00:00 ANNOUNCER: So you wanna know the ins and outs of managing your money? Well, lucky for you, you are just in time for another episode of Master Your Finances with certified financial planner professional, Kurt Baker. Kurt and his panel of experts are here for you and will cover topics from a legal and personal standpoint. They’ll discuss tax efficiency, liability, owning, managing, and saving your money and more. Master Your Finances is underwritten by Certified Wealth Management and Investment. Let’s learn how we can better change our habits with Kurt Baker.
00:34 Kurt Baker: Good morning and welcome back to another edition of Master Your Finances, presented by Certified Wealth Management and Investment. I am Kurt Baker, a certified financial planner professional located in Princeton, New Jersey. I can be reached through our website, which is www.cwmi.us or you can call me directly at 609-716-4700. This week, I’m very pleased to have with us Dave Trapani, who’s the CEO of AGT & Associates, Inc., which is an authorised Sandler Sales Training Center. He brings over 25 years of sales, marketing, and management experience. David prides himself on helping business owners and leaders gain an edge to move their sales to the next level. After several successful years in sales, David was asked to manage multiple business development teams.
01:26 Kurt Baker: His teams consistently delivered results that exceeded company goals. He’s been involved in two significant mergers and acquisitions, and has keen insight into overall business practices and strategies. His clients come from a range of industries, including financial services, IT, healthcare, and banking. David believes that many sales challenges can be fixed by attitude, process, and technique, and that most sales people don’t know they’re doing something wrong. He has a unique ability to help sales people and business leaders get the best sales results out of their businesses and themselves and their people. So David, I’ve known you a while and I appreciate you coming on. And I know, yeah, you’ve been a really productive sales guy. So how did you kinda get into this and how do you… You kind of evolved into like helping the rest of us, right? Do you wanna give us the kind of the background on yourself here briefly?
02:19 David Trapani: Yeah, so my background is I started in the field sales in financial services, did pretty well early on. And over time kind of as my bio lays out, I was put in charge of some… We’ll call them not field teams, but in-house teams. So I was managing folks with production requirements and really took what I had learned in the field, and just there were some best practices that we put into play that consistently helped our internal sales teams hit their numbers. So what happened over time is I got some field sales folks to be responsible for pretty large teams over time, and we would run sales training. And we would bring in outside experts to teach us and give us some good information at each of our either quarterly or semi-annual off-sites. And we got some good information. But at the end of the day, a lot of feedback that I got from either my team or from leaders was, “You do a really good job with this, with getting people to another level.” And it was really at that time where having gotten that feedback, I said, “I can do this bigger than what I am doing today.” I’m somewhat entrepreneurial and I prefer not to have a boss, so I took a leap and got into the Sandler world to go out and help people.
03:58 David Trapani: And really, I think, Kurt, one of the big things that I did learn was, even though years of being successful, I followed my system. I followed what I thought were best practices from leaders that I looked up to. The reality is, there was so much more behind the world of sales. And that’s what really brought me to Sandler was, there are systems, there are processes. There’s way more to this world than I would have ever learned on my own.
04:31 Kurt Baker: Yeah, that was one question I was gonna ask you is. I know Sandler has an amazing reputation. How did you like… You decided to make the leap, so you had to make some kind of analysis, I’m assuming, being who you were. What made you land on that particular structure for yourself?
04:47 David Trapani: So what’s interesting, so I was looking down a couple of different paths. And let’s put it out there that Sandler was one of those paths. There was also a path of, “I can do this myself. I could take my learnings, what I’ve done historically, and put that into play.” And interestingly enough, I have a good friend who happened to be a Sandler owner down in the Baltimore region. And one of the things that he said to me is, “Hey, if you do it on your own, I’ll kick your butt all the time.” And he said, “What is your system and what is your proof that it actually works?” And I think that that was the game changer for me, in that I know that I had methodologies, tactics. I have proven them out, but they were not broadly proven. They worked for me. And really, when you start to dig into the world of selling, and look at it more from less about the tactics and more about the strategies that go into it, the thoughtfulness that goes into it, looking at it almost like a college course, that’s what Sandler offered, proven methodology. And it just put me over the top that I knew that that was the right direction.
06:09 Kurt Baker: Well, it sounds like you made the right choice ’cause I know you’ve been doing really well since they got started, so now you transitioned into being an entrepreneur, and one of the benefits of doing something with the franchise is they give you the base. You’re already kind of up a couple of steps on the journey ’cause you don’t have to go and recreate a lot of the real basic stuff. And as you just pointed out, they’ve got much more advanced backing. Essentially, their strategies have been tested, and they’re basically just tweaking them as they go along, so the heavy lifting has kind of been done, and now they’re just trying to keep making it a little better as time goes on, and I’m assuming you probably track everything, right?
