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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This podcast featured an interview with Mostafa Hosseini. He is the Creator of Simple Marketing Formula and many other marketing tools.]
Find Mostafa on LinkedIn.
MOSTAFA’S TIP: “As far as follow up goes, there’s this couple of myth and in my experience, thought patterns that stop people from following up. First one people say is they say I don’t want to bother them. When there’s someone opts in and they raise their hand and say, “Hey, I have a problem, I need help or I’m interested in what you guys are doing”, the stats are that about 50% of salespeople never follow up. Fact of the matter is when someone raises their hand and says, “I need help. I have a bleeding neck, I need you to save me.” If you go out there and reach out and work on serving them, you’re not actually bothering them, but the fact that you’re not following up, you’re bothering them. If they have a problem, they expect a solution and it’s on you to follow up.”
THE PODCAST BEGINS HERE
Fred Diamond: Mostafa, I’m really excited to talk to you. You and I met through a online networking organization called JVMM. We’ve been following each other. I really love your energy and I really love what we’re going to be talking about today. The topic basically is why follow up phone calls aren’t really helpful. It’s interesting because we talk a lot about the fact that so many sales are dropped because salespeople just don’t follow up.
It’s great to see you. You’re the founder of Persyo. You’ve also created so many great things, a simple retention formula, the simple marketing formula, the simple offer formula. If anybody knows how to break this stuff down, it’s you. First question, why do sales professionals struggle with the follow up?
Mostafa Hosseini: First of all, thanks for having me here. It’s great to hang out with you and I look forward to our conversation. As far as follow up goes, there’s this couple of myth and in my experience, thought patterns that stop people from following up. First one people say is they say I don’t want to bother them. When there’s someone opts in and they raise their hand and say, “Hey, I have a problem, I need help or I’m interested in what you guys are doing”, the stats are that about 50% of salespeople never follow up. The ones that do follow up, a large portion follow up only once and they stop.
Now, I’ve heard this quite a bit with business owners and salespeople when they say, “I don’t want to bother them.” Fact of the matter is when someone raises their hand and says, “Look, Fred, I need help. I have a bleeding neck, I need you to save me.” If you go out there and reach out and work on serving them, you’re not actually bothering them, but the fact that you’re not following up, you’re bothering them. If they have a problem, they expect a solution and it’s on you to follow up.
Fred Diamond: You just made a really excellent point. We talk about this a lot on the Sales Game Changers podcast, the fact that people get stuck when they think they’re being salesy, even great sales professionals. We typically interview VPs of Sales at some of the top companies in the world, people who had 20, 30 year careers, and they talk about the fact that you don’t want to be seen as too persistent. You don’t want to be seen as too “salesy” if you will, and I love what you just said, the notion that sales is about service.
Mostafa Hosseini: Absolutely. The second one is actually people say, “I don’t want to be salesy.” Here’s a philosophy that might help with that. That is, for me, myself, I believe in my service so much so that it’s my responsibility to hold myself responsible enough to follow up and even I may appear salesy at some points, because I believe in my product, because I know it provides value to my customers.
It’s okay if someone wants to call me salesy. You raised your hand, you said, “Mostafa, I have a problem with my back, it hurts, and I need help.” I’m like, “All right, I can help you.” I know that I can, I have a solution, I have experience, I have credibility, I have expertise. It’s okay if you call me salesy. It’s okay if you call me pushy. All I care about is the fact that I could help you fix that problem. You can call me an a-hole, you can call me anything.
Fred Diamond: It’s a really interesting point that you bring up there is that a couple of things I want to hit on. Salespeople a lot of times they forget this. It’s the passion that you have for helping people. People get lost, I think, in being passionate about what they’re bringing to the market. You got to love your product.
You got to believe in it, you got to believe in how you’re helping people, but the real passion comes in through what I just said, it’s not about what you’re bringing to the market, it’s about what you’re bringing to the market that is going to be helping people solve their problems. Here’s the thing. The last two years, a lot of people have been struggling with a lot of things and if you’re bringing something that’s going to help them solve even the minorest of problems, there’s a lot of value in that.
Mostafa Hosseini: A hundred percent. Can I take you to the next level?
Fred Diamond: Please do.
