WOW! Selling services offline using "interviews" - Mostly Working

31 replies
There was a post or two here about interviewing business owners as a way to selling offline services.

I am doing it now with my own twists.

What should I do when the business owner invites their in-house staff to "sit in" on the interview? I find that clueless in-house staff are usually the problem. And during the interview they are getting in the way of my close and up-sell.

Looking for some good words to use, to professionally de-invite the staff...
#interviews #offline #selling #services #working
  • Profile picture of the author vndnbrgj
    I haven't gone through the interview route myself.... but here is what I would do:
    You don't want to sound like a dick, you are there to interview them. I would allow the attendee to stay for the duration of the interview. I wouldn't pitch anything during the interview. At the end, I would setup a meeting to come back in a few days to go over everything. While speaking, I would bring up your services. "Ya know Doc, you said something the other day that stuck out to me. You mentioned doing some more xxxviii or that you weren't happy with xxxxx"
    Then go into your close.
    "So I did some digging and found that your website wasn't setup to bring you in the most patients possible or your website wasn't shaped to position you as the authority in the area or whatever. "
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    • Profile picture of the author overcook
      Originally Posted by vndnbrgj View Post

      I haven't gone through the interview route myself.... but here is what I would do:
      You don't want to sound like a dick, you are there to interview them. I would allow the attendee to stay for the duration of the interview. I wouldn't pitch anything during the interview. At the end, I would setup a meeting to come back in a few days to go over everything. While speaking, I would bring up your services. "Ya know Doc, you said something the other day that stuck out to me. You mentioned doing some more xxxviii or that you weren't happy with xxxxx"
      Then go into your close.
      "So I did some digging and found that your website wasn't setup to bring you in the most patients possible or your website wasn't shaped to position you as the authority in the area or whatever. "
      Thanks, this is good stuff. Seems like it might work if I can keep their interest levels. With the staff person in attendance, I think that the business owner is less forthcoming. Hmm...
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      • you are selling, on the Interview?


        If you waited? Indentified the decision makers ? sell on the next meeting???

        maybe you would get a bigger sale, than a smaller front end sale.


        just my 2 cents
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  • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
    A lot of people seem to set up these interviews in a misleading way which really hurts the relationship over the long term.

    What do you tell them is the reason for the interview when they agree?
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    • I can't do it.

      I have to provide real value, and help them beforehand.

      to set up an interview with the agenda to sell them makes me feel phoney.

      I do however, have to like the business, like the industry, do Interviews to learn and educate, provide value, and see if they are a good business.

      also, I do take away selling methods. so walking away from a biz. is ok for me.

      my 2 cents
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    • Profile picture of the author mojo1
      Good to see someone having success with this model. I'll be incorporating this also
      in my biz model based on the 4Yesses wso from a while back. The method talked about in this wso masterfully gives something of value up front to any business owner which is what makes the interview method a winner.

      Are you finding the challenge of in-house staff being present during your interview for certain sized or types of businesses?
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      • Originally Posted by mojo1 View Post

        Good to see someone having success with this model. I'll be incorporating this also
        in my biz model based on a wso from a while back.

        Are you finding the challenge of in-house staff being present during your interview for certain sized or types of businesses?
        don't be offended. but provide help to business.

        don't do "bait and switch".

        Ironically, if you didn't come out of the gate and start selling, it would be easier and you would make more money!!!

        guaranteed!
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      • Profile picture of the author overcook
        Originally Posted by mojo1 View Post

        Good to see someone having success with this model. I'll be incorporating this also
        in my biz model based on the 4Yesses wso from a while back. The method talked about in this wso masterfully gives something of value up front to any business owner which is what makes the interview method a winner.

        Are you finding the challenge of in-house staff being present during your interview for certain sized or types of businesses?
        Yes, I read 4 yesses, but frankly it did not work for me. My current strategy is similar but is a combination of two other WSO, postings and in the trenches experience. And my own twists! PM me if you have any questions about method, I will help if I can.

        I really want to focus on my problem in this thread, because it is really bothering me.

        It is like I have a mental block on this one.
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  • Profile picture of the author overcook
    Yes, guys I know better than to bait and switch.

    Maybe I am thinking about this wrong, but I have not been accused of selling during the interview.

    And I do deliver big on the original purpose of the interview, which is to feature their business on my website. The website is something that I took a long time to develop and is well known throughout my area. So they really value the interview.

    The business owners take our calls to set up the interview and they start asking questions at the conclusion about why I am giving them this for "free".

    So I know this is legit as they love the "free publicity".

    ---

    My goal when done right is to get them to admit to some marketing problems in the interview and then agree to "next steps" with me.

    But the in-house staff is blocking either the flow of the dialog or a frank discussion of possible solutions. Often because they are the ones messing up marketing with no knowledge.

