Sales Conversations Made Easier with Allison Davis

Sales Conversations Made Easier with Allison Davis

“I’m a firm believer in what you put out comes back to you tenfold. So you need to lead with that integrity. I think another misconception about sales is that it’s a pitch and not a conversation, and a lot of people are still doing that, right?” - Allison Davis

If you’re in a business, the ability to sell your product and services is absolutely essential. Why is it then that selling to others can seem to be so hard to do? Today’s Brave By Design guest believes that the old way of doing sales is just that, old, and that’s it time for a brand new approach.

With 15 years in the fast-evolving publishing industry, Allison Davis has vast experience in digital marketing, strategic partnerships and event sponsorship across a wide variety of business verticals. Her contributions have elevated the revenue of companies like National Geographic, Time Out North America and Gabrielle Bernstein, Inc. Allison has worked with leading brands like Google, Pepperidge Farm, American Express and Goldman Sachs. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from St. Michael’s College and a certificate in Organizational and Executive Coaching from New York University. Allison loves learning, travel, plus-size fashion and public speaking — and she penned an advice column for more than seven years in Seven Days Newspaper, one of the nation’s leading alternative newsweeklies.

If you are a passionate entrepreneur and mission-driven business owner looking to make sales conversations more natural, easier and 100% you, then you’ll want to hear what Allison has to share about the selling process in this episode.

Connect with Allison: https://allison-davis.com/

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https://www.bravebydesign.net/private-coaching

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Connect with Laura Khalil online:

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linkedIn.com/in/LauraKhalil



What You’ll Hear In This Episode: 

  • How Allison stepped into her career at a young age, and fell in love with sales in the process [1:32]

  • The way to combat the common thoughts about not having the "sales" personality [8:03]
     
  • What you need to know about pricing strategy [12:14]

  • How to approach the sales conversation using the “A.L.I.G.N” method, and the incredible benefits you could see by doing this  [18:42]

  • A mindset set that will help you significantly improve your results with outstanding proposals - today! [21:55]

Additional Links & Resources:

Grab Alison’s A.L.I.G.N. guide for FREE — a 5-step approach to closing more sales with ease and confidence at https://allison-davis.com/

CliftonStrengths

Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success: Connect with Customers and Get Results by Colleen Stanley

Support the show (https://www.paypal.me/bravebydesign)

Transcript
Allison Davis :

I'm a firm believer in what you put out comes back to you tenfold. And so you know, you have to lead with that integrity. I think another misconception about sales is that it's a pitch and no conversation. Oh no. And a lot of people are still doing that right. Welcome to brave by design. I'm your host Laura Khalil. I'm an entrepreneur, coach and speaker. I love thinking bake,

Laura Khalil :

exploring the power of personal

Allison Davis :

development and sharing the best strategies from thought leaders and pioneers in business to empower ambitious women and allies to bravely rise and thrive. Let's get started. Everyone, welcome to this episode of brave by design. I cannot wait for us to have this conversation with our guest today. Allison Davis. She is a sales coach and trainer she has nearly 20 years of sales experience at companies like natgeo and Gabrielle Bernstein and I know you guys have heard of Gary Bernstein her down to earth approachable, take on sales appeals to passionate entrepreneurs and mission driven business owners. I have had the pleasure of experiencing Allison's work myself. I absolutely love it. She is not like a slimy salesperson. She is genuine. She is authentic. And she's here to help us. Make sales conversations easier. Alison, welcome to break by design. Well, thank you so much for having me and ditto all of those accolades, right back. atcha. Oh, thank

Laura Khalil :

you.

Allison Davis :

So tell us a little bit more about how you actually got into this career. It's such a good question and a nice question to be asked. And the first thing that popped to mind is that there was really no other pathway for me. When I was a child, my parents, mostly my dad, started his own business. You know, he had an entrepreneurial spirit, and he was a salesman, and But was he selling Well, oh boy, well, this doesn't have to be a very dry conversation but my father started out paving people's driveways, or small the driveways of small businesses, seal coating, line striping for anyone who's familiar. But my dad also had an associate's degree in engineering. And he over time developed a really in depth knowledge of bridge joints.

Laura Khalil :

Whoa, Stop the presses.

