Are you ready to get some sales?
If the thought of you finding new clients makes you want to curl up in a ball and hide from civilization for a few days, you're not alone.
Most bookkeepers just want to do the books and let word of mouth referrals bring in the business.
That's not always enough.
Many times you'll have to go out in your community and go to networking events or other public places to meet prospects.
For bookkeepers this can be a frightening thought.
Our guest today is a sales expert who has lots of experience helping service-based business owners get over their fears in order to increase their profits.
Lori Richardson of Score More Sales will help you change your mindset around sales and show you that it's actually a way to help build strong and vibrant communities.
During this informative interview, you'll learn...
Why it's important to focus on relationship building and helping others when networking
The key questions to ask to find out if the person you're with is either a suspect or prospect
Why you should never take rejection personally when someone decides not to hire you
To find out more about Lori, visit https://www.scoremoresales.com/.
To get the resources mentioned in the podcast please join our FREE Successful Bookkeeper Community.
Michael Palmer: 00:53 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's guest is the founder of score more sales, which helps companies grow revenues through strategic sales efforts using lessons from her 20 years in sales and leadership roles. I'm super excited because I think this is going to be an amazing episode to help all of you boost your sales and go out there and get great clients. So I'd like to welcome Lori Richardson to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. Welcome.
Lori Richardson: 01:26 Hi Michael. It's a pleasure to be here.
MP: 01:29 Yes, it's great to have you. And you know, we haven't really done a really heavily focused podcast episode on sales. So this is going to be great and I'm looking forward to it.
LR: 01:39 Yeah, me too.
MP: 01:40 So first off, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you become a thought leader in selling?
LR: 01:46 Ooh, thought leader sounds very important. You know, I just, I have a passion for sales. I believe that, you know, nothing happens until somebody sells something and there are a lot of good companies that because they don't have great sales efforts, they don't do well. And, and it just hit me over time. That is just so critically important to be able to help people really understand, you know, not just the skills but the whole environment around selling and what's necessary. And I love seeing the changes happen with companies when they adopt the best practices.
MP: 02:27 That's great. And you've been at this awhile, um, where did you get started in sales?
LR: 02:36 I started in a family run business actually. And when I grew up I was in my early twenties I became a teacher and then I also became a single mom. So kind of one boom, boom after the other. And I realized that I couldn't support my family on my teacher's salary. So I went back to my, my roots knew how to sell, and I got into technology sales at a time when it was really booming. And so from there, you know, I just, I just sold lots and lots and lots of things and worked for different companies and got into leadership. And then I had a point where I didn't really want to sell anymore. I didn't really want to be a sales manager, so I thought maybe I'll just help other people sell. And that's how to score more sales started about 15 years ago.
MP: 03:28 Okay. Very good. And would you say that you know, you went into it and kind of an interesting way, is it, did you already have net selling skills?
LR: 03:41 Eh, well, I worked for my grandmother who had a women's apparel store and I grew up in it, you know, it was higher-end items. So I learned about selling value without really being taught, you know, uh, formally about it. I learned about not having to discount and I learned about selling services at a very young age. So I think it was just kind of ingrained in me and whatever I had innately kind of it combined for us, you know, sales, a cocktail if you will, and it all mixed together well and, and it just came second nature to me. So yeah, I intentionally went into sales, which is not common for a lot of people.
MP: 04:27 That's right. But I can see how that, those early days would have been very valuable to you to learn all of the, the, the foundation, I guess you could say of a certain way of selling, which probably a lot of people don't think about and don't understand it and probably is the root of some of the problems people have with selling. You learn that at an early age.
MP: 04:48 Right? And if, if you're a bookkeeper say or some other services provider, you don't necessarily think at the very beginning, Hey, I have to be a salesperson too. So it's just something that I've found a lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners don't think about. And some don't want to do that, but you certainly have to know enough to, you know, if you can't sell, find someone else that can help you do it. And sometimes that's the best solution for people who just opposed to the idea. I think it's simple to learn how to sell. I don't think everyone necessarily might like it or might feel overly comfortable. But I think when you learn the basics it can get better and easier over time.
