About LJ Sarkodee: LJ Sarkodee, is the creator of Freedom Sales School, author of Conversations that Convert, and Founder of Sales Closers. She has over 20 years of high-ticket sales closing experience, selling services from £2k ($2.5k) – £100k ($120k). LJ’s expertise lies in helping businesses and entrepreneurs close more deals and generate more revenue through effective sales strategies and techniques. Her company, Sales Closers, provides a wide range of services, including sales coaching, training, and consulting, that help her clients achieve their sales goals and grow their businesses. She hired and led virtual sales teams around the globe, to sell out multi-six and 7 figure launches. Check out the latest episode of our Conversational Selling podcast to learn more about LJ.
In this episode, Nancy and LJ discuss the following:
- Why do people burn out in sales?
- LJ’s person burnout story.
- Recruiting sales professionals and finding A players in sales: tips for interviewing the candidates.
- Why are some people really afraid of outsourcing?
- Peculiarities of the high-ticket closing sales cycle.
- Get control of the sales process.
- Importance of training outsourced salespeople internally.
- Whilst that was a hard period and a hard lesson to learn, I’m thankful for it, as it taught me how I didn’t want to do things moving forward.
- When we are looking for A-Players, it’s always character first and foremost what we’re looking for.
- I kind of make a joke that if a salesperson is too good at interviews, that’s a concern of mine.
- A surrendered sale is just the art of being present in the conversation and allowing it to flow from there.
- In the training team internally, we see that element of continual improvement and we believe that it’s a skill to receive feedback and receive coaching.
“And linking it back to what we said at the very start, I think sometimes as women as well, we’re trying to balance all the things and spin all the plates at once, being a mom and a business owner and doing the sales, be a good wife. And we try and wear all these hats, and it’s just not practical at all. We’re just not very kind to ourselves and, my belief is that when we’re in that, prospects aren’t getting the best of us so we’re not showing up in the best possible way, whether that be working for ourselves or whether it be working for in an employed role either way. If you’re showing up at kind of… the gas tank is half full, then you’re doing no one any favors at all. And that inevitably will come crashing down at some point if you don’t listen to your body.” – LJ
“So, I think again, when it comes to higher ticket sales, what we’re looking for as much as the sales experience is the life experience. So, when it comes to, you know, overturns, handling objections, that kind of thing. If someone doesn’t really have it in the muscle or doesn’t have the life experience to be able to connect with the prospect and understand where they’re coming from, I think that’s, it’s quite difficult and we notice that in conversions. ” – LJ
“There’s another nuance with surrendered sales for me as well. And that’s in the sales conversation itself. It’s like the art of being attached to the outcome and just being present in the conversation and trusting the flow of that conversation rather than trying to over-control and over-orchestrate what’s going to happen next. It’s, you know, this surrender is just the art of being present in the conversation and allowing it to flow from there.” – LJ
Connect with LJ Sarkodee:
Try Our Proven, 3-Step System, Guaranteeing Accountability and Transparency that Drives RESULTS by clicking on this link: https://oneofakindsales.com/call-center-in-a-box/
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- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Voiceover: You’re listening to The Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.
Nancy Calabrese: Hi, it’s Nancy Calabrese, and it’s time again for Conversational selling – the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today. And it always starts with the human conversation! Today we are excited to have LJ Sarkodee, the creator of Freedom Sales School, author of Conversations that Convert, and Founder of Sales Closers. LJ’s expertise lies in helping businesses and entrepreneurs close more deals and generate more revenue through effective sales strategies and techniques. Her company, Sales Closers, provides a wide range of services, including sales coaching, training, and consulting, that help her clients achieve their sales goals and grow their businesses. So, if you’re listening in and hungry for practical advice and insights on improving your sales game and driving business growth, you won’t want to miss today’s episode. Welcome to the show, LJ! [01:20]
LJ Sarkodee: Thank you for having me, Nancy. It’s great to be here and talk with a fellow female sales professional. It’s always fun. We’re in such a male-dominated industry. I always think it’s great to have a female.
