In business, how can you create more with less? Terry Ogburn, renowned owner and lead business coach of Ogburn’s Business Solutions, talks about optimizing sales process by thinking more strategically rather than just tactically. Terry’s proprietary coaching system and personal devotion to the development of others has contributed to the success of hundreds of small to large business ventures.
Terry began his business career in 1979 when he invested his last $118.42 to start an air conditioning service business. At that time, he had no car or truck, but he did have the knowledge and ability to build relationships. Ten years later, he developed his own business success program based on his experience and the teachings of his favorite business books, leading to the founding of Ogburn Business Solutions. Terry says if you want to be successful, find an industry that needs help, and get right in the middle of it, because if it’s messed up, you can make a lot of money fixing it.
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Optimizing Sales Process: Positioning Yourself Strategically with Terry Ogburn
We are going to focus around optimizing your sales process. How can you create more with less by thinking more strategically as you approach your sales process? We have a special guest with us, Terry Ogburn. He is the renowned owner and lead business coach of Ogburn’s Business Solution. His proprietary coaching system and personal devotion to the development of others has contributed to the success of hundreds of small to large business ventures.
Terry began his business career in 1979 when he invested his last $118.42 to start an air conditioning service business. At that time, he didn’t have any car or truck, but he did have the knowledge and ability to build relationships and that is what it took. Ten years later, he developed his own business success program based on his experience and teachings of his favorite business books leading the founding of Ogburn’s Business Solutions. Terry, welcome to our show.
I’m glad to be here and thank you so much for having me.
It’s a pleasure. As entrepreneurs I’ve been there too, down to your last $100 or whatever it is, and you put it all in the pot. You put it all on red and you go for it. Did you spend ten years building that business, is that what I understood?
Yes, I did, Penny. I’ll give you a little background, a quick story about that. I was in the car business selling cars. I’m considered to be one of the top in the GM field all over GM motors. I got fired because I wanted to advance. I want it to be a sales manager, career-minded. I was very good at sales. My boss fired me and then I paid all my bills and the apartment building that I was living in was turning condo and it had a broken furnace duct and I could fix that for $15.
There were 264 of these so if you multiply that, that’s about almost close to $4,000, which would give me a nice grubstake to get started when rent is only $135 a month, the electric bill is $35 a month and your phone bill is about $25 a month. It started like that and then I got into mentors and that type and took it for ten years, twelve trucks, 26 people, sold it to my employees. I went into the corporate arena using my system to do turnaround corporate companies like RadioShack, UNIGLOBE Travel, Century 21, Metrocall Paging, AT&T and companies like that.
That’s the way that the best experience comes to that you can be and coach others is creating that experience for yourself. It’s learning the best practices from people who have been through it and then building it on top with your own experience. It sounds like you’re an opportunity seeker. You saw something that needed to be fixed, you went there and you did it. You seem to be a problem-solving mindset. Is that true?
That’s very true. The one thing I learned from a lot of my mentors over the time was if you want to be successful, find an industry that needs help and get right in the middle of it because if it’s messed up, you probably can make a lot of money fixing it. I’ll give you a quick example. We’re all in sales and I don’t care if you’re the receptionist or the CEO, everything is sales. One of the things about sales is that you want to make sure that you find out what your customers wants are and their needs sometimes may be totally different.
In air-conditioning, when we went out to a customer’s home and we diagnosed the problem, then we asked the question, “When would you like us to fix your equipment?” The answer more times than not was, “Could you come back when my son comes home from work or when my husband comes,” that type of thing. What they needed was their air conditioner fixed. What they wanted it is fixed on their time schedule.
I think it’s important to listen, listen to people, listen to the market. I forgot who it was that had this famous quote of, “Most people don’t want to drill, they want the hole.” It’s understanding what solution they want and then also what vehicle and tool, resource they need in order to get there.
Not only that, but when you went to the technician, the technician says, “We can’t perform like that because we were on a job, we don’t know if we’re going to be there an hour or five hours.” We listened to the customer and the technician and we took the decision making out of their hand. That’s what made us grow into a company. When I sold it, we had over 7,000 customers that had done business with me for three years or longer in a service business.
[Tweet “The key point in sales is listening.”] That’s why you’ve created a proprietary process that will help people in their sales process. We’re going to talk about that experience that you built up in those years and building that 7,000-customer base as well as all that followed. To talk about what are some of the key factors to help salespeople to optimize the process and to be and to be approaching their marketplace more strategically. Can you share with us what that four-step process is?
If you don’t mind you keyed on something in your earlier talk where the key point in sales is listening. When we’re listening or we’re in that mode of hearing, what we’re doing is we’re actually hearing about 25% of what’s being said and we’re tuning out the other 75%. This goes for our customers as well. I was on with one of my clients who happens to be a top salesman in his store. He was in a seasonal slump now. I said, “Tell me about your last in engagement.” He said, “I was with this customer and he told me that the buying process is about six months.”
