Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

Julia: Well, everybody. Today, I have a special guest, Justine, from our team who also helps manage this podcast. The reason that we’re bringing her on today is because she has some interesting work history that has recently come up in terms of like word of mouth referrals, et cetera. And so she’s gonna share with us a little bit about how sales and marketing interact.

So Justine, I’ll just hand it over to you, introduce yourself and tell us where you are. 

Justine: Great, thanks! My name is Justine and I’m in North Carolina. I’ve been all over. So I’m from New Hampshire and I lived in San Francisco for a while and now I’m in the Triangle area. And before I became a content creator, I was in sales. So I did direct-to-consumer demos of blenders for about four years and then mattresses—bed systems, is what we called them. So it’s like the adjustable bed, it goes up and down. And the mattresses. 

Julia: Was this door to door, in a mall, like in a shop? Tell me about that. 

Justine: That’s a good question. So it was mostly at Costco, my favorite store. Yeah. So you know how when you go to Costco, they have the demonstrations and they’re not always there? So that’s mostly where I did it. I also did the blender sales in Whole Foods and trade shows or fairs, like county fairs. So the coolest one was the Alaska state fair. They sent me to Alaska.

Julia: What? That’s awesome. That is so cool. Did you get to vacation at all or did you have to go and come back? 

Julia: Yeah, it’s funny because, so we went and did the fair. I did this with my husband, so we were kind of a duo and we had met someone at the fair selling, I think vacuums or something. Anyways, we had a few days between, we worked two Costcos in Alaska as well, but then we had a few days in between, but we met with this woman. She was very nice, but her child had been sick and her child gave us a bug. So for two days that we were supposed to be exploring, we were in our room being sick, but yeah, we did get to explore a little bit and we got a great view of Denali. We got to experience the 11:00 PM. It was like daytime. So that was pretty cool. 

Julia: That’s awesome. Alaska’s on my bucket list. All right. So you sold mattresses, you sold blenders. Did you have a preference between which one do you like selling more than the other? 

Justine: I liked, well, I’ll say this. I believed in the blenders. Not to say, I didn’t believe in the beds, but the beds that I sold were $10,000 systems. And so I understood that not everyone had $10,000 to spend on a bed. And while I did believe that this product would help people, I don’t think it was as necessary as I believed in the blenders. I feel like the blenders really helped improve people’s lives.

Julia: Okay, let’s go into that a little bit. Because we were gonna talk a little bit about how sales and marketing interact. And I feel like that is one thing, is that it is easier, in my opinion, it’s easier and more congruent when you can market something that you have confidence in. And I would imagine it’s the same thing with sales. Like it’s easier to sell something that you have confidence in. 

Justine: Definitely. And I would say this, because we had a recent brunch and learn. I think it was a brunch and learn. And in it, one of the attendees was talking about how they do not like selling. And I hear this a lot. People are afraid of selling. They said, “I hate the selling part of my business.” And I hear this in all different industries, realtors, products, services. I think people are afraid to sell because they’re afraid, one, they don’t wanna be like a car salesman, which, the perception is, you know, con man or very sneaky.

And I think when you’re selling something, a lot of people think they’re asking for money. I mean, you are, because you need to sell your product. You need to make a profit or also get something in exchange. But I think we talk a lot about serving our customers. And so I view selling as you’re serving someone. So if you believe in your product or you believe in your service, it’s a lot easier to sell because you believe that you are serving your customer, which is why going back to the blenders, I really believed that these were improving people’s lives. And so I wanted to serve them the best way that I could. The blenders themselves were $400 to $500. So still not cheap.

Julia: Not your everyday blender. 

Justine: Exactly. But I did feel it was attainable for people, especially the people that I was interacting with. And so I believed, you know, this can really help your life and it’s worth it. It’s worth it for you to have in your home. This is why.

Julia: For sure. One thing that we kind of hold true at Stratos is again what you said. We’re serving people. We’re not really selling. If people come to us and ask us for a quote, we prepare it for them. We serve it to them. We give them our best recommendations, but then it’s kind of like, this is an option. You don’t have to pick our option, but it’s a good option and we know it would. And so we kind of have this, not in a bad way, but a take it or leave it mentality, where it’s up to you. We’re not gonna make you buy anything. Cause we want clients who want to be with us and who actually feel served because if you don’t feel for served, that wouldn’t be like a great experience either. 

