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Episode 107: Elevating Your Sales and Negotiation Skills and Processes—with Julia Ewert

Deb Zahn: I want to welcome you to this week's episode of the Craft of Consulting podcast. So this week it is all about sales and negotiation. These are two things you have to know how to do, you have to know how to do really well in order to have a thriving consulting business. So I brought on someone who knows all about it. Julia Ewert is going to walk through what's the difference between the two of them. When do they become absolutely best friends so that they serve your business goals and they enable you to do the work you most want to do? And how do you set up repeatable processes so that you're applying the right one at the right time and ultimately getting the work that you want to do. So let's dig in. I want to welcome my guest today, Julia Ewert. Julia, welcome to the show.

Julia Ewert: Thanks, Deb. It's great to be here. All the way here I should say.

Deb Zahn: That's right. Tell folks where you're coming from.

Julia Ewert: I'm coming from Perth, Western Australia.

Deb Zahn: Ah, that's wonderful. So it's morning here. It's nighttime there. I definitely appreciate you coming on. Let's start off and tell my listeners what you do.

Julia Ewert: Thanks, Deb. I am a business consultant, like many of your listeners. And I have a very niche lane that I play in, and essentially I help businesses, especially consulting firms to convert more clients, more often, for more margin.

Deb Zahn: That's wonderful, and certainly absolutely essential. So let's jump in and talk about it. So part of this process is sales and learning sales and developing a sales process. And some of it is negotiation. Can you sort of define those a little bit and talk about what those different things mean?

Julia Ewert: Yeah, sure. If I can go one step further and go and separate something else as well because what I find is that there's lots of misconceptions when it comes to bringing in clients and sales. So your original question is, where the sales and negotiation become friends, essentially. So by definition, sales is simply an exchange of goods or services for money or currency. So where we find we're selling is when we, and we're all consumers, right? So we all buy things. But when we find that we're being sold to is when we hear the pitch. Because then we go in our minds. "Oh yeah, here comes, here comes."

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: So it is about the pitch essentially. And when you find where selling is more when we're talking about us. Selling conversations are more transactional. It's what's the thing? How much is the thing? When can I get the thing?

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: What's the consulting service? What's your hourly rate? When is your availability? That's the thing. So we're selling. We're often doing that. Negotiating on the other hand is the definition simply is a discussion aimed at reaching agreement. So the difference between selling and negotiating: selling is definitely, as I said, more transactional. Negotiating is more tactical. This is where we're talking about the details. We're trying to agree terms. It doesn't always have to be this meet in the middle thing, but we're trying to agree to the terms of what our arrangement might be.

Deb Zahn: That's great. And I love that because that part is so essential to making sure that you actually, if you're able to sell the thing, that the thing is the right thing for you and it's the right thing for the client.

Julia Ewert: Yeah, very true. I talk about the differences between marketing and sales. So marketing, what I talk about again is they are best friends. Sales and marketing should be best buddies.

Deb Zahn: They should be, right?

Julia Ewert: Yes, they should be, right? Absolutely. And you know, we started laughing because I think we all know what generally happens, especially in big business. But these should be best friends, sales and marketing. Marketing in terms of communicating, I talk about is a one to many broadcast. One message to many, ideally your target market. And if marketing is done correctly, it should bring you in leads or prospects, right?

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: Sales on the other hand is communication style one-to-one. It's about the interpersonal skills and the process used to convert the lead. So what I had people say to me all the time is, "Oh, but should I invest with you, Julia? Or should I go and do some marketing? And my answer is always the same, and I say, "Is it a chicken or the egg?" And I say, "No, it's chickens and eggs."