06:48 David Trapani: We do track everything, and I think, Kurt, I think it’s a great question. We are often, we are teaching people process, systems, strategies, and tactics, and they’ve been studied, and oftentimes I find myself saying, “Follow what we teach. Now, make it your own, but follow what we teach.” And the beauty of a franchise… And I think Sandler fits the bill here is… Follow what they teach. They’ve got a system. They’ve been proven. The methodology works. Let’s not get cute. Yeah, you’ve got some wiggle room to make it your own, but at the end of the day, you are a couple of steps ahead because they’ve got a proven methodology. Follow the system, it will work. Works at Sandler, works in most businesses as well.
07:33 Kurt Baker: Yeah, that’s something else I find kind of interesting is you do cover a number of businesses, but some of the basics are very similar, no matter whether I’m making widgets or I’m selling financial services. Aren’t there a lot of pieces that might be similar in how I have to get everything done?
07:50 David Trapani: Yeah, again, another great question because one of the top questions that I will get from a prospect is, “Have you ever worked in my industry?” And the reality is sales and business development at its core is consistent across the board. Buyers have a system, there’s a traditional way of selling, and Sandler has all the tools to counteract that. So if you’re selling high-end pharmaceuticals or you’re selling financial services or widgets, as you say, a lot of the same tactics and strategies and process apply. The key is… Let’s call it the 80/20 rule… And where I think we do a really good job is the ability to take that 20% where businesses do have some uniqueness and bend in the training that we’re doing with those organizations.
08:52 Kurt Baker: Yeah, no, I agree. So everybody has to get their unique little niche. We hear about that all the time, where, especially like the one we talk about and you were involved in, and I’m involved in, a financial service, is that you have the “ability”, almost like an attorney, you have the “ability” to do almost anything, but you have to decide which things you wanna do really well and what face you wanna put forward to your client base, so that you actually connect with your ideal client. You wanna connect with those ideal clients, and then you can kinda add into that the bandwidth. Based on your structure, you can add those other services to it, but you’re always offering these main points. So mine’s a relationship thing, helping people to advance and make sure that they’re ready for their retirement and all that. There’s a lot of pieces that flow into that, but the overall concept is really just one thing that I’m pushing out.
09:42 David Trapani: Absolutely, and I think there’s a couple of… You made a few tie-ins there. You got the lawyer and you’ve got financial services, let’s call it a financial services representative. The businesses are different. At the core, both have to find prospects to talk to, both have to have a good conversation with those folks, ask the right questions, understand what’s happening, and then both have to get to a point where, “Does it make sense for us to advance this relationship forward and put together a proposal or a statement of work or a financial plan?” And then we have to manage the client. So there’s a lot of consistency in the threads that you put out there. The uniqueness is, who are those clients? How do I talk to them? What are my services? Maybe how do I frame up my conversation in the legal world? It’s gonna sound a little bit different than the financial services advisor, and that’s where we’ve gotta be able to bend and make those adjustments in the field.
10:49 Kurt Baker: Yeah, so it sounds like you kinda start off with trying to identify those different things initially, which is really, really important, and we’re gonna… We’re coming up on a quick break now, but I think we might wanna talk a little bit about the basics and then how people have made adjustments since, let’s say, February, March range, as opposed to now we’re entering the fourth quarter of the year. Everybody I know, including myself, had a very different projection in January than we do now. It could be better, it could be worse, it’s definitely different than what you did, so we’re gonna take a quick break and listen to Master Your Finances, and we’ll be right back.
11:40 ANNOUNCER: This is Master Your Finances with Kurt Baker, certified financial planner professional. Learn about tax efficiency, liability, owning, managing and saving your money, and more from Kurt and his experienced panel of guests. Master Your Finances is underwritten by Certified Wealth Management and Investment.
12:00 Kurt Baker: Welcome back, you’re listen to Master Your Finances. I’m Kurt Baker with David Trapani, and we’re talking about really what people have been doing as far as… Dave was a great trainer. You were involved in sales initially, and I know that we’ve always heard of your, “That’s a good salesperson. You can take a good salesperson and drop them anywhere.” Right?
12:22 David Trapani: Sometimes, yeah.
