In this episode, Jeremy DeMerchant — CEO of Permission To Sell Consulting Group — Explains his proven method for successful sales.
- Core processes for effective sales
- What to listen for in a sales conversation
- How to make connections with clients
Welcome to the Work The System podcast where we help entrepreneurs make more and work less by managing their systems. And I'm your host Josh Fonger. And today we have a special guest, Jeremy merchant. Jeremy is a number one best selling author, award winning speaker and the host of Sales Team Rescue on Headspace TV. Jeremy founded permission to sell Consulting Group after two decades of sales and leadership roles for industry giants in telecom, finance and education. on a mission to help companies grow their sales success, Jeremy has had the opportunity to support small business owners, sales professionals, and entire sales teams from Santa Monica to Singapore to double their sales results in a matter of weeks. All right, Jeremy. So as we get started in this podcast, why don't you give us the background story? How did you become this sales expert?
You know, just recently, I started sharing a little bit more of the story. But when I was a young kid, I didn't get along with my peers. And I ended up just paying attention to what made adults impressed with me. And so I kind of gave up on that I was kind of a loner. But I realized that if I could learn what made adults tick, my teachers, my parents, I could get positive feedback from them. And as I started to turn 14, I started working in a convenience store. And this one day, the scratch ticket came in and it was a $1 scratch ticket, and it had dooleys logo on it, which is a Canadian billiards Hall. And I was horribly unathletic. But pool was something I could do. I wasn't good at it, but I could do it. And so I saw this duly scratched chicken and got really, really excited. And of course, I was too young to buy it. Wink, wink. But when somebody came in, I said, hey, have you seen this? And they ended up buying one. And the next person came in, I said, hey, have you seen this, and they bought two. And this is a Saturday and Sunday shift. And over that time I sold out of those tickets. And that's when I realized that if I can share my enthusiasm, I can influence somebody's buying decision. From there kind of became a game. And then I went through my career starting at a call center after that, and realized that if you're number one or number two on the phones, you don't get a chance to get off the phones because you're making the company too much money. But if you're number three, they'll let you jump off the phones. If you can help other people do better. So I was number three, and I became a coach and then team supervisor, and just got obsessed with helping other people get better at sales. And that just brought me so much joy, like when that light bulb goes off. And you kind of challenge somebody to try something they were scared to try. And they do it and it works. It's just this, this huge aha moment in their mind. And when they light up and realize that the one thing they just learned can be a great thing for the company, but in most cases means it's a great thing for their paychecks. They get very excited. And I reflect on that.
Very cool. So it started early. And he had the insight about selling and I liked that idea. Enthusiasm was kind of the first piece. And I think anyone can do that. Whether they have any techniques or not. They can least show enthusiasm, but what they sell. So since this is a podcast about systems, do you have kind of a normal way that you help companies with their selling? Is there a process or certain components to selling and this is telephone selling mainly right?
Telephone video face to face, I've worked with many different sales teams. At one point, I went side by side with a sales rep from an H fat company, put on little uniform and acted as if I was a trainee. They just said, oh, this guy's new to the company learning the business. Not incorrect. But I just sat there quietly, then we got in the car. And he'd say, okay, tell me what I could do better. And with that particular gentleman, we doubled his sales in two weeks. And so that my superpower is actually not with systems. It's actually why you and I talk a lot, because I do need some of your help. But my superpower is listening to what's there and fixing it. I like there to be a foundation in place because I can move faster. I find it very challenging to rebuild, to build from the ground up, because there's a lot of work that goes into it. There's a lot of testing. And it just feels like I can go five or 10 times faster when there's something in place. But one thing I can share from a systems perspective is I'm horrible at follow up. And a lot of people think that that's for fortune if you can figure out how to keep following up with people. Then it takes something like seven or eight contacts before somebody decides to say yes to buy. And if you just give up after two, which is what most people do, your sales will struggle. And so the system that I created, it's kind of wrapped up in a presentation called the three ways to avoid getting ghosted by your prospects and the secret. It's not really mind blowing, but there's a couple of components to it. One of them booked the next call from the current call. Okay, I hated Jason people, emails, texts, calls that didn't get answered, couldn't stand it. But when I had them on the phone, I would do everything I could to make sure the next appointment is locked in, I'd make sure that I sent them the calendar invite, I'd make sure that it showed up in their calendar, make sure they click accept, and they knew that I knew it, so they wouldn't bail on me. And that was the biggest thing. And the second piece that really makes a big impact there is shortening the timeframe between calls. The shorter you make it more the enthusiasm stays high. And we talked about enthusiasm sells well, when somebody is ready to buy, they're enthusiastic about something, either making money or saving money or whatever the solution is you're providing for them. And the higher you can keep that enthusiasm, the easier that sale is. So those are kind of the key pieces. And it's not just for follow up, it's for the entire sales cycle. But if you can keep it tight and continually keep moving forward. It's really, really valuable. And just as an example, this is me going back a little while now. But there was one lady I dated, and I couldn't tell if she liked me. And so after each date, I just said, I want to go out again tomorrow. And I still ended up on I think it was 28 dates in 30 days. And then finally I figured out she actually liked me, but I wasn't going to assume they know. I just kept asking. And then we ended up dating around nine months or something like that. So it was sort of a test. It was a good example of why you shouldn't assume the worst case scenario. So that mindset is so powerful. And if you go in, and I don't know where what I'm about to say came from, it's not my original idea. But there's two mindsets, when it comes to thinking about how people think. And one is a green light mindset, which gives you permission to continue and a red light mindset which gets you to stop. And you're the one that decides what it is because you're assuming what somebody is thinking and what's going on in their life, and you're following up. So I challenge you to think about which one's going to serve you and your prospects more, assuming they don't want to talk to you. Or you're not stopping until you know they don't.
