How can small changes lead to huge impact in selling your services?
Today I’d like to introduce you to my client.
Chris Farmand is the CEO of Small Batch Standard, an accounting practice serving the craft brewing market.
What follows is the story of how Chris transformed himself and his business from sales confused to sales confident in just 60 days.
If you’re looking to optimize your sales process, keep reading.
Where He Started
Chris has been running his firm for a long time, so he knew his business inside and out. He started his business like everyone else, picking up clients here and there, with vague focus on the industry he helped or the problem he solved. With a lot of persistence and effort, his business picked up a bit.
He’d been building his accounting firm for 9 years when I started working with him. He had a reputation, got referrals and leads coming in, and was totally confident he could help his clients.
Still, he wasn’t 100% confident in his approach to selling his services to his clients.
Bottom line, he was sure he could close more of leads he got. Like so many experts, he lacked formal sales training and wanted some outside help, without becoming a soulless salesman or having to master sales.
There were a few reasons why Chris knew his sales process and skills could use some improvement:
- Deals moved slowly. Prospects were indecisive and unpredictable, and he wasn’t sure how to create more urgency or weed out the ones who would never move forward.
- He was getting ghosted waaaaay too often. Sometimes he’d have a great conversation with a prospect, get excited about helping them with their business, then crickets – he’d never hear from them again.
- Bad deals were a time suck. Chris worked really hard to bring leads in, and had a hard time walking away from the bad ones because of the feast or famine cycle.
- His prospects weren’t hooked enough. His offer was super compelling, but his presentations fell short of the value he actually delivered, and weren’t getting his prospects excited enough about working with him.
- He was undercharging for his premium service. Part of it was confidence, part of it was a process that didn’t articulate his value proposition well enough.
Where He Is Now
Chris accomplished a lot in our time working together. Let’s start with the hard numbers.
Chris closed 4 out of 4 deals while we worked together, coming from a historical close rate of just 27%. That was $197k in annual recurring revenue (ARR) in just 60 days – a huge ROI.
One of those deals came from a prospect he would’ve written off. They were showing some ghosting behavior, but he brought them back from the dead.
More than just the hard numbers, this represented a real shift in Chris’s business.
He had the confidence to run the sales process quickly, showing leadership to every prospect, and always knowing what to do next to bring the sale to a close. No more “get back to me whenever you decide.”
He only spent time with the right clients because he was confident they’d work with him, and ditched all the leads and opportunities that didn’t make sense for him. As a result, he preserved his scarce, valuable time to be applied to growing his business more profitably.
He started charging higher prices. With the process he put in place, he was able to charge higher prices because the value proposition was so strong.
Scaling up made suddenly made a lot of sense because he had a sales process that was more predictable and, most importantly, more successful! He started making decisions enabled by a predictable sales process. He could make key hiring decisions, and felt more confident bringing in senior staff to build out marketing and operations. He could even imagine outsourcing sales to someone else when the time was right.
A simple, repeatable sales process and core sales skills transformed his business. Chris had a totally different view of the future, and here’s how he did it.
Simple Changes Led to Big Results
These changes are simple, but not easy. Here’s a small sample of what Chris did.
He started with goals. What needs to be accomplished in the sales process, and in what order?
Chris adapted the SDS Method to his company (it’s my sales method for selling services). Prior to that, sometimes he had a one call close, sometimes it took months, other times he just didn’t know how to run the process because the client was indecisive or difficult.
Defining the goals of each step in his sales process allowed him to run the process the same way every time – no more guesswork.
Two calls plus follow up. That’s it. Each call had a specific agenda and next steps, guiding clients to a faster and more informed decision that also happened to produce “yes” more often than “maybe” or “no.”
He standardized the questions he asked. Gone were the days of leaving a meeting and wishing he’d asked a key question but forgot. Now, Chris strategically asked the same set of questions that would reveal a prospect’s motivation, which he would leverage throughout the sales process.
The Offer stage and sales presentation built more client value. Prospects were much more motivated to work with Chris as the sales process – and particularly the sales presentation – came together. Instead of a list of features he could provide, presentations became stories that clients could easily envision themselves at the center of.
He focused his sales pitch on client value with storytelling. Chris began telling stories instead of listing capabilities and features. Prospects became more emotionally invested and willing to pay higher prices. But that wasn’t the only reason he could charge higher prices.
He standardized his pricing, and created value-driven packages. By understanding the most attractive and valuable features of his service, Chris was able to deliver more value at higher prices to clients who needed the most help.
He found money in the follow up. Sometimes clients aren’t ready to make a decision at the end of the second meeting, or don’t follow through on their commitment to make a decision by a specific date. No sweat. He installed a follow up process that accounted for these clients, and got to a decision more often.
He knew who to skip and who to invest in by creating a tight definition of his Perfect Fit Client. Rather than spending time with prospects who were a bad fit, or were unlikely to buy, Chris knew who was worth his attention and who wasn’t quite yet ready. He also had a process for following up at scale that saved him time, but continued to nurture leads who would turn into clients in the future.
He had a process committed to paper. Well, digital paper anyway. It sounds simple – and it is! – but writing out the sales process created a baseline Chris could follow and improve upon, and eventually use to scale up his selling with new team members.
How to Optimize Your Sales Process
If you’d like to get started with changes like the ones Chris experience, here’s what you can do next.
- Familiarize yourself with the SDS Method so you can put a basic sales process into place.
- Start asking better qualifying questions to ensure you’re dedicating your attention and energy to the right prospects for your services, and make them a permanent part of your sales call planning.
- Get a sense of the sales fundamentals Chris used to make simple but deeply impactful changes to his business.
- Work out a stronger, tighter, more client-focused sales deck that’ll drive value and premium pricing for your offer.
And if you’re still not sure why this is so important, find out the key reasons why sales skills are critical for business owners, even if you don’t see yourself as being in sales.