Allison Davis :

Oh, the hot topic, heartache right here, bridge joints. But he you know, he grew business quite sizably with the help of my two much older brothers. And by the time I was, dare I say 12 years old, he would set me up at the front receptionist desk at the office, he would give me a list of phone numbers to call I barely remember what I was asking. But I realized that I was gathering some information that was pertinent to the sales aspect of what was going on. And I realized that that was getting over. My fear of cold calling right then in there

Laura Khalil :

at 12 years.

Allison Davis :

Yeah, I had this voice Did you? I did. I did you know what, I don't know if you know this about me, but I was a radio DJ from the age of 16 to 21

Laura Khalil :

Oh OMG I love it.

Allison Davis :

outgoing child, you know? Yeah. And by the time I got to college, I love writing study journalism. But even then, even with my wonderful professors pleading to keep me on the right side of things. I was like, nope, my personality is geared towards sales, PR, that kind of thing. And my, almost my first job out of college was as a salesperson at a really cool weekly newspaper in Burlington, Vermont. Okay for nine years, and wow. And I loved it. I fell in love with selling. I fell in love with meeting people with helping people and providing services the Allison Wait, let me let me stop you there because you said I fell in love with selling

Laura Khalil :

Yeah,

Allison Davis :

I honestly I don't hear that a lot I hear more often people say, Okay, I'm about to vomit, because I'm going into a sales meeting. And I'm so scared and I don't know what to do. And in fact, I think it's one of the things that keeps people in full time employment when they really would be more well suited to consulting or entrepreneurship. Tell us about falling in love with sales. Because I want you to help expand the vision of our listeners to learn what is there to fall in love with? Why was that? Yeah, quite simply, sales is service. Sales is helping. Yes, there is an exchange of money and goods. But if you are put on this earth to help others and you believe that what you have can do that. There is a calling for you to make sure it gets into their hands. So Coleen Stanley wrote a book about emotional intelligence and sales. So if there's anyone listening who feels that call, or You know, Laura, you and I've been talking about the state of the world, if people are out of work, but they're highly qualified, and consulting is knocking on your door, but there's some sort of fear holding you back. And you don't see yourself as a salesperson. I highly recommend this book by Colleen Stanley. And what she says I believe she's talking about sales conversations, but she says all it is folks is seek the truth and do the right thing. Ah, God, that's I actually have chills. That's, that's really powerful. Yeah, so Laura, I only because I am I lead with empathy. I'm an introvert actually, believe it or not. I like attracts like, right. Some of the amazing small business owners and entrepreneurs I work with would describe themselves in the same way. Not necessarily shy, but introspective, and they do not feel like Alec Baldwin from Glengarry Glen Ross. You know, ABC always be closed. Like, they're never gonna beat that, because that's all we think of when we think of sales, you know, gross. Gross. Or, you know, I don't know, every bad, you know, female realtor. That's what comes to mind for me too. You know, okay, owning your own business or hanging a shingle. You're a pushy lady. Uh, you know, that can that can be it too. But yes, seek the truth and do the right thing. Get in there, find out what's going on. If it's an integrity and aligned for you to help, help. Now, you would be doing a disservice not to help sister who are you not to? is sort of the question that wow. And you know, like, even with advertising, you know, in Vermont, driving around in my little car, walking into mom and pop shops. I want to know what's not going right at the feed store. You know, how can our audience help you do more of what you want to do in the World. Now, Allison, this also brings up a point when you say do the right thing. I presume that means not everyone is for you, and you're not for everyone, right? You have to kind of know who you're going after. And who may be best suited to like a different type of offering or different type of service that maybe you don't want to provide. Is that accurate? That is 110% accurate. You know, integrity is the name of the game. You know, I I'm a firm believer in what you put out comes back to you tenfold. And so you know, you have to lead with that integrity. I think another misconception about sales is that it's a pitch. And now conversation. Oh, no. And a lot of people are still doing that. Right. So if you go into a potential client, or even if you're just having coffee with a potential client, and all you do is just say what you do and say what do you think there's there's no room for you to have a conversation to discuss. Cover together whether you might be a good fit. So, you mentioned some interesting points. See, I actually thought in knowing you I thought, oh, maybe Allison is like pretty extroverted. But you said you're actually an introvert. And I know that there's a lot of people and brilliant people who are extroverted. I know there's a lot of brilliant people who are introverted. And so for the people who think to themselves, I'm too shy to do this, you know, I don't have the personality for you know, we look at all these kinds of excuses to get out of selling, right? So for some reason, I just don't have the personality for it. What's one piece of advice you can offer to them? Well, the piece of advice I can offer to you is to sit down and write your top five strengths. Now I don't know Laura, if you're familiar with gallops, you know, Cliff, strengths finders, every single one of my clients takes Clifton Strengths Finder, okay? Because if you're leading again, one of my top strengths is empathy. Others are connectedness others are positivity others that you know, wherever it is, listen yours sales approach process style is not going to work unless it is 100%. You. So the tip is you don't need to take a fancy assessment if you don't want to sit down and write the top three to five attributes you have that just makes you you. And then start thinking about what really is sales and start to draw some conclusions. You know, if I am shy, or I don't like to talk to 700 people at parties, I want to go and have one good solid conversation. How can I lean into that? That means you're not going to go work a room. Maybe that means you need to start reaching out one on one depth conversations with people. I love that. I love that because the advice that a lot of us heard Well, I'm Not going to say I was around in the 80s doing sales, that's a little premature, but my mom was in sales. And I remember a lot of the books she would give me, were a lot of these 70s and 80s sales books, and a lot of them were like, very masculine based, very push forward, very fake it until you make it. I hate that phrase. I don't believe in it. And what I love you explaining here is this is not about becoming someone you're not. This is about using your strengths, to the benefit of your potential clients into those sales conversations so they can feel natural, they don't feel phony, they don't feel fake.

