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Episode 56

Million Dollar Sales Expert, Colleen Francis

Accelerate Sales, Generate Profit, Reduce Effort

Do you ever find yourself doubting your ability to succeed? It might take a while to “bloom” in business, but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

My very special guest this week, Colleen Francis, is sharing the story of her 10-year journey to become the leader that the “big guys” go to. Her track record speaks for itself—she has worked with clients such as John Deere, NCR, Royal Bank, and Experion, just to name a few.

In today’s technological world, how do you effectively market your business when you are competing with consumer reviews? Colleen is revealing the answer in episode 56.

Are you ready to step up your sales approach? Press play and let’s begin!

What’s in This Episode

  • The selling template for larger businesses
  • Why B2B is going to be replaced by B2C
  • Understanding consumer shopping behaviour
  • Discover your confidence to charge what you’re worth
  • Competing with Online Reviews vs a Personal Reference
  • Stop relying on your self-worth on “yes or no” answers

What To Do Next

  1. Join The Strategy Lab, Lisa’s insider entrepreneurial community that is learning, tackling, and coming together to support and challenge each other on all things business. Click here to join!
  2. Join Thought Readers and connect with other like-minded entrepreneurs in this popular book club for business owners.
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Where to Find Colleen

Books Mentioned in This Episode

Episode Transcript

Download The PDF Transcript


Lisa Larter (00:01):
Welcome to, She Talks Business. If you’re an entrepreneur, business owner or aspiring mogul, chances are you want to learn more about marketing and mastering and monetizing your business. She Talks Business is where you’ll learn all of that and more. My name is Lisa Larter and I’m an entrepreneur, high school dropout, wiener dog enthusiast and your host. Let’s get started.

Lisa Larter (00:24):
Hello and welcome to She Talks Business. This is Lisa Larter and I am looking forward to today’s episode. I am looking forward to this episode for a big reason. One, our guest is Colleen Francis, who is a client and colleague of mine and a friend and I am excited about the conversation because we are going to talk about sales and not enough women talk about sales. It seems that sales and selling is a male-dominated space and a lot of women are uncomfortable with selling and Colleen couldn’t be further from that.

Lisa Larter (01:04):
Colleen is driven by a passion for sales and results. A successful sales leader for over 20 years. She understands the particular challenges of selling in today’s competitive market and that business leaders can no longer rely on approaches to sales based on techniques from decades ago or even last year. Whether maximizing revenue from sales teams or seizing new market opportunities, Colleen works with businesses to develop the right sales strategy for success and delivers practical approaches to ensure it sticks. Colleen’s results have attracted clients such as Chevron, John Deere, NCR, Trend, Micro, Merck, Abbot, Experian, Royal Bank, Dow, and 100s of other industry leading companies. I love this. She is the sales leader the big guys go to. Time and time again, clients who work with Colleen note her frank, no nonsense approach to accelerate sales while reducing effort and increasing profits. Colleen’s practical strategies deliver immediate and lasting results.

Lisa Larter (02:20):
A recognized thought leader in sales leadership, she is an inductee in the Professional Speaker Hall of Fame and has been named the number one sales influencer to follow by LinkedIn, and she’s built a seven figure business that has stood the test of time over and over again, year after year because of her sales expertise. Wow, we have a great show ahead for you. Can’t wait to dig into all of these details with Colleen. Colleen, welcome to the show. It is so great to have you here and I have pink sweater and scarf envy, you look fantastic.

Colleen Francis (03:03):
Thank you very much. I am really excited to be here too this is going to be a fantastic conversation.

Lisa Larter (03:09):
Yeah, I can’t wait. I love talking sales with you and I feel like because we do some work together and because we are friends and colleagues, we often have these conversations about business and sales offline and via text that are so enlightening. I can’t wait for the listeners to get a glimpse at your expertise. So you have a new book that’s just come out, Right on the Money that I really want to talk to you about, but before we go there because this season is all about million dollar mind share, one of the things that is really interesting is right out of university, you started working in sales and that is not typical for a lot of women and so I’d love to hear a little bit about how that happened and what was the moment in time where you realized that your sales ability was going to be the key for you to start and build the successful business that you have today?

