WBII Networking Event Summary by Colleen Reichrath-Smith
According to, Allison Hamilton Rohe of Daily Outfit, sales doesn’t have to be an ‘icky’ part of being an entrepreneur. At the WBII Networking evening on May 18, 2017, she provided practical insights into what sales actually is and how to go about the sales process. Allison explained that effective selling is simply a combination of these three elements:
• knowing your value and communicating that to your clients,
• using good sales practices to turn prospects into clients, and
• making the process easy for yourself and consistent.
Then why is sales often one of the more difficult parts to get right in your business?
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Maya Angelou
Entrepreneurship, according to Allison, is like the transformation the butterfly goes through. She described that transformational stage as being ‘mushy’. So how does one make their way through the mushiness to arrive as a successful entrepreneur? As a result of applying the sales insights she shared to her own business, Alison is now consistently enrolling clients from her list. Her programs are sold out and her business is functioning and sustainable. It took her 10 years to achieve this, through learning from what worked and didn’t work and staying the course.
The 5 foundations needed to be able to combine these three sales elements effectively include knowing your:
1. Big WHY – your purpose and the reason you are doing this work
2. Basic Business Model
3. Desire to Grow Your Business
4. Ideal Client
5. Marketing Funnel (Allison spoke on the Marketing Funnel at a previous WBII Networking and you can access this information here .)
Allison took time to explain the three elements with some great personal examples.
What is sales?
What Allison discovered early on in her business was that she didn’t have a connection to the sales process; she didn’t see sales as a service and didn’t believe she could make money. When she took time to get clear on what the sales process was about and what she was offering she started to make money. Doing these things made it easy for her clients to know that she was offering what they needed and how they could get it from her.
Allison emphasizes getting feedback from your clients. Simply ask them what they love about you. This information, in Allison’s words, is marketing gold. You will use it in every communication or marketing post you share. Your past clients’ words are the words that connect you to your next clients. They become your USP – Unique Selling Point – or what distinguishes you from your competition. They tell you WHY you need to offer your product, HOW you’re helping people and WHAT makes your service special. Knowing your value converts into sales.
The Sales Process
Asking yourself these four questions will define your sales process:
1. How do your clients contact you?
2. Do you ask what their pain point is?
3. Do you have a structured conversation?
4. Do you have a clear offer?
It’s that simple.
Allison shared how at one point she offered a free video call to have the sales conversation. She didn’t understand why hardly anyone was taking her up on her great offer until a client shared the level of stress they experienced in following through on the scheduled call. “Think of it”, she said, “having a video call with a stylist!” Of course that wouldn’t be the most effective means of connecting with her client group. She now has a phone conversation with them where their ‘pain’ about how they look is discussed (and not seen). She also lets them know in advance what questions she will ask (e.g. What’s your biggest style challenge?) so they aren’t caught unprepared. It’s all about establishing rapport, helping the (prospective) client feel supported and starting the relationship well.
Elements of a sales conversation:
– ask for pain points
– listen – 75% of conversation is listening and reflecting back what you heard
– offer a solution – “here’s a program I have to address this”
– ask what appealed – this is your cue for how to follow-up
– make the offer – “here’s the investment”*
– sign them up
*If they’re not ready for your service, that’s just fine. They have to be ready. Now your task is following up regularly and consistently until they are or until.
Allison plans ‘pipeline’ days where she follows up with those she has had a conversation with. The follow process can start with an email that lists the ‘pain points’ in their words, highlights what appealed to them about your solution, provides a link to your program, and the option to click to buy. Then next follow-up can be a phone call with the summary “I’d love to work with you. If you’re ready, give me a call.”
Following up also includes asking for referrals from your lists, including those who didn’t use your services. After your follow-up process has run its course, if they have not yet responded, then let them go. Allison emphasized several times that they need to be ready. If they aren’t then they aren’t. That’s just the way it is.
There are tools like Asana available to help you structure your follow-up, but you can also create an Excel spreadsheet to structure and schedule your regular prospective client contact.
Making the call
Allison shared how difficult she found it to make the offer. These words did not come naturally to her and didn’t roll off the tongue. She practiced them, walking around her house, playing with them with her kids. Practice helped her to become more comfortable saying the words and that has translated into sales success. She still finds it something that doesn’t come naturally and so has developed a preparation process she uses before each call. This includes:
– reviewing her list of testimonials to remind herself of her value, and
– creating a positive, open and accepting mental space to be able to listen to the prospective client’s pain.
Tips to Make it Easy
Allison’s three tips for making it easy revolve around three p’s:
She described them using the metaphor of the how supermarkets sell cheese.
An ‘easy yes’ product allows the potential customer to ‘taste’ the cheese without needing to buy. This product can generate passive income, is always available, can provide the logical next step from a newsletter or feed, and generates ‘qualified’ prospects.
A free event can build excitement and generate responses. When using this approach, it’s important to apply the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time you are delivering content and 20% of the time you are letting them know how to work with you. Build in the opportunity for them to say ‘YES’ to what you are offering. This is where I can use extra practice!
Allison challenged us to meet the clients where they are and provide what they want by tailoring the programs to them, making them accessible, and creating the results the clients are actually looking for.
There also needs to be a clear enrolment process so that prospective clients who have ‘tasted the cheese’ also know how they can buy it. How frustrating if after tasting the cheese and deciding you want it you can’t find out how to buy it!
With a true customer service mentality, Allison accepts every kind of payment. However the client wants to pay, that’s what she accepts. Offering a payment plan option is another customer service. You can reward those who pay in full with a special gift as an incentive to choose the method you would prefer. She emphasizes knowing your price and being confident with this and says if you do offer a sale, know WHY. It needs to be part of your strategy.
Another thing I learned from Allison’s talk, was to even include that ‘freemium’ sign-up option on the feedback form circulated following a talk.
By knowing your value, practicing the sales process and making it easy for yourself, Allison believes that you too will also achieve consistent sales and a sustainable business. Many thanks to Allison for sharing her learnings and expertise with us. If you’d like to know more about Alison’s work, consider attending one of her webinars. You can find out more about Allison on her website DailyOutfit.
Colleen Reichrath-Smith is a career consultant, helping people navigate their career across international borders, occupational boundaries and changing times. She is also co-author of Career in Your Suitcase and a Global Career Development Facilitator.