How To Not Kiss A Lot Of Frogs In Sales With Eric Albertson
Sales Strategies for Consulting Businesses
Eric Albertson is a certified EOS implementer and a business growth expert that is here to share his knowledge on how this set of tools will help entrepreneurs to get more of what they want from their business, and less of what they don’t want. If you haven’t heard of EOS before, you will learn what it is, how it helps your company to get vision, traction and turn into a healthy business, and how to position yourself in sales.
Welcome to the Accelerate Sales Podcast. If it's your first time and you love what you hear, please subscribe. If you're a regular, we always welcome those reviews, in particular, the iTunes reviews. Please take notes and believe me, there is so much value in this episode. I know I normally say that, but this one in particular, so take notes, we will transcribe, and what you'll also see me do is looking down because I'm taking notes as well to make sure that I get as much value out of this amazing person as possible.
So what are you going to learn? You're going to learn what EOS is, and most importantly, the value that it brings to clients. The second thing you're going to learn is how to position yourself in sales. And this is really a masterclass on this. If you are sometimes uncomfortable in sales conversations, you must listen to this. And the third one is how to run a sales call. And one tip that I've never heard before that's going to absolutely blow your mind.
Our guest today has generated over a billion dollars in sales themselves. They also scaled and then successfully exited their part of a 89 in the top 500 Inc company, right? So they've had a specific experience themselves, and then they've gone on and helped, since 2005, other people, have successful exits that are life changing. I am so happy to bring you this episode because there is so much value in it. So what I want you to do now is grab a pen, grab your iPad, however you take notes, and get ready for this. What I'll do now is hand you over to Eric Albertson.
Welcome Eric Albertson to the Accelerate Sales Podcast. Great to have you here, Eric.
Glad to be here, Paul.
Look, we've had so many wonderful conversations, but it's time that I brought those conversations to other people's ears. So very excited to have you on the show today, and why don't we just kick off with, who are the clients that you love to serve?
Well, EOS has, as a target market, companies with 10 to 300 employees, I tend, based on my history, to go to a larger number of employees, but I want people that are really open-minded, respectful, they appreciate what we're doing together, they're frustrated with where they've been, they've tried a lot of different things. And generally, I don't want to be the first thing they've tried, they've got to want help. Sometimes I get people that somebody on the team wants the company to do it, but unless the whole team wants the help, we don't do it.
And then they've got to be willing to be open, honest and vulnerable, and they've got to be willing to do the work. And one thing is, they truly do have to be an entrepreneurial meaning, there isn't an outside owner that's not in the room, because that doesn't really work. And then they've really got to want to go somewhere badly to the point that all those other things can be present. So that's kind of it, and it's a little amorphous to find, but I'm ruthless, unwavering in my commitment that is present, otherwise I just tell them to find somebody else. It's interesting that it has its own tractor beam of appeal, when people know I'm as willing or more willing to walk away than they might be.
Yeah. And I know I briefly mentioned it in the intro about EOS, but for people that have been under a rock or those that haven't heard of EOS, just tell us a little bit about EOS, how it got founded, and a little bit more about what it does.
Sure. A gentleman that I know well, by the name of Gino Wickman founded EOS, I'm going to say it's coming up on 20 years now, Entrepreneurial Operating System, and he turned around a family business. He was part of the Entrepreneur's Organisation, one of the founding members in Detroit and Michigan, and he kept getting asked over and over again to help other clients... Not clients, but other companies grow, and he finally thought "I'm going to just formalise this, make it a business, and then I'm going to make it a book, and then I'm going to make it an organisation so I can get leverage." And now it's worldwide, we add 2,500 new companies a month at least, that are doing EOS. And I don't know, we've got probably five, six, 700 implementers around the world of which I'm one. And I'm a certified, which means I do a lot of sessions every year. I frequently do a hundred to 120 sessions in a year, and that's an all day session.
Yeah, and is the book, Traction... Is that his key book?
Yes. Thank you for saying that, it's one. It is the figure head book, but there are currently, I believe, six books in the Traction library with more coming, and it's well north of a million copies sold and so on.
Yeah, I've got the audio book and I listen to it at least once a year, so it's sort of my go to, but for those that want to understand a little bit more about the book, and I suppose the philosophy of EOS, if you can give us a quick summary of... In your words, what EOS is, and what are the key elements that are in it.
Sure. Well, so EOS is really a... It's a way for an entrepreneur to get more of what they want from their business, and frankly, less of what they don't want. It's a collection of simple, practical, easily used, immediately beneficial tools that help a company get three things primarily, vision, traction and healthy. So to begin with, typically any company is... The leadership team is not particularly clear on their vision. In fact, I've never, in hundreds of companies, had a leadership team that really was clear on the vision, where they are, where they're going, how they're going to get there.