MP: 05:36 So that's interesting. The people, it's simple to sell, but yet people are not necessarily looking forward to doing it or wanting to go out and, and have that experience. What, why do you think that is?
LR: 05:50 I think that sales have a bad name, a bad rap from different movies we've seen and you know, certain car shopping experiences. But when you think about the fact that sales are simply taking your services, your ideas, your concepts, and your products and turning them into money, you know, that's all it is. It's not, it doesn't have a lot of baggage. It's just, it's just a way of exchanging what you do in into dollars. And, and since you need those dollars to shop and provide for your family, you know, it's, it's an admirable thing to be able to know how to do this. And, and it helps the better you are at it, the more you can help your community, the more you can help have employees, the more you can help make everything better. So I think it's a very admirable aspect of small business owners set of jobs that we have.
MP: 06:52 No, I agree. And, and what I've seen working with, you know, I've worked with hundreds and hundreds of bookkeepers and you're bang on around what you're saying around the challenge they face and, and the struggles that they go through. But once they get the simple things in place, it does change their life. It becomes a lot easier. Uh, and they focus on new things, which is growing their business and looking forward to growing the business. So if I'm excited to get into some of this, so
MP: 07:20 yeah, and it's not trickery, you know, it's conversations is simply having conversations. Yeah.
MP: 07:34 So let's talk a little bit about those conversations. What would you say? You know, we've got an audience here that's probably on the edge of their seat and they're thinking, I don't know if I want to listen to this podcast because I don't want to sell, but how are we going to get them to, after this episode going out there and going, hey, let's, let's take this on, let's, let's do something new. Where should we start?
LR: 07:54 Well, I think you, we go to the beginning where you think about the fact that everyone does sell. You know, we sell when we want to go on a trip and our spouse or significant other may or may not want to go to that place. You know, wait, will work to sell them on the idea. And kids sell us all the time. You have a little one. Um, that's, you know, as they get older, it's all about why but why, but why? And, and they, you know, they, they tug at your heartstrings and you make emotional decisions, which is how we all buy by the way. Um, and so, you know, it's, there are skills that we need anyway. And, and so if you just think about the foundation of just understanding that this is, there's a part of life and it's not a bad thing and that it's very like I said, it's an admirable thing to be able to help people move forward. So in, in the case of working in, in a based business like your listeners are, you know, is helping people to have a better life through better financial planning and organization and understanding, you know, that's a big deal. If you can help the people in your community to have a better handle on, on their expenses and they're, in debt, uh, you know, all the things that you do, it's, it makes a better life for people. And that's a big thing that I think we can all get behind.
MP: 09:26 Absolutely. And you're absolutely right around the, the power of what it is that, that our audience delivers. If their customers get these things right, their lives will change financially. And so how do they get, because, and then they're not typically selling from that. They're just selling a service. It's like, I do this versus, Hey, this is where I can take you.
LR: 09:51 Yeah. Or helping people with freedom. I mean, I think about when, when we used to do our bookkeeping in house and it was a nightmare. You know, I was always, there's always something coming up and somebody had, you know, there was just a lot of consternation and frustration. And I remember the day that we found a company to help us on the outside that they do bookkeeping. They also do our taxes. And I mean, it's one of the best decisions I ever made as a small business owner. And I never worry about that area of our business.
MP: 10:28 It's, it's heaven. When the bookkeeping gets off your shoulders, it's heaven changed our lives. Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's great or our audience to hear that from somebody who's, who's gone through that experience, right?
LR: 10:42 So that's what they sell is freedom, you know, is sell less worry. We help people to have less worry about their business and focus on the things that are important. Not I provide bookkeeping services.
MP: 10:55 Yes. So let's go through a, you know, you mentioned having these conversations and if a listener right now is thinking, okay, well I want to take this on, you know, the first thing people need is people to speak with. So how do they, how do we get them out there in front of these people to actually have a sales conversation?
LR: 11:19 So are we talking local, local clients?
MP: 11:23 It's to be mostly local.