Then I find out he has no money to pay for it. I wasted all this time. I said, “When you ask him how long before you see this in your driveway type thing,” he said, “Six months.” Then my next question would be something like, “What would it take to get it in your driveway now?” If the customer says, “I need to hit the lottery.” Then maybe you don’t need to talk to him so much anymore. People will tell us the truth if we ask the question correctly.
I am a huge fan of asking the right questions. I think it was Einstein who had this quote that if he had one hour to solve the major problem in the world, he would take 55 minutes developing the right question and five minutes answering it. Having the right question is so key in getting the right answer.
I used that same statement as you used many times. If you have an hour to solve it, use the first 55 minutes asking questions and that is for entrepreneurs need to be because once an entrepreneur has all the questions answered, they should be able to make their decision in one minute or less.
When you ask that right question as you said from that was a great example is that you already know that this person is going to have trouble paying. The more time that you’re going to spend with him that you won’t be getting any closer to a solution. You can stop the question answering there and save yourself a lot of time and energy.
Under my system, all we would do with that particular individual is put it right back into the top of our funnel. He’s still gets our newsletter. He still gets incubated, he’s still warm. Then you go up and talk to him every 28 days. You just go out and talk to him and as he moves closer, things may change in his life.
If I were to develop all these questions, there are a lot of talk about pre-scripting, a sequence as you engage with different prospects. Some people I’ve heard them say, “I don’t like working with scripts. They’re so inflexible and it doesn’t feel natural.” What feedback would you give to them on that response?
Get over it. We’re all scripted from the time we get up in the morning until we go to bed. I agree that we’re uncomfortable using a script, but we shouldn’t use a canned script. We should use a script that fits our personality. When I teach scripts, it’s about the integrity of the script, how put your words into it and make it. If the goal is to find out to get some help, then word your script correctly. That’s all.
I’m a big favor of scripts, but one I’m more in favor of is when you develop your scripts, you develop a script that is going to cost the customer to go one of two ways. If you get a script that allows the customer to have more than two ways to answer you, it’s hard for you to control the pattern. If you have a script and it goes to the right, you have a rebuttal for that. If it goes to the left, you have a rebuttal for that.
The whole goal is to keep them on either the left or the right side, whichever you’re trying to get to the goal. What’s more important to me anyway, is understanding the three phases of a sale. The first phase is what we call the appointment phase. The goal there is to never ever leave a conversation, whether it’s in front of somebody, email or wherever, however we’re communicating with them, never leave that conversation without setting the next appointment.
Somebody’s going to say, “Terry, how do you do that when you’re emailing?” Instead of saying, “If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me.” Re-word that and say, “I will give you a call on Tuesday at 2:00 in the afternoon to discuss the opportunity that is for us,” or however you want to end that.
You stated you’re going to call them, and I’ll even tell some of my clients, put that in as a PS because we typically read the PS first. It tells you I’m calling you. People would say, “What if they’re not there?” You lived up to your agreement, you left a voice message at 2:00 on Tuesday and that person sees that you’re serious. If they call you back, great. Then you can move on with the process.
The whole goal of the appointment phase is to discover the second phase, which is their needs phase. What are their needs? Always remember, wants and needs are two different things. When I’m working with a client, I would say, “Find out what the five things they want and then put them in the order of their importance.” Most people, if you said, “Give me five things that you want.” They’ll give you five, but it won’t be in the order of its importance.
Unless you ask that question to people for them to order it, they haven’t thought about it and you may get a different answer than you think. I totally agree with that. We don’t ask enough questions to dig deep enough. We take those surface level and we don’t dig deeper.
I encourage every one of your listeners to become more like Socrates, become a thinker. We saw problems with logic, so make sure that when we’re saying something that we thought it through logically. Once we understand the customer’s needs, then and only then can we deliver the solution. Then part of my process is making sure that when you’re making your solution presentation, that you listed the order of importance of their needs and covered the most important one first. We may not even have to get to four or five because if you handle the first two or three correctly, it’s a matter of signing on the dotted line. I’ll give you those four steps now.
The first thing we have to do in business or sales, is we have to make the decision that we’re going to become not sales people, but sales consultants. We have to make a commitment to learn everything there is to know about becoming a sales consultant and in this day and age. There’s a problem with that because most of the people you run into out there in this world, they’re sales people.
Consultants are different. You Google that, you can look at the two different definitions and you’ll see there’s a big difference between a consultant who cares more about the customer than they do about the commission. Once we make that decision, we’ve committed to it. The second thing we need to do is we need to put disciplines in life that makes sure that we’re accomplishing our objectives. That means we read more. We devote one hour a day to our craft or to our sales consulting.