They're typically not really making traction against that vision in a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual fashion. And then they're not doing so in a healthy way, they're anything but a cohesive functional team. And then as goes that leadership team, we get them into vision, traction, and healthy, and then pretty soon the whole company's following behind. And there's six key components, vision, there's people, data, issues, process, and traction. And it's elegant, its main differentiator from everything else is that it's elegantly simple and straightforward to do. I have not had a client that after I left, that they stopped doing it. Everybody keeps doing it because it pays early, it pays every step in the way, and over the long haul, people have conviction that they'd be crazy not to do it.
And why did you pick EOS?
Interestingly, I sold my Inc.500 number 89... My part of it anyway, in 2005, and wanted to go do something to give back after that, and I'd been consulting. And one of my clients that we were getting ready to put into a merger and acquisition cycle to sell said "Hey, we read this book Traction, and it's like you wrote it." And I thought "Well, I got to read that." And I read it and I that "Well, I wish I'd written it." It was so elegant, to the point, well structured and simple. And so I literally quit everything I was doing and just decided to go do that. And I have been thrilled by the impact for my clients. I just had a client last week get their check on about a 14 times EBITDA payout, in a market that normally is about three to five times multiple of EBITDA for a well run company. So that's a win, win, win for everybody.
Yeah, definitely. And for those that aren't familiar with the term, Earnings Before Interest and Tax is one of the key elements. The sales component, right? This is Accelerate Sales Podcast and like you said, you've been on a rocket ship that got you to 89 in the top 500.Inc, but you've worked with lots of these teams on this methodology, but in particular, what are some of the key things that you think make a distinction between those companies that grow revenue versus the ones that don't?
I'll share a data point with you that I haven't shared before and that is, to my personal name, I've got well over $1,000,000,000 in sales, with my largest single sale being $100,000,000 single PO, and lots in the 50, 60, and then lots of little stuff of course, too early on. But the...I would say that probably the number one thing aside from getting affiliated with a differentiated product, an EOS to doesn't help you get a differentiated product, EOS is about scaling a business. If you don't know your market, then you're technically a startup, and EOS isn't for startups to be clear. But if you've got a differentiated product, and you know who your target market is, which most people don't... you got to know who your ideal client is, and why you're a fit for them, and then getting in touch with them without behaving like a normal salesperson.
Many of my clients say "You're the king of the takeaway." That is, I'm really looking for fit, and I'm actually... I love the Sandler sales system in many ways. I've used many systems, but I love the Sandler and what they call the pendulum, and that is, I'll ask somebody "Why am I here? What are you hoping I can do for you? What have you tried? Why don't you go with one of those things?" I do a lot of takeaways, and I don't do that to be manipulative, but I want to get down to what is it they're hoping.
And I'm very clear that as I have that dialogue with them, they're often discovering their pain with clarity for the first time, and they're discovering whether or not I'm a fit, and I'm completely detached as to whether I'm a fit or not, I just want to discover it because I hate to waste time. And I would say most salespeople get into wishful thinking, they burn up time on people that I am never going to buy. I'd say if there's one thing I did is, I qualified early, hard, and I had a masterful use of questions, and I would often turn somebody into a buyer that everyone else said there was no way.
Yeah. And what are some examples of some of those questions?
Well, it's kind of "Why me and my offering? Why now? And why in the way we do it?" I actually have, even at this point in my life, my key questions framed on my desk because I never ever want... Even though I can generally recite these and do so reflexively it's "What are your issues? What's your priority? What evidence do you have of the problem?" If they don't have any evidence, why are we talking? Go get the evidence. What's the impact of that? If you were to do something, what does success look like? What's the payoff for that success to you, the other stakeholders, the organisation? Who or what else is affected by this? What's the big picture now? The context you're operating in? What are the roadblocks in the past and that you see today? And then I follow up with an email and say "Did I get all that right?" I lay all that out.
And one of my other questions is, what are you looking for? And then I'll note all that down and I'll say "Are you also looking for a way, boom, boom, boom, boom, to round out my differentiation?" Again, I think the number one thing about it is, I am detached and people go "I don't feel like I'm getting sold. I feel like I'm learning an awful lot about my situation, and you're a collaborator to help me do that, you're not here to sell me first."