That's all really good advice. I'm taking some notes from my sales team. So you mentioned something at the beginning which I want to explore a little bit too, which is you listen for things. So you know, we record what our sales team does. What do you listen for in a sales conversation to find out what's wrong? Are writers more instinctual? Are there certain things that you listen for? In the beginning, and then something in the middle? And then the transition? And then, you know, are there certain pieces you look for?
So I used to think it was instinctual. And I think it started that way. But when I realized that I could just push pause on a recording and the rep listening would go, Oh, I messed that up there. I knew it was something that could be taught. And what happens is, first I listen to the energy, like I start each call off with how are you today. And if you're an old school salesman, and in the call center, they say don't just dive in and start pitching. But I want to know where somebody is at where their energy is at. And so if they're, let's just say like a level one energy, and I come in and like a level five, because I'm not listening, there's gonna be a huge disconnect. But if they're in level two, I want to come in at like a 2.2. Like, if I say, Josh, how you doing today, and you say, I'm good, okay, great, I'm gonna come just a touch above. And gradually what'll happen in the conversation. And I'm actually realizing now more so than ever, how much of this is about energy, that the energy and enthusiasm starts to rise to match yours, then you go up a little more, and then a little more. And what happens is, by the end of the conversation, if they started here, at a, like a level one, and they ended at a level 10 of enthusiasm, it doesn't matter what you talked about, they're going to associate that increase in energy with their experience with you. And suddenly they like you. And that is tough to make go away. So the first part is like, how do you build that connection? When the other piece is, are you listening? A lot of people learn traditional styles of active listening. But they think that means going Mm hmm. Right? Mm hmm. When somebody is talking, and if you were in person, or in video, the body language of nodding, you're acknowledging is really important. But if you're over the phone, or over a virtual connection like this, what happens is when I say mm hmm, a lot of software will actually cut your voice off. And suddenly it sounds like that it feels like they're being interrupted. And so it feels like you're prioritizing your need to be guests on active listening. Yep, yep. When really what happens is you're creating more of a conflict or, or like a wedge, in the in the, in the report that's built. So it's really the flow.
