Game Changing Sales Strategies
In this episode, I talk with Tish Times, a sales and networking expert, speaker, trainer, author and the founder of Tish Times Networking and Sales.
Tish helps business owners and sales professionals to generate more revenue with her process for staying top-of-mind and closing sales with ease.
Tish’s books include Networking is Not a One-Night Stand and 10 Super Simple Networking Steps for Career Success. Most recently Tish has developed the Unstoppable Confidence Sales Academy, a business school that teaches a systematic, sincere, and effective approach to networking and sales to produce lucrative bottom-line results.
In this episode
We talk about:
- the one game-changing strategy you can start using today to increase sales
- what a repeatable sales process really is and how to create one
- why follow up activities are rarely successful — and how you an change that for your business
- the challenges she faced in growing her business and finding work
Connect with Tish
Request your complimentary copy of Tish’s Follow Up Cheat Sheet by emailing ClientLove@TishTimes.com
Get Tish’s Book, Networking is Not a One Night Stand
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JM: Hey, Tish. How are you today?
TT: I am great. How are you?
JM: I am so good. I am awesome because I get to talk to you. I am super, super excited to just pick your brain on the sales process. You and I met at one of the Catalyst Conversations dinners last fall and I was just blown away, first of all, you’re gorgeous and you have this amazing presence, but you know what everybody wants to know. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you do?
TT: Oh, God, first of all, thank you so much. It was literally like divine intervention for us to meet because if you remember, it took me like forever to finally register and then I got that last spot so I know we are supposed to be in each other’s lives for sure. My company is a sales and communications training company and we think that we help self-professionals to have better conversations, get their right ideal clients, make those conversations less weird, and close sales faster and easier. It’s just so much fun. I love, love, love what I get to do.
JM: That’s awesome. I love that you make the conversations less weird. I will tell you that I started my first business in 2005 and it was really difficult because I didn’t start a business saying, “Oh, I’m a natural salesperson and I love the sales process.” It was so weird and so uncomfortable. You get so much bizzare advice and people want you to be super aggressive. It was always so challenging.
Let’s start there. I think a lot of people hear a lot about a repeatable sales process and I always think of this as how do we simplify the conversation to make sure that we are hitting the important points along the way. But as the expert, tell me a little bit more about what a repeatable sales process should look like.
TT: It literally goes from the back end of your business as well as the front end of your business. Repeatable allows you to have some automated things in place so that you know what your process should look like, meaning, you know that when you find your ideal client, you know who they are, you know what they sound like, and you know what kind of questions they’re asking. It becomes second nature for you to find that ideal clients because you’ve already put those things in place by creating what I call your avatar.
Obviously, this is a very, very concise conversation as far as this is. There’s more to it but in a nutshell than having things in place that prompt you what you do next, so when you need someone, you don’t just go back to your office and throw their business cards on your desk like the average person does—it’s not a judgment, most of us do that because we don’t know what to do next. It’s creating a flow as to what you need to do next, whether it’s to send an email first just a courtesy to say thanks for meeting me or talking with me, sending your handwritten note, taking up that telephone and making the call. You create a process so that it just becomes second nature. It’s not something that is scripted and you say the same thing every time, it’s just that you know what comes next and we know that if you don’t know what to do, we generally don’t do nothing which is why most of our sales kind of fall through the cracks and we wonder why we’re not making any money—sounds really fancy but it’s just creating a process so you know what’s next in line.
JM: I love that. I think it probably sounds a little bit easier than maybe it is, we go out, we meet people and I think a lot of people struggle with networking and they struggle with follow up. It makes me insane. I just saw a post from [Jer 00:03:37] who’s also in our Founders Group about how she can’t stand when she goes out and she meets people and you exchange business cards or somebody asks you for a business card and you never hear from them again and it’s so frustrating. Talk to me a little bit about putting that process into place. How can you be more effective with networking?