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: Because there's no point having fabulous marketing, which brings you in leads. And when we're talking consulting, we're talking some high-end services often here. We're talking tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars for contracts. So I always say, and you know I'm sure we'll get to this is, "What's your plan when you get a lead to have this conversation? You plan to just make it up?" That's a very high stake. It's a very risky game to play. So sales is about actually what you do when you're in front of somebody. So marketing brings the leads in, sales is about converting. So my answer to everybody who always asks about, "When should we do them, what's the order?" I always say, "In an ideal world, you wouldn't invest in either until you can invest in both."

Deb Zahn: Yeah, I love that. And what I've seen quite a bit is folks think that marketing is sales. So they think that if they have the right social media posts or their website is pretty and whatnot, that they can sit back and the sales will happen. I've never actually seen that occur. There always has to be some sales process. So how do you help people sift through sort of what you do in each of those once you're able to invest in both of them?

Julia Ewert: Yeah, so marketing's job is to determine who you stand for. Who is your audience? Where are you going to put your social media ads? Where are your billboards going to be? Which team might you sponsor? All the things, right? What your website looks like. That's the job of marketing. And if marketing is done right, you reach the right people and they raise their hand at some point and go, "Oh, Deb, kind of interested. This looks maybe like it's for me." And if it's done really well, they'll say, "Deb, I'm ready, take my money." Also great, but not necessarily how it always happens.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: The sales part, which is crucial, is about what do you do when you're in front of somebody? When you get those leads, how do you manage them? Because each of those leads has cost you a lot of money. And I find, especially with consulting services, Deb, that, and even across a range of businesses, every business knows and wants marketing because that's the pretty stuff-

Deb Zahn: That's fun.

Julia Ewert: We can see it and touch it. And I can say, "Look at my great website. Look at my Facebook ads. Look at my LinkedIn presence." So that's marketing. Where I find it's interesting is that sales is like the poor, dirty cousin that nobody...People think they can't believe the person next to them because they don't want to be associated with sales. And I'm always so aware of the irony that I sell sales. And it's weird to some people. It's not weird for me, but I do get that that's weird. But I always say, "This is necessary. This is the money machine."

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: This is the part that makes you the money.

Deb Zahn: And you have to do it, even if a lead comes in really hot. So I've I'm still a practicing consultant. I've had people come to me and say, "I've heard you're the only person I should come to for this. And I for sure want you." And guess what? I still have to negotiate what the terms are. And then I still have to sell what we've negotiated. So I don't get to skip that part just because somebody told them, "Only go to Deb."

Julia Ewert: Yeah, and that's the thing. It's the classic phrase. And I'm sure that maybe the phrase is still true where you are, but it's not in the bag until it's in the bag. Is that a thing?

Deb Zahn: No, but I love that. I'm going to start, ours is more, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Julia Ewert: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Deb Zahn: Something like that. But it holds true. So what are the common mistakes then folks are making? So say they get it. They're going to invest in both. But I know a lot of consultants, even really seasoned professionals when they first start off, just trip up a lot when it comes to understanding what the process is and what to do. So what do you tell them?

Julia Ewert: Yeah, so there's probably two things I talk about a lot, Deb. And probably one of the biggest things is I say, "If you wing it, you won't win it."

Deb Zahn: Yes. Thank you for saying that.

Julia Ewert: That is often what sales people say, "What is it? Is it this mythical thing? Is it a thing? Is it not a thing?" Sales is a thing, and it is a deliberate thing. It's a discipline, like learning a language, learning marketing, being an engineer. It's methodical. And the second thing I talk about is, this is a necessary part of business because a lot of people get into consulting especially, Deb, because they're great at their...They've got a talent and a passion or both, right?

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: And they want to do the thing. But I always say, if you can't get someone to pay you for that, you don't get to do the thing.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: So sales is a necessary part. Like it or not, better if you like it, no one wants to do something they don't like. But it's necessary. If you wing it, you can't win it. So it just astounds me that as I said, some of these contracts that in consulting we're negotiating can be hundreds of thousands of dollars-

Deb Zahn: Or more, absolutely.

