So you’ve done a bunch of sales training in the past, and they’ve failed. But why? In this episode, Michelle Weinstein, along with our special guest Rob Jolles, sought-after speaker and best-selling author, will look at why sales training fails for accountants and tax firm owners and how to avoid it altogether. Take part in our conversation and learn how to make smarter, more fail-proof sales training!
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Why Sales Training For Accountants And Tax Firm Owners Fails And How To Avoid It With Rob Jolles
In this episode, we have a very special guest. He’s been here before. He’s the sought-after professional speaker and a five-time bestselling author. He has spent many years teaching, entertaining and inspiring audiences worldwide. His career has taken him over 3 million miles now in the air. He has a lot of amazing clients, such as Toyota, Disney, NASA, Bristol-Myers, and other financial institutions. His books have been featured in USA Today, Harvard Business Review, and Publishers Weekly, and they’ve been translated into multiple languages as well.
Before we welcome our special guest to the show, if you are struggling to charge premium fees, feel that you’re being taken advantage of by your clients, no clients would ever pay you top dollar for your services, always have to justify the investment working with you, find yourself discounting your fees at the last minute, and you want to get to the truth of that, and why you’re doing it, I invite you to book a call with my business partner, Denise and I to explore what challenges you’re having in your firm and how you can nip all these problems in the bud. You can do that over at TheAbundantCall.com to get crystal clear so you can put all of that discounting, answering quick questions, and doing free work behind you. Now, let’s welcome our special guest to the show. Welcome, Rob.
It’s great being here. I am looking forward to our conversation.
I love having you on the show, and I love our conversations. I’ve had feedback, too, from readers saying that they’ve enjoyed our episodes. It’s an honor that you have the time and are taking it out to contribute to the accounting and tax firm community of firm owners and others who might be at a job considering going out on their own. I’m grateful for your time. You’re awesome to have conversations with, so thank you.
As good as your last conversation, by the way. I’m sitting here chewing my nails, going, “All right, Rob, bring the A game,” but here we go. I’m ready for you.
Bring the A game as always because we have a great conversation for this episode on different sales training programs for accountants and tax firm owners and sometimes why training fails and what to do about that. Also, what to look for when you’re choosing a sales coach or a sales trainer since I’m one, you are one, and you’ve written books on this topic.
A lot of people reading might say, “I can figure this whole sales thing on my own.” Some people get confused that leads and marketing are the same thing as sales, which is not. Maybe we can dissect the difference between that. Before we start, Rob, if they haven’t learned about you yet, why don’t you share who you are and a little bit about all the books you’ve written too?
How can anybody not know Rob Jolles? It’s astonishing, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock, I’ve got many years as a sales trainer. I worked for two major companies in sales. One is New York Life, your classic intangible life, health, and disability, and one is for Xerox, the printers, fax and memory writers. I sold fax and typewriters, but I sold printers and copiers too. I became a trainer for Xerox and trained all the trainers.
Many years ago, I had that entrepreneurial itch. I left and started writing books and got about close to 3 million miles now in the air going around the world. I love talking about sales, persuasion, and training, too, because I trained all the trainers at Xerox. Somewhere in that pile there, we can get at a topic that most people don’t like to talk about, particularly sales trainers, which is, “That’s a heck of a resume, Rob. Why does it feel so often?” I don’t talk about that enough, and I’m looking forward to that conversation.
It’s important to talk about because I don’t think from the firm owners I’ve spoken to and if you’re reading, you might have thought, “Why would I need to learn sales? I do taxes, accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll. What does that have to do with my business and being a firm owner?” What I like to say is that if you own a business, it doesn’t matter what you do. You could be like us, a firm owner, or own a restaurant. You signed up for a 24/7 sales career and didn’t even know it.
A lot of the firm owners want to focus on the technical work and the doing of the work, but there has to be that front-end conversation from the time someone gets the lead, the referral, the inquiry from Yelp, from the website and is interested to learn about your services. From that point, it’s a sales conversation until the time you collect the money. I don’t know if you’ve experienced that too in your sales training that a lot of people don’t realize what the definition of sales really is. On our P&Ls, it’s your top-line number. It either says sales or it says revenue. That’s typically what I’ve seen on any income statement. Without sales, we don’t have a business.
