Steps in the Sales Process

Episode 79: Steps in the Sales Process, with Karl Sakas

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Steps in the sales process? Elevate your sales journey and ensure success with our guide on steps in the sales process.

Steps in the sales process — I am over the moon excited to welcome our special guest expert, Karl Sakas, on this episode of Sell With Authority. Karl is the author of three books, including Work Less, Earn More, and more than 400 articles on agency management. Karl shares how he has helped agencies work less and make more.

Aren’t we all looking for strategies, tactics, tips, tricks, the things that we can put into motion to work less and make more?

For today’s conversation, Karl and I are leaning into some work he’s done alongside agencies. Specifically, a very simple — which does not mean simplistic — three-step process he uses to create big wins for agencies.

If you take and apply the wisdom and insights for steps in the sales process that Karl shares with us, you will close out your Q4 stronger than ever before. And you’ll be well-prepared to make 2024 a roaring success.


What you will learn in this episode are the steps in the sales process:

  • Why Karl is the go-to resource for agency owners, coaches, and consultants
  • The three-step process Karl uses to create big wins for agencies
  • Why niche is the very first step in Karl’s process
  • Steps in the sales process and the value of honing your approach to make it more understandable and profitable
  • How to delegate for not just efficiency but also team growth


Additional Resources:


Steps in the Sales Process: Full Episode Transcript


Welcome to the Sell with Authority podcast. I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI. And my team and I, we created this podcast specifically for you. So if you’re an agency owner or a strategic consultant, and you’re looking to fill your sales pipeline with a steady stream of right fit prospects, you know, to get the at-bats that you need in order to build and scale, well, then you’re in the right place. Do you want proven strategies for becoming the known expert in your niche and attracting all the clients you need? Yep. We’re gonna cover that. You wanna learn how to step away from the sea of sameness so you actually stand out from your competitors and own the ground you’re standing on. Yep. We’re gonna cover that too. Do you want to future-proof your business so you can successfully navigate the next challenge that you know is going to come your way?


Well, absolutely. We will help you there as well. I promise you each episode of this podcast will contain valuable insights, tangible examples, and best practices, never theory, from thought leaders, experts, and owners who have done exactly what you’re working hard to do. So, I want you to think practical and tactical. Never any fluff. Each of our guests has built a position of authority and then, yes, monetized that position by growing their audience, nurturing leads, and, yes, converting sales. But all the while, they did it by being helpful. So every time someone from their audience turned around there, they were with a helpful answer to an important question. So their RightFit prospects never ever felt like they were a prospect. And I also promise you that every strategy that we discuss every tool we recommend will be shared in full transparency in each episode. So you can become a known expert in your niche.


Learn more about the steps in the sales process by tuning in to this podcast: Sales proposals, scope creep, SOPs, and client account growth: Agency Q&A with Karl Sakas


Steps in the Sales Process: Karl’s Introduction


You can fill your sales pipeline with a steady stream of RightFit clients who are never, ever made to feel like one of your prospects. Okay, so I am beyond excited, super excited, over the moon, excited, all the different ways to be excited for you to meet our very special guest expert today, Karl Sakas. If you’re meeting Karl for the first time, he’s the author of three books, including Work Less, Earn More, which is such a great title, by the way, and more than 400 articles on agency management. And he works alongside agency owners just like you and me to help them work less and earn more. So, here’s how I think it would be helpful to think about Karl in all of his experiences with respect to agencies. Do you ever wish that you could be like this fly on the wall at another agency so you wouldn’t have to keep reinventing the wheel when you’re looking to grow your shop?


Well, I would like it if somebody were to ask me if I would absolutely, without a doubt, raise my hand in a workshop or a seminar or something like that. Okay, so why, similar to Karl’s book title, aren’t we all looking for strategies, tactics, tips, tricks, the things that we can do, the things that we can put into motion in order to work less and make more? So, for today’s conversation, I asked Karl for his permission to lean into some specific work that he’s done working alongside in an agency, and then specifically really leaning into a very simple, that does not mean simplistic, a very simple three-step process that he used to help them create big wins for the agency. So first, the three steps, we’re gonna break them down, and then I promise I’m gonna bring Karl onto the virtual stage here in just a second.