Interesting. So the flow, so you build the rapport, you have the flow, you're mirroring their energy trying to bring up a little bit. And then are there certain techniques or tactics that are essential, after you've and asked all the questions, and you've kind of determined that they really have a need for your product or service. And you really have determined that you really are a good fit, then how do you go into this is some of what our sales team is challenged with is actually getting them to make a decision to purchase, as opposed to then say, this sounds great. I definitely need to think about purchasing this someday, maybe in the future. How do you get over that? Okay, so,
Okay, so I kind of cheat. Or at least I consider it a cheat because I get them to sell themselves. So I go through a process, I call the five C's of successful sales conversations. And if you want, we can share that. But ultimately, what happens is you build the rapport, and then you find out like where they want to be five years from now. And what that looks like if they don't do anything versus what it looks like, if they do do something to solve the current problem. And then I say on a scale from one to 10, how important is it for you to have that second version with the problem fixed be your reality? And I use that number to guide my conversation. So if they say eight, nine, or 10, we're rolling, okay. There might be a little objection, but at least you're on the right path. If they're, you know, five or below, you're way off track, you have not found the problem, and you got to start over. But when you're going in identifying that they sell, you know, it's 10, it's great, what questions do you have? And I haven't talked about a product or solution, I just talked about having the problem solved. Because people don't care what's in the box. They just want the problem solved. And so if you put them in a place where oh, well, this guy can solve my problem. And yeah, 10 out of 10, I want that solved. Great, what questions do you have? And then they're gonna say, oh, well, what exactly is it or what problem you know, what, what prices and things like that. And that's great, because I want all that to come up. And I tried to get it out as much as possible before I asked for the sale. So like, I want another relationship kind of
parallel here is, don't pop the question before you're pretty sure she's gonna say yes. Right? And that's the same way for me. And some people say always be closing. I say always be doing temperature checks to make sure you know, you guys are on the same page, but you're not closing per se, I want to I want to be there and feel it energetically, we're aligned. We're in agreement that this is going to solve the problem, then I'm gonna say What other questions do you have? Oh, concerned about price? Great, this is the investment. What other questions do you have? And I will continue to say the exact same line. Great, What other questions do you have, and overcome the objections with one or two lines max? Until they say, I think that's it. So great. Are you ready to start to make version number two? Whatever that outcome was your reality? Yeah. Great. The next step is, and that's it, I never have to say, Are you ready to buy? Because again, that's the box. They don't care. Right? They want the results. We need to stop selling products and start solving problems. And it's not only an activity or process, it's the mindset going into the sales call, too. So really, it's what is the next step? And then they want to know the next step. You tell them the next step. Then eventually, the next step is hitting the buy button. I would say, you know, the next step is, we firstly process your payment, I can do Visa and MasterCard, or we can do PayPal or whatever, right, or wire transfer. Once that's through, then we schedule your initial meeting so we can get the momentum started. So you can hit the ground running. So even at the end of that conversation, they're excited. They know they gotta pay first. But they're pumped cuz they're gonna hit the ground running. Okay. And there it is that pretty important, the right before the close, and then right after the close explaining to them what it's going to be like, okay, 100%. And the biggest reason is, we have this icky little thing in the sales world. That's called buyer's remorse. And that's what happens when somebody buys emotionally in the moment, but can't justify it logically, which is how we buy. But if you can continue the momentum and throw in the supporting logic that aligns with what they want to achieve, like, let's just say somebody was going to well join your program. Okay, well, if they're like, yeah, I'm gonna buy great. They pay. Awesome, thanks. Oh, I don't know what happens next. I'm starting to have doubts. Oh, that's a sales guy. Josh does he feel like he might have pulled one over on me. And you can see my body language changing too as we go and that's what happens emotionally to them. But if you say the next step is you're going to get a link in your email. Within five to 10 minutes, click that to make sure you can get access to the portal, we're going to give you a walkthrough. If it doesn't work, I'm going to reach out to you directly to make sure you're covered because we got you. Sales sales, at its simplest level, is when somebody wants to feel like someone else says, I got you. That's it, I've got a problem, I'm baring my soul to you. And I want to feel like you got me covered. And if you can keep that in mind, through all the process design through holding all the conversation, just know somebody wants to be supported. And sales don't become a challenge. It just becomes you helping people solve problems. And it feels great.
Well, let me get to some of the tactical issues that I think so on our list you're probably interested in. One would be as an owner, when should you as the owner, stop selling and transition this off to somebody else in your business is a certain size of business, certain complexity of business, because I find it hard. A lot of times for owners to give this up because they know all the products, and all the players and all the vendors, they all know all the different angles that they can cut, and corners and cut. So how does that transition work? Or when should that happen?
That's a really good question. And it's a very challenging one. So it depends on what the Why is behind the transition. So if the owner, so the owner will always be able to sell better than their reps for the first two months or so. Because it's what a friend of mine named Jeremy Pope calls founders fuel, you've got 20 plus years in your industry, you can answer any question that gets thrown at you, and you've never written a darn thing down about it. And so there's no way for that information in your head to get into your sales reps head. And so they're not going to be as smooth, there's not, they're not going to be as confident. And so understanding that gap is really, really important. But the key piece is you need to be able to pass some type of system on like, if you've done a few sales calls, and you've closed sales, and you're like, hey, I want to pass it off to the sales team, you're premature, you need to be able to have something you know works. And it can't just work with your, you know, with your close friends, people that have known that know you like you and trust you and have done so for 20 years, because they're gonna have a different level of authority, and chances are your circle is gonna run out. So you want to get clients outside of that, or customers outside that you need to have a sales process that works for you selling to people that don't already know you. And when you can structure that you don't have to have it, you know, all scripted, necessarily. But one of the things that I asked for when I worked with the team is what recordings Do you have of existing calls, because the same way that I want to come in and work with an existing system, and just make it better. That's how reps want to feel so they don't want to come on board and say, I'm going to build it from the ground up. That's heavy. And in the world where a lot of us are selling remote. And the idea of a commission on the sales team is really, really attractive right now. One thing that we forget is we need to help those reps create momentum because their energy needs to stay up. They want leads, they want support. And they want to feel like they're not left out on this island to sell this product that they kind of know something about. Right? They need to feel like they're part of the family. And until you have the pieces to effectively support them. You're not ready. So it makes sense.
