Episode 54: The Client: 2 Sales Tools to Win Bigger, Faster, and More Often – Member Case with Nate Kievman

There are two sales tools that allow boutique founders to win bigger, faster, and more often. On this episode, we discuss these tools with C54 member Nate Kievman, CEO of Linked Strategies.


Sean Magennis [00:00:16] Welcome to the Boutique with Collective 54, a podcast for founders and leaders of boutique professional services firms. Our goal with this show is to help you grow, scale and exit your firm bigger and faster. I’m Sean Magennis, Collective 54 Advisory Board Member, and your host. On this episode, I will make the case that there are two sales tools that allow boutique founders to win bigger, faster and more often. I’ll try to prove this theory by interviewing Nate Keivman, CEO of Linked Strategies. Nate, I’m known and getting to know for a while. He’s a highly sought after digital strategist. He brings a no nonsense business approach to digital and social strategies, and his company Linked Strategies is a consulting firm that specializes in delivering clients a steady stream of highly targeted and pre-qualified meetings with top executives, CEOs, VP’s thought leaders and other key decision makers who are typically made extremely hard to reach. He can be found at linkedstrategies.com, Nate, great to see you and welcome. 

Nate Keivman [00:01:33] Thank you, Sean. Thanks for having me today. 

Sean Magennis [00:01:35] It’s such a pleasure. So let’s start with an overview. Can you briefly share with the audience an example of a sales tool you developed to win bigger, faster and more often? 

Nate Keivman [00:01:49] Yeah, absolutely, Sean, I think it’s an interesting perspective to think about the tool itself that helps you win deals. And I think there’s actually two and I call it an impact analysis, and this is something that is a self-created tool for any organization, especially in the management consulting space who we serve. I think about 90 percent of our clients are in that space. So what they’re looking for is a way to articulate value more clearly and then get their client to agree to that value. And what’s interesting about that is if you do it really powerfully, it very quickly ups your price model and in and it builds your pricing based on the value you’re bringing versus the market competition. So, for example, we just wrapped up our biggest deal ever at a four and a half million dollar contract. Our average deal prior to this was one hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year. And what we’re looking at doing and the reason that we did this as we said, OK, what’s the market value that we’re bringing? And then can we scale that? And so what we did is we created two things and I said two, right? So one is the impact analysis. The other is the sales process of a thing called we call co-creation. And if you can build a sales process that builds a co-creation model into it, then that, coupled with an impact analysis, is almost impossible not to land very significant deals. 

Sean Magennis [00:03:15] I love that. So an impact analysis and a sales process, you’re co-creation model. Outstanding. So, Nate, I’d like to get your thoughts on two tools that we also recommend in this area. I’ll walk you through each one and get your thoughts on each of the two tools are the demographic profile and the psychographic profile. So let’s start with the demographic profile. This is a description of a particular type of client based on unique identifiers such as gender, age, industry, job title, geography. And it focuses on quantifiable attributes and is objective. What are your thoughts on this concept? 

Nate Keivman [00:03:59] I think it’s a baseline for being able to access any given market, right? You have to understand who they are. We call it your total digital universe. Like how do we know our market right? And in the day and age that we live in, we have such accessibility that we’ve never seen before in our in our world to where there’s no excuse for you as an organization not to have your total digital universe at your fingertips. And what I mean by that is the ability to communicate with them, by email, by phone, by social and having that database something that’s always in your hand and always live. 

Sean Magennis [00:04:35] Well, that’s right on. So the next one is a psychographic profile. This is a description of a type of client based on also on unique identifiers such as once needs, goals, challenges, priorities. It’s the qualitative attributes and it’s more subjective. What do you think about that, Nate? 

Nate Keivman [00:04:56] Well, I mean, it’s the holy grail of data, right? So if if if I could figure that one out permanently, we’d be doing a lot more of those bigger deals, right? So the we end up figuring the psychographic out through a thing called the five psychological triggers. And this is a way that executives actually interact, not just think it’s interesting. So we’re most marketing and most sales fall into the habit of if I say my client is this and I talk about my big background and pedigree, that’s enough, right? But it’s not for an executive what an executive actually makes decisions on and when. The reason they’re executives, by the way, is they make great decisions fast. That’s kind of part of the the role too great. So, so, psychologically and globally. This is applicable. So in Abu Dhabi, to London, to New York, to Australia and Sydney, it’s the same for executives, which is there are limited on time. They’re good at making decisions and they make decisions on three core areas outside of trust and credibility. So trust and credibility is the baseline, but time, money and risk are the three critical components that get them to say yes, that’s what’s been able to get us from like just a single call. The email that’s extremely long, by the way, and that’s a different conversation point. Yes, that’s what we’ve been able to land a conversation for one of our clients with with Elon Musk and then one with Tim Cook, right from an email. And it’s something that opens the door that you never knew possible because of the way you articulate your value as it pertains to them and how they see time, money and risk. 