So here are the three steps. First niche, yay for that. You know, we’re big fans of the niche, the second honing, and then the third delegating. So if you’ve been listening to the show for a while now, or if you have a copy of our book, the Authority book that I co-authored alongside Drew McLellan, CEO of Agency Management Institute, you know that my predictive team and I, we are big fans of the niche. So when I saw that niche was part of Karl’s process, I thought, that’s rock solid, awesome, because this is an opportunity to learn even more about a step that we know already works really, really well. So I was also intrigued when I learned that step two in Karl’s recipe was hone because, in my opinion, when we, as owners, hit a rough patch in the business, there’s always a rough patch in the business, or things are not going the way that we hoped or expected or dreamt or visualized, whatever.


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: Simplify to Amplify


Steps in the sales process? It is super tempting to take an immediate 180-degree turn and do something completely different. Sometimes we make radical adjustments in our service offering, our delivering our pricing, all of those things. Now, sometimes those radical adjustments might indeed be necessary, but honing what you’re doing, making it more simple, making it easier for your prospects to understand and candidly say yes to you, making it easier and more profitable for your team to deliver easier, because it’s simple and simple because you honed it to perfection. So, I don’t know about you, but honing it, honing is something my team and I rarely look at doing, but we just learned a very valuable lesson about how important it is. And I’ll illustrate this by taking you behind the curtain here at Predictive. We recently came back from our agency owner peer group that we’ve been a part of for over eight years.


So our fellow owners know Eric Jensen, my business partner, and me and our predictive team really, really well. And as we mapped out our growth plans and shared the details, things we’re so excited about that we had worked really hard to develop. There was a lot of head scratching around the room, and the consensus was, um, guys, great goals, but holy bananas, you have, that’s my word, not the group’s word, but holy bananas, you have over-engineered it yet again, and it’s too complicated. In a handful of minutes, our plans, strategies, or tactics have been looked at as too complicated, too difficult to understand, and too systematized. Now, when you work like crazy to develop something new, and you get that feedback, it’s a tough pill to swallow, and it would’ve been really easy to get defensive or argue. Instead, we leaned in, ran toward, and embraced the feedback because they could see something that we couldn’t see.


Steps in the sales process? Just like Karl, he sees things that the other agents or the agency owners with whom he works can’t see. So we quickly went back to the drawing board, and we simplified it. In short, we honed, and it, sorry, it’s already paid dividends. So perhaps a bit selfishly, I’m looking forward to learning from Karl’s expertise around honing because there will be no doubt golden nuggets and what Karl shares that my team and I are gonna quickly take and apply straight away after this interview. And then lastly, when you delegate to your team, it’s not just about delegating to get more done and less time, because with every task that you delegate, you also teach, you also coach, you also help your team grow in that process. So instead of thinking of delegating as a way to get more things done in less time, think of it as a way to help invest in and grow the capability of your teammates. And Karl, absolutely, without a doubt, has insights and wisdom to share with you there too. So I promise you, if you take and apply the wisdom and insights Karl shares with you during this interview, you’ll close out your Q4 stronger, and you’ll be in a solid position to roar into 2024. So, without further ado, welcome to the Sell with Authority podcast, Karl.


Stephen, great to be here and looking forward to helping people.


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: Mastering Agency Growth


Well, I’m so delighted that you said yes. Um, and I’m excited about this conversation. So, before we dive in, um, if you take just a, a couple of minutes and take us behind the curtain and share more about your path and journey, some additional context there about your path and journey, and then we’ll dive in, which with what I’m sure is gonna feel like a bra of questions.


As an agency advisor, I help agency owners, as you said, work less and earn more, but that also happens while growing their team members, helping them grow professionally, because as an owner, you aren’t going to work less, earn more without your team helping out. I come to this from an agency operations background, an agency project manager, director of client services, and director of operations before my work as now as an agency advisor. And even before that, I was an equity research analyst and was a freelance web designer back in the days of dial-up. Hmm. So, I’ve been in digital marketing for a long time. And so I’ve put that all together to create what’s now SKUs and a company helping agency owners all over the world.