Justine: Exactly. And I think there’s also an assumption for selling. Well, maybe, I’m not sure. So a little bit of background. When we were selling, I was commission based only. So that means on days that I did not sell anything, I did not make any money. And it was a lot of hours. We are there before Costco opens. We are there after they close. So we’re there all day. It can be really hard when you don’t sell anything. But I was talking to Will about it last night. And we both were saying, you know, on the days that we focused on the numbers, were days that we were so miserable. And those also happened to be days where we probably didn’t do our best, but on the days that we served our customers and really try to help them, even if we only made one or two sales, those were better days than on days where we sold a lot and we’re focused on selling. If that makes sense. 

Julia: Totally, totally. So you also had a recent experience where you were talking with somebody about mattresses. Can you tell us about that? 

Julia: Yeah. So one of our team members was asking about beds and immediately I had my hat, I was like, how do you sleep? Do you sleep on your side, your back, or on your stomach? And this is something I asked everyone who came to my bed booth, because it matters like how you sleep. So basically whenever I was selling the beds, everyone is so different. There’s not gonna be a one size fits all bed for everyone, because it depends on your, and I’m not gonna go like totally into this spiel, but just as a background, it just depends on, you know, how you sleep, how, what your body is shaped, how heavy you are, and also what problems you have. 

And so this is what goes back, when someone comes to me, most of the people who came up to me to my booth, the first thing they said was, “Wow, why would anyone spend $10,000 on a bed?” And so I think for a lot of people, this would be a very discouraging question because then you feel like you have to justify the cost. But for me, I was like, “Well, let’s talk about how you sleep.” So anyway, so we had this conversation and being that I’m not selling a particular brand of mattress, now I just like helping people because I have all this knowledge about sleep and beds and so, yeah, we just had a conversation about it. And I said, you know, here’s one brand. It’s not gonna last you forever because it’s a bed in the box. But compared to these ones, you know, they’re very comparable. So if you wanna save money, get this one. But this is what my personal preferences in a bed is. And if you want something that’s gonna last a long time and you’re willing to spend a little bit extra money, get this bed.

I find that having sales conversations are very much like that. A friend is asking you for a recommendation. You love this particular brand of bed. You love the skincare, even, you know, I know we get a lot of referrals from website or lead generation or, you know, all our clients. And they’re just selling to their friends. And it’s very powerful because at Stratos we create great websites for people. We make the process easy for people and they love that and they want their friends to have that. So I think in the same way, you know, I want my friends to have good sleep. I’m gonna recommend you a bed that’s gonna help you do that. It’s very, very similar. 

Julia: Sure. Well, what I love about that is, in essence, you are helping solve somebody’s problem, which is like the sleep piece. And so instead of talking about the money piece, you’re like taking it, “Hey, let’s actually have a different conversation about your problems around sleep.”

And whether or not they bought, that’s like a whole different conversation, but you didn’t make it about all of the objections you just served them with information. And I think that that’s something that all of our clients, and honestly, every company should also be serving just with information where it’s like, whether or not you purchase us, orpurchase our product, here’s some information so that you can make a better decision. And I think that that’s a really good way of one, serving to creating good will with people, because obviously now you have all of this mattress information and you’re making recommendations to people because you learn that information.

Julia: Yeah. And so there are some key points. I will preface this. When I was getting into sales, I studied a lot of material from this, I guess he is a selling guru. His name is Tom Hopkins. He has this book called How to Master the Art of Selling Everything. And then there’s also another guy named Zig Ziegler.

So I’m just saying that because if I say anything that is directly from their material, it probably is, but I do not, I can’t differentiate where I got it from. But those are the two main guys that I have learned from and have really put into practice in my selling career. So there is a method called leading and pacing.

So what leading and pacing is it’s a method that helps you listen to your customer. So that way you can meet them where they’re at and then personalize your pitch. So then, going into your product, you know, every logical reason why someone should buy your product. So using the blenders as an example, I know that it’s a very reliable product, that it obliterates food to the cell level. And it’s very good, but if someone comes up to me and I just start telling them, these are all the reasons why you should buy, they’re just gonna be like, okay, it’s a really good blender. That’s great. But with leading and pacing, when I was doing the blender demos, I was giving away samples of smoothies, so I could ask them questions, like how does it taste or what are you eating for breakfast now?  Oftentimes it would be, I don’t eat breakfast or. How do your kids like this smoothie? Because they’re giving their kids this smoothie sample, and are your kids eating a lot of vegetables? And the answer might be no, I struggle with giving them vegetables.

