making sure you have the offering that your perfect customer needs.

Past episodes on re-engaging your leads:
Re-engage Your Leads Part I
Re-engage Your Leads Part II
Re-engage Your Leads Part III

Take your sales and marketing to the next level with “7 Steps to a Complete Small Business Sales and Marketing Plan” in the sidebar.

Check out this and other episodes at smallbusinesssuccess.com.

056 – Struggling to Make Sales? Transcript

Dusey: Hello, listeners. This is Dusey, one of the producers of the Small Business Success podcast that you are listening to. And I am joined today by Ellis. Hi, Ellis.

Ellis: Hi, Dusey.

Dusey: How’s it going?

Ellis: Great. How are you?

Dusey: Doing very well. And today we have a question, one of our Q&A episodes that we’d like to get answered and we brought in an expert to answer that question, but first let’s hear what that question is about.

Ellis: Yes. So this is a user submitted question. If you have questions of your own please submit them at SmallBusinessSuccess.com/questions. We would love to answer them. And now today’s question: “As a small business what would you recommend for a business struggling to make sales and need to make a step forward that is currently seeking new products. How would you recommend selection of the new products?”

[0:01:00]

Dusey: Okay. So I want to now introduce you to Jimmy. Hi, Jimmy.

Jimmy Talbert: How you doing?

Ellis: So this is Jimmy Talbert. He’s our conversion marketing manager here at Infusionsoft and we thought he’d be the perfect person to help us kind of figure out how we can help this listener. So Jimmy, what are your first thoughts?

Jimmy Talbert: Well, it seems to me that the way that the question is phrased is that they’re really looking for a way to get more sales and it seems like people approach that topic from a lot of different angles. Sometimes they try to look for other things to sell, other products, other services, other offerings. And sometimes they look for different solutions as far as different tools or skills that they could develop or there’s a long list of different things people try to get thinking that it will lead to more sales for their business, right?

[0:02:00]

It seems like the overarching issue that I’ve seen over my time working here – and I spent the majority of my time actually working with a lot of our customers directly, working with small businesses, breaking down their sales and marketing funnel, and then putting in place some things that will help them increase their revenue, just to put some context there.

So my – in my experience more often than not the problem is not a tool. The problem is not a skill. It’s not different things that they can sell. It’s actually they are too broad in what their focus is. They haven’t become incredibly narrow on first of all, who their ideal customer is, what the logical progression path is from their different offerings, and sort of an introductory offering and a core offering and an upsell and things like that.

Dusey: So if I hear you correctly – tell me if I’m following you correctly here.

[0:03:00]

He was talking about possibly creating new products to get sales and not that that’s necessarily a bad thing to do, but it sounds like you’re saying there’s something fundamental that needs to be done first, which is looking at the process that you’re using to sell what you currently have or –

Ellis: And refining that process before you start bringing in more things?

Jimmy Talbert: That’s right. That’s right. I would say looking at that and if anything, becoming more narrow on who -what you sell specifically and who you sell it to. Not trying to be everything to everybody, but becoming very focused on who that perfect customer actually is and what they need. Then looking at do you have offerings that actually facilitate that properly. I would imagine you probably do if you’re in business right now, but more than likely it would be that one of your products, one of your offerings needs to be potentially tweaked at the most, but you probably don’t need to overhaul everything.

[0:04:00]

Dusey: So is that – hearing that like, “Hey, what products should I be making?” If it’s someone that’s already in business that might be a red flag of trying to broaden and reach more people where you’re saying, “Let’s make sure that we are super narrowly defined on who you’re going after as opposed to just trying to sell to everybody.”

Jimmy Talbert: Exactly. Yeah. The more narrow you go, you think about that’s a huge representation of your brand and when you make things narrow and when you almost have some exclusion into who you market to or who you’re going after and who you’re not, then your brand is represented in something that’s a little bit more narrow and you get other people or other consumers or other businesses, depending on who you sell to, who will fit their expectations into your brand as opposed to your brand trying to reach out to everybody’s expectation.

Ellis: So what are some actual things that they could look at to start making sure that their focus is narrowed enough?

