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43: Navigating the Six Stars of Client Acquisition- with Craig Lowder
Episode 4317th January 2024 • a BROADcast for Manufacturers • Keystone Click
00:00:00 00:27:21

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Meet Craig Lowder

Craig Lowder, author of Smooth Selling ForeverTM and co-author of the soon to be released Trusted Advisor Confidential, is a lead conversion/sales-effectiveness expert with a forty-year track record of helping both business owners and independent trusted advisors achieve their sales growth goals. He is the founder and president of MainSpring Sales Group. Lowder has worked with over sixty companies and independent trusted advisors increase first-year annual sales from 21 to 142 percent.

He speaks extensively on the topics “The Star Guide for Smooth Selling ForeverTM, “Smooth Selling ForeverTM ... Charting your Company’s Course for Predictable and Sustainable Sales Growth” and the “NavSTAR Client AcquisitionTM System” for many groups and associations. Groups include Vistage International, the world’s largest CEO peer-to-peer association, and the Turnaround Management Association (TMA). Craig has also been featured at Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) group events.

Can you share with our listeners what the six stars are of the NAVSTAR client acquisition system that helped generate significant predictable and sustainable new client growth?

Absolutely. Like the ancient mariners, they had to chart their course and they followed the stars. Based on a 40-year track record of trial and error and learning, I came up with this system that I believe everyone either in sales or as a trusted advisor should follow. It starts with targeting the right fit clients or customers that you're seeking. It's foundational. If you don't get that right, you can't get any of the other five stars right.


How do we shorten that sales cycle? Do you have some advice on that? 

Number one- Know your buyer journey. Everything starts with a buyer journey. Put your customer hat on your target audience and say,  "If I were to make a decision for my products or services, what step would I go through?"

Then you need to choreograph the dance, build the sales mapping process from the customer's point of view. Because of the lead conversion process, we want to be going down the road in the same direction, at the same speed that our prospective client is going. maybe a little bit ahead of them in being able to offer them A and B chocolate or vanilla options in order to guide them in terms of making an informed purchasing decision for themselves. Because in many cases they haven't purchased from someone like us maybe forever. Maybe it's been 3 to 5 years and they don't know how to purchase. So we have to guide them through the process. The third thing is because of the pandemic and there was a great article that was put out by McKinsey right and was November of 2020 after an associate of mine, and Lori knows him, put me in Forbes talking about what's going on in the virtual world. And as I say today, we're in a virtual selling world. And digital self-serve is the driver. And in the McKinsey report, which was shocking, I think, to a lot of people, do you think the sellers are driving virtual selling? No, the buyers are buying virtual selling.


And so much more… 


Connect with Craig!

LinkedIn

Smooth Selling Forever

craig@smoothsellingforever.com 

(630)649-4943

Smooth Selling Forever: Charting Your Company's Course for Predictable and Sustainable Sales Growth

Trusted Advisor Confidential: The Insider's Guide To Landing Right-Fit Clients

Six Keys To Improve Your Virtual Selling During The Pandemic And Beyond


Connect with the broads!

Connect with Erin on LinkedIn for web-based solutions to your complex business problems!

Connect with Lori on LinkedIn and visit www.keystoneclick.com for your strategic digital marketing needs!  

Connect with Kris on LinkedIn and visit www.genalpha.com for OEM and aftermarket digital solutions!

Transcripts

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[00:01:27] Kris Harrington: Ooh. I have a personal value that is to show up. I know it's not usually something that comes up on a value list when you're picking which values you really resonate with, but through my history and training, I always have this attitude of, I got to show up, which means you know, and I, I extended a little further, show up, do the work, leave people better than you found them.

And I think when I carry that with me for me, it just, Reminds me that I, you know, we might jump into something that's going to require either a difficult conversation or we're going to try to solve a challenge, but just show up, be present and dive in. And I, I just have kind of loved that little mantra for myself.

And so that's mine. What's yours?

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So yeah, I can see how those two are very similar actually, but just, you know, do what I can to help other people rise.

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[00:02:50] Lori Highby: I appreciate that. All right. Well, let me introduce today's guest. Craig Lowder is the author of Smooth Selling Forever and co author of the soon to be released, and it is actually probably released by the time this episode is live, Trusted Advisor Confidential.

Is a lead conversion sales effectiveness expert with a 40 year track record of helping both business owners and independent trusted advisors achieve their sales growth goals. He is the founder and president of MainSpring Sales Group. Lowder has worked with over 60 companies and independent trusted advisors, increased first year annual sales from 21 to 142%. That is quite impressive. He speaks extensively on the topics, The Star Guide for Smooth Selling Forever, Smooth Selling Forever, Charting Your Company's Course for Predictable and Sustainable Sales Growth, and the Navstar Client Acquisition System. For many groups and associations, I've actually heard him speak on one of those topics.