    Hard to predict as it comes off as a "oh, meet Roger Flunkie, he will be joining us".

    For the record, this rarely happens, but it is starting to bother me because it happened two times last week!

    What should I say to get rid of the interloper? Something professional, not rude like get out of my kitchen!
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    • Profile picture of the author agc
      Originally Posted by overcook View Post

      Hard to predict as it comes off as a "oh, meet Roger Flunkie, he will be joining us".

      For the record, this rarely happens, but it is starting to bother me because it happened two times last week!

      What should I say to get rid of the interloper? Something professional, not rude like get out of my kitchen!
      "Great! Hi Roger. What we generally do is split the time 75/25. The first 40 minutes we include your best people and get the bottom up view. Then we take a 5 minute break and spend the last 15 minutes just with the ceo/owner and get the top down view. Let's get started!"

      Later, if he wants to keep Roger in the last 15... either Roger has shown to be a valuable team player in which case, SURE. OR "Well Roger can participate if you insist, but we usually find the top down part to be more open and productive in a one on one setting. But it's up to you."

      Ultimately, you can't pry Roger loose... but you can certainly use gentle suggestion and leave it to them to "do what's best". Very subtle but very effective.
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      • Profile picture of the author overcook
        Originally Posted by agc View Post

        "Great! Hi Roger. What we generally do is split the time 75/25. The first 40 minutes we include your best people and get the bottom up view. Then we take a 5 minute break and spend the last 15 minutes just with the ceo/owner and get the top down view. Let's get started!"

        Later, if he wants to keep Roger in the last 15... either Roger has shown to be a valuable team player in which case, SURE. OR "Well Roger can participate if you insist, but we usually find the top down part to be more open and productive in a one on one setting. But it's up to you."

        Ultimately, you can't pry Roger loose... but you can certainly use gentle suggestion and leave it to them to "do what's best". Very subtle but very effective.
        Divide and conquer. Somebody probably won't like my wording, but that is what will help me to remember it.

        I can totally see this working.

        Pure genius!

        I knew if I hung in there long enough, the gems would be revealed.

        I wish I knew how you came up with this? Personal experience?

        Thank you
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        • Profile picture of the author agc
          Originally Posted by overcook View Post

          I wish I knew how you came up with this?
          How did I come up with it?
          Hmm.

          I asked myself questions and answered them.

          Q: "What is the goal here?"
          A: To remove/defer the naysaying so you can work with the owner w/o interference. At least initially.

          Q: How do you get there?
          A: Probably hard to exclude the underlings if boss thinks they're important.
          Plus that would seem shady.
          Plus, even the whiff of hesitation would (and should) set off alarms for anyone with any savvy.

          Q: So how do you get there then?
          A: You just have to embrace them. Open arms. Happily.

          Maybe create some sort of structural "convention" that can be invoked to let you embrace them, and yet still create the separation you want/need.
          The 5 minute break is the structure transition.
          You don't want to be like Trump ordering them out of the board room so you can talk about them privately.
          I mean that's partly what you're doing, but you want it to feel natural.

          Q: But what if the underlings are actually on YOUR page and the boss has been saying no / tunnel visioned?
          A: Include them, get the lay of the land, and EVALUATE ALL THE PLAYERS.
          Then target your presentation accordingly.
          For all you know, they might be your allies, and you'd be a fool to make them enemies before you even know whats up.

          Q: How do I, a lone wolf salesman, invoke any kind of structure?
          A: Always always always exist as a member of a team in an organization that you have to report to.

          I mean this.
          I really mean this.
          Even when you are completely lone wolf... always always always conceptualize (and present) yourself as working as a member of a team.

          As a landlord, I always have a financial "partner" I have to answer to. I also have "stupid bankers" and "asshat insurance people" I have to answer to.
          Notice I said "answer to". Important phrasing. I have autonomy (I can do whatever I want). However... I present myself as not having that complete freedom.

          Instantly, by having other people I have to answer to... I can ALWAYS BE THE GOOD COP, the friend to the customer (tenants).
          I can let my (invisible, fictional, or distant) partners be the bad cops, the ones who make me follow ugly rules.
          Like always doing the credit and background check, and not allowing pit bulls.
          "Hey, I like you, I'm sure you're fine. But I can't even ask for this. I got my ass chewed even for suggesting it once."

          Also, I can explain my point of view on something in 3rd person. I makes it a LOT harder for someone to argue with it. I can always say "I know, but I really can't fault his logic on this." Or if I'm persuaded, I can "run it by him and get back to you. But in my experience, if he bends on this, everyting else better be by the book". I can also agree completely with the customer that it's an asinine rule, but it is what it is and wont change. Now we get back to whether they want to buy the package rather than them trying to convince me to change my rules!