[0:05:00]

Jimmy Talbert: So what I always took people through was actually our assessment, which is in our Small Business Success method. It’s the first step. And when you go through that and you don’t just read through the questions, as far as your prioritization of your offerings and your perfect customer and your value proposition, if you take each of those and you go at least one, if not multiple steps deeper, and you look at with what you do, “Is there a logical progression from one offering to another? Does your marketing tee people up for that first offering and does it logically progress them? And then who is your ideal customer and is that really who you’re going after?”

And when we talk about ideal customer, we’re not talking about the firmographic or demographic information. We’re talking about things that are – characteristics that are applicable to an actual person because whether you sell B to B or B to C you’re still selling to a human somewhere.

[0:06:00]

So there’s someone making that decision. So identifying who that is, depending on your customer journey, who that is and what they need, then as you move into your value proposition and identifying what you helped them achieve, what you helped them avoid, and like I said, just actually getting as narrow as possible on that, you’re gonna either find the answers as far as maybe you are going about things completely the wrong way. That’s possible. Usually it’s actually a pretty minor adjustment that needs to be made.

Dusey: Kind of a little tweak.

Jimmy Talbert: It’s a matter of either just focusing on one thing and not a variety of others or just putting them in a different order, I guess you would say.

Dusey: Yeah. So they might be able to look at if they have a kind of marketing funnel set up at all, maybe look at what stages are the most successful and least successful for them –

[0:07:00]

or they could be looking at customers. If they’re trying to find their ideal customer you can try to choose who you want your ideal customer to be or you can look at your existing customer base and say, “Look at the customers who have been buying the most from me, have been the most successful that I would love to have 1,000 of those customers,” and maybe start from there and figure out who they are, what motivates them, why they’re interested in your product.

Jimmy Talbert: Yeah. It’s something that I would say is almost easier for a service based business or a local business who has a little bit more belly to belly exposure to their customer because you can tell them just think about your five favorite customers. Let’s not even talk about anything monetary. Let’s just talk about your five favorites and why are they your favorites. What do you like about them? What are some common characteristics amongst these people?

[0:08:00]

And if you’re – I was working with a consulting firm a while ago, is one that comes to mind, and they were working with different businesses and they’d consult on their marketing and stuff. And they – when we got down to it their favorite customers were all actually attorneys. So we identified that do you really need to go after everything? Or if you actually specialized in something how much more valuable would that make what you sell to other people who fit that ideal customer profile and I think that it’s very likely that an accountant, for example, would still come in and say, “Well, I know that they work with attorneys, but I have pretty similar problems to these attorneys, so could you work with me too?” Well, of course we can.

Dusey: Yeah. You don’t have to start turning them down, but you can focus on finding that whether it’s a vertical or just a certain type of customer.

Jimmy Talbert: Exactly. Exactly.

Ellis: So don’t be afraid of losing customers just because you narrow down the pool that you actively seek.

[0:09:00]

Jimmy Talbert: Yeah. It’s not about the size of the net. It’s how targeted it actually is. The more focused you get that, the more broad of a net that you’re actually gonna cast because like I said, you think about if the accountant goes to that company, that consulting firm, and they already know, the expectation is already set that this guy specializes with attorneys. And so they’re okay with that because now his brand is properly represented in a very focused group of who they’re going after.

Dusey: Gotcha. Very cool. So we’ve identified – taken the time to really figure out who our customer is and what would be – at that point what would be – how would you go about either starting to market them or starting to target them? What would the next step be for somebody who’s again, back to the question of saying, “I’m struggling with sales.”

[0:10:00]

“Well, let’s get narrow. Let’s figure out who your customer is.” What’s next?

Jimmy Talbert: Sure. Once you’ve gotten very narrow on who that ideal customer is then you move into what your actual value proposition is and break that into two different categories of which you help them achieve. So you help them improve their marketing and again, the more focused you can get, the more things on the list would be better. That’s usually an easy one for businesses to come up with. What can be difficult is what you’re helping them avoid.

Avoid is something where it almost has a negative mindset to it, but it’s not a bad thing. I was working with a client who had a clothing line recently. They would help women decide what to wear and then they would actually sell them clothing as well. So there was some subscription and then there was some products that they would sell.

[0:11:00]

So in doing that she didn’t feel like there was any way to really come up with anything avoid or away, anything negative as far as what a lot of people think. We thought about it and we said, “What about ‘Don’t be stuck this summer hiding behind frumpy clothing,'” or something like that. And that’s not anything negative, but what it does is the feeling that your consumer feels when they look at that is actually a far more powerful feeling than anything that’s achieved base.

Dusey: Gotcha. So you’re saying as opposed to saying, “Go after this and this can be you.” There’s some of that, but also incorporating the “Make sure you’re avoiding these pitfalls, these pains.”

Ellis: Instead of, “Look fabulous. Don’t look terrible.”

Jimmy Talbert: I think that there’s a balance and it’s a matter of understanding where you use it. So you don’t want all of your marketing to be doom and gloom.

[0:12:00]

But you think about it and avoiding pain is a far more powerful emotion than moving towards pleasure. So they say 80 percent of purchasing decisions in some way are influenced by avoiding pain as opposed to moving towards pleasure. So I would say the majority of your marketing will still be, and your sales processes is still what’s great because that makes people feel good about your business, feel good about what they’re purchasing, feel good about what they’re doing. But when you need to add velocity to the sales process, when you’re adding your call to actions, when you’re adding these things, that’s where I think that the avoid becomes really powerful in playing the odds there in what – who you’re gonna get to do what.

Dusey: Absolutely. Cool.

Ellis: So I wanted to address another question, which is when they’re asking, “How can we find new products to sell?” So let’s say that they are in a position where they have narrowly targeted and they are looking to buy more products now.

[0:13:00]

Since they said they’re struggling to make sales, I question that. But let’s just take that and see if someone is looking to expand their product offering, how do they go about doing that in a really intentional and savvy way?

Jimmy Talbert: I think there’s two different ways that you can take that. So one is that you can say, “So what is it” – if you’re not making sales then something is misaligned about what you sell and who you sell it to. So you either need to decide, “I’m gonna go after a different group. So I’m gonna change who I’m targeting here, who my ideal customer is,” or “I’m gonna change what I’m selling them.” That should be something that once you’ve really done some soul searching on what you’re helping them achieve, what you’re helping them avoid and then asking yourself with what you sell and how you market it and how you sell it, “Does this accomplish X, Y, and Z? Does this solve these problems for my ideal customer and what does this mean to them?”

[0:14:00]

And if it can pass that then you’ve done a good job and you’re gonna have something that is worthwhile. If it doesn’t pass it then you know that you’re in trouble.

Ellis: So it sounds like you sort of can’t avoid doing the work of finding your ideal customer and making progressive offerings.

Jimmy Talbert: That’s right. That is kind of how it goes now. Sometimes when you start lining out your offerings you’ll find that there is a gap between two of them and maybe these do line up, but they don’t line up perfectly without something else. And that’s where you could fill in the gap either as an introductory offering or as an upsell or maybe a between sell, between something introductory and your core offering that you’re making the majority of your money on.

Ellis: Do you have another real business example, because the one you gave about the clothing company I thought was really just helped bring everything together. Do you have another one off the top of your head that you could kind bring up where maybe they needed a different introductory offer or just like something else in the middle?

[0:15:00]

Jimmy Talbert: So I actually mentioned the consulting company. So when we were talking to them they had a monthly retainer package of it was like $750.00 or something. That was – everything – everything in their marketing was about this monthly retainer. And when I asked him why he said, “Well, once we grow them to a certain point then we can upgrade them to our premium. That’s $1,200.00 or $1,400.00, something like that.” I said, “Okay. So this sounds great. It sounds like a great service. What’s the problem with selling it?” He said he had two people who were staffers who also sold. He said, “Well, they have an issue with this because they find that when they get their leads” – because their conversion from lead to customer was not what it should be, which is why we were going through this to begin with.

[0:16:00]

He said, “Well, they get the leads and they find that a lot of the leads jump off the phone. As soon as they learn about this” – they called it I think a makeover. It was basically an initial amount that they had to pay for a – not a consultation – an implementation of different things that got them to the point where they were ready for the monthly and that was several thousand dollars, a one time. And I said, “Well, why isn’t that listed anywhere on your website?” He said, “Well, because it scares people off. I figure my sales people can actually overcome that objection.” I said, “Okay. Well, the first problem then is we’re not actually driving people towards your introductory offering. That’s the biggest issue here.”