I don't remember exactly which one it was. I think it was a Navstar one. I could be wrong. Groups that he's spoken to include Vistage which is the world's largest CEO, peer to peer association, the turnaround management association, and Craig has also been featured at entrepreneurial operating system group events.

That's fascinating. I did not know that Craig, welcome to the show.

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[00:04:21] Lori Highby: Well, excited to have you here. I'm just going to pick your brain about your, your being featured at an eOS event because we, I would say we self facilitate EOS right now. I had a facilitator at one point, but yeah.

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[00:04:40] Craig Lowder: So I've worked since about 2015 for over 30 EOS run companies. And I've also worked with their counterparts, the pinnacle group, and where they're working horizontally across the entire organization, I'm working down that vertical sliver of sales, marketing and customer satisfaction, customer retention. So we collaborate quite nicely together. I'm a big recommender of the EOS system. To be successful, you have to have a system. Systems should run your business and you need to hire people that are able to execute your system effectively.

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[00:05:30] Craig Lowder: Yes, it is.

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[00:05:42] Craig Lowder: Absolutely. You know, like the ancient mariners, they had to chart their course and they followed the stars and based on a 40 year track record of trial and error and learning, I came up with this system that I believe that everyone either in sales or as a trusted advisor should follow. It starts with targeting, targeting the right fit clients or customers that you're seeking.

It's foundational. If you don't get that right, you can't get any of the other five stars right. Secondly, is messaging. And that's your area, Lori sure is making sure that they have a message that resonates with their target audience so that they're able to sell to them, communicate with them on a value to value basis.

Third is process. You need to have a mapping process to convert your leads. And it all starts with, you have to understand your customers by our journey. And you have to develop a map for lead conversion. And there's typically three of them. One is new client acquisition. Two is upsell cross sell, so you have an existing client. There's an opportunity or there's a need to sell them more or sell them a different solution. And third is reorder. You've done business with a client and it's time for them to re up. And certainly fourth is sales success standards, which many of us call KPIs.

But it's a more positive connotation when you're talking about sales success standards. And sales success standards should be focused not only on the results that you're trying to achieve, but the activities to get you there. Because you see results are lagging indicators of success. We need to focus on leading indicators to make sure that we create enough of the right activities and do them well.

And if you if you do that, Then you're going to win the race. You're going to win the opportunity for a new client. Fifth, and I should star is all about lead generation. I could probably defer this to you, Lori, because that's what you do. And if you talk to most trusted advisors, their biggest challenge is I don't have enough leads.

The leads that I'm getting are not good. What do I need to do differently? Well you know, we have to that's, you know, the fifth step in the ladder. We've got a target, we've got a message, we have to have a process, so that when we do have a lead come in the door, it's something that we know how to handle.

Trusted advisors, what I've typically seen, and even in small, mid sized businesses, statistics show that 80 percent of our business comes from referrals. But that in many cases, that's handled accidentally. That's need to be done intentionally and deliberately. And in the new book that's coming out, I created a trademark tool called the Connector Compass.

And it's very, very simple. It's really all about identifying those categories of connectors that are good referral sources for you that you can create a mutually beneficial, a reciprocal relationship with them. So once you identify the categories, pick one, two, definitely no more than three people that you want to work with in each category, because it needs to be reciprocal.

And if one of your connectors provides you an opportunity and you handle it well, they may hand you another one and another one. And at some point in time, there's going to see us. Remember, you remember Clara Peller? You're too young to remember, aren't you, Lori? And you too, Kris. Where's the beef?

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[00:09:32] Craig Lowder: They're going to say, well, And they may not say it, and that's the insidious and scary part about it. They may be thinking, I thought you were going to reciprocate. I thought we were partners. I thought we were going to work together. And all it takes is one call from somebody else. One call, that's all. We know that here in Milwaukee.

And they're off and away. Speaking in small scale seminars or workshops is highly effective. As you, as you mentioned, my bio, along with referrals is speaking in front of target rich audiences is incredibly important. As you know, Lori, writing a book is an excellent strategy in that it is, in essence, becomes your business card. And most people that do what we all do out there Don't have books. And I'm going to let you go on about lead generation. There are a number of other strategies, but those are my top three strategies. Those are public speaking and books.