Sean Magennis [00:06:39] You know, that’s that’s absolutely fascinating. And I love what you’ve just shared. One of the one of the things that differentiates you is what you said at the end of your remarks, which is this long email. And because so many marketers go out with trying to get something catchy, some pain points to two word line, you know, two sentence line. Give us a quick insight into this long email concept because I think our listeners need to hear this. 

Nate Keivman [00:07:08] As it’s really important, everybody so executives are great at making decisions, but they also don’t have a lot of time. So a long emails, actually respectful of time, not disrespectful of time, and people don’t understand that because what you need to be able to do is give them enough. And remember, there’s four what if you if you look at the various personality tests out there, there’s four kind of primary personas, maybe six, depending on which one you’re using. Yes. And and CEOs tend to fall on one of two classes and then a little bit of one of the third and. And so what we do is we write to each of those different persona types in order of their attention span. And so when you write that way, you have to understand that there’s a thing called the power statement that you have to build to get their attention. And that’s all short. That’s true, yes, but they’re not going to make a decision to give up their most valuable asset, which is their time, unless they can get a little more information right there without clicking on something and having to go dig for it. So that’s why we’ve been able to modify this over 10 years of and tens of millions of emails and and figure out the Hey, this stuff, this is this is the way to get executives. It doesn’t mean that’s the way to get sales professionals, by the way is going to be better for them, right? But if you want executives? Yeah, you go. There’s a model for it. 

Sean Magennis [00:08:26] Outstanding that that that was a great definition. So we’ve also found that selling services is much harder than selling a product. So when a prospect buys a product, they put their trust in the product itself. When a prospect buys a service, they put their trust in the people delivering the service. So therefore, and you’ve said this establishing trust is essential. What do you think of this? 

Nate Keivman [00:08:50] I think that the reason that the sales process is one of the critical tools to success that we talked about earlier. I I teach a methodology where rapport building and this is from some really great colleagues of mine that have fed into this and are happy to give them as resources. But you know, we’ve done a combination of learnings over tens of thousands of sales calls, hundreds of thousands of sales calls now with our clients to the market that we’ve been serving them right. And we can see out of all that, all that data. Who’s winning at higher percentages versus others? And what do they do differently over others? Well, the ones that are really, really good at closing on a brand new conversation for the first time from a new relationship. They’re really, really good at building rapport, and the process for that is a consultative sales. So consultants and the reason I love serving the consulting industry is by default, you’re naturally a consultant. You have all the tools within you to be very good at this process. However, by default, what most people do is they get into their pitch and they sell themselves. And yeah, they just throw up on them. And right, and that’s honestly your consulting because you’re super smart in your category. But the bottom line is, is you’re doing something that’s the same for everybody. Rapport is not built by talking about the city you live in and connecting on something really generic on a sports team. It’s built by understanding their challenges, understanding where they’re trying to go and watch the gap between them. And can you or can’t you solve that? That’s how Raptors built. And that’s what we do as consultants anyway. We just don’t always recognize it. So what we tend to do is we want to get into really hurry up and tell them about us. But they don’t care. They want to know is what we do able to solve their problem first. And that’s what we need to focus on. 

Sean Magennis [00:10:42] That is a powerful distinction. And listeners, please remember that. So sales tools like those we just discussed, they’ve been around forever. If they truly can help win bigger deals faster and more often, you would think they’d be used more often. So when when I look at firms and I think you’re the same, they’re either not present or if they are, they’re not used properly. So why is this? Why should leaders of boutique professional firms care about what you’ve just been sharing? 

Nate Keivman [00:11:15] Because it will grow you exponentially. I mean, we have we have a I have a great management consulting firm and they’re but on the smaller end of the companies that typically start with us, they started about six hundred thousand dollars right when COVID hit. And we help them understand this methodology and the combination of understanding some of the tools that we’ve outlined, right? The tools are the beginning, the sales process, the impact analysis that by itself should double triple quadruple, sometimes topple your your price. They went from a seventy thousand average deal per year to a $500000 average deal per six months. Wow. And then on the back end of their contracts, they got a three year contract at a million dollars a year, so they went from all that and just over the last 18 months, and now they’re a $5 million firm. So I think about the speed of impact and the speed of growth. You can grow in three primary areas really, really fast as a management consulting firm, increase your price right there over a shorter term or consolidate the term over a longer period of time either way, and then close more deals and get more leads, like if you can do all three at the same time, you’ll have exponential growth and it’s almost guaranteed. So that’s where I think that if what I’m saying resonates, you know, an impact analysis, understand how to build a rapport and have a really well-structured first call because you win the deal on the first call and and then understand that process will increase your prices very quickly. And that’s the fastest and easiest way to grow your company. I did that 100 percent growth for three years straight, and all I did was focus on my price and my term. 

