A profitable business does not start with ads, marketing, email lists, etc. It starts with talking to people and creating relationships. It starts with sales. When starting a business, people tend to focus so much on selling their product that they overlook the people on the other end they are selling to. Today’s guest Ryann Dowdy, CEO and Co-Founder of Social Sellers Academy, emphasizes the importance of human connection and building relationships to having a strong and stable business. Ryann’s career is forged around helping six to seven-figure CEOs build high-performance sales teams, so she knows what she’s talking about. Grab this chance to gain insight on how to grow your business without relying on trendy tactics that wax and wane by starting where it matters most.
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Why Human-Centered Sales Strategies Matter For Your Business With Ryann Dowdy
I’m excited to talk about sales because, for most of you, entrepreneurs and authors, this is not something you think about when you start this business. Before we get started, I want to remind you to go over and take the Promote Profit Publish quiz at www.PromoteProfitPublishQuiz.com. Find out if you are really ready to publish that book. You may have written it. You may be thinking, “I’ve got to wait for the end for marketing.” I don’t know what I’m going to do to integrate it into my business. All this is a plan and you have to have those pieces in place, so don’t even think about that publishing piece until you have it. Go over and find out if you’re ready. Also, don’t forget to go over to our YouTube channel at Superbrand Publishing. The video versions of these episodes are over there. You can see these are real people and I’m not a ventriloquist making out voices here to have a show because I can’t find any quests. You can go over there and don’t forget to subscribe.
Our guest is Ryann Dowdy. She is a sales expert who helps 7 and 8-figure CEOs generate daily sales on-demand without more of their time, by building and training a high-performing sales team. Ryann is passionate about helping successful business owners take back control of the revenue in their business, their time, and their freedom by building a profitable sales team. With her business partner, Kelly Roach, they’re on a mission to free CEOs from the role of the salesperson in their business. Before starting her own business, Ryann spent fifteen years in the corporate world building multi-million dollar sales organizations for startups in the digital marketing and advertising spaces. From the sales rep to individual contributor plus Sales Director, Ryann has mentored, managed, and trained thousands of sales reps.
Ryann’s first crack at entrepreneurship was uncensored consulting, where she helped hundreds of women get from their first clients, leaving their day jobs and taking back control of their lives by teaching tried and true sales strategies that aren’t dependent on social media or trendy tactics. Ryann focuses on the art of building relationships and human-to-human connections. Now building her second business, she’s on a mission to change the lives of CEOs by giving them back their time, financial peace and the ability to multiply their revenue through high-performing empowered sales teams. Welcome, Ryann.
Thank you, Juliet. I’m excited to be here.
I’m excited to have you because when we talked about our relationship inside the Dames, we were both on the same page about reliance on social media and human-to-human contact. Those were one of those things where we resonated a lot. I’m really excited to have you talk more about that. Your experience from uncensored consulting, tell us a little bit about that and how it relates to what you’re doing because I think there’s a big thing here, a big gift that our entrepreneurs need to hear.
The uncensored consulting, helping brand new entrepreneurs, leave their 9:00 to 5:00 and built successful businesses came out of my own personal story. When I decided, I woke up one morning after a very successful career and was like, “I don’t want to do this for the next 30 years.” Through networking, talking to people, and having a conversation, I kept finding armies of women, just like me smart, talented, hardworking but struggling to build businesses. I realized that there was this giant gap market on sales.
Nobody was talking about sales and there were no women talking about sales, that’s for darn sure. It grew arms and legs. It’s one of those things that you are a mirror and you attract what you’re putting out into the world. I was desperate to leave my day job. I had a baby. I was working around the clock. My husband and I were fighting all the time about whose responsibility was that we were managing. I was like, “I can’t do this forever. This is terrible.” If this is the American dream, I want out. That’s how it started.
What I learned was even the most talented people that had excellent skills across the board, the business coaches, life coaches, health coaches, virtual assistants, social media managers, copywriters, Facebook ad strategists across the board, we’re just like, “I don’t know how to start a sales conversation. I don’t know how to effectively run a sales call. I don’t know how to handle objections. I don’t know how to negotiate. I don’t know how to set boundaries with clients.” I was like, “I’m good at that.” That’s where it started.
I did that for about two years. It was incredible, exciting and fun. My business coach and I both have sales backgrounds and we kept getting asked by our network of people, at that multiple 6 to 7-figure range in their business for help with their sales teams. It’s like, “You guys teach sales, your sales teams are amazing. Can you help us do that for us?” Where do you find those people? How do you train those people? For me, it was a very easy transition because it was what I did in the corporate world. I was training and building sales teams. It was a lot of fun and I loved serving new entrepreneurs. It was some of the most meaningful work I’ve done.