12:23 Kurt Baker: Because the basic skills are really the same, the product doesn’t really make that much difference, although it does make a difference, you have to understand the product, but if they’re really good at the process and the sales and understanding how to identify the right clients, cultivate them, retain them, and leverage that going forward, often we see people, and everybody’s known somebody that literally moved complete industries. Like, “Why did you move from this industry to that industry?” and they’re like, “Well, it doesn’t really matter. Once I understand the product, I can sell almost anything.” And that’s kind of what you talked about a little bit, and one of the reasons I think you went with like a Sandler who’s kinda got proven strategies and ways to do that, so you’ve already got kind of a leg up on what to do and what to teach, because you have the data and you have the backing, and you have the structure in place, and then you’re kind of dropping in the client, dropping in the product, and doing, as you said, that 20% that’s a little bit unique, and then leveraging that a little bit.
13:13 Kurt Baker: So I know one of the things we’ve all been talking about a lot in the last half a year is that in January, first quarter, I know most people had their plan for the year, we’re getting ready to go. March hits, we were told, “Take two weeks off and come back and join us. All this COVID thing’s gonna be over. Just take a quick pause.” And then it obviously got more serious, and many businesses had a really hard time. All of us had to adjust at some level. Maybe some of us just had to start working remotely and we had to adjust, make sure our tech was up-to-date, things like that, we all learned how to use things like Zoom and Google Meets and all those kinds of things. I think we’re all like experts now in these different video conferencing tools, but what did you see, your conversations you were having with your clients the first quarter of the year, and then what kind of happened as we started to adjust into this and we started to see that this is gonna be a little more serious? And I know you have different clients, so you’re gonna have different businesses that might have had different responses to this, right?
14:12 David Trapani: Yeah, so I’ll probably be a little bit all over the place here, but I think when things started to hit, people, business owners had different reactions. If you go back to Q1, really start of the year, our focus was our core training, making sure people had playbooks. We do something, Kurt, called a cookbook, which is making sure you’re doing your activities, certain number of prospecting activities every week, setting up a certain number of first appointments and closing X number of deals.
14:47 David Trapani: What March did to us, there was a couple of things. I think businesses fell into a few different buckets. There were businesses that from a mindset perspective, they said, “Our product is good, it’s still gonna sell.” They continued pressing the gas. There were some businesses that, no matter what they did, they were gonna struggle, and they had to take a little bit of a step back. There are some industries that we know that that are definitely gonna be struggling right now. And then there’s this third bucket of businesses where they kind of went into… And I go back to mindset… A little bit of panic mode. They got nervous and they kind of held onto their cash and they stopped doing all of the things that they should have been doing. And I think it was a really eye-opening moment that… My suspicion, I don’t have any economic data to support this, but the ones in the middle, who the industry’s just… Restaurant industry… It’s been… That’s a challenging spot, but there are some businesses who hunkered down. Maybe they weren’t well capitalized. I think they’re struggling. I think they’re struggling to ramp back up.
16:01 David Trapani: The clients that we worked with at the beginning of the pandemic, that hit the… That continued, and most… I would say the vast majority, and now we’re back at 100%, of our clients hit that gas pedal. They really doubled down on a couple of things. Prospecting activities, making sure that they didn’t slow down conversations, and they really doubled down on the training. And the prospecting activities was interesting because what we saw really from the, I would say April, May timeframe was… And again, this is our clients, but this is also… I’ve got some other industry observations, lots of conversations. People were still willing to talk to you, but they weren’t necessarily making buying decisions.
16:49 David Trapani: Now, we have a couple of clients who have really recession-proof type businesses. Their sales went up because they doubled down on their prospecting. So it was kind of a lesson learned there, but the folks that really continued their prospecting, they continued to have conversations. What I’m seeing now with those folks is their sales are starting to come back, and that started around the August timeframe. They got some drips in June and July, and then in August and September, we’re starting to see this little climb, and it’s really… I’ll say it’s really exciting to see this come together. What we saw happen from pre-COVID to right now is… And this is where you kind of pointed out systems, proven systems, proven tactics… At Sandler, we teach lots of different concepts.
17:43 David Trapani: If we go back to pre-pandemic, you could have done some of the tactics and techniques, maybe not at an A plus level, let’s call it a B level, and you would still advance that deal forward because people were having a lot of conversations. You were doing better than 95% of other salespeople out there, not only because you looked better, but you were actually better. When COVID hit, what we immediately saw is if you weren’t operating at an A level in some of the tactics, following the process, using the strategies, you were actually losing ground. And a lot of our clients went back to some of the core basics, to make sure that they nailed and locked them down. So it’s really important that our systems, which we might have been a little bit looser with pre-COVID, are really bolted down in place. Kurt, I’ll throw up one other thing. As you know…
18:49 Kurt Baker: Go ahead.