Julia Ewert: Yes. And so I talk a lot. When I work with people, I use lots of analogies and I often use a tennis analogy. And the question I always ask, and play along Deb, is I say, "Look, if you were playing in the Wimbledon final, would you get off the plane from Spain? And would you fly into Wimbledon and step straight onto the court?"

Deb Zahn: Not if I want to win, I wouldn't.

Julia Ewert: Correct because you will lose. Now let's assume that you took your time and then you acclimated, and you stepped onto the court in the final, what would happen if you went to play Wimbledon and you turned up on the court and you were wearing, you had a hockey stick, a tutu and a snorkel on? You will also lose, right?

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: So what do you-

Deb Zahn: You'll go viral on social media, but you would lose.

Julia Ewert: You will lose Wimbledon. But what astounds me is that when we're in business…so for me, I say, "When you have a sales conversation with a prospective new customer, that is your Wimbledon." So why are you jumping out of the airplane? Well, when it's landed, why are you getting off the airplane and walking straight into your sales conversation? And why are you turning up with a hockey stick and a snorkel?

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: So a sales conversation because you'll lose, and these are potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars. These are high-risk conversations or high-stake conversations. You stand to win or lose substantial amounts of money. So why are you winging it?

Deb Zahn: Absolutely. So how do you suggest? And I think preparation is a superpower. 100%. I think that's how I've gotten most of my business. What do you suggest that people do before they even reach out to a prospect? So let's say they've had the leads come in, however it is that they've come in. Someone is now a "prospect." How do they know what to do? And actually let's take a step further. How do they know that's the right prospect?

Julia Ewert: Yeah, so there's a couple of things he has. So I teach, and I'm not trying to sell anything, this is just explaining what I do. As I said, the irony is I sell sales, so we can move past that part.

I teach consultants an eight-step sales process. And what underpins the entire process is asking good quality open style questions. Because to your question, how do we know that they're a real prospect or not? Well, we don't know unless we ask them. So I always talk about qualifying someone before you get in front of them. And people go, "Oh, OK. So this is because then I'll know who to meet with and who not to meet with?" And I say, "No, no. You actually should meet with everybody because firstly, it's a nice thing to do. It's respectful and it's kind. You never know where a conversation's going to go. But qualifying a prospect or a lead helps you work out how much to prepare for the meeting."

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: So for example, if I got a lead in that was AT&T versus Deb's Local Painting Services, I would probably prepare very differently for both those meetings. But I would turn up at both on my Wimbledon court with my tennis racket, with all the right gear, right?

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: I just probably wouldn't warm up as much for the conversation with Deb's Local Painting Services as I would for AT&T.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: So it's about preparing. And you know, you never know where these conversations are going to go. So at the moment, I recently had a sales conversation with someone who was referred to me through someone who would see me somewhere. They weren't the right person for me, but they went, "Oh, I know someone who could you could probably help, Julia." So then I met that person. I had the same sales conversation with this person and they said, "Do you know what? This is not for me either." And I said, "You know what? I'm not the right person to help you solve this." And I said, "But do you know what? I actually know someone who is."

Deb Zahn: Perfect.

Julia Ewert: So this third person was really interesting, Deb. This third person now is now a $65,000 opportunity for me with about 70% chance of actually closing.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: Only because I had two conversations with, to use the term, unqualified prospects.

Deb Zahn: That's right. And what you really did is you got access to other people's network, which gave you access to their network, which gave you access to their network. And that is often how business gets generated. So I love that. So what does preparation look like? Let's say it's AT&T or let's say it's a high stakes, big ticket, potential client that you might be missing or that you're a really decent fit or good fit for. What do you do? What does prep look like?

Julia Ewert: Yeah, prep is two things. It's warming before you step on the court. And then it's knowing what to do when you're on the court.

Deb Zahn: Love it.

