Episode #035 Grow Your Bookkeeping Business with B2B Sales Consultant Tony J Hughes

Business to business or b2b selling can really help you

With more than 500 articles on B2B selling, Tony J. Hughes founder of RSVP Selling is insightful, and genuinely brilliant when it comes to sales.

In this episode of The Bookkeepers' Voice, Tony spoke to our listeners (the bookkeeping community) about how vital it is to understand their ideal customer profile, develop a personal brand and continually develop their sales pipeline.

It's not surprising that Tony, the ‘most read person on LinkedIn on the topic of B2B selling', and ‘best-selling author' on the topic of sales, imparted truckloads of valuable knowledge gained from three decades of record breaking performance and business leadership experience.

If you’ve want expert insight and tried-and-tested sales tips that ‘pack a punch', then listen in!

Podcast Info

Episode: #035

Series: General

Host: Amy Hooke

Guest speaker: Tony J Hughes

Topic: Grow Your Bookkeeping Business with B2B Sales Consultant Tony J Hughes

Read transcript

Amy Hooke:
Good morning everybody. Thank you so much for coming back again to join me today. I have a very special guest as promised from last week, somebody to talk to you about B2B selling and sales, as well as personal branding and a few other topics that tie into that. Who better to talk to you about this topic than somebody who's written more than 500 articles on B2B selling and has been published in magazines and websites, who writes about sales leadership, knows all about social selling and creating sales pipelines, which you'll learn about a little bit later on.

Amy Hooke:
Our guest is a bestselling author, has written two excellent books, Combo Prospecting, and the Joshua Principle, which I have read both of those and gleaned lots of excellent information about sales from there. And an award winning B2B sales blogger. I want to introduce you to Tony J. Hughes. Tony has three decades of record-breaking performance and business leadership experience, and so he's going to be talking to us about all of this. Thank you for joining me today, Tony. Why don't you kick off with introducing yourself and saying a little bit about what you do and your background.

Tony J Hughes: Yeah, thanks Amy. I'm really excited to be on the podcast. I've had, I guess, 35 years in business, and sales. When I was young, I ran my own company in Australia. We built it, and sold it. I then went to America, really young at the age of 25, thinking I was going to be a millionaire by the time I was 30. Instead of that, I lost a lot of money, and learned heaps. And came back to Australia. But when we'd sold the business originally we were getting royalties for 12 years, and part of that was noncompete. So when I came back, I needed to do something completely different. And my big lesson in America, was as negative as I was about the whole notion of selling, I realised that unless you can personally sell, and market in life, you're nowhere as a business person, and you've got no chance of succeeding as an entrepreneur. So-

Amy Hooke: Wow.

Tony J Hughes: You know what, don't know what I want to do, but I'll go get a job in sales at the skill I need to develop. And I ended up setting records that have never been broken, and I'd end up being promoted to become sales manager of companies, eventually MD for the last 12 years of my corporate life. I ended up running the Asia Pacific region for big North American multinationals, and about fog years ago. I left all of that and went out on my own as a consultant. So, I guess I've got a little of empathy for people watching this, and something in common that, I had to go out, and find my own clients as a one man band consultancy. And I cracked the code of actually doing that. And I'm happy to share what those tips are. So, last five years I've built a company called RSVP selling. I do a lot of keynote speaking around the world, and I train a big, large enterprise stores sales organisations, on how to sell, and do a lot of work with organisations around customer experience, and how they can retain, and grow their really important accounts as well.

Amy Hooke: Fantastic. And you know, what I really got out of what you just said then is that, I love the fact that you've been through that real life journey of experiencing the highs, and lows of what it's like to run a business. And also, as you said, the one… Being a one man band, which many of our listeners are in that position. Yeah, it's great that, it's been able be that depth of experience to build your consulting career on top of that experience. Good and bad, which is good as well. It's not all perfect. Love it. Okay, great. So, I guess great place to start would be for you to talk to us about your own journey. So, even though you're in a different domain, so your main domain is… your main audience is speaking to salespeople about B2B selling. So, what's been your approach to building your own brand, and starting out in your marketplace, and how that contrast to how bookkeepers run?

Tony J Hughes: Yeah. So look, I'll try, and make this all about the bookkeepers rather than me.

Amy Hooke: Sure.

Tony J Hughes: I'll provide some examples. So-

Amy Hooke: Absolutely.

Create an authentic narrative

Tony J Hughes: The first thing for all of us is that we need to create an authentic narrative. In other words, the conversation we want to have with potential clients that's relevant to those clients, that's all about them, and not about us. So, the first thing I'd say is when you think about trying to create new business, the way we're all wired as people is if someone says, “what do you do?” It's really kind of a trick question, because they're not interested in what we do that has been polite.

Amy Hooke: I love your honesty Tony, I have to say. Straight to the point, it's good.

Tony J Hughes: But often you go to parties, and people say, “Oh, what do you do for a living?” And you start answering the question, and you can tell very quickly that people aren't really interested. Right?

Amy Hooke: Yeah. That's right.

Tony J Hughes: And the thing we instinctively know in life is that, if you want people to like you, you want to build rapport with others, be interested in them. Don't Bang on the back of yourself all of the time. Even when a client is asked, So what do you do? The temptation is to talk about us, and our attributes. Oh, I'm a bookkeeper. I've got these qualifications. I work with these clients, I've been doing it for this long. I specialise in these areas, but talking about us, and what we do really doesn't do what's in the mind of the buyer. The thing they are really thinking, even though they don't say it, is why should I care? What-

Amy Hooke: Wow!

Tony J Hughes: The reality is, the best it gets for anybody in the world, when someone says, what do you do? The best it gets is we've got up to seven seconds before the person starts thinking on the phone, how do I get off this call? How do I find an excuse to kind of disengage?

Amy Hooke: Yes.