Mostafa Hosseini: There’s also the customers that most of the time when someone says, “Oh, this guy was pushy”, it’s because they have their own inner limits. Now, as sales people, we have to be responsible enough to hold them responsible and get them out of their own way through persistent and consistent follow up and with passion.
Once I follow up enough times and show that I care about them, I build the credibility and the expertise that yes, I have a product, yes, I can help you, yes, I care about you, and I can fix your problem. It’s not really that big of a deal. Let’s actually get on this and fix it. Because a lot of times people make a big deal about fixing an issue. They think it’s unfixable, it’s not doable. We’re like, you know what? I have a three step process, let’s do this, shall we? Then we just get to it.
Fred Diamond: I want to talk about that for a little bit. Again, the company’s called Persyo and again, I mentioned some of the offerings that you’ve created. One thing that I find quite remarkable about you is that you’ve really simplified it. Sometimes people say to me, well, sales is really simple. Well, first of all, sales isn’t really simple because it’s very hard. You need to be a professional.
To sell to some of the largest corporations or government agencies or healthcare facilities in the world, you have to be intelligent, thoughtful, strategic. You have to understand data. You have to understand the customer’s budgeting processes. There are so many things you need to learn, so it’s really not simple. But at the same time, the concept is simple. You’re bringing something to them that’s going to help them solve a problem that they can’t do for themselves. Talk a little bit about the company, Persyo, and why and how you develop some of these processes.
Mostafa Hosseini: Sure. You know how people go out there and spend a lot of time and money to find leads, and then they don’t follow up with them, and they leave a lot of money on the table? What we do is we fix that problem. We fix the follow up problem. I run a call center specializing in follow ups and customer retention.
What we do is we manage the follow up process. As an outsourced company, we manage the follow ups for our customers from the moment customers opt in to download the lead magnet all the way to a webinar, to an event, existing customers and past customers. We just make sure that the customers are not ignored, that they don’t feel ignored, and that we’re not leaving any money on the table. Basically, that’s what we do in a nutshell.
Fred Diamond: Interestingly, someone just asked the question about a lead magnet. What exactly is a lead magnet and what are some of the lead magnets after you define them that you have found to be most valuable?
Mostafa Hosseini: A lead magnet could be a checklist, it could be your book, it could be a chapter of your book. Actually, I have a book coming up, Simple Retention Formula, which I’m going to gift it to your audience once it’s ready. It could be a webinar, it could be a training, it could be an infographic. Various types of information that your customers and clients may find useful. It speaks to their pain and it speaks to their challenge, helps them fix a problem or shed some light on an issue that they’re working on and that they opt in to download the lead magnet and that’s when they become a lead.
Fred Diamond: One thing that you just talked on is so critical. The concept of selling to existing customers. It’s so hard to find new customers even if you’re a top brand or whatever it might be. The customers, they like to work with people they’ve worked with before. One thing that people don’t really understand in sales or they probably understand but they have to be reminded of is the customer’s main goal is to eliminate risk for the most part.
Every customer of technology or financial services, they don’t want to be the customer who bought the wrong thing, who brought their company down, who cost millions, who decreased productivity, if you will. It’s really about reducing risk. Talk a little bit about selling to existing customers, because you have developed some degree of trust with them. Maybe they’re not a customer right now, because of whatever the reasons might be. Talk why it’s so critical to be focusing on the existing customers and keeping them in the process with where you are.
Mostafa Hosseini: A hundred percent. Just as you said, it is so much easier and faster to sell to an existing customer versus to a brand new customer. It’s actually about 50% to 70% easier to sell to someone that knows, likes and trusts you, they have given you their credit card or cash before, you have served them, and there is a relationship compared to average Joe on Facebook who has no clue who we are, now we’re trying to convince them, bring them in, go through that entire lengthy process of showing them that yes, I’m awesome, buy my stuff. Can I share a story?
Fred Diamond: Please, yeah.
Mostafa Hosseini: I ran an agency from 2010 to 2018. We did agency digital marketing. Now, back in the day, I learned about the power of retention and follow ups from Dan Kennedy, and how it’s like a low hanging fruit and nobody does it. The story is that every time I ran out of cash, customers appointments, or referrals, or I had like a deadline for a payment and whatnot, I would pull my hair out for a few days and I would worry about it, then I would come to my senses and realize that I have a list of leads and customers and past customers.