Julia Ewert: So this is true and it's funny. I can probably, I can talk for hours on both of these things, right? Because people also ask, always ask me about preparation. And these are two, lots of depth on both of these topics here. But warming up before you get on the court is the equivalent of not going up in the lift and going, "Oh Deb, are you going to talk, or am I going to talk?"

What are we going to do here? That is not how we prepare. So when I have a high stakes sales conversation, I've got myself what I would call a tennis buddy. And I ring him up and I, his name is Greg. And I say, "Hey, Greg, would you smack the ball around a bit for me? I've got a good conversation coming up." And we're literally on the phone, I'm trying some stuff on, I'm making, I'm warming up because I'm not prepared to wing it. Because why would I do that? Why would you wing a conversation? I've got a former client of mine because I always ask people, "What's your strategy at the moment?" And a former client of mine, she's given me her permission to use it. But she said, "Julia, my strategy at the moment is chat and hope."

Deb Zahn: That's it. That's a T-shirt. A bad T-shirt, but it's a T-shirt.

Julia Ewert: Yes, and I laughed, and I heard it. And I said, "Oh my gosh, that's so succinct." But that's what everyone does.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: Hope is a very bad business strategy.

Deb Zahn: Yep, that's what I do at the beginning. I had drinks and lunches with everybody. So a decade ago I was waterlogged from how many teas and coffees we were having. Yeah, and it didn't go anywhere because there was no strategy. So how do you formulate the strategy so that you know what you're going to do once you're on the court?

Julia Ewert: Yeah, so the second part is when you're in what I call a sales conversation. And I call it a sales conversation, not a discovery meeting. Not a meet and greet because we want to sell something. So when you're in a sales conversation, preparing for that is about what you're going to say and what you're going to do, and when you're going to do it. And these eight steps that I teach puts all that in a very logical sequence. When I'm in a sales conversation, I don't deviate from the task. I stick on the topic. I don't say anything by accident. Everything is purposeful. But it comes across like we're just chatting because-

Deb Zahn: And can we go back because you just said something at a Jedi level, and I want to make sure that people hear that. You don't say anything by accident. So I think that's pretty profound, which is why I want to highlight that. That's how well-prepared you actually want to be once you're in front of someone is you've anticipated and you have a game plan walking in. So I'm sorry to interrupt, but that was so profound I didn't want people to miss that.

Julia Ewert: No, I'm glad you found that was something helpful, but it's very true. I don't say anything by accident. Sales is a very, very deliberate process. And ironically, I'm in the arena with these people. So I actively sell. I use this eight step process myself. It's all I'm doing. And I'm having record quarter after record quarter after record quarter because it's all, I'm in the arena. So it's different from having someone give sales advice who thinks, "Oh, you probably should try this. Or this is worth giving a shot, or I've heard this is great." Just do the things that work and just make it very purposeful. So going back to what you asked previously, the part that underpins this, Deb is asking good quality, open style questions.

Deb Zahn: And give an example of what one of those would be because it's not what keeps you up at night, which anyone who listens to my podcast knows I hate that. What does a good open-ended question sound like?

Julia Ewert: Yeah, so for example, Deb, if you were my potential customer and you were looking to make more sales and you thought that I was interesting to talk to and I was having a sales conversation with you. One of the questions I would ask you is funny, "So Deb, can I ask you, what is it that you're ultimately trying to solve here?"

Deb Zahn: Great.

Julia Ewert: And then I would launch into other questions such as, "What's the impact of getting this right? Hey, you sound like you've got a pretty successful business here. Why don't you just keep going the way you're going? What have you tried so far? Why do you think you're actually not converting more customers, Deb? Why is it possible you think I might be someone who can help here? What alternatives are you considering to fixing this?"

And these questions I have literally, I probably have 13 to 15 questions I ask in a sales conversation like this, all designed to do two things. I want to build trust with people. And the first way to build trust is to make your conversation less about you and more about someone else.

Deb Zahn: Thank you.