Tony J Hughes: But what happens before they physically disengaged from us is their mind starts wandering. So, now the interesting sort of factoid for people, is that we typically talking about 125 words a minutes, but people think at anywhere from 600 to 1500 words. People really think in images, but in terms of vocabulary, and words, they're thinking four, five, six times faster than we speak. And what that means, is if we're not very engaging, they taking into the journey. So it happens to people all the time thinking, man?

Amy Hooke: Absolutely.

Tony J Hughes: That email yesterday, I was mean to, I forgot. So when someone says, what do you do? We've got to hook their interest really quickly, and we've got to do that by talking about them, and their outcomes. So if you were a bookkeeper talking to, I don't know, a trades person, your answer might be, I help trades people focused on bringing money in their trade, get rid of all of the hassles, and time consumed by doing their bookkeeping.

Tony J Hughes: Now I'm not saying I answered that well, but you think I know what he wants is? He doesn't want any hassles, trying to… bookkeeping. He doesn't want any risk or problems with the tax office. They just want to focus on going in, and doing their work, and getting invoices out the door. So you just got to think about what's the problem I really solve for the person I'm talking to, and make it all about that. And if you do a good job of that, people will typically say to you, right, how do you do that? And now they're ready to listen. about the fact that, what I've done is I've gone, and built relationships with the two best cloud accounting platforms out there, MYBO… MYOB, and Xero. You get it implemented for trades people really easily, because typically the only reason I haven't done it is a thought too complicated, so I can make the process of getting invoices generated, out the door instantly.

Tony J Hughes: So you get paid faster. Again, you're talking about what they want. They want to get paid faster. They don't want to pay for bookkeeper, they don't want accounting hassles. They, do want to get paid quicker. Maybe the reason that's prevented them from putting systems in place to do it is they don't understand the tech, right? So if you say, I've taken this, and understand the tech's so I can make the process easy for you as a tradie, to automate the process of getting invoices out the door to get paid quicker, and in a way, we don't have any hassles with the tax office. Your whole BAS is easy, and you get time back in your life. What they're thinking is, I need someone like that.

Amy Hooke: Yes.

Tony J Hughes: But they're not interested in someone that wants to come, and try, and boil the ocean. In their approach of understanding their needs, and they can structure all of the other things are. So, first thing is, create a narrative. I call it a narrative that has a point of view, that's relevant for that potential client depending on who they are. So when I go, because I engage in typically, I work with CEOs, or heads of sales would be corporates. And, so when they say what do I do? I say well, If I'm talking to the head of sales, I would say I help the head of sales people in your role, give their boss the CEO, a forecast that they actually believe. And I can help you get more of your sales people hitting their number with more quality pipeline behind what they're doing.

Tony J Hughes: When does it make sense to get 20 minutes together to have a chat? Right. What I don't talk about is my keynote speeches. I do my training courses, my IP, my tools, my methodologies. Because they don't want more tools, and methodologies. They don't want to take their people away from customers to do training. They just want more of the people hitting the number, and doing it predictably so they can give the boss a forecast. It doesn't jeopardise their own job. Yeah.

Amy Hooke: That's right. Yeah. Fantastic. And I guess the first thing that kind of really hit me in what you were saying, and that I think the audience will benefit from is that, because, what you said is, I mean, it is true that when you speak to someone that, I mean, especially when you're in the accounting field, as soon as you tell someone that your accountant, when they say, what do you do? They instantly glaze over, and there are common response is, Wow, isn't that boring? Like that's the kind of common thing. And then it's dead. Like as soon as you say that, when you're out socially or anything like that. The conversation can really come to an end. And so I love the fact that you said, why should I care?

Amy Hooke: And so I guess, what I was wondering is, because you said about how you have seven seconds to capture their attention. Now in the bookkeeping industry, we aren't big on developing our elevator pitch, but seven seconds is a pretty short elevator ride. So-

Tony J Hughes: It really is.

Amy Hooke: It really, you don't have time… you don't have the time that you get in an elevator to sell yourself. And so how, I mean, obviously you're going to cover all of this, but how does someone communicate with someone to care about what they do in seven seconds?

Customer profile and target market

Tony J Hughes: So again, we all need to understand what our ideal customer profile looks like in the sales training industry is called the ICP, ideal customer profile. Because the reality is not everyone in the world is a prospect, you as a person watching this.

Amy Hooke: That's right.

Tony J Hughes: So, you need to be clear about what your target market is. So, whether you target, I don't know, whether an entertainment industry, whether you target tradies, and the particular types of trades to approach is a professional services businesses. But you need some kind of specialty where you have domain expertise, because that can help you do your job more efficiently, and differentiate you. But, you need to know what does an ideal customer profile look like. And then within that ICP, who are the body of personas that all would need to engage with if I wanted to secure a client. If you're selling in a small business, it's the business owner, right? But maybe it's not just the business owner, it's their partner, right?

Amy Hooke: Yeah. That's right.

Tony J Hughes: So the reason that the partner, if it's a husband, and wife business for example-

Amy Hooke: Very common here.

Tony J Hughes: The reason that the partner of the primary business owner that's driving it reason, the partners should want you to come onboard is bookkeeper, is because it's going to give their partner time back to invest into their family, right? And it's going to reduce the stress levels. So obviously, stressed, and being a workaholic, and away from your family all the time being always on, is very bad for someone's life. So again, you're within seven seconds, why should you care? What's my point of view of that work conversation, that is for us or the partner of the business owner would be slightly different. So, hey, the reason I think that makes sense them chat, is I've got an idea or I've got some ways, that Bill here can get time back to spend with the family, and all then, the stress that was associated with running your business.

Amy Hooke: Yeah. That's, yeah.

