How do you adjust your sales process to fit in with the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic? Juliet Clark’s guest today is Connie Whitman, the international bestselling author of ESP – Easy Sales Process. Connie discusses what the sales process is all about – relationships. The methods may change from handshakes to zoom meetings, but humans are still humans, and we still need human connections built on respect, trust, and care. She emphasizes how money should not be the focus of your sales process but relationships. Why? Because when you sincerely focus on helping others and building relationships, the money will naturally come. Join in the conversation and discover how you can improve your sales process!
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
The Basics Of A Sales Process With Connie Whitman
We have another extraordinary guest, and I hope you read this whole blog because it is present to what’s going on the internet and digital marketing nowadays. Before we get started, I want to send you over to my YouTube channel at Superbrand Publishing. If you’re someone who likes visual versus reading, you can see all the videos of these over there, great interviews, and there’ll be links where you can connect with these people. Follow and subscribe to us. If you want to find out, are you ready to publish? Have you built the platform? Is the book written for the right audience? Go over and take our Promote Profit Publish Quiz at www.PromoteProfitPublishQuiz.com and find out where your skillset is at and if you’re ready.
Our guest is Connie Whitman. She’s known for this high energy, passionate, and enthusiastic approach to teaching and coaching. She has been a CEO at Whitman and Associates, LLC. for many years helping ambitious business owners, leaders, and sales teams build powerhouse organizations. She is a three-time, number one, international best-selling author of her book, ESP–Easy Sales Process: 7 Steps to Sales Success, speaker, podcast host, and influencer. Connie’s inspired teaching transformational tools and content ensure that business owners and salespeople grow their revenue streams through enhanced communication skills. As a podcast host, she is thrilled to share inspiring content on her two-weekly international podcast, the Heart-Centered Sales Leader and Enlightenment of Change. That sounds deep. Maybe she is really into ESP.
Thank you, Juliet. You’re cracking me up. I love that sense of humor. We got to laugh every day. Maybe I do have ESP that I haven’t tapped into but my ESP is the Easy Sales Process which is easier than the extrasensory perception.
You shouldn’t compliment my sense of humor because I write mystery novels. It can be dark too. I also have friends at parties who all say something, and they’ll be, “That’s certainly changed the mood here.” I’m excited to have you because you and I have been talking about how much the sales process has changed and how much it hasn’t. Talk to me a little bit about pre-COVID, post-COVID, and those connection differences that have transpired online.
Pre-COVID, it was easy for us to go to networking events, summits, and different events that we chose to be part of. You had that live interaction, eye-to-eye contact, and handshake. We shared energy life. You had these, hopefully, some deep conversations. I’ve been in business for many years but I’ve been in sales for 38 years. During that time, you’ve done a lot of networking and handshaking. Most people that I train when companies hire me don’t know how to network.
“I’ve been going to networking.” “How many connections?” “I got 100 cards? What have you done with them?” Let’s be real with this, you shared energy, face-to-face, shake hands, and all of those things, but what were the real results? Let’s go post-COVID. Everything stopped. The whole world on its axis literally stopped. Now, we were doing everything in this very two-dimensional world like you and I are interacting, Zoom, Skype, Microsoft, Google, all those different platforms. We have these two-dimensional worlds but here’s the thing for me, humans are humans.
Whether you’re live in front of me in a 3-dimensional world or 4-dimensional worlds versus these 2-dimensional worlds, aren’t we all the same? Aren’t we doing the same thing? Aren’t we trying to accomplish the same end results? Yes. What has changed? Everybody thinks it has. Everybody is talking about digital, including me, I was a victim to this as well, but at the end of this whole process, in my opinion, nothing has changed. Humans are humans. Interaction is interaction whether I like you and connect with you. Were there skills to help that process? Of course. Has that digital and that live changed that interaction, prospecting, or generating new clients, new income, and all that, that hasn’t changed.
I would say it hasn’t changed but there was a morph. You and I are around the same age. When networking started, we went to networking meetings, and we built relationships. In 2015 or 2016, as people got more invested in digital, it went from networking, relationship building, to pitch slapping. That’s why I wrote that book because I felt like every time I went someplace now, it wasn’t like, “What do you do in your spare time? Let’s go to lunch sometime and find out what we’re all about.” It went to this, “Connie, I’m about to pitch you about my business. I have no idea if you are my ideal client.” It’s almost great that COVID happened because now we have to take a step back and go back to that old paradigm. Talk a little bit about that because that’s what sales is all about. It’s that relationship building and trust.
