How To Get More Clients For Your Course/Membership Website

This weeks show is Sponsored By Kinsta Hosting

Liston works directly with hundreds of freelancers, consultants, and small agency owners. So far 100% of the people he has spoken to, coached, or consulted didn’t set out to become a master salesperson. Eventually, though, they realized that the lack of a quality sales process was holding them back.

If you’re reading this, I will venture to guess that you have expertise that’s valuable to your clients. That means there are others out there who need your help, too.

Jonathon: Welcome back folks to the WP tonic show. This is episode 373 and they’re flowing. We’ve got a great guest. I say that every week, but we have. We have been having a chat before we’d gone live folks. And I’ll it’s less than liberal. And he basically is a bit of a sales guru. Yes folks. Yes that horrible word, sales. Liston would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers?

Liston: Sure. Yeah. So my name is Liston Witherill. And specifically what I do is I help independent consultants and small consulting firms improve their sales and business development programs. So yes, I am very deep into the human mind, how people make decisions and why we do the things that we do. And hopefully I can apply that to everybody listening and watching this.

Jonathon: Yes folks, you might dilute yourselves that you feel a WordPress consultant or somebody building a membership site. Especially a higher ticket service product, whatever it is that you’re just going to sell it online. Often you are deluding yourself a little bit there. We can squash that. But we’re also going to give some great advice. Cindy my great cohost would you like to introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers?

Cindy: Yes. Hi everyone. Cindy Nicholson from the Excited to have Liston on the podcast today because I think sales is something that we all have to talk more about.

Jonathon: It certainly is. Before we go into the main part of this great conversation. I want to quickly mention one of our great sponsors and that’s Kinsta hosting. We hosted the WP Tonic website on Kinsta and it’s just been a great experience. They stayed with us in 2019 and they are going to be our major sponsor throughout this year. They were last year as well. And what do you get? Why should you care? Well, for your clients, for yourself, you’ve got a membership site. Ecommerce and you are looking for a really quality WordPress hosting with great support. You found your perfect host, Kinsta. They use Google Cloud as their framework, but what you get is a superb interface staging site one click back up. But you also get 24/7 superb support from people that really value about WordPress and hosting. They’ve got a ticketing system you normally get on, so almost in minutes. And it’s the right answer from somebody that’s knowledgeable. So if that’s interesting for you, your clients go to

Jonathon: So Liston, how do we start this conversation? Where do you think people go wrong in general around their views around sales basically?

Liston: Yeah, sure. So let’s start from kind of the top. So we’re talking to people who run membership sites. So for those people who are selling higher ticket items, I’d say around the thousand dollar price point or above. You’re probably going to have to be involved in some sort of sales conversation. You could call that strategies call. You can call it a consultation, you could call it a let’s get to know each other and be friends, whatever you want to call it. But you`re hoping someone buy something from you, which means you have to sell it to them. So what I want to do is give some context around what can happen in those situations. Where a lot of people trip up. I think it’s probably a question on some people’s minds. And also maybe its best if we just start off with what is sales? Because it’s interesting.

Liston: I’ve didn’t think when I started doing sales training and consulting that I would have to cover that question. But it’s so core and fundamental to people’s feelings about it. So Dan Pink wrote this book called to sell is human. And he did this word cloud. He went out and asked people, what do you think about when you think about sales?

And in the word cloud there’s things like scummy used cars, these kinds of things. And if you do an auto complete search on Google, you’ll see the same thing. If you say, why are salesmen so, and then it’s like annoying, horrible. It’s like these are the kinds of things that we think about sales. And as I think about that, I think what the reason for that is a lot of people think of sales as a situation where I’m going to show up and do tricky things to the other person. And sort of convince them to do something they don’t want to do. Like, I don’t know about the two of you.

Liston: But there has been a major disruption and telemarketing in the United States. And now my phone rings 10 to 15 times a day with unsolicited calls. And that’s kind of the feeling that is a vote when we think about sales, I think is like someone shows up. I don’t want to talk to the salesperson, but they won’t go away and they’re trying to sell me something I don’t want. Why does that not apply to what you’re doing as a membership site? Typically, most people will be getting in touch with you in order to sort of vet out, do I trust this person?