Julia Ewert: And I want to learn all the things, and I can't do that if I don't ask questions. And I'm also inquisitive by nature, which helps. But yes, we learn about people by asking good questions.

Deb Zahn: And how does the, which I love. And I think I've asked every single one of those questions because it's helpful to pull them out to see if you're a fit for them and they're a fit for you. But how else would you possibly determine what a scope and price is without asking those questions? But where does your credibility come in? So I know one of the things that the prospect is sniffing around for is, do they like you? Do they trust you? But do they really believe that you can actually solve their problems or achieve their aspirations? How does that come into the mix?

Julia Ewert: Yeah, this is a fascinating question, Deb. Because a few years back I read some great research by Amy Cuddy, who is a famous social scientist. She does lots of work with her first, she did a big TED talk on power posing. And she did some great research on motion equals emotion, which is how you move determines how you feel. And she did a great TED talk that's had over I think something like 60 million views on YouTube. Her second piece of work, research was fascinating, and it was called “The Science of Making a First Impression.”

What she suggests is, when we meet someone for the first time, we're sizing up things in people. We're sizing up, "Oh, I've just met Deb. Is she nice? Is she friendly? Is she well presented? Does she make good eye contact with me? Does she seem interesting? Have we got stuff in common? Can we have a laugh? Did she seem interesting?" We're sizing up. I think we're judging, which is what we all do. We're sizing up all these things in people. Amy Cuddy's research suggests, and I will come back to answer your question very specifically about how do we know we're competent or people know that you're competent?

Amy Cuddy's research suggests that when you meet someone for the first time, they're sizing up all these things in you, which she puts down as, "Can I trust this person? And can I respect this person?" Which is essentially trust and competence. But what she says is fascinating is the order in which you obtain these. So if I met you at an event or if I met you in a sales conversation, Deb, and my first things I talked about were, "My name is Julia Ewert, this is what I do. These are my programs. This is my price. This is all the awards that I've won. This is how fabulous I am. This is how famous I am. These are my clients. These are the case studies. These are all the things." If I walk in with this, now I know we've just met recently, Deb, but you're probably thinking, "Stop talking."

Deb Zahn: Exactly. How can I get out of this conversation?

Julia Ewert: What is really, really mind blowing for this, this researcher Amy Cuddy, she suggests that when we do this, now the caveat I put on this is sometimes we do that because we're nervous. And I'm sure I've done it many years ago, so I was nervous. But this suggests that we're going in first with competence. "I want Deb to know that I'm good at what I do." Her research suggests that when you go in with this competence first, trust is off the table. However, when you go in first with trust, which is making your conversation less about you and more about somebody else, if you do this well, her research suggests that competence is automatically awarded to you.

Deb Zahn: Interesting. So they assume you have it because they like you?

Julia Ewert: Yes. Not so much because I like you, but because they trust you. And some of these questions that I mentioned a moment ago are purposely built so someone can talk freely about what's most important to them. So that when you get to do that with someone, they feel like you genuinely understand them.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: And there's nothing more satisfying than being heard and understood.

Deb Zahn: That's right. Because throughout their days at work, that probably doesn't happen. They don't get to say all of these things.

Julia Ewert: Nobody thinks this is going to matter.

Deb Zahn: That's right. Nobody's listening to them, so you finally are. Yeah, I've had sales meetings where they did 98% of the talking and they thought it was the best meeting they've ever had because somebody actually listened to them.

Julia Ewert: Taking point, right?

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Julia Ewert: So when I first read about this research a few years back I thought, "This is fascinating." So I started trying it, and now it's part of my standard practice. But what I find is really fascinating here, Deb, when you talk about where do we get to talk about our credentials and how competent we are. I started to use this research and where I see it still show up today. So I'm not cheap to work with for my program. And my clients have to pay a substantial fee before I even start with them. And I have a waiting list sometimes of up to three months to start.