Nancy Calabrese: You know what it’s funny you say that. I’m a part of women’s sales pros, which are sales professionals in the US. I think it’s global. But anyway, at the end of the day, the owner of this business always complains that there are fewer people, women in sales than should be. Yeah, so in doing my research about what you do and your company, you talk about people burning out in sales. Why does that happen? [02:16]
LJ Sarkodee: Listen, I’ve come from a corporate sales background. So, it’s kind of 20, 20 plus years in sales. And, you know, when I look back at my corporate days, a lot of it comes down to the kind of relentless targets and, you know, anytime a salesperson hits the target, then of course, what happens, the target goes up. And it’s like, you know, it feels like a lot of the time in the corporate world, that they’re constantly trying to squeeze everything they can out of their salespeople. And there is this thing in the industry where there’s just this perpetual burnout.
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
LJ Sarkodee: And when that happens, you know, quite often great sales professionals, sadly, you know, they’ll, they’ll end up not sticking around or moving onto the next gig or worse case, yeah, ending up in complete burnout over it. [03:11]
Nancy Calabrese: You know, it’s too bad. I think at the end of the day, we’ll also have to take a step back and get some quiet time, personal time. Because going at 100% all day long, I saw your video, what your calendar looked like. You must have been fried every day.
LJ Sarkodee: Yeah, 100%. And linking it back to what we said at the very start, I think sometimes as women as well, we’re trying to balance all the things and spin all the plates at once, being a mom and a business owner and doing the sales, be a good wife. And we try and wear all these hats, and it’s just not practical at all. We’re just not very kind to ourselves and, my belief is that when we’re in that, prospects aren’t getting the best of us so we’re not showing up in the best possible way, whether that be working for ourselves or whether it be working for in an employed role either way. If you’re showing up at kind of… the gas tank is half full, then you’re doing no one any favors at all. And that inevitably will come crashing down at some point if you don’t listen to your body. So, like you say, you know, I learned the hard way. [04:37]
Nancy Calabrese: Yep.
LJ Sarkodee: Personally, I did burn out badly. And I had to take six months out. And that was in my mid-30s, which is crazy thinking about it. I never thought in my 30s I would experience a time so burnt out that I wouldn’t be able to work for six months every time I tried. But, whilst that was a really hard period and a hard lesson to learn, it’s one I’m really thankful for, Nancy, because it, you know, it taught me some great lessons and it taught me how I didn’t want to do things moving forward. [05:16]
Nancy Calabrese: Sure.
LJ Sarkodee: So, when I was able to then rebuild my business and, you know, look at how I wanted to work moving forward, I was able to do it in a way that, yeah, was much, much kinder. And that involved, you know, building a team around me, outsourcing, getting the right people in the right places. And not trying to do all the things myself. Again, it’s one as business owners and entrepreneurs are like, oh, well, I can do it. So, I will. But no, that’s the fast track to burnout for sure.
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. Before we jumped on, we were talking a little bit about your background in recruiting sales professionals and finding those A players in sales. I mean, what qualities do you look for when you interview these candidates? [06:10]
LJ Sarkodee: You know, for me, when we are looking for A-Players, so the agency side of the business, we are constantly hiring because we provide outsourcing services to our clients. And for me, it’s always character first and foremost is what we’re looking for.
Nancy Calabrese: Yep.
LJ Sarkodee: I’ve also often, and I don’t know whether you relate to this, Nancy, as you’ve shared, you know, you’ve got quite a lot of experience hiring salespeople as well, but I kind of make a joke that if a salesperson is too good at interviews, that’s a concern of mine. [06:49]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah.
LJ Sarkodee: Like, uh, they’ve maybe had too many interviews in their time. Um, but what I’m looking for, yeah, first and foremost is character is like how they carry themselves. Um, Could I trust them? Do I want to have a conversation with them? And we move through the process. We have quite a thorough process in terms of the initial application form. We’re looking at what people are saying there. Sometimes people are putting three-word answers.
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
LJ Sarkodee: And it’s like, well, come on. How much effort are you putting in here? So that will discount some people. In the second stage, we will invite people to record a video of themselves. [07:35]
Nancy Calabrese: Yup.
