In today’s episode, Mike talks with Sara Phillips. Sara is a small business coach and founder of Superior Performance Coaching.
She’s a professionally trained educator, so she’s able to take on her coaching challenges and breaking them down into small bites and deliver training that empowers her clients to sell and operate their businesses confidently and comfortably so that you can create a consistent income.
Sara Phillip’s Bio
I support business leaders in the small business arena to understand and transform their communication in such a way that their employees and customers are more loyal, employees take ownership and start problem-solving rather than take it to someone else, and personal and family bonds are strengthened. These things combine to allow business leaders to spend time doing the things they love in and out of their business and create the life they’ve always dreamed about living.
▶️𝐖𝐡𝐨 𝐈 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐖𝐢𝐭𝐡:
✚ 𝖲𝗆𝖺𝗅𝗅 𝖡𝗎𝗌𝗂𝗇𝖾𝗌𝗌 𝖮𝗐𝗇𝖾𝗋𝗌 𝗐𝗁𝗈 𝖺𝗋𝖾 𝗋𝖾𝖺𝖽𝗒 𝗍𝗈 𝗍𝖺𝗄𝖾 𝗍𝗁𝖾𝗂𝗋 𝖻𝗎𝗌𝗂𝗇𝖾𝗌𝗌 𝗍𝗈 𝗍𝗁𝖾 𝗇𝖾𝗑𝗍 𝗅𝖾𝗏𝖾𝗅.
✚ 𝖲𝗎𝖼𝖼𝖾𝗌𝗌𝖿𝗎𝗅 𝗆𝖾𝗇 𝗂𝗇 𝗅𝖾𝖺𝖽𝖾𝗋𝗌𝗁𝗂𝗉 𝗉𝗈𝗌𝗂𝗍𝗂𝗈𝗇𝗌 𝗐𝗁𝗈 𝗐𝖺𝗇𝗍 𝗍𝗈 𝖼𝗈𝗆𝗆𝗎𝗇𝗂𝖼𝖺𝗍𝖾 𝗐𝗂𝗍𝗁 𝗆𝗈𝗋𝖾 𝖼𝗅𝖺𝗋𝗂𝗍𝗒, 𝖾𝖿𝖿𝗂𝖼𝗂𝖾𝗇𝖼𝗒 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝖾𝖿𝖿𝖾𝖼𝗍𝗂𝗏𝖾𝗇𝖾𝗌𝗌
✚ 𝖡𝗎𝗌𝗂𝗇𝖾𝗌𝗌 𝗅𝖾𝖺𝖽𝖾𝗋𝗌 𝗐𝗁𝗈 𝖺𝗋𝖾 𝗌𝖾𝖾𝗄𝗂𝗇𝗀 𝗌𝗍𝗋𝗎𝖼𝗍𝗎𝗋𝖾, 𝗌𝗒𝗌𝗍𝖾𝗆𝗌, 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝗌𝗂𝗆𝗉𝗅𝗂𝖼𝗂𝗍𝗒 𝗍𝗁𝖺𝗍 𝗐𝗂𝗅𝗅 𝖺𝗅𝗅𝗈𝗐 𝗍𝗁𝖾𝗆 𝗍𝗈 𝖻𝖾 𝗌𝗎𝖼𝖼𝖾𝗌𝗌𝖿𝗎𝗅 𝗂𝗇 𝖻𝗎𝗌𝗂𝗇𝖾𝗌𝗌 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝗌𝗍𝗂𝗅𝗅 𝗁𝖺𝗏𝖾 𝗍𝗂𝗆𝖾 𝖿𝗈𝗋 𝖺 𝖿𝗎𝗅𝖿𝗂𝗅𝗅𝗂𝗇𝗀 𝗉𝖾𝗋𝗌𝗈𝗇𝖺𝗅 𝗅𝗂𝖿𝖾.