So every logical selling point needs to have an emotional attachment. So once someone has told me, “Hey, I struggle with feeding my kids vegetables.” I would then use this formula of logic, emotional value, and then a deeper emotional value. So, “This blender works every time. Look how fine it obliterated this orange. Even the seeds are so smooth. You can’t tell there are seeds. You can’t tell there’s any pith, it’s not chunky. This is a texture that your kids like. And what that means to you is, the emotional justification, your kids are getting their fruits and vegetables and what that really means to you,” And this is how you kind of drive that point, this is something they haven’t told you. They told you that they struggle to get their kids to eat. And then you kind of drive it into a deeper emotional point where, “What that really means is, you know, absolutely certain that your kids are getting the nutrition that they need. And you are doing everything as you can as a parent. You are a great mom.” 

So that was kind of long winded, but if you cannot drive those points with an emotional value, no one is going to care about your product. No one is gonna care about your service. So using websites as an example, maybe those, I don’t know how well, I’m gonna be able to drive this, but like a website is a storefront for your brand. So like we offer trade sites and one of the selling points is, “If your customers cannot find you. You’re not gonna get their business. So a website is a storefront for your brand. What that means to you is that your customers will be able to find you. And what that really means to you is that you don’t have to pound the pavement as hard.

You are more accessible and that way you get more customers without having to try so hard.” Something like that. 

Julia: We kind of make, I talk about this too, even  with some of the StoryBrand stuff that we do, because I will say, hey, any marketing agency can sell social media, but we also market to the fact that we will keep you from being overwhelmed or will give you time back. And so all of a sudden it’s not just, anybody can do social media, but you’re differentiating yourself suddenly because, hey, I’m actually gonna create your social media so that you can do the things that you’re best at, or I can create your social media so that you don’t feel overwhelmed anymore.

Because then you’re just creating this other layer of like you said, of value because you’re tackling something that’s internal. And then even something philosophical. Because all businesses should be able to have a good online presence, or something like that. I think that that’s super important and it definitely speaks to a deeper need that people have and so they’re gonna be more likely to listen to you than to other people. 

Julia: Yeah. And everyone can also have different superpowers. If you are focusing on an audience that is easily overwhelmed with social media, that is what you cater to. Maybe a different company might cater to someone who struggles with just keeping up the sheer volume. Or maybe a third party, social media scheduler, the pain point that we are solving is you don’t have to do it on the fly. You can schedule out all of your posts. 

So I think knowing, and this works very well, obviously I’m not a certified StoryBrand guide, but it works very well with the framework in that you’re illustrating your pain points and illustrating the failure customers—because that’s really what the emotional justification is. It’s the opposite end of failure. So you can make broad generalizations about someone and just say, “Hey, give them all of the, you know, pain points and what you’re solving.” But it’s kind of feeling around in the dark. So if you can really hone in and have some, and I guess this is, this is kind of a key difference between a direct-to-consumer and online marketing is that online, someone may not be able to tell you right away, like this is my pain point, but I think with FAQs, you know, these are questions people have asked you, or that you can kind of refine your online presence by what people have talked to you about in person or, you know, in a client call or a discovery call. But if you can get your customer to tell you what their pain points are, it’s a lot more powerful than to close on that emotional justification, because they’ve already told you, this is my pain point. This is what I’m afraid of. And you say, okay, well, this is how my product or my service can help you.

Julia: No, I think you’re exactly right. And I think that it helps because then if you can modify some of your marketing based on your conversations, you are gonna get closer and closer to being able to create marketing material that really identifies that pain point.

Justine, this is really, really good. Yeah, I could talk about sales forever because I enjoy it. And not everybody enjoys it, but I think it comes back to, it’s really about serving people. And you’re exactly right. When I was in sales, if you focused on the numbers, you always ended up disappointed. You always ended up doing your worst job because you weren’t really, you were becoming a numbers person rather than a people person. And I think that when you focus on the people, focus on how to serve them, that’s really how it’s gonna be, how you’re gonna create better sales and better relationships, and even return customers.

I also wanna point out again, people, as you’re listening to this, think about like what you could be educating your audience on, because even if you educate people and they don’t buy your product, if you’ve educated them enough, they can tell other people about your product. And I think that that’s really important too, just as Justine is still inadvertently selling beds to people. So Justine, any words of wisdom to the people in our audience? 