Is this something that applies to me? That’s one of the most common questions is like, will this work for me? That’s what most people will want to know. And so in that scenario, you’re a guide. You’re not there to necessarily quote, selling them anything, meaning convince or manipulate them or at least I would never advise you to do that.

Liston: But what you can do is guide them to a decision that will help them improve their business. Or their lives, depending on what your membership is. And so that, starting from that place, I think all of my advice descends from that. I say serve don’t sell. So rather than being so concerned about getting the sale ourselves, what I want you to start thinking about is how can I help this person? How can I serve them on in a one to one interaction? So that at the end they can make an informed decision about whether or not this membership or whatever it is that you’re selling is for them.

Jonathon: I think that`s great. Can I give you? I got a quick question before I go over to Cindy.

Liston: This is your show man. Ask me anything you want.

Jonathon: I love you. I approached two companies. One was selling a course and consultation around using LinkedIn as a sales lead generation system. I had a fantastic funnel, absolutely the top quality funnel with a Webinar video. And then you could book to have a consultation to see if you were a good fit for the course. The language was superb. We had our zoom and he gave me the Spiel and they had identified me for a form that I was a suitable candidate for this call. And it was really great. And then it got to the end, the price. And the price was $11,000 and if I signed up right then it would be $9000.00. As soon as he said that he lost all credibility with me. I don’t think that, I understand. You want to get the sale and you’ve got your 8:32 inaudible and everything else. But when you do that at the end, you sign up, now you’re going to get a $3000.00 discount. I think it lost all credibility. What do you think?

Liston: So I have a lot of thoughts on that. I think that some people feel that they have to do that in order to sell their product. So one thing we know for sure is psychologically urgency is a powerful force to get people to make a decision. And it’s not necessarily to get them to say yes, it’s to get them to say yes or no, but just not maybe. This is sort of the bane of all sales. Just tell me if the answer is no, I’d much rather know it now. I don’t want to follow up with you for months.

Liston: What I think is that when someone says it’s $11,000 you’re immediately saying, okay, this is a premium price thing. And a lot of us use a heuristic, like a rule of thumb, high price equals quality. And then when he says, but if you buy its $9,000 that’s what the sham wow guy says on the infomercial. But wait, there’s more. If you order now you get three. And so he’s completely undercut is premium position by doing that. That’s my belief. I mean I know people who do this on a regular basis. I also think that if the product is good and there’s great demand for it, you don’t need to resort to those kinds of tricks. And actually it’s been done to me too. And immediately I just know that I would never buy from someone like that. So it can work. Personally, I think it’s a really crappy way to project you into the world. And if you’re trying to build a long-term brand and not just like grow as fast as possible and make $1 million and then who cares what the collateral damage is. If you have the long-term in mind, I would never, ever, ever recommend that you do that. And personally that on top of all of that, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if that was the way I was selling. So those are my thoughts.

Jonathon: I think offering a payment if it’s difficult, offering a discount. Offering a payment, but slightly higher. But a payment scheme that spreads it over or has a scheme for people that are good, whatever how you word it. I think there’s better ways of approach that I agree with you. Cindy got a question?

Cindy: Yeah, no I agree 100% as well. It’s funny how everybody has their own vision that they look at sales from. And I actually would like to talk a little bit more about that. Liston in terms of like how people, I hear it all the time in the entrepreneurial world that I’d love to do what I do. I just don’t like the sales aspect. So, if there is this perception that sales are icky and everything, how, like what advice do you give to people to overcome that block? That keeps holding them back from sales?

Liston: Well, I think starting from the position of what is the point of sales is probably the most freeing of it. So if you’re providing some sort of service along with your membership or the idea of the membership is to provide a service or a transformation. So if I go into those calls with that in mind that should change my entire approach to it.

I’m trying to help people. Now of course, this can be abused just like any other sort of mindset. There’s this movie called the queen of Versailles and it’s about essentially this guy who owned timeshares loses everything and his wife was sort of a quote gold digger. She liked the money in the opulence stuff. And in one scene they’re telling their sales team, we’re saving lives by giving people vacations because vacations improve your health. And therefore you’re less likely to die from a heart attack.