Tony J Hughes: You're talking to the person themselves. Hey, the reason I wanted to have a chat is I've got some ideas on how you can get time back in your life, reduce the amount of time you're spending doing admin, and in a way that gets you paid faster. When can we find 20 minutes to talk? It's that simple. Just make it as double-edged thing. But if you understand your ideal customer profile, and you understand the person you're trying to have a conversation with, sell to in essence, you need to know what matters to them.

Providing value

Tony J Hughes: And if you drive the conversation that way, that's how you break through. So, Hey, I've got some ideas on how you can reduce the amount of time you're spending doing admin, and in a way that eliminates any hassles with the tax office, and gets you paid faster, when can we get 20 minutes to talk? How do you think you can do that for me? And you say, well, it would all depend largely on how you're running the business right now. How's your diary? Let's get 20 minutes for a coffee. How is your Friday, how about four o'clock, one afternoon, next week on your way home. Let's have a 20 minute coffee. Whether we end up doing anything or not? I've definitely got some ideas. I think you could benefit from any way, So you want to make sure you're providing value-

Amy Hooke: Value.

Tony J Hughes: … to people. Other than thinking buy only get value if they become my clients. Yeah.

Amy Hooke: Okay. I love that because you… what you've done is, you've actually really brought to life something that I have been talking to the bookkeepers about quite a lot, which is, you've shed light on kind of, there's a bit of a gap. That look, the value proposition for the bookkeeping industry is, we take care of the books so you can take care of the business. And so, what I've been speaking to our clients about, and our listeners as well, is we need to connect the dots. Because you can say, our service helps you grow your business. But in the business owner's mind, they don't see the connection between bookkeeping, and growing their business, for example. So what you've just actually clarified is like, is what goes in that gap to join the two together.

Amy Hooke: How does bookkeeping help a business aside from keeping the compliance done, and the regular stuff, which is just a bit of a pest for people. We've got a lot of bookkeepers that are wanting to step in above, and beyond what they've currently been doing, and really express the gifts that they have to their clients, and to really deeply help the clients. Because a bookkeeper sees the business owner speaks to them every, sometimes every day, but every, at least every week, they're very intimate with the business owners. They can work straight.

Amy Hooke: They have their personal phone number, they know things about the business that, the business owner might not have even told their own family. They're in a very trusted position there. But they're not sure how to get from a bookkeeper to, this is the value I can provide. And I think what you said, join the dot, and it was the… when you said, I have some ideas that will help you. Even just expressing that they have ideas, and then setting up a time to share those ideas. I actually see that as the connection between those points, and then you have the opportunity to colouring in between the lines once you meet with them.

Tony J Hughes: Yeah, exactly. And I love that sort of tagline, we focus on the book so you can focus on the business. I really liked that, but then you need to like another layer of depth to it.

Amy Hooke: Absolutely.

Tony J Hughes: It's kind of a bit cheesy, and cliche.

Amy Hooke: Oh, I know. That's what I've been telling them. I'm like, you can't have this anymore, but it's got to be deeper. Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: Well that's kind of a marketing tagline, which is fine.

Amy Hooke: Absolutely.

Tony J Hughes: But, what does that really mean? Well, what it means, is it gives you time back, to grow your business, and spend time with your family, and it reduces your stress levels, and reduces your risk in these three areas. I don't know what the three are. But the bookkeeper will. But it reduces your risks in these areas, and it makes sure you get paid quicker. So that-

Amy Hooke: That's fine.

Tony J Hughes: … cashflow is being looked at for new business.

Amy Hooke: Absolutely.

Tony J Hughes: Yes.

Amy Hooke: And also what something you made a point right back at the very start, which is don't assume that they're the things that the client wants. It actually comes from asking questions, and listening to them as opposed to talking about yourself, and your services.

Tony J Hughes: Yeah. And the other thing that sort of share with people from a selling point of view, because I know that bookkeepers aren't sales people. I get that. But, anybody who's in their own business has to be able to sell. That was my big lesson in America that I learnt, that got me away from my negative mindset about selling. But the reality too is we need to anticipate what in the sales industry is called objections. So, if we give our elevator pitch, or we say why we want to meet, and then someone pushes sales industry policy is, because all you, you actually got an objection.

Amy Hooke: Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: My view is that objections are for amateurs…. that's often considered the position well.


Combating regular objections

Amy Hooke: That's right.

Tony J Hughes: We need to think about what are the common push backs, or objections you get from somebody. And one of the common ones might be, hey look, I'm really busy. I don't have time. So as an example with that, we need to make that excuse, because it's not a valid objection at all it's just an excuse. We need to make their excuse, the reason why they should have time with us. When they go, hey look, I'm really busy. We need to say, hey, that's exactly the reason why it makes sense for us to just, to get 20 minutes together. I've got some ideas in how you can get time back in your day. Right. So like, this will give you time back. Let's find time. So you know, if someone says I'm already using zero, like, maybe they'll say that they already use zero. Hey, hey great. I work really closely with zero. I've got some ideas on how you can, and then talk about like getting even better outcomes from using someone like… or something like zero or NYOB, right?

Tony J Hughes: And even say, Hey, look, whether we end up working together or not, I've got some ideas for you, that'll help you with what you're doing with zero anyway. How's your calendar for 20 minutes next week? So I always ask the 20 minutes or 40 minutes, because if you ask-

Amy Hooke: Okay.

Asking for 20 minutes

Tony J Hughes: … 20 minutes, you get half an hour in someone's calendar. If you ask for 40 minutes, you get an hour in their calendar. But it doesn't sound like you're a professional visitor Coffee drinker who is trying to become their friends.

Amy Hooke: Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: It's for a purpose. So if you're more specific with the time, then you're more likely to get a meeting as well. So, the of summary of all of this is, stop talking about us, and what we do, and how it works. Us and our attributes stop that. Start talking about them, and their opportunities for better results, and make sure you have a point of view based on understanding that target industry that you work with, or based on you knowing what the life typically is like of a small entrepreneur with their own business.