But what I found fascinating is it's not unusual for me to start with somebody who I may have met four or five months ago. They've now paid me some money, now they're waiting. We have a first conversation in our sessions together, and it's not unusual for someone to say, "Julia, I actually realize I know nothing about you." And I think, "Wow, isn't that fascinating?" I've got a client in Germany. And they know, I've been working with them for the past six months. Even today they're asking, "So what's your background, Julia?"

Deb Zahn: Interesting.

Julia Ewert: "Do you have a degree? How did you get into this?" And I think, "Wow, you paid me all this money. And we've spent the last five months together also." So this is where I see this research from Amy Cuddy absolutely categorically guiding what I do with prospective customers.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, it's I think being research-based is extraordinarily helpful because that's not necessarily intuitive that you would think, "Oh no, no. I got to sell myself first, and then we'll talk about what we're going to do." But I think you're right. I've actually sold some of my services based on a cabbage. I showed up at an event. I'm a gardener. I was looking for a client who I promised I would bring some of my produce too. He wasn't there. I started chatting with someone. I'm holding a cabbage, which is odd to begin with. And I said, "You know what, why don't I give you this?" And she was so delighted by it that we just started chatting about more things. And inevitably she became a client of mine.

Julia Ewert: That's interesting. She trusted you, right?

Deb Zahn: She did. She did. And it was a good looking cabbage.

Julia Ewert: I'm sure it was, right? What I see consultants do all the time is a phrase that I've used for many years. Consultants, keep in mind before that, consultants are good at doing the thing, not necessarily selling the thing.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: So what they do is, when they get often, not always, in front of a prospective customer is they do what I call the show up and throw up. And take great turns. The show up and throw up is, "Hi, it's nice to meet you today, Deb. This is what we do at Julia Ewert Proprietary limited. This is how we help people. This is," No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Stop it. Stop. So the show up and throw up doesn't help. But it's very, very common.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: We often just do it because we just don't know what else we should be doing.

Deb Zahn: That's right. And if you prepare, you want to also then make sure that you don't default to throwing up. One of the things that I do to prepare to this day after consulting for 10 years is I even prepare how I'm going to introduce myself, to make sure that it doesn't end up being a resume vomit.

Julia Ewert: Yes.

Deb Zahn: So in your process, and I know we don't have time to go through the whole thing, but there's a certain part where when you've asked the questions, they're trusting you. They feel good. You hopefully get to a point where you're now negotiating what a potential scope might be in what you might do for them. Sometimes it happens in that meeting. Sometimes it happens in others. But commonly there could be objections that come up, either in that initial meeting or future ones. How do you address some of the more common objections that come up?

Julia Ewert: Yeah, so objections normally form into one of three categories. They either come about the price, which is the value proposition. They're either about the product, which is, "I don't like the...I want five sessions, not three. I think you're not the right skill for me. I need someone who's got a different area of expertise." It's about the product, or it's about what we call the market or risk. It's not the right time. I know someone else who thinks I should do this instead of this, it's a risk factor. So it's product, price, or risk are the three categories.

But the biggest one I talk about really is it often, not always, but it often comes down to price. Because I would hazard a guess that a lot of your listeners, Deb, are great at their skill and are competent in what they do. And if that's the case, people should be willing to pay for those skills. And I always say, for example to people that, "If your skills were $1, would people buy it?" "Yes, they'll buy it." "If they were $10, would they buy from you?" "Yes, they would." "OK, so now you're $10,000, would they buy from me?" "Yes, they would." "OK, now you're $100,000." "Oh no, that's way too expensive." So they don't think you're worth it, but they're prepared to pay something.

So whenever somebody has an objection. In a lot of cases, not always, it's to do with price. And it is about, whatever the objection is, it is about what I mentioned before. The fundamental here is to ask questions. Our natural ability, so if you were to object to me, Deb, on, "Oh Julia, I don't think this is the right program. Or it sounds really expensive. Or maybe I should do marketing first before I do a sales process." Our natural tendencies say, "Well, Deb, you could do that. However, here's the reason why I'm priced this way. I have 24 years experience. I've worked with some of the biggest companies in the world." And what we tend to do is we are now vomiting.

