Ryan Stewman | How to Close More Sales
Scott D. Clary | Mental Models, Performance, Business & Entrepreneurship
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How to Close More Sales
No matter what business you are involved in, if you are an entrepreneur, one thing matters above all else: sales. All the company culture, marketing budget, and product design in the world mean nothing if you can’t close deals and make a profit.
Countless books are written every year on the subject — some even by people who have no business giving sales advice. The problem is that most of these books are either full of fluff or they’re so specific to one industry that they’re not useful for someone in a different field.
“I’m about to give you all the sales training you ever need to pay for in five minutes.”
You can imagine my surprise when those words came out of the mouth of my latest guest on the Success Story Podcast. Ryan Stewman, a shining example of someone who will flat-out work harder than his competition, has given up on marketing his sales advice. It’s so simple, and now he gives it away for free.
No safety blanket
Who is Ryan Stewman? He’s the personal trainer you’ve always needed for the gym — except for your business. Ryan’s brand Hardcore Closer is an online learning resource for people who want to “represent what winning looks like” in all facets of their business.
Sales, marketing, advertising, social media. He can show you a lot of ways to improve your bottom line, but most of all it’s his insatiable drive and energy that rub off on you. His self-made eight-figure empire, bootstrapped the whole way, is proof that he knows what he’s talking about.
We talked about a lot of things, but it was his secret to closing that I wanted to discuss most.
Don’t waste your time
Say you have 100 leads, and you are closing 30 of them. Some people might be satisfied with a 30% close rate, but not you. You want to increase that number. How do you do it?
The first step is to disqualify the leads that are never going to buy from you. This might seem counterintuitive — why would you get rid of potential customers? But if someone is never going to buy, they’re a waste of your time.
To disqualify a lead, you need to know your ideal customer. What are their demographics? What problem are they trying to solve? Once you know this, it’s easy to see which leads are worth pursuing and which ones aren’t.
When Ryan was first trying to build his coaching business, it was a simple mistake. He thought his target customer was mortgage loan officers that were doing less than $2 million a month in volume. Those people seemed interested in what he had to say, after all.
But when it came to closing the deal, a huge number of them would turn him down, because they didn’t have the money to spend.
When he tweaked his messaging and targeted officers that were already just slightly more successful, not only were they willing to talk, but they were ready to buy.
It can be something as simple as not having enough money or:
- Not being in the right industry
- Not having enough pain
- Not being high enough on the totem pole of authority
You can save yourself a lot of time — and increase your close rate — by weeding out the leads that will never say yes.
When trying to determine if a lead is a waste of resources, be careful. Ask yourself the following, and see if you can get a clear “yes” to all three questions:
- Can this person or company pay for my product or service?
- Are they likely to need my product or service soon?
- Do they have the authority to make decisions about purchasing my product or service?
If you can’t get a resounding yes to all three, it might be time to move on.
Don’t shoot too high
Listen. Not everyone is going to be able to pitch Fortune 500 clients right away. They have different pain points, different needs, and — most importantly — different budgets. It’s important to find a market that you can serve well and make a profit from.
Determining your niche is critical to sales success. If you try to be everything to everyone, you will end up failing at most. Your messaging will be all over the place, and you won’t have the focus necessary to succeed.
“Sell on the level that you’re at.”
If you know mortgages, find a product that loan officers need. If you know the restaurant business, find a product that will help chefs. If you know social media, find a product that will help small businesses succeed online.
You need to be able to speak the language of your customer and show them that you understand their world. Only then can you hope to make a sale.
Every sales guide in the world right now is telling you to build community. But what does that even mean? For Ryan, it means three simple steps.
Mission statement for the people
Critically, this isn’t the same thing that Microsoft or Tesla has plastered all over their website. Ryan’s first pillar of building community is having a mission for the people, not the company.
“Everybody says they’re creating a movement that’s supposed to be some next-level stuff. But to me, a movement is just people taking action together.”
That’s it — people taking action together. It’s not some grandiose scheme to take over the world or make a billion dollars. You can get people moving in the same direction by bringing them together and giving them a shared purpose.
It could be as simple as getting people to switch from smoking cigarettes to vaping, or convincing people to vote in the next election.
The key is that your mission has to be something that people can get behind and feel good about doing. It’s not enough to have a great product — you need something that will inspire people to take action.
Beyond the mission, you need to have leadership that lives and breathes the company’s core values.
“I had to become the man that I would look up to.”
To convince someone of something, you need to present authority. Not necessarily knowledge, or even a title, but the ability to inspire trust. The way to do that is by embodying the company’s core values in everything you do. For your company, it might be innovation or customer service.
The four core values that Ryan and Hardcore Closer use are:
- Work ethic
- No excuses
- Do what you say you are going to do
- Go above and beyond
Think about someone in your life that embodies these values. You probably admire them and would follow their lead or give them help if they asked. You might even want to be like them. This kind of thing has the incredible ability to build community through a commonality of values.
Ryan couldn’t stress this enough (and I completely agree): you must treat your customers with respect. This means being honest, telling them the truth about your product, and never trying to take advantage of them.
It also means being transparent about your business — if you make a mistake, own up to it and apologize. People will respect you for it.
And finally, it means delivering on your promises. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you can’t do it, don’t say you will. It’s that simple.
The two keys to closing more deals
While building a community is important for the long-term health of your company, if all you’re here for is the secret formula for closing more sales, it’s just two things. Empathy and confidence.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It’s the cornerstone of sales because, at its core, selling is about understanding what someone else wants and then convincing them that you have what they need.
You can’t do that if you’re not able to put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective. There are a few things that Ryan listed as ways to show your empathy, but the one that needs to be shouted in big block letters is LISTEN.
A lot of times, people just want to be heard. They want to know that you grasp their problem and that you’re not just trying to give them a canned sales pitch. So listen to them, really listen. And then show them that you understand by repeating back what they’ve said to you in your own words.
Confidence is the second key because it’s what will help you seal the deal. If you don’t believe in yourself or your product, how can you expect anyone else to?
The best way to do that is by preparing for every sales call or meeting as if it’s the most important one of your life. Know your product inside and out, so you can answer any question that comes your way. And be ready with stories and examples of how your product has helped other people in similar situations.
“You know their problem and are 100% confident that you can solve it.”
It sounds like it should be more complicated than that, but it isn’t.
- Listen to people
- Ask them questions
- Acknowledge their problem
- Offer them a solution
- Tell them why it will work
Don’t tell them about the feature that won’t help them, show them the one that will. With empathy and confidence, you’ll quickly find that you’re closing more sales than ever before.
There’s so much more that Ryan and I talked about. I didn’t even touch on his time in prison as a kid, how he lost everything and came back even stronger, or the lessons he learned from being way ahead of the social media game.
If you want to hear the entire thing, and understand the full scope of Hardcore Closer, head over to the Success Story YouTube page.
You can find hundreds of other interviews with outstanding business minds, which discusses various topics like imposter syndrome, mitigating risk, or monetizing content.
I’ll be back next week with another incredible guest!
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