784: The Art of No Deal w/ Josh Walsh

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Josh Walsh, CEO of The Refinery.

He shares how putting your clients needs above your own leads to more business--not less.

He shares a personal story about when his company had a scary dip in sales and needed new sales fast,.

By creating value without an immediate requirement of reciprocity, they climbed out of our scary situation quickly.

Check out Josh's blog post on this topic, as well:

http://www.joshwalsh.com/sales-marketing/the-art-of-no-deal

Want help developing your plan to become an influencer & thought leader?

Check out IMPACT SUMMIT on Oct. 13th in Salt Lake City.

B2B Growth listeners can get 15% OFF with the promo code: SWEETFISH.

Click here to connect with this guest on LinkedIn.

Wouldn't it be nice to have several thought leaders in your industry know and Love Your brand? Start a podcast, invite your industries thought leaders to be guests on your show and start reaping the benefits of having a network full of industry influencers? Learn more at sweet phish MEDIACOM. You're listening to be tob growth, a daily podcast for B TOB leaders. We've interviewed names you've probably heard before, like Gary Vander truck and Simon Senek, but you've probably never heard from the majority of our guests. That's because the bulk of our interviews aren't with professional speakers and authors. Most of our guests are in the trenches leading sales and marketing teams. They're implementing strategy, they're experimenting with tactics, they're building the fastest growing BTB companies in the world. My name is James Carberry. I'm the founder of sweet fish media, a podcast agency for BB brands, and I'm also one of the cohosts of this show. When we're not interviewing sales and marketing leaders, you'll hear stories from behind the scenes of our own business. Will share the ups and downs of our journey as we attempt to take over the world. Just getting well? Maybe let's get into the show. Welcome back to the BDB growth show. We're here today with Josh Walsh. He is the CEO at the refinery. Josh, how you do it day, man? Doing Great, man. Hey, I am really excited to have you on the show. Thanks for making some time. We've been meaning to do this for a while and you and I have known each other for some time. So I'm really excited to share your unique thoughts on the sales experience and what you call the art of no deal with our audience today. But before we do that, you know, you and I have gotten to know each other a bit over the last year or so. But for our audience, I'd love for you to give them an introduction to yourself and let them know what you and the team at the refinery or up to these days, giving a little bit of context for this conversation. Yeah,...

...sure, I started the refinery seventeen years ago. WE'RE BASED IN CLEVELAND, Ohio. We're a software development company, but we kind of masquerade as a digital agency of sorts. We do a lot of custom software development for marketing departments at large national brand companies, including building websites and other custom software there internally helps run those companies nice and I know that you guys do it do a very good job of it. I've known some people on your team for a while so know that you guys have have a really great team and know that you guys have a very good approach to sales and delivering value to your customers. And I think you know this concept of value delivery we're going to unpack a little bit in the context of this conversation, but I know you know in laying out this approach to sales that you wanted to talk about, I think you know one of your guiding principles personally really led you to thinking through this topic. So I'd love for you to share with the audience a little bit on that as kind of groundwork or laying the foundation for this conversation little bit. Sure. So, like I think a lot of people, for many years we really struggled getting our business off the ground and running smoothly, and that actually manifested itself in my personal life too, because what I was doing was looking out for myself, often at the expense of others, and I had kind of in a deep troubling time in my life, had a discovery of this idea of oneness, that idea that everybody in the world is interconnected and interdependent, basically saying that what we think and what we do is individuals affects everyone near and far, whether that's directly or indirectly. In the case that you don't think about oneness or ones is absent from your thoughts. We always think about what's in it for me and trying to figure outw to satisfy our own personal agenda, and that, in my experience, comes at the cost of society and our own moral judgments. That brings us to...

