032 Michael Zipursky on the Elite Consulting Mind

Michael Zipursky

Michael Zipursky didn’t mean to start consulting with giant Japanese corporations in his early 20s. It just happened. Hear how he pulled it off, and how he started multiple businesses, including his most recent venture helping consultants learn from his mistakes (this should sound familiar to long time listeners). Plus, learn to improve your results by improving your mindset, from the author The Elite Consulting Mind. In this episode, learn how:

  • Michael set himself up for success in his early 20s before he got on a plane for  Japan. (He found a niche for helping Japanese companies market to the North American market.)
  • Why he’s fascinated with languages and cultures.
  • Michael learned how to sell, sometimes the hard way.
    • Why people try to rush sales before relationships, and what to do instead (and a time Michael made a bad mistake in this area).
    • How many consultants make the opposite mistake, and never try to actually sell anything. (“No one buys consulting, unless someone makes an offer.”)
    • No one wants to buy what we’ve created. They want to buy a solution to their problem.
    • The only way to solve the problem is to understand it by asking questions.
    • When you understand the problem, you can charge a lot more.
  • What’s holding people back? Usually fear. Fear of making a mistake, the unknown, and being rejected.
    • The Catch-22 is that confidence and competence come from taking action, while people don’t take action because they’re afraid.
    • Taking action gives you the only feedback that really matters– from the market.
  • When we do “take action”, a lot of the things that make you feel productive, because you’re spending time on them, are not actually moving your business forward. Drop those things, and spend more time on the smaller fraction of things that actually create lots of value. We often do things that are easy or comfortable, rather than the things that are hard and actually productive. For example, spend time to meet with people, or, at a minimum pick up the phone and have a two way conversation. Don’t fall into the trap of sending the quick email.
    • Think you don’t have time? Follow the 80/20 rule. Document your process and pinpoint where you are really required. Offload repeated tasks (and your ego).
    • What you can’t outsource— marketing! You have to define your audience and your message.
  • Bonus tip: If you really want to build a thriving practice, stay in touch and make introductions when you *don’t* have the solution they need right now. This is a great way to build trust.

Books

EliteConsultingMindCoverThe Elite Consulting Mind: 16 Proven Mindsets to Attract More Clients, Increase Your Income and Achieve Meaningful Success, by Michael Zipursky.

 

Other books mentioned:

Other Tools:

 

The wine

We were on a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir kick for this discussion, without any coordination. Michael was drinking some Patz & Hall 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (which is amazing, if you like Pinot like I do). I had the also delicious but less amazing (but much more affordable) Sean Minor 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.

Patz and Hall

Sean Minor

 

 

bottle_0002_oban-14yo

Where to find Michael:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more).

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You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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030 David A. Fields on Building an Irresistible Consulting Business

DavidAFields

David A. Fields shares his journey from a teenager trying to save up money to buy a computer, to becoming a consultant, to helping other consultants with the business of consulting. He recently wrote one of the most useful books on consulting I’ve read, The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients: 6 Steps to Unlimited Clients & Financial Freedom. (Seriously, read this book, it’s not the typical 20 pages of content and 200 pages of filler.)

In this interview, David shares his story, and advice from his book, including:

  • The critical lesson he learned selling shoes: it’s not about the shoes, it’s about the feet. (This sound really simple, but it’s not easy to pull off in practice, even for some of the 8-figure firms David helps.)
  • How he “fell into” consulting, then got worried because his partner had to quit 4 weeks later, and how “on a lark” he started working with other consultants.
  • Why he loves consulting.
  • Why you don’t have to be super smart, innovative, or even better than the competition. (And why attempts at differentiation probably lose more business than anything else.)
  • You have to show the client that they can trust you to solve the problem without hurting them. (And what you have to do with your approach to build trust.)
  • Why consulting is bought, not sold.
  • How to perform “The Turn” from marketing and relationships (social norms) to an actual sales opportunity (market norms) with 7 simple words: “are you open to a separate conversation?”
  • How to structure and set fees, including using the “heart attack question” to bound the budget discussion.
  • Some encouragement on building a consulting practice: “This isn’t a business about doing things perfectly, it’s about doing the right things.”
  • Plus, David and Reuben get into details on structuring proposals.