          Especially in sales (where everything is negotiable).
          The things that you really don't want to negotiate? Carve them out, and simply have them be mandated by your managing partner.
          I still may cost you the sale (in my case the tenant).
          But at least you don't waste your day over it too.




          BTW: Divide and conquer is probably not the right approach by the way. Selling to the team is usually a lot easier than selling past the team.
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          One man's terrorist is another man's patriot

          Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground - Frederick Douglas

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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    IMO the title of this thread is misleading.

    "WOW"? Why Wow? ..."Mostly Working"? I don't see it mostly working for the OP. All I see is him trying to use a method to connect with potential clients, and not getting far with it because he's using it in a misleading way.

    Stop doing that!

    You're screwing yourself up in addition to the marketplace. Your attention is always on "Can I make a sale here?" and you're breathing fast and your eyes are darting from place to place. It doesn't look, sound or FEEL like an interview to the prospect and that's why it ends shortly thereafter.

    I don't usually share details like I'm about to because some jerk will release this as a WSO tomorrow, or it'll end up on a hate site run by some loser living in his mom's basement, but I'm at the point where I realize only 5 people are going to see this thread anyway.

    Look--when you're doing interviews, you interview.

    Keep your frickin' eye on the ball.

    Your purpose in these interviews is to find out why this niche would want to buy from you.

    Now I'm not going to mindread but many times I've encountered people who would talk to any business owner in any niche. This is a mistake. You do not want to talk to a banker, then a baker, then an accountant, and then a manufacturer. You'll never get anywhere doing this. Pick ONE niche and stick with it. At least for awhile (and for WF people, that means more than three days!!)

    By sticking to a single type of business, you will begin to develop some EXPERTISE on why these particular business owners would buy from you. I know, expertise, that's a real WOW, right? These reasons a member of that niche would want your help are called Pain Points. They are not hard to get. People want to be helpful. People also want to show off how much they know. I had a client who worked a regular job in Florida and so his day finished too late to call locally. We picked Colorado roofers to talk to about PPC campaigns and I call shadowed with him. Within a dozen dials he got the marketing manager of a medium-sized CO roofing company on the line, and without him even asking for it--because we weren't calling for interviews; we were making prospecting calls--got a good half-dozen pain points. That lady spoke for 20 minutes straight and told him every detail about the CO roofing business. I could release a WSO about how to talk to Colorado roofers from that call.

    When you hear a phrase from a member of your niche, and they say it exactly the way another member said it previously, you know you have one of these pain points. You don't have to hunt for these; they just say them. I was calling for a metal fab shop I ran in the mid 2000s, and after a couple days I realized a contractor had said something in the same way another builder had said it the day before. Next call, I began my process using that same phrasing. The guy immediately got interested.

    Now you understand the PURPOSE of these interviews: to get pain points for this niche.

    These pain points stick around for a long time. Until there's some huge change of technology in that marketplace, they'll be there.

    Your secondary purpose for information interviews is to develop some level of familiarity with the prospect. You want them thinking of YOU when they think of whatever your topic is (eg. web design). That's for referrals more than anything, though they could come back and be a client later.

    Tertiary purpose is to develop your expert status. What are your plans for what to DO with these interviews? Do you realize you have the raw material for a marketing collateral piece here?

    To me, this thread is just another example of the "thud and blunder" attempts by desperate people in the hopes of latching onto something that magically works. Doing the info interview approach IS work. It also has several spillover benefits if you carry it out consistently and properly. The OP is not doing that yet.
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    • Profile picture of the author overcook
      Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

      IMO the title of this thread is misleading.

      "WOW"? Why Wow? ..."Mostly Working"? I don't see it mostly working for the OP. All I see is him trying to use a method to connect with potential clients, and not getting far with it because he's using it in a misleading way.

      Stop doing that!

      You're screwing yourself up in addition to the marketplace. Your attention is always on "Can I make a sale here?" and you're breathing fast and your eyes are darting from place to place. It doesn't look, sound or FEEL like an interview to the prospect and that's why it ends shortly thereafter.

      I don't usually share details like I'm about to because some jerk will release this as a WSO tomorrow, or it'll end up on a hate site run by some loser living in his mom's basement, but I'm at the point where I realize only 5 people are going to see this thread anyway.

      Look--when you're doing interviews, you interview.

      Keep your frickin' eye on the ball.

      Your purpose in these interviews is to find out why this niche would want to buy from you.

      Now I'm not going to mindread but many times I've encountered people who would talk to any business owner in any niche. This is a mistake. You do not want to talk to a banker, then a baker, then an accountant, and then a manufacturer. You'll never get anywhere doing this. Pick ONE niche and stick with it. At least for awhile (and for WF people, that means more than three days!!)