Colleen Francis (04:15):
My decision to go into sales after university goes actually way past or way beyond just being at university. I grew up in a sales household. My dad was a salesperson and a sales manager and then a general manager. So selling was never a bad word, it was very common. In fact, when we had professional development days at school and when I was in elementary school, my mom sent me out to make sales calls with my dad. So I was grade three, I was tagging along making calls and I think as a result of him being in sales, I was one of those kids that when we had a band event or soccer tournaments or whatever, I had to go door to door with the chocolates and the wrapping paper and the spices, poinsettias, crazy things, right?

Colleen Francis (05:02):
He wouldn’t take any of that to work and so when I was going through university, it was just natural for me to take jobs in sales and I had a few friends who were in the life insurance business and doing really well and the company that recruited me had a fantastic training program. It was one of the only companies that I interviewed with sales or no sales that actually put people through six weeks of training before you started working and that really appealed to me. So it seemed just very natural to go into sales, but that being said, my first year or two, I was terrible.

Colleen Francis (05:42):
I literally got hauled into the manager’s office and sort of put on their version of performance improvement plan. Okay, getting me focused, but I think what happened in being really terrible, we were on a draw against commissions and I was negative, right? I think I owed the company 12,000 or $16,000 for something, but what happened in thinking back, two things happened. He put me on this really structured program. I need you to make X number calls a day and do certain things, and he gave me a mentor in the business and those two things that structure and understanding the math behind what works and having a mentor and watching Fred work his magic with his customers really helped to create some success for me.

Lisa Larter (06:34):
Awesome. So back then, I guess you never would’ve dreamed that you’d build your own sales company and have some of the biggest brands in the world seek out your guidance for their sales teams.

Colleen Francis (06:45):
No, absolutely not. I think when I finally left the insurance business and ended up in technology sales, I envisioned myself really being in tech sales, working for a corporation as probably a vice president of sales or something for a long time. That’s kind of how I imagined. My dad was a career salesperson and manager, right? So my DNA I think was 37 years with one company. I never really thought that you could even create a business.
Lisa Larter (07:19):
So what made you create a business? What was the defining moment the point in time where you ventured out on your own?

Colleen Francis (07:29):
Well, it was one of those things where, so the dot-com bubble hit in 2001 or 2000 maybe, around that time and the startup I was with lost. We didn’t get any money. So we had to fold. So I was out my own, a little desperate for work and I went to work for a company and hated it. The sales leadership was just terrible. It was all the slimy things that we think about with sales people, the last straw for me I kid you not, he was standing in front of some clients that we were pitching to and he pulled out his fingers like guns and did that, “How do you like me so far?”

Lisa Larter (08:13):
Oh, that’s like Grant Cardone.

Colleen Francis (08:13):
I probably shuddered. So I came home and I said to my husband like, “Look, I think that there’s a real need in Ottawa where I was living at the time for part-time sales VP work.” I thought back to the startup, I think I can be a part-time sales VP and just kind of farm myself out to a few people that I know who need this kind of guidance and so we just decided to go with that and that sort of morphed into, “Well Colleen, can you just come in and teach my VP how to do that or can you just come in and teach my team how to do that?” So it morphed from this part-time VP of sales work into a consulting work, into training work.

Lisa Larter (08:52):
Cool and I’m curious, how long did it take you to reach seven figures in your business? And was there anything specific that you did that really helped you get there because you and I were talking before the show, in the United States, pre COVID, 4% of women owned businesses reach the seven figure mark and post COVID, only 2% do. So we know that women who achieve this milestone are unicorns to a certain degree because there’s a very small percentage of us that do it. So how long did it take you? It took me, I felt like, an eternity. I was a slow bloomer, but how long did it take you and was there anything specific that you did that really helped you get there?

Colleen Francis (09:40):
So I think it was about nine years, maybe 10 years to get there. It was either 2010 or 2011 when, my fiscal year and the calendar year are slightly off so I can never remember exactly when it happened, but it was around 2010, 2011. I think two things really helped one. It was right around that time, maybe a couple years earlier that my husband Chris quit his job and came to work with me and we started to really split out some of the day to day tasks. I always had an assistant, Casey who did travel and shipping and all that, but he really picked up some of the heavy lifting around the technology, the website and a little bit more strategic thinking.