LR: 11:25 Yeah. Then you get out into the community, you know, you go to the chambers and you know, business events or you start your own. You know, that's another thing that I, I like to talk to people about because you become kind of the hub rather than the spokes. When you find people that here's an idea, find people that can refer you customers, clients. So if I'm a bookkeeper, um, you know, anyone involved in business banking, uh, a banker would be a really good refer a marketing person. It'd be a really good refer. A sales expert like me would be a good refer. People that talk to companies all the time and, and you would be a good refer for them and, and you start meeting and, and you talk, you can do this virtually as well. Um, but you're the hub and you're not at an event that has little to do with you or very few potential customers there. You, you want to be involved with things where you know, so really good use of your time and you can help others in the same way. It's about serving others and through serving others, helping them find good fits for companies to work with them. It's, it, it just boomerangs back to you.
MP: 12:51 Yeah, no, I like that. It's um, you know, the accountants that business bankers that you said commercial bankers, in fact, we've got a whole list that we have. I'll make it available. If you go to our website, we'll make that list available just to give you some ideas. But I love what you're saying about creating your own group and becoming the hub versus the spoke and being able to drive that. Because one of the things that we do hear about is a lot of people complain about the groups that are out there. They go there and they don't, it's their social or they're not really.
LR: 13:24 Yeah, there's a lot of waste in time and a lot of, and a lot of the groups, not all, but a lot.
MP: 13:29 Yeah. And we just, one of the things we constantly say is your, you want to date groups before you get married to groups. And because they're not, they're not all the same. And the key component as you alluded to was the people in that group. They need to be people that can and will refer business to you. And the whole point is to build relationships. So, we get them out there. You have to be out in front of people and building relationships before you can have a sales conversation. So let's, let's say that we've, we're out there now and we're working with a, when that some people were, how, how can we transform and really make the sales conversation easy for them?
LR: 14:06 I think the best place to start is to learn about other people who happen to be business owners. So I would say, Hey Michael, tell me about your business. You know, what do you like, what's, you know, when did you start it? What do you like about it? How does it work for you? You know, is it challenging? Oh, what's the best reward? And, and not just interrogate them but ask them questions that you know would actually help me better understand who you are as a business owner. And over time I'm going to learn about what some of your frustrations are. And if they say, you know what, we have this amazing tax and bookkeeping service and you know, my brother-in-law runs and it's so cool, then I know they're probably not going to be my best prospect, but I can still build a relationship.
LR: 14:59 I can still refer them business. I can, they can refer me business. And, and so you don't just stop. Cause I've seen that if you've ever been to an event where people have name tags and they asked, you know, they don't know how to network and they, they come up to you and they see what you do and then they go, oh, and then they just kind of move on. It's like, you know, you're not just looking for one thing like customers look for interesting people because my motto is that if you meet interesting people, you'll learn interesting things and maybe I'll get a tip about something going on in the community. Maybe it's something about a group that I, you know, maybe, um, I'm helping in another way. And so it's not just about are you a customer? Are you a customer? Are you a potential customer? You know, it's really about building relationships and learning about people and you get good at that. Even if you're an introvert, you can do it.
MP: 16:01 I love it. Some great questions to ask. You build a relationship. You get a, an understanding of where, where they're at, where they're going. So now where do we take it from there? I think, you know, when I'm listening to you speak, I'm thinking one of the challenges that people have is moving people through the cycle of sales. So let's talk about the cycle of sales. And because it is, there is a process and I would love to hear what your process is at different stages, right? It's like if we went and looked at anybody's relationship from meeting to marriage, there's like all these different steps that people would take to actually get there. And I think it's Ryan Deiss, um, was at a video where he talked about if you missed one of those steps, it would be, it would get creepy really quickly. I love that story, right? It's like there are all these really important steps to follow. So let's talk about your steps that you have your clients walkthrough.
LR: 16:57 Yeah. Well, you know, in the beginning, people are not prospects. They're there before that, which I've always called suspects, you know, um, there might be someone's, a business owner, they might be a prospect. I don't know yet. So the first thing I want to do is to learn if someone could be either a prospect or a strategic refer, which is another critical source of, of um, new clients. And, and there might be people, there are people in my community who are not a client, they're not a potential client or a potential prospect, but they have referred me clients on a regular basis. So I need to follow up with those people as well. But you know, first, it goes from suspect to prospect and then it's a matter of having conversations with people to find out a little more about their goals and interests. So in my case, if someone says, you know, we have a big sales team, we have a lot of sales issues and you know, I really want to get it sorted out, that's fine, but they really need to be more motivated to do it, otherwise they could do it next year or they could have 10 other things are trying to do.