      By sticking to a single type of business, you will begin to develop some EXPERTISE on why these particular business owners would buy from you. I know, expertise, that's a real WOW, right? These reasons a member of that niche would want your help are called Pain Points. They are not hard to get. People want to be helpful. People also want to show off how much they know. I had a client who worked a regular job in Florida and so his day finished too late to call locally. We picked Colorado roofers to talk to about PPC campaigns and I call shadowed with him. Within a dozen dials he got the marketing manager of a medium-sized CO roofing company on the line, and without him even asking for it--because we weren't calling for interviews; we were making prospecting calls--got a good half-dozen pain points. That lady spoke for 20 minutes straight and told him every detail about the CO roofing business. I could release a WSO about how to talk to Colorado roofers from that call.

      When you hear a phrase from a member of your niche, and they say it exactly the way another member said it previously, you know you have one of these pain points. You don't have to hunt for these; they just say them. I was calling for a metal fab shop I ran in the mid 2000s, and after a couple days I realized a contractor had said something in the same way another builder had said it the day before. Next call, I began my process using that same phrasing. The guy immediately got interested.

      Now you understand the PURPOSE of these interviews: to get pain points for this niche.

      These pain points stick around for a long time. Until there's some huge change of technology in that marketplace, they'll be there.

      Your secondary purpose for information interviews is to develop some level of familiarity with the prospect. You want them thinking of YOU when they think of whatever your topic is (eg. web design). That's for referrals more than anything, though they could come back and be a client later.

      Tertiary purpose is to develop your expert status. What are your plans for what to DO with these interviews? Do you realize you have the raw material for a marketing collateral piece here?

      To me, this thread is just another example of the "thud and blunder" attempts by desperate people in the hopes of latching onto something that magically works. Doing the info interview approach IS work. It also has several spillover benefits if you carry it out consistently and properly. The OP is not doing that yet.
      I think I just got served.

      I do not post a lot. But I have been on the Warrior Forum a long, long time. Reading, learning and testing. And I have read many of your posts, Mr. Kanigan, with great inspiration especially about getting over one's fears of cold calling.

      I have seriously learned a lot from you. So the ferocity of your response comes as quite a surprise.

      I regret my poor communication skills and coming off as shady, but if I may respond... This is actually working for my business and has been very well received by business owners.

      I wish I communicated the issue better and I regret the confusion.

      "Wow", what the budding copywriter that I have become to elicit such a rebuke from a prince of cold calling...

      Peace and serenity to you, my good sir/.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
        Originally Posted by overcook View Post

        I think I just got served.

        I do not post a lot. But I have been on the Warrior Forum a long, long time. Reading, learning and testing. And I have read many of your posts, Mr. Kanigan, with great inspiration especially about getting over one's fears of cold calling.

        I have seriously learned a lot from you. So the ferocity of your response comes as quite a surprise.

        I regret my poor communication skills and coming off as shady, but if I may respond... This is actually working for my business and has been very well received by business owners.

        I wish I communicated the issue better and I regret the confusion.

        "Wow", what the budding copywriter that I have become to elicit such a rebuke from a prince of cold calling...

        Peace and serenity to you, my good sir/.
        Did you know WHY you were doing the interviews?

        Did you know what to LOOK for?

        Did you know what to DO with the information once you found it?

        I just laid this stuff out for you on a silver platter...from your posts it appeared you were talking to random business owners without any understanding of what you were doing and why. I get tired of seeing half-baked ideas.

        I have trained professionals far away from WF to use this approach to get $10K/MONTH attorney clients and been given the feedback, "This is the best idea ever. EVER!" What I'm talking about isn't theory.

        And for the record, I do a hell of a lot more than cold calling. That is what people were interested in here, first.
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  • Profile picture of the author overcook
    Yes, I am working one niche at a time. I find that this is the best way to facilitate dialog which gets the business owner to open up.

    Ok, after some reflection, here is what I learned:

    I lack credibility on this forum. So I must endeavor to provide more details first about myself, my values, the marketing plan, how it works and how much business owners appreciate it, etc.

    I will not start my forum posts with questions about fine tuning a working process.

    No matter how legitimate and valued.

    With a low post count, it is just not believable.

    And there are not enough words or time to explain the full business plan.

    Yet there are those rare individuals like vndnbrgj who will stay on topic and hone in with a great answer to the question. Thanks by the way...

    Because credibility is important and I did not provide enough details, people will fill in the blanks with their assumptions. Some are so consumed by their positive and negative experiences that they respond loudly in strange and ferocious ways.

    I understand now.

    I am getting heckled 2/10 times by the in-house staff on the same basis as to how this thread unfolded:

    1. Trust
    2. Timing
    3. Sport

    All a cost of doing business.