Colleen Francis (10:33):
I also started to think bigger. In fact, the year in December, the year before I did a million dollars, I went to Million Dollar Consulting College with Alan Weiss and I think the mindset shift of realizing that I shouldn’t be pricing my services by the day or by the hour that I could look at bigger packages and that I wasn’t a trainer so to speak and that I had value and I could start charging a lot more for what I was doing if I had bundled things differently and positioned it differently, it made a huge difference and I think in the first quarter of that year, which may have been 2011, I did more revenue that quarter than I had done the previous year.

Lisa Larter (11:20):
Wow. I remember you telling me about Alan and that Alan was a key figure in helping you to build your business and I mean that’s why I ended up doing work with Alan was based on your recommendation and I still remember the very first time that I put together a proposal was six months of unlimited advisement from me. I didn’t know how to price it so I priced it at $3,000 for six months and Allen replied, he said to me, “Well, it’s great, but you have a typo. It should be $3,000 a month.” And I said, “I can’t charge that.” He said you can and you will and so I charged 2,500. I moved it from 3,000 to 15,000 and the buyer was like, “Yeah, no problem.” And I was like, “Oh my God, how much money have I been leaving on the table?”

Colleen Francis (12:10):
Exactly, just having that push, right? And he said to me a couple of things that have always resonated that really made a difference. He said, “You’re not a trainer, you’re an expert.” He said you’re not a trainer, you’re the expert, and I said, “Yeah, you’re right, I’m an expert.” And he said, “No, you’re not an expert, you’re the expert.” And that, it’s just a three letter word, right? But it made a huge difference in the way I perceived myself, which then gave me the confidence to start increasing my fees and packaging things differently, being more directive with clients instead of just saying when they said, I remember one customer called and he said, “We need to train the sales team.”

Colleen Francis (12:52):
And in the past, I would’ve said, “Oh, okay, well here’s my training rate and here’s what we can do.” And this was my first six figure contract. I said, “Well, let’s figure out what’s going on.” And so we had a conversation and I said training’s not going to work. What we need to do is we have to assess the team, we have to build a process. We have to build an organization structure. We have to pay them right and then we can train them and the training work, and he said, “Oh yeah, you’re right.” And I held my breath.

Lisa Larter (13:24):
And got the deal.

Colleen Francis (13:26):
Appears in front of him and there we go.

Lisa Larter (13:28):
Yeah, that’s amazing. So I love your book. I love it more than you your first book because for me, it’s really easy to read and there’s so many great nuggets. I know that because of COVID, you pretty much rewrote your whole book and the first chapter, so for those of you watching or listening, the book is called Right on the Money by Colleen Francis. The first chapter is all about how the landscape has changed. So can you talk to us a little bit about that? What should people be thinking about right now in terms of the landscape for selling and I know you work with a lot of bigger organizations, most of our listeners are smaller business owners, and so can you kind of pull apart some of the things that you think are most important for them to be considering?

Colleen Francis (14:25):
Yeah, absolutely and one thing for your listeners to understand is that I practice what I’ve written in this book in my own business. So while it’s written with my audience in my big businesses, it does apply to our businesses because I use it every single day.

Lisa Larter (14:44):

Colleen Francis (14:47):
Yeah, exactly. So there is a template in here for larger businesses. So the major landscape change that I see that is most important to all of us is to consider that in the past, we used to have a business to business buying cycle and buying environment and a business to consumer and they were very separate. Business to business might follow business to consumer trends and things over a period of six years or so, but now, they’re really combined and while that was happening pre COVID, COVID really accelerated that mashing, I call it now, there’s no B2B or B2C. It’s all B to all and that’s because people are so now digitally comfortable that they just feel like if I can buy jeans and shoes online, then why can’t I buy all of my business products online and my business services.

Colleen Francis (15:47):
And while they might not be able to buy everything online, they take that mindset and say, “Well, I’m going to do all my research first so that I’m ready to talk to somebody because I don’t have time right now to try to figure out whether the eight sales people in front of me are telling me the truth. I want to make up that mind up first and then find the best person to deliver what I have already decided I need.”