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[00:10:29] Craig Lowder: And the sixth star is having a healthy funnel. How many opportunities do I have in that funnel? What are they valued at? Because we need to have enough, if you will, in the hopper in order to achieve our objectives. And most cases, there's no correlation. There's no planning. There's no thought it's reactionary. Well, looks like I've got enough. Well, looks like I'm short.

I'm going to have to get some more leads, but there's no mathematical discussion about if I want to earn this amount of income, I need to create this amount of activity, which will result in this many customers with this dollar value of the relationship so that I can make my numbers. So those are the six.

Targeting, messaging, sales process, mapping, or client acquisition mapping. Oops, I said it again. Trusted advisors, particularly those who have letters after their name. They've seen Tommy, they've seen Tin Man, they've seen Glen Gary, Glen Ross, and they go, I'm a JD, I'm a CFP, I'm a CPA, I'm not going to lower myself to being a salesperson.

So you never say sales to a trusted advisor, which I just made the mistake of saying. You may get away with business development, which is the same thing as sales. You won't get any rejection or any pushback if you say client acquisition, because just about everyone is seeking to increase their portfolio of right fit clients.

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Let, let's dive into the targeting and it this kind of reminds me, Lori, of one of our good friends and somebody that's been on the show in the past, you know, niche down until it hurts Mr. Anderson, right. But you know, do you have a proven approach that you can tell us about that helps save time when you're trying to target that right audience?

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It's hard to do that if you start doing it in a vacuum, but you start referencing your best of the best customers, what characteristics do they exhibit? Geographic, demographic, psychographic. And your worst customers, now, all of a sudden, the crystal ball starts to become a lot clearer on what good looks like and what bad looks like.

Because we want to focus our time on the good ones, qualify hard on the front end. And if we're not a fit, be very honest and say, I'm probably not the right fit for you. You save them time, you gain credibility and respect because you walked away. And if you can refer someone else to them who may be a better fit, that's even better because they may refer you to somebody else who's a better fit.

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[00:14:18] Craig Lowder: As you, as you know, and Lori, you know, that's the low hanging fruit. If we've done a great job for somebody, they may be looking for us to offer something else that we can create value with them.

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[00:14:32] Kris Harrington: Yeah. Well, and, and I have a question for you Craig, because certainly this is true in our industry, you know, the sales cycle for closing business today, especially after COVID, you know, everybody's working remote there, or not everybody, but more people than ever are working remote and there are fewer in person meetings taking place.

How do we shorten that sales cycle? Do you have some advice on that?

[:

Then you need to choreograph the dance, build the sales mapping process from the customer's point of view, because the lead conversion process, we want to be going down the road in the same direction, at the same speed that our prospective client is going maybe a little bit ahead of them in being able to offering them a and B chocolate or vanilla options in order to guide them in terms of making an informed purchasing decision for themselves. Because in many cases they haven't purchased with from someone like us for maybe forever. Maybe it's been 3 to 5 years and they don't know how to purchase. So we have to guide them through the process. The 3rd thing because of the pandemic and there was a great article that was put out by McKinsey right and was November of 2020 after an associate of mine, and Lori knows him, put me in Forbes talking about what's going on in in the virtual world. And as I say today, we're in a virtual selling world. And digital self serve are the drivers. And in the McKinsey report, which was shocking, I think, to a lot of people, do you think the sellers are driving virtual selling? No, the buyers are buying virtual selling.

Why? Shorter buying processes. They could get more people involved in the decision process. Shorter meetings, more impactful meetings because of the convenience that virtual offers us, just like we're doing today. So I always say the best in breed trusted advisors in our companies. are taking what was original in person meetings and converting them into virtual meetings and taking telephone conversations and converting them into virtual meetings.

Because if we're on camera, As we know, communication is mostly body language, facial expressions, and being able to read that and saying, Hey, Kris, I, you're not in your head, you understand, but I can see something in your face or your eyes. It's just not resonating with you. Help me understand what you're thinking, how you're feeling right now.

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[00:17:30] Lori Highby: Wonderful. It's definitely changed. The world has changed in a lot of ways, but it's kind of a good transition right now to go to something that I just learned that because mine kind of ties to that a little bit.

But first, I'm going to ask Kris for you to finish this sentence. What is something that you just learned?

[:

And that is, I think we talked about this at one time that the population, the global population of the world has exceeded 8 billion and that happened last November. So I think I actually remember us speaking about that. But what's interesting is that 69 percent of the global population has a mobile phone subscription.