    Happy times...
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    • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
      Originally Posted by overcook View Post

      Yes, I am working one niche at a time. I find that this is the best way to facilitate dialog which gets the business owner to open up.

      Ok, after some reflection, here is what I learned:

      I lack credibility on this forum. So I must endeavor to provide more details first about myself, my values, the marketing plan, how it works and how much business owners appreciate it, etc.

      I will not start my forum posts with questions about fine tuning a working process.

      No matter how legitimate and valued.

      With a low post count, it is just not believable.

      And there are not enough words or time to explain the full business plan.

      Yet there are those rare individuals like vndnbrgj who will stay on topic and hone in with a great answer to the question. Thanks by the way...

      Because credibility is important and I did not provide enough details, people will fill in the blanks with their assumptions. Some are so consumed by their positive and negative experiences that they respond loudly in strange and ferocious ways.

      I understand now.

      I am getting heckled 2/10 times by the in-house staff on the same basis as to how this thread unfolded:

      1. Trust
      2. Timing
      3. Sport

      All a cost of doing business.

      Happy times...
      You know, it's not about building credibility here if you need help or advice. It also shouldn't matter what your post count is either. Yeah, you could have provided additional details and assumptions could have been avoided but it really shouldn't be your fault.

      In my opinion, being skeptical and responding in a less than ideal way stems from other people that have used this method and abused it to bits.

      That isn't you fault... Every individual is different, but I must say I kind of lumped you into the pile where those other people landed in as well.

      It's not about trusting you... it's more about other people that have caused many people on here to not trust very easily.

      Like I said above, I've never been a fan of the strategy because it seems dishonest to me, in the way that people have done it in the past. At least YOU are offering them something in exchange for the interview which is more than others have done.
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      • Profile picture of the author overcook
        Originally Posted by iAmNameLess View Post

        You know, it's not about building credibility here if you need help or advice. It also shouldn't matter what your post count is either. Yeah, you could have provided additional details and assumptions could have been avoided but it really shouldn't be your fault.

        In my opinion, being skeptical and responding in a less than ideal way stems from other people that have used this method and abused it to bits.

        That isn't you fault... Every individual is different, but I must say I kind of lumped you into the pile where those other people landed in as well.

        It's not about trusting you... it's more about other people that have caused many people on here to not trust very easily.

        Like I said above, I've never been a fan of the strategy because it seems dishonest to me, in the way that people have done it in the past. At least YOU are offering them something in exchange for the interview which is more than others have done.
        Thanks for this.

        Yes you are right. I could have provided more information. Would have been more productive, but I am a humble person and do not want to appear the braggart. Lesson learned.

        I am glad that nobody is faulting me for what others have done, both on the forum and in the trenches.

        To clarify once again, I am not pitching a sale during the interview. And the business owner is really getting some value for talking with me.

        When I re-read what I wrote, it is confusing. It does sound like my goal is sales. It really is not. My goal for the meeting is to get them comfortable talking with me. And to get them to admit that something is not working.

        They never do this in front of staff. They are guarded when they are speaking as if they do not want to appear weak in front of the team.

        And sometimes the team member destroys the opportunity after the meeting as a silent sniper. If they speak up, then it becomes a pi**ing contest.

        The interview always end in a discussion about their marketing.

        For me this is a replacement to doing the thing that I hated with a passion. Which was when I forced myself to attend the local Chamber meetings and events.

        Meeting business owners in a casual environment was effective, but I absolutely hated it.

        Seriously, I hated those things, because in my city it is more of a social affair like wine & cheese, golf, a** grabbing and guys pitching investment services and financial planning. Not fun for me, but I did it and grew my business.

        Now I have referrals.

        Even still, referrals have only taken me so far.

        I still need to meet more and more people. The interviews, at least the way I am doing it, are something that suits my personality much better. One-on-one interaction which I think I excel at.

        I am definitely not a sales man, but I want to unlock the mysteries of "consultative selling" which has been the natural segue to my interviews.

        Thanks again

        It may not seem like it, but this dialog has been very helpful for me.
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    • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
      Originally Posted by overcook View Post

      Yes, I am working one niche at a time. I find that this is the best way to facilitate dialog which gets the business owner to open up.

      Ok, after some reflection, here is what I learned:

      I lack credibility on this forum. So I must endeavor to provide more details first about myself, my values, the marketing plan, how it works and how much business owners appreciate it, etc.

      I will not start my forum posts with questions about fine tuning a working process.

      No matter how legitimate and valued.

      With a low post count, it is just not believable.

      And there are not enough words or time to explain the full business plan.

      Yet there are those rare individuals like vndnbrgj who will stay on topic and hone in with a great answer to the question. Thanks by the way...

      Because credibility is important and I did not provide enough details, people will fill in the blanks with their assumptions. Some are so consumed by their positive and negative experiences that they respond loudly in strange and ferocious ways.