18:50 David Trapani: Maybe you had a question, but let me throw out one other thing.
18:53 Kurt Baker: Sure.
18:53 David Trapani: Here’s a real, I would call this a core element of sales, which is, you used the term earlier, identifying your ideal client profile. We have had a number of our clients in the April, May time frame go back to and re-do their ideal client profile. It’s something that had been done prior, but again, maybe we weren’t as deliberate following who we should be talking to, but it became more apparent that if you weren’t focused on the right opportunities, the ones that really fit your sweet spot, you were gonna be spinning your wheels.
19:32 Kurt Baker: Yeah, that sounds very interesting. I was gonna ask you a little bit about that, because I know one of the things they say is that you wanna supply a service to somebody who appreciates what you’re doing and is actually willing to pay you for your service. It has to be a match, in other words, right?
19:45 David Trapani: Absolutely.
19:45 Kurt Baker: I could be the greatest thing in the world, but if you don’t care about what I’m doing, we’re never gonna connect on a sales level, but if I do it really well, you appreciate what we’re doing for each other, and you could afford it, then it works, because if you can’t afford the service, then that’s not gonna work as far as the business relationship goes. And I was interested to hear about the fact that we now had all these changes in different businesses. I think some of that might have changed. I don’t know, I might be somebody who is, let’s say I’m selling advertising to my local restaurant, well, they had a really, really tough time. If that was my niche is to do advertising and marketing for maybe the restaurant industry or the gym industry, things like that, the ones that really had to kind of pull it in because they didn’t have much choice, did I start to maybe change what I’m thinking? Do I have to realize that my market has changed? So for my business to continue, I might have to start rethinking, maybe that’s not the best place for me to focus most of my time. What kind of conversations did you have about things like that?
20:49 David Trapani: Yeah, I think it’s a great observation that you’re bringing up because we’ve had a lot of those conversations because companies did have to pivot to find different avenues, and what’s interesting is, if you look at, for example, certain geography. I don’t know, I’ll pull together real quickly, New York City, a real big slow down, but per head… And maybe a little bit slower to come back for certain industries, but New Jersey and maybe some outlying suburbs, perhaps some of those industries are doing pretty well. For example, like restaurants might be doing better down the shore or in some of the suburbs versus in the middle of downtown. So if you’re not pivoting, you might be chasing opportunities that were there six or nine months ago, but today they just don’t exist, not because you did anything wrong, but because the environment has really forced those businesses to maybe shutter. They shut their doors, hold cash.
21:50 Kurt Baker: No, I agree, and it sounds like you don’t wanna necessarily give up completely on your original business model, because you never know, we may get a big recovery, some of those may come back. They may open another restaurant somewhere else, so I would suspect you’re just gonna re-prioritize those people that maybe you had a relationship with, and they’ve gotta take a pause because their business model had to change, but then as you pointed out, businesses at the shore might be open, whereas the ones in other places in New Jersey may not be able to be open for one reason or another.
22:20 David Trapani: Yeah, and we can talk about a little bit more of the strategy that goes into how do you prioritize those opportunities.
22:26 Kurt Baker: I think that’s a great thing. We’re gonna take another quick break. When we come back, we’ll talk about how to strategize. You’re listening to Master Your Finances. We’ll be right back.
23:22 ANNOUNCER: Hi, this is Master Your Finances, with Kurt Baker, certified financial planner professional. Learn about tax efficiency, liability, owning, managing and saving your money and more, from Kurt and his experienced panel of guests. Master Your Finances is underwritten by Certified Wealth Management and Investment.
23:42 Kurt Baker: Welcome back, you’re listening to Master Your Finances. I’m Kurt Baker here with David Trapani of Sandler Sales Training Center. And we’ve been talking about a little bit about how some of the businesses have had to change and pivot throughout the COVID experience we’ve had this year. A lot of the plans that were in existence in January have had to be modified now that we’re about to enter the fourth quarter. I want to get back into a little bit about I know that I’ve been a business owner pretty much my whole adult life. And when things start to get stressed, like when you have major, major changes in the business world, and especially when something is not necessarily within your control, you have a hard time because now you’re under all this stress, right?