There’s a lot to unpack there, and there are a couple of things. First of all, what is sales? Everybody thinks, “You’re going to help me bring in more clients?” That’s more on the marketing side, but I’m going to help you save your clients from doing things as Rob Jolles did. When Rob Jolles became an entrepreneur, he thought of everything except an accountant. He figured, “I got QuickBooks. I should be able to handle this on my own.” I got only smart, and I decided to hire an accountant, the least expensive one I could find, who was cutting me in on a deal.
After I got fined about six different ways, I woke up and realized, “You get what you pay for. I need a great accountant.” What I’m trying to say to everybody reading is you need sales because you have to save people like me who will become your client, but at what cost? How much did that cost for me to make that decision? Could you have helped me make that decision? That’s where sales come in.
Basically, and you can define it your way, sales is helping someone down a path to make a decision that they feel good about. Ultimately, you went with the least expensive ones. You were shopping and buying based on price only until you learned that you got fined six different ways. Can you share what that is? It’s a great way to flip it on the other side for the firm owners that are reading because this is the exact thing that we need to talk about. Just because they get the lowest price doesn’t mean you’re going to get the best person to do the work, the best job, the best service, or the most knowledgeable person for your situation.
It’s funny. We all learn that lesson. I made this up. I want you to know, but my made-up term is the lesson lasts a little less than a year usually. It’s about eleven months, and we do it all over again. We all have looked at a basement and said, “Let’s do this inexpensively,” then had it done halfway and realized it was cutting into resale value, creating other problems that weren’t even there, and crawled back with our tail between our legs to the vendor that we turned down.
Not only did we pay that higher rate. We had to pay for that first one too. It is a classic you get what you pay for, but people don’t see that. You’re talking about the definition of sales. You have your definition. My crude version is taking your idea, putting it in somebody else’s brain, and making them feel like they thought of it. Our job is to persuade people to address or fix existing problems. That’s where you need a skillset. That’s where training comes in. I know we got some very smart accountants but do we have people who can quote to me now a repeatable, predictable process to move someone past their fear of change? That’s where the sales skills come in.
Change is probably the number one human thing that people avoid. We hate change and the fear of change. It is hard, and a lot of people have been with the same accounting firms and tax firms for a very long time. Until we present an issue, challenge, or problem, the person might not even want to leave their current firm. How do we get someone past those fears? It’s about having a stronger skillset in the world of sales.
That’s what we’re going to talk about, on what to look for when you’re going to enroll or hire someone like myself, Robert, or other sales trainers and coaches out there and what pitfalls you can avoid by doing so. Also, at what cost do you want to continue to take on clients that don’t pay you enough, that drive you crazy, or that you feel you have to chase around in circles? Every tax season, you’re burnt out, tired, and exhausted and wonder why your clients don’t appreciate you. All of that, I believe, stems from our client experience and sales process in the firm.
Let’s carve into that. One last thing, for anyone who thinks, “We got this guy, Jolles, a sales trainer,” I do spend a lot of time in the financial industry. A Toyota is a client of mine. It’s a very classic sales group, but I want people to know that the conversation we’re about to have, I’ve done thirteen seminars over the years for NASA. I work with laboratories and parent groups. I work with managers and law firms, all sorts of groups who are wrestling with this, “I know what these people need to do, but they won’t listen to me, or they keep getting hung up on price.” That’s because we’re not as equipped to sell.
Michelle, I broke it down into four problems and solutions. That makes things easier. Maybe we’ll go through one and pick it apart, then wrestle with another one if you like. Why do sales training fail? Problem number one is people confuse the product with the process. Meaning that a lot of times, people feel that they’ve been sales trained, and sometimes a bunch of times when in fact, they keep learning more about their product, and somebody keeps referring to it as your sales training.The number one problem in sales training is people confuse products with processes. Click To Tweet
That’s what happened in New York Life. I went through my sales training. We sat down for three and a half days and learned about the term, whole life, disability, and preexisting condition clauses on health. You name it. We were after it. That was our sales training. When we were done and got sales trained, the door opened up. The last two words I heard were, “Two a week, ten a month, and don’t let us catch in the bullpen.”