      I understand now.

      I am getting heckled 2/10 times by the in-house staff on the same basis as to how this thread unfolded:

      1. Trust
      2. Timing
      3. Sport

      All a cost of doing business.

      Happy times...
      Credibility on the forum is not an issue as there are many people who are genuinely seeking help who have no history so to speak.

      I'm fortunate enough to have been interviewed by major news organisations, radio, TV heck I even closed the Today show in New York throwing a boomerang around Rockefeller Plaza with Katy Couric, Matt Lauer et al.

      INTERVIEWS are not PITCHES

      Interviews are usually a legitimate way to gain and share knowledge and engage in a conversation.

      Usually the Interviewer will make several contact points prior to undertaking the interview and they usually spell out exactly what they expect to discuss during the meeting.

      It is quite legitimate when a University Student calls and says I'm studying SMEs as part of my business degree and I'd love to interview you. I'm more than happy to share the results of my findings, study eye. afterwards.

      It is also legitimate to sell PRIOR to the interview much like a local newspaper may do by means of saying. I'd love to Interview you because we are doing a special lift out on Local Tradies. I'd like to include you in the editorial and also offer you the opportunity to place an advertisement in the Liftout.

      It would be legitimate if you approached a business to say "I'd like to interview you because I'm trying to improve the services my (INSERT NAME HERE) offers to (INSERT INDUSTRY) and I recognise you are an authority in that industry and your feedback would be invaluable. You could offer to share the results of your findings with the owner.

      It is not legitimate to arrange an interview and then make a pitch.

      Maybe this is why the owner invites others to attend to give them more power in the situation and because they recognise that legitimate interviewers do not have any ulterior motives.

      Jason does provide you with a concise strategy to use to get to the key areas that specific businesses face. He's not attacking you personally only the misguided strategy that blends Interviews with pitching.

      Also being a budding copywriter you'd have to understand the necessity for getting inside the head of your prospects.

      It might yield more results if you went down the path of a legitimate interview where you gathered and collated the information and shared it first.

      A couple of months later there is nothing wrong with coming back to someone and saying

      "I'm really grateful for your help with my research."

      "If you are interested I'd love to show you some of the strategies that came out of it and maybe of help if you applied them in your business"

      You are much more likely to gain respect this way.
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  • Profile picture of the author umc
    Ignoring all of the assumptions made by others, my question is this....

    What is it in setting up the interview that even makes them want to include others in the interview? That seems odd to me. Are you interviewing business owners to write the story of their business, or are you setting up a general interview about who they are as a company now? In the former I would think that the owner wouldn't think to include others, but I could see it in the latter. In other words, my focus would be on what I could do to exclude others in the process.
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    Originally Posted by overcook View Post

    There was a post or two here about interviewing business owners as a way to selling offline services.

    I am doing it now with my own twists.

    What should I do when the business owner invites their in-house staff to "sit in" on the interview? I find that clueless in-house staff are usually the problem. And during the interview they are getting in the way of my close and up-sell.

    Looking for some good words to use, to professionally de-invite the staff...
    I used recorded interviews to establish a relationship to get booked for speaking gigs. I've also used it in a very limited way, to directly sell my local online marketing service.

    Kanigan really knows what he's talking about here. The only difference to me, is that I would leave openings, in the interview to let the guy know that I work with people in his business. After the interview, I ask if there are any questions (we aren't recording now), and sometimes the guy will just blurt out "So, what can you do for me?" or something like that.

    But there has to be a real interview. And if it's a real interview, why do you care if underlings are in the room? Hopefully, these are the same underlings that will be there when you present your offer (assuming you do). So use the interview time to get them on your side. Ask them a question. Thank them for participating. Mention that other people in their position tell you that your service makes their job easier. But do this lightly. If they even notice that you are looking for business, it will backfire.

    If it were me? I would interview 5 or 6 leaders (that you wanted to work with) and create a report based on what you learned from all of them. Then give the report to each prospect. At the very end of the report, mention that you help people in their business.


    Decades ago, when I would pick up women, I never asked them overtly. I would just leave openings so they could let me know that they were interested, if they were. One or two is plenty.

    It's a completely different dynamic if an interviewee asks "So, do you think you would help my business?"...rather than you just starting to pitch.

    Added a tad later; I just read Oziboomer's post. Follow that idea. One of the best posts I've read on the subject.

    Yeah, mentioning that you have a buying opportunity beforehand is good positioning, and then the interviewee will be ready for your suggestions. Just don't call it only an interview...and then pitch. That's very bad.
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    • Profile picture of the author overcook
      Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

      Kanigan really knows what he's talking about here. The only difference to me, is that I would leave openings, in the interview to let the guy know that I work with people in his business. After the interview, I ask if there are any questions (we aren't recording now), and sometimes the guy will just blurt out "So, what can you do for me?" or something like that.
      Bingo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      This is what I meant by close and upsell. Definitely the wrong word choice in my original message. I should have said, "openings" and "ask for questions".