Amazing. I can see how, in some of the things we’re going to be talking about, niche, hone, delegate, all of this experience comes to bear in those situations and conversations that you have with agency owners and their teams. So, let’s just dive into the deep end of the pool with respect to niche. Um, and so when we think about the three-step process.




Niche, own delegate, why did, not only why did you include niche, but why did you make it first?


If you aren’t clear on the clients you serve, everything else is a lot harder. Mm.


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: The Power of Niche in Agency Growth


Steps in the sales process? In my work, for instance, I only work with agencies. They tend to be digitally oriented agencies. They’re independently owned. So, the owners are typically under a hundred people involved in operating the agency. That makes it easy from a screening perspective. If someone reaches out and they’re not a match, I can point them elsewhere rather than potentially wasting their time and mind evaluating something that isn’t a fit. Hmm. A reminder about this recently when I got an intro from one of my newsletter subscribers to a potential conference that wasn’t quite an exact fit, but I could help. So I took the call and spoke with a conference organizer, and it was a very different conversation with the more general conference versus an agency-specific conference.




It was like, well, okay, kind of how, how does this fit? How does that fit? I saw a version of that as an employee at a previous agency where, uh, we’d gotten an intro to a law firm. Okay. And the law firm said, uh, well, okay, yeah. Doing a website: how many law firm websites have you done before? And our salesperson was tap dancing. We had not done a firm website before, but he was like, well, we did work with this regional bank. We did work with this professional services firm. But I can imagine the law firm marketing director, who’s a pretty sophisticated marketer, he had been through quite a few launches at that point, was thinking, okay, great, but, you know, experts on this versus, you know, I’ve worked with clients that only work with law firms in legal marketing, or even more niched than that.


It’s a lot easier when you get your niche down, and related to that; your sales process is easier, your marketing is easier, and your delivery is easier. Um, referrals are easier because they know other people in there in their industry. You know, nothing makes a lot of sense. You don’t have to do it. But as someone said, uh, they were a potential client of mine, you know, they’re like, oh, are you gonna say that we have to focus on a specialization? And I said, you, you don’t have to. But as I think about my clients who specialize, they tend to be less stressed and more profitable


Work, work less, and make more, perhaps.


I, you know, there we go.


But all joking aside, I find it interesting when an agency or consultancy hasn’t niched.




Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: Finding Your Niche


And so if you wanna say they’re broad or they’re a generalist or whatever, and then they hear the niche topic one, you can see sort of like, uh, the friction start to build in the conversation. For example, defense mechanisms have started to go up. And then, and then oftentimes, uh, one of the first questions is, yeah, but I don’t want to get too niched. I like to go from generalist to where you’ll take anything. And then being too niche. I don’t even know if too niche is even possible. And I would love to get your perspective on this, but it’s like, to go from a to like Z one takes a really long time. It’s not like it; you make the decision on Friday, and you fire, fire all your clients on Monday. So, help us better understand the two pieces of that: can you get too niched? And then, in your experience, how much time should you allow for going more narrow? ’cause it’s not instantaneous.


Agreed. It is not instant. The odds are that most agencies that I work with have some glimmer of their future niche.




What are the steps in the sales process? It could be an industry that they’ve worked with, could be something adjacent to what they’ve worked with. That’s especially helpful because then you have a track record for helping clients in that, uh, for instance, a client that focused on professional services, so like accounting and things related to that. Um, I did some work with them to dig in on who your best clients are today. They found that they listed their top five clients, a mix of high revenue and clients they enjoyed working with and who would refer to other work and things like that. And interestingly, not a single one was in professional services. They had actually stumbled into a new niche, which in their case was around economic development events and geographic tourism. And so they ended up launching that as a new pillar within the agency. But they had sort of stumbled into it, but it was an industry they already liked and had a track record in that makes things a lot easier.


And now you have asked, can you get too niched? I talked to an agency owner who mentioned that he was really, really into grilling, like cooking outdoors and outdoor spaces and, and things like that. And, he had looked at focusing on that as a niche. And he found, unfortunately, that was too narrow of a niche. There weren’t enough clients that were manufacturing grills, outdoor furniture, and things like that to be sustainable. Um, I discovered that myself earlier in my career before launching Kus and Company; I’d had a previous business a while back doing marketing consulting for train-related clients, specifically tourist railroads. What I found was that it was a bit too narrow of a niche. There were only about 200 potential clients in the US, and a lot of them either focused on having full-time people do the work rather than hiring an outside advisor or they had volunteers. And it was like, well, a volunteer could do it for free. You could hire you. Well, let’s try the free option first. In contrast with my work with agencies, there are something like 40,000 agencies in the US and many more, uh, beyond, you know, I’ve worked with clients in 36 countries at this point. Hmm. You can get too niche, but that’s not usually an issue for most agencies.