Yeah, and around pricing, obviously for lots of consultants, pricing is one of the hardest things from a mindset perspective, right? So obviously you're positioning yourself as the expert there, which is very clear and I think that's a great way of going about it. In the qualification process, when do you mention the investment, the price, is that one of your early qualifiers to make sure that people have what it... Well, have the financial ability to fund someone like yourself?
Yeah, so the way I do it is if they're in my target market, I just assume they can afford it. So that's one thing, and which is a little on the cheeky side, because I'm one of the most expensive EOS implementers in the world, and I charge $10,000 a day, that's over a thousand dollars an hour for what I do, and I've never gotten any resistance to that.
I put it in this context though, I say "Look, I'll guarantee you that I'll cost you about what a highly qualified administrative assistant, including a benefits cost, but I'll make a bigger difference in the trajectory, the profits, and the revenue, and the capability of your organisation than your highest paid person. So if you want a bigger impact from your highest paid person at about the cost of an admin, I'm your guy."
And you're going to stay with me for two years, but there is no contract, there is no obligation, in fact, at the end of the session... And every EOS person is doing it by the book will say this, if you get to the end of the session and you don't feel like you got your money's worth, you don't pay. And they have to give me a check at the end of each session, and nobody's ever not given me the check. $10,000 for a day's work, they've got to feel like they move their business ahead substantially to do that, and they don't only do it, they typically do it with me 13 to 14 times over the course of those two plus years.
Yeah, great. And as far as when you go in and start to analyse the sales, right? Are there particular things that you're looking for? So, in a way I look at you as like a physician, a doctor, you're going in, like you said, you're looking at... You're asking really good... What do they call it? I should know because I've spent so much time in hospital, but you've got the triage at the start of it, which is, you've set up really well. Then what do you go in and what do you look for when you first go into the sales part of the business?
Well, I start off with the marketing thinking and that is, are they clear in the target market? Do they have a list of the people that could buy the product? 98% of the time they don't, so go get that. The next thing is, what are your three differentiators? Where there might be a number of people that have one of them, very few that have two, and none that have all three. So if you don't have that, go get that done. And I push them to make iterations through that until everybody believes it, more importantly that they've talked to some of their clients and their clients say "yeah, that's it." And then the next thing is, do they show a proven process? Here's how we're going to get you from where you are, to where you want to be. And then the last thing is, if at all possible, and it's possible the vast majority of the time is to have a guarantee that moves the risk for the client.
And if you don't, you really need to think about that, because I almost always have people say "Ah, we couldn't do that in our business." And yet, I'd say 90% of my clients get to a place where they can do it. Some are a little slower than others, but that always closes more sales and makes people happier, and almost nobody ever takes redemption against that. But I can tell you many, many stories, the best thing about it is, it's a catalytic function to let you know when you're not delivering as you promised, and that's pointing to Jim Collins.
Yeah, who always... Well, my paraphrasing is, be brutally honest about where you are today and have a clear vision for the future. So that was the key saying that I took out of his Good to Great book. Yeah. You've got the methodology of EOS, but what happens for you as a consultant, does the brand send you leads? Do you have to go and get your own leads? Obviously, you're at the pinnacle of EOS, but as a normal EOS consultant, so to speak or an implementer, what happens? How do you or others, I suppose, get those leads into the business?
Well, for a new implementer in general, it can be kind of difficult, because you... Like in a lot of things, you have to kiss a lot of frogs and with that definition of 10 to 300 employees, there's millions and millions of companies that fit that model. So, we typically get at those people through connectors, people that are what you could call fellow travellers, that know of people that are looking for help, so you get connectors. So I've done some of that. I've drunk a lot of coffee with those guys, and by the way, on connectors, one of the biggest things I figured out was, if they can't prove to me that they routinely connect other people, just because it would be good for those two people, not because it would be good for them, then I never have another cup of coffee with them or another phone call because, I find people aren't going to suddenly become a connector for me when they aren't for others.
So I don't waste any time there, but I also just reach out directly to people. And my business pretty much started off of the back of people I already knew. So I instantly converted some old clients into some new clients, and then they got such great results fairly quickly that they started talking about it, and I haven't actually had to go look for any business for a long time, because all of my business comes now via word of mouth. But to be clear, when I first started EOS, you couldn't hardly find anybody that had ever heard of EOS before. It's very different now, but back then, when I was building my foundation, I would go months between running into anybody that had ever heard of EOS.
The other big function that I have, and that many others use is, I'm a big believer in Vistage, and I'd say at least half of my clients are in Vistage. The Vistage chairs believe in EOS, the Entrepreneur's Organisation. Any of those type of organisations typically will have a belief in EOS, as does Dan Sullivan and Strategic Coach. So those are all sources. So fellow travellers are the biggest way we get the first meeting, and then after that, it's a matter of doing the things I said before, is this really the right time? Are they in enough pain? And do they meet the other ideal client characteristics?