- The importance of mindset in sales
- Changing the perception of sales as providing opportunities rather than selling products/services
- The power of listening in sales conversations
- Demonstrating the effectiveness of listening through a real-life example
- Encouraging listeners to change their mindset and focus on solving problems
- The role of follow-up in sales and the importance of persistence
- Communicating based on the customer’s values rather than focusing on features and benefits
- The necessity of understanding customers’ pain points
- Contact information for Sara Phillips and her offer of a free gift for listeners
- The 90-second personality quiz to improve communication skills
Links & Resources Mentioned…
Mike O'Neill: Welcome back to the Get Unstuck and On-Target podcast. I'm Mike O'Neill with Bench Builders and with leadership Coaching and Supervisor training, we help companies solve the people problems that are hurting their profit and slowing their growth. Joining me today is Sara Phillips. Sara is a veteran small business coach and founder of Superior Performance Coaching.
She's a professionally trained educator, so she's able to take on her coaching challenges and breaking them down into small bites and deliver training that empowers her clients to sell and operate their businesses confidently and comfortably so that you can create a consistent income. Welcome, Sara.
Sara Phillips: Hi. Thank you, Mike. It's great to be here with you.
Mike O'Neill: Sara, we've had an opportunity to spend some time prior to scheduling this podcast. There's something about you that's just, you're just very approachable and I was very interested in speaking to you, not only because you coach small businesses, but you also have some expertise in coaching small business owners how to sell successfully.
Sara Phillips: Yes.
Mike O'Neill: And that's where I would like to start our conversation.
Sara, you are a small business coach, but you also have a background in coaching business owners on how to be successful in sales.
Sara Phillips: Yeah.
Mike O'Neill: And it's that sales coaching that I'd like to start our conversation about, in that as I talk to other small business owners like myself, when we slip off for a cup of coffee and we talk about the challenges, so often, selling is something that comes up as one of the challenges. They know their product, they know their service.
They have a passion for what they do, but the idea of having to quote sell scares them senseless. Do you see that?
Sara Phillips: I see that all the time. I would say probably 90% of people who sell have that feeling.
Mike O'Neill: Why do you think that's ...?
Sara Phillips: So they're that alone.
Mike O'Neill: Why do you think that's the case?
Sara Phillips: I think it is because in my experience it is because they have been trained to sell, which is a little funny because I wasn't trained to sell.
It was something that I did naturally. When I was a kid in school, I don't, you may not be old enough to remember this, but when Pop Rocks first came out, parents didn't want their kids to have pop rocks cuz they were afraid they were gonna explode in their stomach and kill them. So all the kids wanted pop rocks but they couldn't get them.
Well, my parents owned the store, so like I can get you pop rocks. Not a problem. So I would go home, I would buy it all at wholesale, go back to school, sell it for a little over retail. I kept the difference. And so because of that, sales to me was always a service I was doing for somebody. I was, I figured out that all salesmen are is a conduit between people and what they want.
We just get paid to connect them. So, because of that, because it came so naturally, I never went through the Sandler selling and the spin selling and the, you know, all the other sales systems. So I wasn't taught to have that pressure. I learned to sell by being the buyer's, assistant buyer. My job was simply to be there and consult with them and help them make the best decision for themselves.
Mike O'Neill: So can I paraphrase? Some of the things I just heard.
Sara Phillips: Sure.
Mike O'Neill: One, you were early drug dealer.
Sara Phillips: Yes. I was so cracked.
Mike O'Neill: And what I've also learned is the reason why that rumor went around that was exploding your stomach. You started it to be able to sell more pop rocks, obviously.
Sara Phillips: My secret's out.
Mike O'Neill: But you said something that kind of caught my attention and this has caught my attention in a previous conversation, and that is you're there to assist them. You could call that different things, but you're trying to what, understand the world and their challenges from their perspective?
Sara Phillips: Absolutely, absolutely. And I've had people tell me, well, Sara, really what you're doing is consultative selling. No, I'm not. Because when you do consultative sales, your focus is on the sale. I am not, my focus is never ever on the sale. My focus is always 100% of the time on the client. What do they want?
What are your goals? Where are you at now? What's in the gap and how do I help you get to the next resource that you need? Sometimes that's me. Sometimes that's not me, but that's okay. Because I sell a whole lot more because I don't have the discomfort of feeling like I have to go in and sell somebody. So I don't avoid sales, I don't avoid conversations.