Deb Zahn: That's right. That's right.

Julia Ewert: So our natural response is to defend our turf, right?

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: But what happens though is then Deb goes, "Yeah, I hear you, Julia, but you know what? I just don't know if it's the right time." And I go, "Well, Deb, if it's not the right time, when is the right time? When do you think? There's surely, this problem is huge. You want to fix the problem." And you go, "Oh, but it's just such a big decision." And I say, "Yes, it is, but." So every time I say to you, "Yes, but," you are inclined to say, "Yes, but," back to me. And what were you doing very quickly? We are hop, skip, and a jump away from conflict.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: And if you were in the land of conflict, who's going to buy from someone that they're arguing with?

Deb Zahn: That's right. Because they do that with other people that they don't pay for. So why would they pay for that?

Julia Ewert: Yes.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, and when you don't have enough trust built up to withstand now being in conflict with someone.

Julia Ewert: Yeah. So, and this, to do this whole process properly takes an investment of time, right? To learn all the systems or to learn all the process through converting the lead, getting the lead all through to converting the lead. But when you're in front of that prospect, as I talked before about being deliberate in what you say, it's about having that self-control to not, "Yes, but. Yeah, but the reason it's this." And we need to resist the urge to justify and to defend our turf. What is more powerful? Again it's asking questions. "Hey, Deb. Tell me some more about that? Hah, that sounds really interesting. Tell me why you feel like the price is really high?"

OK. "So aside from the price, if that wasn't a concern, can I ask you, if you don't mind, do you think we would be moving forward otherwise?" And you were either going to go, "Well, yes, it's just the price." Or you're going to go, "Well, do you know what? I don't know if I should be doing marketing first or I should be doing something else first."

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: We've got lots of priorities that are competing at the moment, I don't know. Maybe next quarter we'll do it. But we have to resist the urge to solve the problem quickly.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: Because at this point you just told me, "Maybe it's too expensive." But it might actually be that too many priorities are on at the moment. And next quarter it's actually a little concern. We don't actually know. So it's about slowing the conversation down and asking questions, "Hey, tell me some more about that. So if that wasn't a concern, can I ask you, have I read the situation correct? And have we ticked all the other boxes?" And you're either going to say yes or no.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: So what we do when we're selling is often we're assuming, we're making assumptions. "Oh, we assume that Deb thinks I'm expensive. So I'm going to offer her the big package, but then I'm going to give her three other options too."

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Julia Ewert: Let's let Deb answer for herself. We just assume that we know what someone's going to say, but a part of handling objections, which is again, one of those topics, again that I could talk to them about for a long time is, it's about having the control to slow the conversation down and ask questions about it. "Tell me some more about why that's a concern for you? Hah, can I ask, is this a deal breaker or is this something, do you mind if we troubleshoot it for a few minutes?"

Deb Zahn: Yeah, I love that so much because by asking questions you're going to get to the heart of what the actual problem is. Do they have a budget limitation? OK, then if they do, you're going to have a different conversation. Is it really that they think you're too expensive? Is it really some of the other examples you've mentioned? So what I find is if people start doing the yes buts, often they're trying to solve their problem, which is lack of confidence. Which is, they don't think they're worth it.

Julia Ewert: Exactly what you've just said, Deb, yes.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, and then what you're really trying to do is not just convince the client, but also yourself that that's worth it as opposed to still make it about the client and solving their problems, which is a whole different feel and vibe when you're in the room with them and keeps the trust alive, which is why I think that that's a magical approach to take. So I know we could talk about this so much because obviously you and I could nerd out on this completely because there's this whole follow-up process. But let's do this. Tell people where they can find out more about you if they want to dig into this process of yours.

