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: All right, everybody! I’m excited to introduce you to Brooke. She has become a good friend of mine, honestly, just since the New Year’s. I’m so thankful for her. We’ve had some really great conversations about life, family, and business. Brooke, before we get into our topic of the day, tell us who you are, what you do, and how you got into this world.
Brooke: My name is Brooke Greening. I am co-owner of Building Momentum Resources, and I am also a certified StoryBrand guide. I do help companies a lot with regards to their messaging, their strategy. My niche is actually getting the sales conversations to connect with what’s happening in the marketing world. I think you need both. You need good marketing, but you also need to know how to be able to talk to people if you wanna continue to let your business grow.
Julia: I am in full agreement. I think there’s so many places where sales and marketing are siloed and not talking to each other. And then suddenly, the sales team is frustrated, or the marketing team is like, what’s happening? Why are people leaving us bad reviews? It’s interesting that we’ve even separated them. We’re just gonna be talking about sales today, everybody, and how that fits with marketing. But why do you think that they’re so often separated?
Brooke: I do think there’s a little bit of a difference between them. It was great when I started joining StoryBrand, because it really helped me to clarify that a little bit. And so with marketing, you’re reaching your intended audience, and you’re trying to have that be as clear as possible, and you’re trying to reach a big group of people for somebody to raise their hand and to say, “Hey, I want help. I need help with whatever it is that you’re offering.” The sales portion is when you’re really starting to have that conversation face-to-face, to be able to have what I would call those big ticket items. It’s not very common for people to decide to buy a large ticket item without ever having a conversation with someone. And that’s where I think the distinction comes. But if you don’t have great marketing, you’re not going to have the people that you need to talk to to be able to continue to grow your business. And if you don’t have the ability to talk to people, you can have incredible leads that are all the ones you’re looking for, and it just doesn’t happen. You don’t grow in your business.
Julia: For sure. Brooke, we’ve talked, and I don’t even remember which stories I’ve shared with you, but we had one person who we did an incredible campaign with. It was a social media campaign. We could see the leads coming in on the direct messages, and so we were so excited. At the end of the campaign, she wanted her money back because she did not make any money off of it, which was unfortunate. And so I felt so bad, but I was like, “But we brought you the leads.” And so, the problem was in those sales conversations. What do you find are some of the biggest struggles that people have in terms of those sales conversations?
Brooke: I think there’s some misconceptions sometimes about sales. I would say a couple of those would be one, people feel like sometimes a sales conversation, or if you’re a salesperson, you’re trying to convince someone to do something that they don’t want to do, that they don’t want to buy. And I’ve never found that ever effective in any type of relationship that I’ve ever been in. It really doesn’t work for sales, but I think people think that. They think, “Well, no, I have to convince this person or I have to persuade them, or I have to make them understand what I can do to help them.” And that’s just not a normal conversation that we have, and so it gets incredibly intimidating and uncomfortable on both sides; the person who’s talking and the person who’s understanding what you’re doing. So I think that’s a huge misconception and that causes a lot of problems.
And then I think the other misconception is people feel like in sales conversations, one or the other person is going to lose, like both people can’t win. So just as an example, and I’ve done sales for over 16 years, and so I’ve had a multiple array of people that I’ve worked with. One was a car dealership, that was a learning experience16 years ago. It’s just this concept of okay, I’m gonna go buy a car, and you have the dealer who wants to make money. They need to make money, they have to make a living. And so you have them trying to get as much as they can out of the customer, and then you have the customer who feels, “Well, I don’t wanna give you as much money as you want. I wanna try to keep some.” And so then you have this pull of it’s a situation where one person is going to lose. That can be a misconception in regards to sales, because I believe if you are truly valuing your customer and you are skilled in being able to have a conversation to truly understand where your customer’s concerns and frustrations are, then both of you win at that point.
Julia: Tell us more about that. What does that look like, making sure that both people win?