Yeah, totally. So what about setters and closers? What are your feelings on somebody taking it from start to finish the relationship? versus when should a company make a choice about that?
Really depends on how complex your sales process is. There's some like high end high ticket sales, you are going to be hard pressed to get somebody selling a high ticket to spend time booking appointments and doing lead generation. There are two very different skill sets, not once not better than the other. Although typically closing high ticket sales pays better than being an appointment setter. But there's some people that will happily sit back and send messages on LinkedIn or do calls and if you pay them effectively, and when I say effectively, I mean, in a way that rewards the behavior you want. So I recommend being paid based on appointments booked that show. Okay, because that's the activity you want. You don't want to say I'm gonna pay you based on what you book because I'm like, you don't get to put it on the calendar. Because we're human right? Not that anyone wants to get it and like try to work the system. Well, I guess everybody wants to work the system, I guess, right? But in a positive way. And we're gonna I'm gonna dig myself a hole with the book here. But I think that the key piece is to understand that people want to maximize the systems that are built around them, and they will want to gamify them as much as they can and they want to maximize their return. So if you make it easy for them to give data or give it results to your company that aren't aligned with the end result that you want, then it's just not going to work out. But if you're super particular, yes, we want appointments booked. But if they don't show, it's really tough. So let's say you know what they're responsible for is to shoot a reminder message or a follow up message or something to make sure the person shows up. And when they show, they get paid. So that's kind of a key piece for me, when I'm looking at that, that scenario. There are some people that go to the end. But typically, what I found that's really successful is if somebody has a very specific lead generation strategy, and you and you want them to keep the relationship going, but you're not worried about volume. Because it takes time to shift your mindset from doing lead gen, to doing a sales conversation, to doing support after the sale. They're very different thought processes. And if you want to move at scale, you want to have people that are focused in their area of genius. And there's not very many people that are a genius at appointment setting, at big ticket sales closing at, at being an account manager and providing the ongoing support or even just customer service, right. They're all very different skill sets that are all vitally important. And as business owners, we tend to put the priority on getting that sale closed is where we tend to pay the most because that's when we get paid.
So what about, and you mentioned this a little bit, what is the difference now because of the pandemic we've been through, or still going through? What is the difference now with selling compared to how it was six months ago? Is it different at all? I mean, obviously, it's more over the over the virtual now, or is it the same?
I think it is different, but the biggest difference is in people's minds. So I'm still in the same spot I was 12 months ago selling, I'm behind the camera, right. But that's the world that we live in. But what I've noticed and it's interesting, this is one of the first interviews I've done with it. A tie on says a pandemic started, because I thought it would be fun when I realized everybody else was showing up in T-shirts on all these live videos. And I'm like, really, like you wouldn't show up to a business meeting in a T shirt. Why is it okay, cuz you're at home. So I started putting a tie on as much as I could. Almost every episode of sales team rescue that's filmed live from the start of the pandemic, until now, almost all of them wearing a tie. And I'm trying to go through my tie collection that I haven't touched in four years, just just to stand out because it was easy. But it's like we're slacking off a little bit on our presentation. And this is where we need to be even more on our game because people want to feel more support. People, like a lot of people, are having a tough time. And again, back to that, that comment earlier about they want to feel like you know, someone's got them. And if you're going, you know what, Josh? Yeah, you know, I get it. I know it's tough to build your sales team, like you don't feel that connection, right? It doesn't feel like I'm serious. Naked now with this button undone. See, like, there's a level of professionalism that builds confidence. And I think as sales professionals we need to up our game. And lucky this button my headset into my shirt there, look at this, this is the first episode you've ever had somebody have to have a strip. So go viral now. But this is the biggest difference that people are now in a more and more comfortable setting. So it's easier for them to get more comfortable, that actually makes sales easier. Because they're, they're already in a state of conference, it was easier to build rapport. What is actually more difficult, though, is that if your sales approach or the product you're selling requires somebody to if you feel some discomfort in order to go, you know what, you're right. If I don't fix this, my business is going to be hurting. Or if I don't fix this, I might have had the money for my daughter to go to school or whatever. If you need to make them feel uncomfortable. It's a lot harder now. Because they're sitting back in their comfy chair, and it's probably a gaming chair that's designed for someone to lay back on it for 12 hours at a time. You need to like it if you can engage them. That's why I like turning video one I was in a call earlier today. And the guy jumped on and he didn't turn the video on. I said, I'm gonna turn mine on. And he called me Jeff. And then he turned his on and suddenly I went, oh, yeah. And he stood up straighter. And it's not about posture. But it's about how engaged somebody is in the conversation. Right? It's and this is actually why I like the video sometimes better than phone, because someone can have a phone conversation pretty passively while they're driving down the road. But you can't be passive when you've got somebody video to video. And it has that same, that same impact as if you were in the boardroom, across the table from them. And that's I think we're where the power comes in to create impact.
I think that that's really interesting. I never thought about it that way. I tend to avoid video when I don't have to. But now that you're talking To me, I'm like, okay, probably got to do more videos. Well, Jeremy, I could be talking to you all day, because I've had tons of sales questions. But I do respect your time. And I know you've got to run to the meeting. So let's wrap up with this. What's one question I forgot to ask you about. But I should ask you, do you think it'd be important for our audience to hear about?
I think one of the biggest challenges that a lot of business owners struggle with is around pricing. And they think, especially when they're early on, in testing what they're offering, and especially in the coaching space, but also in a small business space. There's this feeling that if I asked for too much, someone's not going to get the value. And I believe it's just the opposite, I believe, and this is a quote that started from a coach of mine that I had a long time ago. But the level of investment when it comes to something that's transformational, where somebody has to participate, okay, and not done for you. But when somebody has to participate, the level of investment is directly correlated to the level of commitment they have to achieving the results. And to kind of weigh that out a little further. If somebody like if I said, Josh, give me 1000 bucks, I'm gonna go and triple your sales team size. All right, sure. And not that you wouldn't be engaged and excited about it. But in your mind, 1000 bucks is too big a deal. But if I said, Josh, I'm gonna go triple the size, your sales team and your investments are going to be $300,000. you're gonna go, oh, and then if I get you to a yes, suddenly, you're not going back saying now let's see what Jeremy does. You're gonna go. Alright, what's next? What's next? What's next, and you're gonna be so engaged, because you've got something riding on it. Right? And that's where I want to challenge people listening and watching. Now, I'm not saying necessarily change your pricing model, because there's a lot more business logistics around that. But if it's a mindset challenge, and you're convincing yourself that you should drop your price, because your product or service isn't selling, don't make that decision based on your emotion. Do it based on testing, and I would challenge you first, to increase your price and see what happens. Because I would bet you're actually going to sell more. And once they do buy, they'll get more transformative results too.
Exactly. Now, that's really great advice. Good way to end this. Tell me where people find out more about you and your business.
Well, my main site is permissiontosell.com but sales team rescue, which is my weekly, Facebook Live show that you mentioned, just went live on Apple podcasts and Spotify, all those things on as a real podcast, as I call it. So you can go to salesteamrescue.com, and learn more about that, listen to episodes and listen to total rockstars when it comes to increasing your sales, growing your sales team lead generation, email reading, I've got experts that cover all these areas that are even outside the scope of what I do. So that this show can be your number one source for sales leaders and people that want to build sales teams.
Alright, so that salesteamrescue.com, and then the website is permissiontosell.com right?
I have permissiontosell.com as the main website and sales team. salesteamrescue.com is the podcast site.
Okay, awesome. Jeremy, I'll be checking it out. And I was sending my sales team there. Appreciate you being here this Friday afternoon. And appreciate everyone else coming. Join us live here on Facebook. If you want to check out the podcast, any previous podcast and got our Facebook page or our YouTube page, or any way you listen to podcasts or watch them, you can find us there and if you want a copy of that book right there behind me, Work The System, you can get it for free on our website now, workthesystem.com or you can give us a review, leave us review. And then we pick out one review out of a hat once a week and then we mail out a copy of that book. Just send us a screenshot and say here's a review and then we will have a name and we'll mail it right to your house. Otherwise, thanks again Jeremy and we'll see you next week.