Lisa Larter (16:11):
So the consumer shopping behavior is now translating into the business shopping behavior because we’re all people.

Colleen Francis (16:19):
Yeah, absolutely and it’s really been dramatic in the business to business market also because coming out of COVID businesses are still down a lot of employees, right? And there’s a huge employee shortage at least in North America right now. I’m sure everybody who has stepped foot in a restaurant or a hotel recently has felt it, but that’s happening across all businesses. I was just talking to a group of larger organizations in the oil and gas business and I said, “Well, don’t you have a marketing person?” And they said, “Nope, that was a COVID casualty.” Oh, okay.

Colleen Francis (16:58):
So they haven’t been rehired even though their businesses are booming right now. So because people are short on time, the last thing they want to do is meet with people like us because it takes up time and they’re not sure it’s a good use of their time. So they’re managing their time, they’re also managing their risk. So in order for people to feel comfortable with the decisions they’re making, they take control of the front end of that or the majority of it and then only put themselves in front of the people that they feel are low risk in making a decision.

Lisa Larter (17:31):
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So one of the things that you talk about in the book is that it’s basically a buyer’s market and buyers are now in control of the sales process. What type of mindset shifts do people need to make around that? What types of old school, I love your cold calling is dead, but what types of old school tactics need to go to the wayside and how does our thinking need to change now that it really is the buyer is basically the seller.

Colleen Francis (18:08):
You know it is. I mean we have to be seen everywhere. I’ve used the term ubiquitous many times. In the book, we call it critical mass influence and in fact Lisa, I realized I use an example of our relationship in this and how it works because we have to recognize that people are more important than ever before in the buying cycle, but it’s just that there are many more people involved. So I use this example to sum it up nicely. I need to buy new microphones and lights and things for my business and I go to Lisa because she’s the expert, right? And Lisa says here’s the brand to buy. So what do I do? I go onto Amazon, I start looking at those brands and I start reading the reviews.

Colleen Francis (18:57):
And I start reading the people who bought this, also bought that and I get down a rabbit hole and I start reading these reviews of other people that I don’t know and I’m like, “Well, all these other people really said that this was the better brand even though Lisa, my trusted advisor and great friend and business associate said A is the best thing to buy, 1000 people say B is the best thing to buy and even though they’re strangers, I’m going to trust 1000 voices over one, right?

Colleen Francis (19:24):
So I became really conscious of this and started noticing that’s what’s happening in the marketplace and from a sales perspective, why that’s important is you have to recognize that the person you’re trying to sell to is listening to 10s, 100s, or 1000s of voices of people that you may never even meet and so our job is we have to infiltrate all of the places where not just our buyers are, but the people they’re listening to are so you can imagine, your buyer is sort of in the center of this mass, all of the people around them are saying, “You should buy this.” I know Lisa and that reduces the risk and increases the confidence they have that they will call you or reach out to you.

Lisa Larter (20:11):
Right. So you have to be really aware of what the recommendation process has changed. It’s not just one recommendation, there are lots of stranger recommendations that are influencing buyer decisions out there as well. Really important.

Colleen Francis (20:29):
It is, people are spending only about 17% of the time that they have to make a decision in front of sales people. The rest of the time, that 83%, they’re spending in front of all the people who can influence them or who are stakeholders or online reading things about you. So we have 83% of that decision making time that we have to penetrate somehow.

Lisa Larter (20:55):
Which means that things like testimonials on your website and LinkedIn recommendations and Google reviews, all of those things are more important than ever because they are public pieces of social proof that you actually do good work, whether you are a solo practitioner, a small business owner, or a big corporation. Those things all feed into buyer decision making.

Colleen Francis (21:22):
Absolutely and the value, so the publishing of your value is important and not just to your ideal buyer, but if you have to now think about who are all the other people who are influencing my buyer and what value do I bring them? So let’s say you’re selling insurance or financial services. I mean people will tend to create articles and analyst reports and how-to information for the person that they want to become their client as a financial advisor, but that person might also be going to their banks and their lawyers and other people in their life to get referrals on which financial advisor to use and so the financial advisor now also needs to write and showcase value on why banks should refer people to financial advisors. What lawyers should consider when referring or how it affects, so all the lawyers in the circle also say, “Lisa’s really smart about understanding how the law and finances work together, you should talk to her, right?”

