The key to sales is focussing on your customer/client, not yourself. That’s because they don’t care when your company was founded, or where you’ve got offices. All they care about is what you can do for them…


Dylis: Hi there, this is Dylis Guyan welcome to the Inspired Selling Podcast. The place where business owners and sales people who sell to bigger businesses, discover how to attract, convert and keep more of those high paying clients. I have bought a spectacular guest for you today, I’m really thrilled to have Andy Bounds with us. So let me just tell you a little bit about Andy.

He was awarded the title of Britain’s Sales Trainer Of The Year and described by Astrazeneca’s global communications director as “A genius whose advice can’t be ignored.” And I have to echo that. What Andy doesn’t know actually isn’t worth knowing. Andy’s insights actually stem from the fact that his mother is blind, and this has given him a lifetime’s experience of communicating from someone else’s point of view. So very very critical when seeking to persuade others.

Andy has written three books, all are international bestsellers, and in fact, one was only kept off Amazon’s top spot by Harry Potter, would you believe. Andy has spoken in more than 35 countries, to audiences of all sizes. He’s delivered keynotes, as at their professional Speakers Association Conference, as well as for the Blue Chip companies, governments, professional bodies, and business experts. His core belief is this. “It’s not what you say that counts. It’s what people do differently, after what you have said.” I absolutely love that, that really resonates with me Andy, so welcome. I’m absolutely thrilled to have you with us today.

Andy: Great to be here. Thank you.

Dylis: So let’s just get straight into it then Andy, so how did you get into sales? I know you were charted accounted before you got into the sales arena. So how did you get into sales and what impact did your mother have on your career?

Andy: Okay, so how I got into sales was by total luck really. As you say, I used to be a chartered accountant, and I used to really like it actually. But I went to a presentation delivered by a bank once. It was dire. Oh Dylis it was so boring, and I thought why have you been so boring? This is clearly an expensive thing you’ve done, you’ve hired the room, all your staff are here. You have potential clients in the room, why is it been so rubbish? I thought, never mind, whatever. Then the next week, I went to another presentation by another bank, and that was even worse. I thought, Why do people do this? And then it suddenly dawned on me that what I had learned from the earliest days from talking to my mum, who doesn’t see at all. She certainly doesn’t see the world, the way I do; was that I knew how to communicate from people who don’t see things like we do.

It suddenly dawned on me. It needed those two bank presentations in the same week, which were both dreadful, to suddenly made me realise, oh this is what most people do. Then after that, I was looking around, and I looked at some brochures and I thought, well, that’s a bit boring. Then I went to a sales pitch and I thought that’s a bit boring and so it was all to do with that, really. Mum had a massive influence, because she was the one who taught me how to speak. So therefore, I became good at describing stuff, and here we are.

Dylis: Brilliant, brilliant. Sales, of course, is all about inspiring people, isn’t it? It’s about making it not boring because if you come over in that way, it’s not going to move people, it’s not going to shift the emotions in people to want to take action and to want to take action with you of course.

Andy: Absolutely. It has to be inspiring, but also it has to focus on the other person. This is something so many companies get wrong. I don’t know how many sales pitches I’ve seen which start with the open slides saying we were founded in 1922. Here’s a map of our offices. Nobody cares. Nobody cares! Nobody cares! No one cares how old you are, nobody cares where your offices are based. Then they say, and we were found by the merger of two other practices, nobody cares.

I’m the customer so I’m thinking I want my company to go into Belgium. Can you help me get into Belgium? That’s all I care about. So start off by saying, “You know how you want to get into Belgium Andy, we can help you do that.” But nobody cares about the stuff sales people normally talk about, in fact, put it very simply, what sales people often do is they talk about themselves and their past. We were founded in 1922 and all that stuff. Customers are interested in the total opposite. They’re interested in themselves, not us, and they’re interested in their future and how we can enhance it, not the salesperson’s past.