Tony J Hughes: But someone in retail, you need a point of view of how your services can improve their results as a small retailer. So, and that's what will gain you access to people. That's really the important thing. And then trying to anticipate what will be people's typical push backs, and make those the reason, right? So, Hey, look, I know as a retailer you work an incredibly long hours, and is super busy. But I've got some ideas in how you can get time back in your life, right?

Amy Hooke: Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: And free yourself up to focus on the things you know that you're doing on the Internet to drive foot traffic into your store. If for example, you knew that was a thing that mattered to that particular retailer depending on segment, and retail that they're in. But if you talked to the thing they care about, you'll get a meeting. So, to give an example with me, I've got 320,000 people as followers in Linkedin as we record this, I get bombarded, absolutely bombarded. I literally nearly died in December, just gone. I found out a… Well. I didn't feel like I got practically kicked out.

Amy Hooke: Oh, really?

Tony J Hughes: I had another blockage in my heart.

Amy Hooke: Oh, my gosh!

Tony J Hughes: It was in a part of the heart. They call the widow maker. So you don't know, you have a heart problem until it, on happens, and you drop dead. We often hear about people to live a healthy, and just die. I had that issue. So, I decided in December, I had the dramatically dial back over with my insanity, because I'm building my brand, and social media, and stuff.

Amy Hooke: Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: The issue for me is I'm time poor. So, and I've got all this great IP to be selling books, all of this stuff I do. If someone wanted to get to me, it's really simple. If they leverage a referral, and I know referrals are very important in the bookkeeping, and accounting industries. Because referrals start with a level of trust, right? And it's not a cold call. If you can combine referrals with trigger events, something that happens of relevance to that person, that's the fastest Path to a client.

Tony J Hughes: We'll talk about that in a moment. But if you wanted to get to me, it's simply saying, Hey Tony, I was talking to Ken last week. He thought it would make sense for you, and I to get together. I've got some ideas on how you can monetize your IP, and get away from time for money. When can we get 20 minutes, and you've got your meeting, right? And you might be selling some online e-learning software product, and you start talking about your e-learning product. I am instantly uninterested. I don't have time. I don't have time to go look at… something I don't want

Amy Hooke: All right.

Tony J Hughes: I don't want this software in my life. If I feel that I might need some online software, if I want to get away from time for money to talk about the thing that I want. What I want is I want to monetize my IP, instead of life from all of the time and travel for money. All right, so that's how you get access to me. All of us watching this, listening to this needs to think what does that mean for me as a bookkeeper with a particular client that I'm chasing.

Amy Hooke: Wow. So, many points in that, that I just thought, wow, like firstly, you're really joining a lot of the dots together in my head, in what you're sharing. So, if that's happening to me, I'm assuming that's happening to our audience as well because these are really the things that we've been giving a lot of thought to. And so there's a few missing pieces of the puzzle going in there. And, secondly, I just want to, I mean, when you said about the… you were talking about how active you were on Linkedin, and everything, and when you said you had a heart attack, I thought you meant as in, as a response to all of the messages. And then I realised you were saying you literally had had a heart attack.

Amy Hooke: So, firstly, I feel very privileged to… that you're still, well, I mean, I'm glad that you're still here. But I'm very privileged that you've made the time to come, and speak to us, and I'm glad that you got to… I'm glad you saw my Linkedin message. So, I first came across you were doing an interview with Michelle Pizer. So, she was my executive- she was my executive coach for season. Through quite a tough time. And yeah, she's lovely. So, I'd sort of been following you from there, and you were talking on her podcast about, you were talking about cold calling, and you were talking about Linkedin. And when you were talking about Linkedin, I was thinking to myself, Oh God, not Linkedin. Like, I was in the typical place that a lot of our audience are in now thinking like Linkedin is just a website for people that want to get jobs. And it's a place where, as soon as you sign up, as soon as your friend signs up, everybody gets invited. And you can't escape the system. And that's kind of how it felt for many years.

Amy Hooke: And you get on there, and you just get spammed all the time. And you started talking about it, and I thought, this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. And so, I actually went onto your Linkedin profile, and I started following you because I actually disagree with you. Until I started to hear your message, and I read your books, and I thought, oh my goodness. Like there was so much wisdom in what you were saying and it made me realise how, I guess how immature I was in my own business journey. And so, the growth that's come from that has been fantastic. So-

Tony J Hughes: Well, congratulations. Yeah.

Amy Hooke: Yeah. Thank you. So, I guess that probably sort of segue way us into-


Tony J Hughes: Into Linkedin.

Amy Hooke: To talking about Linkedin because a lot of our clients are not on Linkedin yet. They've, maybe they've had an account that's been sitting there dormant for 10 years or something like that. So-

Tony J Hughes: Okay. Well, let me jump in. So, four and a half years ago, I went out on my own. I've got clients, I'm busy, I'm making money. Life is good. I started , and mentoring a guy in New York on the complex in of course selling. And about three weeks into it, it's all going great. And he says to me, Steven was great by the way. But he says to me, “Hey Tony, your stuff is mind boggling.” it's making a huge difference. It's the best IP I've seen in the world on this stuff.

Amy Hooke: Wow.

Tony J Hughes: Nobody knows who you are. I had theories about Linkedin, and like you did back then. I just sort of groaned, and rolled my eyes. He said, I said, I might, who in the world has got time for all of that narcissistic blasting, and spamming, talking into an echo chamber, and social media. I got real clients, I'm working 12, 13 hours a day. I don't have time to be in Linkedin all day long. Long story short, I rebelled at three or four week period because we were talking every week. He convinced me that I was actually wrong.