...be, you know, selfish and self centered. That nurtures fear, greed, anxiety, anger, insecurity, manipulation, dishonesty, and it takes a huge number of resources, both of your own and but also society around you, to try and keep you honest and monitor people. In fact, if you look at our our nation now, we have tens of thousands of different laws that exist and we spend tractions of dollars every year trying to manage the consequences of this breaking of this kind of mentality. So this idea that we're all in it together, that we should. If I want to make my world better, I need to do so by serving the people around me and to do so unconditionally. was really the turning point in my career and actually a huge uplift in my own life as well, and I can share a little bit with you about how that is transpired into our sales organization. You know, thinking about, you know, typical sales. You know, I think we all fight the their urge to focus on, you know, what's in it for me? What's the commission check? What's the revenue? What's the bottom line for my company? Because, you know, we're in business to make a living and to provide for ourselves and provide for our families, but at the same time, you know, we need to be serving the people that that are in our customer base, that are in our audience and the people that were interacting with. So it's also a little bit about how you guys have tried to apply this idea of thinking about your customers first, putting yourself second in a service based organization, you know, like the refinery. Yeah, so when you think about how to grow or scale companies, you know it's stable, consistent revenue is the key and as salespeople, when we work for our organization, that's kind of what they expect of us, right, it's to go out and find the deals that make the bring the revenue in and make it stable. Right. As a result, right,...

...we put a lot of pressure on those people, including ourselves, to deliver that and that makes us, you know, kind of get fearful or stressed out if we don't deliver. Puts a lot of pressure on us. So that causes us to fight constantly. So this idea of oneness, the idea that we should be selfless, not selfish, is totally the opposite of that mentality. So working to be in service of others and then using that as an opportunity to drive revenue for your for Your Business, I think is a better approach. And so if we think about a couple just kind of fundamental ways that sales work, right, prospects by when they perceive value for themselves. You know, if you pick up the phone and call and say, Hey, we do me a favor and by my product, they're like what for? What does it say? Rights value? It's going to be right, right, right. So if we pick up the phone and what we're trying to do is drive our own commission checks up and we're making calls, trying to just ask people to buy right, and this is I'm exaggerating here a little bit for effect, but our customers can smell that coming right. Yeah, yeah, that's that lager. Yeah. And so there's this idea of the deal. Well, I call this the art of no deal, not to be a political statement but as a little tongue in cheek joke. But but the deal. Right, there's an idea that there's this exchange that if you give me your money, I will give you my service, which is kind of fundamentally rooted in the way sales work. I think, I think is actually a little bit wrong, because this idea of oneness is about serving other people unconditionally. You can't be perceived as value when you can't be perceived or smell funny showing up of yourself serving agenda, when you're adding value and not asking for anything in return, right, when you're just giving of yourself. So my experience is that that when you when you show up an add value without them asking for it, it grabs their attention and opens the door for more conversation some extent. Yeah, yeah, it does. So tell me a little bit about where you where you feel like, you know, this typical sales model of conditional value really kind of has a negative effect on both parties and really doesn't drive sales and doesn't add value to either party.

Where it's, you know, it's very transactional, it's very conditional and and how do we, how do we move from that to a situation where we're creating value, you know, before there's a transaction? Yeah, so I have to speak about this a little bit from my perspective, of course, which is that of an agency owner. Right. So I my experiences in the service business and our industry is kind of notorious for having a lot of rotation between vendors and client its, meaning if you're if you're an agency, you're kind of always stressed out about planning. Where's my next project going to come from? My finish this one for the client and now I get to find the next one, and ebbs and flows severely. And it's actually true for our clients as well, who are like excited to do this project with their new agency and then by the end of the project that I okay, maybe not as excited to work with them again, as I was originally, or another agency called and sweeten the pot a little bit and Ugo over and work with those guys instead. And so there's this constant ebb and flow on both sides, which is tremendously wasteful, both of them looking up for what's in their own best interest as opposed to looking at what's the value that they can deliver together, and that just waste a tremendous amount of time and energy throughout the process. If you were to realign both sides of that to say here's what we're trying to deliver for the customer and here's truly what the highest value is to the customer, then you'll always be more valuable than your competitors and you'll have no reason to spend the time the even flow. Your customer will stay with you forever, which inevitably is more valuable in in both scenarios. Right, if you're, you know, reducing your turn as an agency and you know customers are able to stay with a vendor for longer and deepen that relationship, and now you know they have a relationship with the vendor that really knows them intimately in a way that you know they can predict their needs. They know you know things about their business than a new vendor doesn't you know? It leads to this continuous value delivery on both sides. Tell us a little bit about where you see this kind of eventually going in,...