Laura Khalil :

Ellison, I love

Allison Davis :

you know, I'm going to take this a step further and really talk about something a little more tactical, because there might be someone listening right now who's really in the throes of this, you know, really trying to figure out especially in the world in 2020. You know, what does it mean to try to develop business? What's working right now Laura is something that I think I think you and I do quite naturally It doesn't necessarily come naturally to everyone, which is what I would call borrowing other people's audiences. Getting in front of potential people who care what you have to say, potential people you can help and talking about what you love. Now if for me, I'm an extroverted introvert, meaning I'm happy to talk to anybody, I don't mind a big crowded room full of people. I'm just going to have to go recover for 48

Laura Khalil :

I'm with you. Yes,

Allison Davis :

totally. No for for people who are actually shy, who don't want to do that your version of borrowing an audience might be guest blogging, um, you know, something that you can do that fills you up, that doesn't deplete your energy, because sales is equal parts tactical and energetic. And it doesn't work. If you only have one or the other. You have to have both. I'm not going to sit here and be like, it's all Kumbaya and if you know your strengths, you're going to do Gray. No, you got to know what a sales funnel is, and you got to know how to work it. But you got to infuse it with what lights you up, fills you up and makes you feel energetically ecstatic about it, or you're not going to do it. I love that. That's so great. So Allison, let me ask you this before we get into the sales conversation, because I do want to ask you about that. Can you talk to us? This is a question I have heard from people. When I was doing marketing consulting. And people come and ask me, they say, how do you price yourself? How did you do it? How are you making these contracts? I don't get it. Talk to us about pricing. How do people know if they're getting it? Right? They're getting it wrong? What's the like a strategy we can approach that with in a more resourceful manner? Yeah, that's a great question. And the honest truth is, is that there is no algorithm for pricing period. Mm hmm. Because you can go buy a pair of shoes for $10 or $5. Or you can buy a pair of shoes for $5,000 You know, they're all shoes.

Laura Khalil :

function is similar,

Allison Davis :