In five years or less, you’ll be an expert at being a sales consultant. Then once we have these disciplines in our life, we need them to make sure that we’re being decisive. That means that I give every person on your listing for every one of them to procrastinate on anything that doesn’t take them towards their goals. In sales, one of the most important parts of this discipline is KPIs, Key Performance Indicators.
We must know whether the email we split test the subject line, we test the script, we test everything, and we honed it in so that we’d get a good process. The fourth and final step is you have to visualize yourself as being the most prosperous sales consultant in the industry. That means you visualize you’re walking out on the stage. You visualize every part of the sales process from the time you arrive at your sale, fifteen minutes early, to the closing. Visualize every bit of it. Those are your four steps.
I’d like to go back and talk about disciplines in the context of there are a lot of different disciplines. You talked about the one which is take an hour to, to hone your craft, to better your sales skills. To know the marketplace better and that’s absolutely key because so much information is available on the internet. If the person that you’re talking to knows more than you, you may have a problem in making that sale.
What about the disciplines in terms of setting priorities and things like that? Let’s talk about that a little bit because I know that people feel like they’re bombarded with so many things to do and almost everything feels urgent. If they’re an entrepreneur, it’s our curse as an entrepreneur where we make everything urgent and if it’s a gift and a curse at the same time. Let’s talk a little bit about that in terms of disciplines and what you recommend.
The first thing that I always encourage people to do is learn to close out your day. That means that you pick a time at the end of the day to close it. You can change each day, you could do one day at 4:30, it doesn’t matter. You take out 30 or 45 minutes to look at what you did agree, what you did wrong, and what you could have done better. When we looked at it, we’re looking at a 30,000-foot so we can make differences. We make changes.
The next thing I have is that you take all the sales calls, all the things, all your action activities, everything you’re supposed to do, and you put it in a to-do list the night before. That means you researched the phone numbers that you call if you’ve got to go to an appointment. I’ve oftentimes driven to that appointment the day before and know exactly what door I’m supposed to walk in, arrive fifteen minutes early.
All of these things set you apart from the other salespeople. Think of it this way, if you were a fish, would you want to swim where all the school of fish are, or do you want to swim alone? If you were the perfect appetite for a shark, why would you want to swim alone? Study what others do and do none of it. I wanted to do things the right way. When you’re breaking your hour, my rule is the first fifteen minutes is study the industry. Know what’s going on in your world. Disney World is not concerned about Universal Studios. Their concern is Nordstrom’s.
Nordstrom’s has the best guest experience of all companies rated. They make sure that their guests have the same experience that Nordstrom does. The second fifteen minutes is based on a sales topic. Learn something about something to do with sales consulting. I’ll give your listeners a website, FollowUpSuccess.com. What they’ll find there is that it alludes to that 86% of the people start their buying process online. It’s more important for us to understand consumer knowledge rather than it is for us to know product knowledge.
[Tweet “Study what others do and do none of it.”] I’ve got on a call with a brand-new recruit. He says, “I think we can get started in a couple weeks because I’ve got to get all this product knowledge.” I said, “Forget about the product knowledge. Go get a copy of all this stuff that you have for sale, put in a three-ring binder. When the customer comes in and asks you a question, open the three-ring binder and point to it. Third party validation is what they’re using the internet.” Think like they do.
Then the next fifteen minutes is an IT topic or technical topic that could be learning more about your CRM, learning how to use a CRM, learning more about social media. Whatever it takes to keep your business moving forward through technology. Then the fourth quarter of the hour is spent role playing. That means go through how am going to talk to this customer, go through how I’m going to record this. Whatever it is you’re going to do, role play it so you get a good visual of what’s going to happen for the day.
I want to highlight that point in role playing. I think that role playing is essential for any salesperson because I’ve worked with many people myself in the context of different types of presentations and sales offerings. What goes on in our head is perfect, but what comes out of our mouth is something entirely different. We might think that we’re totally prepared for something, but in the role play especially, I encourage people to record it so that they can listen back and take it apart and see in the language what are you inferring.
What kind of presuppositions are there, what’s the energy that is coming across and so forth. I think that’s so essential. I want to highlight that for people that role playing is not an option. It’s a must if you want to stand out and bring your business to the next level in terms of sale. It’s an investment that’s going to turn into a sale.
I concur with you totally. Part of my career was director of franchise development for UNIGLOBE Travel. In that franchising, you can’t take money from people for fourteen days. You have to keep them busy. You have to keep them engaged in what they’re doing. When you’re selling an intangible it’s a lot harder because you’ve got to connect their dream and a lot of times we couldn’t even offer any validation, but for our salespeople, we would make them video, record there so we could go to jail. In franchising, if you say something wrong in your presentation and they can prove it, it is jail time. I used to tell my people I do not look good in orange so you be careful what you’re out there telling them.
It’s amazing when the consequence goes up, how much more disciplined we are.