Liston: So you’re saving lives. I’m not going to that level. What I am saying is you probably have positive and authentic motivations to do your business in the first place. The sale is the lifeblood of your business. You don’t get money in the bank unless people are buying stuff from you. And if people are buying stuff from you, you have more chances to actually help them. And so that’s where I would approach it. And so if you’re authentic in your intention and you think about what the ultimate goal is which is to help someone else that should be very freeing. The second thing that a lot of people I think it’s stuck on is talking about money. When you’re a kid, what do your parents tell you? It’s not polite to talk about money. It’s not polite to talk about politics or religion. Those are off the table.

Liston: And we grow up with that. At least Americans grow up with the script in our head that it’s not polite to talk about money. And yet business money is such an unavoidable aspect of what we’re doing. And so I think a lot of people freeze up in that part of the conversation too. And so maybe Jonathan, your question about the $11,000 to $9,000 discount, maybe they just lack confidence in the value of their product. This immediately is apparent to the listener. So if you’re taking that information and you’re like, well, I guess it’s not actually worth $11,000. If they’re willing to discount it, like how much farther would they go? Would you take four?

Jonathon: The Prokofiev task. You met me so easily.

Liston: Yeah, exactly. And I worked for someone, I was in the renewable energy business and I worked for someone who would constantly do that. He thought his only mechanism in the sale to negotiate was price. And so we don’t want to do that. So I hope that answers your question, Cindy. I think that really getting clear about your intention about why you’re there in the first place. And I know this can be a little bit woo, woo, it does matter. Getting clear about your intention and then starting to surface what are your hang-ups about money? And what do you find so challenging about talking about money? It’s kind of the next thing.

Cindy: Yeah it’s also recognizing that you have these issues that you are projecting without even knowing about it too. Sometimes it’s just being, having the awareness or just thinking about it that can bring it to light, but I think mindset is just so important in terms of the way you frame things of what you are actually doing. And ultimately you are helping somebody else make their life better is ultimately what you’re trying to do. So what is the reservation and doing that is kind of one way of looking at it. Jonathan?

Jonathon: We gonna go for our break folks. We will be back to have this great discussion with Liston. I think we are slaying some real dragons here. We will be back in a few moments.

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Jonathon: We are coming back folks. I love this conversation so far. It`s being lik therapy for me and Cindy. So Liston, I kind of threw in this $11,000 curve ball. But let`s get back to this initial consultation. Is there a framework that you’ve found that you have used yourself and use with clients, that is a kind of starter about how to approach these consultation calls? And get better results basically.

Liston: Yeah, so the consultation call, the primary objective for me. And especially if you, if you’re trying, if you’re product is or whatever you’re selling is cheap enough where you think you can do it in one call. So typically that’s like $2,000 or less. I would say you could probably do it in a single call. If that’s the case, your goal is to understand what’s going on with the other person. And I say PGV pain, goals, value. So what’s going on right now with them that are making them consider making a change? Because if they’re not feeling the pain, we have a problem in our sale. What is their goal in solving that problem? So the goal would basically be the opposite of the problem. So Jonathan, if someone came to you and said, the reason I’m looking at WP Tonic is I need less churn on my membership site.

Liston: Then obviously the goal is I double the length of time that people stick around in my membership. Something like that. And then the value would be translating that goal into ideally dollars and cents or also emotion. So if they doubled the length of time people stay on, maybe that’s worth, I don’t know, hundreds of dollars per user. Let’s say tens of thousands of dollars or maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars to them. But they also get to not worry so much about their marketing dollars that they’re spending on Facebook to attract new people to sign up for the membership in the first place. And there’s value in that too. So that’s what we’re looking for is the pain, the goals and the value from everybody. And only then will it be a natural conclusion. Hey, if I can help you with that stuff, you should buy this thing. Here’s how it will solve those problems for you. Because if you ask good questions and dare I say, shut up and listen, don’t talk about yourself. That’s a big temptation to just shut up and listen to what the other person is saying. They’ll teach you how they want to buy. And so if you just listen to them talk about what’s going on in the end. You’ll have all the information you need in order to sell them.

Jonathon: Yeah, that’s interesting because on my own business model. I got quite a few calls recently and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to have to change my business model a little bit. Because I am at a certain conclusion about whom my target audience is. That my recent successful engagement of clients from a totally different mindset. And what they were really looking for is quite interesting. You make these assumptions, but the market shows you that you need to go a different direction. Doesn’t it?