correct. And so I'm not even going to really attempt to give you like a, you know, here's, here's what you got to keep in mind. You have to look around at the market and what the market will bear. What you're charging in New York City's not what you're going to charge in Burlington, Vermont. Right? We know there's that kind of stuff. You got to see what your I don't want to say competition, what your colleagues are doing right, look around, open your eyes, do research, figure out what the range is for what you're selling. And then decide where you're at with that range. It depends on the volume. If you want more clients at a lower price if you want fewer clients at higher price, it is so individual, but here are the takeaways. Your pricing will change. I do not lose one ounce of sleep over my own pricing when I'm starting something new. For my clients, you just start somewhere that feels like you can make it happen. Cool. This might be totally unpopular with other like sales consultants who may be like, Oh no, I have a formula. But you know what, let's get real. Like let's get real. You got to start somewhere and I guarantee you in six months, it might look a little different. And that's okay. You got to be able to dance. Yeah. Oh, I love that. You know and that is so true. Because when I was doing my consulting primarily with Silicon Valley, fortune 500, the pricing we're looking at five, six figure contracts, and that's not a big deal. Okay, really. But in another market with a different type of customer a different size. You may be looking at different pricing and I love this idea of it's okay to try different pricing. Start, see what you think you can do at this price. And then if you sell it out, I always said Allison, if nobody ever came back to me and said, Oh, like, let's talk about the pricing if nobody ever said anything, it wasn't high enough, totally. Let's get tactical about this. If someone comes to me and says, Oh, well, my close rate is 90%. Well, you're too cheap then. Wow. Yeah, I don't want you. Because I mean, listen, everybody is unique. But that's an indicator that something's not right. Actually. That it Oh, God, I hope people hear that that is incredible. That means it's probably time to raise your rates. It's not always this idea of I think a lot of entrepreneurs, especially women that I meet, think that their value is based on how busy they are, and how many hours they're working. And it's like, you don't have to work yourself into the ground to be paid. Well, folks, listen to Allison. Yeah, yes. Let's do away with this idea that your success is based on how many deals you closed or how many clients you got this month. I'm actually more interested in how many new people did you meet Out of all of those people, how many wanted to have a deeper conversation with you out of those how many requested a proposal if that's what you're doing? And then how many said yes, I'm more interested in the health of your pipeline, because here is a hard fact right now. When the economy tanks out on us. Mm hmm. It's really not the health of your pipeline. You know, there's charts we can look at for that. It's the health of your pipeline. It's how many people are you shaking hands with virtually every month right to all of those numbers matter, not just the number of dollars you have coming through the door. I love that and that harkens back to something that I heard Ali brown say I went to one of her. She had an iconic event. If anyone doesn't know Ellie Brown, she's an incredible business coach. She did an event back in November of 2019. called iconic. You sit in a room with people who are running seven and eight figure businesses now I'm not running a seven and eight figure business but You better believe I want to learn from them. So I,

Laura Khalil :

so I go to this event,

Allison Davis :

and I major imposter syndrome being triggered, right? I'm like, Oh my god, I'm not supposed to be here. And one of the first exercises we did is exactly what you're talking about. She said, What are the false metrics that you are actually thinking are really important to your business? that don't matter? at all? Yes. So I love that, Alison, you're just like, Oh, I just absolutely love it. So I guess my next question for you is all right. I'm starting to build my pipeline. I'm starting to have sales conversations, or I booked one or I booked a few. And I am you know, terrified. How do I open the conversation yet? What do I do? How do I start? Yeah. So my approach for having sales conversations is highly consultative. And to make it easier for you, I'm going to give you an acronym. Okay. I'm going to give you the word online. A Li g n, because that's what we want to do. We want to align with the person. And like you mentioned earlier, make sure that we're actually a good fit for one another, right? And so I'm going to knock this right off for you. You're going to ask questions, you're going to listen for pain points, you're going to inspire them start to solve those issues. So inspire and solve. You're going to get feedback. Now ask for the sale. A Li gn,

Laura Khalil :

and you can't be afraid to ask for the sale.

Allison Davis :

know if you have what I would call a complex sale. Maybe you're selling to a company as Laura, you are selling, you know, fortune. Yeah, I'm selling a fortune 500. Yeah. If you ask for the sale in some of these meetings, you'd look like a fool like you because there are many people who need to be involved in this decision. It's maybe a multi part conversation or sales process, right? So you can't always say so you're ready to sign on the dotted line. You know, no, sometimes asking for the sale is actually asking for in advance. In the conversation, and understanding what does this person who hopefully has fallen in love with me during a sales conversation, you know,

Laura Khalil :

what do they not need to do?

Allison Davis :

You of course have enough, right? They become your internal champion. Yes, they heard that right. But once you have an internal champion who asked for a proposal, please hear me.

Laura Khalil :

