In this month’s “Ask A Sales Leader” we are pleased to hear from Bevin Carter. Bevin is the Founder and CEO of MC | Mercer Carter, a boutique consulting firm that focuses on accelerating the pace of scientific discovery. Bevin went through our program prior to starting her own consulting firm. Read below to learn more about how she continues to use her learnings from our program to obtain, retain, and secure repeatable business.
1. Describe how you use your sales process.
By using discovery meetings and solution development, I am able to blandish personal information out of prospects and can differentiate myself from the competition.
A rectangular piece of butcher-block paper is used in discussions with prospective clients to illustrate their goals. The visual places the clients in the center of these priorities.
Sketching out a “mind map” shows the prospect what’s important to them and what the solution looks like in their mind, I then use the final half hour to describe how MC | Mercer Carter’s services and expertise would help them reach their goals.
2. What is your approach to using your referral base to help you sell?
I religiously plan, whether that it is in my weekly calendar or in my CRM system (which is Streak- a Google extension… let’s face it, I am a start-up) to ask for referrals consistently. More than 80% of my current clients were won through a referral. Starting with my 12 highest potential relationships, the initial pool was made up of past clients, former colleagues, and personal or professional friends. I then took all those and second mapped out the peers that were within their organization, who are their firm’s best customers, who do they take advice from, who in the referral’s professional or personal community would reasonably have a need for my services and respond to a request to meet me. Betting on myself and selling my capabilities was done each step of the way.
3. How do you use the sales process with your network?
For me it has been all about gathering feedback, and mobilizing my network. I share my business ideas with anyone who will listen and take feedback seriously. Networks afford professionals the ability to develop credibility and legitimacy in relationships more quickly than they ever could on their own, and for entrepreneurs that street cred can often lead to revenue. Expanding beyond my peer groups into networks and industries are known areas where my services are needed.
4. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs as it relates to honing sales skills?
The reality is that customers are more demanding and more aware of the competitive landscape than ever. Leading with the product is absolutely putting the wrong foot forward. Instead, it is my opinion that entrepreneurs should master the art of approaching every sales pitch with questions about the needs of the prospect and the industry. What every client is really looking for is help. If you can identify that need and meet it, then you’re a problem solver. If you happen to have a product, service, or capability that meets their need, the more the better. Building a relationship is every bit as important as the sale.
5. What other advice do you have when it comes to stepping out on your own and taking the sales skills you have learned to your next venture?
I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. In many ways, oblivion can be bliss- not knowing what’s around the corner prevents you from fearing it. Stepping out on my own albeit scary and exciting all in the same breath, knowing that the experiences and skills that I had learned over the last decade had me poised for a great future. As a young girl, my grandmother would quote Teddy Roosevelt, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Always remembering that has been at the epicenter of how I sell my career. Learning about other people and collecting a treasure trove of information to mine for pain points is enjoyable for me. Once those pain points are uncovered, a natural pivot is to a suggested solution and how my firm may solve their problem.
6. What’s next after you get this firm off the ground?
That’s a good question. I am certainly on a journey to figure that out. I have learned so much about myself since starting MC | Mercer Carter. I can’t say I know what is next but if I could dream for a minute, I would get back into the laboratory supply and distribution business. It is a space that I know and love. I am passionate about helping enable science.