PP 052: Paul Sokol, Digital Marketing Expert and Founder at Appalling Events
Paul and I discuss the importance of knowing what your prospects WANT vs. what they need, how every small business owner needs to know how to sell, and how critical it is to ask for the close!
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KIM: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of Influx Academy, where you can learn how to get better leads, bigger launches, and larger profits. This is Kim Sutton, and today I am thrilled to have Paul Sokol as my guest. Welcome, Paul.
PAUL: Hi, Kim. Thanks for having me today.
KIM: Oh, thank you so much for being here. So I briefly met Paul – not that I expect him to remember – when I was becoming an Infusionsoft Certified Partner. And then I have seen numerous resources provided by Paul about marketing, how to get better leads, and so much more than that – but those are the few first ones that I can think of when I’ve been on LinkedIn all around. So I knew without a doubt that I wanted to get Paul on the show. So again, thank you so much for being here.
PAUL: You’re welcome.
KIM: Paul has since left the Infusionsoft Corporation and is working on building his own empire. Would love, Paul, to get your advice – well first off, what is the one of the biggest struggles that you see people having when they’re building a business or launching a product? I know those are two different questions, but they just al came to my head at the same time.
PAUL: Sure, sure. Well, they’re they’re not so different. In the role I was at, my final role at Infusionsoft was a research and development role in the product team, and we were digging into these really hard, deep philosophical understandings of small business and what is success.
And we understood – we discovered there’s kind of a hierarchy of things, where you have a business, is like the “high-level” thing, and then underneath the business is the different offerings that the business has. So these are the products or services.
So looking at, for example, something like McDonald’s: Under the business, they have a whole bunch of individual different little products, different sandwiches, and things like that. And in order to basically get a new product out there in the market, a new offering, you have to be really clear on who cares, really – and if I’m going to be direct, what does the product do for people? What solution – or what problem is it solving for, and then, what targets care about it?
And so when it comes to starting a business and launching a product, I’d say that’s probably where most people don’t do enough research, and they start taking action, and building stuff, and building marketing plans and whatnot before they really deeply understand exactly what is the positioning of their offer – meaning, how do they speak to it, and who is the target? And sometimes, there may even be – in most cases, actually – there’s usually more than one target market segment, too.
So again, looking at McDonald’s, they sell hamburgers to kids and adults. The positioning with the way that they talk about it to an adult is going be different than how they talk about it to a child as far as making that sale.
KIM: I had never thought about McDonald’s as far as launch strategies go before, but now you’ve got my mind going. And I’m even thinking about how they – every year, people start getting excited before St. Patrick’s Day with the Shamrock Shake.
PAUL: Or you have the fanatics of the McRib – which I personally love McRib, but I’m not – I don’t go to the waiting in line, camping out lengths that some people do.
KIM: Yeah, I have to say, I’ve never even tried that. But I’ve seen it mentioned in social media a couple of times in the past week – I don’t know if that was in response to all of the news out there about how “the McRib would make everything feel better right now”.
PAUL: Haha! Well there you go – and then think about what that does for the brand. It’s being clear on the offering, and the product, and who cares.
Another company, while we’re talking about the QSR (the quick-serve restaurant) industry, that I believe has amazing product innovation is Taco Bell. To me, Taco Bell is kind of like the “Pixar of fast food” in that they never release a flop. Pixar’s movies are pretty much always guaranteed to be successful – I can’t recall one that ever didn’t do good numbers – and Taco Bell when they release a new product, in most cases, it sticks around the menu.
I’m thinking recently: Have you seen the – well, it’s on the menu now, but when it was new – this thing called the Quesalupa, where they had cheese baked into the quesadilla shell?
KIM: I can’t say I have, but I’m thinking of another – because we tend to go to Chipotle, but they’re sort of the same way. Like I haven’t – well I don’t know that they’re breakfast offerings, but I think they were targeting to a specific audience, actually went anywhere. That might have been their flop, but the same thing. I haven’t seen them flop. But no, that sounds like a great idea, though.
PAUL: It is. It is a great idea. And again, about the positioning, it’s talking about the problem here. So clearly, they did enough market research to determine that, by baking cheese into a tortilla shell, that was solving some problem that people had. Which is why people go nuts over it. Maybe it’s the fact that – at least for me, I’ve definitely been to Taco Bell, and eating in the car, the finely-shredded cheese kind of gets everywhere if you’re trying to eat and it falls in your lap.