Yeah, I really like that point around, have you referred others? I call it the referrals, and often, who goes before your client, who goes after your client is a great way of notifying those people. You say connectors, I say referrals, but let's call it the same thing. And I think the other thing is, tell me one now. So I always say to people, if you're in that... Some people say a partnership, they're going to join a partnership and it all sounds great. To me, it's always "Well, who's one of your clients now, that we could go and get this happening with?" And I think... I love your point around, have you done it before?
And then I think the other one for me is, let's pick someone now, and that's often, like you said... You really want to go hard and qualify people, I think, as you've demonstrated today, how you do it for clients, I think it's really important to do that for partners as well. And it sounds like you're on the exact same page. Where do you see the role of consulting in this complex world? Is it less in demand, more in demand, where do you sort of see it going in the next five years?
Well, one critical distinction is, EOS people are not consultants. We implement the EOS model, and we facilitate. So just be clear, we don't tell anybody what to do, ever, which is what you do in consulting, and I see the role growing really rapidly. It pays so well. People that use EOS grow dramatically better than people that don't use anything, and even better than people that try to do it on their own. I have a lot of people that have used other models and failed, or they've tried to do it on their own and failed.
And I just tell them "Go try it on your own, but tick tock, the death rate's holding steady at 100%. I've yet to run into anybody who could do it well themselves. And there are so many turns in the road that are difficult to make, if you even see them. And you're in the ditch and you didn't even know it. So, if you want to save that money, by all means, save the money, but you're leaving... For every dollar you save, you're usually stepping over a $100 bill to save that.
Yeah. And I love the... I've never heard it before where you said it's the cost of a good admin resource, I think that was a brilliant way of articulating the opportunity gap, I suppose. So before we go into the rapid fire section, I want to ask you do you think you've got the sales system to get those referrals to double your business? And what I've got is a pulse, we call it the pulse, and you can go and answer the nine questions, it'll take you about three minutes, but they're nine critical questions, and once you've answered those, then there's the opportunity for you and I to work on a plan. It's not a sales call, and I very much follow Eric's approach. It's just helping you identify what those gaps are to get more referrals. So if you go to paulhigginsmentoring.com/pulse, you can answer those nine questions in three minutes. So now we're going to go into the rapid fire section. Eric, are you ready?
Yes, but let me just make a quick comment. Getting coaching is in my book... I've always paid for that. I've always invested myself. You don't get to the history I've gotten, selling on your own, it's an illusion. And I just know every time I fork over a dollar, just like my clients, I'm getting $100 back. The exact timing of that isn't always exactly clear, but it's always sooner than I thought. So for whatever it's worth. So yes, let's do the rapid fire.
Yeah, and just to build on that, I think... Often I look at people who have come out of corporate, they've got a really good business, but they haven't had 28 years worth of experience. And in my case, I grew up in the Coca-Cola world, which was like some of the great tech brands that you've worked for in the past and built. Coca-Cola knows their sales fairly well. Just 28 years of experience, if you can buy that at $1000 an hour or $10,000 a day from someone like yourself... Yes, you could spend 28 years learning it, but just to compound that learning in a contextual way, I think is perfect.
So I'm like you, I always have mentors myself, and I think that's the difference often between success and not. So rapid fire. So what are some of the successful sales habits that you have?
Well, the first daily habit is, I write out my day's plan for the following day, the night before, and the Sunday night before. So I know what I'm going to get done, and my time is blocked in 15 to 25 minute blocks and I execute that plan, and then I review and see how I did, and I'm in constant learning. And then I make my target calls, and I don't pre-think what'll happen. I just do it, just do it.
Brilliant. And what is a piece of technology that is essential for accelerating your sales?
Well, I would've to say... I've used all the different CRMs, Salesforce.com, HubSpot, Marketo, all those. I would say those are a big help, but really it's my mobile phone, and I really know how to use my mobile phone, and ironically, a lot of people actually don't know how to use their phone all that well, there's a lot of little details that they just don't really understand.
Great, and which side of the fence do you use?
Pardon... Oh, wait, I use an Apple.
Apple, okay. You're on the good side, according to me. So you mentioned a lot of ways that you call collect information, through mentors, et cetera, for sales specifically, is there any resources that you go to at the moment that you could share with us to benefit?