Tony J Hughes: So this became like a reverse mentorship. I was coaching him on, complex strategies… And he convinced me on to do this self branding. And I was just so wrong. So let me tell everybody watching, and listening to this what they need to know about Linkedin. The first thing is, all of us need to go, and be where our market is, and where our customers are. That's, the first thing. So if all of your customers are in Facebook, if you are a bookkeeper for retailers, right, they've all got a Facebook presence, you need to go be where your clients are.

Tony J Hughes: If you're selling to white collar professionals, they are all like almost without exception in Linkedin. Let me give you some mind-boggling stats about Linkedin. There's 500, as we record this, there's 580 million members of Linkedin worldwide, and two people join every second. There's 10 million Linkedin in Australia. Everyone either has or is going to get very shortly a Linkedin profile. Even in government, which was, one of the last areas to really embrace Linkedin. And if you think about Australia's population, and how many, white collar workers there are, like 10 million is about saturation, right? So, if you take kids, retired people, here's the thing, people do a Linkedin profile because it's how they're going to get their next job. So, whether it's because they know this is going to help them get their next job because recruiters search, and find people. And if they apply for a job, the employer is going to look at their Linkedin profile before they even decide to get them into an interview.

Tony J Hughes: So for the law of self interest reason of I need to enhance my chances of getting my next job, and advanced in my career, even to get a promotion internally, people will look at someone like we talked all about, and you never typically know that it's been done. So, that's one reason I create it. The other reason that people can create a Linkedin profile is just for narcissistic reasons, right? Like just-

Amy Hooke: Of course. Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: It's true, right? So, everyone's got an ego, and so all of us watching, and listening to this need to move away from, for ourselves, as having Linkedin as our online CV to instead have, Linkedin is our online personal book site. Now, Linkedin was around before Facebook, if you can believe that. And Microsoft boughtLinkedin a few years ago.

Amy Hooke: I didn't know.

Tony J Hughes: The twenty six thousand two hundred million dollars US, 26.2 billion, and Linkedin had never made a profit, right? So, if Microsoft's willing to pay $26 billion for something, should I get involved in Linkedin? It's a lot of pages. It's the business social graph. It shows you how people are connected to other people. I want to get to somebody, their Linkedin profile is their personal website that shows where they went to school, what they're thinking, who they connected to, who they've worked for, right? It gives you huge insight. Its one of the laws of being good at selling things, we need to loosen it up. We should never really-

Amy Hooke: Yes.

Tony J Hughes: When you look at a Linkedin profile go, well there's three common connections I've got with this person. You contacted those three people. Say, how well do you know them? I've met them really well. I've even done this in someone who said, Hey Tony, I'm actually having a glass of wine with Mary on Thursday night after work. Why don't you come along, I'll introduce you. Right? It's just completely gets rid of cold calling. And the thing for us as people, and especially for bookkeepers that aren't sellers, you know what you want starts to run cold level of drains from our face. Just thinking about the concept of picking up the phone and calling.

Amy Hooke: Yeah, that's right.

Tony J Hughes: It's just, it's not us.

Amy Hooke: Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: But if you get into Linkedin, you can use it to find referrals, and monitor for trigger events, things that have happened. And they need an example of a trigger event as a new person in a role. So new people into roles are hired to effect change, right? So again, the businesses you're selling to. But if you're doing B2B, which you know, which everybody is, a new person in for a role is looking to effect change. If someone's just want a new big contract, like that's changed the business world. I think in man, I need to get rid of some of these lower order, lower value tasks. I'm getting into business.

Tony J Hughes: Like if someone wins a big contract, or new you customer, or a new person joins an organisation, or there's a big new ran a funding, or there's legislative changes that go on. If the ATO introduces some things that make bookkeeping and accounting even more on us, like that's a trigger event. Because it gets people thinking about, man, maybe now's the time I need to get someone else doing this in my business. The fact that maybe they are hiring people, their businesses is scaling, as a reason they need to get a bit involved in the business. So think about referrals, and trigger events is making selling easy, and Linkedin is the platform that enables you to do it.

Amy Hooke: Yeah, that's right. And you had, one thing that you said in there, well you talked about Linkedin being an online personal website, or a place where you present your personal brand as opposed to an online CV. Because that's very much the way that we've traditionally viewed Linkedin. And that's actually what I first started hearing me speak about when you were talking on Michelle Pizer's podcast, you were actually speaking about personal branding, and this was completely new. This was something I'd never actually even heard about. And so I'm assuming our audience, some of them probably haven't heard about any of this at all. It's completely a new field. So, did you want to talk a little more about the specifics of Linkedin? Because, I think some of what you've talked about is related to that. Is that the sales navigator that you're talking about with the updates?

Tony J Hughes: No, that's the-

Amy Hooke: Oh, that's the regular.

Tony J Hughes: That's just regular. So, let me describe… and by the way, I think it is in your notes for this podcast or show.

Amy Hooke: Yes. Well.

Tony J Hughes: I'll give you an email link to an article I published in Linkedin about how to create an awesome Linkedin profile-

Amy Hooke: Oh yes, yes. That was the one read.That's the one that got me into your, yeah. Into your following. Yeah. But

Tony J Hughes: Something about Linkedin, There's three versions of Linkedin. There's free.

Amy Hooke: Yes.

Tony J Hughes: That's just a free version. It was very generous of Linkedin to give the gift to the world of everyone being able to create their own personal website. Obviously monetize that world.

Amy Hooke: Yes. That's right.

Searching for people on LinkedIn

Tony J Hughes: There's free, then there's a premium Linkedin profile that you pay for, and then there's a separate product you can subscribe to at Linkedin, and called sales navigator. Now I don't think anyone listening to this really need sales navigator at all. Just describe what it is in a second. So, the difference between free and premium is that if you're on free, and you've on a searching Linkedin. So, if you searched for Amy Hooke in Linkedin, they may be 27 Amy Hooke's in the world that have Linkedin profiles. But when an individual does a search, the only results that come back for them are the ones that are within the authorised degrees of connection.