I am really thrilled to be teaching people sales, who want to learn it because they’re salespeople. This is their career. This is what they want to do and they want to be good at it. It’s fun to lean into that because I felt like I was softening my message a little bit with the entrepreneurs because as all of you listening now, you didn’t realize that sales were in the job description. We had to soften it, but now teaching salespeople is fun. Because you chose this career and it’s the best career in the world, aside from entrepreneurship. I’m pumped to be able to help you get better at it.
The journey that a lot of new entrepreneurs, coaches and people that are working from home, first, they get sucked into that digital aspect, “You need a list. You need Facebook ads and so on.” I can tell you more people waste tons of money on that. The reason is it’s not human to human and sales is human to human. I trust you, Ryann. I’m validating what you say, especially with big-ticket items. I can imagine having that first business was a little bit difficult for you because the new entrepreneurs don’t understand that.
It’s what we’re sold. I fell victim to all of that. When I started, I was, “This is life. This is what all the big wigs that are making boatloads of money tell me to do, ‘Start an email list, build a freebie and do all this other crap.’” I wasted almost an entire year and probably close to $15,000 in ads, freebies, designers, website development when I had not even spoken to a human yet. That’s why I love ads. I have an email list but that’s not the beginning.
The beginning is to go out and talk to people. What are the words that they use? How do they react when you talk about your business? What questions do they ask? How do they identify their problems? I’ll give you the perfect example. When I came onto the scene, I was like, “I’m going to help new business owners drive revenue.” There is not a single virtual assistant in the world who wants to drive revenue. They want to sign clients and leave their day job. Learning that language and you can’t learn that through an email list. You can’t learn that from Facebook ads.
Taking the time in the beginning to have those conversations is awesome. Email lists and Facebook ads are incredible tools. I use them now in my business, but I use them as an experienced entrepreneur that knows what I’m trying to accomplish. Not I hope and pray that these Facebook ads are effective enough to help me make enough money to quit my day job or to send my kids to private school. I use them because I know exactly what I’m trying to accomplish with them. I think that’s a huge gap that a lot of people have.
I did the same thing. Probably spent a little more than you did on it, but I can tell you guys that is the path to being a broke-ass entrepreneur. You guys know that’s what we don’t do. That was part of that is the strategies that didn’t work. I know when we started using the quiz effectively and actually having conversations, that’s exactly what you just described happened. Now we were having conversations, we were figuring out the words and I am amazing at weeding out broke-ass people now. I get on and five minutes, “You know what, I’m not your person.” There is strength in that in sales in being able to get someone on the phone and know within minutes, if they’re your people or if they’re not. It’s not a matter of, are you going to hire me? It’s, “Am I going to extend as the entrepreneur an invitation for you to hire me?” Talk about that a little bit and how that relates to that human-human.
There’s a couple of different things. You use the quiz as an opportunity to qualify, which is brilliant but for some of us who don’t have to be technologically savvy to use the quiz, we’re qualifying in the DMs and in connect calls. I encourage you to qualify, qualify and qualify. You don’t have time. You’re busy. You have eight million things to do and you don’t have time to get on the phone with a bunch of broke people. You’re not going to weed out everybody. The quizzes and the human-to-human qualification aren’t but for us, it’s baseline information.
We’re getting on the phone with somebody and if we don’t jive, it’s done. You can’t do that through a funnel. I literally was just reading a post in my mastermind Facebook group the other day about this woman. She bought a high-ticket item and three weeks in, she wants a refund. She’s throwing a fit and all this other stuff, but she came through a funnel. The woman didn’t get a chance to talk to her. I’m like, “You probably could have cut that off in the past had somebody spoken to her.” It doesn’t have to be you. It could be your sales team.
We’re trying to avoid talking to people. If I get one more Facebook ad telling me to, “You can sell without ever having a sales call.” I’m like, “Why do you want to do that? Why do you want to work with people that no one on your team has spoken to you, that nobody knows is a cultural fit for you, that nobody knows is the right fit for you,” especially when you’re selling high ticket?
I don’t want to sell a $20,000 offer to somebody and get a few months into it and find out it’s not the right fit for either one of us. That’s a terrible place to be. I think that conversations, that human to human connection and understanding what we’re looking for. That’s why screw the Facebook ads and the email list in the beginning because you need to get clear on who you want, just as much as you need to get clear on who needs your services.
