Be Aware. To be persuasive, you need to establish rapport with others. Listen carefully to others and ask probing questions to get to the inner core of what others seek. Then, deliver it to them and wrap up your message in the language needed to connect it to your prospect’s deepest emotions.
As a part of my series about how to be great at closing sales without seeming pushy, obnoxious, or salesy, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tracey Fudge.
Tracey Fudge is the Founder and CEO of the Thrive Ad Agency and Creator of the LinkedAuthority™ Method.
After more than 25 years in technology sales, she left Corporate America to chase her dream of starting her own business.
As a marketing agency owner, she came up with The LinkedAuthority™ Method, a platform leveraged by business leaders to grow their business and drive revenue with certainty and predictability.
Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this career path?
I was in technology sales for over 25 years in various roles, always responsible for revenue, bringing in new leads and closing deals. I was a trained “hunter”!
Fast forward…after getting married and having children, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
After soon realizing that I needed and wanted a change, seeing firsthand that life is short and can change in a matter of seconds, I decided to follow my own dream of being an entrepreneur.
After getting over my fear of the unknown and dealing with my personal hiccups, I started my business, the Thrive Ad Agency. The problem was that I soon realized “Oh my gosh, I don’t have as many clients coming in the door as I anticipated!” The tactics and strategies that I learned before as a salesperson NO LONGER worked.
With limited resources and time, I worked fast at figuring out what was wrong. I soon realized the BUYING process was changing fast with the advent of social media and I was applying old-school tactics that DID NOT work. After much analysis, new realization and testing of the new sales landscape, I came up with the LinkedAuthority™ Method.
My mission is to help fellow business leaders to drive growth and revenue in a predicable & sustainable fashion.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Amidst this pandemic, my focus is to help CEOs in the technology industry to achieve massive growth despite uncertainty in the market and dependence on limited marketing resources. My mission is to help executives maneuver the path to growth and sales in our business paradigm.
- Executives need a clear view of what prospects want and what steps can be taken to reach them. With all the noise and confusion, there is no clear strategy. Why does this matter? They need a clear understanding of HOW to apply the RIGHT tactics to achieve predictable and consistent revenue.
- Digital interactions are 7 times more important to prospects and customers now than traditional sales interactions. There is zero room for dependence on sales and marketing teams, and the lack of know-how to leverage systems the right way.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit why you are an authority on the topic of sales?
I have started a couple of businesses, and I am regarded as a marketing and sales expert. I have been in the seat of sales, been in the seat of leadership, and been inside of technology for more than 25 years. My experiences, the things that I have achieved, and the success of my clients speak of my authority in the field.
Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the COVID-19 pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Undoubtedly, this pandemic has affected us all in various ways — the things that are happening around us and the news that we receive everyday cause uncertainty, loneliness, anxiety, and other conditions. The ways we live day by day have changed, which is true as well for us in the biz. But despite the overwhelming changes, we should not think that we can’t do anything. Now, more than ever, we need to focus on ourselves and support others to get through these challenging times. It’s important not to feel alone or isolated. Practice self-care — if you know that you need help, know that it is completely fine to ask for it. Be with your loved ones. If not, then communicate with them through constant chats, messages, and calls. Check on your families, friends, and connections, and remind them to stay well and safe. Make conscious efforts of doing activities that help you clear your mind and put you in a good moment for reflection and thinking.
Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know, nearly any business a person will enter, will involve some form of sales. At the same time, most people have never received any formal education about how to be effective at selling. Why do you think our education system teaches nearly every other arcane subject, but sales, one of the most useful and versatile topics, is totally ignored?
Well, I honestly don’t think that the concept of sales is completely ignored. There are a lot of courseworks and degrees that deal with sales education. But even without formal education, one can learn how to be effective in sales. I actually think that sales happen even in the things we do everyday. Whenever we persuade someone to believe in something, or whenever we convince someone to do something, that is sales — not just in the business setting. I do not believe that a salesperson is born nor being good at sales is an innate ability. We do encounter people with unbelievable charms especially in selling, but learning how to sell and being good at it is definitely a choice.
This discussion, entitled, “How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesy”, is making an assumption that seeming salesy or pushy is something to be avoided. Do you agree with this assumption? Whether yes, or no, can you articulate why you feel the way you do?
We’re all in the state of being concerned about driving revenue, yet today no one wants to be ‘sold to’. It’s obvious and comes across as tacky many times. The days of high-pressure closing tactics is over. It is now about community and trust and transparency.
Being salesy is putting in too much unnecessary effort or pushing ‘too much’. This makes a prospect feel uncomfortable, causing customer walk-out. Thus, I do agree with this sentiment that one should not be salesy. In my method, I share with my clients a strategy of how to stand out in a noisy world, close deals faster, drive more revenue — and never seem salesy.
To be great at sales, it is about developing a community of trust, not about leads and prospects.