Lisa Larter (22:28):
Right. So you have to understand, it’s like a web. You have to understand how it’s all connected.

Colleen Francis (22:33):

Lisa Larter (22:35):
So one of the things that you talk about in the book is anticipation is the new responsiveness and I love that because I’ve always said that having a sense of urgency sells and so can you talk to me a little bit about speed and why it matters and can you give us some examples of what business owners really should be thinking about and in terms of what their speed of response is like?

Colleen Francis (23:02):
Yeah, it’s a really great question and it’s a topic here and dear to my heart. So we are in a wait, hurry up kind of market. So if you think about it, buyers and stakeholders are doing all this research online, they’re talking to all sorts of people. They’re trying to get all their ducks in a row, they’re building confidence in who they want to talk to. So when they finally pick up the phone or send you an email or return an email or a phone call that you’ve been sending, they are ready to buy right then, and so responsiveness is key because it’s top of mind and they’ve got a to do list, triple what it normally was pre COVID because they’ve got less staff and less time to make these decisions. So they have a high degree of urgency because they’ve got to get this done because there’s five other things that need to get done. So we are seeing that 75% of the sales are going to the supplier who responds first.
Lisa Larter (24:04):

Colleen Francis (24:05):
75% and in one example I share in the book between two equal companies, the company that had a 48 hour turnaround time in terms of responding versus the one that had a one hour turnaround time on responding, the one hour turnaround time resulted in 12 times better closing ratio than 48 hour turnaround time.

Lisa Larter (24:29):
I can believe it. Yeah, I believe it because what I would expect happens is the buyer does all of this research and they have a deadline for making the buying decision and so if you are on the short list and they are a typical procrastinator because they’re busy like the rest of us, then by the time they reach out for you, they are up against their own deadline and that’s why the responsiveness is so critical and important.

Colleen Francis (24:57):
Absolutely, it’s key right now and so figuring out how you can respond quickly in a personalized way when someone does reach out is going to make a huge difference between whether you win or lose the business.

Lisa Larter (25:11):
Well, I’m just thinking about that 12 times example and if you think about the cost of having an employee who only responds to sales inquiries and you think, “Oh, I can’t afford to hire that extra person. Can you afford not to?”

Colleen Francis (25:26):
Exactly because what we are seeing in this marketplace too is there really is an increase in inbound inquiries. I mean from the sellers who are doing this right, the results are much better for those who are pushing out the content, seeding the marketplace, being ubiquitous, engaging with people in all of the platforms and then they get this ground swell of inbound leads that they can qualify and close. That’s much more successful and much more profitable than the old fashioned sort of let’s make 100 cold calls in a day.

Lisa Larter (26:03):
So my experience in my business. I mean I do a lot of work in helping business owners really think through their business and their marketing strategy. So the outcome that my clients are always looking for is more sales, but I don’t consider myself a sales expert, but I do consider myself someone who is a pretty good salesperson and has a pretty adapted understanding the process of building a business and marketing in order to attract leads. I have observed over the decade plus time that I’ve been self-employed and even previous to that in retail that there are a lot of women that are really uncomfortable with selling. They’re afraid to ask for the sale, they’re afraid to be too pushy. They’re afraid of rejection. They’re afraid of asking for too big of a price point. So they a lead with the smallest option. What do you recommend that people who are uncomfortable with or afraid of selling do to improve their skills?

Colleen Francis (27:14):
So first of all, it’s mindset. I think you need to change your mindset from I’m trying to sell something or I’m selling something or you need to sell something to I’m helping this person, right? They’ve come to me for an improvement and if they choose to do business with me, I’m going to help them. So that’s number one. Two, I think from a mindset perspective, I do two things. One, teach people to remember that your job is to just start a conversation and keep a conversation going, right? As long as they’re talking to you, there’s potential to buy as opposed to thinking every time you talk to someone, I got to close the deal, right? I think it’s really a critical mindset shift there because if you’re trying to set yourself up to sell, you become intimidated by that. Right?