I look for buzzwords as part of it. Probably Ryann and I could say that there are 20, 30, 40 people out there who do exactly what we do but what’s going to be that fits most of the time is your personality. When I have a call and I hear someone saying, “It was so-and-so’s fault. I didn’t do it or that. I know they’re not an action person, not my people.” You have to get that person who is a good fit. I don’t take on anybody who’s not action.
My team actually knows that we are not allowed to bring on anybody who is, “I’ve had three or four coaches and none of it were paid.” You don’t make invitations to those people. Also, we teach sales teams. Anybody who’s like, “We don’t do DMs. That’s not our thing.” We are not changing those people’s minds and being okay with that. I remember when I was early on in my journey, especially when I was working full-time, trying to grow a business, I was pregnant. I was a hot mess. All I wanted was out of that job. It was so hard to hear people say that, “Stop forcing it,” but it will save you so much heartache by not trying to force it. By not trying to convince people who aren’t your people to be your people to solve your problem, which is, “I need to sign clients.” It’s knowing what are you not okay with as it relates to your clients and how you’re serving them. What their problems are? What they’ve tried in the past to solve their problems?
One of the keywords in sales there is convincing. Once as an entrepreneur, that you’re convincing someone to buy, you’ve lost the whole game of it. I think that’s what’s switched is I actually got into the digital and then I realized that I needed to hire a sales coach and you have to keep track of this stuff. This is another thing that I don’t think people do well, Ryann, is who’s coming into your space and speaking? How many of those people are you closing? What percentage? Is that you? Is it them? Do you need extra sales? Whether it’s in the form of training for yourself or your team, you have to keep track of all those stats. One of the things I realized probably later than I should have was when I chat with people with no expectations of a sale, it happens. It’s gratitude that resonates. I’m grateful for those people that I don’t take on because I know they would have sucked up time and effort.
The numbers are one of the hardest parts, especially for those of us as entrepreneurs. I’ve been selling now for several years. The numbers, the tracking, the KPIs and the metrics, I hate them. I’m totally okay with saying that but it’s being like, “Finances are elementary, so I’m not going to track them.” That’s not how we build successful businesses. It’s not an option for us as business owners and as salespeople to not know our numbers. That’s why people live on this feast and famine rollercoaster and this high level of anxiety in their business because they don’t know the formula to clients which are the numbers that you were talking about? How many people am I bringing in having sales conversations on my booking? How many of those people are converting? Why or why not? Understanding those things, tweaking those things and fine-tuning those things are what creates predictability in business. In big business land, Fortune 500, whatever it’s called a pipeline and projections. Those are things that we should do.
We think because we’re baby businesses or because we’re online entrepreneurs, that we shouldn’t track those things. We always say that structure equals freedom. If I know exactly what is required for every single client in my business, as far as activity, numbers, leads, etc. Now, I have a formula that I can scale up and scale down based on leads. I was on a mastermind call where a girl was saying she doesn’t really work that much of the summer. She works about 10 to 12 hours. She’s got teen twin kids and they’re super active in sports. They travel 8 to 12 times during summer. She knows how to scale it down. She knows when she’s coming back in August and how to scale it back up because she knows her numbers. It’s not the sexy part. It’s not the part anybody wants to talk about but it is such an important part of creating that predictability of business and getting off of that feast and famine, rollercoaster, as it relates to sales.
I’m going to give you a great example. I have a worksheet. I have to have ten sales conversations a week and I know my close rate. I went on vacation the first two weeks one month, the next month, I scaled that up and I made two months’ worth of revenue in one month. Now I have no pressure this month. That’s exactly what you’re talking about. I’m one of those as well who doesn’t do much work in the summer. I love to golf, but I work my butt off during the winter.
It’s something that’s not talked about enough with entrepreneurs but you’re not going to walk into a Fortune 500 company that doesn’t have these things dialed in or at least on a piece of paper somewhere because they might not be executing it well.
Let’s discuss here a pipeline because I described a little pipeline but my first introduction to the pipeline was in real estate. When I had five things in escrow, I was brand new. I was a rock star but then while I was getting those things through escrow, I wasn’t prospecting. I got to the end, I got to the money and that usually has about a 30 to 90 day close on it. Let’s talk about that pipeline and how you keep that flowing.