24:22 Kurt Baker: So if I was a restaurant owner, and all of a sudden the government is telling me I’m not allowed to open up my restaurant, I’ve got employees to pay, I’ve got all kinds of things to do. I’m trying to make these decisions. But every time a month goes by, and they keep extending these deadlines out further and further and further, and now I’m watching my bank account drain down, when you’re under significant stress, I know for all of us, that adds a whole another dimension of… It’s hard to make a decision, it’s hard to make a decision, and I think that’s one of the things that those that are out there right now are trying to make these decisions, give recommendations on how they can actually kind of break that down into small enough bite-sized pieces so they can kind of edge their way back into this so they can be successful, because they can. But when it’s all kind of coming down at the same time, it’s really hard to break out of that so you can start making some of those decisions properly.
25:13 David Trapani: Yeah, you know, Kurt, I think it’s a great point. And there’s a couple of things. One is it’s hard to make decisions in stress. And I, as a sales trainer, working with individuals and companies, want to make sure that I put as much control back to the business or the salesperson. So there’s two things that we were starting to head down that I think all salespeople and business owners should be doing.
25:39 David Trapani: One is identifying their ideal client, who do they want to go after? Build out those characteristics. The second is when you’ve done that, put together a shortlist of who some of those target accounts are. And I want to do… I want to add two additional elements to this, I would call that first bucket, the attained bucket, who I’ve never done business with? Who do I want to go after? I then want to look at two additional buckets, a recapture bucket. So these are perhaps clients that you’ve done business with in the past, that you had great relationship, but for whatever reason they fell off, I want you to have those characteristics drafted and also a shortlist of who you can go after there.
26:24 David Trapani: And then a third bucket, what I call is the expand bucket. These are businesses that you currently do business with, but there’s expansion opportunities, and put together a list of those opportunities.
26:38 David Trapani: When business owners and salespeople do this, what they start to do is they start to formulate actually a lower hanging fruit list of opportunities. The attained is going to be the hardest to go after ’cause that’s a brand new business. But that recapture, and that expand bucket sit there as golden, low-hanging fruit for salespeople.
26:58 David Trapani: Then I want to prioritize them, and this is where you were headed earlier. Who am I going after? I want to have a top tier list of who I’m actually… I’m heavily going to target these folks. That might mean I make a phone call into them, I do a drop in if I’m legally allowed to. I’ve got some maybe digital marketing going on.
27:18 David Trapani: And then there’s a subset of that list which is a little bit larger, which goes into my consistent drip, maybe my consistent and digital marketing plan. So if you can almost visualize this on a whiteboard, you’ve got your hot opportunities at the top, which is going to be a smaller list, but it can be super targeted on what I do there, and down at the bottom, I’ve got a much larger list where I’m maybe not touching them as frequently, but I am warming up those opportunities for somewhere down the road.
27:55 Kurt Baker: That sounds like the funnel. You get a big, big group of people and you keep it down to what you actually end up with in the end, right?
28:04 David Trapani: It is. And I think people struggle with the funnel because they don’t strategically look at who should be at the top and who should be at the bottom.
28:13 Kurt Baker: Right.
28:14 David Trapani: I love your funnel analogy because if you invert that, that’s the whiteboard that I have people, you know, put on paper, here’s your top priorities, there’s a few, and here’s your vast, you know, audience that you’re just consistently dripping on. It is a funnel.
28:31 Kurt Baker: Yeah, no, I have to agree that when you end up with these clients that are really kind of your ideal clients, and you work with them and you, at least in my business, I’ve noticed that they’re all… They’re very similar in a lot of attributes that they are, as far as you know, the personality, their economic profile, and things like that. And I think when you identify who they are, it really makes it a lot easier to say, “Oh, there’s more of those people out there.” In fact, you can even sometimes ask your own clients, “How can I meet more people that are like you?” Because they’ll know where to meet themselves?
29:04 David Trapani: Exactly. Exactly. And I think that this is your point about the stress, their stress in hey, if… You know, I think for most, forget about salespeople, I think most people when it’s in our brains, and we start to overthink it, we struggle. Some of these tactics we’ll spend an hour or a couple of hours putting this stuff together. And it’s really not rocket science. But taking it out of your head and putting it on paper is what puts you back in control and eliminates the stress. And then all of a sudden, as you’re saying, “Hey, hey, you know what, I can find these people, because I know exactly who I’m looking for now.”
29:40 Kurt Baker: Yeah, you bring up a very interesting point, which I know it’s about… I’ve heard this many, many times, is most businesses, when you’re selling your business, you’re really selling a process. Did they perfect it? Whether I’m selling iPhones or whatever, if you think about it, it’s actually a pretty simple process. They make a phone, and one year later, they’re gonna make another phone, and they kinda do the same thing every year if you think of it from a process standpoint.