Colleen Francis (28:08):
So I think those two pieces of mindset shift are really critical. If you’re getting inbound leads, you also have to remember that people are calling you because they do have a problem they want resolved, right? So you’re not interrupting their day, you’re not being too pushy. They reached out to you which I think is also a really critical piece there from a mindset perspective and then I think from improving your skills. So I think a lot of women are afraid because they mistake being assertive with being aggressive or pushy. Being assertive is a very professional way of just asking questions, and then they take it personally when the response.

Colleen Francis (28:59):
So I like to always remember that my job is to get this person to a decision. I’m not vested in the decision, whether you choose to do business with me or Lisa is fine with me because you’re getting the help that you believe you need and that’s a good thing, but I want you to make a decision, and if you change your mindset that way, then you change the way you ask questions instead of saying, “So you’re going to do business together,” and sound aggressive, it’s you ask questions like, “What do you want to do next? How can I help you decide which is the right solution? Which solution do you think is the best one for you? How are you going to make a decision about what is the right option for you?” And it becomes much more conversational and you feel like you’re not in combat that way as well.

Lisa Larter (29:48):
Right. So learning the art of first of all, the mindset stuff, but also learning how to ask better questions and really coming from a place of service versus a place of sales.

Colleen Francis (29:59):
Yeah, absolutely and I mean at the end, learning how to ask the sales question in a way that’s comfortable for you. I think the most common way I ask for the sale is just simply “what would you like to do next?”

Lisa Larter (30:15):
Yeah, I did the same thing. What would you like to do next or I will explain to someone when they want to know how they can work with me, what the options are and then I will just simply say, “So what do you think? Do you think you can do this on your own or would you like my help?” And it’s a very soft way of asking, but I’ve gotten to a point in my business or in sales, and I think I’ve kind of been this way most of my life, I’m not attached to the outcome. I don’t take it personally and I think that I can self-reflect enough on when I’ve done a good job in a sales conversation and when I’ve done a bad job and one of the things that I noticed that I used to do when I would do a bad job is I would go way too far down the common ground rabbit hole.

Lisa Larter (31:10):
I would build rapport to the point that the person forgot what they were coming in to buy so I think it’s important that you build rapport, but it’s also important that you’re able to self-diagnose and reflect on why a conversation led to a positive or a negative outcome in terms of sales, do you agree?

Colleen Francis (31:28):
Absolutely. You said a couple things there that really resonated with me, not being tied to the outcome I think is really important because you can’t tie your self worth, your sense of self-esteem up in a yes, no answer, right? Person’s going to make a decision that they think is best for them and if they don’t choose you, oh well, next time, right?

Colleen Francis (31:49):
So I think that’s a really critical piece and yeah, we’re here to help people not necessarily build friends so to speak and I think women do maybe go down that rabbit hole of trying to build personal rapport for too long and in this market, people don’t, well, it’s not that they don’t care about that because it is important to some degree, but what they really care about is the value you can bring so I like to laugh with some of my clients right now.

Colleen Francis (32:22):
I keep telling them it’s not hats and donuts market anymore. You don’t want your hats and donuts, they want to know that you can deliver them value that’s aligned with the value that they’re seeking and so asking questions about what the person’s objectives are and I always say to customers, let’s get on the phone and talk so I can see if I can help you hit your objectives, right? I might not be the right person. So disarming right up from the front to say, “Let’s explore what you’re trying to accomplish and if I can help you, then we can talk about the steps and if I can’t help you, then I’ll refer you to someone who can.” So that way you keep the conversation conversational, but focused on what’s in it for them.

Lisa Larter (33:08):
Yeah, I had somebody recently say something to me about, “Oh, I think I can convince so and so that they should do this.” And I said if you have to convince someone, then it’s probably not the right sales opportunity because I feel like when you go all in on convincing someone that they should buy from you, then you have to keep convincing them that they made the right decisions so I don’t want to convince anybody. I want people to buy because they want to buy.

Colleen Francis (33:38):
Absolutely, and I also think that one of the things that really helps people be more successful in sales and you talked about it a little bit is providing them options, right? There’s three different ways or two different ways that we can do this and so then it’s not a conversation about so do you want to go forward? Can we do business together? It’s a which one of these resonates with you best? Or which of these options do you think will work or what would you like to do next? It’s a way easier way to have that conversation if you can provide a few different ways. I would say no more than three. So two or three different ways that they can engage with you.