But again, I guarantee that product came out of millions of dollars’ worth of consumer and product research for them to determine, “There’s a pervasive enough problem that people are willing to pay for, so let’s go ahead and bake cheese into a quesadilla shell.”
KIM: Oh, and probably plenty of tweets. “Ugh, just dropped my @TacoBell cheese on my lap, and now I’m wearing my lunch back to work again!”
PAUL: I’m sure they did all sorts of analysis on their Twitter and whatnot. So I guess this is a really long way to answer the question: What’s the problem? It’s just people aren’t clear about their positioning and who they’re targeting – and then they’re trying to create campaigns for stuff that doesn’t use the right messaging, or it’s just not talking to the right people.
KIM: Right, and along that line: Would you agree that more people are focusing on the “needs” of the clients, or their potential customers, versus the “want”? In a previous episode – and I’m going to have to refer to which one – the guest mentioned that he was targeting his product to what he believed his audience needed, versus what they actually wanted. So he jumped in, and produced and launched the whole course, without even surveying. I mean, well yeah – that’s what you just talked about.
PAUL: Sure. And there is kind of a distinction between a “want” and “need” here, and that’s definitely one way to approach it. My recommendation is approaching it always being “user-centric specific” around their problem. And so if you focus on “what is their problem?” Then you’re – in your messaging, you’ll definitely be handling something that they either want or need – or both.
Because it’s solving for the problem, and then making sure people realize that it’s a big problem that hurts them and has a serious negative impact on their life. And then, “Oh, I just happen to have something for you here, buddy. Check it out.”
KIM: Right. How do you feel people are about their own marketing for their launches? I mean, McDonald’s doesn’t have any issue going out there – and I don’t even want to know what their marketing budget is. But when it comes to selling your own personal skills, and knowledge, and products, how do you feel that people could be more assertive? – I guess is what I’m trying to ask.
PAUL: So “being more assertive”… Are you saying, how can they drive more results for their business? Or maybe I’m not understanding “assertive”?
KIM: Maybe I’m just coming out of this from my own head, but personally, I get out there, and I end up giving away too much for free. Some people argue that there is no such thing as “giving away too much for free”, right? But when it comes to actually asking for the sale, I see a hard time for a lot of people doing it. Because they don’t have the confidence in their own product to actually say, “Here’s what I’ve got. Here’s what it costs,” right?
PAUL: Well, it may be a combination of – well, it’s a lack of confidence in the product, that’s a whole different kettle of fish to fry. Really, I believe – and even myself, I can use a refresher on this – that everybody needs some kind of formal, in-the-trenches, direct sales training, so they can just learn how to close.
Like for example, I sold Cutco, and so I was in people’s houses as some college kid selling thousand-dollar sets of knives. And somehow, people were buying them. It wasn’t until I did it for a while I understood the psychology: what I was saying, what I was doing, and all that.
But if people are bad at selling, going online isn’t going to make you good at selling. Because really, copywriting is simply salesmanship in print, so if you can’t sell in the first place, then your copy isn’t going to sell. Or, if you can’t sell in the first place having a conversation with somebody, it’s going to be real awkward.
Now, if it’s talking about a lack of confidence in the products, that’s a whole different story. Especially if it’s a product that you’re building, if you’re not confident in it, what the bleep are you doing?
KIM: Yeah, “stop wasting your time”. No, I don’t lack any confidence in the products, and most of the people that I work with don’t lack the confidence in their products either. It’s just getting out there and expressing why a person needs it, and come up with the unique selling proposition, and all of that.
KIM: That is where I see a lot of people struggling. But I think you raised an interesting point: What sales education tools or programs really made an impact for you? Like was there anything – were there any books that you read that really made a big difference for you?
PAUL: Great questions. I mean, my direct sales experience – again, it’s in the trenches, selling knives – and then I was an assistant manager in the Orlando office for a few years. And so I learned how to manage sales reps – which that’s a whole different kind of sales conversation: basically selling these college kids who don’t want to sell knives, and why they should get on the phone, book appointments, and sell knives. Totally different kind of sale.
So really for me, it was a lot of in the trenches, just learning – you just can’t be afraid to close. I guess, for those listening here: One of the biggest lessons I took away from it is “Ask for the order, and shut up.” Just ask for it. Ask for the order – it’s going to be an awkward couple of seconds while they make a choice – and then based on that choice, react.