Justine: Yeah. I would say if you view selling as serving people, selling becomes very easy and what you have to learn to overcome, I think what people’s biggest fear is asking for the sale, because you can talk about your product. You can build up, you can have a conversation, but if you don’t ask for the sale, this might sound crass, but people need to be told what to do. Not like you’re bossing them around or you’re demanding it, but some people just don’t know what the next step is. And that’s why on a website, a call-to-action is so important, right? Or in your email marketing – in any marketing, the call-to-action is so important. Your call-to-action is asking for the sale. It’s leading people where they wanna go. And you need to not be afraid to do that. And I would say that, just do it, even if it feels uncomfortable. You have to practice it, it’s a muscle you have to practice. 

Julia: And I always told myself, and I do not know if the statistic is true. I always would be like, you have to have 50% no’s and 50% yeses. And it’s probably not like an even statistic, but in my brain that would help me accept no’s better because I’m like, there are yeses around the corner,  like if you have a hundred percent people saying no, then you need to figure out a different pain point to sell to.

Justine: Yeah, exactly. And that actually reminds me of this one thing. I know that this is definitely Tom Hopkins and I’m gonna butcher this, but there is this whole, this other technique he calls, they’re called tie downs and what they basically are, are yes questions. So if you can ask questions that will get your customer to say yes, your final yes is the sum of all those little yeses. 

So for example, if someone comes up and says, “Oh, that’s so exciting. These blenders come in four different colors.” You respond with, “Yeah, it is exciting. Isn’t it?” One, they’ve already told you. So, you know, they’re gonna say “Yes.”  But you kind of throw it back at them. And there are a lot of different ways to do these yes questions. Like, wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t feel overwhelmed with your marketing? Yes, it would feel great. Like who’s gonna say no to that? So that’s like one cool technique is to, to think of all of these yes questions.

But even going back to the nos and the 50% nos and yeses, I think that is all about nurturing. That’s why nurturing your audience is so important. So when I was doing the blenders, we would do these demos where we would make a smoothie, an ice cream, and a soup. My mindset was, people need to see, one, they see a variety of the things the blender can do, but once I made the soup, I would go right back into making the smoothie, even if the person has already seen it before. And there probably is some statistic someone told me that I don’t remember, but it is really, someone has to see something over and over and over again before they buy. And in direct sales, when I’m doing a demo, I already have that person there. I can’t really expect them to come back to the store, especially Costco, where everything is in bulk, the next day to come by. So if someone has to see a demo 50 times, I am gonna try my darnest to do 50 recipes, even if it’s the same three over and over again, and then keep asking them, tie down questions, keep asking them questions where I can then personalize the sale and just keep repeating back. But then eventually I will also have to say, “Do you wanna buy this today? Let’s put it in your cart.” 

And there’s different ways to do that. So instead of, you know, you can ask directly, “Hey, you want this today?” Or you can say, “Hey, do you want a red one or a black one?” You know, like kind of assuming they’re sold and it’s kind of awkward for them to say no, but you know, but you’ve spent so much time with them, you know that you’ve brought them value.

Julia: For sure. I mean, even in our sales process, one of the things that we’ll do is, cuz we do several meetings and at the end we say, “Okay, well when do you wanna start?” We don’t say like, “Okay, do you wanna buy this?” Or sometimes if like they’re uncertain and I can tell, I’ll say,
“Well, do you wanna start this week or next month?” Or something like that, that way they can still feel comfortable within that realm of questions and not feel pressured, but it doesn’t feel outright salesy because you’re really just saying, “Hey, you sound interested. Did you wanna start this week?”

Justine: Exactly. And going back to what listeners can do, look up hard closes and soft closes. So both of them are gonna be really great. And then practice those in your everyday conversations. It’s gonna feel uncomfortable, especially if someone says no, but if they say no, then it’s okay. Going back to talking with your friends. If my friend asks me what skincare I like, and I say, “Hey, I really love this brand.” They might not buy it because they just bought a different brand and they need to finish that before they buy it. So I think it’s okay. Know that it’s okay if people say no. I think, get over the sting of rejection. If there are things that you said that you regret saying, then maybe you can say, this is what I would do differently next time. But keep practicing the closes. So what you were saying, “Do you wanna start your project today or next month?” That’s a soft close, but it’s asking for the sale, you know, it’s assuming the question is yes. Or offering, do you think lead generation is better for you or social media or, you know, things like that. Just definitely put them in practice. 