      Two times last week when i left the openings, the business owner took it, but the underling got very uncomfortable because they consider this to be their domain i.e. social media marketer, marketing assistant and even office manager.

      Here is one of those examples from last week.

      I waited until the end, asked for questions and the business owner who was ver excited asked me what I thought about his FaceBook page.

      I was prepared before the meeting and so I took the bait.

      Worked before, why would this time be any different?

      I suggested three solid improvements, not the least of which was Facebook PPC (which they knew nothing about), daily postings of niche related content and some fluffy stuff about TGIF, silly cats and lovable dogs etc.

      The underling, who happened to be in charge of their Facebook page, came alive and basically started to heckle me.

      Derailing the discussion. You don't get those moments back.

      Totally different dynamic when I meet with the business owner directly.

      I have probably done more than 2 dozen interviews with increasing levels of success.

      Keep in mind that the underling only appears 2/10 times. The other 80% of the time, things go silky smooth. Almost without question.

      I originally posted this hoping to deal address the 20%. But I realize now that I can not expect a 100% "close" rate.

      Oops! There I go with sales talk...

      Anyway things are so much easier without underlings in the room. I want to talk at a high level with the business owner without bruising any egos or threatening anyone's livelihood.

      I believe now that this is the cost of doing business. And in those cases, it is best to avoid making any openings. Better to catch them later as many have suggested...
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by overcook View Post

        Bingo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        This is what I meant by close and upsell. Definitely the wrong word choice in my original message. I should have said, "openings" and "ask for questions".

        Two times last week when i left the openings, the business owner took it, but the underling got very uncomfortable because they consider this to be their domain i.e. social media marketer, marketing assistant and even office manager.
        You have to know that this reaction is the norm. So, you engage the underlings. You compliment them in front of the owner. You mention how important their work is, and how what you do is something completely different.

        You have to not be a threat.

        Your service has to be positioned as complimentary to what the employees are doing, but not duplicating their effort. Your work will help their efforts be more profitable.

        The underling's first reaction will always be...that you are a threat to them. You have to take care of that. How they perceive you, will have a major impact on whether you get called for your services.

        And always, always, always compliment them on the work they have already done. No exceptions. Even if it's terrible, at least compliment their previous decision to do something online.
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        • Profile picture of the author overcook
          Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

          You have to know that this reaction is the norm. So, you engage the underlings. You compliment them in front of the owner. You mention how important their work is, and how what you do is something completely different.

          You have to not be a threat.

          Your service has to be positioned as complimentary to what the employees are doing, but not duplicating their effort. Your work will help their efforts be more profitable.

          The underling's first reaction will always be...that you are a threat to them. You have to take care of that. How they perceive you, will have a major impact on whether you get called for your services.

          And always, always, always compliment them on the work they have already done. No exceptions. Even if it's terrible, at least compliment their previous decision to do something online.
          Claude, you are another great one that I have followed.

          And you have my head spinning.

          Seriously.

          I am doing the interviews and it is so easy with my current approach, but only when it is the business owner. But the underlings are where the rubber meets the road!

          I don't currently do any of this and I have been getting away with not having to deal with it. But I want to learn, because this is something that is bothering me.

          I have to be honest. It bothers me because we take a lot of time to qualify the business owners and I feel that I should "close" them 100%.

          60-70% is not bad closing rate and I am certainly not complaining. But I could do 10% better if I could handle the underling situation like a pro.

          10% better is a big deal and I can imagine seeing an underling trying to muscle their way in and me handling it like a pro.

          It does get boring sometimes and I have to set goals to keep it moving. And this will be what I look forward to.

          Man I'm pumped!
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    • Profile picture of the author overcook
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      • Profile picture of the author Freebiequeen1999
        Not getting into the "right or wrong" of this but I have often found that the "staff" may be the ones doing the stuff I might present to them - they don't want the boss to switch or spend money on marketing as it may overlap their "job" and security

        for instance : suzy the receptionist also handles their social media...
        their nephew designed their website
        Ralph in sales has been writing their ads etc

        You may be able to word your interview request to "speak with YOU, as a leader/owner etc" ....or ask for a "one on one interview"....

        or take the owner out (very close by) for coffee or whatever - get him away from his office and staff

        (I don't personally do interview deals...but I have learned that with some small biz owners I want to get them away from their ever so helpful staff who often are ready to squash new ideas that might encroach on "their" territory)
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        • Profile picture of the author overcook
          Originally Posted by Freebiequeen1999 View Post