Dusey: Right. They haven’t heard it. They haven’t had those touch points to get used to the idea before they come talk to a sales person.

Jimmy Talbert: Exactly. So what – this is actually a twostep process. So the first thing that they did was they started aligning –

[0:17:00]

their marketing to the expertise that are offered in that initial product or service that they sold. And then eventually he decided that he felt like they actually needed something – a less expensive barrier of entry before that. So that was where he started actually a membership program and it was very inexpensive. It was less than $20.00 a month or something and he would send them tips and they had access to some different things. So he was able to make that – that was a progression over probably six months or so. He was able to make that progression in his mind and by testing because we uncovered first that his big issue was the – that his offerings were misaligned and his customer was misaligned. It also made it a lot easier to sell that big ticket item when he was more targeted and focused on who he was going after.

[0:18:00]

Dusey: What I love about that membership idea is it doesn’t matter how many of those they sell, the work that’s gonna go into delivering that is just about the same. So the fact that it’s $20.00 compared to their $750.00 or $1,200.00 a month or whatever, like that’s not a big deal because it’s – they’re putting in the same work if one person buys that or if 10,000 people buy that. And then it’s also doing the work of creating a relationship with them ahead of time like you said so that they’re prepared for it. They go, “Man, I really do need to get these people on board and look at their big ticket items or their next level up.” That’s fantastic.

Jimmy Talbert: Well, here’s what’s interesting about that as well is at this point where they’re at is the sales people – the only leads that the sales people work – unless someone calls them, the only leads that their staffers are working are the members – are the members in that first monthly package. So they have a funnel that’s taking care of everything else, that’s selling people into a very inexpensive offering.

[0:19:00]

They’re making money on that, but it’s not substantial. But more than anything it’s a lead qualification process and it’s almost a lead scoring process to identify who’s ready to start having that conversation.

Dusey: That’s fantastic. So before we wrap up I just wanna know two things: One, if you just have any final advice for our listeners and for the person who wrote in the question here about how to go about it or the attitude that they need to have, and then finally, if you have any resources that you wanna point somebody to where they can start to learn some more about this.

Jimmy Talbert: Yeah. So as far as final advice, I would say it’s just a matter of summarizing a lot of that because I know that we went through a lot of things especially with the stories there. The focus needs to always be on who you’re serving and that’s the key. Who you’re serving, what you help them do, what you’re – how you’re helping them sleep better at night basically –

[0:20:00]

and when you answer those and then you look at what you sell and how that aligns that, that’s what it’s all about. It’s really making it more simple, not more complicated is usually the key. And then as far as resources go I would say the knowledge center is probably about as rich of a resource as anything, which is learn.infusionsoft.com.

Dusey: Awesome, man.

Jimmy Talbert: Because on there we have very regular blog posts about things that will help different aspects of your customer life cycle and help you do a lot of the things that we’ve talked about.

Dusey: Awesome. Fantastic.

Ellis: You can also check out our podcast episodes about reengaging your leads. So the links to those will be in the show notes so that you can either go back and listen again or listen for the first time.

Dusey: Fantastic.

Jimmy Talbert: Specifically reengagement is a great way to start to gather that information –

[0:21:00]

as well or test hypothesis because you can see what they engaged with, maybe your open rates are on something or what was working, what wasn’t based on initially going through that assessment. You’re gonna have some, like I said, hypothesis, but a matter of proving that, reengagement is a perfect way to do that.

Ellis: Yeah. And that’s what they talk about a lot of these things also in those episodes about low entry point offers and things like that. So definitely check out those episodes.

Dusey: Cool. Fantastic. Well, thank you everybody out there for listening and thank you, Jimmy Talbert, for joining us today and walking us through, answering this question with us.

Ellis: Thanks, Jimmy.

Dusey: Really appreciate having you on.

Jimmy Talbert: My pleasure.

Dusey: And we’ll see you guys –

Ellis: Don’t forget, if you have a question you can submit it at SmallBusinessSuccess.com/questions.

Dusey: That is true. Please, give us your questions. We have tons of different experts here waiting to help you and your business.

Ellis: They are literally banging down the door.

Dusey: All right. We’ll see you next week. Thank you. Goodbye.

[0:22:00]

Ellis: Bye.

Jimmy Talbert: Thank you.