A Conversation: Why Small Businesses Don’t Have Consistent Revenue

A Conversation: Why Small Businesses Don’t Have Consistent Revenue

I was recently interviewed by Bob Clark on his podcast 808 Podcast. It is named 808 because 808 looks like Bob and the internet loves short video content so it is less than 8 minutes and 8 seconds. We had a great conversation in under 8 minutes and 8 seconds while Bob walked me through four high-level questions (and a few clarifying questions).

I went through the process of having the conversation transcribed so that you can read the content if you prefer to read more than listen. This transcription tries to put the text into a more readable format.

You can find the podcast here. At the bottom of this article, there is a YouTube version of the podcast.

808 Podcast transcribed

Bob Clark: [00:00:01] Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of the podcast. A podcast where we take business owners, CEOs, marketing directors, and whoever else I feel like through four questions in eight minutes and eight seconds because 808 looks like Bob. Here we go. 

Question number one: In a few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do?

Sean O’Shaughnessey: [00:00:15] My name is Sean O’Shaughnessey. I am the owner and CEO of New Sales Expert LLC. I help companies create a more solid and more consistent sales strategy. I run their sales force. I am their fractional vice president of sales.

Bob Clark: [00:00:34] Love it! Right to the point, Sean. Number two. What advice would you like to share? Go.

Sean O’Shaughnessey: [00:00:38] So my big advice is for small business owners everywhere. Most small businesses, in fact, according to a survey we did, 98% of all small businesses do not do a competitive analysis against their competition. They cannot describe why they are better than their competitors. Ninety-eight percent! That’s a problem.

78% of small businesses can’t actually state their elevator pitch or unique value proposition. That’s a problem. 

And most of them, 86%, cannot describe their sales process. And that’s also a problem. 

Those are three things among many, many other things that I will fix when I am their fractional vice president sales and running their sales department. I’m a big believer in a sales process that must be repeated and repeatable, and we need to understand what’s going on. We need to pitch our product effectively against the competition, and we need to know what the competition is. The book that I wrote is called Eliminate Your Competition; It’s all about doing that.

Bob Clark: [00:01:47] Ok, so why don’t you pick one of those three and tell me how to fix it?

Sean O’Shaughnessey: [00:01:50] Let’s just do the sales process steps. You need to map your sales process against what your buyer expects to go through to buy your product or your service. You need to figure out their steps, what are the things that they’re going to have to do. You can do that after ten sales or twenty-five sales. You can figure out what your standard steps are. 

Then you need to put gates up. Gates is a figurative term that says, once you’ve done this, you’re going to do that, and we’re not going to do that until we do this. And so we’re going to put steps or gates in place so that we can interrogate our sales force and say, “Have they done this? or “They haven’t done this, then we’re not going to do that.” We’re going to make sure we check those off. 

We can say, “We’re not going to do a proof of value. We’re not going to do a proposal yet because we haven’t done these other things yet.” 

So you’ve met that out based on your historical purchases, and you just understand what is your buyer going to do? All buyers essentially do the same thing. There are variations, but all buyers essentially do the same thing as they go through the process.

Bob Clark: [00:02:54] Well, the perfect example is our service. If you have a high-tech question, you talk to the CTO. But there are those gates in there. I tell people that if you’re going to talk to the CTO, we will have this meeting. One of the three things is going to happen at that meeting. 

1) you’re signing the contract, 

2) you’re telling me in seven days or 

3) you’re saying, “No.” 

I tell them the price first, but if you’re not willing to at that meeting, drop that cash, we’re not doing it.

Sean O’Shaughnessey: [00:03:20] That’s right. Why have that meeting if you’re not ready to have that meeting yet?

Bob Clark: [00:03:25] Right. And I had one person who argued with me, “Well, I’m not sure yet.” Then once you are at a point where you’re willing to spend that much on this type of widget, let me know. But until then, you ain’t talking to him.

Sean O’Shaughnessey: [00:03:35] Exactly. It doesn’t make sense. So don’t do things ahead of schedule because now you’re wasting time because you haven’t built up the value and understand your process. 

Your sales process allows you to be repeatable. It allows you to do a forecast and say, “I know how many deals I have here. I know how many deals I have there.” 

After we go through that process several times, we can do a forecast. We can say, “Based on our history. Eighty-two percent of the deals that are at this stage are going to turn into revenue.” That’s good. Now we can forecast. That is exactly what small businesses need to do, but they can only do it by asking, “what’s going on?” And slowing down the sales force to find out what is going on. 

And that’s what I put in place.

Bob Clark: [00:04:18] Absolutely. Let’s get to question number three. It is time for a shout-out. Sean, who are you shouting out?

Sean O’Shaughnessey: [00:04:23] I would love to shout out Paul Hinz, who’s the CEO of Entando, and he is doing great things, bringing an Italian-based technology into the United States. And then I’m going to do a favor to Scott Brickler, the CEO of CADTALK. It’s a dedicated, specialized integration platform between ERP systems and CAD systems. Both CEOs are doing a fantastic job, and they’re going to revolutionize their industry.

Bob Clark: [00:04:45] Love it; I’ll look them up. 

Number four, final question. Tell me about your first sale.

Sean O’Shaughnessey: [00:04:50] I’d rather discuss my most significant sale. 

My most significant sale was a $52 million sale that I did several years ago. Of course, it took a couple of years to deploy all that product and recognize that income. But it was a product that we had rarely sold at the company I worked for at the time. I took hold of the product, and I found a way to sell it. I found a way to sell it big, which is why I make new sales because I’m all about selling a product that has never been sold or it’s been poorly sold. That’s why I call my company New Sales Expert.

Bob Clark: [00:05:22] Love it. So, Sean, you have two minutes and fifty-five seconds left. You can do some promo time. You can ask me a question. You can tell me how great your mustache is, whatever you want.

Sean O’Shaughnessey: [00:05:35] So what I’d like to talk about, even more, is how do you do an effective elevator pitch? That’s the other thing that I talked about. 

How do you put that value proposition out there? How to do an effective elevator pitch? 

The big thing that most people screw up when they do an elevator pitch, when they’re doing that, one on one conversation is ‘the pause.’ 

We all know what the ‘pause’ is good for. The ‘pause’ makes you think. You anticipate. When you’re doing your effective elevator pitch. When you have the opportunity to answer, “What do you do?” You’re at a cocktail party. Well, make sure that you state it two sentences long, and then you pause. The ‘pause’ will cause them to react. They will wait. They’ll ask a question. Or maybe they’ll ask about the weather, which means your elevator pitch didn’t work. Just go ahead and talk about the weather at that time and just get on with it because they don’t care what you do, which is fine.

Bob Clark: [00:06:28] I’m with you on that part. Everyone says you need to keep pushing until they show interest. No. If I tell someone about my business in two sentences and they don’t bite. They say, “Go away.” It’s OK.

Sean O’Shaughnessey: [00:06:36] Exactly. It’s fine. It’s OK not to be interested. It’s OK for them not to be a customer or be a prospect. That’s fine. Shake hands, be best of friends. Talk about the weather. Talk about the baseball team. Whatever. 

Bob Clark: [00:06:47] And mustaches.

Sean O’Shaughnessey: [00:06:50] Mustaches are awesome. They are coming back because we get we’re all inside now.

Bob Clark: [00:06:54] Yeah, they are coming back here. It’s actually funny. I realize I’ve been shaving so much because I’m constantly in front of the camera. So I don’t have stubble there.

Bob Clark: [00:07:01] You do have one minute and 17 seconds left. Would you like some promo time for your business? If not, that’s all right.

Sean O’Shaughnessey: [00:07:07] If you’re a small business and you’re a CEO that says, “I hate salespeople, I can’t understand how to motivate my best salespeople or motivate my worst salespeople and how to figure out which ones the difference.” I’m your guy. I’m the person that’s going to help you. I come in, and I help you fix that problem. I’m also the guy who wrote the book Eliminate Your Competition. So if you’re interested in how to win deals repeatedly and really destroy your competition, check out my book as well. It’s available wherever books are sold.

Bob Clark: [00:07:39] Love it. I love it there. You pulled it off. Four questions in eight minutes and eight seconds, Sean, why is it eight minutes and eight seconds?

Sean O’Shaughnessey: [00:07:46] Because 8:08 looks like Bob.

Bob Clark: [00:07:48] It does. You pulled it off. Your website, say it real quick.

Sean O’Shaughnessey: [00:07:51] My website is www.NewSales.expert, not .com.

Bob Clark: [00:07:57] NewSales.expert. In the description. It’s magic. 

Sean, thank you so much for being on. Tip of the hat to you. Thank you very much. And for everyone else watching or listening, I am legally required to tell you to like, share, comment, subscribe, thumbs up, or ring the bell. Whatever the heck the social media tells you to do.

Have a good one. I’ll talk to you later.

From YouTube

Bob also did a rough transcription on his YouTube channel. You can follow along here.

You may purchase my book Eliminate Your Competition from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Do You Have A Great Sales Plan?

Are you experiencing any of the following common sales issues?

  • Inability to take sales “to the next level”
  • Difficulty finding the “right” salesperson for your company
  • Not sure where to start – “I don’t know what I don’t know”
  • Lack of a formal sales process
  • Stalled out proposals
  • Not being able to effectively articulate the value proposition, solution or service

Great companies deserve a great plan

You have developed incredible offerings. You have solid leadership in place. Yet, you still need some help with improving your sales productivity.

