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The Ruby Group | Akron and Columbus, OH

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This is what my business/sales life looked like before starting with Sandler Sales Training:

  1. Lead came in.
  2. I’d reach out to the lead to schedule a phone conversation.
  3. We’d have a great discussion on the phone for 30-45 minutes, asking some questions and answering some questions.
  4. The phone call would end with, “I’ll put together a proposal and send that over to you within a week.”
  5. I would spend 1 to 2 hours customizing a proposal for the prospect. (This was a 15-20 page proposal that told our story, explained our process, evaluated the prospect’s website, shared ideas on what they needed fixed, and gave pricing options to consider.)
  6. I’d send over the proposal by email and suggest a time to get back on the phone to discuss the details.
  7. 50% of the time (or more), I never heard back.
  8. When I did hear back, we’d schedule the call.
  9. We would go through the proposal over the phone, and I’d give them even more information about what they needed and what we’d do to help.
  10. After the 30-45 minute phone call, 9 times out of 10, the response would be, “This looks great. Let me work through the numbers and get back to you.” (or some variation of that)
  11. In one rare case of about 20 attempts from the beginning, I’d get the sale.
  12. For the other 19, I’d follow up by phone and/or email for about three months and then realize I just got screwed!

Does this sound familiar? All to often, this is the “normal” sales process and five percent is an accepted conversion rate. However, if you look at the numbers, I was spending somewhere between 40 and 70 hours over these 20 prospects with a result of ONE closed sale.

Unpaid Consulting

If you look at the process, what I was doing was basically “unpaid consulting.” Each of those 20-page proposals was not just a detailed breakdown of costs; it was a customized plan of action. I was a teacher, and my prospects were just soaking the stuff in and then either implementing it themselves or taking it to someone else where they could get it cheaper – and even share all our suggestions with the other guys.

If you read any of my blogs at, you’ll find out quickly that I’m a proponent of helping people – giving away great content, helpful resources and even free advice. But, there’s a difference…

Unpaid Consulting = Being Taken Advantage Of

Helping Instead of Selling = Building Trust & Credibility

It all starts with the process. If your prospects or customers are bleeding you dry because they’re fulfilling the typical “buyer’s system” of Mislead>Gather Information>Mislead Again>Hide, that’s not building trust and credibility…that’s being an unpaid consultant.

If you remain in control of the process and offer resources, information and ideas as part of “helping versus selling,” that’s when you build a relationship. This doesn’t just mean a different kind of proposal – often it means no proposal at all! If you’ve done a good job of uncovering the pains your prospect is facing, and you see there’s a fit with how your product or service will eliminate that pain, then you become a trusted advisor to that person, rather than a salesman.

If you’re reading this because that phrase “Unpaid Consultant” stood out to you, you’re not alone. I was there and I’ve come out of it on the other side. Think through the alternative…what if you had half or more of those hours you’re spending on unpaid consulting now? What could you do with that time?

Thank you to Matt White for sharing. Matt is the owner of JoltCMS where he helps businesses help their customers.


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