Amy Hooke: Yes.

Tony J Hughes: If you're on free. All Linkedin is giving you access is two Degrees.

Amy Hooke: Two Degrees. Okay.

Tony J Hughes: For example, everybody watching this or listening to this should connect to me, let's go, and connect to me Tony Hughes Linkedin. Because if you do, I've got 2000 first degree connections, right?

Amy Hooke: Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: And what happens is you open up the database once, you've got to find that nodes in the network that opened up the database if you want to wrap up.

Amy Hooke: Oh, yeah. Well.

Tony J Hughes: So, if you're going to search a database, the more records in that database, the more valuable that is for you. Right? So, if you ever do a search and someone's not there, it's not that they don't have a Linkedin profile necessarily, it's just likely they're outside-

Amy Hooke: They're outside your network. Yeah. Brilliant.

Tony J Hughes: And that's why you can Google search, and find people's Linkedin profile when you can't find it in Linkedin. That's actually why. Because Linkedin allow Google to index, and search the entire database wherever anybody is selected public as the information flag with information. So, first thing is on free you've got limited search results and degrees of connection, and limited search filters, is the first thing. If you go into Linkedin to look at who's looked at your profile, if you're on free, it only shows you that for the last three days. If you're on premium, it'll show you who's looked at your profile in the last 90 days. And in premium you get now a third degree of connection on your run search so that database has more, and you get more search filters. They're really the main things you get slightly better representation of brand. But if you look at Linkedin as a database for you to use as a business to go find clients, then I would suggest have premium. Now with sales navigator, it's a separate, completely separate platform, and they give you a premium profile as well.

Tony J Hughes: But what navigated does is it enables you to uncrack the entire Linkedin database, and it gives you many more search filters. So, if you said for arguments sake, Hey, I'm going to go up to Brisbane in two weeks time for a few days. I want to get a thousand appointments with potential clients while I'm up there. Like you might think my target market is small solicitors, and lawyer firms. So you think, okay, I'm going to go to Brisbane, I want to find all of this solicitor, lawyer firms with less than 12 employees in Brisbane. Sales navigator will help you do that. And then when you look at each of those firms that will show you who all of the key people are, we say Okay. And the people I want to talk to is anybody that's got principal, partner, chief in their title.

Tony J Hughes: What navigator will do is go back, here they are. Now we found 63 companies, and here's all the contacts in those companies that have got these keywords in their titles, or within their Linkedin profile. And then you can send them an inmail. So, inmail is what Linkedin called the wave based email on their platform. And again, if you're on free, you cannot send an inmail to anybody unless they're first degree connection. But if you've got navigator you can send inmails to people even with another first degree connection. So, that's why maybe you'd want navigator, and in Australian Dollars, navigators around a thousand dollars a year, for someone to have. But if you're selling into white collar B2B, and to larger organisations, then navigate is absolutely worthwhile.

Amy Hooke: Yeah. It's fantastic. I mean, traditionally bookkeepers are very heavily weighted towards Facebook. So there's a large bookkeeping communities on Facebook. And which is, I mean, we do a lot of work within the Facebook network, because that's where our clients are. And that's what made me, when I first heard you speak about Linkedin, I was thinking from a very narrow perspective, which is, well, this is where we are. But I wasn't thinking beyond that, for our clients who are bookkeepers who are looking for their potential clients. So I think that's really a big shift in that line.

Tony J Hughes: Well, can begin jump in on that. So, here's-

Amy Hooke: Yes, please.

Tony J Hughes: … the I think, if you as a bookkeeper, are targeting markets where your clients are all big in Facebook-

Amy Hooke: Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: Facebook is your platform.

Amy Hooke: That's right.

Tony J Hughes: Go be where your clients are. All right?

Amy Hooke: That's right. Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: But if you were targeting, for example, solicitors, why would I use… well, they would have a Facebook page too, but Linkedin is a really powerful place to go when targeting solicitors.

Amy Hooke: Well, that's right. And lawyers with Facebook pages, that when they're on Facebook, they're looking at photos of their cousins, and stuff like that. And they're not really, they're not necessarily there to buy something to look for business. So, it's a different mindset on Facebook.

Tony J Hughes: Yeah. So, the key thing is going engage where your clients are, but even if 95% of the market you target, if you're targeting tradies, they will absolutely be all on Facebook, right?

Amy Hooke: Yeah. That's right.

Tony J Hughes: But here's the thing, go be where your customers are. But if you run outreach to somebody, and they were thinking about replying to you, and responding, often people will do a bit of a Google search on you, or like go, and have a look before they decide to. And that's where you Linkedin profile is really important. Linkedin is not just important because it's an outreach channel to try, and get into people. It's important as a research platform, and it's important because when people look at you, it's where they see your brand. It's where they see your brand, and your level of credibility, and the quality of the network. So, obviously you need to get Linkedin sorted out from a personal branding point of view, even if you're not going to use it as a sales channel. Right. So, you'll still needed either way.

Personal branding

Amy Hooke: Absolutely. And so I, yeah, I mean I'd love you to talk more about personal branding now that we're, now that we're on that topic, because you have mentioned that a couple of times. So like, what is a personal brand? Just to sort of start with the basics really.

Tony J Hughes: Well. You've just got to ask yourself the question when people look for me online, what is it they find? So, let me just give you a little of surprising information maybe for people listening to this, is if you on your own laptop computer, do a search of your own name, the results you get back are not, they are not what the rest of the world sees. So, a lot of people don't understand is there's cleanup they call the Google bubble.

Amy Hooke: Yes.