Mike O'Neill: You don't avoid conversations, you don't avoid sales. But I'll go back to that earlier question. There are business owners out there who do. So how do you help them overcome that?
Sara Phillips: Well, the first thing is you really need to get your mindset in the right place. You need to understand the value that you are truly bringing to the table.
I actually, as a matter of fact, is ironically, I just started doing a a workshop once a month on specifically that, on getting the mindset right, because once you do that, everything else kind of falls into place. Everything else is fairly easy. It's then just the, you know, learning to ask the right questions and things of that nature.
But the mindset is everything. It's understanding that I am not here to, because most of the time when you go into a sales call, most people view it as, okay, this person has whatever it is, a thousand dollars. One of us is gonna leave with it, so there's gonna be a winner and a loser. That's not how I view things.
It's not about their money. My objective walking in the door is, here's a person who needs some support getting to their goals. My job here is to help them take the next step so that when I walk out the door, we both win. Why would you not wanna go do that if everybody gets to win? So it's truly all about the mindset.
Mike O'Neill: That approach seems to be very comfortable for you as you share that with your clients. Is it comfortable for them? Do they develop a comfort with that approach?
Sara Phillips: Yeah, as usually, as a matter of fact, I did a, my first workshop the other day on the mindset, and I even had a guy there, he said, Sara, let me tell you something, I've been selling for 42 years. I thought I had heard it all.
But I learned so much in an hour with you. It was ridiculous because I always had that in the feeling in the pit of my stomach that I really didn't wanna have the conversation, he said, and now it's like, oh, all that's gone. I don't have to feel like that anymore.
Now I can just go out and have conversations and serve people.
Mike O'Neill: You know, it's fascinating that you had someone who'd been selling for 42 years come to that realization. You said that mindset is so important and the mindset I believe that you're describing here is you're not necessarily there to sell.
You're there to serve.
Sara Phillips: Yep.
Mike O'Neill: And in serving, you have to have some sense of discipline. It may not be a sales methodology per se, but we talked about the possibility of habits of being a business owner and the habits of being a successful salesperson. If you had to identify the number one habit that you would want us as listeners to adopt, to be more successful in sales or more successful as a leader, what would that habit be?
Sara Phillips: You get to have conversations with people every day. You get to prospect every day. If you still have that feeling of, I don't want to, I don't like to sell, that's gonna be challenging for you. But once you can get the mindset of I'm just here to have conversations and find out what people want, it takes that away.
So that, to me, the people that I find that are comfortable approaching new conversations, are the ones who are successful in sales. The ones who hold back because they feel like they're being pushy or manipulative or just icky about the whole sales process are rarely successful because they always feel like they're not genuine in their conversations.
Because quite frankly, they're not genuine in their conversations. Because it's always that game in their head of how do I get this person to the right spot so that I can sell them something? And when you don't have to play that mental strategy game, when you just get to be and listen to people and react to what you hear, it's like going out to see friends.
Mike O'Neill: Now, what about those folks who have a multi-touch sales? It's not a one visit close, but it takes more than one visit. Does the same apply there?
Sara Phillips: Absolutely. Absolutely. So it is, you know, when you have a multi-touch sale, it is simply helping them get to the next gate that they need to get to.
So, you know, my process is teaching people how to go in, first of all, and say, okay, what's the long range goal for you? Okay, where are you at in relation to that now, on a scale of 1 to 10. Okay, so now we see the gap. All right? What is the next logical step for you? And I help them examine that by asking them questions, and then I provide them resources with that.
That's where, especially when you have a multi-step. It's probably more important in a multi-step sale because one of the reasons that it takes the multi-step is they have to learn to trust you. And when you go in and you're not constantly trying to close the sale, but you are simply helping them gather resources to reach their goals, the trust just comes.
You know, one of the, I got one of the highest compliments I've ever been paid earlier today. It was a guy that he and I have had one conversation on the phone. I did a call with him today just to follow up and he said, I want you to know something. I feel like I have known you forever. That was like the biggest compliment ever to me, because that tells me that I'm relating to him on his level.