Let the Genesis Sales Plan by Sales Xceleration and delivered by New Sales Expert LLC provide you with the structure and key personnel needed to surpass your goals.

Your sales vision statement should be a clear, concise, and future-focused declaration of where you want your sales efforts to lead and the path you’ll take to get there.

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Future-focused
  • Destination-driven
  • Path-Oriented
  • Inspiring and empowering

With such a critical tool in place, your sales team can boost sales by looking forward. If you do not know how to create such a plan, we are happy to help you. Please contact us via our Contact page and we will sit down with you to discuss how we can help you accelerate your revenue.

In-person vs. virtual selling: How modern sales teams can operate after COVID

The average cost of a face-to-face sales call is reportedly $250 – $500. With virtual sales calls, you can talk to your prospects for a much lower price. Virtual sales calls are an easy and inexpensive way to start building relationships and generating leads.

Virtual sales calls have become more and more popular in the past few years, especially during and now after the global pandemic. The most apparent advantage of virtual sales calls is that they can be conducted from anywhere and anytime. This means that companies can save office space while still conducting meaningful business conversations with customers and prospects. Salespeople can save time by using virtual sales calls to get on the radar of potential buyers or secure new leads.

Another advantage is the cost savings of not having a physical presence at an event or trade show. Virtual sales calls also offer a level of confidentiality. 

people on a video call
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

The main disadvantage of virtual sales is that it’s hard for people who don’t know each other well to ‘read’ one another’s body language over video conference. It’s cheaper to talk on the phone or via a web conference call than fly across the country for an in-person meeting. But even though we’ve relied heavily on virtual selling over the last few decades, there is no substitute for face-to-face interactions with customers.

In-person sales teams have been around since the beginning of time. But with so much technology available, many people believe that virtual selling will replace in-person interactions. However, some critical differences between in-person and virtual selling make them better suited to different situations.

Virtual benefits:

  • Lower costs per conversation
  • Few geographical limitations
  • The “best” technical resources are more easily leveraged

Virtual selling problems

  • More challenging (but not impossible) to create quality relationships
  • Not everyone participates
  • Your busy slide deck competes with you
  • Your slide deck crowds everyone out on the screen (encouraging participants to turn off their cameras)
  • It can be more challenging to have a structured meeting

Virtual selling lends itself to social media selling.

One of the true benefits of virtual selling is that it integrates easily into your social selling campaign. Social media has become an integral part of the business landscape and is constantly evolving. Managers, executives, and salespeople need to stay on top of these changes to continue to grow business. One way to do this is by following social media trends through blogs or other online resources.

close up of human hand
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The benefits of social selling are vast. According to a study from the University of British Columbia, successful salespeople who use social media have an average income $36,000 higher than their counterparts. Social media helps generate leads and create long-term relationships with prospects so they can become customers. The tools are available for every industry to help you engage in the most valuable way possible: through one-to-one conversations with people on their favorite channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

LinkedIn has stated that salespeople that are skilled in social selling:

  • have 45% more sales opportunities
  • are 51% more likely to hit quota
  • will outsell their peers 78% of the time
  • are 3X more likely to go to Presidents Club

Social selling is about leveraging your social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and ultimately achieve your sales goals. This sales technique enables better sales, lead generation, and sales prospecting processes and eliminates the need for cold calling. Building and maintaining relationships is easier within the network that you and your customers trust.

With social selling, you can:

  1. Create a professional brand
  2. Focus on the right prospects
  3. Engage with insights
  4. Build trusted relationships

Equally crucial for the benefits of social selling is the ability to measure it. To help quantify the value of social selling, LinkedIn produced the first-of-its-kind social selling measurement: The Social Selling Index (SSI). The Social Selling Index is scored on a scale of 0 – 100 based on your LinkedIn activities relating to the four pillars of social selling. Their internal study found a strong correlation between achieving sales goals and sales reps with high SSI.

In-person sales calls are becoming increasingly less effective. One study found that only 10% of in-person interactions lead to a sale. So if you want your company to maximize its profit margin, video conferencing for presentations is the way forward. Video conferencing for presentations can have many benefits over in-person interaction: it’s more efficient, cheaper, and doesn’t require travel time or expenses!

Technology has changed the way we work. We can now do everything from our laptops or smartphones, and so many people are embracing this new way of working that in-person meetings are becoming less frequent. Video conferencing for presentations is an excellent alternative to in-person sales calls. It enables you to have an interactive discussion with your customers without worrying about time zones or flight costs. With video conferencing for presentations, you save on travel costs and get more done during your workday – what more could you ask for?