Oh, boy, she's about to lay down

Allison Davis :

holies for years, it was like if I got asked for a proposal, I did a celebratory dance. And that is b. s, because your internal champion asking for a proposal means nothing if you don't know. And sometimes if your internal champion doesn't know, internally, who needs to sign off on this, what is the buying process look like? How do I need Yes, sir. Yes, time? Yes, yes. Yes. And yes, I tell all of my clients you are not to write a proposal until you know and you have mapped with your internal champion. Exactly. The steps that you will go from proposal to close if you have not talked about a ballpark budget, you are not to waste any of your time or energy putting together a proposal until you have some agreement that you're on the same page. Oh my god, I look like right. Add salutely Absolutely. And so and I love to talk about next steps. Sometimes the next step when I was in a sales conversation with a really big company is Who else do we need to talk to? Correct who else needs to be brought in? You're not doing the proposal and I want to tell a big like, mistake I made okay, because this will help the audience. It's my biggest deal. biggest deal. We're talking multi six figure contract. We do the proposal, we get the proposal signed. And do you want to know what happens next? And my god What? She doesn't have the authorization to sign off on that purchase? Oh, can you imagine? No, we have a legal document that has been signed, and she doesn't have authorization to sign off, the work begins. And I spent with that company, three months, trying to get paid, and I did get paid. But it went through about 20 different people getting kicked around. And that was a big mistake on my part. And so I say that to anyone listening, just like Allison said, even if you get that proposal, hey, that's great. Maybe you move to next step, but don't be running. You know, too far ahead. Write proposals don't mean you get contracts. I've written plenty of proposals that do not get signed and agreed to but they're premature. They're outside of the ballpark. People are like, what the EFF is this? You know, so I love that Allison, two things. Number one, in the best case scenario. The best case scenario is that a proposal is a confirmation What has already been all but agreed to? That's the best case it doesn't always happen. We can always get there. But that's the goal. The second thing I want to say is that I'm so glad you shared that particular example because I'm going to ask you, I want to hear from you. I'm going to guess that your internal champion got in a lot of hot water for that, number one. Number two, what I find most of the time because we're talking about, you know, again, leading with empathy, slightly introverted. I don't want anyone to ever think that I'm stepping on their toes. But what I have found, literally 10 times out of 10, is that if the internal champions like yes, I want to move this forward, I flip over my piece of paper and I start drawing a map of what needs to happen who needs to be talked to what does this look like? They are never put off by that they're never offended. They are grateful.

Laura Khalil :

Because you actually sound like a professional.

Allison Davis :

Yeah, and you're helping them not Hoping up trouble signing documents that they're gonna get in trouble for right? Yeah, that was a very, very, yes, I think they had I think they had egg on their face. And you know, what was it? What's worse is that when you start doing the work now you're actually bound, you know, I have recourse to sue you if I don't get paid. And so it was really it was probably one of the most challenging contracts that I've ever worked because of these problems. And, guys, don't make that mistake. gals don't make that mistake. Totally. Because it's energetically we only want to be in places where we're wholeheartedly welcomed with open arms. Yeah, that's working under duress as far as I've been, sir. Yeah, it was very stressful what we're going for. Oh, thanks for sharing that because that's exactly the kind of thing that can happen if you know we call that leading the buying process. Right? You don't know. Peter? Yeah. Do you want to It even though it might seem like oh, that's not my job, or I don't want to step on anyone's toes, you're actually doing a great service to your internal champion and their constituents, they're at the company. But as far as sales conversations, you know, the biggest things to remember are listen more than you speak. This is your right to understand and uncover the pain points, the challenges of what's not working. Yep. And to not be afraid to stick around in that pain to find where the real urgency and motivation is to buy. Oh, I love that because most of us who are consultants or entrepreneurs are in the business of making people feel better, right? And so it feels uncomfortable to get people to state and stay in their pain long enough to understand the consequences of not taking care of it. As I said earlier, who are you not to if you have the solution zactly if you can help Yeah, who are you? Right? Oh my gosh. Okay, Alison, we could talk for hours. I know I could. But I want our audience to learn more about you. I want them to really take advantage of all that you offer. So tell the audience how can they learn more about Allison Davis? I think the best thing to do is to hit me up on my website, which is Allison dash Davis Comm. A Ll is O N dash Davis comm there's going to be a couple things for you there. Number one, you can grab my align guide. So if you are about to have some sales conversations, it has absolutely everything you need to know. And secondly, I host a free sales roundtable every single month. So if you've got a burning sales question, or maybe you're transitioning to do some of your own thing, come and join and get your questions answered. Great community good conversation, and the next best sales step you need to take I love it. Alison, thank you so much for joining us on brave by design. Thank you for having me. I want to thank you for joining me and remember to subscribe to your favorite app so you can stay up to date, and I would love your review. If you've enjoyed this episode, please leave a review and comment on Apple podcasts. You can also keep in touch with me online. You can find me on LinkedIn and I'm also on Instagram at force of badassery. All that information will be available in the show notes. Until next time, stay brave