Julia Ewert: Sure, I hang out in two places essentially, Deb. I hang out on LinkedIn, you can find me on there. I'm Julia Ewert, MBA. And I spell my surname, if that's OK?

Deb Zahn: Sure.

Julia Ewert: It's E-W-E-R-T. So you can find me on LinkedIn, please connect with me and say, "Hi." Don't just send a connection request. Say, "Hi." Say, "Let's talk, let's have a chat." It's nice to know who you're connected with. And the other place you can find me is direct at my website, which is simply just

Deb Zahn: Wonderful. And we will have links to that in our show notes. So let me ask you the last question. Because this has been such a rich conversation. And you work with a lot of folks, you have a waiting list. So obviously you have a lot going on in your work life. How do you bring balance to all of your life, however it is you define that?

Julia Ewert: Yeah, it's an interesting question, Deb. And it's somebody that has a, I don't know, maybe it's a different answer from people that you, I know that you ask this question to everybody. I feel like...I'm 42-years-old. Some people go through their whole lives and they never find the thing. I found the thing.

Deb Zahn: Yay.

Julia Ewert: So I feel very thankful that I'm doing exactly what I'm meant to be doing. And you know, I've gone through lots of roads of doing not the right thing-

Deb Zahn: Oh, yeah.

Julia Ewert: ...But I'm...That didn't sound right. I've gone through lots of parts of knowing that I wasn't in the right place, is probably a better thing. I was always doing the right thing, I wanted to clarify that. But I found the thing. And as a result of doing that, it's the company I run. It's also my greatest area of interest, and it's my hobby. I just love selling and negotiating. And it's something I just find a joy to learn more about. So I do spend a lot of time in my business, but it brings me great joy and it energizes me, not sucks my energy from me. But when I'm, so this is probably not a traditional answer, but I have a cool dog and my dog and I go for walks and I often-

Deb Zahn: Is this Jackson?

Julia Ewert: Jackson, the wonder dog-

Deb Zahn: The wonder dog, full name. Very important.

Julia Ewert: So yeah, so I take Jackson to the park. I listen to podcasts, that helps me to relax. And I'm sure people will judge away, but I occasionally love a Netflix show. I love all things Mexican and drug and Colombian drug cartels.

Deb Zahn: Interesting. That's OK. I'm vampires and werewolves, and biblical plagues.

Julia Ewert: Yeah, we all got our thing.

Deb Zahn: We all have our thing. That's wonderful. Well, those are good ways definitely to bring balance to your life. I love that. And loving what you do because you found your thing is a perfectly wonderful thing. I spent part of my vacation diving into the research about strategic planning because it's interesting to me. I don't just do it for money. I'm actually interested in how you truly make change happen. So I think that's a fantastic answer. And then people need to go sell their thing.

Julia Ewert: Yeah, exactly.

Deb Zahn: Well, wonderful. Well, we will have links to you on the show notes, Julia. We could dive so much into this, so maybe we'll have you come back at another time.

Julia Ewert: I would love that.

Deb Zahn: And we can get into some of the other juicy stuff around sales, but we'll make sure people know how to find you.

Julia Ewert: Thanks, Deb. It's been great to be here. Thank you.

Deb Zahn: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the Craft of Consulting Podcast. I want to ask you to do actually three things. If you enjoyed this episode or if you've enjoyed any of my other ones, hit subscribe. I got a lot of other great guests that are coming up and a lot of other great content and I don't want you to miss anything. But the other two things that I'm going to ask you to do is, one is, if you have any comments, so if you have any suggestions or any kind of feedback that will help make this podcast more helpful to more listeners, please include those.

And then the last thing is, again, if you've gotten something out of this, share it, share it with somebody you know who's a consultant or thinking about being a consultant, and make sure that they also have access to all this great content and all the other great content that's going to be coming up.

So as always, you can go and get more wonderful information and tools at Thanks so much. I will talk to you on the next episode. Bye-bye.

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