I'm living in his world, not making him live in mine.
Mike O'Neill: I've heard the expression in a sales context that they need to know you. They need to like you and they need to trust you. That's a sales model in part. Agree or disagree with that?
Sara Phillips: Somewhat. Depends on what it is. I mean, cause let's face it. Have you ever bought something from somebody you didn't know?
Of course you do it every time you go to Wal-Mart.
Mike O'Neill: Yes.
Sara Phillips: Have you ever bought somebody from, something from somebody that you didn't like? Probably if the deal was good enough, the one that we don't negotiate on is trust. If I don't trust you, I ain't buying anything from you because I can't trust that what you're telling me about the product or service is correct.
So trust is the keystone to me.
Mike O'Neill: That's interesting. Now, the comment that was shared with you today that you found to be a true compliment, do you believe that was a reflection of trust?
Sara Phillips: Yes.
Mike O'Neill: Okay.
Sara Phillips: Absolutely.
Mike O'Neill: It's hard to define trust. Is it not?
Sara Phillips: It is. It is to me, trust is a knowingness that the person that I'm talking with is genuine. They are real, and they have my best interest at heart. That there's nothing selfish about what they do, and that is why that was such a compliment to me. Because what he was saying to me is, I welcome you into my world because I know that what you are doing, you're doing for my highest good.
Mike O'Neill: You know, so far we've been talking about sales, business owners who are put in the role that they must be comfortable with sales, and you've offered some good tips. Let's broaden that because you're a small business coach.
Sara Phillips: Yes.
Mike O'Neill: What have you found in today's climate is some of the biggest challenges of poor small business owners?
Sara Phillips: The biggest challenge that I am seeing over and over again has right now is finding and keeping good employees.
Mike O'Neill: Yep.
Sara Phillips: It is. It is killing people. And to be honest with you, it all comes down to communication. You know, I'll give you an example. I was talking with a small business owner the other day and he was telling me again, you know, having trouble finding and keeping employees.
I said, okay. I said, well, let's talk about that for a minute. I said you know, you've got a sales manager. Tell me about his family. And he kinda looked at me like, what? I said, tell me about his family. Well, he's married, he's got two kids. Okay. How are kids doing in school? I, I don't know. Okay, well, who else have you got on staff?
And he told me, I said, well, tell me about her last vacation. And he was like, well, I don't know. I mean, she wasn't here. I don't, I, I don't know. I said, okay. So let's look at those two answers that you've just given me. You're looking for people who are going to be loyal, dependable, hardworking, and honest, but you haven't taken the time to find out anything about them.
What purpose do they have to be loyal to you when you're not loyal to them, and his mouth hung open, you know, I am the small business coach that, I don't mince words. I don't sugarcoat things I'm gonna tell you like it is. I always tell my clients, you're probably gonna hate me for the first three months, but after that you'll be a raving fan cause you're gonna be making more money and have more growth than you've ever had in your life.
But that's the reality. That's why people are having trouble with small business, they're expecting something from their employees that they're not willing to give in return and that's never gonna work. If you are unwilling to invest yourself in them, they're going to be unwilling to invest themselves in you and your business.
Mike O'Neill: So for those folks who are watching this, they see me nodding. You can't see me nodding if you're listening to, but you are obviously singing my tune. I've had the opportunity to work in HR for a long, long time. Now I work with business owners and HR departments, and you kind of ask the question, well, why can't I keep people?
And they start by saying, well, I just can't find them. Well, the challenge is keeping what you got, and what I'm hearing you say is the way you keep what you got is you invest in them.
Sara Phillips: Yes.
Mike O'Neill: You know them you get involved with them. You really show them in a meaningful way that you care.
Sara Phillips: Yeah.
Mike O'Neill: And probably the biggest way you can show you care is to just know about what's going on in their world.
That's great, example, you made a comment a moment ago, and that is that when you begin to work with a client, those first three months might be pretty bumpy, but then they begin to really sing your praises. We've talked a little about the challenge of sales. We've talked about the challenge of finding and keeping employees as the biggest number one thing.