Pre-COVID, I did everything live. My clients hired me. I went to their location. I trained hundreds of salespeople on their teams live then at night, I would go to speaking events live. Everything was live and then everything shut down. I remember thinking, “I don’t have a list. I don’t have an email sequence. I don’t know what a funnel is.” I started having these panic attacks because I had no income coming in. What do you do? Like you, I invested in myself. I started doing all of these online classes, going to the seminars, learning as much as I can, and hired people to help me build my website, my Facebook, LinkedIn. I revamped all of that rebranded because it is an image thing, and I do agree with that.
I published my booked ESP–Easy Sales Process. All of those things that I knew I needed to do to be present and have that influencer status now on that digital platform. I did all of those things, but the funniest piece of it is at the end of all of that creation and panic, I still have conversations. Instead of face-to-face, grabbing a cup of coffee, or lunch, I’m doing more and meeting more people now. I don’t have to get in my car and drive for lunch. What if there’s traffic on the roadways? I would block out half a day for one meeting. Now, I have 5, 6, or 7 Zoom meetings a day where I’m able to meet all these truly new people.The more you give, the more you get. When you genuinely help people without thinking of the money, the money comes! Click To Tweet
At the end of each meeting, and this is important, I determine with the person, “We can’t support each other. I am happy that I got to meet you. If ever I could be of assistance in the future, please reach out. At this point, we don’t share the ideal client or we can’t support each other from a business realm, but we can be friends, and it’s nice to have met you.” At the end of it, I always set what that expectation is. Are you going to be a power partner? We need to meet quarterly. Are you going to be on my show? Let me send you that application as we did. We hit it off well and I thought, “Too much synchronicity is here. We need to do shows together. We need to collaborate. Whatever that next thing is, we’re not sure, but we know that we are two peas in a pod.”
That was all done via Zoom. Someone introduced us. That’s the other piece of the puzzle. Referrals are still referrals, and you and I already had a level of mutual respect because it wasn’t just, “You look interesting on LinkedIn, let’s connect.” You’re like, “What are you all about? Let’s Zoom.” You’re getting into the Zoom meeting where that wasn’t a match. This person connected us and said, “You two have way too much in common. You need to talk.” We did. We were talking like, “We got to go. We both have another meeting,” and we didn’t want to end the conversation. Referrals matter as well as email, not just those face-to-face introductions.
That brings us to a new paradigm for sales as well. We used to talk about referrals a lot. What we’re looking for are these power partnerships and being able to set up ways to be connected and talk to those partners. You’re right about LinkedIn. I have steps on LinkedIn that I take and connect but most of the time, I’ll jump on a Zoom call if somebody is trying to sell me something and it’s too soon. Being a sales expert, what do you recommend on those Zoom calls? What does that call look like when it is relationship building versus a sell me something, Connie?
You said the keyword, relationship, and notice in your introduction, I’m a communication expert. Humans are communicating with humans. Our attention span is down to six seconds. A goldfish has a longer attention span. How sad is that? Think about that for a second. Communication is difficult enough. We have many things going on. You have gender biases. Where you grew up, I grew up biased. We have to call them biases. I like to call them filters. I don’t like that word bias. We all have these filters that we communicate through. Plus, now, our attention span is six seconds. While you’re talking, I’m thinking, “What should I tell her next so that she’s going to think, ‘I need to refer to her.’”
That’s not what it’s about. We talked about everything other than business. At the human level, we thought like-minded energy, you’re building your business, relationship was important, communication, sharing ideas, understanding, asking me questions, and then listening. It was natural for you and me. That’s how you build a relationship. I fear that everybody thinks that you have to get and pitch. I’ll share a funny story. When I first started in sales, I didn’t know I was in sales. I would walk in and I was selling insurance. I sat with this husband and wife with two little ones. He needed life insurance. He was the sole provider. They couldn’t make ends meet.
What was going to happen? I would’ve made the sale. I would have got paid. Four months later, they would have stopped payment because they couldn’t afford it. Instead, I took a step back with a mom saying, “Breathe.” I told him what would happen. I said, “Let’s get you on a budget that feels comfortable. Get money in the bank. We’ll fit it in so you can afford this in your budget.” Nine months I worked with them, he was able to afford the insurance, and they kept the insurance. Here’s the cool thing with that. I didn’t get paid. The second thing is they became my best referral source because I was going for my MBA at night.
I had all these licenses. I am an undergraduate in Finance. I see things in money. I was able to translate and educate them. Not because they weren’t intelligent, no one taught them. I always thought, “I get to teach people about money.” Somebody told me later on, “You know you’re in sales.” I was like, “I am?” For me, that story represents the relationship. How could I help these people in front of me because it was the right thing to do instead of taking their money? I ended up making even more money on the backend because they referred all their friends that didn’t know how to do budget their money and all of those different things. I became part of their community, their trusted advisor.