I would pick up the phone, make a round of calls and I kid you not, on the day of or very shortly after I would get cash, appointments, introductions, referrals, you name it. We kept doing this. I’m like, “This is awesome.” I’m going to call my list every few months,” and now we actually call our lists every three or four months, and we do it for our customers as well. We’re consistently in touch.
Then I started teaching this at Simple Marketing Formula where I taught people how to create a simple marketing plan because I’m about say 80-20, simple and simplicity and whatnot. The last module was always customer retention. I was like, “People, here’s the script, here’s the process. Take this, call your existing people, and you’re going to see cash today, starting today” and nobody would do it.
Turns out people hate to pick up the phone, even salespeople and professionals. It happened a few times and then I had a guy who was making calls for us and he was looking for more work. In my workshop I was like, “People, I have a guy who can make calls for you to your list. Who wants an introduction?” Everybody. Then I’m like, “Oh, this is interesting. What if we do it for you and we manage it for you?” They’re like, “Yes, brother, sign me up.” Then that’s how we actually got started. Here’s another fact, this has been our most profitable highest converting marketing activity period.
Fred Diamond: I want to say a couple of things. One is, that story is a great story. Dan Kennedy, of course, is one of the true legends of marketing, if you will. Are you familiar with an author named Alex Goldfayn? Do you know Alex at all?
Mostafa Hosseini: I don’t know.
Fred Diamond: He’s written some great books. He’s been on the Sales Game Changers podcast a couple of times. In his most recent book, he talks about using the phone as the top of funnel activity. Not email, text, not LinkedIn invite, phone. But it’s mainly for people who are warm with you, right? Either existing customers or partners or lapsed customers or current customers. He says, “You know what? Pick up the phone four times a day.” He doesn’t say 50 times a day, he says four times a day and just call because people aren’t expecting phone calls anymore, they’re expecting an email or a text or a LinkedIn message. He said, the phone is going to shock people and it’s going to engage them in conversations.
If you’re in sales, one thing that you should be good at is conversations. I mean, sales is at the end of the day, there are so many different aspects but one thing that sales is, is about getting to the next conversation. It’s about having the opportunity to literally speak to someone another time. We’re constantly thinking about how do I get that type of verbal? And hopefully it’s in person. Obviously, the world has gotten remote, we all know that, but so much more power happens when you’re able to be in person with that person, but even just on the phone as well.
Mostafa Hosseini: A hundred percent. In this digital day and age, the human interaction is missing quite a bit. It’s a lot of LinkedIn and email and different apps that we’re just swiping from one picture to the other, liking and commenting and this and that. The conversation piece is missing. I like face to face conversations, and I love to chat with people. Actually, most of my conversions come from conversations and relationships, so it works.
Fred Diamond: One thing he talked about as well, he’s talked about some of the myths that are out there that business owners and salespeople have about follow ups. What are some of the myths that you think are out there?
Mostafa Hosseini: We started with the myth. The first one was, I don’t want to bother them. That’s a big myth. You’re not bothering them. You’re actually bothering them by not following up. Second one is, I don’t want to be salesy. It’s like, brother, someone raised their hand and they said, I’m dying. They need help. You’re not being salesy. Imagine if you go to a doctor and say, “Doctor, I’m dying, help me.” The doctor says, “Oh, I don’t want to be salesy. I’m not going to step forward.” Those are a couple of big myths that stop people from going out there and serving people and providing value and help them with their solution.
Fred Diamond: That is such a great analogy of the doctor who says, it’s like, I don’t want to be too intrusive. I see you’re bleeding but do I have permission to serve you? That is a great point. You know what? It’s actually one of the best points that I think I’ve heard on the Sales Game Changers podcast in a while because we talk a lot about service. We even touched on this a few minutes ago. Here’s the thing, if you’re going to give the customer something that they don’t need, they don’t see any value in, it’s not going to help them solve their problem that’s facing them right now. Here’s one of the things, most people who are your prospects or customers are challenged with solving something right now.