What happens about three months in that people begin looking at you with a fresh set of eyes?
Sara Phillips: Because after that, during that first three months, yeah. The one thing that I always teach my business owners is, you are going to be very uncomfortable. What you are comfortable with has created what you have now.
It's not what you want. The only way for us to create something different is for us to push the walls out on your comfort zone, so that first three months. They are getting really uncomfortable and they are not liking me. But then once they have done that and that three months, by the time three months has come in, they are now seeing the results of that three months of discomfort and stepping out of their own comfort zone, and all of a sudden the profits are going up.
They're not spending all day in the office putting out fires. They're actually spending time doing the things that they love to do because most business owners that I deal with got into a business because they love doing the thing that they get into business and they end up spending all of their time sitting in the office taking care of problems and putting out fires, and they hate it.
And so what I teach them how to do is to step into communication and leadership that allows them to no longer have to solve the problems to, to empower their team. That's your job. My job is to do what I love to do, which is to spend time with my clients and my personnel to make this business what I want it to be.
Mike O'Neill: Sara, I think we met in Suzanne Taylor Keen's coaching community, and there's just something about you that I kind of sat up and took notice and I think I realized what that might be in part. I'm looking at your LinkedIn profile right now, and I'm looking at some recent post you've made. Let me just read the titles.
If I'm reading this right, first one, whatever you do in business, do not hire a coach. Next one, selling sucks. Third, how many times does the F-bomb get dropped into your day? F by the way, I think in this case, as you're using this for frustration.
Sara Phillips: Yes.
Mike O'Neill: It's that plain-spokenness. Now, by the way, whatever you do not hire a coach.
You go on to write all the reasons why you should hire a coach. You being a coach naturally. But there's something about you that kind of calls it as you see it, that I find refreshing.
Sara Phillips: Yes.
Mike O'Neill: Can you reflect on your time as a coach, maybe even as an educator where perhaps you, a client, maybe a team that you were on got stuck, and when that happened, what did you do to get unstuck?
Sara Phillips: Oh yeah. This is one of my favorite stories, by the way, so, I was coaching well, I was leading a sales team of telemarketers where their job was to set appointments with people for consulting services. And they were, the numbers were sliding off, sliding off, sliding off. So we had a meeting one day and I'm like, okay, what's up?
This is unusual. This is not what you are, by the way, just as a testament to know that I know what I'm talking about with maintaining teams, turnover rate and telemarketing is 400% a year. I maintained the same year, exact same team for two and a half years.
Mike O'Neill: Goodness.
Sara Phillips: So, but I was like, what is going on with y'all?
This is quite unusual. Sara, there are some people that just, you know, because they worked in counties, there are some people on these list that the list are just worn out and there's just some people who just won't set an appointment. Excuse me. They just won't. So there are some people you just can't sell to.
I said, okay, first of all, let me take the word sell out of your vocabulary because you're not selling them anything. You're providing an opportunity for them. I said, but I agree with you on the fact that there are some things that people don't need.
However, what we're doing is we are providing them an opportunity to get, find and keep better employees and improve their profit margin. Tell me a company in this country that doesn't need those things. Yeah, but you don't understand.
They just won't listen. Ah, now I see the problem because you think it's their job to listen. That's not their job. Your job is to listen. I promise you, if you learn to listen to them. That will stop happening. No, you're wrong, they argue with me and finally I said, look, okay, here's the deal. I'll give you an hour.
I want you to pick the toughest person that you have on those lists. I'm gonna call them. If I can't set the appointment, you go home for the rest of the day with pay. But if I can, then you get to never say those words to me again. Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah. So they picked this guy, I'll never forget him, his name is Doug, down at the beach.
I called him, Hey, this is Sara with Southern Management Service. He said, Sara, oh my God. When are you people going to give up? I said excuse me. He said, I have told your people at least 50 times, I am not interested in your services. I said, oh, I'm sorry. We've got some confusion here. I wasn't trying, I wasn't calling here to find anything out.