Tony J Hughes: Whenever anybody runs a Google search, Google with its algorithms is preemptively tries to anticipate what it is you're really looking for. So, for example, if someone typed into Google bush, what Google knows is this person interested in the forest or the trees…

Amy Hooke: Or the president.

Tony J Hughes: Are you interested in an engineering bush,in a bearing, or are they interested in American politics?

Amy Hooke: Politics? Yeah, that's right.

Tony J Hughes: For instance, If someone searches star wars, Google knows, are they interested in the movie, the George Lucas Movie Star Wars. Are they interested in system star wars. Are they interested in all of the Hollywood stars, you know? Right? So, Google knows that, if you search for Middle East, it'll know you're interested in Middle East tourism, Middle East food or Middle East terrorism. Like if-

Amy Hooke: Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: … Google just has a… what it is that we pursue based on the other things that you've searched before.

Amy Hooke: Wow.

Tony J Hughes: So, with personal branding, if someone puts in your name, what is it they find? And if you search anybody's name, often their Linkedin profile comes up, right?

Amy Hooke: Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: Often it comes up. So, when they click on that, what you want them to see is a representation that's warm, and engaging, and shows the value that you can provide. That's really all you're wanting to do. So, you're wanting a warm, friendly, smiling photos. When I run my own programme, I've got the Linkedin profile of an accountant, a lady here in western Sydney. And I put up her profile as a really great example of someone that's nailed their personal brand. So, if you like, I'll email that to you after this as well.

Amy Hooke: Definitely.

Tony J Hughes: Let me talk about what she does in western Sydney.

Amy Hooke: Okay.

Tony J Hughes: So, rather than having her name, and saying CEO of her own firm that's named after herself, rather than say that?

Amy Hooke: Yes.

Tony J Hughes: What she says is, improving accounting processes for small businesses in western Sydney, right? Specialising in NYB, and zero. That is what she's got on her headlines, So. You got bookkeeping and accounting, and on the small business in western Sydney. Maybe she could help me, that she's got a great photo that's really engaging. The next thing she does is she publishes articles. So what she does every year with the federal budget here in Australia, when the federal budget is announced on budget night, two weeks prior to budget night. The government leaks all of the negative stuff to take the oxygen out of any negativity on the night. And then they just say one or two positive things on ounce on the night. So, what she does is she draughts up an article, and I think, so you can publish your articles in Linkedin. She publishes an article, what the budget means to small business in western Sydney. And she just puts in there. So, anybody in a small business here's the ways the budget can benefit you.

Tony J Hughes: So, what she's doing is she sharing a little of her IP. She's sharing some advice without asking for money to show some value for people, and what she does in a way that she does all of this, is she shows genuine insights. So, that's a great way of doing all of those things. She makes sure that her mobile phone number is in the Linkedin profile. So, if someone wants to contact her, they can. So, she's just represented a personal brand really well. She talks about the value that she can provide, and the values by which she operates. And she shows that she's got insights. She's had to share information. And what happens for potential clients is that look at this and they go, wow, I wish my damn accountant would send me something that tells me what the budget means for me rather than wanting to charge me $235 an hour for the privilege. So, she's attracting, and engaging potential with clients. And that's the strategy you want in social media.

Amy Hooke: Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: You don't have spend your life in media, you don't need to be a narcissist. But you just think, how can I attract, and engage people who are potential clients by providing some value for them, rather than banging on about me, and what I do, and trying to sell to them. Put some value. And if people start to engage, they'll say, hey, would it make sense to have a coffee? So, it doesn't need to be hard sell, and nothing really needs to be cold. There's no need for people to cold call, yet we all need to get on the phone. Everybody needs Linkedin to develop business. Avoiding your phone, treating the phone, like it's covered in spiders…So we need to find, but the thing is we can warm things up. You can use Linkedin to start some engagement, to do some research to find a common connection. And then when you call the person that's not cold.

Amy Hooke: Yeah, that's fantastic. Wow. So yeah, just so much in there. And I'm not sure, I mean we've got, I guess we've got about 10 minutes left, but, did you want to talk a little? Because what you've sort of talked about is, you're building up these relationships with people because, I mean, not everyone's ready to buy straight away. So, I think sometimes we think sales means finding a person, and meeting with them, and getting them to buy something straight away. But everybody's on a different journey. And so, I mean, I've heard you talk about the sales pipeline and things like that. I never knew what it was. I never even knew it existed until I heard you speak. So, did you want to talk a little about what that looks like for a bookkeeper?

Sales Pipeline

Tony J Hughes: Yeah. So, look and even hardcore dedicated professional sales people, they should never spring from the bushes, and assign somebody with a value proposition.

Amy Hooke: Yes.

Tony J Hughes: You would, all of the rules that apply in the physical world should apply in social media. You never meet somebody, how are you, and then you jump in, and start selling to them.

Amy Hooke: No.

Tony J Hughes: 10 minutes. Right? So, the thing that a bookkeeper should really think about, I try, I forgot the question. What was the question again?

Amy Hooke: Well, it was about helping them understand what the sales pipeline actually is, and what that looks like for bookkeeping, and how it relates to-

Tony J Hughes: Okay.

Amy Hooke: … connects to… Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: So, the thing is, at any given point in time, what the statistics tell us, is at any given point in time, there's only 3% of the market are in the buying window of looking at changing. All right? So, if you made a hundred phone calls, statistically three of those people would be open to changing bookkeepers at the moment. 97% wouldn't. So, that's the reality. And the idea of nurturing a sales pipeline, is making sure that people that are a good fit against your ideal customer profile, right? And I, in other words, they share your values, philosophy's, they're willing to work on the accounting tools that you use. For example, if like if you go, if I only work with people that use zero, like if that was the case, then that's hard to leave ICP, unless they're willing to work on zero, they're not a fit. Right? You don't want exception for the rule for you as a business.