Liston: Totally. Right. And because you were showing up to those calls and listening, you were able to come to that conclusion. I’m a big advocate that there’s a fair amount of market research that can happen on these calls as well. People tell you, oh no, I don’t actually want that. And you could say, why? Well, what would you want instead? What would be a better fit? And they’ll tell you what to make. So if you have enough of those calls, you start to really understand. Now here’s another question I get often and you can tell me if I’m jumping ahead, but one question I often get is, well, shouldn’t I just like do all the prequalification by sending people through forms and click this and click that? And what I would say is the more expensive your thing is, the more willing I would be to get on these calls.

Liston: Especially at the $5,000 plus price point. And the other thing is if you don’t have so many leads that you can talk to all of them, then I think you should be talking to everybody. So let me frame that in the positive. I realized I was a double negative. If you have less leads, then would take up your full time availability for your selling. Talk to everybody. Only once you have too many leads would I start to pre-qualify people. So yeah, just to recap my advice on these calls, really spend say the first half or more listening pain goals, value is what we’re trying to figure out. And then if there’s a fit, you would make an offer and talk about the investment and prompt the client for a decision.

Jonathon: Cindy?

Cindy: Number one. I think it’s so important, the whole questioning part of the sales process is just listening to understand what it is that they’re looking for and how you offer fits those needs. Because I’ve been on a number of sales calls where I’ve listened to it and it’s always been then talking at me not listening to what my needs are. And sometimes just simple, simple questions can send it in a certain direction. If they just take the time to stop. So I think that is such a huge element with the sales process and you need to ask many more questions than you probably are.

Cindy: But I want to kind of go to the glass part of the sales call where you just said something about prompting for a decision. Do you have some advice around? This is where people kind of clam up. So do you have some advice on how to transition to this or questions to ask? Or what advice do you have around prompting for a decision?

Liston: So typically I think what most people do is go, okay, well let me know what you think. And then that’s it. And you’re like, okay, what happens next? I don’t know. So one tool you can use up front at the very beginning of the call is to set an agenda. You can say, Hey, what I’d like to do is cover what’s going on with you now, what some of your goals are. I can walk you through how my solution works. And then by the end of the call I’d like you to make a decision, yes or no. Do you agree? And if they say yes, now there’s a psychological thing called consistency. They want to be consistent with what they already agreed to. So it’s kind of like a little contract. Then at the end of the call, what I would say is after I make my presentation and you can kind of get a sense like, do they have a lot of objections?

Liston: Are they resistant or they’re very open, are they excited? Excitement obviously being the most powerful emotion for us as the seller and for the buyer. But I would always close that by saying so what do you think? Something like that where it’s very open ended, but they know, essentially, I’m referring back to this part where I said we were going to make a decision. And in that moment they may say, they may surface some more objections. Well, I don’t know about the timing or I have to talk to my spouse. That’s a common one, especially for B to C sales. So consumer oriented things where they’re not paying out of a business account. And so you can address those right then, which that would be the proper thing to do is rather than saying like, okay, well go, think about it.

Liston: You actually now have a discussion about it. And what a lot of people are going to say is I need more time. I need some time. Now if you’re selling really expensive things again, people are going to have to go talk to other people within their business. So it’s not, you can’t really force them to make a decision on the spot because if you do, it’s going to be no. They’re going to be like, whoa buddy, calm down, back off. So I would always close that by just saying, okay, when do you think you would have that decision? Or when can you go have that conversation? Yeah, usually people will be like, Tuesday, okay, great. If I don’t hear from you first you’ll hear from me. So, but if you can close in those first calls, yeah. What I would say is what do you think?

Liston: And then if they say, okay, it’s great except for this, address the objection and then ask them again. Right now we’re going sort of back to the decision. We want a decision we don’t want to live in maybe because maybe is purgatory. And it’s not good for the other person either. The truth is on lower cost items there like adding another week probably isn’t gonna do anything for them unless there’s a legitimate reason. Cash flow is low right now. Whatever it is. But if they’re just like, I need some time to think it over. I would say, well what does that going to do for you?

Cindy: Yeah, it’s the offer where people get so uncomfortable and then if objections come up. I think your advice around just even finding out a little bit more about where what the root of the objection actually is as opposed to making assumptions. If it’s they need more time or how much time do you need or is there anything more that I can help you with? Kind of really figuring out whether it’s they’re not interested or if they, it truly do just need more time.