That was not my attempt in the beginning. My attempt was, “I got to help these people.” That’s where I came from. Building relationships is being human, understanding, doing the right thing for the person in front of you, and never thinking about money. Here’s the funniest thing, the money comes. You know the saying, “The more you give, the more you get.” I’ve lived it for many years. It’s true. The opportunities find you when you come from this place of goodness, love, care, respect, and all of those things.
Many years ago, I was in real estate, and I had a similar experience. I helped a couple. At that time, they were upside down on a property. I helped them figure it all out, do the documents to the bank too. They didn’t do a short sale but they were able to modify a loan. It was 2006 or 2007. I kept in touch with them over the years and said, “How did that go? Did you get that through?” Six years later, one of them inherited money. They sold their condo and put them out on a ranch in Acton, California. The same thing, knowing that you have to help somebody who is struggling.
The other thing is being able to do those relationship referrals and not have an expectation. It bothers me when I have someone who refers business to me, and then they’ll come back and go, “You’ve never referred to me.” It’s like, “That’s not exactly how it works because I’m sure that karmically, other things have happened in there.” I know when I refer out or people refer to me that they get referrals and other things as well from other places. A great example of that is I always know that I don’t need that direct referral but if I ask for something, and you and I discussed this with software, it comes out of nowhere. I know it because I helped other people without expectation. We’ve morphed from this networking, what I call pitch slapping, to now we’re into the digital space. Everyone is expecting that digital is super easy. All I have to do is give something away, send them some emails, and they’re in. That’s not true.
I was under that impression as well. Pre-COVID, I was everything live. Now, all of a sudden, sales funnels and landing pages. I had to keep saying, “Which one is that?” I didn’t know any of that language. My website was there, but nobody went to it because my clients were referral-based. I’m playing in this arena that I know nothing about and now go full circle. Here’s the craziest thing, I’ve built a list and all of those things that I was told I was supposed to do, and here’s my newest adventure that I’ve realized. I’m going back to my personal contacts in my emails and I’m going to reach out to them and say, “How has COVID affected you? What are you up to? How are you? Is there anything that I can do to help you?”
These people know me, respect me, and love me. Equally, I love them back. That’s why they were in my personal email. I’m going to reach out and see where they are if I can help them, great if they can help me, great. We’re sharing that money and that energy again but that relationship was built on trust and respect. Why didn’t I think of that in 2020? Because I listened to all the hype of, “Did you do a giveaway? You got to build your list. Make sure you have an indoctrination sequence and that sequence.” My brain hurt. I can say to my husband, “I’ve been in business for many years. I don’t know anything about business.”Opportunities find you when you come from this place of goodness, love, care, and respect. Click To Tweet
Here’s the truth of it. As time went on and I finally understood email sequences and all these things, it’s building relationships. That’s what you and I are experts at. You could put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig. Relationships are still relationships. The other thing is people are trying to take the easy way out. When it comes to humans, humans are humans. We are a group. We like connections. We need that human connection. To build it in this digital realm, you might open the door. As soon as I’m in your orbit, how are you going to keep me engaged? How am I going to know that I want to work with you? You have to do something on a personal level. Either that’s a Zoom meeting, summit, or Zoom event where you’re sharing information, a webinar where I can ask you questions and you can ask me questions but it’s still communication.
Building those power partners is key to that because that way, you don’t have to rely so much on the digital. I did the whole digital thing back in 2016 or 2017. Not only was it super stressful because it wasn’t in alignment with me being that person who talks to other people. I felt like the click wasn’t there. Whenever you’re out of alignment, people feel it. Whether you’re giving a webinar or you have an email list, they feel that something is not quite right in that realm.
Doing a webinar in April 2020 and I had a speaking event for the women’s group, I talked about, every time we were in front of a prospect, there’s an objection list buyer in there. There are five walls of resistance in front of but if the person agrees to have a meeting with you, comes to an event, webinar, or whatever, there’s an objection list buyer there. Your job is to let them know by breaking down those walls one-by-one. What happens? People think they could jump on the walls. “It doesn’t work.” That’s where that email stuff comes in.
I remember one guy came in my inbox and it said something like, “Do this and you don’t ever have to sell again.” I thought, “Let me investigate this. That’s stupid.” In my head, that didn’t equate. What it was if you have the right marketing campaign and your emails read perfectly? If you used his templates, they were the right ones that you would never have to sell again. It angered me because I thought, “People are paying good money and it’s a load of crap.” When you get in front of that person, what do you have to offer them? Are they the right person? I know when people are the right match for me.