You sometimes have to just say – this is actually the close – “I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask this, Ms. Jones: Do you want to buy this set of knives today?”
KIM: That’s huge.
PAUL: Yeah, it is huge. You want to know who’s great at asking for the order? Look at somebody like Dan Kennedy – any of his books.
KIM: Oh, I was just going to ask you!
PAUL: Every single page, asking for the order. Every single page, he’s like, “Hey, here this cool little tip, and if you want more, go get my most incredible free gift on page 648.” And every other page, there’s that call to action driving you to the end of it. He’s asking for the order. He’s unabashed about it. That’s why follow-up works so well if you do right and use it to ask for the order.
KIM: I just had to interject there: I just finished reading his no B.S. guide to – no, “No B.S. Wealth attraction in a New Economy” – last week.
KIM: And I’m reading “No B.S. Sales Success” this week. And that’s so true: You have to ask for the sale. And I think one of the examples he brought up was, somebody who was selling fire protection went into a home and noticed that the rugs were worn thin, and the kids were running around in hand-me-downs. And it was just obvious that the people were struggling, so they didn’t ask for the sale.
KIM: And there was one husband, when he was talking to a couple, who – he was starting to leave without asking for the sale. And the dude actually got – (Oh, my gosh, I borrowed that from my husband. I’m talking like my husband now!) – he actually said, “Why didn’t you ask for the sale? That’s our decision. It’s not your decision to make whether or not we can afford you.”
KIM: Right. And Dan Kennedy brought up a good point: Whether they spend the money on your product this week or spend it on somebody else’s next week, you can’t control that. And he said even – he said, “What if you left without asking for the sale because you put the judgment in your head whether or not they could afford it? And then tomorrow, you see in the paper that their house burned down?” And this was used in the fire protection model. Like, you can feel sort of guilty.
PAUL: Whoo, he’s great at weaving a story, I’ll tell you what.
KIM: He is! And all these books will be in the show notes, for any of you who have not read it – like he just blew my mind. I think every page has something highlighted. But yeah, and it’s true – I might think that somebody doesn’t have money to spend on my product, but what if next week they use my product and blow up their business with it?
PAUL: Mm-hm. You know? Or what if they just choose to – I think it’s… Maybe it’s a Pablo Picasso quote? It says, “I want to live like a poor man with lots of money.” So where you just – there’s not this rich, lavish lifestyle, but there’s plenty of money to do whatever you really want to do.
KIM: Oh, yeah. Totally.
PAUL: And you can’t assume. Maybe there’s people like that – they wear hand-me-downs, and they don’t go out a whole lot, because they’re saving for some quarterly trip to Europe that they do every time. So yeah, ask for that order. Don’t be – it’s scary. It’s like when you’re younger, asking somebody out for a date, like that’s closing that part of the relationship. It’s scary, but you’ve still got to do it, still got to ask for the order.
PAUL: They say – what is it? That “weak closers have skinny kids”, basically leading to the fact that if you can’t close, you’re not going to be making that money, and you’re not going to be able to feed people, which is bad. So don’t be afraid to ask for the order. Be unabashed about it. And if you’re confident enough in your products, and what you’re doing, and how you’ve built value up to the point where you ask for the order, you should be shocked that people are saying “no” if they do. If you do a good enough job, it’s not even a “do you want to buy this?” It’s “proceed, it costs X dollars. Do you want to keep doing this?”
KIM: Well, it’s not really asking if they want to buy it anymore. It’s asking them how they want to pay for it today.
PAUL: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, think about that. That’s a great example: Look at McDonald’s. “Right, okay. I want a Big Mac and fries.” “All right, that’ll be five bucks.” It’s not like, “Do you want to order this for five bucks?” It’s, “How are you going to pay me?” You know?
KIM: “Would you like to make that supersize?”
PAUL: Yeah, and you start up-selling them.
KIM: So you have been part of Frank Kern Bootcamps, Digital Marketer Bootcamp, Launches – what, would you say, were your biggest taking points from any of those?
PAUL: You know how they say, “Don’t meet your heroes?” For me, it was “Don’t meet your heroes” campaigns.
PAUL: The simplicity was underwhelming. And it was like, “Really? That’s how guys are doing this?” I’m talking, to the point where it’s maybe like “six e-mails in like two different sequences” kind of thing. Like, that’s it.