Out we went into the street. If you were unlucky enough to be in front of me, when I came out after being trained, I was going to regurgitate everything that I just learned, breaking the biggest rule of selling, which is what happened to asking questions and listening? What happened to letting the customer paint the picture? What happened to all those great skills we will find in good sales training? They’re not there. The weird part is most people think they are sales trained when they’re not. We can’t confuse the two.
It’s so true. If you think about an accounting or tax firm owner reading, can you share a little bit about specifically getting confused with the product versus their process when we focus too much on the services you sell versus the client experience and everything else that’s entailed with it?
Think about your continuing education, which I wrestle with on my end. I’ve constantly been pushing different groups that regulate that to try and get real sales training into the additional training that everybody needs. It’s not just accountants. The difference is this. When you’re learning about your actual accounting, and I’m not much of an accountant, but I got a good accountant, the new tax laws, and all these different things, that’s what we call product training. I’m not telling you don’t learn that.
You need that, but what happened to maybe sitting down and learning how to listen to people? What happened to how to sit down and create a process that will establish trust? What happened to not only learning how to ask questions but ask true problem-solving questions, the questions clients aren’t asking themselves? What happens to sit sitting down and tying your recommendation in with the specific language of the client? I’m brushing the surface now. These are all skills that a salesperson would learn. Tell me which one where because we’re an accountant, we ought to throw it out because we certainly don’t need trust. Let somebody else mess around with that one.
Don’t call them soft skills, or I’ll start grinding my teeth. I call them performance skills. All those skills are what bond us to the client. I’ve got bad news, but I’m going to tell you that, in my humble opinion, knowledge is a bit overrated. Let me get this thought out real fast. I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t be the sharpest accountant in whatever state, county, or city you’re in. Please be that, but there are a lot of smart people that are accountants. Now what?
Why is it that some are so much more successful than others? It’s because they’ve made a science of not just being knowledgeable but being able to read their clients and communicate at a level that connects and bonds with that clients. That keeps you with an accountant, as I did. After my first mistake, I was with my accountant for the next 25 years. I’d be with him now if he didn’t retire because we connected. He was smart and knowledgeable, but we connected, and I trusted him. Those things, the little list I gave you so far, feeds into trust, which has to be part of our training.
One thing to look for in a sales training program is, “Are you going to learn how to communicate and connect to a client? How are you going to learn the listening skills that are required?” It might sound so easy. A lot of people reading are like, “Michelle, I already do that.” There’s a process and science behind it in a way where you can be able to have your clients see you so differently than they’ve ever seen before.
It’s more than learning the technical side, which in Rob’s example is the product training, like how to do the tax laws, become the best bookkeeping cleanup project, learn tax resolution, and learn tax planning to reduce the savings of taxes for your clients. That’s one piece of it. Now, we have to enroll the client and engage that client to understand your value, to see that value, to do so by learning those sales skills and how to communicate, connect, and bond with a client whom they trust you.
Even that listening part, which we throw on the table, do you know the number one mistake people make? There’s a great poll by a guy named Lou Hampton, who came up with all these listening habits to avoid. The top 10, 9 of them together, don’t equal number one. Number one is interrupting. Now you think, “I’m not saying I know the world of accountants,” but think that now you are an accountant, which most people reading are. You are sitting there listening to a problem you’ve heard of many times before. You already know what needs to be done because you’ve helped many people with this before. First of all, do you have the ability not to interrupt a client by telling you something you already know?
Here’s where the sales skills come in. Do you have the discipline to avoid the biggest mistake you could ever make, which is simply once it’s your turn, tell me what to do about it? Folks, if I were that smart, I would’ve done it already. That’s where selling comes in. If you want to teach a class at the university, go ahead and tell everybody what to do. If you want to help people, not the layups but the tougher clients that are looking around, A) Don’t interrupt them. B) That’s why you hire a professional to get in there and say, “I want to ask questions and listen. Now how do I dig deeper? How do I go in? What’s the process I follow to truly consult and problem solve?”
Having the right answer, I don’t care. You’ve got to lead me to that answer. I got to feel like we got there together. When we do, that’s how you start establishing a 25-year client, which everybody wants in this world. It’s too difficult finding clients. Let’s get them and hold them. That means you have to make this experience different from me than I talk, you tell me what to do, I go home and think about it, and we had a nice call. That doesn’t work for me.
As you said, you have to get them and hold them because there are not enough good clients out there. There are plenty of volumes, but a lot of the industry is sick of the low-paying, high-volume operation. It’s going more for the value and less clients and more of that Nordstrom-type service. What would be the second out of the four?
Here’s number two on Rob Jolles’ hit list. Number one is that confusing product and process. We’re going to learn more process behaviors than obsess over the product. Number two is confusing motivation with the process. Meaning, we go ahead, sign up, and sit in the Marriott whether a mask on or off or wherever we are now. We listen to somebody who’s going to talk to all these different businesses about selling or whatever they’re going to call it. There’s a lot of motivation that goes along.
I’m hired frequently by speakers bureaus. I get slightly annoyed when I’m calling, and somebody says, “We’ve got this client. They’re looking for a motivational speaker.” I think of Chris Farley when I think of a motivational speaker. I think of living in a van down by the river. Obviously, you want somebody that’s going to motivate and inspire and, dare I say, mildly entertain the crew. I got that, but that’s the easy part.
Don’t confuse motivation with the process. “Will you please be entertaining? That would be nice,” but we want repeatable, predictable processes in place that we can measure because if you can measure it, you can fix it. We can’t just make this some kumbaya meeting. It’s got to have a process involved. I worked with a lot of groups that have been sales trained. They were highly motivated and inspired, but they woke up two days later and pretty much did the same thing they did before because there was no process to follow. It just felt better about accounting.
I want you to feel better about accounting, but I also want you to have a process in place to do some of the things the two of us are talking about now, some real sales pieces, objection handling, opening tactics, and deciphering and working with different personalities. I could give you fifteen things that should be in there. I want a process so that we can implement what we’re about to learn. If it’s motivational, it isn’t going to happen.
An important piece when you’re looking for a sales trainer or sales coach is that if you are going to walk away with repeatable, predictable steps for you to follow, a process in place. If you’re here reading, you’re a process-oriented person. You like systems and step-by-step processes that you can implement and create all by yourself instead of being given some script to read. It’s that you’re learning the process of what to do, what to say, how, and maybe even why.
Motivation and inspiration, you can find that stuff probably on YouTube or maybe in some books. I’ve been told by a lot of people, “I’ve gotten a lot of books, and I’ve read a lot of YouTube videos on sales, but nothing ever works.” It’s having the process in place so you can learn how to overcome objections properly and understand different personalities and the different stages of the buyers, which we’ve spoken about in previous episodes.
Most people don’t talk about that. They don’t talk about why. A lot of times, we do. I was guilty of it, too, for many years. I would blow in and assume, “Everybody wants to hear this. Let’s rock and roll.” The reality is particularly when you learn that sales isn’t always pretty. By that, I mean sometimes we have to ask questions that won’t make the customer feel all that good.
We have to ask them about what their plans are if they keep hemorrhaging cash at this level. That’s not going to make somebody smile and laugh, but the why of it, you threw that out. I sat here and leaned back when you said it. I don’t think we do that enough. I don’t think we explain to people that when you sell and help somebody properly, even when you’ve asked tougher questions, much like a parent, you’ve done one of the kindest things you could ever do for another human being.
Believe me. We’ll figure it out on our own. At what cost? Will it cost us our family? Will it cost us our business? Will it cost us our self-worth? I don’t know, but we have to remember that your client is programmed to fix big problems. Not small problems. That’s the way we’re programmed. If you are waiting around and want to tell me, “Here’s what I can do, and let me show you how smart I am,” I’m going to stay with, “That looks interesting, but I haven’t been sued yet. I haven’t been audited yet. I can work through this.” No.
