Ep 124: How to Sell with Jerimiah Lancaster

I hosted a live workshop with Jerimiah Lancaster, my founding partner at Hubermethod.com, and 400 people joined us as we discussed sales, how to close, and key methods.

I’ve been an entrepreneur since 2011, and grew my first business until we sold in 2021. Early on in my career I hated sales and was open about it. I vocalized this with a meteor of mine in New York, and he was straightforward with me in telling me that if I hated sales I needed to go get a job. There is no world where an entrepreneur is not selling; you’re selling to clients to pay for your service, selling to potential employees to work for you, or selling potential investors to give you their money. You either need to embrace sales or give up, and that’s what gave me the burst to embrace it, practice it, and get better.

Jeremiah is a close friend and business partner of mine, and an absolute sales pro. He spent ten years in sales and business development along with five years building and coaching sales teams. He learned that sales is just like any other skill–you become great at it by practicing it over and over.

Raising capital for my first self-storage deal was a classic sales experience. I was reaching out to everybody in my network, sitting down at kitchen tables, and trying to convince people to trust me with their money. I learned that the old school pushy sales techniques didn’t work for me–if I spent half an hour hyping up the deal, the asset class, and promised a great fortune it wouldn’t resonate.

I had to develop a mindset shift. I needed to show potential investors that I mean business and that I can be trusted. I talked about the risk in the market, that we’re exposed to interest rate risk, and talked about the deal horizon and worst case scenarios. As I talked about the negatives, people became more trusting and responsive. Trust is the number one thing people care about when they’re investing their money, so establishing that was key.

Fast forward to today, that shift in sales approach has helped me raise over $40M that I’ve bought over $100M of real estate with. People are used to being sold, they’re being sold something every day. But they’re caught off guard when you’re honest with them and show them that you can be trusted.

Jeremiah and I have developed a six step system to boost sales for any entrepreneur:

  1. Operate from a point of leverage: Don’t carry a mindset of desperation. If you don’t make this sale, you’re going to be okay. One sale won’t ruin a quarter or your business. Every call that I get on, I tell myself that I don’t need the sale, and that helps me generate respect from investor.
  2. Establish credibility: You need to show that you’re an expert. People don’t want to brag about themselves, but you need to hype up the size of your business, the size of your team, and the success you’ve had. Land your pitch on what you’re doing and why. You need to do this in the earliest minutes of your call.
  3. Talk about the negatives: Many entrepreneurs overpromise on what they deliver, which sets themselves up for stress when it comes time to deliver and generates needy customers. Be honest and transparent. 
  4. Qualify the person: This catches people off guard, but you want to make sure that they’re a good customer to work with. I ask what motivates my clients as investors, how they balance short-term and long-term performance, and other question to make sure they’re a fit for me.
  5. Let them sell themselves: Closing the conversation after explaining all that can go wrong, I ask what they like about the deal. I shut up and let people start to sell themselves on the business and on investing with me, and they start to talk themselves into it.
  6. Ask for the business: So many salespeople assume the deal will sell itself.It’s important to ask people if they want to close the deal and move forward with the booking process.

How do you do all this in the early days? How do you gain leverage and credibility with no experience? In truth, the method is the goal. These steps are what we work towards. The flywheel of business is powerful. When you start out, sales matter and you’re not an expert, that’s just the truth. It gets easier with time, you can get creative and speak with confidence. Let charisma and willpower get you where you need to go.

Don’t let pricing be your leverage. Businesses compete on price, speed, and quality, and too many people focus only on price. If you raise prices your quality of customer increases, you have fewer headaches, and you can afford to hire higher quality employees.

Remember that speed wins deals. If you wait 20 hours to contact a lead, your close rate will be a fraction of what it would be if you were getting on a call that day or that hour. Timing is everything, so you need to catch the person when they’re motivated and ready to make a decision fast.

Absolutely put in work on customer discovery before jumping on the call. You have all the tools you need at your disposal through Google, LinkedIn, and other sources. You should know the customer’s location, what their business does, their headcount, their market, and other key details. You need to be naturally curious.

An outside salesperson shouldn’t be on you radar until you’ve grown sufficiently. Every owner can sell their business better than anybody else, you’ll never find somebody that cares as much as you. If you can’t close the business yourself, you shouldn’t hire a sales rep yet. Lean into sales instead. Only hire outside sales help when things are moving so fast that you can’t keep up with hiring and training your staff.

Once you grow, a huge part of your success will be how well you coach your sales team. A friend of mine in Athens, GA owns Movement Mortgage, and they hire folks fresh out of college and develop them into mortgage loan officers. They have a great coaching program to develop their staff. Every loan officer has an accountability coach and a meeting breakdown coach. They get coached on biweekly meetings, set goals, and get held accountable.

As a sales leader, Jeremiah has a game tape rule. Just like how sports teams analyze their game tape, what worked, and what didn’t work, you should do the same with your sales calls. Go out and listen to your customer conversations, review the game tape, and think about how things could have moved forward more effectively.

When coaching, pick just a couple of things each time to hone in on. You don’t want to overwhelm a new salesperson by calling out everything that went wrong. Turning an employee into a sales machine is a 6-12 month endeavor.

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I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.