A quick recap of the 6 Steps from David’s book:

  1. Think “right side up” (client first)
  2. Maximize impact with the prospects you have (the right people, the right problem, the right solution, at the right time, with the right fishing line) As consultants, “we don’t hunt, we fish”.
  3. Build visibility, with 2 of the 5 channels (speaking, writing, networking, trade associations, digital presence). However, 1 of the channels must be networking.
  4. Connect, connect, connect
  5. Become the obvious choice (“Discovery” is the key here, and will be the title of one of David’s upcoming books)
  6. Propose, negotiate, and close (including how to offer different options and how to handle price objections).

Books

Irrestible Consultants Guide to Winning Clients

The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients: 6 Steps to Unlimited Clients & Financial Freedom

The wine

Reuben had some Marquis de Calon (Bordeaux, Saint Estephe 2010)  53% Cabernet sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Plum, red current, coffee, earth. Yum.

David does not drink alcohol (despite trips to Bordeaux and Italy), but here’s his recipe for irresistible iced chocolate:

1 tbs cacao powder*
1 tbs carob powder*
1 handful unsalted cashews*
1 frozen, ripe banana for sweetener
20 oz water

Blend all ingredients in a high-power blender (Vitamix or Blendtec) for 50 seconds on high. Pour over glass of ice cubes.

*David uses raw, organic ingredients, but it’s not required.

bottle_0002_oban-14yo

Where to find David:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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029 Stella Orange on Authentic Marketing

Screen-Shot-2018-01-30-at-2.30.56-PM-768x857

Stella Orange talks about her strange path to marketing and copywriting via Japan, school teaching, bike riding, and writing copy to raise money for an arts nonprofit in Montana.

This includes the books she read to teach herself direct marketing, how she got her first clients (a great strategy for people who don’t have a sales engine when they start), and the mistakes business owners make in marketing.

[Extra props to Stella for taking time out of her vacation to record this episode, which I had to reschedule not once, but twice. This did leave her without whiskey, which was quite unfortunate. And then her dog threw up during the call, which she cleaned up on the fly. Thanks for being a trooper.]

Check out this episode to learn:

  • How working for a nonprofit and writing and performing plays gave Stella a great perspective on the performance of marketing. (Everyone has an interesting story about how they got into sales and marketing, and this might be one of the most interesting stories I’ve heard.)
  • How she turned her passion for writing into a “career”, despite being “unemployable”.
  • How she got her first clients, and how she taught herself sales. (And what her coach said to her when she said, “I’m a writer, I want my work to speak for itself.”)
  • Why she cried when she was starting her business, and why she cried after it took off.
  • Her stress over charging $450 for a 5 page website (she now charges much more, and has a great way of dealing with price objections).
  • “Old marketing”, focusing on pain, versus “new marketing”, focusing on desires, which can attract more qualified leads for many businesses. (Stella spent way too much time on unqualified leads early in her career.)
  • The biggest mistake people make in marketing (and of course, what you should do instead).

Books (if you don’t want to spend the money on the Amazon link, you can go to the public library like Stella did):

The wine whiskyOban 14 Year Old

Reuben had some Oban 14 year old Highland whisky. It’s got a little bit of sweetness to it, with hints of vanilla and caramel. Nice for people who don’t want all the peat, but also want a bit more flavor than the Macallan.

bottle_0002_oban-14yo

Stella wished, for just this one moment that she wasn’t on vacation, and was at home with her bottles, preferably the Yoichi Japanese whisky.Yoichi Single Malt

bottle_0002_oban-14yo

Where to find Stella:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com. (Looking for a way to turn more visitors into leads, leads into conversations, conversations into clients, and stay in touch with the people who matter? Start a Mimiran free trial.)

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You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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Episode 20: Aaron Ross on going From Impossible to Inevitable

Aaron RossFew authors have had the impact on sales that Aaron Ross has had over the past few years. His first book, Predictable Revenue, called “the sales bible of silicon valley”, he co-authored along with Marylou Tyler, who was on Sales for Nerds in Episode 14.

Now he’s back with From Impossible to Inevitable: How hyper growth companies create Predictable Revenue. This time, Jason Lemkin, former CEO of EchoSign, leader of SaaStr, and more, is his coauthor.

This book breaks done how companies can grow quickly and sustainably, with 7 steps:

From Impossible to Inevitable Cover

  1. You’re not ready to grow until you Nail a Niche.
  2. Overnight success is a fairy tale. You’re not going to be magically discovered. You need sustainable systems that Create Predictable Pipeline.
  3. Growth exposes your weaknesses and it will cause more problems than it solves—until you Make Sales Scalable.
  4. It’s hard to build a big business out of small deals. Figure out how to Double Your Dealsize.
  5. It’ll take years longer than you want, but don’t quit too soon. Make sure you can Do the Time.
  6. Your people are renting, not owning their jobs. Develop a culture of initiative, not adequacy by Embracing Employee Ownership.
  7. Employees, you are too accepting of “reality” and too eager to quit. You can Define Your Destiny to make a difference, for yourself and your company, no matter what you do or where you work.