So great automation is scaling a relationship or sales conversation, which is a kind of relationship. The technology is only going to enhance that. These guys have mastered the art of having – of automating a sales conversation. Yes, they may every once in awhile use some fancy tools, or plug-ins, or something like that – but at its core, it’s really simple.
So for example I’ll give you: Frank Kerr has this “Capri Island Cash Stacker” campaign, which is – the stories is, he set this thing up, went on vacation to Italy for a week, didn’t touch his app, and he made $175K on vacation. You know, that story. And so that sounds cool, right?
You want to know what the campaign was? It’s very simple: He produced four videos, they were teaching something, and then at the end of the fourth video, he makes an offer. And it was a series of three emails that said, “Hey, watch this first video.” And unless you watched the first video, you didn’t get to see Videos 2, 3, and 4. And that was it. It was that simple.
PAUL: And he gives this away to people on the bootcamps now, too. So it’s not like this is-
PAUL: Well, I also built the campaigns – they released the first version of the campaigns that he uses in his bootcamp, so I’ve personally seen how these are protected.
KIM: Right. And I can hear some audience members thinking, “Well, I don’t have Infusionsoft,” but that doesn’t need to be anything that holds people back from this type of campaign.
PAUL: Exactly. It’s just a tool. Infusionsoft is just a tool. Everybody gets so hung up on the tool, the tool, the tool. No tool is going to make up for lack of sound, tactical strategy – or sound strategy and good tactics. A tool simply allows you to execute certain tactics.
If I want a hole in my wall, I need a drill. But the drill isn’t going to tell me, “This picture wire isn’t strong enough for the frame.” It’s not going to tell me that, “Hey, that isn’t going to hold.” That’s up to the skill of the person using the tool.
So it doesn’t matter what you’re using to send your e-mails. Obviously, there’s some bells and whistles and different things here. But if you wanted to do something like I just described, you could do that with something like MailChimp.
PAUL: Here’s a series of emails, and then you would have – in the case of the original version of that, Infusionsoft was tracking who clicked through to watch, and then it started the series. I’m not sure can do that with MailChimp, but what you could do-
KIM: But Entrecore and AWeber, yeah.
PAUL: Well, even with something like MailChimp, just in your Video 1, it would be like, “Hey, thanks for watching Video 1. I’ve got – to get the rest of the series, put your email again below.” You know, something like that.
So obviously there’s going to be a little friction, a little more than in the original version of it – but again, don’t use the tools an excuse for not taking action. The people that are resonating with the message and like it are going to do what you’re asking them to do. And if it’s a pain in the butt, they’re going to do it and then say, “Hey, that wasn’t delightful.” And then hopefully, you care enough to take that feedback and do something nice with it. Like fix it.
KIM: Right. I’ve just seen in the last couple weeks – I have to admit, I am constantly going through a series of evolution – I’m constantly evolving my own campaigns and realizing what I’m doing wrong. I’m working on client campaigns all the time, and funnels, so I often overlook my own. And I realize, my “Thank You” pages – I was basically giving up so much money by not using my thank you pages effectively.
PAUL: Elaborate on that. Because I think what you’re talking about, but for people listening, this is a really important message they need to do. So what do you mean?
KIM: So somebody who’s opted-in for a lead magnet or my subscription, I was only putting “Thank you. Click here to go through to my website.”
Well, hello? Like, where’s the follow-up? Where’s the low-dollar offer? Where’s the invitation to schedule an appointment with me? Where’s the video telling them about my program, so that they can actually buy-in right now? And I see so many other people doing it – just leaving that “Thank You” page bare and naked – and it’s like saying goodbye to money that you could have had, but you didn’t just realize it. Yeah.
PAUL: Absolutely. I think that comes down from, people don’t understand the distinction. At least, when you’re storyboarding out the experience, a web form actually has two moments: It has the web form, and then the “Thank You” page. And most people, as you’ve noticed – they don’t they don’t consider that as part of the experience, so they don’t tell people what to do.
For example, for those listening, I want to thank you for being with us today – I’m going to make an offer for a special gift here. And on the “Thank You” page, it says, “Hey, go check your e-mail right now.” Because that’s what people need to be doing.
Another example is, if they are putting – I know I’ve done this in the past – when people sign up or when people give their phone number and say, “Hey, please give me a call” – on the “Thank You” page, doing something like, “Hey, I’ll call you soon. Click here to Tweet about your excitement” or something. And then that has a link that pre-populates some pre-written Tweet – that of course mentions mean – and that can build social proof. Or you can have the offers.