          Not getting into the "right or wrong" of this but I have often found that the "staff" may be the ones doing the stuff I might present to them - they don't want the boss to switch or spend money on marketing as it may overlap their "job" and security

          for instance : suzy the receptionist also handles their social media...
          their nephew designed their website
          Ralph in sales has been writing their ads etc

          You may be able to word your interview request to "speak with YOU, as a leader/owner etc" ....or ask for a "one on one interview"....

          or take the owner out (very close by) for coffee or whatever - get him away from his office and staff

          (I don't personally do interview deals...but I have learned that with some small biz owners I want to get them away from their ever so helpful staff who often are ready to squash new ideas that might encroach on "their" territory)
          So true!! All of the details you shared about insourcing the marketing to untrained employees and family members is spot on.

          And they will kill ideas that jeopardize their side jobs.

          When I started doing this, I had considered taking the business owner out of their element.

          I have an office, but I see value in having the owner comfortable enough to open up. I figure it is easier in their own environment, but you are right about the likelihood of staff wanting to joing/learn. They think they are "protecting" the business owner, who may be a relative.

          I do need a quiet environment though as I record the interviews.

          Hopefully this does not sound too mean, but if I am honest, I like to visit them so I control how long the interview lasts. If they visit me, then I find that they leave when they want to i.e. after they have finished picking my brain dry.

          Well, not really but these meeting do last longer than my drive bys.

          Anyway I can guarantee that if I schedule at their place of business, they will be there. And not get lost or delayed trying to meet me at my office or someplace else.

          I only do this locally, nose to nose. On the phone is not something that I think would work for me.
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          • Profile picture of the author neuroscience
            Originally Posted by overcook View Post

            I only do this locally, nose to nose. On the phone is not something that I think would work for me.
            How do you set up the interview? Considering doing something similar, but on the phone. Mirroring already working clients, using their painpoints, but not being bound by geography.
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            • Profile picture of the author overcook
              Originally Posted by neuroscience View Post

              How do you set up the interview? Considering doing something similar, but on the phone. Mirroring already working clients, using their painpoints, but not being bound by geography.
              I have my appointment setter call which initiates an e-mail exchange.

              Somebody above mentioned 5yesses WSO which recommended phone interviews. I am more credible in person. But when I started, I tried a few e-mail and phone interviews and it just did not feel right and nothing happened afterward in terms of follow on business. Can't really conclude anything from such a small sample size, but it just does not even make sense to me to do this on the phone. But maybe that is just me.

              I have learned how feel, see, touch works.

              Anyway if you get it to work over the phone or have a unique twist, then please share either here or PM...
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  • Profile picture of the author overcook
    Oh yeah, Claude. Which of your books covers this? Based on what you know I am doing with interviews, which of your books can help me?

    After the interviewing, I think my process is "consultative selling", at least that is what somebody told me I am doing, but I never studied sales formally.

    I am a techie who has thrown himself into it. And it works, but I make a lot of bonehead mistakes that are probably simple sales techniques.

    Please PM if necessary so I do not get into trouble...
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by overcook View Post

      Oh yeah, Claude. Which of your books covers this? Based on what you know I am doing with interviews, which of your books can help me?

      After the interviewing, I think my process is "consultative selling", at least that is what somebody told me I am doing, but I never studied sales formally.

      I am a techie who has thrown himself into it. And it works, but I make a lot of bonehead mistakes that are probably simple sales techniques.

      Please PM if necessary so I do not get into trouble...
      I'm guessing that it's in One Call Closing. And I think that's the book you'll get the most out of.

      Remember that no matter what happens in an interview (or sales presentation), it's to your advantage, if you just know how to apply what they said or did. Always respond like their reaction is expected, and that it's all part of the buying process.

      As far as closing 100%, it will never happen. And at the top end, the Law of Diminishing Returns sets in.
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  • Profile picture of the author bizgrower
    Without sounding like a jerk, and before the interview, say some thing like:

    "I've found that there is more candor when I interview one on one."

    "It usually works better for the business owner if the interview is one on one."

    "Before your interview, I will have studied your internet presence and then during your interview we will talk about some of the things I observed. It has been my experience that it is more productive for the business owner when the interview is one on one. The information flow is better and then it's easier for
    you to implement any ideas because you know your staff..."

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    If they do bring employees in, then as Claude suggested, be very non-threatening. Figure out ways
    to phrase things so that it will sink in, and then later the employees will think it was their idea in the
    first place. Facilitate discussion.

    Suppose a topic is their FB page and the employees who created it and work on it are present. Ask them for their ideas - chances are they have been thinking about some of the same things you want to implement. "What are some ideas you guys have for your FB page?" "This is working really well right now for businesses similar to yours. How do you think it could be made to work for your business?"

    Employees buy when they think it's their idea.
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