30:03 Kurt Baker: And I just remember years ago, when you used to be able to telemarket, they’d talk to top telemarketers, and they’d be like, “How the heck can you sit down and make thousands of calls a day?” And they’re like, “It’s easy, because I know that every X call is a sale.” Whatever it was, it could be every 10th call, every 20th call, they’re like, “I’m just making 19 calls to number 20.” They weren’t even worried about the first 19, “Okay, I realize the first 19 are gonna do nothing, I just know number 20, over time, I’m gonna sell something to them.” And so if you know that, I think the control… You used the word control before, which I like, is I think that’s what helps with the process. So if you kinda know you take these steps, at some point, there’s a result.
30:41 David Trapani: Kurt, it is… And if I go back to my earlier days, that was my methodology. If you do X, you’ll get Y. I think, again, it’s a place where the high percentage… I would go north of 80% of salespeople struggle in documenting what they need to do day in, day out. So look at the stress that goes on in the world of sales, “I need to achieve X amount of dollars this year.” That’s a big number potentially, but if I back into, “This week, I need to go on five appointments, and because if I went on five this week, I’m gonna close a piece of business.” Sales is nothing more than a mathematical equation, but you have to know your numbers, you have to track to make sure you can figure out the math. And then, if I know this week I just have to go on five appointments, what is it gonna take for me to get those five appointments? I have a lot of control in there. I can’t control that I’ll get five, but typically I know that if I make 20 calls or send out 15 emails, I’ll get those five appointments, and my business will be successful.
31:53 Kurt Baker: Yeah, I think that’s great. And I think one of the things I know, and I’m gonna speak to a little bit, maybe it’s a side track slightly, but I know that like financial… Certain salespeople, they’ll tend to do, and I know we’re all guilty of it including myself, is you tend to do more than what is the best use of your time. So if I’m supposed to go, in your example, five appointments, I might be saying, “Well, I’m gonna do five appointments, but I have all this other stuff I need to do. I got to do the paperwork for the five appointments I did last week. I have to do something else.” So how do we get ourselves, the salespeople, to break away and say, “Here’s what I should be doing, and here’s what I’m really not supposed to be doing,” and how do I get that responsibly to another person or another business model where I could say, “This product or service or this aspect of my business, I’m not gonna necessarily do it directly because that’s not necessary to meet my five appointments a week”?
32:48 David Trapani: Yeah, so I’ll give you the quick answer, and then maybe we come back to this. What it is, it’s time blocking. And that sounds basic, and that’s hard to do.
32:57 Kurt Baker: Okay, so we’ll… [chuckle] Alright, so block off the time for everything. So, yeah, we’re listening to Master Your Finances. We’re gonna be right back.
33:32 David Trapani: This is Master Your Finances with Kurt Baker, certified financial planner professional. Learn about tax efficiency, liability, owning, managing and saving your money and more, from Kurt and his experienced panel of guests. Master Your Finances is underwritten by Certified Wealth Management and Investment.
33:53 Kurt Baker: Welcome back, you’re listening to Master Your Finances. I’m Kurt Baker here with Dave Trapani, and we’re talking about improving our business tactics to improve sales and obviously make adjustments through this year, which has been a lot of changes we’ve had to make, and just before the break, we were talking. The question I had brought up was a lot of us get diverted by all the tasks that we theoretically can do, we have the skill to do, but aren’t necessarily the best use of our time, and I know that sometimes we get dragged into doing things we really shouldn’t be doing. So do you have any ideas about how we, as business people or salespeople, ’cause all business people are salespeople ’cause they’re selling whatever their business does, how do we focus on those things that we’re really good at, that are actually a good use of our time, and then how do we segment off those things we probably should not be doing but maybe we’re used to doing them, so that we can actually spend more time on what’s actually best for the business?
34:49 David Trapani: Yeah, this is a big topic where we’ve done a lot of training in on it. This is hard to execute, this idea of time blocking. I will say that most salespeople struggle with this, and probably most people struggle with it as well, but the concept of putting blocks of time on your calendar where you’re going to hold yourself accountable or have an accountability partner that makes sure you execute those items, I think one thing for sales is that most salespeople miss, Kurt, is prospecting is the life blood of the business. And while it’s the number one thing only by a little bit, it’s the number one activity that salespeople have to do every week, and I would go out on a limb here and say that most salespeople struggle with prospecting.
35:41 David Trapani: So my suggestion is, on your calender plot out times where you can prospect. And here’s a couple of easy tips, I think, that I’ve seen benefit salespeople. When you’re gonna do prospecting, sometimes salespeople, “I’m gonna put two hours of prospecting on my calendar.” Don’t put two hours if you’ve never done it, or if you’re not used to doing two. Put an hour. You’ll be more effective in that hour and you’ll get a better outcome. You’ll be fresher.