LJ Sarkodee: Simple, we’ll talk them through the steps. You know, we’ll give them actions in terms of, this is what we want you to say, this is what we want you to cover, this is how long we want it to be. So, A, we want to see, if can someone follow instructions.
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
LJ Sarkodee: Are they prepared and are they prepared to get out of their comfort zone? And honestly, it’s surprising to me the number of people that just are not prepared, it’s a 90-second video that we ask for, it’s not over. The number of sales professionals that just are not prepared to go that step and just get out of their comfort zone. So that knocks a lot of people out of our process at that stage. Um, at that point, we then go to interview and we’re really getting to know the individual. At that point, yes, we want the sales experience, but I’m more interested in the person. [08:29] So, I think again, when it comes to higher ticket sales, what we’re looking for as much as the sales experience is the life experience. So, when it comes to, you know, overturns, handling objections, that kind of thing. If someone doesn’t really have it in the muscle or doesn’t have the life experience to be able to connect with the prospect and understand where they’re coming from, I think that’s, it’s quite difficult and we notice that in conversions. So that’s what we’re looking for there. And then finally, we do role plays as well. Good old role plays, you know, you can’t.
Nancy Calabrese: The good old role play.
LJ Sarkodee: You can’t go too far wrong with those. And whilst I know a lot of people hate them, show me a better way just to have some fun, to understand how someone handles a sales call. We’re not looking, sorry, go ahead. [09:26]
Nancy Calabrese: No, it’s funny that in listening to you, when we hire people here, I have them do a read-through of a call script because we only hire people that have had experience. And like you, I’m shocked at how many people can’t deliver a script and make it sound natural.
LJ Sarkodee: Yeah, yeah.
Nancy Calabrese: It’s amazing.
LJ Sarkodee: Really worried. Yeah.
Nancy Calabrese: Next question. All right, so a good portion of your business, companies come to you and outsource their sales to you. Is that correct?
LJ Sarkodee: That’s correct. Yeah.
Nancy Calabrese: But why are some people really afraid of outsourcing? What are the concerns? [10:12]
LJ Sarkodee: Yeah, great question. The thing we see most is, and this theory is depending on the size of the business that we’re talking to. Interestingly, the bigger the business gets, the less this becomes an issue because they kind of overcome it, but we often see business owners who haven’t outsourced before, they very much see their business as their baby. These are their prospects who they may well, you know, we just focus on the closing aspect. So, they may well be spending thousands and thousands of dollars on ad spend to then put those leads in the hands of a salesperson that they haven’t yet built that trust aspect up. So, it’s a big deal for them and we get that 100% but equally, you know, where business the sales themselves, you know, they’re always going to be a bottleneck to their own growth. [11:14]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
LJ Sarkodee: So, at some point they’ve just got to go with it. I suppose the other, you know, the options they have are like, well, they can either outsource or they can hire directly. And I suppose, again, depending on where you are and what stage of growth, it feels less risky, I guess, outsourcing, particularly in our model it’s commission only. So, whether paying them a salary or having to go through all the legalities and requirements of hiring a sales professional, they can outsource to professionals who then eventually represent their brand. And the good thing I find with the type of sales that we focus on, again, it’s like yourself, Nancy, it is for the most part phone sales or Zoom or, yeah, or video, video call for the most part. So, it’s all remote. [12:19]
Nancy Calabrese: Yep.
LJ Sarkodee: But yeah, these people, you know, they are well experienced in that type of selling. They enjoy it. And yeah, it’s very easy for someone to slot in and they essentially become an extension of their team. So, it’s really a sales partner.
Nancy Calabrese: Yup. You know, it’s funny too, because you know, with your high-ticket closing, there are salespeople that prefer a shorter sales cycle. And maybe I’m assuming this. But the high-ticket closing, doesn’t it generally take longer? Does the sales cycle take longer?