Sean Magennis [00:12:52] So those are outstanding points. And, you know, brings me to brings me to a question. So a lot of our listeners will get off this podcast and they’ll go, OK, so how do I implement this? How do I get started in this? Give them some. Give them some tips on what to do immediately after hearing. You know what you’ve just said 

Nate Keivman [00:13:13] Sure, I think. It’s really hard to get to your own core value. I was just looking at a website of a person I’m talking to later today, and he’s in the management consulting space and I’m like, Wow, they really struggle to articulate their value. And so what happens is most management consulting firms grow from referrals because they can’t articulate their value clear enough for people to actually want to desire it because they’re not saying it clear enough, right? And so. So I think that the starting point is to get really, really clear on your core value to the market, right? And how to articulate that spend time, spend money on that because that’s going to create the big breakthrough, right, where we’re working with one of the largest financial institutions in the world coming up and the first thing they’re hiring us for is that as the core message, right? What’s the core value? How do I crack through on the messaging first and then we can go start sharing that message with the market? And so the second thing I would say is an impact analysis is a simply put, it’s an Excel sheet that grabs certain assumptions and articulates everything you do into a monetary impact on their organization. So like the the company I mentioned earlier, that went from six hundred to five five million a year culture transformation company and well, that’s a hard one to articulate into. You know, what’s the financial impact of this? Yes. And so but but there’s a lot of ways to do it, and so turn everything from whether it’s time saved or it’s hours saved or it’s, you know, you know, risk eliminated or whatever it is that all translates to dollars. Figure out how to translate it to a dollar and a bottom line impact and then use that into your process. And then what it is is it’s a little quick gut check, and what it becomes is a business case that helps you win the bigger deal, right? 

Sean Magennis [00:15:13] Yeah, I love that night. I absolutely love that. That’s very practical, very doable. And obviously they can always reach out to you, which would be really in a very important for those that would need your type of expertize. So this is great. There is no part of the boutique that this information will not change. Every sales script changes. Every process to deliver a service would get rewritten to reflect this enhanced understanding of the client. So a firm should change its marketing messages, its pricing position and the hiring profiles realistically of its staff. So to win bigger, faster and more often requires the boutique to obsess over the client every little detail without this information dynamically updated regularly. You’re not client focused. So this is a good reminder tools that can truly help you understand your client. OK. 

Sean Magennis [00:16:11] This takes us to the end of the episode. Let’s try to help listeners apply this. We end each show with a tool. We do so because this allows a listener to apply the lessons to his or her firm. Our preferred tool is checklist, and our style of checklist is a yes or no questionnaire. We aim to keep it simple by asking only 10 questions in this instance. If you answer yes to eight or more of these questions, you know your client strategy is working. If you answer no too many times, your lack of client knowledge will impede your ability to win more business. Nate has graciously agreed to be our peer example today. And Nate, I’ll ask you the yes no questions, so we’ll all learn from this example. So let’s begin. 

Sean Magennis [00:16:58] Number one, do you have a demographic profile of your target client? 

Nate Keivman [00:17:03] Yes. 

Sean Magennis [00:17:05] Number two, do you have a psychographic profile of your target client? 

Nate Keivman [00:17:11] I do. 

Sean Magennis [00:17:12] Number three, do you have an elevator pitch that speaks directly to the target client? 

Nate Keivman [00:17:19] Absolutely. 

Sean Magennis [00:17:20] Number four, do you understand the personal goals of the client? 

Nate Keivman [00:17:26] I do. 

Sean Magennis [00:17:27] Number five, do you understand the professional goals of the clean? 

Nate Keivman [00:17:32] I do. 

Sean Magennis [00:17:33] Number six. Do you understand the obstacles preventing the client from accomplishing their personal goals? 

Nate Keivman [00:17:42] Yes. 

Sean Magennis [00:17:43] And number seven, do you understand the obstacles preventing the client from accomplishing their professional goals? 

Nate Keivman [00:17:51] Yes. 

Sean Magennis [00:17:53] Number eight, do you understand the likely objections that your client is going to submit to you? 

Nate Keivman [00:18:00] Yes. 

Sean Magennis [00:18:02] Number nine, do you understand the client’s top priorities? 

Nate Keivman [00:18:07] Yes. 

Sean Magennis [00:18:08] And number ten, do you understand the emotional makeup of the client? 

Nate Keivman [00:18:15] Most of the time. 

Sean Magennis [00:18:17] I love that, you know, and this is an example to our listeners, somebody like yourself that literally this is your business should answer yes to those. And the challenge to our listeners from both you and I need is please think through all of these, apply them to your business. And if you can’t answer sufficiently, then go back to work and really focus, focus on getting to know your client. So in summary, know thy client. Get inside their hearts, their souls, their minds. Try to know them better than they know themselves. Take this knowledge and drive it into everything you do. Because when a prospect bumps into you, they should say to themselves, These people get me, Nate, thank you for sharing your expertize with us. It’s great to see you.

If you enjoyed the show and want to learn more. Pick up a copy of the book The Boutique How to Start, Scale and Sell the Professional Services Firm. Written by Collector 54 founder Greg Alexander.

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