36:13 David Trapani: You can do this in advance. In other words, you can build your calendar out, where I’m always gonna do prospecting Monday from 1:00 to 2:00, Tuesday, at this time. You can build that in advance. But another salesperson gave me a tip that when she looks at her calendar from… So today is… Let’s say today is Wednesday, tomorrow is Thursday, obviously, she will look at her calendar now and see where the openings are and plug in prospecting time that way. Now, something I wouldn’t have trained in the past, but it works for her, so maybe that works for somebody out there that’s listening. But this idea of time blocking is really critical because we have to make sure we take care of our top priorities and prospecting and of selling and of servicing clients. A couple of other things that I’ve seen during this challenging time is people have expanded their calendars.
37:04 David Trapani: People are starting at 8:00 and finishing at 6:00. Well, maybe not salespeople, but we have. We’ve expanded our calendars. I want us to have a very consistent start time, and I really try to help my clients get a very consistent finish time, so that the work day is still structured. Most of us are working from home. So that may be a bit of a challenge, but I’ll give you another little tip here. And I might get this law wrong, but there’s something called Parkinson’s Law, which says the amount of work that we have will fit into the amount of time that we allocate to it. So what that means is, Kurt, if I give you two hours to give me a report, I will get it in two hours. But if we agree on you’ll give it to me in an hour, you can get that same report to me in an hour. So people will squeeze the work needed into the amount of time that they allocate. So for things like administrative tasks, put that on your calendar…
38:08 David Trapani: I actually… I am not the most organized person, but when it comes time to time blocking, I am very good at it. So if I have a task that is administrative in nature, I will allocate anywhere from 15% to 20% less time than I believe is needed. I will put it on my calendar, and I would say close to 100% of the time, I will complete that task within that window. So I’m buying myself more time, maybe to take a walk or to do other things. So take advantage of this Parkinson’s Law to really build out your time blocks.
38:46 Kurt Baker: Wow, yeah. That’s great advice. I know one of the things that… I’m gonna go back just a half a step here. When you’re talking about prospecting in this particular time, I know one of the things that I’ve noticed, even working with the chamber and things like that, is reaching people is different now, because you used to be able to call them at work and you’d pick up the phone. In fact, my daughter was calling her college today, and they said, “There’s nobody here because of COVID, and we’re all shut down, and send us an email.” So, literally, nobody is answering the phone. So if you wanna reach that university, you’re gonna have to send them an email. So have you noticed any changes in just basic strategies because we are kind of all dispersed? We’re working remotely, so some of the techniques might have to change in trying to reach people.
39:28 David Trapani: Yeah. So I don’t know if they’ve necessarily changed, Kurt, but again, let’s go back to that pre-COVID. We got away with it doing this way, doing it a certain way. Now we’ve gotta get back to the way we should have been doing it. So instead of doing a one channel approach, “I’m gonna get all my business from LinkedIn or Digital, I now have to expand the tactics that I’m using.” That’s becoming very evident. So maybe using email marketing, digital marketing, phone calls, all of the above. We have to have those tactics really well-oiled to do well. So that’s one challenge that I see from salespeople, is how do I expand the types of touches that I’m making? One of the bigger challenges, and what we’re spending a lot of time is, “Okay, what do I say to people? How do I communicate to them? What are the words? What goes into that email? When I call, what do I say?”
40:28 David Trapani: And we’ve spent a lot of time with clients, making sure they’ve got the right words, word choices to… When you get somebody on the phone to effectively move them to, maybe it’s an employment, maybe it’s a next step. But without those good words and the, we call them talk tracks, people are still struggling in that area.
40:53 Kurt Baker: I can see them struggling with that. And you bring up kinda another side of this, is, let’s say you are talking to a client and you wanna meet with them. I know not all of my clients wanna meet in person anymore. So I know we’re using videos and things like that. So have you seen any unique challenges to kind of this transition where some people just do not wanna meet in person, period, and others are kind of willing, under certain circumstances, to meet with you. And you have to kind of understand your clients. And so what are your thoughts about how this… Kind of these two potential ways of getting together now?