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: The Power of Honing


I was preparing for our conversation; I saw something in your bio that made me smile. Uh, when you talked about that you’ve worked with agencies on every inhabited content, I’m like, aha. He’s yet to land the client in Antarctica.


But when the penguins need an agency advisor, I will be ready to help. 


So that made me smile when I, when I saw that, I was like, oh, I, I really, really like that. So, let’s take step one in the process niche. Uh, you certainly made a great case for why that’s important. Just makes everything else downstream run smoother and, um, in biz dev and, and, and all of that. So, let’s talk about the honing piece. And obviously, I shared potentially, well, I, I shared somewhat of a painful example for predictive. But then we quickly to that into like, whoa, now wait a minute. We’re gonna lean into that because that’s really great feedback. So why did you put hone in the process, and why did you put it in the middle as opposed to making it first or third?


And, and, you know, notably, we’re talking about an example that I shared in a client case study of niche, hone, delegate, hone is important because before you automate or try to scale any kind of a system or a process or your agency in general, you wanna get the basics down. Hmm. The thing is about refining things, refining the process, refining your messaging around your positioning or otherwise because, for instance, you could automate something, but if it’s a bad process or a bad idea, well, you’re just doing it faster. And that’s not a good thing. Mm-Hmm.


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: Mastering Agency Outreach


Why do steps in the sales process really matter? It could take various, various, various angles that could include what messaging you have and, uh, what particular process related to working with your clients. Or it could be onboarding new clients or finding new clients, things like that. Uh, for instance, you know, a lot of agencies right now are asking about whether to do cold outreach, okay. Where they on inbound marketing for a long time. And that may have slowed amidst, you know, kind of current economic situation. And should they do cold outreach? Cold outreach does not typically have a strong return on investment. And sometimes people are jumping to, well, okay, could we just automate it? I’m doing some work research right now with the data box about how top-performing agencies market themselves. You know, we’ve shoemakers’ kids’ problem, but we know that some agencies are really good at marketing themselves. What are their secrets?


One of the things we’ve found so far, and this report has not come out yet, we’re finalizing the details. When we asked about different activities, things like referrals and word of mouth, people reported having the strongest return on investment, which makes sense. And some agencies reported a negative ROI for cold outreach. So, if you’re at the point where you need to do cold outreach, you especially want to get it right. And so before you find some ways to automate it, well, send manual messages, ideally to people that you already know rather than totally cold Mm-hmm. kind of thing. But you wanna get that process down rather than trying to automate something that, you know, you, you wanna figure out what resonates. Um, and, ideally, offering value. You know, I know you, one of your key themes is talking about helping people. You know, if you’re gonna send a cold or a semi-cold email, you’ve got to deliver value. It’s not, here we are, hire us. It’s no. How can you help them? What is some sort of, uh, whether it’s a lead magnet or something else that they get value from, whether they hire you or not Yeah.


They may not hire you now; they may not need help right now that you talk about, you know, bant, budget, authority, need, and timing. They may not have all four of those right now, but if you leave a positive impression and you give them something that is useful to them, they’re gonna remember that. And, so the key here is to figure out what the offer, or I mean, the creative view, is in the list before you try to expand it. So hone it first to figure out what works. And the same is true for your client processes and so on.


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: The Power of Value and Specialization


This is so great. A couple of things too, well, there’s a lot of things to slice apart in there, but, uh, going back to the negative ROI piece, I, I love how you just highlighted that in the, here we are, hire us, uh, which is so poor for like cold outreach. Um, and, and you were just mentioning the help, the helping piece in the instances where you’ve seen positive ROI, and, and maybe you haven’t, uh, because I know that that is really tough with cold outreach. What were they doing differently? Were they leading with the value? Did they have a great, uh, thought leadership program? Were they marketing themselves well, so even though it was technically cold, it didn’t feel like cold for the recipient, maybe per, uh, so let, if, if we can slice that apart a little bit more if you happen to have any additional data points on that piece,


Looking broadly, delivering value. Yeah. The other piece to consider is whether the agency is a specialist from the recipient’s perspective.