69 percent or more than 5. 5 billion people have a mobile phone subscription. Also more than 5 billion or 64 percent of the population are using the internet, right? And then another 4. 8 billion, or 60 percent are using social media. So when we think about the proliferation of these tools in our life, and we think about where we have to be today to meet the needs of our customers and users, partners, you know, where, where our employees have a more natural affiliation, we need, these are big, big, big numbers, and they're only growing.

So I, I just think that's so important to share as we just think about everything that we create. You know.

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[00:19:33] Kris Harrington: Right, right. What did you just learn, Lori?

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And a ton of other deodorant type brands. Well they, because there's this kind of, Emphasis on working, returning back to the office from a lot of bigger companies. This is funny. They had a surge in deodorant sales in the last quarter.

Like up to 15%. So like people weren't wearing deodorant at all, but like, I don't know. I If I'm just by myself, I guess I'm sometimes I don't, I don't care, but just thinking about it. I just thought that was funny. So people weren't buying deodorant when they were working from home.

[:

Oh, for sure. That's, that's a really interesting one for sure.

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[00:20:35] Craig Lowder: It was an observation that I felt it, but then I started thinking about it is if you remember back several years ago and you're talking to people and you ask him, well, what's your communication love language?

Would you like me to call you or email you? And what I discovered early on, if you ask people, would it be okay if I text you? They would say, Oh, yeah, yeah, I get too many voice messages. I get too many emails. I never checked those. So it was at that time was asked for permission and what I found now and it's observation. I didn't realize it. Everybody is using text now. It's automatic because of those reasons. I don't pick up my phone if I don't know the number and I don't recognize the name and I get, and I don't know what you've both seen, and I'd love to hear from you, email marketing. Social. Oh, it's become ungodly. I get three to 400 messages a day.

I'm a learner and I like to subscribe and now it's to the point where I got my finger on the delete button right now and you better have a good subject line.

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And so I stopped seeing all this stuff. But, you know, that's a really interesting observation, Craig, because I will say that when a prospective client or somebody I'm, I'm just starting to network with or talk to or build a relationship and they show up in my DM. So they, they actually text message me. I actually feel like that's kind of special.

I don't know when you said that I had the memory that I'm like, Oh, they, you know, they texted me, you know, there is something that's almost affirming about that. So very interesting observation. I really didn't think about it until you said it, how I feel, how it makes me feel when I receive one. So yeah.

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[00:22:31] Kris Harrington: What's your permission? Sure. Yeah, I like that.

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Yeah, that's good. And tons of marketing data out there on that. I'm not going to dive into that right now, but there's definitely like live chat and texting tend to be the most instant level of gratification from getting information. So people prefer that method of communication, typically over email or filling out contact forms or calling.

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[00:23:08] Lori Highby: Sure.

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[00:23:30] Lori Highby: I don't mind it. Honestly, I think it's nice to I don't do that often, but I'd say it's more like my sister and my husband are probably the ones that send those messages to me the most. But I appreciate it. Like, hey, heads up. I'm I can't answer your call right now. And here's why. So yeah.

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[00:24:07] Lori Highby: I agree with that.

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[00:24:16] Lori Highby: Yeah, that doesn't bother me. I think if it's it's it hasn't gotten to a point of being burdensome, at least in my experience.

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[00:24:26] Kris Harrington: And it could be that generational. Yeah, you know, sometimes that's just living out the generational differences, right? Absolutely. I like hearing your, your feeling about it and thoughts about it because then, you know, as we're approaching different people, maybe we do it differently with some that we would do with others. And that's okay too.

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[00:24:55] Craig Lowder: Well, thank you for the opportunity, Lori. The book, as you mentioned up front, is called Trusted Advisor Confidential.

It's filled with ideas and real life stories. I call them commuter books because the type of thing, if you lived in Chicago, train right down to the city and train right back, you could read it. So it's a little over 100 pages, but it's meant to be light reading. It's going to be complemented with a 160 page Workbook slash toolkit.

It's cut and paste some of the concepts and stories from the book, but it's filled with 31 do it yourself tools and they're designed to be user fillable forms and downloadable. And I've created it that if someone were to Invest in the book and the workbook. I'm hoping without instruction that they're going to be able to do it on their own, just like grading your customers and creating an ideal customer profile, buying personas, connector compass, sales process, mapping, developing a scorecard, et cetera, et cetera.

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Smooth selling forever. com.

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[00:26:36] Kris Harrington: Yes. Thank you, Craig.

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[00:26:41] Lori Highby: Sounds amazing. All right. This is three broads bringing you story strategies and exploring manufacturing topics that challenge the status quo while laying the foundation for future success.

Three broads wrapping up. Reach out. We'd love to hear from you.

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