We found plenty of times people, they were saying things they shouldn’t be saying and they didn’t realize they were saying I’m until they saw themselves on film.
I had that exact conversation with somebody recently that I was advising for their team. Until he heard the recordings, he’s like, “They shouldn’t be saying this.” I said, “You have to listen to what they’re saying in order to hear what’s coming out.”
That gets us back to the script when those people say they don’t like scripts, this is the reason we have them.
You can always bring your personality to something and modify but you’re right, it’s because it ensures that there’s a certain standard of bringing whatever it is across it that you’re going to be discussing and giving some structure to it. Do you have anything in addition that you’d want to talk about around focus?
The way I get a focus or the way I like people to stay focus is each person should have at least five objectives per quarter. An objective, it’s not a goal. It’s like, “The next 90 days I’m going to spend as a consultant.” That’s learning as a consultant, become more knowledgeable, but now we’ve got to add a purpose to that. Just saying I want to become a knowledgeable sales consultant, we’ve got to have a why to go with it.
A goal without a purpose is pointless.
It’s a wish or a dream. It’s not a real tangible thing. Then we have to add one more component. This is one of the things I add and that is the outcome we want. The objective become better sales consultant, the reason why it’s going to further my career in sales and the result is going to be contributing to the bottom line of my family’s financial independence.
That tells you what you’re going to do. Your objective is what it is you’re going to do. Why you’re going to do it, and then what’s the benefit? What are you going to achieve out of it? That will definitely increase people’s focus on what it is that they’re doing.
Then they can break it down into baby steps. You can take that objective and I call it a priority. They can take that priority, break it down into the three, four, seven steps that it takes to accomplish it, and then making use time management to focus on those baby tasks and then spread it out over the 90-day period.
For people listening, when you say then take time management into dealing with those individual steps, it’s scheduling the time. At the end of the day, everything else that we talked about here are elements of time management. Being able to focus on the right things is the first element of time management. Then it’s getting it down into your calendar and making sure you spend the time and focused on what it is that is going to get you to the finish line.
When I’m on-boarding a client, the first thing we discuss is about their time management and take them through a time management assessment because everybody’s living on a 24-hour clock. They’re going to add in me, “I’m another two to four hours a week for you.” They’re trying to figure it out. I learned over the years, let’s take them through a time management assessment and every time we go through the exercise, where we leave the work schedule out of it. I want to know how many hours they’re spending at work and every time it will come up like 70 to 75, 80 hours of work. I said, “Really? You’re working 80 hours a week, 75 hours a week?” They go, “No.” I said, “Were those 20 hours going in that?”
Measurement is a great thing because once people get to see clearly where they are spending their time, it’s an eye-opener. It’s the same thing with food journals and things like that. You document it and then you’re surprised at how little water you drink and how much sugar you eat and things like that.
Writing it down is very powerful and that’s why a lot of people when they’re writing their sales calls out, they’re afraid to write it out because they’re afraid of failure or rejection or whatever.
They don’t want to take ownership. Let’s face it, we’re lazy and we don’t want something to come up that’s going to give us something else to do.
The Harvard Business School did an MBA study program for 1979 and wrote a book about it and they realized that only 3% of their graduating class had written plans for their life. What they also realized was that those 3% of the people were making ten times the money that the other 97% of the people were not. I think I like writing my goals out.
[Tweet “Each person should have at least five objectives per quarter. An objective, it’s not a goal.”] Terry, tell people where they can reach you and what you have for them.
First you can reach me at TerryOgburn.com. Also, I have OgburnsBusinessSolutions.com. Those are my two websites. You can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn. I have an offer for your listeners. If any of them are having a sales challenge or something I can help them within sales, if they go to either one of my websites, hit the Contact us button. It will drop down, fill in the blank and send me your challenge. We’ll set up an hour, I promise you no sales pitch, taking your challenge head on and coming up with a solution for it.
Thank you so much for being here. I think there were a lot of nuggets, a lot of key things for people to take away. At the end of the day, they’re simple but they’re not easy to implement. The key is to be disciplined in bringing it all into practice.
Thank you so much again, Penny, for having me on your show.
It’s our pleasure. To all of you, thank you for being here and really ingesting in yourself but reading these tips and tricks that you’re getting at Take Back Time so that you can work smarter, not harder. We’ll see you in the next episode.
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About Terry Ogburn
Terry Ogburn is the renowned owner and Lead Business Coach of Ogburn’s Business Solutions. His proprietary coaching system and personal devotion to the development of others has contributed to the success of hundreds of small to large business ventures.
Terry began his business career in 1979 when he invested his last $118.42 to start an air conditioning service business. At that time, he had no car or truck, but he did have the knowledge and ability to build relationships. 10 years later he developed his own business success program based on his experience and the teachings of his favorite business books, leading to the founding of Ogburn Business Solutions.