LR: 18:17 So you need to understand what their priorities are. And in some cases, you can help people with priorities, like telling them a story about a company like theirs that put your services in place. And they had no idea that it would actually free up, you know, maybe a few hours of time every month for them. And now they're using that time to volunteer in the community, something like that. So that's not a hard sell. That's just sharing a story. So, so you go, you know, you just kind of move along as it's appropriate and you don't need to be pushy, but you do need to follow up.
MP: 18:57 And the follow up is key. And that's the one that separates the people who, who can sell and the sales professionals. Yeah. So let's talk a little bit about followup. Cause a level. We've brought everybody here, we've got like a little bit of a roadmap. We've suspect, you know, are they going to be a strategic partner or a prospect? And now we've got this conversation to get to the real high priorities of what people need. And I love this whole invention of priorities by telling a story around how to pay this may be, should be one of your priorities. Love that. But follow up. You mentioned that a couple of times. It's very important, but I don't think people do it that well. What's the secret behind the following?
LR: 19:39 Well, for me, I think the key is to be, you know, I need to follow up with a number of people, but I need to be personalized. So I'm not going to do mass emails like, Hey, you know, generic person, whatever. People don't like that. But if I, let's say I went to a holiday mixer, uh, and I met, you know, seven or eight interesting people who are all business owners. So this month I'm going to send them a card. Maybe it's a happy new year card or maybe it's just a nice image of, you know, something, just some blank card and I'm just going to write a, Hey Michael, it was great to meet you last month at the holiday mixer. Uh, I'd love to get to know more about your business and see how I may be able to be of support or, you know, be a good roofer for you, period. My name, my number, you know, can you get together for coffee or do you want to talk by phone? And that's it because I'm focusing on them and not on me. So, in the beginning, I want to know more about them because I do and I, it's not, again, it's not a trick. It's about, uh, thinking, thinking about abundance and that if you can add value to other people's lives, it will come back tenfold.
MP: 21:02 That's fantastic. I love it. And now sending cards, um, yeah, it's, it's, it's something that I don't think a lot of people do. It's one of these lost special things when you get a card in the mail, it's actually gone from, you know, mail was like an abundance. You get all this mail, but a personally written or a personalized card in the mail is unique today.
LR: 21:26 Yeah. And, and people open them up. I know that I always see the letters and the checks, you know, before the bills, any, any cards, and kind of go to the top. And I'm actually in the process of, I make my own, uh, New Year's cards every year. And the way I do it is with, um, I have an image. So a designer actually designs an image, but I print them out, like, um, photos, actually go to Costco and have them done for very inexpensively. And then we put them onto a card and, and you know, a plain card and write a message in it and then send them out. And it's very inexpensive. It's unique because my message, you know, mine happens to say, I have, I say things like, Kick Butt, take names, 2017, score more sales, you know, so it's something that someone's not going to throw away. They're going to be like, oh yeah, you know, maybe it's motivational or inspirational in some way. And they'll hang onto it and they'll remember me. And so it's important to think of ways that you can do that, to be memorable and to stay on someone's desk.
MP: 22:40 Mm. Yeah, I love that concept of the photos and making it personalized. It, it's rare that they're gonna throw that away was another tip someone gave it to me recently around sending out cards that people wouldn't necessarily throw away. Like if you send a holiday card right at the holiday, it's like, well, the packing up in two weeks, if you send it November, they're going to put it on their shelf for a couple of weeks, right? It's going to be there and hanging around. So there's a little bit of thought that goes into these things, but I think at the bare minimum, what you're saying about the followup, something specific that is personalized and the call to action, the next step is, can we meet? Yeah. So now we've met or they've accepted this and if we've gone this far and we've done this, there's a high likelihood that they're going to have a meeting booked because, uh, this stuff works. Right? So we've got this meeting, how does this meeting need to flow?