The reason that I was calling was because I understand that you're doing really, really well. And he said, yeah, I'm doing 30% above industry average right now. That's why I don't need what you do. I said, that's why I'm calling because I wanna know how you're doing that. So he proceeds to tell me he's done this, he's done this, he bought this equipment, he did this he's innovative, blah, blah, blah.
And he went on for, must have been 20 minutes, and I just sat and listened. When he got finished, I said, wow, It's absolutely obvious to me why you're doing 30% above industry average, tell me if I'm wrong, but it sounds to me like you take advantage of every opportunity there is to improve your profit margin.
And he said, yeah. I said, great, here's another opportunity. When would you like for us to stop by? And he went, I pardon my french here, but this is what he said. He said, damnit, you got me, and you know you got me. I said, yep, cause as good as you are at what you do, that's how good we are at what we do. When would you like for us to stop by?
And he went ahead and set the appointment. And after that, again, back to mindset, the mindset of my entire team changed because they saw in action that I was simply there to listen. Just to take in. Allow them to say what they had to say and then share with them the opportunity that I had available for.
Mike O'Neill: It's a great example, you know, for those folks who are in fact listening, which is what you're encouraging us to do, as you reflect on what we've talked about thus far, what do you want our listeners to have as takeaways?
Sara Phillips: Change your mindset. Understand that you are there to solve problems. You are not there to sell anything. You are there to find out what their wants and needs are, their goals, what the next step is, and give them resources for that. Whether that's your resources or someone else's is totally irrelevant.
Your job is to serve them and to help them take the next step towards their goals. The other thing, and we haven't talked about this, but it's super, two other things that's super important. Number one is following up. I will tell you that statistics show us that only 2% of people buy on the first sell.
Only 20% buy in the first five calls, 80% buy on the 5th through the 12th calls. So if you are making one call, maybe two, take your income and multiply it by 49 and see what number you come up with. That's how important follow up is. And the other thing is the absolute necessity for knowing how to communicate to someone based on their values.
It's not about what I, as I often tell people, no one cares about your boat, and here's what I mean by that. You go out to a lake, you're in your little boat. There's no one else around except for this one guy drowning in the middle of the lake.
You paddle out to him, he's going down for the third time, and you're sitting out there next to him going, look at this boat. Isn't this a great boat? Look at the, there's all this room, and I got a really good price for it. Meantime, this guy's still drowning. He doesn't care about your boat. All he wants is to get out of the water.
Stop sitting there describing features and benefits to people and get them out of their pain. That's all they care about.
Mike O'Neill: I love it. As expected, I've enjoyed this conversation. Sara, for those folks who want to reach out to you, what's the best way for them to do that?
Sara Phillips: Best way to do it is either via email, which is Sara, firstname.lastname@example.org .
Mike O'Neill: Okay.
Sara Phillips: Or you can reach me directly by cell phone at (919) 920-6765.
Mike O'Neill: Got it. We will include both of those in the show notes. Sara, thank you.
Sara Phillips: I also have a gift for your listeners.
Mike O'Neill: Well tell us.
Sara Phillips: There is a, as we were talking about there was, there is communication is key and I have a personality quiz that usually runs $99 to get the report, but I'm gonna give it to your listeners as just a free gift to say thank you for listening today.
And you can find that at ninetysecondtest.com. That's 90 and the word second test.com. And they can get a free personality report done on that to help them learn how they communicate with the world.
Mike O'Neill: Excellent. We will add that link to the show notes as well. Sara, I told you how much I was looking forward to this conversation.
Sure enough, it lived up to the billing. Thank you.
Sara Phillips: Absolutely. It has been my pleasure, Mike. I always like talking with you.
Mike O'Neill: Well, I also wanna thank our listeners for joining us today. If you'd like to subscribe to this podcast, simply type unstuck.show in your browser. This will give you access to all of the services, including Apple, Google, and Spotify.
But while you're there, you can also subscribe to our weekly management blog called The Bottom Line. So if you're trying to grow your business, but people problems have slowed you down, let's talk head over to bench-builders.com to schedule a call. So I want to thank you for joining us, and I hope you have picked up on some tips from Sara that'll help you get unstuck and on target.
Until next time.