Brooke: From the very beginning, from my conversations, I let them know that that’s the goal of the conversation. Like, “I appreciate meeting with you today, I just wanted you to know the whole reason we’re having this conversation is to see if this could be a good fit for you, and if not, what other resources I could provide for you?” So that they feel like, oh, you’re not gonna make me do something I don’t wanna do, and you actually care about what my concerns are, and I’m taking all the pressure off of them and myself, because I’m not there to convince you. I don’t think a good sales conversation is necessarily, I convinced you to do something. My idea of a good sales conversation is, I hear your problem and I was able to address how we could help or how someone else could.
Julia: Ironically, there have been times where in a sales conversation, afterwards, I will say, “I don’t actually think we’re a good fit, because we can’t serve you the way that you need, but here’s some friends who do, or here are some other ideas.” I’ve had people who after that conversation, they end up referring other clients to me, because it’s created this camaraderie of business relationships where it’s not just transactional. I think that that’s a really cool example of how this reframe can actually help grow your business, but also enrich your life in a way.
Brooke: Oh, absolutely! And just like what you were saying, and I’ve had that time and time again where they’ll say, “Okay, maybe this isn’t the greatest fit”, or they want something specifically that I can’t do. And I know for all my sales friends out there, they’re like, “Oh, you never say no. You have to figure out what you’re gonna do. If they want red, you just have to convince them to take blue. That’s just the way it is.” I would say, by all means, we try to be as creative as we can in a way that truly meets the needs of the customers, but we have all had customers where at the end of the day, we were like, “Oh, this should not have happened.” And whether I got the sale or not, this is going to take much more time, much more heartache, and we’re gonna both end up being frustrated because I can’t give them what they want, and I didn’t necessarily know that in the beginning. And so, like you said, I’ve had customers that have come back and they’ve said, “Brooke, we’ve come back to you because we went to the competitor, and all I could think of is they’re not being honest with me, they’re not telling me what’s going on, and I know I can come to you. And here’s my friend, they need help too.” I’ve never lost losing a sale. Does that make sense?
Brooke: It doesn’t happen that way when you frame it in regards to, I’m here to help you and to be able to see what we can do to help move your business forward, because there will be a time where something else will connect, and then we will probably work at that point, or they will refer other people that I can truly help.
Julia: For sure! I think that even by showing up and serving, then you’re also giving people that experience. So even if they’re not your good customer, they’re like, “I had a good experience.” Because I think that that’s something that if we could walk away, and people have had a good experience with us, that’s gonna speak more to anything.
Brooke: I think I agree 100%!
Julia: That’s even something that you could leave a review about. Be like, “Didn’t buy their service, but I would if I could.”
Brooke: I’ve had people actually say that, and I was like, “Well, thank you!”
Julia: That’s awesome! Huge compliment. When it comes to sales and marketing, they’re clearly related to each other. You explained it in the beginning; marketing is bringing those people, sales is talking to them, creating that relationship. They’re just different steps in a relationship in my opinion. If a business owner is having a problem, how do you help diagnose whether it’s actually a sales problem or a marketing problem?
Brooke: I think that is a great question, and I’m sure there’s probably a lot of people who are probably thinking that sometimes. Like, well, do I really need help with my sales conversation, or is it more marketing, or where do we go? I would say probably the easiest test is, if you are getting leads that are qualified and that you believe I can help them and that they’re in the bracket of being able to afford the help that you’re providing, and you’re not getting any of those, they’re all going to your competitor or whatever the case is. Then I would say we have a sales conversation problem because somewhere, it’s getting confused in regards to what you’re able to do to help and to be able to position your product so that it’s valuable to them, and that they would want to buy from you. Because what’s happening is your marketing is doing a great job because they’re bringing you the qualified leads, the people that you know you can help, your avatar, however you wanna be able to e explain it, but nothing is actually happening from it. That would be when you’re saying, okay, that is where the disconnect is happening.
But if you’re on the flip side and you’re like, “No, the conversations I’m having, I’m beginning to have contracts and sales and that’s working, but I’m just not really getting the leads that I was hoping to be able to get”, that’s when you’re looking at the marketing side because we wanna see, well, what can we do to be able to help get those people that you know that you can help that are in that right bracket in regards with their finances and the needs that they have to just even know that you can help them and know that you exist? That would be in regards to the marketing. So if they’re getting a lot of leads and they’re good leads, but it’s not really going anywhere, I would say sales conversations. If they’re not getting the leads that they want, then I would say it’s marketing. A lot of times, I would say sometimes it’s gonna be both. Because if you’re not sure how to talk about it, I don’t know how well you did in sharing it with the world.
Julia: Right. Or like, is your marketing promising one thing, and then your sales people are like, “Wait a minute, we don’t actually do that.” Or vice versa.
Brooke: Correct! A lot of times, I think marketing will say, “Well, it’s just the salespeople, they’ll just say whatever they need to say in order to get a sale.” I think that can happen. I don’t think that’s valuing the customer or setting either one up for success, but then I think on the other side, that can happen too, where the sales team is like, “Well, what in the world happened? We didn’t even know this campaign was going on. What are we doing?”
Julia: It happens!
Brooke: It happens all the time. I did corporate sales for about seven and a half years in senior industry, and it would sometimes be a little bit like, “’m sorry, what are we telling them? What are we supposed to do?” “Oh, okay.” And then you would try to explain it, and then you would have the operation side as well, being lIke, “Wait a minute, why is this happening?” And you’re like, “Well, we told the customer this, because this is what you told us to do.” So there’s a lot of different pieces that come together.
Julia: Right! And there’s so many people out there who, like Brooke is talking about, you might have three different departments, like operations, marketing and sales that have to have some communication because that’s the other whole problem. We haven’t even talked about operations, but if you can’t actually fulfill what you promised, then your poor marketing people are gonna have a situation to deal with. And so, the three have to be in communication, but then we have those smaller businesses where it’s all in one, you are the marketing operations and the sales. Which can be complicated in itself because we all do have different skill sets. Sometimes, I have people who come to me and they say, “Well, I’m not a salesperson.” And I’m like, “Well, I do sales, but I wouldn’t consider myself a salesperson.” I think that that goes back to this misconception of, are we there to win at all costs in this traditional view of what sales is? Or are we really there to serve the people?
What are some tips that if you have a single person who’s trying to fulfill all three of those roles, how would you coach them? Or what are some tips that you might give them if they do come to you and say, “Hey, I’m not confident in my sales?”
Brooke: First of all, I think it’s great just to even be able to admit that, because I think a lot of times, there can be a lot of ego involved in sales. And so, even if someone’s just realizing this just isn’t really feeling right, I don’t feel like I’m as confident in this area, because that will reflect in your business and all of that. So two tips I would think of just right off hand is if you are doing most of the talking, we have a problem. You need to be listening 80% of the time, and only 20% of the time thinking or focusing on either asking them questions or what you can do to be able to help them. And so if you truly focus on them, and your questions are focused on them, and specifically their concerns and the frustrations they’re having, and just as a side note, you don’t just launch into that first problem, but you really listen and ask more questions to understand the underlying issues that are going on, because those are the reason people make decisions, not these surface problems that happen. If you understand that, then you can truly be able to help explain how your products can meet the needs of the problems they just shared with you.
You don’t have to guess, you don’t have to try to figure out what’s important to them. You’ve just spent a good amount of time listening to them and understanding where their problems are. And so that would be my first one. If you’re talking more than you’re listening, then you need to start readjusting that because it needs to be about them. If we say it’s about them, then they should be the ones talking. That would be my first one.
Julia: There’s this book out there, and I think it floats around in a lot of sales circles too, but How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s so old. I had a friend who read it once, and she went to a dinner party. She had just read it, and so she’s like, “I’m just gonna listen and ask questions.” And so for the whole dinner party, she actually did not share anything about herself. Nobody asked questions. Weird, but it is what it is. At the end of the night, as she was saying goodbye to the hostess, the hostess was like, “Everybody loved having you here. They thought you were the most interesting person in the room.” My friend was telling me this story. She’s like, “Literally, nobody knew anything about me.” But by showing up and asking those questions, in a way, we help people feel seen and heard. And so even if we aren’t a good fit for them, because we just gave them space to share, even maybe perhaps some intimate or emotional pieces of their story, we have given them a great experience. So that’s one thing that I love about that approach.
Brooke: I agree with you 100%! And it goes to show that we think people are interested in what we do or what we say, but the reality is they were like, she’s great because she didn’t say anything about herself. She was focused on everybody else. And they think, “Oh, I really know her well.” Well no, you don’t know her at all. But she shared interest in you, and that’s such a telling thing.
I was just gonna share, when you were talking about the emotional conversations, the thing that really started us to get into StoryBrand and step out and start our own business is I worked in a senior industry, and I did it for seven and a half years on the corporate side, and I loved it. I absolutely loved it. My whole job was having sales conversations with families about the struggles that they were going through and starting to think about moving their loved one into assisted living. They were highly emotional conversations. There was a huge investment in it because they were spending between $6,000 to $8,000 a month. And besides long-term insurance and not to go down all of that rabbit hole, that’s the only thing that would really help cover it. So people were investing their savings, selling their homes, all these different things to pay for it, and you had to learn how to be able to really focus on the customer and be able to understand how you could help them. And even if they don’t choose you at the end of the day, what you’ve done to be able to help them just to be able to realize, okay, this was important, this conversation was important to have, and now I’m ready to take the next step of whatever that is.
I think it’s the same whether you’re selling a car, or education, or helping in healthcare, I think it’s always the same. If you focus on them, and they’re talking, and you really understand where their concerns are, and what’s motivating them emotionally and all of that, that’s when you can really start to make a difference.
Julia: Totally. And on the marketing side, for those of you who are StoryBrand aware, when we talk about problems, we have the external problem and the internal problem. I think that that is just so pertinent to this, because if we can talk about that internal problem, then that’s that emotional piece. I use the example often, we are a social media company. We sell social media, everybody else does too. And that’s the problem that we’re solving, is you don’t have to create social media posts every month. But when I can say so that you feel confident in your presence online, or so that you can focus on the things that you truly love, I’m taking it one step further than any other company who says, “Hey, we do social media posts too?” Or for your senior living, there’s a lot of senior living places that can provide housing, food, and care, but if you can position it so that you don’t have to worry about your loved ones, or so that you know that your people are safe, that’s gonna differentiate you. And so that’s, I think, even where that marketing and the sales speak to each other, is we have to be on the same page about the actual problem that our product or service solves, but then are we on the same page as to what people are feeling?
Brooke: And that’s true!
Julia: Sometimes, I tell our marketing people, go ask the salespeople what words are people saying in those sales conversations. Let’s use those words in that marketing.
Brooke: Exactly. Or on the flip side, if the marketing team did such a great job of really understanding that internal problem and what we call the philosophical problem, all of that, and then they get to talk to someone and then they don’t talk about it at all, and they’re just talking about how great they are, and how they’re gonna solve everything, you would be like, “Well, wait a minute, I thought you cared over here, but now you’re just sending me stuff and not really listening to what I need.”
The other thing I was thinking of when we were talking about sales and misconceptions and things like that, a tip would be not to avoid the objections. Don’t hide from them, don’t run from them, because that’s another way you’re able to understand where they’re truly coming from. The reality is everyone has objections. So they’ll either share it with you or they’re just not gonna share it, and then they’re just gonna end up going somewhere else.
Julia: Would you ever bring them up before the customer does?
Brooke: Yeah, I ask for them.
Julia: What’s the question that you used to ask them?
Brooke: Sure! I wanna clarify because I actually was talking and did a webinar specifically on overcoming your fear of objections. And I explained to them, I said, “There is a difference between creating an objection, and asking for one.” We do not say, “Oh, I know this can be really expensive, or this is a really big investment, what are your concerns?” No, no, no, no, we’re not creating the objection in their mind if they don’t have it. But what I ask is, I say, “What concerns or hesitations do you have before we move forward?”
Julia: That is a good point! Now, I will never do that again, but I feel like there have been moments where I will assume an objection rather than letting them bring it to me. And for me, I feel like one of the biggest objections that people have is price for our business. It is often an objection, but then I’m always surprised by the people who I thought it would be an objection and isn’t. Those are the people who end up being really great return customers, because it wasn’t an objection, and I didn’t plant it as a seed.