The seven stages of a sales cycle are usually broken down to versions of Prospecting, Preparation, Approach, Presentation, Handling objections, Closing, and Follow-up. Which stage do you feel that you are best at? What is your unique approach, your “secret sauce”, to that particular skill? Can you explain or give a story?
All stages of the sales cycle are equally vital, and I make sure that each and every step is given the maximum effort. But being asked about where I think I am best at, I would go with the approach. Our method uses a unique mechanism. Instead of telling clients how we help them, we show them how we can help them — that our service can help them by guiding them through a clear path. Our ‘secret sauce’ is showing our clients how they could go from point A to point B.
Lead generation, or prospecting, is one of the basic steps of the sales cycle. Obviously every industry will be different, but can you share some of the fundamental strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
In finding your persona or target market, the issue is that most people use a shotgun approach. Specifically, they think you have to do tons of surveys and quizzes, competitive analyses, spend tons of time and money on ads that don’t work, and do a whole bunch of unnecessary research.
My method aims to find the Specific Persona. Before we promote or advertise, we already know who our customers are and what they do. With this, we know exactly how to target and reach them. And more importantly, we know the pains that they’re facing and the problems that we can help them with, in solving their market issues. Then we educate our persona through their problem and share an approach to a solution, empowering them with a valid path to resolution, regardless if they choose to purchase our service or not.
Even if you don’t have a product, any product that’s sold on a planet has to solve a serious problem and the way to get there is to figure out what the struggles or obstacles your clients are faced with. What’s going to happen if they don’t solve them? What goals are they trying to achieve now, and why are those goals important? That’s the context of how it works.
In my experience, I think the final stages of Handling Objections, Closing, and Follow-up, are the most difficult parts for many people. Why do you think ‘Handling Objections’ is so hard for people? What would you recommend for one to do, to be better at ‘Handling Objections’?
For one to be better at handling objections, practice empathy. The most common flaw that I see from our clients is that they don’t take time to understand who they are affecting, how, by how much, and at what time. It is one thing to understand WHO you are going after.
Your prospects’ decision to (or not to) take action boils down to their level of pain or desire for pleasure. Go beyond just their title or industry they work in and dig deep into their behaviors and interests. Know the pains of your prospects — ask and observe. Doing this will help you handle or even avoid objections.
‘Closing’ is of course the proverbial Holy Grail. Can you suggest 5 things one can do to successfully close a sale without being perceived as pushy? If you can, please share a story or example, ideally from your experience, for each.
A ‘closing’ requires you to properly communicate and be persuasive at the same — which is tricky. The reality, however, is that most people in sales are terrible at communication. Most people are doing all that high-pressure stuff. I don’t do that. My method has a very strategy that is super easy — so instead of pushy, it’s easy. The five things that I can suggest to successfully close a sale without being pushy are:
#1: Be Aware. To be persuasive, you need to establish rapport with others. Listen carefully to others and ask probing questions to get to the inner core of what others seek. Then, deliver it to them and wrap up your message in the language needed to connect it to your prospect’s deepest emotions.
#2: Be Authentic. Most people have an internal measurement mechanism for genuineness. They sense whether someone has their best interests at heart or not. If they feel for any reason that the person isn’t authentic, they immediately “tune-out” that message. So the answer is to be introspective. If you don’t feel secure or authentic in what you’re offering, you may want to consider offering something else. A product or service you believe in will make your true authentic self shine.
#3: Speak with Authority. The way you deliver your message will give your prospect a feeling for whether you know your subject or not. All these are essential factors in whether your prospect perceives that you are an authority on your subject.
#4: Be Flexible. It would be best if you’re attuned to your audience — whether it’s one person, a small group of people, or thousands.
#5: Articulate Well. You have to be masterful in articulating your message.
Finally, what are your thoughts about ‘Follow up’? Many businesses get leads who might be interested but things never seem to close. What are some good tips for a business leader to successfully follow up and bring things to a conclusion, without appearing overly pushy or overeager?
I have my Absolute Email (re)Targeting System Framework. Proven and tested, it is possible to capture 90% more leads by emailing prospects. I easily provide value through an educational email campaign. This is how I nurture leads through the funnel to the point of purchase.
As you know there are so many modes of communication today. For example, In-person, phone calls, video calls, emails, and text messages. In your opinion, which of these communication methods should be avoided when attempting to close a sale or follow up? Which are the best ones? Can you explain or give a story?
There is indeed a digital inflection on the B2B landscape, especially now that the pandemic has changed the ways of how sellers and buyers interact. Sales leaders have been moving dynamically to settle to the new normal. Besides shifting to remote selling, most companies view digital platforms two times more important now as they were for the past years. For customers, digital interactions are also more preferred now than conventional sales communications. Social media, email, mobile apps, video conferences, webinars, have replaced conventional physical sales interactions and follow-ups. But even with the given situation, business leaders must have a clear path for their customers — employing speed, transparency, and expertise should always be relevant.
Ok, we are nearly done. Here is our final “meaty” question. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!