Sometimes one of the most powerful questions to ask somebody, especially for an accountant, is, “What happens if?” Meaning we don’t have to wait for an audit to have a conversation about what would happen if you did have an audit. Once they do, guys like me will go, “Now I got to go find myself a real accountant. This experiment is over.” What a wonderful, kind thing to do rather than fear the word sales. In our list here, it’s going to come up soon in terms of style. Imagine if you could stylize it, so it fits you, feels like you, and you can help people before problems become unmanageable. That’s an amazing thing for anyone to do, especially an accountant.
It’s without being pushy or salesy or a nag. The big thing I took away from what you said is that people want help to fix big problems, not small ones. If they’re small, they’re not going to do anything. There’s no big cost to make a change until they realize, like Rob’s example, have six penalties and all of these greater problems at hand. It’s a kind thing to do. It’s not a manipulative tactic. It’s not anything like that.
This came up with a client of mine. He felt talking about people’s fears and challenges was a form of manipulation or persuasion. I said, “At the end of the day, people will pay and buy to get out of pain to fix the big problem.” If it’s pretty small, why would they need to do anything? It’s status quo. There’s nothing for them to do. If it’s serious and it’s going to impact their taxes and they’re going to pay extra, you’re doing them a disservice by not bringing these things up and not asking those tough questions, as you had shared earlier.
I hope everybody remembers the story I’m about to tell you. I sold life insurance. In two months and two days, I only got two phone calls from somebody looking for life insurance. The first one was very exciting. I was able to help the individual. I was 21 years old. With the second one, I said to the guy on the phone, “I got it. Tell me this, what did the doctor tell you today?” There was a long pause, and there were some blood pressure issues. We had to have a conversation about that.
It reinforces the point we’re talking about that sometimes you’re going to have to go in there and help people make these decisions. When I wrote the book How to Change Minds, the publisher only took one story out of it. It was two sentences into the book. I was telling a story that if you’re sitting on a bar stool next to an individual, which is a friend of yours who’s had too much to drink, you’d say, “Why don’t you give me those car keys?” Your friend says, “No, I got it.” There’s a conversation, and you don’t get those car keys. The friend says he’s got it. Only tonight, he doesn’t have it. Tonight, he never makes it home.
He makes it to the hospital, barely. The two individuals that he kills on the road, they’ll never make it home. Their families will be changed forever, and they have to live with the horror of that night for the rest of their lives. The individual who commits that heinous act, too, will have to live with this horror. There’ll be a lawsuit, and probably spend some time in jail. They will lose their business. They will most likely lose their family. That family will be devastated as well.
My question is, what about you? You had an opportunity to get those car keys, and you couldn’t do it. You have to live with that. As brutal as that story is, and if you’d like them, I’ll change it to aging parents who don’t want to sell a house or give up a car. I can keep changing it. I got plenty. My point is, when I say it’s one of the kindest things you can do, I mean it.
I mean it when I say we have got to ask questions. Sometimes it’s, “What happens if?” That blood pressure does rise since you’ve told me your parents both have high blood pressure, as do your siblings. We have to go deeper with our questions. You can call this selling. You can call whatever you’d like, but we have to stop fixing these issues and let people talk. That, you’re not going to get so well out of a book where you put together your own little program. You need a pro to walk you through it and help you implement it.
It’s important because if you find a sales training program or a coach and that’s not the approach of learning how to ask those tough questions and knowing that is the kind way and a good way to learn how to have more clients engage in your services, ultimately, you can help them, then that’s a failure point for you. That’s maybe why a training program doesn’t work and what to look out for. It’s an important thing that we brought up because you and I are in alignment with that.
There are a lot of places that might teach you how to sell just on features and benefits. That’s focusing just on a surface level. We get that on Amazon.com, but selling a service-based, customized offer and business to your clients that they need you because they’ll be in a bookkeeping cleanup project job if they go with the cheapest bookkeeper, who’s overwhelmed and stressed out working at 1:00 or 2:00 AM because they’re trying to take on as many clients for the cheapest price, they’re not at full capacity in their brain. They’re doing horrible work.
How many times have you seen a tax return for those CPAs, EA, and accounting and tax professionals reading? How many times have you seen messed-up tax returns with errors in them? That is an opportunity to ask those tough questions to the client that was trying to get a shortcut. The shortcut also has these alternatives. What’s the third thing someone should look out for in a sales training program for an accounting or tax firm owner specifically?
Number three is reinforcing the wrong behaviors. That often is what kills a good training program because when you put process behaviors in place, sometimes it’s learning a new golf swing. You don’t necessarily hit it quite as far immediately. You don’t quite get it into the fairway, yet if you keep working on that swing, your playing improves dramatically.Reinforcing the wrong behaviors kills a good training program. Click To Tweet
What happens is, typically, we are incenting people because of their numbers moving up. To me, that’s the distance you’re hitting the golf ball. I would rather reinforce and reward process behaviors. If you’re going to create a change in the way that you work with your clients, the way that you sell, and problem solve and consult with your clients, we have to understand that it’s going to be a little bit bumpy until people develop muscle memory.
If you lay off the numbers initially and reward the process behaviors like that golf swing, if we can get this swing down, you’ll start connecting with this, and you’ll take off. Unfortunately, a lot of times, we’re wrestling with management. Sales trainers like me will come in. We’ll teach the sales team, but we’re wrestling with the managers who are obsessing over the numbers and want to make sure that their numbers are great. Sometimes we have to take a little step back to go forward.
It’s a downward swing. You’ll have a little bit of a dip before you have the hockey stick effect, which always happens because it’s something new. The team was willing to break past the fear of change like we spoke about earlier, and see that the new behavior might take a little bit longer to learn. It’s funny. I’ve been going to physical therapy for my neck and my low back. I’ve been walking a little funky for quite a long time in my lifetime. You have to learn a new way to walk, so the bones don’t rub against each other the wrong way. All of that takes time. It’s little maneuvers in the golf swing that, after repetition and enforcing the correct behavior, make the change in the shift.
We talk of training. There are some organizations that I work with who don’t even like the word training. They will refer to basically trying to change the culture of the organization. We do that frequently with training programs. Those two terms go hand in hand. If maybe, everyone who’s reading stops thinking about, “We’ll put a training program in here. That will fix everything,” what we’re trying to do is culturally shift the organization to develop and adapt to these tactics that will help them.
To do that, unless we give you people something so basic and simple that they’ve already done it a hundred times, how could we not expect there will be a slight dip back before we go forward? As you said, learning a different way to walk probably feels so bizarre, peculiar, and ridiculous, yet if you can discipline yourself to stay to it, it will become easier, and there comes that plane of improvement.When you give people something so basic and simple that they've already done it a hundred times, how could you not expect there'll be a slight dip back before we go forward? Click To Tweet
Other things will follow, and you will become a healthier person. We have to look at our training that way too. We have to be patient. I’m going to pat Xerox on the back for this one. Xerox was a master at implementation. I mean quality. When that quality movement came and went, it never left Xerox. We were given various incentives in the process. Not necessarily production. Can you document what you did and prove you followed the problem-solving process or quality improvement process? It wasn’t how big a hit we had. It was how tied we were to the process, and that’s where our incentive lay. In fact, it inspired people to hang in there and adopt these processes. That one was a big one for us.
It is a big one, and it’s enforcing the right behaviors versus reinforcing the wrong ones and reinforcing those new ones, even though it might take a little dip before we go up. Rob, let’s get to the fourth thing to look out for and be privy to when looking for a sales coaching program or sales trainer in your firm when you said, “I want to increase my revenue, decrease my client load, and figure out how not to have these clients try to negotiate the price with me.” All of these are sales-related challenges in your firm that might require some more training in an area you haven’t been trained in before.
Problem number four, waiting for the right time. For some people, it’s like waiting to get pregnant, “We’re waiting for the right time.” Good luck with that. When sales are down, the economy’s a little unsettled, and customers are nervous, like now for a lot of businesses, the instinct is, “We’re not going to learn sales training now because our numbers are down. We’re struggling a little bit.” The logic and instinct are not lining up here.