...you know, not just delivering value early, but it being able to create value on both sides that continues on and what you guys have seen in your business, Josh. Yeah, I mean I think you said it really well right, when you go from project to project and you switch clients all the time, you never get the opportunity to really truly understand that business in a way that you can bring your talents to other other places and other ideas. And so by spending time in those business with them, talking through their projects and being perpetually involved with them for years, you find all kinds of new opportunities and through that relationship that you may have otherwise. Yeah, so the value there, right, is on both sides. The the client will learn to depend and trust more because you have more context than just about anybody else. You actually be harder to replace because people don't when you add value, people don't want you to go away and the relationship and the context that you gain from being a part of that customer for so long means that you become right, you become harder to replace, you get to keep a longer contract with them that way. Today's gross story revolves around search engine marketing. DELPHIC's, a big data platform, had hired an agency to manage their Google adds a few years ago, but they weren't seeing the results they wanted to see. Being such a technical be tob solution, they set out to find a team that could take on their challenge. After countless proposals, they found the perfect fit directive consulting, the B Tob Search Marketing Agency. And just one week after launching directives campaigns, delphics saw their lead volume double and their costper lead drop by sixty percent. I have a hunch that directive can get these kind of results for you too, so head over to directive consultingcom and request a totally free custom proposal. That's directive consultingcom. All right, let's get back to this interview. I think these are these are all really great concepts,...

...and especially in a service based business, you know, like yours in an agency, and we definitely you know, our big believers in where can you deliver value? First, to build a relationship, because you know people oftentimes make the decision to buy based on a relationship that they have and and if all you're doing is trying to withdraw from that emotional bank account or that physical bank account, then that makes for a very onesided affair. So just tell me a little bit more. Let's get let's get kind of tactical. You mentioned, you know, a story in your business where you guys were having a dip in sales and you know you tried to really more implement this removing the condition and leading with value creation. Tell us a little bit about how you guys did that and ways you know people on our audience could could seek to do that early and often in their sales processes. Sure. So, one of my hardest challenges leading this company is that this idea of oneness is not intuitive to most people. I think it I think it makes sense and people understand it when you get it to them, but they have a lot of bad habits. So we had a couple years ago, a few years ago, three or four years ago, we had a big summit where we brought the team together and we started talking about our core principle as a company. Right, took this one idea of oneness and I broke it down into fifteen kind of operating principles that the company uses to make decisions and govern things, so that, even if they don't truly internalize and understand this idea of oneness, they can follow those principles and operate. And right after that we did that kind of summit with the team. We had a really big sales problem. So we had for customers who are all in the same industry, in the same market, I'll get acquired at the same time and I'll cancel their contracts at the same time, and so we hundreds of thousands of dollars just disappear overnight and it was it was pretty scary and it was pretty stressful and in that moment I fell off the wagon right. I immediately was like, Oh my God, I got to make payroll right, we gotta...

...figure way to get some revenue moving, we got to stabilize the stuff, I'm racking up, debt, Cetera, and I became self serving in my service. Rival instinct kicked in, if you will, naturally. So I started doing all the things that I was just sharing, that is, toxic and arms companies. I started calling my partners around town and saying, Hey, look, we just had the situation happened to us. We're lean right now. Is there anything you can do to kind of help us get through this time? Can you make it busy? Can you help us with a project or two? Here are there? And I made dozens of calls around town. It was having basically no success with it and just getting myself more and more stressed out and more and more afraid. And that was when my assistant at the time, Amanda, looked at me and said, you hypocrite. You just a couple days ago set down with us and told us that this is exactly what you shouldn't be doing. Why don't you go try leading with value? So I went around town and I picked a couple companies that I thought were the most valuable and I said, okay, I'm just going to go be valuable to them. They don't have to ask my permission to be valuable. Values immutable. If I give it to them, they're going to feel the value. Maybe that will get some conversation started. So I just started going out finding places where our team could help. We had the open cycles anyway, and we just added the highest value of those companies as we could. And when we had questions, your comments, we reached out to people in that company at we we asked them he struggling with this thing on this project we're doing with you. Can you help me? And all of a sudden we were there being valuable and people wanted more of us and we're like hey, you know, so you guys know, like we don't have any relationship here. This is not sustainable for us, but it looks like it's valuable to you. Why don't we have a conversation about how to make it sustainable? And all of a sudden we had these people, you know, knocking on our door asking for us to come and do work for them. And I realize that right again. I had the same realization several times in my life. This is a key one again. Don't serve your own self agenda. Go serve other people and the resources to add that value will always be available to you. So just were you? Were you going to you know, these accountcies organizations and you know, maybe you had an...