There are a million different words to describe pipeline. Some people use the word funnel, as well. Not marketing funnel, not landing page to email lists to OTO and none of the bro marketing funnel tactics. We’re talking about a true funnel. A sales funnel, which means we put new leads into it, we move them through the funnel and out the bottom comes sales opportunities. What Juliet just described is in her pipeline, her five opportunities were in escrow and there was nothing in the rest of the funnel.
We want to make sure that we’re filling our pipeline every single day and building relationships so that we can start closing deals consistently. I see one of two things happen, Juliet. We get super tunnel vision on lead gen and we dump a whole bunch of people into the top of the funnel and we never pull them through or we pull through exactly your example. We pull through 5 or 6 deals and we never put anybody new in the top. It is the balance of consistently inviting new people into your world, consistently booking sales conversations like Juliet does and knowing your numbers. It doesn’t have to be a fancy piece of technology. You can track this in a Google Doc. We use Trello. It’s very non-sophisticated. You can track it in a notebook if you’re a solopreneur and that works for you. It’s this idea of we are consistently inviting new people into our world. We’re nurturing those people. We’re qualifying those people and ultimately, we’re making invitations.
What’s cool about the pipeline is the more that you execute this consistently, the more sales that you close. You might have a conversation with Sarah in July and she says, “Juliet, I’m super excited, but my book’s not going to be done until October.” Now Juliet can file a deal done for October. This person says, “I think this is going to be a January project.” Now, we are building this pipeline and we can walk into October with, “I know these three deals are going to close, and I might get a referral from somebody else.” That’s what pipeline is about. It’s about pipelining and being able to say, “I’m walking into every single month with opportunity because I’m building consistent relationships ongoing as an active part of my business growth strategy.”
Let’s talk about the referrals a little bit because you and I are both from the Dames. It’s a big referral source network. Since 2016, I’ve built my business up from about 50% referral to I’m literally 95% referral. I’m a little bit lazy. I share that with you guys all the time. I’m a go-getter but I’ve gotten lazy about going out and getting my own new business because I haven’t had to. Talk about that in the sense of what do you do to keep that pipeline going with those referrals?
It’s exactly what we do in the Dames. You keep talking to new people. I joined the Dames and I got all my power partner introductions, which is what they do in the organization is that you fill out a document and they say, “Here are some people that I think work with similar people. These are great power partners for you.” Potentially a referral partner is a great relationship to have, etc. That’s how we met. I scheduled twelve calls with each one of those people. It’s not just one call. It’s not enough to be, “I’m going to do a bunch of networking calls.” It’s the ongoing calls. It’s an ongoing relationship.
It’s about ongoing relationships and that’s how referrals keep going is continuing to work those relationships. If you’re newer in business and you don’t have the referral partners, it’s the frontend of inviting new people in. If you are someone in Juliet’s space where you’re my primary source of leads is referrals, if I’m Juliet, I’m spending my time nurturing those referral partnerships. I’m booking the coffee chats. I’m sending the handwritten note, “I read this book. I thought you would find it brilliant.” It made me think of our last conversation. I’m taking the time to continue to nurture my referral partner relationships, so my leads continue to come in.
I’m going to give you guys a hint about those referrals. I take up an extraordinary amount of time with my referrals because I want to know them as people. I work with power partners who have integrity and aren’t fly by night. I want to know about their kids. I want to know Ryann was a college athlete. There are all these things that we start knowing about each other and it’s not just, “Ryann, are you giving me business this month?” It’s a friendship. It’s about what’s going on in people’s lives. How can I help you seem a little stressed? One of my partners, Melanie, we had a whole come to Jesus about her time. That’s all we did on a call. How do we get your time streamlined so you can bring more business in? She’s a busy stay-at-home mom with a business during COVID. It can’t be, “Ryann, call once a month. Are you going to give me business? Can you refer somebody to me?” It’s got to be a real relationship.
That’s what everything in sales is. Referral partners, collaboration partners and potential clients. That’s the mistake that we often make and the reason that sales feel yucky to a lot of people Juliet, is because we go out into the world, social media, networking groups, in-person or online. It doesn’t matter and we’d go out looking for clients. I teach people to stop looking for clients and start building relationships and the clients will come. When we’ve got this tunnel vision of like, “I got to find a client,” it’s a hot mess. It feels gross. It feels yucky. You feel yucky. When you feel yucky, everybody else feels your yucky energy with you.