Lisa Larter (34:23):
Yeah, absolutely. So can you talk to me a little bit about the role that marketing plays in the sales process and maybe touch on some of the gimmicks that business owners should avoid? I really am interested in your triad tempo and so if you could talk, you go into a lot of detail in the book, but if we could maybe have a conversation about that, I would love that.

Colleen Francis (34:50):
Yeah, so I think marketing and sales are even more closely aligned and in fact, on the corporate side, when I’m working with corporate sales people, whether it be oil and gas or technology or fertilizer, they have to market themselves and their own brands and their businesses and the value they bring even on top of having a huge corporate marketing department. It’s critical in this marketplace right now.

Lisa Larter (35:18):
To market your own personal brand.

Colleen Francis (35:22):
Yes, absolutely and how they bring value to the small end market that they work in, the territory that they work in. So what we created with the triad tempo was a really easy way because you don’t want to spend your entire day on social media or in marketing. You’ve got to talk to people eventually, right? But it utilizes this critical mass influence that I talked about where it says, “Okay, so three times a day on the three types of media that your customers engage in.” Not what you want to engage in, but where your customers are and that could be your company newsletter, it could be industry association sites, it could be LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. You choose based on what your customers are. I want you to do three things on those three different medias.

Colleen Francis (36:13):
And some people do this three times a day, some will do it three times a week, but it has to be at least three times a week, not three times a month. Create and post original content so either something you’ve created that’s original or that your marketing team or someone inside your company has created that is original. It could be two sentences of original content or two paragraphs. I want you to comment on other people. So following your customers or influencers that your customers follow comment on there, don’t just like it, but actually ask a question or add value, show that you’re listening so that you pop up in their feed, right? So that people start to pay attention to you who are all in a periphery of where your stakeholders and your buyers are.

Colleen Francis (37:02):
And then I want you to share, whether you share something from your customers that they’re posting or your potential customers or share something from the news or share a story from the industry association, you need to be sharing other people’s stuff because that’s how you get heard by all those people who you might not know, but your customers might be listening to.

Lisa Larter (37:25):
Yeah, I’m trying to think, there was something I saw on Facebook where somebody was talking about something gimmicky and you commented and you basically said, “You just need to create a body of work, stop with all this nonsense, right?”

Colleen Francis (37:39):
Oh yeah, I find people in the professional services world recently, they’ve been spending too much time focused on all the technology, right? Well, if you could see, I have like a Yeti mic, I have two ring lights attached to my computer screens and I have a Logitech camera, right? And we do over a million dollars worth of business a year and I keynote and train and do everything with this. Yet, people who are making a 10th of that will spend hours and hours a day trying to figure out their three-camera shoot and their atem switchers, and they have lights coming in and they’re all in the ceiling and they have 14 lights across. You know what you need, that’s not going to bring you more business. Maybe my lighting could be better.

Lisa Larter (38:32):
Focused on the wrong things.

Colleen Francis (38:35):
They’re focused on the wrong things. It’s not a hats and donuts market, right? It’s a value market and people want to know how you can help them deliver value. So spending time writing or creating videos or doing podcast interviews or writing tip sheets, how two sheets and get your knowledge out there.

Lisa Larter (39:00):
Right, it’s an attention economy and you have to be able to generate attention in a valuable and compelling way if you really want to generate those inbound leads.

Colleen Francis (39:10):
When I first started selling technology, I went through a sales methodology, that’s still around today. I won’t mention it by name, but they taught us that no free consulting. If you give something away for free, you will never be able to make money from that company again. The entire opposite is true right now. If we don’t give away our value for free, no one will even know that we exist and so the mindset is you have to create an environment around you where people say my God, I learned so much from calling for free. Just imagine what will happen if I pay her.

Lisa Larter (39:40):
Right, exactly. How important is trust?

Colleen Francis (39:46):
Trust is important, right? I mean it’s critical because when they trust you, their risk tolerance improves, right? So decision confidence is a term that I use a lot. We’re trying to build confidence in our buyers to make a decision and they’re not going to have confidence in someone they don’t trust.