...idea of where you could offer some ideas, some suggestions just some unsolicited advice that you knew would be someone on target and just just offering up that advice to begin the relationship and add some value, right. So that's the easiest way, right, would be to do something like create, let's talk again, in my industry, I can create a report that shows how people are performing in search engines and other things like that and give them some insights on how to make things better. That's the easiest way for you to kind of do that, but it still requires you to open the door have a conversation with somebody, right, and so there's still a little bit of that kind of kicking in the door to get the conversation happening. So that absolutely works and works well. But I find it even more valuable if you can find a way to actually go do the work. Now I don't mean do a long term project without being compensated for it, like speckwork. That would be that wouldn't be healthy either, but I mean if you can find a way to actually demonstrate that the value is created, as opposed to saying again, if you following instructions in my report and pay me, I can make this work for you. I find that it's just it's you can't ignore it. If the companies do, they're ignoring the value that could be valuable to their their company, and they generally don't do that. So, yeah, I mean it's this is the this is the one pushback I always get. What I try to share this idea with people is that what you're going to lead and you're going to do the work without being paid for it. Like, how does that work? Like why would people ever respect you as a professional service parts and if you don't charge your work? And I think that's a little bit misunderstanding of where things are coming from. The idea of one this means we have to has to be a win win situation, right. So if, if I is their vendor, cannot afford to continue adding the value to them, we both lose. They will not get the value and I'll go out of business. Likewise, if my if my client, doesn't value the work that we do or goes a different direction, than we both lose also, right, it has to be a continuous pursuit from both sides of the highest value both sides in order to win. So this idea of what you're in to do it for free and give it to them is not really...

...true either. What I'm asking for them to do is to come to the table and make it sustainable for us to continue to add that value. What we found, kind of by accident actually, from that is what we ended up doing was creating partnerships with our customers. Instead of her project fees are for project engagements with them. We ended up creating these long term partnerships where we were always trying to look at the value and see what was best, because then there's always an rwive, there's always a return and you start to build that trust and love term relationship. So the conversation switches from I'll give you my service if you give me these dollars to here's how we go together and make us sustainable for both, for both. Yeah, yeah, I love how you brought up full circle there to the point that you were making earlier, Josh, and you know, how do you make it a win win? And it's, you know, value delivery to both sides. It's that's long term and and gets deeper and gets more valuable as that relationship continues on. You know, we're big believers in you know, like I said before, that relationships really are are at the core of what we're doing and how we build value within, you know, our own community and our customer base. So I think this is a phenomenal topic. I feel like we could, we could go on and on and get deeper and deeper on this all day long. If anybody listening to this would like to ask the follow up questions on how you guys kind of made that turn in your business or just follow what you and the team at the refinery or up to or just stay connected with you, what's the best way for them to go about doing that, man, yeah, so the the best way to do that would be to follow me on twitter and like. My handle on both is just my name, Josh Walsh. You can also email me. My email is Josh at Josh walshcom. Awesome. Well, Josh, it's been a great conversation. Man, thanks for coming on and a share in your story here. We really appreciate it. This is really fun, man. Thank you for having me. Becoming a thought leader doesn't just happen. If you want to build a strong personal brand and extend your reach online and offline, you...

...need a plan. Want help developing yours. CHECK OUT IMPACT Summit. This one day event is bringing together best selling authors, professional athletes, influential CEOS and emerging entrepreneurs, all for one purpose, to equip you to lead, influence and inspire. Whether you're looking to build a lasting legacy with your business or extend the reach of your brand. Impact Summit speakers will share inspiring stories and practical lessons to help you on your way. Did we mention a session on launching and growing a podcast? You guessed it. You'll hear from sweet fish media's own James carberry during that session. You won't want to miss all of these influencers and leaders coming together in Salt Lake City on October thirteen. Ready to learn more? Check out influencer ink dot CEO. IMPACT SUMMIT BE TOB growth listeners can get fifteen percent off the price of their tickets for this event by using the Promo Code Sweet Fish. Sweet Fish. So use that code, get your tickets today and get ready to grow your brand and your influence at impact summit. Two Thousand and Eighteen.

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