If we stop and like, “I’m going to sell something now.” I’m a sales coach, so going out and saying, “I’m going to sell something now,” it’s, “I’m going to go out and serve someone. I’m going to go out make friends.” I know that sounds a little airy-fairy. A few years ago, I probably would have been like, “We just closed some business.” There are days where that happens. Ultimately, if we focus on the relationships, we focus on the human on the other end of the Zoom call, the podcast or however you’re connecting, it will naturally happen through referrals and introductions. It’s the Law of Reciprocity. It’s what you put out into the world that comes back. It might not come back through that one chat you had with Melanie where you helped her with whatever but it’s coming from somewhere and we have to trust the universe in that respect. I know that’s wild to think about and not something that as a very type-A, high-performer former athlete, I’m really good at leaning into but I’m getting there.
Let’s talk about that because we are both type-A. It is a process. If you had talked to me years ago, like you, I would have been like, “I’m just closing a sale.” Now, the less detached I am to actually closing the sale, like this summer, it keeps coming. In the summertime, I’m really detached, but when you can get to that point where it’s like, “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be,” and not worry about the money, not worry about all that other stuff, it comes. That might be our lesson for us type-A people.
The stress that creates when it’s all this pressure and all this energy, that’s been my work for the past months or so is understanding my nervous system and the stress that goes along with being attached. What that creates, that low-level of fight or flight all of the time is not a good place to operate. It’s not good for you. It’s not good for your loved ones. I remember being new to the business. I remember getting so angry when people would say things like this because I was like, “That was easy for you to say. Your business is making a bajillion dollars.”
For me, I’ve always been the breadwinner in my family and it was like, “That’s easy for you to say. Your business doesn’t have to fly because your husband is a doctor.” I used to always have this frustrated energy about that. I wished that I had embraced it a little bit sooner. We all started as beginners. We both started as forecasts entrepreneurs because we did things all wrong, but it’s like, “No better, do better.” That’s important to think about instead of vilifying that person and I did. I think that’s probably why it took me so long to be successful in my business because I was vilifying all the successful people around me because their circumstances were better or easier or whatever.
We all have obstacles in life. My big tool to overcome that for you type-A was a gratitude journal. Every day I write in it, what am I grateful for? What about you? Do you have a go-to tool? Are you still working on the system?
For me, it’s time and nature. I have to stop consuming. I finally got to a point where I was like, “I’m going to stop reading business books. I’m just going to read fiction.” That’s what I’m on a mission this summer. I’m reading fiction all summer long, bad fiction too. I started walking without my headphones in. I’m not going to listen to this podcast or I’m not even going to listen to music. I’m going to listen to the birds and what’s going on in my neighborhood. I live on a golf course as well. There’s always stuff happening in my neighborhood and just listening. For me, the gratitude journal is great, but I found the gratitude journaling got routine for me and didn’t have that same emotional connection. For me, getting outside, being in nature, walking without consuming and reading books that aren’t trying to make me better in some capacity have helped me recenter.
That is awesome. I go through that. I’ll read business books. I do a lot of Audibles since I read people’s books all day. I’ll do Audible and I’ll go through a book phase, a business book phase, and then I’ll be sick of them and I’ll move. I love fiction. I love mystery novels. Ryann, where can we find you if we want to have more conversations with you about sales and how you can help people?
Our website is DailySalesOnDemandForCEOs.com. On Instagram @SocialSellersAcademy or my name is Ryann Dowdy. I’m a very open networker. You can find me on LinkedIn. You can find me on Facebook. Feel free to send a connection request or a friend request. I love meeting new people and building relationships.
Thank you so much.
Thank you for the opportunity and the conversation.
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About Ryann Dowdy
Sales Expert, Ryann Dowdy, helps 7 and 8 figure CEO’s generate daily sales on demand WITHOUT more of their time, by building + training high-performing sales teams. Ryann is passionate about helping successful business owners take back control of the revenue in their business, their time, and their freedom by building a profitable sales team. With her business partner, Kelly Roach, they are on a mission to free CEO’s from the role of salesperson in their business. Before starting her own business, Ryann spent 15 years in the corporate world building multi-million dollar sales organizations for start-ups in the digital marketing and advertising space.
From sales rep to individual contributor to Director of Sales – Ryann has mentored, managed, and trained thousands of sales reps. Ryann’s first crack at entrepreneurship was Uncensored Consulting, where she helped hundreds of women get their first clients, leave their day jobs, and take back control of their lives. By teaching tried and true sales strategies that aren’t dependent on social media or trendy tactics, Ryann focuses on the art of building relationships and human-to-human connection. Now, building her second business, she’s on a mission to change the lives of CEOs – by giving them back their time, financial peace, and the ability to multiply their revenue through a high-performing, empowered sales team.
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