Julia: In the end. I come back to what you said, we have to tell people where we want them to go. And so actually ask a question that lets people decide, do I wanna do this or not? Let them decide for themselves, you’re not pushing them into it, but let them decide. I’ll close with this one story about how marketing and sales are related, because, in the end, they are, in my opinion, they are so intertwined. You can create marketing that will bring people up to the point of sale, but you have to have something either embedded within your marketing, whether it’s like a buy now button or if it’s like a consultation, you have to be able to have good sales.

We did a campaign once for somebody who was a coach. They really needed some new customers, some new people to coach. And we did this campaign over a course of a month and the deal was, I’m not their salesperson. I am their social media manager. And we did a beautiful, beautiful campaign. I could see in the DM’s people lining up and saying, “Hey, I want this, Hey, I want this.”

At the end of the month, the person came back to me and said, “I don’t know why I paid you for that campaign. I didn’t get any sales.” And I was like, “Well, sorry, I’m not giving your money back because look at these DM’s!” The bottom line is that this person, unfortunately did not know how to close. And Justine’s given you guys a bunch of resources. We’ve talked about a few techniques on this podcast, but don’t pay for really good marketing that brings people in if you are not confident in your product enough that you can ask, do you want this or not?m That’s the bottom line. Your marketing can be awesome, you still have to be able to sell. And you don’t wanna do just sales without the marketing and the nurturing, because then you will feel like a slimy salesman. And that’s part of the reason that some industries get a bad rap is because they go straight to the sale without creating that relationship.

Justine: Exactly. 

Julia: Justine, any last words? I’m putting you on the spot.

Justine: Well, this is the thing, because I feel like if I say a last word, I can talk about it for another 10, 20, 30 minutes. I can really talk. I think my last words is, language is very important in sales. And so I highly recommend looking up, and they’re more old school, but if you are struggling with the language portion or the closing portion of sales, look up Tom Hopkins, How to Master the Art of Selling Anything, not a sponsor, and Zig Ziglar. I think he has a book on the psychology of sales and also he has a book on closing. The Secrets of Closing the Sale, and those are two really, really powerful language-honing books. So I highly recommend those and then do not be afraid if someone says no. 

And actually, I will say it one last thing. If someone comes up to you and says this, “Your product is stupid or it costs too much.” They’re the ones who came up to you first, it can be really shocking, but they’re actually telling you, “Tell me more about your product.” And I learned this in the mattress sales because of the $10,000. People would come up, be like, “Why on earth? Wow. $10,000. I would never spend that.” And I have sold so many beds to people who came up and said, “I would never spend $10,000.” And I know I did a good job and served my customers well because I also had, and I’m really tooting my own horn, but lowest returns or the lowest percentage of returns. So you can sell a ton of stuff and this is more with products, but if you have a high return rate, it means you did not serve your customer well. And so that, that would actually be another point of selling, which is a whole nother conversation, but you can sell and feel like you’re doing really well. But if people are returning your product or complaining about your product or leaving a bad review, that is another point where you should reevaluate, “Am I serving my customer well?” 

Julia: Yeah, and what expectations you’re setting. Well, Justine, thank you. I really appreciate this. I feel like I’ve learned a ton. I am gonna add those books to my list, even though my list is so long, I’m never gonna get to any of the books. But I really appreciate you and everything that you do for Stratos. Everybody, if you wanna find Justine, Justine, where can they find you? 

Justine: You can email me justine@stratoscreativemarketing.com or send me a DM through the Marketing in the Wild Podcast Instagram.

Julia: Yep. Justine is on it, so, all right, everybody. Well, have a wonderful wonderful week and learn some skills that make you not a sleazy salesman. Say that five times fast.

Justine: Amen.

Friends, thanks for tuning into this week’s podcast episode. I am so glad that you have, if you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have, I just ask you to subscribe so you know each time we have a new episode coming out. If you loved our podcast and want to give us a rating or a review, I promise we will read each and every one of them. A special shout out to our friend, Carson Childers, who is producing our podcast. We really appreciate him and all the hard work that he’s done for us.

Also thanks to the Stratos team. They have been behind the scenes doing all of the graphic design, brainstorming, et cetera, et cetera. Really, this wouldn’t be possible without them. I’m thankful for each and every one of you guys. Lastly, listener, we’ll be back next week and I hope you will be too.