Brooke: Right. Exactly! We’re not trying to create them! But also, it just goes back to, are we truly trying to value our customer? Are we truly trying to figure out their concerns? And do we want to put them in an environment where they feel confident that they can share something? Because a lot of times in these sales conversations, it goes back to, well, they may not wanna say something because they don’t know how it will come across. Like, is it going to become offensive? For good natured people on both sides, they don’t like that. They don’t want conflict. And so by asking for it, you’re just opening it up.
There’s so many times where you can just barrel through and be like, “Okay. Great. You agree, we’re going, we’re signing contracts.” And then three months down the line or wherever you’re at, you’re like, “I didn’t know that this was a concern that they had because we didn’t talk about it.
Julia: And again, bringing in those three teams; marketing, sales and operations, if you know somebody has a particular objection or concern, and if they sign a contract, you can bring it to your operations team and just be like, “Hey, just so you know, we’re a little bit sensitive about this. So let’s make sure that we don’t screw up.” Or whatever that might be. I think that that can be a way to truly serve that client on all sides.
Brooke: I think from the operations standpoint, the marketing standpoint, I think they can very much appreciate that because the most annoying thing is if something falls apart and the sales team is like, well, I could’ve told you that. I already knew that that was a problem, or a concern instead of being able to communicate and say, “They’re still very excited to work with us. These are the areas where they’re hesitant and we wanna continue to build trust in those areas specifically.”
Julia: What about when somebody brings up an objection you didn’t have an answer for? I only wonder, because I feel like there are times where people might bring an objection that surprises me, and I’m like, “Oh, I don’t know how to answer that.” Have you ever had that?
Brooke: Not usually, but I’ve had people ask me questions all the time where I’m like, “Well, that’s a great question.” But again, if you continue to have that environment where it’s a conversation and you’re there to help and you’re there to support, I just always ask a lot of clarifying questions. So if I don’t understand exactly what’s happening, I’m just gonna ask more questions to be able to understand. Because if they’re asking me something that I don’t know, I’m happy to tell them that. They’ll be like, “I think this is what you’re asking, but can you help me understand what you mean by that, or what caused you to ask that question?” And that will usually tie in to a story or a situation that they had before, which is causing that objection to come up. So then, I understand how to be able to answer that, and to be able to say, “Okay, that makes sense, and this is what we’ve done in the past to be able to help with that. Does that feel comfortable for you? Is that what you’re talking about?” And we go from there.
Julia: I think that’s perfect! Again, it is like inviting them to present the whole situation. I feel like even by hearing that story, and saying things like, “Oh, that sounds like an awful experience”, we would never do something like that. Even if there’s not an answer to the original question, just the affirmation and the piece that you can give people, I think is really powerful. What might be some other tips? Do you have any other ones?
Brooke: Well, we said this briefly, but when I’m having conversations, and I’m teaching conversations, because I have a framework that I use in my coaching to help people, I think another good tip is, make sure that you set up the expectation of this conversation in the beginning. Because a lot of things can start to go awry or people can start to have a sales conversation, and then maybe that customer is – aggressive is not the right term, but they may be like, “Okay, I wanna know this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this”, and it’s like a fire hose. And so, instead of you actually being able to help understand the concerns and frustrations of the customer, you’re just answering question after question after question. That is not a comfortable situation, then you feel like it’s an interrogation instead of a conversation. And so if you set the expectations in the beginning, then it helps the whole conversation to go well.
So what I will say is, “I’m really excited to be able to meet with you today, my whole goal is to be able to understand some of the frustrations and concerns you have in regards to your marketing or your sales. Is it okay if I ask you a few questions?” And then that kind of leads into it. I also let them know, “I’m just here to be able to see if I can be a good resource for you, or if there are other resources I can provide.”
Julia: I love that!
Brooke: It sets it up so that then they’re also not surprised that you’re asking questions. Because if you just start with questions, they can be like, “Well, this is weird. Why are we doing this? And are you gonna get to the cost or are you not?” So I let them know, “We’re gonna talk about cost, we’re gonna talk about the concerns that you have today, just gonna see if this is a good fit or not.” So then they’re not wondering during the whole conversation, “Okay, is she gonna tell me the price or do I have to have another conversation to figure out how much this is going to cost?”