Certain people ask me certain questions is like, “How can I fast track? There are five walls. How can I break them down at one swoop?” You are not my client because you’re icky and sleazy. That’s not who I want in my world. By going through this process, you find the right people and they find you but you have to have your filters on so that you are not like, “I need the money. I better take the sale.” Even though you hate the person, you hate what they’re about, your values don’t align, but they need the money. You’re coming from a place of lack, not a place of abundance.
It’s funny you said that about those five objections and the walls. Inside of our quiz, we have those three qualifyings. When I work with people and say, “What are the objections you hear over and over? That’s where we want to address that investment piece.” Many times, they don’t know. They have to sit there and think about which means they’re not practicing how to overcome those objections. I remember back in my real estate days, we had accountability partners, and we practice like, “You would throw me into an objection and I would come back to you with how I would overcome that.” That’s such a great point you put out there about you have to not only know what those objections are but you have to know how to overcome those in those conversations.
I never get objections and people laugh. That’s because I’m good at breaking down those five walls that we all have. By the time I get to the sixth step, which is let me ask you for the business, three things are going to happen. You and I were like, “How fast can we get this going? Let’s get our schedules.” We’re ready to rock and roll. The second one is, I’ll say to the client, “You’re not ready for me. You’re still working on the marketing. You’re still not sure of your language. You’re not sure of what your offer is. You’re still in creation mode. You can’t sell something until you’re more clear. Let’s do this. Let’s have meetings every month and I’ll help you form that clarity but don’t pay for me yet because you’re throwing money away. Use that money for these other things that need to be in place before you get to me.” Notice, I said, “Every month we’re going to talk.”
I’m still going to coach them. I’m not getting paid, but we know we’re going to end up working together when the timing is right. You set that stage. The third one is I say, “Juliet, I love you. I think you’re amazing. You need to meet my friend, Jen. You two are made for each other peas in a pod. You and I, let’s be power partners. I certainly will refer to you but I’m not the one who can help you. It’s Jen.” Those are the only three things that happened. Notice, I didn’t say, “Get objections.” When you get objections, I believe that you’ve messed up. When I say you’ve messed up, you haven’t perfected the craft yet of that conversation. You haven’t handled those five objections. If you get an objection when you ask for the business, there’s a whole bunch of other things that are going on.
If you set it up, it all flows well. Connie, this has been amazing. Do you have something free you’d like to give out to us?
I have two free things. If they go to my website right on the land and my website is WhitmanAssoc.com/CSA. That is a free communication style assessment. I love assessments. What it does is shines a light on your superpowers. You want to leverage that but also, I give a report on your blind spots, which are equally important. You have to know where you’re not a natural fit and you might have to hire people or you might have to do some education to minimize that blind spot. You have to be aware of your blind spots. I could send you the other link. Everybody loves this. It’s a template of taking your 30 Second commercial, refining it to if you’re on an event even on Zoom.Be aware of your blinds spots, and don’t be afraid to ask for help to overcome them! Click To Tweet
They say, “You have 30 seconds. I’m going to time you.” I like to get it down to seventeen words because sometimes they say, “What you do in the chat?” You see these paragraphs. I don’t have time to read them. When I see someone with a very concise on what they do, I’ll zone in on that, and 90% of the time, it’s like, “I think it might be worth a call.” Now, we see how we can support each other. I get that down to seventeen words. I have a template.
Connie, Thank you. It’s been great having you.
A pleasure, Juliet. Thank you so much. I hope your readers got value out of our conversation. It was always fun with you.
I’m sure they got a lot of value.
- Superbrand Publishing – YouTube
- Whitman and Associates, LLC
- ESP–Easy Sales Process: 7 Steps to Sales Success
- Heart-Centered Sales Leader – Apple Podcasts
- Enlightenment of Change – Apple Podcasts
- Connie Whitman – LinkedIn
- 30 Second
About Connie Whitman
Known for her high-energy, passionate, and enthusiastic approach to teaching and coaching, Connie Whitman has been the CEO of Whitman & Associates, LLC for 20+ years helping ambitious business owners, leaders and sales teams build powerhouse organizations. A three time #1 International Best-Selling author of her book ESP (Easy Sales Process): 7-Steps to Sales Success, speaker, podcast host, and influencer, Connie’s inspired teaching, transformational tools and content ensure that business owners and salespeople grow their revenue streams through enhanced communication skills. As a podcast host, she is thrilled to share inspiring content on her two weekly, international podcasts the “Heart-Centered Sales Leader,” and “Enlightenment of Change.”
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!