LR: 23:39 I still take it from, uh, continuing to learn about the other person and, and getting a few questions answered. So at the meeting that I have, I want to walk away with an understanding of whether they use, they have used services like I offer, um, whether they do use services that I offer right now. You know, what their thoughts are kind of a little bit about who their world is, you know, who do they know are they connected to others through other associations and organizations. Because even, you know, that's a win too. If I go into it not just looking for a new customer, I'm just looking to further my relationship with them, see how I can help them find areas they're interested in, who, who do they support, you know, are there any charities in the community they like? Maybe it's something I, I support too.
LR: 24:37 And, and so again, basically I'm just trying to get more understanding, but I, I would certainly say, Hey Michael, do you use bookkeeping services right now? And you know, who, who have you used or how do you handle that? So that I can get some specific information. It's not a, you know, uh, it's a simple answer. It, you know, you can say, yeah, I do know, I don't, uh, don't really want to think about that right now and then just move on. But typically you can get some really good information. Absolutely. Yeah. So think about the things that you want to know in advance and then make sure that you ask those questions. And if I forgot, you know, I can always call you after we met and say, Hey, you know, I forgot to ask this one thing and it's totally appropriate. So you're just, you know, again, it'd be taking the baggage out that you're trying to sell them and that you're simply trying to learn more about them because you don't even know yet if they are a potential client for you. So that's the process. Think of yourself as a detective and not a salesperson.
MP: 25:42 I liked that.
MP: 25:50 So we're asking questions, we're building more further rapport, really understanding what the challenges are. Like what would you say the next step is? I don't not sure where you think the step is, but I know there's one that I see so many making the mistake of which is asking for business, asking for that next step, asking for something to get started. So how do you see that progressing to that stage?
LR: 26:17 Well, when you're working with services like your, all of your listeners are, I think a great way to move things forward is to again, ask them, you know, what they're doing now if they say no, you know what, I'm having a lot of trouble or it's really hard, it's frustrating. The next thing that I would say is, would you like some help with that? You know, that's, it's a very simple question. Again, it's a yes or a no or a, hmm, I'm not sure. And I can say, well, if you're not sure what, what are some of your, uh, what are you thinking? You know, what, what are you hesitating? Do you have any hesitation about it? Or, you know, if you have a special offering that maybe you're not discounting your, your fees, but if people are signing up in, in Q one that you know there's an additional thing, bonus service or something that you can do with them, you know, then you can let them know that, hey, I'm having this, this special promotion and you know, I'd love for you to try us out and see what you think. You know, again, it's a very low risk. The worst thing they can do, same. No, I'm, you know, I don't really want to do that right now. Great. You know, it's no big deal. We're going to part friends and maybe they'll refer US business. Maybe I can refer them business still
MP: 27:39 Beautiful. And I'll mention Debbie Roberts, who's my business partner and Co-founder of Pure Bookkeeping, but as well co-author of e-Myth Bookkeeper. What she would use was called The Health Check. And so at this stage, it would be, I love how you've just made that so simple. Would you like some help with that? And so you've got this closed question and say yes or no. If they say yes, then there's this introduction. And where this could fit in really brilliantly is, let me do a health check. And the health check is that you go in, you check through, there's like a, it's like this 34 point inspection for your car at the garage. Right? But that's, that is I very soft next step to go in and just have a look at the look around the place and see where there might be some burning fires or something like that. So that could be a great tool to use right at this stage.
LR: 28:31 Right. And another thing to keep in touch with people is if, if you find an article in the newspaper about them, they won an award or they added employees or something, you know, send them a note and send them, you can email a note and attach the link to the article and say, Hey, congratulations. I saw that you know, you were mentioned or maybe they're on Facebook. I think Facebook is a great way to connect with customers who are local and especially if you're a service provider, that can be a really, really, really great way to go.
MP: 29:03 Yes, absolutely. So following up, let's say that we're at the end of the call and it, so there's going to be, either you're going to work with them or you're not going to work with them and it's going to then go into like a nurturing or followup as you're saying. What else do you see as being important to this whole sales process?