Yeah, well certainly, using LinkedIn is really useful because it's well maintained, but the reality is, in your target market, going to somebody who's really good at building privately built lists, and validating those lists, and only getting enough that you can actually actively get into prosecuting those lists, know that data decays at three to 5% a month. And there's nothing worse than calling for somebody who isn't there or having a dead number or dead email or whatever. So good data is really a critical thing to... So that you have no reason to not make that next phone call, and it's just bam, bam, bam, bam. Get somebody who knows what they're doing to do that for you, don't try to do it yourself. You waste a lot of time sorting things, ideally you're just one after another.
And you talked about when you did exit.. Or your part exited your company. You came into doing this because you wanted to give back, what are some other ways that you give back in life?
I have had typically two people that I've mentored, and I've had a number of sources of people that have sent me people to be mentored, and I typically would mentor for two to three years, but I've done that for 35 years. I've always had a couple of people I've been mentoring all the time. There's no cost in that for the people that I have chosen, now I onboard people to do EOS. I always have a couple people I'm onboarding, and it's a hard road for some to get up and get through what I call the valley of death to getting to where they're good, and they're making a living, and I'm happy to say really everybody that's been involved with my direct mentoring programme is doing quite well, thank you.
Yeah, brilliant. Well, the last question is around an action that we can take today. So what is one sales action out of all the wisdom that you've shared today, that we can do to 10 times our business?
Well, I would say that getting clear EOS can provide you with a personal plan, a version of their vision, traction organiser, but getting that down specifically and getting your next quarter, your next year, your next three years, your long-term down into smart formats so you know what you want, and at the very least looking at that every day, knowing that your brain is a neutral engine, whatever you put into it, you'll get back out. And my best clients rewrite that every day by hand because they understand the power of their brain.
And so the final thing is, when you've got a question or something that's stalling you, write it down the night before, and put it by your bedside, and your brain will work on it and give you an answer. And I guess the final thing is, there's a book called Tiny Habits, and that's a killer book. I think James Clear's Atomic Habits are also good, but you are your habits. So become clear on what it takes for you to get into action, because no action, no results, that simple. So that's it.
Well, look, it's been an absolute joy having you on today. I've enjoyed all of our conversations, but like I said, at the start, I'm so glad that we are sharing this one with all of our listeners, meaning you out there. So you can find out more at Eosworldwide.com, and like Eric said, why try to... I call it the highway of success, so why take so many side routes and detours? Why not get a system that is proven, it works, there's 2,500 people a month that are going to it, so why don't you go and have a look at it? And I highly recommend the book by Gino Wickman as well, which we'll have the links to and everything in the show notes. So it's been absolute a pleasure having you on today, Eric.
Likewise, Paul. All the best for you and all of your listeners, take care.
What a wonderful interview with Eric. I promised upfront that it was going to be great, and I hope that it met everyone of your desires. So what I learned from the podcast really after I spoke to Eric, he just gave me another component to that VA. So I love how he... All the admin, how he positioned himself, that it's going to cost you about an admin person, but then the benefit you're going to get is material.
But he also talked about anchoring it. So anchoring it to, what are you paying your top paid person? So let's say it might, $750,000 a year, I'm going to give you more value than what they contribute to the business for the price of an admin person. So I think the way that he linked that, so that's the final piece for you. So you do it in your way, but I think it was brilliant.
So I'd love for you to actually move your learning, not into action this time, but into implementation, because that's what Eric helps people do. And I want you to go and share one thing that you've taken from this amazing episode with Eric, share it on his LinkedIn profile, also share it as a post mentioning him, that would be fantastic. And it's a small price to pay for the wisdom that he shared today.
There's also all the links in the show notes. So about the book, Traction, et cetera, that'll be all in there for you, and there's the transcription as well. Also, I'd love for you... Given how valuable this episode was, just to share with one, 10 or maybe 100, and be the sales hero for them, okay? They will love you for sharing this. Also, if you want to know the gap between your current sales system, and one that's going to give you referrals or as Eric said, connectors, just go to Paulhigginsmentoring.com/pulse. Please take action to accelerate your sales.
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About Eric Albertson
Eric Albertson, a former part-owner of an Inc. 500 (#89) has been growth driver of 100+ businesses with over 36+ years of real world experience, helping people like you go from Good to Great to get more of what you want from your business.
Through his Certified EOS Implementer®️ qualification, deep expertise, confidence and skill, Eric has a million stories to make the Entrepreneurial Operating Systems (EOS®️) and his teachings accessible to each member of your leadership team so they can go to productive action and results in days.
Eric’s clients success isn’t his job… it’s his mission in life. Even after your engagement with Eric is concluded Eric still takes your calls and provides insight and challenge to keep you going on your journey from Good to Great.
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