LJ Sarkodee: Again, it will depend on the type of business. Um, so with the clients, typically that we work with in high ticket, often it’s much shorter. In fact, it’s one of the criteria we have for new clients coming on board that, um, their sales cycle doesn’t exceed one month. So, yeah, for, for those types of businesses, you know, we could be selling, um, services up to 25,000, we have sold more, up to 50,000, but up to 25,000 over the course of two phone calls or two Zoom calls, which is great, but how the reason that can happen that way is the prospects, the clients that we work with will have a very solid… sales process, marketing funnel upfront that actually nurtures these people to be able to get to the point where they’re ready for a closing conversation. So yeah, it’s a different skill. You know, we see a lot of people coming out of corporate life and struggling with this because it’s like a high ticket in these short sales cycles. It’s a highly emotional sale as well. So, unless, you know, they can the salesperson is really brave enough to get to the crux of the pain and evoke some kind of emotion, then it’s unlikely that it will move to a close. I really enjoy that type of selling, I’ve got to say. I find it. [14:37]
Nancy Calabrese: Well, if you can close a high ticket and two phone calls, I think that would be gold to any salesperson, right?
LJ Sarkodee: Exactly, exactly. We’re seeing a lot of corporate salespeople find their way to us intrigued.
Nancy Calabrese: Oh yeah, I can imagine. I read also that you use the term surrendered sales. What do you mean by that?
LJ Sarkodee: So, what I mean by that is where you can let go of the control of the sales process. So that could look like various forms. If that’s outsourcing, you know, just letting go of that process of selling and trusting the process in that. But I think there’s almost another nuance with surrendered sales for me as well. And that’s in the sales conversation itself. It’s like, that art of being and attached to the outcome and just being present in the conversation and trusting the flow of that conversation rather than trying to over-control and over-orchestrate what’s going to happen next. It’s, you know, this surrender is just the art of being present in the conversation and allowing it to flow from there. [15:57]
Nancy Calabrese: You know, I get really pumped up when I speak with experts like yourself about what I love to do. And people often say selling is hard. And my statement is no, this is what I love. I wouldn’t want to do your job. I would find it difficult. You know, either you have the skills, or you don’t. And that the same way I’m trying to make here is. Obviously, you do training. So, once you hire these outsourced salespeople, do you continue to train the team internally?
LJ Sarkodee: Yeah, we do. So, we have a talent manager internally whose job is to develop our sales team. So, he will be working in terms of listening to calls, working with them, and coaching on a weekly basis. You know, I really enjoy it again, because they are commission-only closers for the most part. They’re very open to feedback, which not all salespeople are. You know, it’s a skill to receive feedback and receive coaching. But when we’re all on the same page, it’s like, well, if we can help you sell more, then you’re going to make more, we’re going to make more clients, going to make more. Everyone is happy. So, there’s that element of continual improvement and also sharing best practices within the sales team. [17:34]
Nancy Calabrese: Yep.
LJ Sarkodee: As well, you know, if there’s particularly good cause that we can share that and I suppose build each other up as much as anything, encourage each other as like, well, what’s working now, what’s working with this client that also might work well with a similar type of business. Because, you know, that’s great.
Nancy Calabrese: You know, and I think it keeps the organization sticky. Everyone in my company, including my administrative staff, participates in sales training every week. And my people, you know, when you think about, well, I guess it could apply to you, commission salespeople, cold call, or appointment setters. It’s a highly stressful at times situation. And the training is what they love the most. And we feed off one another, you know, in our training sessions. So, I think that’s an excellent plus. I can’t believe we’re up in time. I told you this was going to be a fun call.
LJ Sarkodee: Ha ha ha ha.
Nancy Calabrese: How can my people find you?
LJ Sarkodee: So, the best way to get in contact is www.salesclosers.com.
Nancy Calabrese: Okay.
LJ Sarkodee: And yeah, you can get in touch with us there. There’s info at the email address or yeah, book a call with me or one of my team. [19:02]
Nancy Calabrese: Sure. Yeah. So, you know, for everyone out there, if you are frustrated because you just don’t have the time to generate the sales or maybe that’s not your strongest skill, I say pick up the phone and, well, or email, phone or email LJ and have a strategy session with her. She brings a wealth of knowledge and will… help you build your businesses. So, LJ, I hope you come back sometime in the future. We can continue our sales combo.
LJ Sarkodee: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me, Nancy. It’s been fun.
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, thank you. And thank you, everyone, for listening in. We’ll see you next time and make it a great sales day. [19:54]