Aaron does all this while he and his wife raise 12 kids (!!!) (mostly adopted, for those wondering how that’s even possible for such a young-looking guy).

You might think that Aaron’s some sort of superman, or at least a cyborg, but what’s great about his books is that he admits that this is hard. There’s no “X easy steps to winning.” In fact, the books include painful episodes in Aaron’s life, and the admission that things will be hard and tiring.

His whole career in sales started because he didn’t really know how to sell. He never thought about sales, and certainly never thought he’d end up the author of best-selling sales manuals.

But when his first company failed because he didn’t have the sales chops he wanted to have, he joined Salesforce.com. He was employee number 150, which gave him a bit of stock, but not enough to get rich, and he was “on step up from the interns.” He helped build the outbound engine that developed leads before handing them off to account managers. This helped salesforce grow rapidly and efficiently.

However, it wasn’t until he left salesforce and was consulting with another company that he realized how critical it is to specialize your prospecting (early funnel) and your account management (late funnel).

Even if you don’t have a huge sales team, even if you’re just one person doing everything, you still need a way to focus on your time and energies on these different activities. As they write in the book:

Specializing your roles is the #1 most important thing for creating predictable, scalable sales growth.
Even if it’s just marking different times in your calendar for different activities.
What else did Aaron learn?
First, the importance of “Nailing your Niche”.
This comes up again and again, but “you’re not ready to grow until you nail a niche.” This doesn’t mean you can only work in your niche, but you need to have one and nail it. It makes everything easier.
While consumers tend to buy what they want, business tend to buy what they need. If you’re talking to people and they say, “that’s cool”, but they don’t buy, that means it’s a nice-to-have.

Once you’ve got your niche nailed, you can use your:

  • Seeds (word-of-mouth)
  • Nets (marketing– including testimonials, which are a form of word-of-mouth)
  • Spears (outbound targeted marketing and business development)

Aaron also offers some tips on how to handle the overwhelming number of possible sales and marketing activities, with what he calls “cake vs icing.”

The cake is the core thing that helps your grow your business. For Aaron, it’s writing books. For Jason, it’s being active answering questions on Quora. (If you’re in the software world, you should follow him.) Do that one thing well, and then you can use that in other ways (the “icing”). Don’t try to do everything, or you’ll never get anywhere. Aaron blocked out Wednesdays for a year to write the the book. For Aaron, social media isn’t very interesting, so he hires someone to help him with that part of marketing.

As a pricing guy, I also appreciated Aaron’s view that you should spend as work trying to double your average deal size as you do finding and closing twice as many deals. As Marc Andressen says, “raise prices“.

Aaron also provides some tips on how he manages the family schedule (“one day at a time”). If you’v got less than 12 kids, no complaining. 😉

The wine…

8796499443742Aaron couldn’t partake, because he was in the middle of the morning California time, plus, while he really wanted a glass of wine, he knew it would put him to sleep which is not good when you have a short workday and a huge household logistical puzzle to solve each day.

However, I enjoyed a glass of 2013 Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. A nice, up the middle of the road cab. (It’s pretty expensive on the Franciscan.com site, but you can get it for $15-18.)

Where to find Aaron:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

Get the episode on iTunes (check out the new Apple Podcasts– nice!)

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You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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Episode 4: Joe Williamson

joe-williamsonGuest: Joe Williamson, Partner at Alloy Partners, talks about:

  • how to price new products (brilliant stuff), including how pricing too low makes your prospects look bad
  • having an internal locus of control vs an external locus of control
  • what he learned from teaching at The Princeton Review
  • why he wouldn’t turn to sales books for sales advice (and the surprising persona of the best sales person)

Here’s the link to Episode 4 with Joe Williamson.


The wine: Joe doesn’t drink, but he helps me run an experiment on aerating the wine. Listen to get the results. (Hint, you may want to pick up one of the items in the show notes.)

Chateau Recougne 2012 Bordeaux. Pretty rich, definitely benefits from aeration, then mellows out nicely. Yum.

Chateau Recougne 2012


Venturi Essential Wine Aerator

How to Talk to Practically Anybody about Practically Anything, by Barbara Walters


Where you can find Joe: Alloy Partners, LinkedIn.

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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