How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline

Episode 32: How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline, with Stephen Woessner

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How to build a strong sales pipeline. Learn proven and effective strategies and insider tips on how to build a strong sales pipeline.

Stephen Woessner is the founder and CEO of Predictive ROI (PROI), a digital marketing agency, and the host of Onward Nation and Sell With Authority Podcasts.

How to build a strong sales pipeline? Since the advent of the commercial Internet, Stephen has collected tens of thousands of data points that have given him the ability to identify what he calls the “8 Money Draining Mistakes” and the “8 Money Making Opportunities.” Darren Hardy, then-publisher of SUCCESS Magazine, interviewed Stephen to discuss how business owners can identify and fix their mistakes.

Stephen served in the United States Air Force, spent six years at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse as a full-time academic staff member and taught digital marketing classes to small business owners throughout the state including the prestigious School of Business at UW-Madison. He has owned five businesses, and is the author of three books, “The Small Business Owner’s Handbook to Search Engine Optimization”, “Increase Online Sales Through Viral Social Networking”, and “Profitable Podcasting.”

His digital marketing insights have been featured in,, The Washington Post, and Inc. Magazine.


What you will learn in this episode is about how to build a strong sales pipeline:

  • How to find and identify the right-fit clients
  • How to build a strong sales pipeline: Discovering effective strategies is essential for business growth and sustained success in the competitive market.
  • How to become the known expert in a niche by solving the right problems, telling the right stories, and fishing in the right ponds
  • How to build a strong sales pipeline
  • Why a simple set of 6 criteria can help you design your compelling HERO offer
  • How to identify the 3 “Measures for Success” that will give you the ability to charge a premium price — as a result — drive profits
  • How to connect the “WHO” and “WHAT” frameworks to build your authority position

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How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Full Episode Transcript


Welcome to the Sell with Authority podcast.  I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI, and this episode of the podcast will be a solo cast. So I am flying solo today so that you and I can spend some time at depth working through a particular topic that Eric and I have been asked about, what feels like an increasing amount over the last several months for, if, if you don’t know Erik Jensen he’s my business partner here at Predictive. He’s our Chief Strategy officer. He and I teach a lot in the Q&A, at workshops, various events, etc. So you may have met Eric along the way, but if you have not, that’s just a little bit of context. And so I’ll be back next week with a great guest. Tom Schwab, the founder of Interview Valet, is going to be joining me on the show.


And he is just absolutely awesome. I’ve had a chance to interview Tom a couple of times before for the Onward Nation Podcast, so I think this is going to be an absolute blast, too, as we talk about authority and building a position of authority on the Self Authority Podcast. Okay, so the topic we will explore in depth today is the dry sales pipeline. And over the last several months, as I mentioned to, or as I mentioned a, a, a minute ago, whether Eric and I are inside a Q&A, or if we’re inside one of the multi-day intensive or at like RightFit clients back in June, we’re getting these questions over and over and over again. And it’s not just about lead gen or driving sales. What we’re seeing is a chronic issue that revolves around the input into the sales pipeline, making sure that it is the right input at the right cadence, right?


The right people are getting in, and they’re getting in at the steady stream that you need them and that there’s a process downstream to be able to nurture them and develop that and be helpful and all of that so that at the end when somebody transforms into or converts into becoming a new client, they never, ever, ever felt like they were one of your prospects. So take that, set it aside for a second, and go back to the very beginning stage of the pipeline. Here’s what Eric and I are hearing often, is that, hey, predictive, not, not only is my sales pipeline dry, but it’s bone dry, or it’s barren, or it’s dusty, or we have no idea when, where, how, whatever. We’re going to get our next at-bat with a prospective client because the entire business, the agency, the business coaching practice, and the strategic consultancy that is our tribe here at Predictive rely almost exclusively on referrals or word of mouth.


Discover further insights on how to build a strong sales pipeline by listening to this episode: Filling Your Sales Pipeline with Right-Fit Clients, with Erik Jensen.


How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: The WHO, WHAT, and HOW Frameworks for Predictable Growth


How to build a strong sales pipeline? Now, I’m not trying to diminish referrals or word of mouth in any way, shape, or form. It is amazing.  if you get solid gold referrals, yay for that. But when that is the only thing you can rely on, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to predict or to know when and how you will scale the business because you don’t know what’s coming or when. And so the dilemma that we’re hearing is, Hey, predictive, my pipeline is dry, dusty, and barren. I really want an alive, vibrant sales pipeline that looks like this. I say, look like this because I’m sharing on my screen right now. If you’re listening to me on the podcast, you obviously can’t see it. But what I’m showing is, is this rushing stream and sort of this meadow, or not a meadow, this valley in the mountains where it’s just a rushing stream where you can imagine that it’s just packed, filled with the right type of fish that you want to be fishing for.


And that happens when you get really clear about the who, you get really clear around the what, and you get really clear around the how. And that’s what we’re going to cover here in this solocast. We’re going to dig deep into what Eric and I have been calling the WHO framework, the WHAT framework, and the HOW framework. And I’m going to teach these in full transparency during this solo cast. That’s why I also wanted to record the video to go along with this and include it in the show notes so that you can see how I am illustrating portions of that. We also encourage you to download the frameworks. So all three of them are free. So, I will give you the URLs now, and then I’ll refer to them a couple of different times throughout the conversation.


And, of course, the URLs will also be in the show notes. Okay? So first, the WHO framework real simple URLs. So, if you go to, you’ll be able to download the WHO framework. If you go to, you’ll be able to download the what framework, and if you go to, you’ll be able to download the how framework. Okay? So, the WHO framework is all about finding and identifying the right fit client avatar. The WHO framework is all about either creating, tweaking, or adjusting what Eric and I like to call the hero offer, okay? That’s the offer that sits in the middle of your value ladder. I’ll break that down when we get to it. But it essentially sits at the middle of your value ladder. When you have the value proposition articulated properly, and it just feels really good to your prospective client, not only will they want it, but they will immediately see how it will be helpful to their business.


Tune in to our FREE tutorial, The “HOW” Framework, to unveil the answers on how to build a strong sales pipeline.


How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Navigating the WHO, WHAT, and HOW Frameworks


Okay? The how framework essentially helps you combine the who and the what together to create if you want to call it, a biz dev strategy if you’re going to call it the ultimate content plan if you want to call it the way to build your position of authority.  there are lots of different ways to describe it. Still, it puts the who and the what together so that you are developing a steady stream of consistently generating a constant stream of RightFit leads and sales opportunities for your hero offer. And it goes a step further. It also maps out we’ve called this a couple of different things. In fact, we taught this probably two months ago in a Q&A. Yeah, I think it was an earlier Q&A back in August. We taught what we called the triangle of sales, which are the three roles inside a sales team.


Now, you might be saying, Stephen, we don’t have a sales team here.  I might run sales, and I do that for the entire agency or consultancy to totally get that. And so, what I need is a quick clarification, and then we’ll talk more about this once we get to the HOW Framework. And that is this: You might be doing all three of those sales roles, but the three sales roles still exist. So, just because we’re going to talk about three different sales roles in the sales process doesn’t necessarily mean that you need or should hire three different sales team members, okay? But each of those three sales roles does exist. We need to do them with excellence in order to have an effective sales process. Otherwise, something’s going to get missed. Okay? Let’s rewind to write fit clients and why that’s important.


And then, we’re going to step into the WHO framework. So, if you’re listening to this right now on the screen, I’ve got a photo of kind of an underwater photo with a fish. And you can see above the water; you can see a fisherman standing there kind of on the shore or in the water with his waders going after the fish. Okay? So, the right fit client is essential for a couple of reasons. One, when we all know what it feels like to onboard the wrong-fit client, right? Like our intuition’s telling us, don’t do it. Don’t take on that project or that client. You’re going to regret it. It’s going to cost you money. And we do. We’ve all done this before. We go against our gut; we take on that wrong-fit client, and we can rationalize it a number of different ways as to why that was important.


Tune in to our FREE tutorial, The “HOW” Framework, to unveil the answers on how to build a strong sales pipeline.


How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Fishing for the Right Fit Clients in Your Business Waters


And I get it. Payroll pressures and other expense pressures. I understand all of it, okay? And I’m certainly not trying to diminish the pain that is felt when that happens. But every single time that we take on a wrong-fit client, it costs us, okay? So, this portion of the WHO framework needs to be dialed in. So we know that if we’re going to go to the effort to put out bait, we might as well be fishing for the right thing, the right fish, right? Eric and I were in Alaska back in August when our agency owner group, which is called Velocity, is part of the overall umbrella, if you will, of the agency Management Institute. So we went to Alaska because one of the owners inside our group, Maryanne Pruitt, and her husband, Lance, live in Anchorage, Alaska.


That’s where the agency is based. And so they said, Hey, everybody, if you want to come up a few days early and do some fishing in Alaska, you know who would wanna do that? And Eric and I are like, yes, we totally want to do that. And so several of us did. And there was a group of, I don’t know, about 10 of us maybe that did that. And it was amazing. Now, I, to be horrible at fishing, horrible. I mean, I am absolutely terrible. Not only do I not catch fish, I believe that I repel fish, right? I have the reverse of the Aquaman power. Like, I literally repel fish. So, my optimism was not high enough that I was actually going to catch any fish. But Marianne and Lance had organized professional guides in these great boats, and we’re in a specific location.


And so when it came time to go fishing, we were in the right spot. The guide had put us in the right spot on the Kenai River, knew exactly what type of bait to use, knew how to scent the line, like garlic rub, and had no idea that fish could even smell. But anyway, put this like garlic rub on the bait, had the right hooks, and knew at what depth in the water to put the bait into again, where time of day, and when. And it was terrific. And then when our lines were out, I think we had four lines at a time, four fishing poles at a time. Because there were four of us in the boat, plus the guide. And then I showed naive enthusiasm; I didn’t know what I was doing.


Tune in to our FREE tutorial, The “HOW” Framework, to unveil the answers on how to build a strong sales pipeline.


How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Navigating the Waters of Your Ideal Customer


And so when I was sitting next to my pole, in the top of the pole bends, it was like, oh, there’s a fish on there. I went to grab the pole, even though the guy had said, don’t grab your pole until I tell you to. I was like, my exuberance, my enthusiasm was like, oh, I got a fish, and I want to catch a fish. Again, I don’t experience this very often. So anyway, I did. And the guy said, no, stop it. But I haven’t told you to grab the pole yet. Put it back. And so, after a couple of times, I learned the drill. But what was amazing was when it did come a time when he knew that there was a fish on the line, he would say, Stephen, grab the pole.


And every single time, every single time there was a fish, it was a gray fish, this beautiful silver salmon every single time, because that guide knew how and where to fish for the right fish or for the right fit fish if you will. That’s what we’re going to be doing with the WHO framework, which identifies the right fit client. So if you’re putting in the time and effort and baiting your line and you’re out there fishing, you’re going to be fishing for the right client at the right time in the right pond. And not only speaking their language but speaking the right dialect so that when they hear you, see you meet you, their reaction to you is, wow, you, you totally get me. Like you, you are speaking about my business issues and the challenges and how I can sell, I can help, or how I can get over those obstacles and those challenges and those issues and hope that tomorrow is better than today as a result of learning from you.


How to build a strong sales pipeline? That only happens when you narrow in on the right fit client. Okay? Now, when Eric and I teach this in training, this may have come up in last week’s Q&A. So if you were there, first of all, thank you. So, every Wednesday, we teach in open mic Q&A almost every Wednesday. It’s called How to Fill Your Sales Pipeline. And if you want to register for the next one, you can always find [email protected] slash qa, like question answer. So I will show you the date and time of the next one. It’s always at that URL /QA. So,  last week, when we were talking about RightFit clients, somebody in the group said, yeah, but what if a client knocks on your door bag of money? They’re not in the niche, or they’re not, and they don’t necessarily follow all the right fit criteria, but we think we can be helpful, and we think we can be profitable.


Tune in to our FREE tutorial, The “HOW” Framework, to unveil the answers on how to build a strong sales pipeline.


How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: A Deep Dive into the WHO Framework


Should we take that bag of money? And our answer to that is, yes, you should absolutely do that at some point, call it two years, three years, whatever, and being committed to the right fit client criteria, you’re going to be attracting more and more and more of the right fit. But for now, as you’re going through that transition and working into that niche, if somebody comes along, and this is the litmus test, and this is the mistake that we have to make the wrong fit client, is we can’t really be that helpful. It’s like banging our heads up against the wall, or we’re trying to create something new, and consequently, we can’t make money at it, right? And so if somebody swims into your net, they’re not part of the niche, but you can absolutely be helpful. They would be a delight to work with, and your team would like to work with them. They would like to work with your team, and it’s profitable. Take it, right?


How to build a strong sales pipeline? I mean, that would be awesome. Sure. Great, fantastic. But you didn’t go out trying to spearfish for that, right? You weren’t investing your time and resources in that. Okay? So, we’re going to take a step into the WHO framework. I’m going to narrate a couple of the sections, and then if you’re watching this on video, you’ll obviously see me do that. However, I encourage you to download the WHO framework from And on that page, not only will you be able to download the framework, but there’s also, I think, a 10 to 12-minute video, 10 minutes, I think, just on the WHO framework. Okay? Alright, so I’m sharing my screen now. So, if you’re listening, not watching the video, I’m sharing my screen now. And we’re looking at a worksheet with essentially three columns, okay?


Those three columns are found and identified, which is the column on the left. The column in the middle is emotionally and logically connected. Then, the column on the far right is niche Deep Dive. So we’re going to focus on a few of the boxes here in, so I’m going to go back to the column on the left, and we’re going to focus on niche, and I’m going to break that down into how we define the niche. Then, we’re going to talk about this middle column and the emotional and logical connection. And then we’re also going to talk about ponds and problems. Okay? So, let’s first go through the niche. So oftentimes,  as soon as we start mentioning the word niche, I mean our team, we can feel the defense defensiveness, whatever the right word would be, or scarcity mindset, start mindset, right? People start to think, or it’s a very common reaction to think, well, I don’t want to exclude somebody from working with my team.


Tune in to our FREE tutorial, The “HOW” Framework, to unveil the answers on how to build a strong sales pipeline.


How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Simple Niche Strategies to Become an Expert


How to build a strong sales pipeline? I want to be helpful to lots and lots of people, and actually niching down and going narrow helps you step into abundance instead of scarcity. So we pull a few levers over and over again to get narrower and narrower. And it can be one of these levers, it can be all of the levers, or you can combine one or two of the levers, okay? So I’m gonna go through each of them and talk about them and then how you can knit them together to get stronger and stronger and stronger to step into abundance as opposed to scarcity. Okay? So, for the first one, let’s think about the audience. Maybe it is an audience better than anyone else. So, inside the agency Management Institute, I know an agency owner who has decided to focus on millennial moms.


She and her team know millennial moms and their buying decisions, and they have the research to pack up all of that, like the criteria they use to purchase consumer packaged goods or large ticket items inside the home. They’re experts in the motivations of millennial moms. So, if you’re a brand and you want to sell through to millennial moms, you hire that agency to do that work. Because they know that audience better than anybody, so if your strength is around an audience, yay for that, guess what? That’s part of the niche. Okay? So how about two, let’s say that you solve a problem better than anyone else, right? So, maybe it’s crisis communications. For example, in a boots-on-the-ground crisis, you are an expert at mitigating the risk by being prepared. Or when something happens, you’re better than anybody in a crisis-type situation.


Maybe that is your absolute superpower. Okay? So, well, guess what? You can build a niche around that. Number three, let’s say that you have a superpower from a more technical perspective. So I think maybe PPC, SEO, PR, or something like that, right? So that is your superpower at your agency or consultancy, and you do it better than anybody else. There’s a particular spin that you put on that works better than anybody else. So that could be a niche like here at predictive, so we, we would, we would say that our superpower or one of is the fact that we help our clients build a position of authority and then monetize it in the, in the form of a steady stream of RightFit clients flowing into their sales pipeline. That’s what we do all day long, right? So, we would consider that to be our superpower.


Tune in to our FREE tutorial, The “HOW” Framework, to unveil the answers on how to build a strong sales pipeline.


How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Strategies to Connect with Your Audience


Alright? And then lastly, for industry. So maybe you’ve decided to focus on a particular industry. We do all of our work here at Predictive for agencies, business coaches, and strategic consultants. That is our tribe here. It also ties into the audience because when you look at our listeners of the Sell Authority podcast, attendees to our Q&A, or people who are ordering our Sell With Authority book for free when you look at all of the people inside our community, no surprise, our community is made up of agencies, business coaches, strategic consultants, right? So we are aligned with all of these points, actually points 1, 2, 3, and four, in order to create some real clarity around our niche. Now, does that mean that we’ve stepped into scarcity? No. It means that we can be more helpful every time we meet somebody new because we’re constantly pulling on those levers and looking to get better.


How to build a strong sales pipeline? So my point is that you don’t have to have all four. You could certainly have one and really build an authority position around that. When you knit one and two or two and three or three and four or one through four together, it gets stronger and stronger and stronger, and you step more clearly into abundance and move away from scarcity. Alright? So now, let’s take another look. Now, let’s go into the center column, which is the emotional and logical connection. And here’s why. There’s one word, one four-letter word. Actually, keep it clean. It is one four-letter word that drives purchase decisions more than anything else. And so I want you to guess that word in your head. Get a four-letter word that drives purchase decisions more than anything else. Okay? You are thinking about the word, okay, here’s the word. The word is hope.


And here’s what I mean by that. As much as we like to think that we are logical, rational creatures and that we make decisions based on logic, I will tell you we do not. In fact, Dr. Sigmund Freud was, I think, maybe the first one to pioneer this work around what he ended up calling the pain and pleasure principle. That is, we either run from pain, and our goal is to either reduce pain or run toward pleasure as a way to increase pleasure. So we’re constantly looking for more of the fun stuff, less of the painful stuff. It’s the pain-pleasure principle that Dr. Freud studied in his work. And so, if that’s the case, that as much as we like to think that we make these logical decisions, we actually don’t. Here’s what we do. So, I’m going to go back to the screen here.


Tune in to our FREE tutorial, The “HOW” Framework, to unveil the answers on how to build a strong sales pipeline.


How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Connecting Emotionally and Logically for Business Success


Here’s what we do: we make the decision in the heart first, and then we try to justify that decision using logic after the decision has already been made. In fact, maybe you’ve read the book E-Myth. And if you have, I would encourage you to go back to chapter 18 because Michael Gerber does an excellent job of breaking this down. We make these decisions based on our gut, based on our feelings, and our hope. That somehow, by making this decision tomorrow is going to be better than today, I hope by making this decision tomorrow is going to be better than today. So knowing that and knowing how you, the people, your audience, and your niche think and feel and act and behave and what makes what keeps them up at night, what whatever sort of statements you want to use, but understanding all of that not only helps you speak the same language but now you’re speaking the right dialect, right?


So you really then understand what drives them, what motivates them, what’s important to them. And because you know that, you then learn how to talk about it first in an emotional way and second in a logical way. So, that is the center column in the WHO framework. Now, that center column pays big dividends into the third column. And here’s what I mean by that. So when we get this right, the center column, when we understand the hope, and we understand how to connect emotionally logically, gives us the ability to identify the right problems, the business issues and challenges that they are struggling with in their business where you can be helpful. And then ponds, okay? So let’s go back to the business issues and challenges, the problems, alright? Because it has to align with your area of expertise, not just a business issue and challenge.


It has to be something that you can help solve. So, for example, over the last 13 years that Eric and I have run Predictive ROI, have we learned a thing or two about cash flow management? Sure. Have we learned a thing or two about QuickBooks? Yep. How to properly invoice clients in the communication around that type of stuff. Sure, of course.  So are there things that we’ve learned, like the financial sort of backend of the business? Yep. Are we going to run a financial workshop? Nope. , even though we have some understanding there, it is not a depth of expertise for us. It is not where we have decided to plant our flag of authority, right? We’ve actually planted our flag of authority around how to help others plant their flag of authority, right? That’s what we teach; that’s what we share.


Tune in to our FREE tutorial, The “HOW” Framework, to unveil the answers on how to build a strong sales pipeline.


How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Niche Mastery and Connecting with Your Audience


That’s where our depth of expertise is. That’s where all our research is. That’s where our books are. That’s what we’ve dedicated this podcast toward, and so on and so on and so on. You will never see Predictive come out with a, Hey, we’re going to teach financial management or whatever sort of topic that would fit in there. That, that, that is not our area of expertise. We might host or convene a conversation around that at some point if we think it’d be helpful for our audience, and then we would bring in a great expert to talk about that. We might ask Drew McLellan, CEO of Agency Management Institute. Again, we might say, Hey, would you come in and talk about money matters because it sinks in with a workshop that he’s teaching that he teaches every December.


That might make a lot of sense. But we would not try to act like that’s our air of expertise because it is clearly not. So the point is that you make a list of problems, business issues, and challenges in the worksheet or in the framework, and they have to be aligned with how you can be helpful, right? That it aligns with your area of expertise. Okay? And then pons the third and final box in that column, right? When we understand the niche, we have clarity around the niche, and we have clarity around the middle column. We also have clarity around the problems that we can help solve. It becomes pretty easy to see which ponds we should be fishing in, like where you should be hanging out, where your RightFit prospects that you will hopefully help over time turn into RightFit clients where they’re hanging out, and where we’re gathering if you will.


How to build a strong sales pipeline? If you want to call those watering holes, we like to call them ponds, where you should be fishing. And not only, and maybe that’s events you should be attending, maybe that’s podcasts that you should be listening to. Maybe that’s a podcast that you should guest on. Maybe those are events that you should teach at, and so on and so on, right? It’s identifying the right ponds. Okay? So before we move to the what framework, again, if you haven’t already downloaded it, you can go to and download the WHO framework. And then whether you re-listen to this or go back through the video, or maybe you’ve been doing that as we step through it, sitting down with your team to fill out the WHO framework is going to not only save you a whole lot of time, but it’s also going to guide your content that you teach and share with the right audience and then is going to ensure that the people flowing into your sales pipeline are the right fit.


Tune in to our FREE tutorial, The “HOW” Framework, to unveil the answers on how to build a strong sales pipeline.


How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline:  Deep Dive into the What Framework


Okay? So, that is the WHO framework. Alright? Now, we’re going to step into the WHAT framework. So, I just put that up on the screen. The what framework again, as a reminder, you can go to, or if you’re on our website right now on the show notes for today’s episode, excuse me, you’ll be able to find a link there too. So Okay, so for this piece, we’re going to spend our time looking at the six criteria. So that’s this first box here. We’re going to come back to that in just a second. In addition, the worksheet also includes what Eric and I call the five outcomes. These are the five outcomes that will be valuable to your client. So, what things does the hero offer that need to be achieved?


And I’ll define the hero offer here in just a second. What are the things the hero offers need to help them achieve at the end of the period? So let’s think 60 to 90 days, and we’ll touch on that in the criteria piece in just a second. So the five outcomes, and then the column in the far right, or excuse me, the box in the far right, are the three measures for success. Okay? So we’re going to talk about the six criteria, but I want you to also direct your attention toward the five outcomes and the measures for success. All three of those are extremely important in order to get this dialed in. So, let’s take a look at the value ladder first. So, I’m just going to draw this out on my screen. It’s kind of a little arrow that curves up. So think of it kind of back in your economics days, like the supplier demand curve up into the starting low in the lower right and then just curving up to the upper right.


Okay? And then I’m going to draw three horizontal lines across the curve, okay? Those three horizontal lines essentially represent the three kinds of biggest pieces of the value ladder, right? So, the bottom one is something that is relatively inexpensive and easy for somebody to say yes to and step into a relationship with you. Then there’s the middle rung, if you will, which is maybe a little bit more expensive.  the scope of work is a little bit more comprehensive, but it’s not quite as much as the third rung, which is the, if you want to call it, the whole kit and caboodle, the entire sort of scope of work or offering that you might offer them,  in, in that you might offer your client, excuse me, okay? So, the middle run is moderately priced and very valuable. That is the hero offer.


Tune in to our FREE tutorial, The “HOW” Framework, to unveil the answers on how to build a strong sales pipeline.


How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Crafting a Profitable Hero Offer


So this right here is the hero offer. So, when you do this framework correctly, this is about building out the middle of your value ladder. Why is that important? Because in the sales process, when you’re talking with somebody new, you’re talking about the hero first, right? You’ve built it in such a way that adheres to the six criteria. You’ve built it in such a way that you’re delivering those five outcomes. You’ve built it in such a way that there are three measures for success, and you’ve also priced it in such a way that it is something that demonstrates significant value. That does not mean a low-cost leader. I’ll get to that in just a second, but it’s also going to be profitable for you. Placing it in the middle of your value ladder does this really interesting thing.


So let’s say that you walk through the hero offer, and your prospective client says,  I no doubt that is going to be really, really helpful.  but gosh, financially, we can’t take a swing at that. Then you can quote-unquote down-sell into whatever the lower-priced offer is, and that might be the perfect fit. Or maybe the prospective client is going to say this does sound awesome, but actually, our team needs more support, more help, and whatever. And we’re looking for something that’s a bit more comprehensive or maybe very comprehensive, or a lot more comprehensive. And then you have something that you can upsell into. So, focusing on generating leads and sales for the hero also gives you the flexibility to down-sell and then the ability to upsell if that opportunity feels like the right fit.


Okay? So, let’s think about pricing here for just a second. So, let’s go back to this. And if you’re looking at the framework on screen right now, you’ll see that part of what we’ve put into this piece is price. The reason is that Eric and I are often asked about price; well, predictive, how much should we charge for the hero offer? And I know this might even sound ridiculous, but hear me out for a second. So this is our view on pricing. This is overly simplified, but for the sake of conversation, it’s this: when we’ve had conversations with clients and are working through their value ladder and helping them build that out, we get this question often. And so, for example, a client recently came to us and said I’m thinking about charging $20,000.


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How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Finding the Sweet Spot for Your Services


Actually, I’ll share a couple of stories with you.  I’m thinking about charging $20,000. This is the scope of work, and  I would like to have a sanity check. Is that the right price? And Eric and I said, mm, no, you should charge $30,000 for that work. And literally, our client sort of like said, went, oh boy, and just, and got really immediately uncomfortable and totally got it imposter syndrome, that kind of stuff, and just needed to think about that for a second. And so we continued the conversation, and by the end, she said, okay, you’re right. Eric and Stephen, you’re right. And I’m going to sell this for $30,000. Then, she had a conversation with her client later that day or the next day or something like that.


And then they immediately sent us an email and said, holy bananas, not holy bananas. Those are my words. Anyway, that client said, yes, that one phone call for $30,000 had been made. I would’ve left money on the table if I had not done that. Here’s the point. You want to create a pricing strategy that when you say the price, your client or prospective client on the other end says, oh, grabs their stomach a little bit, says, oh, okay, tell me more about that. That’s what you want. You want them to feel a little uncomfortable and, at the same time, lean in and ask you for more detail. That’s when you know that you have the right price. If somebody says, all right, you left money on the table, or somebody says, that’s ridiculous, then obviously you know your answer. So you want to, you want to find something in the middle there.


And in this case, that example was $30,000. So another one of our clients happens to be a member of our team. So, you may have heard us talk about starting a block in that membership over the last several weeks. So Mark is part of that. And,  or no, excuse me, excuse me, forgive me.  that, that is, that is incorrect. He’s one of our 90-day sprinters. There we go. He’s one of our 90-day sprinters. So we spent a lot of time in the trenches working through the value ladder, value proposition, etc. Anyway, he had this opportunity with somebody of his Dream 25 prospect list, like somebody he would really, or like an organization that he really wanted to work with. And his standard kind of hero offer was about $25,000.


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How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Smart Strategies for Pricing Your Services


And the scope of work this prospective client was asking him to deliver was like the normal scope of work. Still, it was going to be more complex because it was a bigger cast of characters, a bigger client team, maybe more meetings, that kind of stuff, largely the same. Still, the level of complexity was a bit higher just because of the cast of characters, timeline, and that kind of stuff. A lot of similarities, but also some differences. And so he asked us,  hey, predictive, like what should I be charging for this?  because of the similarities and differences. And we said, a hundred thousand dollars. And Mark did, did that to us. He just was like, oh, and then leaned in and said, wow, a hundred thousand dollars, okay, so help me better understand how I can get to that price point.


And we talked it through and all of that. After we finished that session, he was ready, armed, and equipped to present the hundred thousand dollars. And he did. and he presented it two payments of $50,000, one to start, and then one when the 90-day project was finished, and the client said, yes, how amazing, right? So you want to make sure that your pricing strategy again is right in the middle where you didn’t leave money on the table. Then, the other extreme client doesn’t immediately say no. You want to create a bit of discomfort, and then they need to lean in and say, okay, tell me a little more about that. Okay, let’s go back to the screen here. When we look at pricing, that’s what we’re talking about.


There’s pricing right here on the worksheet for that very reason. So you can look at all of these different data points and then think, okay, what am I going to price this middle of my value ladder the hero? What will I price that at to create a little bit of discomfort but also the lean-in opportunity to learn more, okay? We’re going to focus on the six criteria, okay? There are six of them here. Alright? The first is from top to bottom, achievable in 60 to 90 days. The hero typically offers a short project, meaning that in 60 to 90 days, you will create these outcomes and these measures of success, and then you will be done. And then that doesn’t mean done with the relationship. Still, it means that you’ve done, you’ve delivered enough value, you’ve delivered some quick wins, you’ve really shown how your team understands their business issues and challenges, and you’ve helped them get better as a result of that hero offer.


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How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: The 90-Day Sprint for Sustainable Client Relationships


We call it like here at Predictive, our 90-day sprint. And you’ve done these really cool things, and then there’s an opportunity to continue the relationship here. Here’s the reason why most agencies, business coaches, and strategic consultants lose clients: we let them run out of the future. That does not mean we should be selling things to our clients. They don’t need it. I am not saying that you should never, ever do that. What I am saying is, is that you’ve invested enough in their business and understanding their business and jumping into the trenches and slinging the same mud that when you’re finished with the hero offer, you can say, Hey, based on what we learned, we think that we can be helpful by doing X, Y, and Z. And can we have a conversation about that? And then the client just had a great experience with you because of the 90 days, 60 to 90 days.


And so, of course, they’re going to say, yes, absolutely. Tell me how you can be more helpful, right? So, in 60 to 90 days, you deliver great quick wins, and then you show them how you can be helpful in the future, not falsely and not selling them some gimmick, right? It’s about how you can additionally be helpful, helpful at an even deeper level, higher level, however you want to consider that. Okay? So 60 to 90 days, the following criteria: I’m just going to check that box, okay? Achievable in 60 to 90 days. We have already talked about this middle offer in most cases, right? It sits in the middle or occupies the middle rung, if you will, on the value ladder. Next, it feels like an easy, natural way to start, right? You’ve delivered so much value because you’ve paid attention to the five outcomes and the three measures of success so that client can see and understand very easily how this is going to be impactful for their business.


Yay for that. Okay? It acts as a filter to prevent more work with wrongly fit clients.  are you going to get this right a hundred percent of the time? No. Are you going to accidentally sell the hero offer to somebody who later proves to be a wrong-fit client? Yeah. Is that going to happen all the time? No, because we’re paying attention to the who, right? The who framework. So that’s going to act as a filter. So when you build your authority position, not only will that help you attract RightFit clients and create a steady stream of RightFit clients, but it will also help repel the wrong ones. Yay for that sometimes. Will there be times when somebody sneaks through? Yep. But by setting this up as a 60 to 90-day thing, then you don’t have to paint the future. You don’t have to help them not run out of future with you.


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How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Challenges of the 90-Day Sprint


You can say thanks very much and wish you well, right? Still fulfilling your promises along the way of what you promised work-wise scope, but not a longer term relationship. Okay?  scalable meaning and this is hard. This is really hard; for example, I take you behind the curtain here at Predictive.  So, the 90-day spread is run by Eric Jensen, my business partner here at Predictive, who is our chief strategy officer. Well,  Eric and Hannah Roth are our strategic co-pilots, if you will. She runs our she, she’s a mad scientist, and she is literally a scientist by trade, and she runs our predictive lab and a strategist. And so she works alongside Eric in our 90-day sprint sessions, okay? And sometimes they sort of divide and conquer, if you will, if they’re scheduled conflicts and that kind of stuff, they split up, but for the most part, they’re in those sessions together.


But it’s just Eric and Hannah. So when we think about Sprint,  we essentially have a capacity of about 20 to 24 sprints a year. And until we build out that team, that strategy team, that’s going to be our capacity. Is that limiting? Yep. Is it scalable? Not so much.  and so we’re going to continue to raise the price of that and manage our capacity and that kind of stuff. But here, scalable, ideally, yes. Or you might end up having the similar constraints that we have here at Predictive 20 to 25 until we decide to either build out that team or not, but ideally, it’s scalable, okay? But it is hard, no doubt. Okay, and then, whoops, I had the eraser on, but I didn’t mean to. Lastly, it was profitable and strategically priced. So that’s what we already covered as far as how to price it in the center.


But I also want to underscore the profitable piece. Again, this is not a, I don’t, I definitely do not want you to charge $50,000 for your hero offer.  It creates discomfort for your prospect. They lean in. Tell me more about that. And then you get the $50,000 sale, but you’ve got 75 grand into it in order to deliver it. That doesn’t make any sense. What we’d love for you to do is put $50,000 forward, or $30,000 or $20,000, or $80,000, whatever the price point is, the client says, oh, tell me more about it. And you make money. So we are big believers, I’m going to go back to this for a second and zoom out a little bit. They are profitable and strategically priced. I mentioned the financial workshop for Drew McClellan year teaches for the agency management institute for his community, and we attended this workshop, gosh, we’re going to be there again in December.


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How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Path to Authority and Consistent Lead Generation


So this is Arian, I think on November 2nd, Wednesday, November 2nd. So essentially, a month from when this airs, the first week in December, we’re going to be attending what Drew calls his Money Matters workshop in Orlando at Disney. It’s, it’s phenomenal.  Part of that workshop is this ratio that he teaches: 55, 25, 20, meaning that 55% of your agency gross income needs to fall into the payroll bucket, if you will. People 25% needs to fall into the overhead bucket and 20% for profit, right? So you need to be profitable. Each one of your hero’s offers needs to be profitable. This is not a loss leader item. Okay? Alright. So that is the framework. So If you’re watching this on our website on the show notes page, then click the link, and then you can download it.


Okay? Now, let’s start to bring this in for a landing by looking at the WHO framework. Okay? So now I have the WHO framework up on my screen, and now we’re going to step through this and remember the WHO framework is this unique combination. It knits together; excuse me, the how framework is what I meant to say, not the WHO framework. The how framework is this unique connection where it knits together, the who it knits together, the what. So who and what comes together like this to create this, to essentially build your authority position, but then also to create a steady stream of right fit leads into your sales pipeline? And then, we’re going to talk about the three different roles on the sales team, recognizing that you might wear all three of those hats. Okay? Alright, so here we go.


So this is the how framework that you see on the screen.  If you’re listening along, maybe you’ve downloaded it, and you’re listening along. We’re going to start in the upper left. And that’s where niche comes in, right? And you can probably see that you might be able to make this out. It says SWA book, which stands for Sell with Authority book. So this is in addition to the WHO framework, but the sell authority book that I wrote alongside Drew goes into this very in-depth. In fact, if you don’t yet have a copy, we’d love to send you a free one in honest to goodness not charging you for shipping or anything like that. So, if you go to, you will be able to order the book for free on either paperback or Kindle. So yay for that.


So, if you don’t yet have a copy, go to to get yours. Okay? So when, who, and what are knitted together into the how framework, this is what helps you do or helps you build your authority position, which is what I’m writing on the screen right now. Build your authority position and generate leads with RightFit clients, that’s RFC, and being able to do that consistently. So if you’re listening to this solocast, if you’re listening to this episode, and you happen to be one of our members inside our monthly membership, we call that starting block. This is part of your all-access pass. This is why I want to highlight a couple of things here. So if you’re looking at this now on video or, or, or listening to me, so in these little kind of pink or orangeish tags, if you will like, this one reads fast eight, fast eight, fast eight.


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How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Your All-Access Pass for Sales Mastery


This one says the T and D library is up here. And then this one reads fast eight. And this one reads email workshop. These are all trainings that you can, with your all access pass, you can log into the website and you can watch all you and your team can watch all of these trainings because they’re a part of your overall membership. So, if you’re a predictive client or one of our members, this is part of your membership. If you’re a predictive client, we bundle that into turnkey or sprint. Okay? Now, let’s focus here on hero offer reviews. So this is sort of now when the hand-to-hand combat of the sales process starts. So, let’s take a closer look. Whoops, grab the wrong tool there to draw. I’m going to draw a quick triangle here. It’s messy.


Let me see if I can do a better job than that. So, if you are listening to this now and not watching, I just drew a triangle on the screen, and I put circles or highlights at the points of the triangle on the far left bottom part of the triangle, I’m going to write the word or acronym, S-D-R, which stands for Sales Development Representative on the far right base of the triangle, I’m going to write the word setter. And then, at the point of the triangle, I’m going to write the word closer, and I’m going to explain the relationship and role at a high level for each of these. Also, if you’re a member of our Facebook group, our free Facebook group, which is called How to Fill Your Sales Pipeline, So if you go to Facebook and search how to fill your sales pipeline you’ll be able to find it.


Or if you go to, that will take you right to it.  and there is training inside the Facebook group specifically on this piece, the Triangle of Sales, where we, in fact, I think it was a three-part series where we broke down each of the roles in the sales process at great length and then had wonderful Q&A about it. So all three of those videos wish, if you go back to, I think that it was the beginning of August, I want to say the first three Wednesdays in August of 2022, of course, you’ll be able to find those three videos. If you’re a member of the group, again, it’s free to be a member of the group. So Okay, so let’s go back to the screen and think about sales development representatives at a high level because the videos break those down in great detail.


So, at a high level, what SDR uh is and what it stands for is that sales development representatives’ goal is to do essentially two things: build your list. So I’m going to say build a list and start to pre-qualify, right? They’re building the list with right-fit prospects and pre-qualifying. And, in order to see if anybody’s going to raise their hand and say, yes, I’m interested in learning more about that, then that role moves the person moves the person who raised their hand over to the setter. The job of the setter is all about, again, pre-qualify in order to, so pre-qualify that person into an SQL or a sales qualified lead, right? So here’s what happens where, or this is often the mistake that happens in the lead gen process. We send out a lead gen email; we call that spear.


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How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Streamlining Your Leads to Sales Conversation


Sometimes, we call it a fifty-three ninety or a 51 30. So we use various forms of lead gen emails in all of the replies we treat the same. And that’s a mistake because I know this is going to sound weird, but people will reply and say, yep, I’m in for that offer, and I never pay for the thing, right? Or they never actually complete the registration, whatever happens.  or they’ll say, yep, I want to learn more about that. You try to follow up with them but never hear from them again. And so the SDR is all about trying to build the list and creating sort of that action of the person raising their hand. The setter then jumps into the process in order to continue the prequalification before scheduling a meeting for the closer. Again, this might be you doing all three of these roles, and that’s fine.


So what I’m suggesting here is a process that’s actually going to save you time and make sure that you’re only on the phone or only on Zoom with people who are actually sales-qualified leads. So the Setter should do this instead of saying, excellent, glad you’re interested. How about tomorrow at four? Can we hop on Zoom? No. Instead, the Setter should reply and ask two questions. And the first question should be, Hey, that’s awesome. Or something like that in your voice. And then say,   to help me prepare for our time together,  lemme know what you think about these two questions. First, what are your top three most vital priorities between now and the end of the year? So that’s question number one. Some variation of that. That sounds like your voice. What are your top three most vital priorities between now and the end of the year?


And two, what are the obstacles that have been in your path and keep you, or have kept you from accomplishing those goals, if any? Right? Ask those two questions. And then, if they don’t reply, okay, they go back into the SDR mix. If they do reply, yay for that, then go ahead and schedule the meeting for the closing session. Then what ends up happening at the closer stage, you’re having a conversation about their business and the business issues and challenges and so forth, and they can see right away that you understand their business better than maybe anybody that they’ve talked to before, right? And so you’re having this great conversation, and if they’ve been in your community for a while now, what ends up happening is they, they may say something like this, they may say, my gosh, you’re exactly the person who I thought you would be.


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How to Build a Strong Sales Pipeline: Guide to Building Authority and Nurturing Leads


What a fantastic compliment when that happens. Because you teach and share in total transparency and generously. And that’s what happens when you do that kind of teaching from that perspective, without any expectation of return. You’re there to teach and share. So, in the closer, and again, this is why I’m pointing you back to this video or the Q&A that we had done back in August, because when a closer does their job, right, what ends up happening is you’re not closing at all. You’re having a conversation about their business and talking about that in such a way that you’re seating and opening loops to how you can be helpful. Think back to the hero offer. What ends up happening is what the prospective client says to you: Can you tell me more about how you could be helpful?


Tell me more about how you’ve helped solve that type of problem with other clients. Tell me more about your team and how they can jump into the trenches with my team and help us solve that issue. Is that what your quote-unquote hero does? Is that what your 90-day sprint does? And then, and then you’re not selling at all. They’ve actually asked; they’ve given you explicit permission to tell them to share with them how you could be helpful. And then again, the job of the closer, even though the title is closer, isn’t to close anything because closing feels yucky. It feels yucky for you to do it, and it feels yucky for the person on the other end. Nobody wants to be close to becoming your next client. Okay, so I think I already mentioned this, but if you go to, you can download the how framework.


Okay. So there are lots of different resources here. The three frameworks I mentioned are the book, the Sell with Authority book, and And then I also mentioned the Q&A that we teach almost every Wednesday. And I say almost because Eric and I often travel and do that kind of stuff. And we don’t want to do that from an airport lounge or something just because it’s a little bit weird in noise backgrounds. So that’s at Then, you can find those recordings that I mentioned before inside the Facebook group, which you can find at Okay. So, that’s where we’re going to come in for a landing today.  I really appreciate your time. Thank you very much for being with me. I look forward to you joining Tom Schwab and I next week on the podcast when we, again, pick up the conversation about building your authority position and using guesting on podcasts, other people’s podcasts as a way, as a great strategy to do that, to siphon their audience into your audience. Again, that’s the pond that we talked about inside the WHO framework. Okay. So until then, onward with gusto.

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