LR: 29:22 I think listening is important and in hearing, you know, listening for clues, if they sound very rushed, it may not be a good time to talk. And, and so did check with them about that. You know, is this still a good time? You sound, it sounds Kinda hectic, is everything or sounds kind of hectic. Is this still a good time to talk and try to let them know that you know, it's a human conversation. It's not just getting down to business and talk. So be listening for clues and then yeah, you want to forward the conversation on in some manner, you know, like, well perhaps, you know, sounds like you're, you're in good shape for now. Do you mind if I check in with you in six months or you know, if I see anyone that I think might use your services, do you mind if I would send them your way? You know, there's some next action that you put in your CRM system and you, you know, keep track so that you don't forget about these folks.
MP: 30:26 Beautiful.
MP: 30:31 We've given a really great, so a ton of stuff, which I think is gonna be very helpful. And you started to allude to something that I think brought up in my mind, which is this whole the psychology of selling from the person who's doing the selling. So our listeners are there. Well, what have you seen around people's mindsets that at, at that's have prevented them from asking for the business or prevented them from doing this kind of followup or, or asking these may be difficult questions? What do you see has been a roadblock for people?
LR: 31:05 When I worked with entrepreneurs and I, I don't currently, I saw as small business owners, which I work with mid-sized companies now, but what I noticed was people would sometimes take things personally, you know, take it as a personal, a rejection and when you can just flip a switch in your head that says, you know, I'm, I'm presenting my company's services, not me personally. And you know, they may or may not want to work with my company's services for different reasons and they're all okay and that there's a big abundant world out there with many more people to talk to. If the person I talk to today doesn't think we're a good fit, you know, I'd like to learn something from that conversation. I would even ask them if it seems like, you know if I think they'd be really great to work with and for some reason, they don't want to, I'd like to give it a couple of months and then I like to call them again and say, no. Can I just ask you a question? Uh, I'm, I'm always working to improve and I was curious to know why, you know, you didn't feel comfortable moving ahead working with us when we talked before and get some feedback. Now not everyone is going to be comfortable doing that, but that's how you learn and grow as you stretch yourself a little bit. And again, it's about feedback that's going to help me do a better, easier job next time.
MP: 32:29 That's great. And you know, we've, I'm looking at the time and I'm thinking we could probably take us on for a lot longer, but we try and keep them around 30 minutes. So this has been fantastic and I'd love to have you share anything that you would like to share about your company or how people can get more from your business or learn more about your business score, more sales. Tell us a little bit about that.
LR: 32:55 Well, as I mentioned, I work with mid companies that have sales teams of at least, you know, usually half a dozen people or more. Um, but the audience may know of companies like that and I'd love any kind of referrals. Um, but I do also have a blog at Scoremoresales.com and I always try to post ideas and you know, tips and strategies for the common things that come up in selling and leading salespeople. So I would encourage them to, um, visit the blog and you know, if I can be of any support, um, they're, they're welcome to reach out to me that way.
MP: 33:38 That's excellent. Thank you so much. Well, I will say this has been a fantastic uh, interview and I'm going to do a bunch of things for the listeners. So here's what we're going to do. Number one, I'm going to get this episode transcribed. We don't transcribe all of the episodes, but this one, there are so many great things that you've talked about today that I think it'd be valuable to have a transcription. So we'll have, we'll make that available on our website as well. I'm going to break it down here cause I love how you've taken us through this very simple step by step process on how to move somebody through a sales cycle. And this is your version of that. So we'll make that available. And that'll include some of the questions that you've brought up. You know what people can ask, so we're going to arm everybody that's listening right now with a whole bunch of great helping tools to make selling easier, make your life better when you're out there selling and actually gets you excited about going out there and networking and building and growing your business. So thank you so much, Lori. This has been awesome. I've loved it. I know our audience is going to love it and I can't wait to put it out there.
LR: 34:45 Thank you, Michael. It's my pleasure and I hope everyone keeps selling.
MP: 34:48 Yes, well that wraps another episode. Thank you for listening as well. As I mentioned, all of these resources and finding out more about Lori, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com and go to this specific episode to find out how you can download all of these great resources as well. Please subscribe to our show on iTunes, and we'd love for you to leave us a review, let us know what you think, give us information on what you like
MP: 35:18 to hear or see in the future. And until then we'll say goodbye.