Tony J Hughes: So, if you've got people that fit the profile but they're not ready yet, they go, man, optics got so much on in my life right now. I'm not happy with my current accountant, but, I don't have my act together. He's got all of the IP like I need to get my act together before maybe have a conversation with you. We go, great. Okay, look, I'll make a note. I bet you get through this financial year, and when you do your taxes with now your accountant, and book bookkeeper for this fiscal year, make sure that they give you X, y, z, and then have at us if they have conversation, or contact me in September. Right? So you just, you basically diarize it and what it is, that's someone that's in your pipeline.

Tony J Hughes: So they're not a client yet, but they're in the sales pipeline to potentially become one. So, what all of this need is, if you think about how much new business revenue that you need in your business for you to meet your own goals, you've got to get three to five times that in qualified sales pipeline. That's the rule in business.

Amy Hooke: Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: So, if you think, I need 10 more clients this year for me to make my goals, right? What I would argue is you need 30 to 50 prospective clients that you're working with. And what that does, is it takes the pressure out of the process of selling, and winning a new client. And you just focus with this alignment. This alignment with values, with timing, and with the process of how they're going to get to decide who it is that they go with.

Tony J Hughes: And if you run good pipeline, what happens is you tend to eliminate competition. Because if you're depending on leads coming to you at a Facebook, or Linkedin or your website, you're in trouble, because if the lead comes to you, they're already talking to other bookkeepers as well. So, what you want to do is you want to target people you think would be an ideal customer, target them early. And if these interests, keep them swimming around the boat, just nurture this thing until they're ready to come on board. And that's what takes the stress out of business development.

Amy Hooke: Yeah. Well. It really does, I mean, yeah. And I think, I mean, we can all relate to that experience. Were you speaking to a salesperson who just doesn't seem to get that you're not ready, but you are interested in finding out more. And when a sales person is able to say to you, hey, now's not the right time, but you know, it could be a budget thing. It could be a personal thing. It could be any reason why it's not the right timing, when a sales person is willing to actually recognise, even before you say it, potentially, that it's not the right time, and to, and to me what that shows is that they have listened, that person has listened enough, and they care enough to listen, and pay attention to be able to even recognise that in the first place.

Amy Hooke: Because sometimes even the client doesn't recognise that for themselves, that it's, until you sort of start having the conversation, and that's when they realise that they're not quite ready. And to be able to be willing to not say, oh, well you're not interested. See you later. There's a popular thing of calling people, tyre kickers. If someone comes along, and they're not ready to buy straight away, or they have to think about the price, it's very common in our industry to go, “oh, they're just tyre kickers.” Whereas that person, they could be an ideal client in 12 months time, or Whenever.

Tony J Hughes: So, Amy let me, because I'm just conscious of time.

Amy Hooke: That's okay.

Tony J Hughes: We just got a couple of minutes. Let me finish on what I think is a real goal-

Amy Hooke: Go for it.

Tony J Hughes: So, whenever a lead comes to us, so whenever any bookkeeper gets a lead, there's a question you need to ask the person, right? Because the lead will be asking you lots of questions about your services, and how much you charge. But, what you want to ask them is, hey, do you mind if I ask what's happened in your business that's caused you to think about changing bookkeeper, or the way you're doing your books, right? So, what's happened in your business that's caused to want to change the way you're doing your books, and the degree to which the person will actually engage in their conversation let you know, is the degree to which you're likely to win or not.

Tony J Hughes: So unless there's a two way sharing of information, it's not a good process. And if we try, and pitch to people, and they say, “Oh, can you send me a proposal” or “send me information?” Often that's just them fobbing us off giving us something to do to get rid of us. Right? So, often people that say, “oh look, I'm interested, but it's not the right time.” Often they, they're not really interested. They're just being polite. Right? And the enemy for all of us in life, who's wasting our time, there's not a limit to this note. There's no limits in markets. You've now limited an opportunity. There's just the limited in the number of hours in the day that we've got available to do business development to service clients. So, we just need to think, time is the precious thing. So, so what, we don't say this to the prospect.

Amy Hooke: No.

Tony J Hughes: You say, Hey, look, if I ask what's happened, that's caused you want to look at the way you do books, they won't engage on, they just give me your price. They probably just shopping around to avoid buyer's remorse. You're thinking you're going with. You want to engage early with people, and create that emotional connection, because that's why people buy, they buy because they feel they like, and trust the person that they do business with, and that you can provide the right level of value. But when people say that they, maybe they lost on price, it's almost never price. Right? Price is the excuse to buy gifts. It just thing that they say to get rid of us.

Amy Hooke: Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: We lose, because we didn't do a great relationship with the person.

Amy Hooke: Wow. Fantastic. Great point to end on. Thank you so much for sharing that, and thank you for your time, and coming along to speak to the bookkeepers, and I'm sure everything's been very helpful, and I'd love to pass on the links. So Tony, will give a couple of links, and we'll pop them in the transcript, and for everyone else. Thanks for joining us again, thanks for tuning in every week. And we just always love to be able to share different ideas with you to help you to build your business, and yeah. So, I'll see you next week, and have a great one.

Tony J Hughes: And Amy, if I can, just to-

Amy Hooke: Oh, yeah.

Tony J Hughes: … Sorry, Amy if-

Amy Hooke: No.

Tony J Hughes: … If people do one other information. I publish a lot of stuff in Linkedin, so-

Amy Hooke: Yeah.

Tony J Hughes: Link to me Linkedin-

Amy Hooke: Definitely.

Tony J Hughes: Website is tonyhughes.com.au. That's my author, and speaker website, and for sales methodologies, if you're interested in prospecting, and winning deals, that's RSVP selling. Thanks Amy. Thanks. Thanks everyone. I'll see you.

Amy Hooke: Yeah. Awesome. Thank you, Tony. See you guys.