In fact, we should be the busiest people on the planet earth now. We are sales trainers. I’ve been through this many times before. I also don’t turn down business on the flip side, meaning when the economy is strong, business is good, and people are taking numbers out in the lobby, everybody wants to get sales trained. Believe me. I’ll be happy to come out and sales train you. It’s fun. I got it, but I’m always had my head in my hand going, “It is so weird the way this industry works.”
When we started learning about stocks, we learned that it was probably a good idea to try and buy the stock when it was low and sell the stock when it was high. That’s what a seventh grader knows, and yet, how often do people do that? Not as often as we think. As a matter of fact, it’s the exception to the rule. It’s the same with sales training or just training.
When the companies are struggling, that’s when we should be budgeting for sales training. It’s the reverse. I promise that I’ll stop taking checks when your company has more business than it knows what to do with if companies will realize that when you’re struggling, that is the right time. I’m not so sure there is a wrong time, but that makes me sound too much like a homer. I’ll settle on if you ask me, “Pick one.” I’ll take you while you’re struggling and help you get out of this mess rather than while you’re doing fantastic and help you to do more fantastic.
I agree, too, because I’ve worked with hundreds of firm owners. The ones struggling in a bind do the work even though it’s harder and you have less time on your hands, like, for example, tax season. I always have a group of people every tax season go through my training program. Those individuals exceed so fast and so much quicker and get so much more practice in because it’s the worst time for them to do it.
Even though it’s the necessary time, they’re the busiest, overworked, probably the most tired, working the most hours, but they have the most experience at their fingertips to communicate with clients, to connect, to learn how to ask those tough questions and get a lot of reps in and repetitions. One of my other favorite books is Never Split the Difference with Chris Voss. He always talks about getting your reps in.
I have to always say that and credit him for that because it’s so true. I’ve gotten my reps in on having to learn empathy and understanding empathy. For each person, it’s how you go, “Now, I’m in the dumps. It is bad. I am overworked, underpaid, and undervalued by my clients. I feel underappreciated. I work so hard for so little, and I don’t understand why my clients are trying to wheel and deal with me.”
If that’s you, this is a great time to learn sales and hire a trainer and look for someone to support you because that’s where you’re going to see the massive results. Like you’re golf analogy, you might take a little bit of a backswing in the first few weeks of working with somebody, but you’re going to have a hockey stick effect after that. Your swing will be on point and perfect because you’ll have a process that you can follow with predictable steps and a system to follow that you create as long as you find the right trainer.
That’s true. That’s a big part of it. We got to find the right accountant too. There are ones that do it and those that don’t but make sure that whoever you look at has process behaviors. I know from talking to you offline that you’re very well-versed in process behaviors. That’s the trainer you’re looking for, somebody who’s not going to just pump you up and get you excited and tell you, “If you believe and conceive, you can achieve.” That’s wonderful, but I need process behaviors. Your host here is quite adept at it.
Rob, thank you so much for sharing, as always, your knowledge and your genius and having these conversations around sales and what it means, especially for the firm owners here at the show. Is there anything else that we didn’t talk about that you’re like, “I have to say it,” on why sometimes training programs fail or the accountant, firm owner, and tax firm owner thinks that it’s failing them or something we didn’t talk about that you want to share?
This was a tough one for both of us because it’s not the sexiest conversation to talk about why sales training fails, but it’s a very important conversation that we had. While we were talking, I came up with one more, just a fast one. It’s going to be a weird one. Folks, if you’re reading this and you have a sales training program, and it’s working for you, it’s measurable and process-oriented, then don’t look for another sales trainer. You don’t need a sales trainer.
Where companies go wrong is they go so full bore into this thing that it’s like getting a golf pro and taking lessons for August, then finding a different golf pro for September and a different golf pro for October, November, and December. After twelve months, what could you possibly look like if you keep adding to that pile? I still bump into people and say, “I have my team read a different book or listened to a different podcast, clip, or sales. Every month, we run on a different one.”