Liston: I think Jonathan wants to chime in.

Jonathon: I see where you are coming from. I don`t know if Liston is going to agree here. But finding out what the real objection is an art in itself. Isn`t it?

Liston: It is, but it’s everything.

Jonathon: I might have some insight. I got one person and he is interesting and I like him. And I think he likes me. And we got this proposal he paid for some consultation. We gave him the proposal and the contract and it’s just hanging out there. And my proposal system tells me when people open it.

Liston: Yeah, sure.

Jonathon: And he has opened it multiple times and I’ve left it for a week. And then have given them a quick text message and he says, I’m busy. But then he reopens it. This has been continuing for over 3 weeks. He keeps opening it but nothing happens.

Liston: So in those cases, so it sounds like you had a situation where it may have merited another call. So that that’s probably the best thing to do. So if he’s not sure and you’re going to send the proposal, which I’d always recommend presenting, live, you can walk through it and then you can see their reaction. If they’re like, I don’t know, and then you want to handle that.

Liston: But if I were you, this is a common situation. What happens when I get ghosted? People are just sort of blowing me off. And so one thing you can do is just ask him like would you like to jump on a call next week or the week after? And sort of force the intention of that call would be to really get a yes or no. So yeah, that’s a tough one. Now I am wondering, you said getting to the true objection is an art in itself. Was there an objection that you heard that you thought wasn’t the true objection but you weren’t able to get the real one?

Jonathon: I don’t know. In this particular case I don`t know what the real objection. Like people give contradictory messages. We have all kind of contradictory animals aren`t we? He said price, he was looking for the value but he wanted a quality partner. And then we had an initial discussion. And then he sent a very detailed specification document to me. And a lot of what was in there was outside the boundaries of our initial discussion. So I sent him a value proposition to him. So probably that was the problem. At that stage we needed to have another discussion. I tried to have that, but he said he was extremely busy with some personal business matters.

Liston: Okay. So, yeah. All right. So let’s take the situation. So obviously that’s a blow off. So when you got that detailed message where you’re like, I’m translating for you. You didn’t say this, but you’re like, what the hell is this? We didn’t discuss this. Then I would say, hey, I have some questions about what you emailed. Thanks so much for putting so much thought into it. When can we talk? And really get on the phone. And if he’s telling you things like, I’m too busy to have a call, usually I would return that and just say, hey, no worries. When do you think you’ll be less busy? And if you blows you off again, I would say, no worries. Let’s just talk when this is a priority again.

Jonathon: Yeah. Yeah. I think you are totally spot on there. we’re going to finish the podcast part of the show. I just love this. So I hope you have too Cindy. Liston has agreed to stay on, which you’d be able to see on the WP Tonic website. And on the WP Tonic YouTube channel. The whole interview with this bonus content. We’re going to wrap up the podcast. Liston, how can people find out more about you and your wise words?

Liston: Well they can be the judge if they’re wise or not. All you have to do is go to I have a bunch of free stuff there. I also have a podcast if you like listening to podcasts. It’s called modern sales. And I publish every week there.

Jonathon: That’s great. Cindy how can people find out more about you and what you’re up to?

Cindy: Yeah, if you’re looking to develop a course, you can find out more about how to put that together with my [email protected]

Jonathon: And folks we have a webinar on the 28th of February. It’s on a Thursday, it’s coming up soon folks. And we’re going to be talking about the seven things you need to get right for your first course. It’s going to be a great discussion. We’ve got some great freebies that will be handed out as well. But the general advice is going to be worth a ton as well. If that’s of interest to you, you can sign up for the Webinar. And you just go to the WP Tonic website. www.wptonic/webinar and you’d be able to register. And then you’ll be sent some emails telling you when we are coming up. It’s on the 28th it’s going to be at 9:00 AM Pacific standard time. There’s links all over the website to it as well. Hopefully we see you at that Webinar is going to be fun, live engagement. And if you’ve got any questions, you will be able to ask me and Cindy.

Jonathon: What more can you ask for? We will be back next week with another great guest. And we will be hopefully helping you build that first course. Or if you got some courses, make it more successful for you and your family. We will see you next week folks. Bye.


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