41:24 David Trapani: Yeah, and we’ve got individuals and we’ve got different regions where there’s different rules in place. So, I think we’ve got to understand from a salesperson’s standpoint and from the buyer’s standpoint, what are they comfortable doing? So I wanna understand, Kurt, what makes you happy? If you wanna meet in person, and I’m comfortable that, then let’s make sure we set some ground rules and take it from there. What I have been training folks is… And Zoom, we’ve got GoToMeeting, lots of tools. There’s a bit of what we call head trash going on. So think of what goes on between the ears. Salespeople who are used to meeting somebody in person, now are moving to this digital age where you’re gonna do it on Zoom on screen. And the salesperson is often letting the prospect or the buyer off the hook. What they’re doing is saying, “Hey, we’ll do it on Zoom. Hope to see you there.” What I’m suggesting is, require them to be on camera. We need to treat these new… Not even new technologies, but this new world that if I can’t meet you in person, and I’m gonna meet you in an electronic format, I’m gonna set some ground rules and say we both have to be on a camera.
42:46 David Trapani: And while that sounds very simple, I think it’s a game changer, and I think that too many salespeople are letting buyers off the hook by not, this is too strong of a word, but by enforcing that. I think it should just be, “Hey, Kurt. This is how we meet, I do it on video. If you could have your camera on, that would be terrific. We’ll have a much better conversation.”
43:08 Kurt Baker: That’s a great point, and as we said early in the conversation, is I think a lot more people are familiar with these technologies. Maybe they haven’t used it in a business scenario, maybe they’ve just been using it in a family scenario ’cause even family members, they can’t get together. I can’t think of anybody close that I know that hasn’t used this at least at some level, and knows how to log in or at least accept an invite and turn on their computer and their camera if they need to. Yeah, most of them might struggle getting it started, but once they do it once, it’s not… As we know, it’s not really that difficult. And it’s kinda nice once they get used to it. But in the beginning, I remember everybody was like, “Oh my gosh, I have to turn this thing on. How do I do this, and how do I set one of these meetings up?” Right? [chuckle]
43:48 David Trapani: Yeah, and we’re really trying to build rapport and having closed business and observe people closing business. To build that rapport, I gotta see you. If I can’t meet you in person, I’ve gotta do the next best thing.
44:03 Kurt Baker: Right. We have a few minutes left now, so what do you see happening now until the end of the year? So what are your recommendations like moving forward as we’re kinda… It seems like we’re kinda opening up and everyone’s going to… I knew New York City’s talking about being closed again, but it seems like we’re slowly evolving out of this process. What are your thoughts about fourth quarter, and what businesses should be doing as best practices right now?
44:26 David Trapani: Yeah, I think if you have not been prospecting or prospecting to the level that you should have been, go back and revisit those numbers. Put together a bit of a… We call it a cookbook, but an accountability plan. What do I need to do to hit a target by the end of the year? I think the other thing is, let’s go back to some of the core elements that we talked about today. Who am I talking to? Who’s my ideal client? Match that up against the people that are either in your pipeline or that you are reaching out to and make sure it’s good alignment, because if it’s not good alignment, you will spin your wheels. I think one of the biggest elements, I’ll give you a little bit of a tactic, is buyers are a little bit slower to make buying decisions today. And one of the things that we train, and we train it very extensively, is making sure that prospects remain on your calendar.
45:25 David Trapani: So even if you’re not buying, Kurt, maybe you’re buying in December, I have to make sure you’re on my calendar to get to that December date. So in all cases where you have an opportunity, unless it’s a no, but if that opportunity is advancing forward, get your calendar out and put that next meeting on your calendar. Do not accept, “I’ll call you in two weeks, or call me at the end of the week.” Get the calendar out and say things like, “Hey, Kurt, can we look at next Wednesday? Let’s block out the time now.” The more effectively you put people on your calendar between now and the end of the year could be the difference between winning some deals and losing some deals.
46:11 Kurt Baker: I think that’s exceptional advice. Yeah, keep them in your… ’cause as you know, everybody’s opening up at different paces, so maybe it really might be a maybe now, because a lot of people are still kinda getting their feet under them and they’re not sure. They may be very interested in what you’re doing. It just may not be the right time, and a few weeks or a few months from now, they might be ready to go again and be good to go. Dave, I really appreciate you coming on. Excellent advice. You’ve been listening to Master Your Finances. You can listen to this podcast and all our podcasts by going to masteryourfinances.us. Remember, together we can master your finances so you can enjoy financial peace of mind.
46:47 ANNOUNCER: That was this week’s episode of Master Your Finances with Kurt Baker, certified financial planner professional. Tune in every Sunday at 9:00 AM to expand your knowledge in building and managing your wealth. Missed an episode? No worries. You can subscribe to a free weekly episode of Master Your Finances to listen to on your favorite podcasting platform, Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts, whatever. Master Your Finances is underwritten by Certified Wealth Management and Investment. Only on 107.7 The Bronc.