Now, and, uh, a generalist agency is not gonna do well on cold outreach. Okay? And by the way, in an ideal world, you never do cold outreach. The assumption is your brand is strong enough and you’re doing, you know, relevant thought leadership marketing and things like that. You won’t have to. But right now, things have slowed down. So I, you know, I see agencies doing that, and they’re certainly asking about it. The more specialized you are, the easier it is. Mm-Hmm.


If you only do work for a particular industry, for instance, you only do marketing for manufacturing firms, or you could be even more niche than that. You know, a cold email from you is going to resonate a lot more than a generalist agency saying, oh yeah, we could, we could help with manufacturing, I guess, and, and this and that and so on. Clients wanna work with agencies that are as committed to the client’s industry as the client is themselves.


Okay. Huge point. In your opinion, why is that so important?


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: The Power of Understanding Client Niches


If a client has worked in their industry for five years, 10 years, 20 years, or 30 years, they’re committed to that industry, and they wanna work with people who understand their industry. Uh, maybe yes, bring in some outside perspective, but there’s outside perspective from advisors. We can think of agencies as advisors to them, from working with clients elsewhere in the industry, as well as just following things in general. Uh, you know, ideally at your agency, you’re following agency industry publications, adage, Adweek Digit a, things like that. But you’re also ideally following things related to your client industries. Uh, for instance, uh, when I worked with a client at, at an agency that was a high-end dental firm, uh, so cosmetic and family dentistry, I subscribed to the Dental Economics newsletter about the business of running your dental office, because I wanted to know what’s going on in the industry as a whole.


Uh, if you focus on pizza restaurants, there’s pizza today. Uh, there’s a trade association and publication for just about every industry. And if there’s not, that may be a sign that the industry is too small. And that was too narrow. But you know what? My former accountant’s office was down the hall from the North Carolina Professional Loggers Association, like Southern Logger with, you know, ads for chainsaws and ads for safety equipment and, and this and that. Like it was fascinating to read. Yeah. So, we’ll be reading agency-related publications to know what’s going on in the industry as a whole. You wanna read client-related industry publications but follow some other stuff, too. Uh, for instance, uh, I have not joined A A RP yet, although I hear they have some good discounts, but I accidentally received a neighbor’s copy of the RP magazine years ago, and it was fascinating too, I did return it to them, but I was like, oh, well, what’s going on? And it was interesting to read about some of the challenges I might be facing in the future




Or related to health, family, and things like that. Uh, so you can get a lot of perspective if you look at that third pillar of what you read, things that are totally unrelated, maybe to where you’re currently focused. It’ll give you some new ideas. And that’s where you can really shine for your clients, applying things from other industries, from other fields to help them.


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: A Blueprint for Agency Success


Yeah. It accentuates in a non-self-aggrandizing way. Mm-Hmm. that you give a rip about their success. And, um, and, and so, which I think is, is, you know, obvious when an agency meets you, like, oh, he doesn’t just, he doesn’t also work with, you know, automotive dealers and high-end fashion and, you know, agencies is a and, and, and, and, and, and, and a bunch, or, you know, one of many different categories or niches. They know that you work with people just like them day in and day out, and they should give a rip about their success. And that’s easy to see, right?


Yes. And, and you know, if, if someone’s like, oh, but I still wanna be a generalist, I’d go for it, it’s going to be harder.




Um, that, that’s not to say you can’t succeed, but, you know, it really comes down to what you like doing all day. If you like practicing some version of your craft, you’re gonna have, all things considered, more time to do that, though not all the time when you make everything else run smoothly.


Hmm. So, I know that this is probably an impossible question, but I’ll ask it anyway. As we were talking about hone, um, a few minutes ago, I wrote in my notes, okay, so how long does it take? And does it ever stop? Again, I know it is an impossible question, but because of your depth of operations experience, I’m curious to get your take on it. So I know it doesn’t happen overnight, but in your experience, how long does it take, and does it ever stop?