Even still, we’re two and a half years after the start of the pandemic and everything, people are still struggling with what’s in their face right now, or for the very, very short and foreseeable future. I want to talk about referrals for a little bit. You also touch on referrals a lot. Talk about not just something mundane, like why they’re important, but get a little bit deeper with that. Tell us about why referrals are so critical to the process and give us some of your advice on how to get them.
Mostafa Hosseini: Referrals come from good service, good relationship, credibility, trust, and results and value. Once we provide that, it helps us get referrals. In some cases, we don’t even have to do a lot of that to get a referral. For example, when we follow up with someone that opted in to get a lead magnet from us, let’s say that they downloaded the checklist.
What we do is we call them up and say, “Hi, Fred, Mostafa here, the reason I’m calling you is in my system shows you have downloaded my checklist. Does that ring a bell?” If it’s recent, it obviously should ring a bell. Then we have a conversation and work on qualifying them and see if they’re a good fit, we work on booking an appointment to have a conversation.
Now, if they’re not a good fit, we always ask for a referral, an introduction, because maybe the person in front of me is not a good fit, is not ready to join, but maybe they know someone that is a good fit, that is ready to join. If I don’t ask, I’m probably not going to get it. The question is simply, who do you know that is having a problem with the sales? Who do you know that is having a problem with their follow up? Even that’s with people that are leads and they’re not qualified.
Now, when you go back to your existing customers or past customers, you could reach out, have a very friendly non-salesy, non-pushy conversation just to touch base, see how they’re doing at the human element and at the end of the day be like, “Hey, Fred, I’m just curious, who do you know that is having problems with their follow up?” Or who do you know that is having problem with their sales or in their neck or whatever it is that you do? You’d be surprised how often people are like, you know what? I actually know Joe who runs this company, who is this person who may need your help. When you ask that question a hundred times, I can guarantee you between one to five referrals, at least one.
Fred Diamond: A lot of times we tell salespeople, well, you got to get better at making phone calls and picking up the phone and you know what? They’re not going to. Even someone who has been successful for 30 years, maybe they’re going to be comfortable picking up the phone talking to existing customers because they probably develop that relationship, but for most people, it’s just hard. It’s the hardest thing.
Again, as we mentioned this in the beginning, Mostafa, there are so many things that are hard in the sales process. Asking for the deal, getting in the door, all those kinds of things, picking up the phone, it’s hard. Think about the sales professionals. As you’re listening, what do you not want to be doing that you can hand off to someone that’s a better use of your time and energy?
I’m reminded of a Sales Game Changers podcast episode we did with a guy named Mark Silverman who was a seven-figure sales professional, and he paid someone to do his expense reports. You would think, well, you’re a salesperson, Sunday night, you do your expense reports. He said he hired somebody. He actually paid his admin to do that extra work on weekends. He said he was a $500 an hour professional and he paid her $50 or whatever it might have been because it wasn’t the best use. Give us an example if you don’t mind, you told us a story about how you got started, but give us a story of something you’ve done with a customer that’s been successful. Tell us one of your success stories.
Mostafa Hosseini: Absolutely. We were just working with a customer who does IT and technology for our customers. Now, they had a list of about 7,000 people but there was a portion of their list of only 400 people that were existing or past customers and they were more qualified to work with. They’ve almost never been in touch with these people other than emailing them once a week about a new offer, click here to buy this new thing from my friend now. Within a month, we did a reactivation campaign calling them up and can I share a script here?
Fred Diamond: Yeah, please.
Mostafa Hosseini: You would call them up and say, “Hey, Fred, Mostafa here, did I catch you at a bad time?” They may say no, they may say yes, but usually it’s not a terrible time. I learned this from Chris Voss, the FBI negotiator. You want to ask no-oriented questions. Instead of asking, is this a good time and get them to say, yes, you want to say, is this a bad time? They’re like, “No, it’s not a bad time.”
Then we say, “Look, the reason I’m calling is I just wanted to say hi and I know that I have not been in touch for a year or two. But I just heard this guy on a podcast or I just read a book and I understood that I’ve done a terrible job at this, so I just wanted to call and say hi and touch base.” A very friendly conversation. “How are you? How are things? How is business?”