Dylis: Exactly and certainly what I see, particularly in companies with sales people is to get this much product training, and history of the company and about that much sales training, and that much prospecting training. Even if they get that much. You know, in a way, it’s not their fault, because that’s how they have been taught, and conditioned to think product, and to think history of the company and that sort of thing. Of course the business owners who are selling to bigger businesses, they’re expert in the field, expert in their product, or expert in their service. Until you learn the steps, because it’s just that really isn’t it, it’s learning the steps of how to present yourself and how to be customer focused, and so on. So knowing what you know now, is there anything that you would do differently to shortcut that learning curve when you very first started?

Andy: Yeah, well, a millions of things. There are two in particular that jump out, and one of them is you mentioned about prospecting. The easiest person to prospect with is someone who already knows and likes you. So the mistake I made to start with was, I thought that prospecting meant talking to strangers so that meant I might do some cold calling, which I hate. Or I might send out emails to people, which I hate. So I thought prospecting was just things that I hated.

Then, over time, I realised it’s much easier to prospect with people who know you. So all I did, and I would advise anyone who wants to generate business, this is the easiest thing to do. Just go down your phone, have all the contacts in your phone, and for each one, give each one a mark A, B, or C for two things. Firstly, how much they like you. My mum would have A because she likes me a lot. Someone who didn’t really know me or like me very much will be a C. So how much they liked you.

Secondly, how powerful they are, in other words, how likely they are to be able to give you some business or give you some good recommendations. If you go down the list of how much they like you, and how powerful they are, in other words, how likely they are to generate money for you. If you do that, with every single person, you know, you’ll find there are some AAs you know, people who like you a lot, and they actually have quite a lot of power. Then you just ring up the AA’s and they’re happy to help because they like you, and they’ve got the power to help because they got the power to help. I found that was the biggest mistake I made to start with; was that I didn’t talk to my existing contacts enough, I almost ignored them, and I went to speak to strangers.

Dylis: That is so brilliant. So brilliant. I’ve been in sales for years and years and never thought about going, actually going through my phone, and doing it in that way. That’s excellent. So thank you Andy, I learnt something today, and we never stop learning, of course, do we? What was the second thing?

Andy: The second one was when I got to speak to them, was to use the process, which I call ABC. What I did to start with is I’d go and say “Hi, I’m Andy.” I didn’t say I was founded in 1922, but I nearly did. I was talking too much about myself and my past. What ABC stands for is this is, I find the best way to sell anything the A stands for Afters. In other words, you start by asking the customer where they want to be after working with you. If you are a lawyer, you might say “What’s the endgame here?” If you’re an accountant, you might say, “So what are your objectives for your company?” For me, I might say to a sales team, “What would you like to be doing that you’re not doing at the minute?” Find out the afters, the future happy place, they want to be. You do that with go questioning.

The B is, Build Certainty. Once they’ve said what they want to achieve, you then say, “Well, I can help you with that, because…” and then you build certainty by using stories or examples, so they go “Oh, you can help me, I like that”

Dylis: Yeah.

Andy: Then C, you’ve got to Close It Off. You have to be able to close the sale. That is in a nutshell, much as I like to complicate things, because it makes me sound clever. Actually, that’s all sales is. Find the afters, build a bit of certainty, close it off, and you’re fine.

Dylis: Yeah, and this, finding the afters, that’s great, isn’t? In terms of getting people to create their own vision?

Andy: Yeah.

Dylis: When you talk about those afters and they can feel that and see that, and they’re selling to themselves, because great selling is, as you know, it’s about taking someone on that journey. It’s not pushing, forcing or any of those nasty sales tactics.

Andy: Yeah, absolutely. It’s all to do with good questioning. I have never met a brilliant salesperson who isn’t brilliant at asking questions. There’s too many negatives there. All good salespeople ask good questions. Another piece of homework for anyone watching this, so one piece of homework look at your phone contacts, like we said before and grade them all with power and love. Another piece of homework is just spend 20 minutes coming up with three or four really good questions to find out a customer’s desired future.

Most people don’t do this. Most people just ask the questions they were given on the induction course which are probably a bit weak really, or you just ask questions you asked last week, which might be okay, they might not be good. But just spend 20 minutes with a cup of tea, and just write down some really good questions you can ask to find the other person’s desired future.

Dylis: And what it would mean to them.

Andy: Yeah.

Dylis: And understanding particularly if you’re selling to companies, it’s not just benefits to the company, its benefits to the individual too. You got that kind of double wammy thing going on haven’t you?

Andy: Yeah.

Dylis: So let’s just go back to the beginning of your day, then. Are you one of these people who has a daily routine? If you do, would you share that with us if you don’t what are your views on it?

Andy: I do have a daily routine, the most useful thing I do in my life. It sounds quite boring this, but I find it super helpful is, at the end of each day, I always look through every single thing that I’ve done during the day, and I do all my follow up there, and then. If I’ve say delivered a sales workshop during the day, I might have to send the slides to everyone who came. I might have got some follow up materials I’ve created, I’ll send that through. I might have arranged with the sales director I’m going to speak to her next week to ask how everything was, so I put a reminder in my diary to make sure I do that. I might have another reminder two or three weeks later, just so I can check in saying is everything still going okay.

Every single thing I do, at the end of that day, I either do the follow up now, or I put it in the diary to do at a later date. Which means it doesn’t sound very interesting, but it means I never ever forget anything, like ever. I’m always following up, I’m always super-efficient.  I don’t want my clients to follow up for me. I’d rather to be in control of that, so I say to the client, “I tell you what, I’m happy to take the action to do all the follow up” and they said, “Oh, that’s charming Andy” but it’s because I want to have a bit of control. That’s the most useful thing, actually. It’s not sexy, but my word, it’s useful.

Another thing I do is during the week, I have a diary entry, which is planning ahead. What I do is I look at all my meetings that are coming up next week, and I make sure I do my planning for them, so that might just be, send a little email looking forward to seeing you next week. Is there anything you want me to prepare or bring with me? It could be jumping on the phone to do stuff, it might be actually creating some material. I used to not have this plan ahead in the diary, and then sometimes I didn’t get time to plan ahead.

Dylis: Yes.

Andy: Now I always have time to plan ahead because it’s in the diary. It’s funny that.

Dylis: Yeah.

Andy: The only other one other thing which I do, so my diary is quite empty apart from these things, and the only other thing I do is, I have in the diary is a time to ask for a referral. So in my diary, I have one diary entry a week, which says ask for a referral now, Andy. I don’t care if I get the referral or not, because people will say no, people will say yes. I don’t care about that, but I do care that I asked, because it’s in the diary. That means this year, I’m going to ask for about 50 referrals. I’ll probably get about 20, 30. Last year, I asked for 50. The year before I asked for 50. Do the math. That’s where my business comes from.

Dylis: Yeah. So when you’ve got that entry in your diary, and then you go through and say, right, who have I spoken to or who do I need to speak to…

Andy: Yeah.

Dylis: …today, to ask for that referral?

Andy: That’s right.

Dylis You ask a specific person?

Andy: Yeah. Ask a specific person always. Yeah.

Dylis: Brilliant. And how do you ask Andy?

Andy: I have a script, which I find works really very well, indeed. Here it is, I say, for someone who has already benefited from using me or knows of my stuff, I’ll say something like “Do you mind if I ask your advice about something?” and they say, “What is it?” I say, “Well, I see on LinkedIn, or wherever that you happen to know person x,” that’s the person I want to speak to. “I see on LinkedIn that you know person x, and this is where I could do with your advice, because I’d love to speak to them, but I don’t want to cold call them. What would you advise I do?”

So I don’t say, “Give me a referral,” I just say, “I see, you know, person x, I want to speak to them, but I don’t want to cold call, what would you advise I do?” People give me one or two answers. Either they say, “Well, I’ll introduce you, if you like.” That’s the referral! Or they often say “Well, just email them.” If they say “Just email them.” I say, “Okay, happy to do that. Would you mind if I included your name in that email, just so they know that I know them through you?” They always go “Oh, that’s fine.” That means that they never feel put on the spot to ask for a referral, because they don’t say with a begging bowl, “Give me a referral.” I just say like, “How would you advise I approached them?” I find that works dead well.

Dylis: Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Do you know, we’ve all got our sort of ways of doing things haven’t we. Just that little extra bit of say, could you give…what would you advise me to do?

Andy: Yeah.

Dylis: Just makes the difference doesn’t it? Fantastic, brilliant. I don’t know whether you know, this, actually. I used to work with… I used to be the regional sales director at Barclays Financial Services. I left and set up my own consultancy back in 2000 and started working with large corporates. It was with the big international corporates and working with the sales teams and the sales leaders. About five or six years ago, I was so shattered with the traveling, I decided I was going to change my business model and bring my skills to the SME market, who are selling to bigger businesses but haven’t got a sales and marketing department or a training department, and maybe just a small sales team.

Working with this demographic, what I have found is that many, not all, but many will be selling to smaller companies. I’m trying to encourage them to sell to bigger companies who have got bigger budgets, who will pay on time, who are a joy to work with, who you can get additional business with, and so on. What are your thoughts around that? Why do you think that they should consider selling to bigger businesses?

Andy: Well, I mean, it’s a great question. The main thing to do is…I think organisations should sell to who they feel most comfortable selling to, and also the ones that are going to most likely to generate the right sort of work. Almost always it’s easier to sell to someone who, if they’re going to give you money, it’s coming out of the businesses bank account, if you like. Whereas if you sell to me personally, if I give you any money, it’s basically coming out to my children’s holiday fund.

Dylis: Yes.

Andy: My question is not “Do I think you could bring me business or not?” My question is, “Do I think what I’m going to pay you is better than me saying to the children, “Well, we can’t do Disney again this year.” I would much prefer to sell to someone, when it’s not particularly their money. I prefer working with larger organisations, partly because of the budget because I also do a lot of work with communication. There’s a lot of huge challenges with huge organisations and their communication so I like doing that as well. The key thing to remember is when you’re looking to get new customers, you’ve got to think, number one, do they see the need for what you sell? And number two, very importantly, are they happy to give you money for it?

Dylis: Yes.

Andy: For example, my children might like the thought of getting chocolate flavoured toothpaste, they might think that’s really good but actually no parent is ever going to buy that and give money for it. So just because it’s a nice idea doesn’t mean that money is going to be transferred. So that’s who your target market should be.

Dylis: Yeah. I just… there’s so many smaller businesses who I see struggling with the peaks and troughs of cash flow because…one of the reasons is that they’re selling to too small a company, and they’re getting small jobs, but they’re not getting enough small jobs anyway.

Andy: Yeah.

Dylis They’re not getting this consistency of work coming in. What are your thoughts round that in terms of people making sure that they’ve got a full pipeline?

Andy: Well, two things really. Firstly, do that thing I said before about going through your phone contacts, make sure you’ve spoken to everyone who it’s easy to speak to. It’s hard enough speaking to strangers, you might as well speak to people who like you. The other thing, this sounds really obvious really, is change your pricing structure. Let me just run through this a bit, because many people price based on time, you know, so they say, “If you want an hour of me coaching, it’s going to be this amount of money. If you want three hours, it’s going to be three times the amount.”

Straightaway, what happens is both you and the customer can be in a bit of conflict as to what should we charge. Because customer says “I think I only need one session” and you say “I think you need three.” They go “No I think it’s really one. We’ll do one and I might pay for another one afterwards.” Because everyone talks about time, you’re much better off saying to the customer, “Well I can definitely help you with this and, and based on what we just talked about, it should bring you this sort of amount of value. My price for doing it is only this. When do you want to start?” You don’t say it’s going to be three hours work for this price, you just say it’s going to be this price, but you base the price based on the value you’re giving rather than the number of hours it’s going to take you.

One of my best friends, I’ve been talking with him about this recently. He would say to someone “What work do you want doing?” he’s a clever IT guy. Then he’ll go and work out exactly how many hours it would be, then he’ll go back and he’d say “It’s going to be about two days work. I charge about £650 a day, therefore it’s going to be £1,300.” The client would always say, “ooo, can’t you just do it in a day and half?”

Dylis: Yeah.

Andy: I said to him stop mentioning days. Just go away and come back and say “I can help you it’s going to cost £1,300.” Just changing that means that you stop focusing on the time, and you focus more on the value you’re going to give the client and the great thing is if you’re not focusing on time anymore, all of a sudden you have a bit more time.

Dylis: Yeah. It’s also worth looking at that kind of bigger picture of what you can do. It’s not just this bit. You might want to do some follow-on coaching, or some 1:1, or I often, often find, it hasn’t been always, but very often that I’ll do work with the sales team then I work with the leaders. If the leaders don’t know what the sales team have learnt, it’s harder that for them then to embed that learning that the sales people…

Andy: Yeah it won’t work. It’s a great thing you said, you could and you always should offer the customer options. You don’t say to the customer, “I can help you by doing x, do you want it or not?” because they could say “Not.” You say “The good news is there’s two ways I can help you. I could do x which costs this amount. Or if you want, I could do y which costs this amount. Which do you want?” Then you’re saying to the customer, which of these two sounds better? And what you often find with customers is they often more the more expensive one, because yes, it’s more expensive, but it’s way more valuable and they’re looking for value.

Dylis: Yeah. People don’t always value themselves enough to put their prices up. You were talking about the pricing. I met a guy just at the weekend. In fact, in Burford near where I live, from America. To cut a very long story short, he was called Steve Hardison. He took his shoe and sock off, and he’s got his toenails painted black with this exclamation mark on, in the middle street. I gave him my card. I’ve got our own international sales, marketing leader, coach and speaker, and he nearly went inside out, and he said, “Oh, my God, I must give you a book.” I didn’t intend to share all of this. This is the book.” He is the last kind of…it doesn’t matter. He marked it like for me.

Andy: Right.

Dylis: This book is going to be made into film. Matthew McConaughey, I think I pronounced that right. Is going to play him in this film. He’s working with this lady helping…and she was a drug addict, and so on, and he helped her as a coach. He said “I charge $200,000 to a million a year for that coaching.” I was thinking, now, there is an example of somebody because there isn’t that much more to know in coaching really is there? There’s somebody who values themselves to such an extent, that he is charging $200,000 to a million a year, and they travel to Arizona, he said that don’t do any of this tech stuff online. He was just amazing.

He’s asked me to get in touch with him on his website. I haven’t had a minute this week, but I’m going to get in touch with him and he’s going to send me some kind of online thing. I’m just sharing that in terms of valuing yourself, because he obviously feels and knows that he brings massive value to his clients. Then through that, he’s, as you said, he’s obviously getting referrals as well. Onto that kind of person. I had to just share that. You can just imagine this on Burford High Street, him taking his shoe and sock off. So, what is the best advice to business owners or entrepreneurs to improve their success rates in terms of selling?

Andy: Okay, so on top of the things we’ve already talked about, spend more time with your existing customers, that is dead easy. I have a little three H’s conversation with each of my customers all the time. The first H is Hot Priorities. “What are you working on at the minute? What are your main priorities?” They tell me. Then my second H is, “How can I help you with those?” They will often say, “Well, could you do this” and that’s what we call a sale. So that’s all good. Then they often say, “I don’t really know, Andy.” Then my third H comes out and says, “Well, how about…. then how about this, let me go and have a think about how I might be able to help and I can come back to you.”

I’m going to run through those three H’s again because they’re dead easy. Customers always love it. “What are your hot priorities? What you’re working on at the minute? How do you think I can help you with them? How about this? Let me go and have a think about it then I’ll come back, how would that be?”

Now what happens is if you ask these three H’s conversations with your customers all the time, firstly, customers will talk to you because they really like you. Secondly, you’re offering more value, because you’re talking about their hot priorities and thirdly, you’re not selling to them, because you just say you’re not being horrible, you’re just saying “How can I help?” “I don’t know?” Then even with the how about you’re not saying let me go and do a sales pitch, your saying “Let me have a think about it. Would that be all right? I might have something that can help you.” Little things like that are really, really, easy to do.

What I tend to find is that two wonderful things happen, if I do three H’s. Either my existing customers might buy something else, which is great for me, and it’s great for them, because I’m helping them more. Or what they do is I say, “Well, I can’t really help you, but I’ll just keep thinking about it.” They always say “Thank you” because none of my other suppliers ask questions like that. So I look like a real value adding supplier because I am. So I’m not just doing it to put money in my pocket I’m trying to help them too.

Dylis: Yes.

Andy: That is the easiest, easiest way to generate more value for your clients and more fees for you.

Dylis: Fantastic, absolutely fantastic. Any other little pearls before you share your contact details?

Andy: Let’s think of other pearls. To be honest, the one I said before is probably the most important one, which just sounds so boring. That is change your diary a bit. As I said before, I have in my diary every week to make sure that I asked for a referral. I also have in my diary to make sure I do the three H’s conversation. What many people tell me Dylis is they say, “I just don’t have time to do this?” “I understand what you’re saying Andy, your 3 Hs is very clever. You must be very proud of yourself but I just don’t have time to do it.” I say, “The reason you don’t have time is because it’s not in your diary.”

Dylis: Yeah.

Andy: If I could just impress on everyone watching this, if you’re going to do just one thing, please just do this one thing, put a new diary entry and I don’t know, every Thursday morning for 20 minutes, and it says ask for a referral or have a three H’s conversation. Or if for you it’s cold calling, make three cold calls, just have this recurring diary entry because if things are in your diary, you’ve got time to do it. If they’re not in the diary, you haven’t got time to do it because your diary is full of other stuff.

Dylis: Yes.

Andy: It is not at all sexy but actually it is the discipline and the diligence you need if you want your business to grow.

Dylis: Fantastic. Oh my God Andy, I wish you could just be here in my office, you have lit my fire. I’m absolutely buzzing. You’re an inspiration. I can understand why that guy at Astrazeneca’s global communication director said, “You’re a genius whose advice can’t be ignored.”

Andy: Thank you.

Dylis: You are absolutely amazing. Thank you so much. So how can people get in touch with you?

Andy: A couple of ways. Anyone who wants to learn from my stuff, I have some online videos. That’s just All one word If anyone wants to go to my website that’s just Or to be honest, they can just send me an email, which is It’s very easy to get through to me. So I’ll give you those three again, is the videos the is the website. But if you just want to email me, anyone’s very welcome. It’s always me who answers I don’t ever get anyone doing my correspondence for me. I’m not royalty, if anyone’s got any questions, it’s just

Dylis: Brilliant. Andy, thank you so much. I appreciate you coming and sharing your time and sharing these absolute…these nuggets of gold for my audience. I can’t thank you enough.

Andy: You’re very welcome. Thanks, everyone for listening.

Dylis: Thank you. Thank you. Stay with me, Andy. Wow, what a fantastic guest from Andy Bounds, the gold dust that he shares it’s just so brilliant. Let me just cover a couple of things that he said. I jotted down some notes scribbled to one side without even looking. Let me see if I can read them, prospect with people that you know, go through your phone and mark them A, B and C. How much they like you. A, B and C and how much power have they got in terms of being able to introduce you to people.

I can’t even read my writing here but what else was he talking to..your process, your ABC process. So the after and the building certainty with them by talking about stories, sharing stories, and then close to actually close that. It’s not just as simple as that, of course. That’s your outline process, which is brilliant. What are the three H’s? What are your hot topics? How might I help you? Let’s just go and have a think about how it might help you.

Just fantastic. If you would like to tune into more of these interviews, first of all, come and join my group Inspired Selling on Facebook, it’s a free closed group. In there you can ask questions, you can collaborate, you can mix with like-minded people. A mentor of mine once said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” That’s what my intention is for this group. Of course, go to YouTube and subscribe. Look for Dylis Guyan on YouTube, and subscribe to the videos and you’ll not miss any of these nuggets to help you with your sales.

Have a wonderful time selling, helping people to achieve their objectives, overcome their problems and help them to make their businesses better. So for now, thank you and thank you for listening. Bye for now.

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