Lisa Larter (40:05):
Yes, absolutely. I had this conversation with a colleague of ours, Lisa Miller this week actually, we were talking about trust and we were talking about make it easy for people to buy and close the loop, do what you say you’re going to do and keep your customer informed along the way so they don’t have to wonder what’s happening because as soon as they have to hold the, “I wonder what’s happening. I wonder if this got done” in their head, you’re eroding trust, And when you start to erode trust, they start to look for other people that are actually going to make it easier for them to do business, right?

Colleen Francis (40:40):
A client of mine who I was with this week has the most simple formula for this in terms of closing customers and onboarding customers. I just think this is brilliant. He says when you’re closing the business, you know why they’re doing business with you, right? Either you got the service, the price, the availability, the style, whatever it is. So he makes sure to document that, why did you buy from me? What tipped the scales in front of the customer and say, “Okay, so it’s A, B and C” So my job now is to make sure that as we’re bringing you on board and as you’re doing the work that we actually fulfill the reasons why you did business with us and it can be three things, but he’s constantly going back to the customer. Were you happy with this because we know that was important to you and he puts it in their face so often that they’re incredibly loyal. Well, that’s so simple.

Lisa Larter (41:30):
Yeah. It’s super simple. I actually just talked to my team about doing something like that, like a customer one pager that outlines those things so that you don’t forget what the most important priorities are and I think it’s really simple, but it’s really valuable.

Colleen Francis (41:46):
Yeah, I thought it was incredibly valuable.

Lisa Larter (41:48):
All right so I have one last question for you before we wrap up and that question is what is your entrepreneurial superpower?

Colleen Francis (42:01):
My entrepreneurial superpower is that I’m fearless. I’m willing to try anything. I mean as long as it’s legal, moral and ethical, I honestly I’m willing to try anything, talk to anybody, write about anything.

Lisa Larter (42:18):
And is that something that was innate? Were you always fearless or is that something that built over time?

Colleen Francis (42:23):
No, I think I’ve always been that way. In high school, my best friend’s dad used to say that I had a killer instinct and I’ve always been told that I’ve been driven so I think being driven and having that sort of killer instinct are the result of just being fearless and trying things.

Lisa Larter (42:43):
Awesome. So for our listeners, I want you to know I’ve known Colleen for a long time, a number of years now and probably close to a decade if not more than a decade and one of the things that I like and respect about her the most is that she exudes confidence and maybe she exudes confidence because she is fearless, maybe her sales organization is successful because she is confident and fearless and highly skilled, but one thing I know for sure is she has a proven track record year after year after year of doing what she does successfully in the sales space.

Lisa Larter (43:27):
So if you’re listening to this show and you’re thinking I wish that I could borrow a little bit of her confidence, a little bit of her thinking, a little bit of her salesmanship. I want to encourage you to pick up a copy of her book Right on the Money, it’s a book that has been written by a woman who is practicing these skills and doing it with style and building a successful business as a result of doing these things. If she can do it, you can do it too. Colleen, thank you so much for being here today, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you. I feel like I could have had you on for a half day, but I know that’s not reasonable or possible.

Colleen Francis (44:07):
We could have talked for hours.

Lisa Larter (44:11):
We’ll have to do an evening podcast with champagne.

Colleen Francis (44:16):
That will be fun.

Lisa Larter (44:18):
All right, thank you everyone for listening and thank you Colleen for being part of this conversation.

Colleen Francis (44:24):
Great, thanks.

Lisa Larter (44:25):
Thank you for joining me for this episode of She Talks Business. If you enjoyed the show, you know the drill, leave us a review, tell someone about it and join the conversation on social media. Thanks for listening and until next time remember, done is always better than perfect.

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Lisa Larter

Founder and CEO of the Lisa Larter Group, master strategist, author, speaker, podcast host, social media expert, consultant, and business coach. Lisa inspires entrepreneurs and business owners to see the possibilities for their organizations when it comes to strategy. She uncomplicates modern marketing and creates (and implements) strategies for businesses that are guaranteed to increase visibility, inbound leads, and revenue.

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