Julia: For sure! I do something similar. Yours sounds way smoother. But I will just say, “Hey, I’m gonna talk, if you have questions while we’re talking, feel free to ask them. But I’ll make sure that we can answer all of your questions at the end too.” Because then it opens up this almost permission to like, let’s make this a conversation, but also at the end, we’ll make sure that you know everything that you need to.
Brooke: Another tip is I just encourage people, if they have taken the time to meet with me, I’m going to answer all their questions, and I’m going to tell them what the costs are going to look like. We may not know exactly what the cost is, because it might be different. It may be a retaining contract, it might be a lot of things, but if they have actually taken the time to see me face-to-face, we’re gonna talk about the questions that are the biggest concern to them, which are usually, what does this look like? How are you gonna help me? What are the costs going to be? I want them to know that in the beginning. I want them to be able to, like you said, just free their mind to be able to have a conversation instead of them wondering in the back of their mind, when are we gonna get to this for them to know?
Julia: I had a really interesting sales. It’s always interesting to be on the other side of the table. I do sales for Stratos, I was a Mary Kay director.
Brooke: Ah, look at you!
Julia: So I truly learned how to not do sales. I’ve done it for a long time, and I like it. It’s a lot of fun, because I love getting to know people. But I had a sales conversation where I was the customer and the person opened with, “Okay, well what questions do you have?” It was like, “Hey, nice to meet you, Julia. What questions do you have?” There was no intro of getting to know me. I was like, “I don’t really even understand what you offer.” It was to the point where I knew in my head I was like, their marketing is saying something to me, I think that they can solve my problem, but it was uncomfortable for me to be put on the spot of having to come up with and carry the conversation where I was like, I really do believe as a salesperson, you should carry the conversation with your questions. Like you said, Brooke, don’t talk more than you’re listening, but it is your job to make that person feel comfortable.
Brooke: Absolutely! And my husband, he always gives me a hard time. He’s like, “You are the worst person to sell to, Brooke. The worst.” Because I’m always like, “They’re not asking about my thoughts, and my feelings, and my frustrations. They’re not telling me what the costs are, and they’re trying to relate to me with the baseball game, and I don’t like that.
Julia: My husband always makes fun of me because if somebody is a good salesperson, I always say yes. And I shouldn’t. Even though I am like, “Don’t need that thing”, I’m like, “You did such a good job, I’m gonna say yes.” So I brought so much crap home that my husband is like, “Somebody sold that to you, didn’t they?”
Brooke: You’re like, “They did a really good job.”
Julia: I was like, “I just needed to affirm them.”
Well, Brooke, I really appreciate this. I think that it is gonna be highly beneficial to everybody who’s listening, because there is this false dichotomy between sales and marketing, and I think that they are so interconnected. And when you can connect them well, it’s gonna make things so much better for both your own business, and then also the people you’re serving.
Julia: If people want to connect with you, how can they find you?
Brooke: We do a coaching program. It’s called Building Momentum Sales Coaching, and that is specifically for business owners, entrepreneurs, sales teams, where if they haven’t had that corporate sales training, the only thing they know is they don’t wanna be salesy and they don’t wanna be manipulative, I have a program that I work with them where we do group coaching and webinars, different things like that and have a whole community around to be able to support them. That is https://coaching.buildingmomentum.info/. I’m also on LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/company/building-momentum-llc, so if you wanna just start chatting and seeing how we can help, I’m happy to do that as well.
Julia: Perfect! Brooke has a ton of resources for people too, and so if you are like, sales might not be my strength, that is okay, everybody. That is perfectly fine. We’re not born as salespeople, not all of us. And sometimes we have to develop some of those skills, and that’s okay.
Brooke: Oh, it’s perfectly okay! I’ve had thousands of sales conversations. That’s how we’ve been able to develop it. But no one knows how to do it right off the bat.
Julia: And a lot of the people who are teaching us how to do it are not necessarily doing it with this framework of service, and so that’s why I love everything that you’re putting out, Brooke. Thank you for joining us. I really appreciate it.
Brooke: Oh, you’re welcome! Thank you so much. It’s been great.
Julia: 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.