Shame on you. You don’t need that. What you need to do is if you have something that’s working, then tirelessly, continually reinforce it. Find different ways. Get on that vendor and say, “We’ve been at this for two years. Show me something that helps us learn even at it deeper level,” but stay where you are. Don’t keep going for the flavor of the month. I had to get that off my chest. Now I’m done.
This is not a Baskin-Robbins, or I don’t know if you know Salt & Straw.
No, but I know Baskin-Robbins very well.
I’m in love with Salt & Straw. Every month, they have themes of the month or flavors of the month, and I’m always so mad when they change. I don’t frequently go as often. My boyfriend and I used to go every single week. Now I pretty much go every couple of months. You don’t want it to be rotating. You need to stick to one thing and give it time.
It’s like the professional golf swing. You’re going to stick with one golf coach. You can’t keep changing. You’re never going to learn the process and embrace it and feel it. It’s crucial to think about that why things haven’t worked out for you if that’s the case for you. Thank you so much for taking out the time to be here. If someone does want to read some of your books, where can they get them, Rob?
All you got to do is go to Amazon. You can go to any online store, or if I’m lucky, you’ll find one at Barnes & Noble if you can find it at Barnes & Noble. It’s just Jolles. If you look that up and you go to Amazon, you’ll see an author’s page and all that. It’s easy to find me.
Thank you so much for taking out the time. It’s always an honor to be here with you. I am looking forward to another conversation with you soon.
I’ll make it a good one.
What an amazing episode with Rob. He’s such a genius. I love how we’re so aligned in everything that we talk about in all of our episodes, everything from the decision cycles to this episode to another one, which I can’t even remember the topic now. Know that if you’re struggling with not getting paid your value, having clients pay late, having accounts receivable, not being able to have enough cashflow to pay premiums to your staff, and not having the cashflow or ability to hire the right staff or outsource to the right firms, it’s a sales challenge that you have.
I’ll give you a personal example. I’m in the process of buying my friend’s house. We negotiated a price. Everything was hunky-dory. We got an inspection on the house, and there are some foundational issues. There are some major plumbing issues. Those issues are similar to those in your business when you don’t have the sales coming in. You aren’t getting clients to pay you the premium fees that you truly know you want and that you deserve, or if you have a client who’s trying to negotiate and haggle the price with you or ask you for a discount because they’ve been with you for many years.
All of that is the foundational issues I’m seeing in this home or the plumbing issues. There’s no better time than now to fix it. I’m going to get this house, but if I wait and an earthquake happens in the next few weeks, the whole house could crumble down. You never know. In your firm and your business, you just never know. There’s never a good time except now.
If you know that you have some challenges and need support, reach out to me, find a sales trainer or a sales coach that suits you and keep aware of what we talked about in some of those pitfalls, like companies or trainers that might let you reinforce the poor behaviors or how you get clients off your hit list. How do you create a structure in your firm with repeatable, predictable processes in place?
These are all important things that you’re not selling features and benefits, and learning how to listen and connect with people in a way that has you learn not only your product side, which is your technical knowledge but the process. How do you communicate your value in a way? How do you get them to trust you? How do you connect and bond with a client who has never experienced this service in the past?
That’s what I invite you to do. If you would like to pull back the curtains and see why we feel like we’re terrified to lose our current clients that have been with us for many years or be able to get to the right type of clients and pull back those curtains, I invite you to go to the AbundantCall.com to book your call. We look forward to speaking with you.
About Rob Jolles
A sought-after professional speaker and five-time Bestselling author, Rob Jolles has spent over thirty-five years teaching, entertaining, and inspiring audiences worldwide. His career has taken him over 2.5 million miles in the air, and allowed him to amass a client list that reads like a Who’s Who of Fortune 500 companies, including Toyota, Disney, NASA, Lilly, Bristol Myers Squibb, Northrop Grumman, and over 50 financial institutions. His books have been featured in USA Today, Harvard Business Review, Publisher’s Weekly, and have been translated into over a dozen languages.