I guess the point is: Don’t make it a dead end. A “Thank You” page should always tell people what to do next, even if it’s “Go to your inbox right now”. You know, that’s the kind of behavior you want to see. You want to see: Fills out a web form, and then one minute later, the email opens, and a minute later, they’re clicking. That’s kind of the behavior you want to create.
You have to be intentional about the experience and what you want people to do. People aren’t going to guess. You’ve really got to hold their hand. You’ve got to lead the horse to water, and then dip his head down, and then put a straw in his mouth, and put that in the water, and then whisper in his ear, “Man, this is really hot outside, huh? I bet you’re parched.” You’ve really got to hold their hand.
KIM: Absolutely. Even when people are signing up for a five-day free challenge, or a 30-day free challenge. I mean, I have a 30-day challenge that’s live right now, and the “Thank You” page is actually an up-sell to the workbook that you can get to accompany both challenges. Like, each assignment is in the workbook, but it does have added features.
But, there’s a selling opportunity for a low-dollar product that, if you didn’t have anything – I mean, yes. You can tell them to “go check your email” and how to whitelist you. I mean, that’s a great idea, and it has to be done. Don’t forget about any other little opportunities.
So I would say that when you’re working on any type of launch, or any type of lead magnet, just think about all the different possibilities. Would that be Mind-Mapping? Or just map out all the different options – road maps… I think I’m getting all my words jumbled, but that’s okay. You know, all the different routes that somebody can take after they opt-in for something.
So why don’t you tell us about your opt-in, Paul? And where people can find you?
PAUL: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Well, people know me for automation wizardry and all sorts of ninja hacks and things like that. So I figure, I’ll give people what they want. So because I’m on this – because you invited me on the podcast, I’ve got a special gift for your listeners here, Kim. And it’s called “3 Automated Engagement Hacks for Stealth Selling”.
So it’s basically three different little tricks and tactics that you can use to bubble up hot leads that are in the middle of your sales funnel, basically. And it’s kind of like that whole – it’s like a mini “asking for the order” to get them – to inch them closer to actually placing that order here. And it’s a PDF, it’s I think – what? Six pages? Let me see – seven pages.
So it’s a quick read, and it gets right to the meat and potatoes, too. It’s not one of those, “Hey, let me go ahead and tell you my story. Here’s 20 pages of crap. And then here’s like four bullet points on the actual meat and potatoes.” It just hops right into it.
If you do want to learn more about my story and who am, I am all over the Internets. I’m on LinkedIn. The easiest way to find my profile, if you just go to AutomatedExperienceDesign.com, that’ll redirect you right to my LinkedIn page. And that’s probably one of the best ways to engage. I think you said it earlier, Kim – you saw a lot of my stuff there.
So how do we get this, right? I’ve been creating this desire, you’re probably saying, “Come on, Paul. Give us the goods.” It’s really simple. I just created a Bit.ly link for ya, so – you’re familiar with Bit.ly, right? The little link shortener, Kim? Bit.ly?
KIM: Oh, yeah.
PAUL: It’s really simple: It’s just bit.ly/pls- and then today’s date, so in this case, 071416. So bit.ly/pls-071416. And that’ll take you to a landing page where you can share your name and your primary email, and of course I’ll immediately sell you the PDF. And you’ll see a lot of the things – well, you’ll see some of the things that we’ve chatted about today “in action”. You’ll actually be on the receiving end of how that stuff works.
And even you, Kim, you’d probably get some value out of it, get some cool ideas for what you’re doing – especially if you’re doing launches and things like that. Again, these are engagement hacks. They’re designed to bubble people up that are maybe on the fence, and it allows you to kind of kick them over the fence.
KIM: Oh, I’m going to be going, as soon as we hang up here, to get it. And it will be in the show notes, too. So thank you so much, Paul.
PAUL: Wonderful. Well, thanks for having me. This has been a blast, and I hope it’s been valuable, and we’ve learned – I’ve shared some things that you find useful and your tribe will also find useful.
KIM: Oh, definitely. I know for me, “yes”, and I would have to say for the listeners, undoubtedly “yes” as well. So thank you again so much for being here.
Everything that we’ve talked about – the books, and the Lead Magnet, and where you can find Paul – will be in the show notes. And I just want to thank all you listeners for being here. Please make sure to subscribe and share, if you haven’t already. And until next time, this is another episode of Influx Academy.