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: Choosing What Works Best


Yeah. They say about learning some things, uh, you know, they’re easy to learn and hard to master. Hmm. And I guess you could say that about honing as well. When a client is dealing with something, and we’re working through a solution. So my approach, in general, is helping clients design their ideal agency, get clear on that, and then work backward to help them build a plan to get there, to actually make it all happen. And so you wanna be clear on where you’re going. ’cause otherwise, well, who knows where you’re going and, and things like that. But you know, as, as, as you’re working backward to, to get there, sometimes I’ll ask clients if they’re dealing with a particularly difficult challenge. I’ll ask, are you looking for a high-fidelity solution or a low-fidelity solution? That is to say,


Oh, okay,


 you’ve got all of the details down, you’ve got everything totally documented, and you probably could automate it. Things like that that is gonna take a long time to sort out. A low-fidelity solution is a bit rougher. You probably can’t systematize it. It may take a while to delegate to someone else. Uh, you may not be able to delegate to someone else, but you can do it faster. You know, in software development, they talk about technical debt. Mm. Where you approve stuff that you’re gonna have to pay off later to help scale it. High fidelity is, you know, you’re investing a ton of time for a high-fidelity solution. A low-fidelity solution is gonna have technical debt; you’re gonna launch it faster. So what’s the right solution? Well, uh, for instance, when, uh, sometimes you need a fast answer, any low-fidelity solution is what you need; it’s good enough.


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: The Path to Agency Success


You get something out there, and you move on. Uh, whereas, for instance, some things require a high-fidelity solution. So when I was creating my latest book, World Class Earn More, how to Escape the Daily Grind of Agency Ownership, I identified the initial model for the book, the idea of four stages of day-to-day involvement: stages 1, 2, 3, 4. You know, initially, you’re mandatory, then you’re necessary, then you’re needed, then you’re optional. You can choose to pursue that. I identified that model in 2019, but then it took another several years to develop everything else around it. Like, okay, we know the stages; we generally know how to make the jump from one to two to three to four, but I need a high-fidelity solution because the book needs to stand on its own. Because working with me as an advisor to help them work through all of the nuances of every step plus proofreading, you know, the, I told my team, you know, as we find a balance between speed versus getting all the accuracy down, like proofreading, that that’s the time. Yeah. Uh, right. So what, what’s your reaction to that about, you know, how long and things like that?


Uh, I think my reaction to that is, well, one; it feels spot on. And though mm-Hmm, uh, so we have, we have this sort of like, uh, maybe silly phrase inside predictive where we run toward the pain. So none, none of anything that you said scares me. All of what you said sounds necessary makes me want to run toward it for us to be better. But my guess is, is that that’s, that might not be like what, um, this, this sounds self-aggrandizing, and I don’t mean it to, that might not be typical, right? That might sound like, oh gosh, maybe I want the result outcome, but am I really willing to put in the work? But if you really put in the work and master the four stages, not just learn them, but actually master them. There’s, there’s like a pot of gold on the other end of that rainbow.


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: Navigating the Four Stages


There is a work less earn more future ahead. I think I knew that I had the right title when, in my volunteering, I met a fellow volunteer who mentioned in her day job that she was a minister. And somehow I was, I think I might have been like, uh, editing a copy of the book or something like that, and she was like, oh, what, what’s it called? And I said, it’s called Work Less Earn More. And she said that as a minister, I want that, right? Like, I mean, it, the, the, the, the title, the title resonates. Uh, now you mentioned, you know, it, it could feel overwhelming or people may not want to run toward the, the challenges or the difficulty. Uh, I think that leads us to delegate the third item on the list. You don’t have to do it all yourself. Uh, but before we dig in on Delegate I, I want to call out the agencies I work with. These are independent agencies, under a hundred people for the owner or the owners, the agencies, typically their number one or number two financial asset. Like think about it: what else in your fi family’s financial portfolio is paying you six figures a year, plus distributions and all, and has the potential of a multimillion-dollar payday,




Nothing. Your family is relying on the agency to perform, whether as a lifestyle business or as what I would call an equity-oriented business with an exit goal. And so you want to get it right?


Agreed. Okay. So before we take this into delegate, I just wanna go back and fill a couple of holes in my notes because I promise I was trying to write this down as quickly as I could. But the four stages, uh, mandatory necessary. What were stages three and four?


Needed stage three. Okay. You, you were needed. Stage four is optional.


Optional, okay. So I have a theory here, um, but, but I, but I would like to hear your insight, uh, because again, it may be a theory and, and, and, and completely wrong. Is there a stage or moving from one stage to the other, whether it’s one to two or two to three or three to four, uh, maybe there’s some backsliding sometimes. Yeah. But is there, is there one stage, in your opinion, that’s harder to traverse to get to the next stage?


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: “You can be in more than one stage at once”


There are two in particular. Okay. So, think about the stages. Mandatory stage one that’s where you are mandatory. Nothing gets done without you doing it. And you could never, you could think of from a day-to-day perspective, you can never get away from work. Hmm. You’re probably working all the time. Your clients have your direct number, and it’s miserable when you go from stage one to stage two. This sets from mandatory to necessary. Things are somewhat better. You can take time for lunch, or you could be away for a couple of days, and your team will handle things. The problem is, in stage two, your team is often gonna do a bad job, right? Mm-Hmm. And then you clean up the mess. When you can go from stage two necessary to stage three needed, things get a lot better. You can go on vacation for a week, and things generally went fine.


Uh, clients aren’t expecting you to be the contact for everything. You’ve got a solid team and things like that. You’re not optional yet. You’re still critical of things happening, but not everything. And you can be in more than one stage at once. You might be, for instance, mandatory as the sales closer or the contract signer, but you might be optional for doing initial sales screening or optional for doing subject matter expert work. So going from two to three, making yourself needed not necessary is tough. Hmm. Right. The team in place is important. And then helping them understand what I would call your values, goals, and resources, VGR, if your team knows the values to follow, the goals to consider, and the resources to keep in mind, they can make good decisions without asking you every single time. And that’s key to going from stage two to stage three.


Now, going from stage three where you’re needed, mm-hmm, you could stay three. Especially if you lean toward running a lifestyle agency where you’re not planning to sell the business, stage three is totally fine. But if you want, you can pursue stage four, which is optional, and that’s a challenge. And then some of that depends on what you’ve gotten yourself into in the first place. For instance, an agency owner mentioned, uh, you know, was stuck in the business doing a lot of things. And I noticed that, uh, the agency owner’s job title was something like founder or CEO and creative director. Part of the problem, as long as you’re the creative director, you’re never gonna be able to fully get away from client work. Yes. Doing more strategic client work rather than day-to-day work. But, um, you know, and so we talked about, is that something you’d want to delegate to someone else, or do you wanna hold onto that, but delegate something else?


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: Delegating for Success


And, you know, they hadn’t considered that before, and so we were able to talk through it. So, ultimately, going from two to three is tough. You need the right team, but you also need to give them the values, goals, and resources to consider. And then going from three to four can be a challenge. Although some of that, you can be your own biggest obstacle if you don’t want to let go of things. And also you don’t have to. But if you do wanna sell the business, the more optional you are, the better a deal you’ll likely get on your exit.


So as, as we come in for a landing here, let’s, let’s, ’cause you’ve mentioned delegate a couple of times, and so let’s talk about delegate, um, in the context of the four stages. Yes. So how, how do we knit those together? Because my, my, my assumption is, is that, um, not only are you a big proponent of delegating, but it’s probably a very critical instrument in helping somebody move from stage one all the way through to stage four. If they choose stage four, maybe they stop at three, whatever the case may be. So how does the delegate, or how does delegate fit into the four stages?


It ties into all of them, but let’s look at it from a parallel angle. Okay? So if something needs to get done, you’ve got four options, and there are four dss, you can do it, you can do whatever needs to get done, you can delegate it, you can enlist someone else to help do it. You do have two other options as well. You can defer it. That is, you can say, I am going to do it myself, but tomorrow or next week, or next month or next year kind of thing. Or you could also drop it entirely, and you just do it. So do drop, delegate, defer, all of those are options. But a lot of things will involve delegation as you move up the stages. You know, for instance, if you were running payroll, someone is gonna need to run payroll, right?


Or someone is going to have to do the initial, uh, you know, initial business development, prospect sales screening. As you said. Ideally, they don’t feel like they’re a prospect, but if they are a prospective client, right? To, you know, technically they, they are. Um, so, so you know that that’s where delegation comes in. Um, here’s a different way to look at it in terms of the order in which to delegate things. So, in my work, I’ve identified six agency role categories. So everything you do fits into one of these, and you might do more than one or once in the early days. Your agency, you were doing all of them. Hmm. So here are the six account management, project management, and subject matter expert work. That’s like design, development, writing analysis, depending on what your agency focuses on. Client strategy, which is about maximizing the client’s budget within the budget available, is technical optimization.


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: A Step-by-Step Guide for Agency Owners


And then you’ve got business development, which is really marketing, sales, and partnerships. And then, finally, you’ve got what I would call support, which is operations and leadership. So, with those in mind, here’s my recommended order for delegating, and it’s what I’ll take clients through in my advising work. The first thing to delegate is your SME work, your subject matter. Um, and, and those will vary, you know, say if, you know, if you’re doing a lot of design, the design might be one might be development, um, things like that. Those are things that you can usually delegate initially to freelancers and then eventually to full-time people as you grow. So SME work does that first also because it’s often invisible to clients. The client doesn’t know whether you’ve delegated it to a freelancer or a junior team member. So, SME work first, then I would delegate project management.


Project management is about getting the work done smoothly and efficiently. It is more internally facing, although your PMs can be client facing as well, it’s more about getting the work done smoothly, efficiently, and profitably and delegating that. Then third thing to delegate would be account management being your client’s day-to-day contact. Now, not every client is gonna like that. You certainly wanna start with newer clients to say, Hey, this is so and so. They are your amazing expert account manager. But you can still do that with existing clients, in a phased way. And then at that point, you have to decide, do you want to keep doing client strategy? Mm-Hmm. Or do you come in and do the brilliant client strategy and then leave? You’re not the day-to-day contact. Uh, do you want to continue doing the sales side? The closer part of business development? Uh, you’re still gonna need to do the leadership side within support. Ideally, you delegate operations, but then that’s the recommended order. Now, that doesn’t tie directly to specific stages, but the more of that you can delegate, the sooner you can move toward optional stage four.


Right? Okay. So, um, if we, if we delegate, uh, the SME work first, yeah. Second, uh, project management, third, uh, account management, then, you know, I, I, I guess I do see a direct correlation between, like, I’ve moved from mandatory to necessary, and now I’m leaping into the needed piece. And, maybe somebody does stay there, like what you said on the strategy piece, or delegates it away, but the business dev, the support operations leadership, maybe that does fit into stages three and four. I think this is really smart, Karl.


Learn more about steps in the sales process by exploring our “ROI of Community” Framework


Steps in the Sales Process: Accelerate Your Results


If people are listening, if you want more about this, you can get the book, and there’s actually a free preview chapter, okay? Uh, work less, earn more You can get the free preview. Um, you can see the links that are on Amazon worldwide. There’s also a 40-plus-page workbook that you can download to do the exercises from the book.


Karl, uh, this has been brilliant. I know that you just shared a couple of different ways that people can, uh, find the book, and yay for that. What is the best way before we close out and say goodbye? What is the best way for our audience to reach out and connect with you?


If you go to my website,, which is S-A-K-A-S-A-N-D, and the word, you can access all kinds of free resources, including 400 plus articles on agency management. More than one agency owner has said my email newsletter is the only email they read every time. You can also access other resources and learn more about my paid services. That’s at SKUs and


Okay? Everyone, no matter how many notes you took or how often you go back and re-listen to Karl’s words of wisdom, which I sure hope that you do. The key is you have to take what he so generously shared with you, take it, and apply it. Because when you do, you will accelerate your results. And Karl, we all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day, and I’m grateful that you said yes, to come onto the show, to be our mentor, to be our guide, to help us move our businesses onward to that next level. Thank you so much, Karl.

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Sell with Authority Podcast

The Sell with Authority Podcast is for agency owners, business coaches, and strategic consultants who are looking to grow a thriving, profitable business that can weather the constant change that seems to be our world’s reality.

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