TT: To be really honest with you, the reason I created this process is because of exactly what you just said. Let’s just say for instance, perfect example, I met this lady when I was searching for a new cosmetic line. I met a lady who was with one of the network marketing—I won’t mention it—she sells cosmetic and I was excited. I was like, “Yey! I’m going to get this problem solved. I’m going to get the right color for my skin,” and then nothing, she never responded, never said anything. I did not have her information but she had mine and she never called me.
What I did was I was like, “You know what? I am not the only one who felt this way, I know.” I’m happy to share this with your listeners if you like, I created what I call my Follow-up Cheat Sheet. It just prompts me and it tells if, “Okay, well, within the first 24 or 48 hours, you need to make that first connection.” I don’t consider an email a real connection, I consider a connection a connection. That means you have to have a voice-to-voice connection for that to really start. Then I have within the first two weeks, “You need to have a conversation with them about whatever their problem is.” It might just be getting to know them. It’s not a sales conversation, it’s a connection conversation. Then I have within the next week, “You want to make sure that you have another connection whether it’s going to an event together or sending them something that they are going to find super valuable.”
It literally is a step-by-step process to prompt you to what the next step is. Again, I call it my Follow-up Cheat Sheet and I share it freely [if you know, there’s 00:05:37] no cost to it but it enables you to know what to do next. It takes you from day 1 to 12 weeks because we find that those first couple of weeks, you’re not going to connect with that person 9 times out of 10, not to say it won’t ever happen but it’s going to sometimes take time. I just provide steps for people to know whether it’s a telephone call, an email, you’re sending them something that’s handwritten, you’re sending them a valuable gift that they’re going to appreciate via the ebook or article or something. It just keeps you in close proximity with that person until you make that full connection so that you can have a real conversation about what they need. That’s what I do and that’s what I love to be able to help people to be able to make it easy for them .
JM: I love that. I think that is what I hated about the sales process because I wish [I had bet enlightened you 00:06:28] so much sooner, you could have enlightened me because as a brand new entrepreneur, I read books about sales, I read blog posts and it’s like, “Oh, you have to text someone seven times,” and I’m thinking you know, you have to call them and call them and call them or email them 10,000 times or you have to have a forty-seven-step email series and go talk to them and pretty soon it’s like they’re either buying or they’re opting out and that’s not a great place to be because it also doesn’t really let you know, like you say, you need to get on the phone and really understand the person, the problem, and the solution that you can provide to them. It’s not one size fits all.
Sometimes you’re going to find that those people are not the ideal person for you to work with either so that connection is really super important. Talk to me a little bit about why those follow-ups fall through the cracks and why does it have to be by phone? Because I have to tell when you said that, it scared the crap out of me like, “Nobody likes to get on the phone”
TT: I know. [inaudible 00:07:28] most people, it does. But that’s important because think about it this way, you know the book that I wrote Networking is Not a One-night-stand, I’d say that because think about if you were dating someone, you know, you’re married, how would you feel if the only communication you had with your prospective husband was via text message? It’s not very personal, it doesn’t feel like you’re important. When we pick up the phone and make that effort to have actual conversation with that person, it really does shift the entire energy of the relationship. That is important.
I think that it falls through the cracks because we just don’t have a system, we don’t have something telling us what to do next or we don’t have the technical pieces that help us to make it easy. I don’t know about everybody else but I know for me, if I’m only writing things down—and I love writing things down, don’t get me wrong, I love it—my paper doesn’t remind me to make that call but I can put it in my CRM and it can tell me, “Hey, it’s time to call Jennifer, you met her two days ago. It’s been two days, give her a call.” It falls through the cracks when you just don’t have a system, you don’t know what to do, and there is nothing in place to prompt you for that next step.
JM: That is really amazing advice, figuring out what that system is that supports you and keeping track of it. Something I had to learn very early on was to get a CRM in place because me just writing post-it note stuck to my computer, after a while, believe it or not, it does not work. That is also good advice in and of itself.
I just want to ask you one question, for some reason, I think maybe it’s that fear of rejection or something, or that someone’s not going to remember who you are, when you get on the phone with somebody that you met a couple of days ago, what do you think is a great approach or how would you approach that phone call and just kind of refresh in somebody’s memory on who you are?
TT: Let me tell you, that starts in the room. It doesn’t start with the phone call. You have to be super intentional about what you say when you are in the face of someone to make it a memorable experience for them. The last thing you want to be doing is calling someone and they’re going, “Ahh, what were you wearing? Okay, where exactly did we talk?” you know you want them to be expecting your call and to be anticipating it. The preparation prior to meeting someone especially at a networking event is so important because you are asking valuable questions, you’re making sure that you’re making a real, what I call, heart-to-heart connection so that when you make that call, it’s not weird, it’s not like, “Um, let’s figure out what to talk about, so let’s think about this.”
I know everybody else wasn’t with us when we first met and everything. Think about how when we had our first conversation, after we connected, it wasn’t like, “Oh, Tish, [inaudible 00:10:21],” it was so genuine. I was looking forward to that call because it was a heart connection. The thing is like forget putting on the name tag and being robotic and sounding like you talk to be perfectly scripted. Just be yourself, make a heart connection because when you meet someone and there is a real connection, you can’t wait to talk to them again or at least when you talk to them again, it doesn’t feel weird and awkward and you’re trying to figure out what to say. It’s like, “Hey, you know, you mentioned your daughter had a soccer game and you’re going to leave here only to get to that midnight game on early that next day, how did that go?” You know what I mean? That feels real so it’s like being intentional with your conversation, making sure that you’re listening for what’s really important to them so then when you call, it’s not weird, it’s not trying to figure out what you say, you really are checking in with them to see what’s going on and see what happens next.
JM: I love that. It really is awesome advice and I love the word that you used intentional because I stopped going to networking events a long time ago other than a couple of them because you do really could go and it’s that spray and pray mentality words like you’re going to blast out your business cards to everybody and then hope somebody calls you and that’s not how it works. I think that if your goal is to show up, everybody’s time is so valuable and limited and if your goal is to show up and talk to somebody, I think you need to be intentional about who is there that you want to connect with.
Sometimes on some of the platforms, you’ll be able to see the people who are already registered or you might see in social media who’s going to be there. I think it’s really picking and choosing your top maybe two or three people that you are there to connect with because you can’t connect with the room full of people and have it be heartfelt connections over and over and over again like I can’t keep track of them, how are they going to keep track of me when I call and make that connection? I love that word intentional.
TT: Yes, yes, yes. It makes all the difference in the world and it takes the pressure. It’s not like you’re like, “Oh, my God. I have to have 10 new people,” no, you just get intentional and find out who you want to connect with and then do that with your whole heart. For lack of a better word, take the crap off the table, just let it be real and it changes the whole game.
JM: I love it. I love it, that’s great. Tell me, if you had one piece of advice that would just change the game for us for sales, no pressure, but if you have one amazing piece of advice, what would that be besides getting your book?
TT: You’re going to either love this or not. I mean I think the one game-changing tip is to get back to being real, to get back to being personal. I’ve said it so many times, don’t rely on emails and social media to close sales. When having a system for profit producing activities, making those real, genuine telephone calls and having a system in place makes business so much easier. It makes that really automatic so instead of starting your day with, “What do I need to do today?” it’s by having a system you know what to do, you know what your next steps are, you know who you need to connect with. Don’t rely on, like you said, there’s kind of shooting out a bunch of stuff and sitting and waiting and hoping somebody responds, get back to being heart-to-heart, get back to being personal and you’ll see that people respond you so very different in closing sales faster, gets so much easier when you really just get back to basics.
JM: I completely agree. I think especially if you are new in business, it’s one of the smartest things that you can do. There are some specific businesses and industries where if you’re selling a $9.99 widget, it makes sense to advertise really hard but I think for a large majority of us especially your first couple years in business, when you’re trying to drum up enough business, or you’re leaving a day job, or you’re transitioning, or you finally transition full time into your business and now it’s time to make it grow, I think often times, we forget that there is that low-hanging fruit of our natural market, there are people who already know us, like us, and want to see us succeed and even if that’s not a prospect, they know prospects.
A lot of times, if we will just dig in and kind of get over that fear of rejection or how difficult it might be, if we make those phone calls, you can launch a business, you can make your business grow based on those connections and we forget about that. A lot of times you think it’s Instagram, Instagram, Instagram especially when you’re developing an audience that’s hard.
TT: Yeah. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it, I’m on Instagram, I’m on social media across the board.
JM: I love it, hard to build a business on it when you’re new.
TT: Right, but it’s really difficult and I mean, I built a multi six-figure business, nearly seven-figure business when I first started, I had a staffing company and I didn’t have social media, I literally had a list of contacts and a phone and that was it. I know it can be done and I’m not saying not to add those things as an end, but don’t make them a instead because if you only do that, you’re missing a lot of opportunities and I guarantee you’re leaving money on the table.
JM: Oh, I love that, that’s so good. Let’s shift gears a little bit. I will tell you, sales is one of the things that I hated in my business when I started and I’ve come to terms with it more, tell me a little bit more about some of the things in your business, what has been challenging for you? Because you’re great at sales. What are some of the things within your business that you do not like doing?
TT: Ooh, I love getting on the phone and talking to people, but believe it or not, it wasn’t something I loved initially but once I got to the point of like, “You know what? Just be yourself, forget all of the stuff you may have learned before,” it got easy for me. But I don’t like the admin parts, it’s far as like going and looking at numbers and something that we as business owners have to do, that’s not my favorite thing. I’m not a bookkeeper, it’s not my favorite thing. I have to kind of make myself sit down in do those tasks that make me uncomfortable so that I can hand it off to the right person who really is rightful to the area but I struggled for a long time, Jennifer, being able to step into that moment being a true CEO because being a CEO means you have to do the hard things and the fun things. That’s been my biggest thing is like, “Okay, sit down, look at your numbers, how much did you bring in last year compared to this year? How much did you bring in last month compared to this month?” I just wanted to go make the money, you know what I mean? I just wanted to go sell some stuff.
JM: I think it’s good instinct.
TT: And let someone else figure all that stuff out. I’ve grown a little bit since then.
JM: Wow and you have to, as a woman entrepreneur, to stay in the game. Tell me about some more of the challenges that you’ve experienced to growing your own business.
TT: I think the biggest challenge was figuring out who I was, to be honest with you. There was definitely an identity, almost just inconsistencies for me when I first started because I think along the way, watching other business owners and people especially on social media, I thought that I had to show up a certain way which meant I couldn’t fully be myself. When I figured out that, “Hey, I am who I am, the right people who belong in my circle are going to be attracted to me because of who I am,” I was able to show up and fully be me and that was really, really big.
The other big challenge for me, Jen, was overcoming some major financial setbacks that I had. I had really great success early on and then again, kind of looking at other people, thinking of how to do things the way others did, I had this huge event, huge event, three days and it’s this big beautiful hotel and from the outside looking in, it looked like a [inaudible 00:18:18] super successful, it left me $40,000 in debt and I didn’t know how to deal with that. I guess it was like you don’t want to get on social media and say, “Oh, my God, I’m $40000 in debt.
JM: Help me.
TT: Yeah, I mean it was hard still trying to show up and do the work that I’m supposed to do knowing that this major thing that happened. It was very difficult for me so I had to learn how, number one, to ask for help when I needed it, how to be okay being vulnerable, and what I considered to be failures now I see was an opportunity for me to grow and learn from it. But being willing to share those things as well as all of the [raw, rough 00:19:03] things I think is what make us well-rounded and what makes people more attracted to us is when we can be vulnerable and we can share that you can get through these hard times as well as sharing all the wonderful times because I think my business really began to grow and thrive really when I began to share those things too. I’m not saying everybody has to live out loud on online but for me that’s who I am and I was kind of, I guess, almost not showing up as me when I was trying to hide these things that weren’t as sparkly, does that make sense?
JM: It absolutely does. I have to tell you, I mean, I already know that you are a very natural leader but having that realization is so important because what we see—I’m going to get on my soapbox for a minute because my other business is a social media company so I have a lot to say about that—it really frustrates me greatly and this I think happens a lot on Instagram, a very visual platform and everything, we have to have our presets and light rooms and this app and whatever. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, if you are in visual arts or photography, people have an expectation for a particular look. But how many times are you cruising around on Instagram and you see like social influencer and somebody’s bio and it just kind of makes me laugh and I look and I think, “Where is the real person? There are lots of beautiful pictures, you have great hair, your child is beautiful, your house is perfect, I love it. Where are you? Where are you in this, the real you?”
I think that we’re in this really interesting place and time in social media because we’re all comparing ourselves to what’s good, so easy to comparing out like you can go on and there are billions of people literally that you can go on to compare yourself to and it’s a horrible thing to do to yourself. But a lot of times we forget people are just showing us what they want us to see and there is a facade there. I think that is where social media has matured too today but it’s still in its infancy if you compare it to other forms of advertising and communications.
I really think the next decade that we see going forward, we’re going to see more natural leaders stepping up and saying, “You know what? I do pretty good my shots together, I have a lot to share but sometimes it doesn’t go right, it doesn’t go how I plan because that happens to every single person,” and when you can teach from the tragedies, the challenges, the mishaps, the things that are ugly that you don’t necessarily want someone to see, you are really stepping into that leadership world because you are showing people, “It’s okay to be vulnerable,” but you’re also sharing the lessons that came from that and letting people know that they are not alone. Kudos to you, bravo, it’s very hard to talk about those things that don’t go the way that we want them to. I appreciate you sharing that totally and I think that you did great on your social media so people should follow you, we’ll talk about your handle in a few minutes.
Tell me some general tips for women entrepreneurs, if you could give some advices, somebody who’s in the early years of their business, what are some of the tips that you would give them?
TT: First thing is I’m going to go personal first, take care of yourself. I say that because many of you all, if you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I struggled with a condition called diverticulitis for several years. I didn’t have the diagnosis until maybe about a year ago. But what that meant was I love getting on the stage and sharing, I love working with teams and working with entrepreneurs and it was inhibiting my ability to do my job, you know what I mean? I was struggling, I was cancelling events because I was sick or I would be on the stage for a multi-day or at least like a full-day event and then having to ask for a chair because, you know what I mean? It was real.
However, for me—and again, this may not be the same for everyone else—when I took control of my health and really started to focus in that area, obviously, I was able to lose a substantial amount of weight but in addition to that, it enabled me to be in a place with having better energy, being able to show up in a positive place, and I can give more when I was coming from a place of health, so that would be the first thing. I say that because I’ve been an entrepreneur for way over a decade now and I was an entrepreneur as a young woman, so I know, on that side of life feels like, “Oh, yeah. I’m good, I’m healthy, I’m not going to ever have to worry about anything,” it’s like no, take control of it early.
Then secondly, I would say to be prepared to look at both sides, don’t be like me, I’m like I only wanted to focus on the things that I was really, really good at and then I didn’t want to ask for help in the things that wasn’t, because in my mind, at that time, I thought that was a sign of weakness that I couldn’t reach out and say, “Hey, I’m really struggling in this area.” I think I’ve told you, I hired a financial coach because I was like, “Hey, this is not my strong point, this is not something I love doing. I need help.” I think that had I asked for help much earlier on, another part of this, Jen, and this is me kind of opening up again, when I had my first business which is the staffing company, because I didn’t ask for help, [inaudible 00:24:27] happened to close that business and my family, we lost everything, we lost everything and it was a combination of the economy but there was a lot of it that I could have. Had I dealt with my finances better, we would have avoided a lot of that.
It’s selfish for us to think that we can be superman, superwoman, and doing it all by ourselves and not ask for help. I’d say, early on, yes, thrive in the things that you’re really good at but ask for help, find coaches, find mentors, get help in those areas where you’re probably not as strong, it’s not a sign of weakness. Now I know it’s actually a huge find of strength and you not only will avoid many pitfalls but you can literally change and save relationships and help other clients to know that they don’t have to do it alone either so that’s probably my biggest lesson that I would share for people; don’t think you have to look fancy, don’t be, what I call, Facebook famous and you realize the [inaudible 00:25:28] broke down.
JM: I love that you gave that advice though because I don’t know about you, but my motivation for trying to do it all is that I feel, it’s a lot of self-imposed pressure, luckily, very, very luckily, I’m grateful to have a husband who truly is a partner personally and professionally at home. He’s got his own business but we come together and we talk about all things business and he’s so supportive in all ways. But for some reason, I feel like as the woman, I cannot let work get in the way of staying home when one of the kids is sick, I have to be at every school play, in award ceremony, and I have to be the secret reader and I have to handle the groceries and the cooking and all the things that need to be done. You feel like you’re supposed to be able to do it all and I felt like if I had to ask for help, it meant that I was incompetent in some way.
The other thing that I think was really interesting is—it got pointed out to me by my husband—I had this tendency to sort of wait for, I would just be exasperated, I’d be killing myself during the day and I’d be waiting for members of my team or for my husband to say, “Hey, you need help with that, let me help you,” and they had no idea because I did such a great job of holding it all down and inside I am having this complete and total melt down until I’m this demanding bitch, saying like, “This is what I need from you,” like, “Where are you? Why aren’t you showing up?” “Well, I didn’t know there was a problem or that you needed me.” I think it’s such good advice.
We do try to do so much ourselves and things do get out of whack, they do get out of balance and I know, one of the other things that you had mentioned too was that business gets messy and you need to not let it get in the way of your life and your relationships and it’s so wise. How did you kind of come to that point where you realized like, “Gosh, this is getting out of balance, this is out of whack?”
TT: Yeah, I mean one was, as I said, I was making myself sick, number one, but then, I, God, I’m one of those people and I can tell just by watching one of these people too, I really love my people, I really love hanging out with my family, my husband is my person, and we’ve been together for 23 years and I love being able to share now—that wasn’t always the case—my whole life with him, I love being able to talk about business as well as what I’m dealing with. I realized that things were getting out of whack when I couldn’t be real with him.
When my business failed, that first business, it failed because I was trying to make him think everything was perfect and I had everything under control. I realized, I am really sacrificing what I said I love, my relationship with my kids and with my husband in an effort to try to be perfect or to try to do it all or try to have this business that everybody thought was really thriving. For me it was looking at what really my core values are and family is one of my top core values and so I had to kind of rebalance things in an effort to make sure that at the end of the day, I had peace in my home, I had peace in my relationship, I can look them in the eye, I mean, think about this, this is the person you sleep with, it’s like how on earth are you willing to sacrifice the relationship for a business or for something else that you say with your lips is not as important? For me it was like, “Wait a minute, what am I doing here?” and just kind of rebalance everything and now I feel like I’m building a business [inaudible 00:29:18] to my life, not a business that is my life. It enables me to be able to go and walk on the beach, as [inaudible 00:29:27] girl my whole life, being able to walk on the beach with my husband whenever we desire to be so that’s what I want it to build and so [inaudible 00:29:35] to figure out what was the most important to me and I decided you know, my family is the most important thing; God, family, and then business. We arranged things in order to support that.
JM: I love that. You have your priorities in the right order. Tish, our time is up, unfortunately. I know that people listening are going to want to reach out to you, how can people connect with you?
TT: Every social media platform, just search Tish Times and I’m there that way and then if anyone wants for instance the Follow-up Cheat Sheet, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and my website is tishtimes.com.
JM: Perfect. All right, we’ll make sure that information is in the show notes as well on my website. If you would like to connect with me or check out any of our show notes from any of our podcast episodes or to connect with Tish, please visit brandwithcatalyst.com. Thank you so much for your time, Tish, I appreciate it. It was great to talk with you.
TT: Thank you. I enjoyed it. Thank you so much.
JM: I’ll talk to you soon.