Then we just take the conversation from there. What’s going on with your business and life? Is there any challenges that you’re working on? If they’re qualified to have a conversation, then we offer to book an appointment. With this customer, out of 400 people, we booked 18 appointments in one month and that’s money left on the table. If they didn’t call, if we didn’t pick up the phone, we probably wouldn’t have gotten 18 appointments within a month. Then they take it and that’s what we do, that’s what we focus on.
Fred Diamond: That’s an interesting thing. I think most people with the phone, it’s not that they don’t want to be salesy, it’s they’re afraid that people are going to reject them. If you’re not going to talk to somebody, what’s the worst thing? This is like, again, we’re getting to a lot of basic type stuff here that people just need to overcome.
I’ve met some great people who are very confident on the phone, obviously, your people are comfortable because you know, what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? They’re going to say, no one’s going to yell at you and scream and curse you if you’re an existing customer or even a past customer or something. Why would they do that? They’re not going to.
Mostafa Hosseini: People say, “Oh, I don’t want to be salesy,” and my response is then don’t be salesy. Just call them up and have a human conversation with them.
Fred Diamond: It’s interesting, one thing we talked a lot about over the last two years is, should you be calling people to say how are you? If you’re calling someone who doesn’t know you, and if you’re calling someone who’s totally random like a “prospect”, I’m not going to engage in a conversation with you, person who reached out to me via LinkedIn who I don’t know, to tell you who I am. You don’t know what’s going on my life. I don’t really want to share but you know what? If one of my customers wants to talk about how we’re dealing for a little bit, I’ll talk to you for an hour.
I live in Virginia, but I drive to Philadelphia where my family is every once in a while and it’s about a four hour drive up 95, so I like to schedule phone calls during that time. I called a customer who I hadn’t spoken to in a year. We’ve communicated via email and whatever, and I scheduled a call with him as I was driving and we got on the phone. He talked for the entire hour, Mostafa. He talked for the entire hour. You know what that was for me? That was a home run.
People like to talk about what’s going on. Then of course we had appropriate response to things we’re going to be doing and he talked for an hour, man. It’s like the old notion that people like to come up with their own a-has. They don’t like to be told, they like to discover things. Today we talk to Mostafa Hosseini with Persyo. Why don’t we do this? I know you have an offer that you’d like to give, and then after you do that, I’ll ask you for your final action step.
Mostafa Hosseini: I’d like to offer the blueprint to Simple Retention Formula. As you know, keeping your customers is about 6 to 10 times cheaper and less expensive than getting a new customer. I’m sharing the step-by-step blueprint to a Simple Retention Formula to get that you can go to persyo.com/vq. The link is probably going to be in the descriptions of the show. People that get this will also get a copy of my upcoming book, Simple Retention Formula.
Fred Diamond: Thank you for doing that. Hey, before I ask you for your final action step, I just want to acknowledge you for the great work that you do. You’re a very generous guy. You help a lot of people out. You handle a tough problem with your company that people are struggling with. We talked about this over the last half hour, people just don’t like to do this. They don’t like to pick up the phone, etc.
I just want to applaud you for your success and for everything that you have done with so many companies around the globe. So good for you for making that easier and for helping companies be in a position to serve their customers. We will put the link in the show notes and up on LinkedIn as well. I want to thank you. Before we wrap up as we do for every show, you’ve given us 15, 20 brilliant ideas, give us one more specific action step, Mostafa, something that people should do right now to take their sales career to the next level.
Mostafa Hosseini: Honestly, use this script that I shared earlier. Pick up a few phone numbers from your existing list of prospects or customers and have a very friendly conversation with them. Work on listening to them, ask probing questions. What’s going on? What’s the biggest challenge? Is this a pressing challenge? Is this something you should address right away? And then see where they’re at and see what transpires from them. Always, always, always ask for a referral even if they’re not qualified. You never know, they may introduce you to someone that is qualified. That’s my simple tip that I’m going to leave you with.
Fred Diamond: That’s fantastic. Actually, a lot of people who listen to the Sales Game Changers podcast, they’re calling on big accounts, big companies, big government agencies. Even ask for referrals within your company, or within a customer’s company. Who else might be in another division or another sub agency that we might want to talk to?
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo