Ep 330: How to be Comfortable Selling High Dollar Offers with Ian Koniak



Our guest today is one of the best salespeople we know!

Ian Koniak has proven himself at all levels of the world of sales, having worked at Ricoh and Salesforce, and now as a full-time sales coach.

Ian’s message is something that we can really get behind, and in this episode, we get to dig down into his sales philosophy, and how you can start selling more today!

Our guest talks about going from belief to energy to engagement, escaping neediness, and the all-important piece of closing deals.

Listeners can expect to come away from today’s chat with a huge dose of sales medicine, and a refresher on lead generation, how to increase referrals, and much more!

Make sure to stay tuned to hear Ian unpack his P.R.E.D.I.C.T. selling framework, which makes any sales call so much easier.

Listen in to hear it all!


  • Charting the evolution of Ian’s business, three years in.
  • Some of the impressive numbers from Ian’s posts on social media!
  • Factors and traits that have set Ian apart as a salesperson. 
  • Accomplishing a full bouquet of success in all spheres of your life.
  • Unpacking the role of the account executive in the sales landscape.
  • Applying the lessons of enterprise sales to a personal brand and business. 
  • Lead generation and referrals; practical reflections and advice from Ian!
  • The nurturing process that Ian goes through with new clients.
  • Tips from Ian regarding closing deals and his P.R.E.D.I.C.T. framework for selling.


“It really does work when you are consistent, and when you are answering the right questions, and solving the right problems that people actually face and care about.” — Ian Koniak [0:07:44]

“Sales is a transfer of energy from one person to another.” — Ian Koniak [0:11:05]

“Knowing your uniqueness and positioning your service so that you can be your true, authentic self, rather than just teaching a piece of content, is also a big part of what I do.” — Ian Koniak [0:14:45]

“By the time I get to the launch everyone is literally dying to get into the program.” — Ian Koniak [0:38:24]

About Ian Koniak

Ian Koniak is President and Founder of Ian Koniak Sales Coaching, which helps AE’s go from good to great by mastering the mindset, habits, and skills needed to perform at the highest level. As a speaker, trainer and an expert on Enterprise Sales, Ian has led national training workshops for Fortune 500 companies and his message has been shared in a variety of media including several leading top 100 podcasts. Ian was recently ranked as the #1 LinkedIn Sales Star by Sales Success Media in Q3 2021 and a Top Sales Influencer by Salesforce.com in 2022.

Ian is Dean of Pavilion’s Enterprise School. With over 100M sold in revenue at Fortune 500 companies, Ian Koniak was the former #1 Enterprise Account Executive at Salesforce. Prior to Salesforce, Ian led a team of 10 Sales Managers and 70 AE’s at Ricoh USA, where he grew his division to 60M ARR and was recognized as the #1 Director of Sales.


Ian Koniak

Untap Your Sales Potential

Ian Koniak on LinkedIn



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Rory Vaden

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Brand Builders Group

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The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Stitcher

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RV (00:02): I am so looking forward to this conversation with a friend of mine and AJ’s for years. His name is Ian Cognac, and he’s one of the best salespeople that we have ever come across. He, we actually, aj, AJ met him first before I did, and they became friends. He was a sales training client of ours and he at our former life, at our former company. And he had us doing some work with him, him, his team. He was one of the top sales people nationwide for a company called Rico, which was like selling copiers and, you know, sort of business office products and things like that. And then he left and went to Salesforce and so the, the big crm, Salesforce, and he was the number one enterprise account executive at Salesforce in the world. So he’s been a sales manager. He has been a top salesperson. RV (00:56): And then we started working with him again as a client here recently at Brand Builders Group a couple years ago. We want to hear a little bit about that story when Ian finally left sales and started his journey as an entrepreneur now in sales coaching, which is something that we don’t provide at Brand Builder’s group, like per se, as like cl classic sales coaching like we once did. And so anyways, I wanted to have Ian on for you to meet him and teach us some tips and tools for how we can sell more in our businesses. So, Ian, welcome to the show, Brother. It’s been a long time coming, IK (01:32): Rory, it’s so good to be here. And I just wanna say thank you for enrolling me in 2019. I, I joined Brand Builders in April. You were just starting out in, since then, It’s been over three years and I, I’ve quit my job. I’m a full-time solo entrepreneur and now I get the privilege of, you know, helping people learn to sell in a way that has high integrity and purpose and connected to what they want most. And it really is because of, you know, a big part of it is because of following the playbook of Brand Builders Group and the work we’ve done. I’ve been working with your, you, you and your, your partners for, for over three years now, and you’re doing great work. So it’s great to connect as a guest and a testim testimony to, to the work we’ve done together. RV (02:15): Man, that’s awesome. Like what Give, it was a sense of what, what is your business doing this year? Cuz it’s like, so when you first started working with us, you, you had a job, so you were making a bunch of money cuz you were top. We’re gonna talk about that in a second, but then like just on that note for a second, how has your business evolved and like, give us a sense of the scope of the business that you’re up to now, three years into it? IK (02:37): Yeah, so, so at first it was really about like, who do I wanna serve? What, what is my brand positioning statement? Who are, who are my icp? What, what am I gonna do? And it was really about creating that audience. So I, I spent the better part of 2019, 2020 really just kind of figuring it out and doing a side hustle, if you will, coaching. I wasn’t ready to walk away from a seven figure income per se, in, in sales. And I’m supporting my family and couple kids. I’m the, the breadwinner for my, for my household. And so, yeah, I was very nervous and I, I remember you, you said to me, you said, Just go for it, Ian, you’re gonna be fine. And I, I, I just wasn’t ready to just go all in yet. So the first two years was really about building an audience and kind of proving out the model. IK (03:17): I was doing private coaching and then I decided to deploy the same program which brand builders taught, which is having three levels of membership. So I deployed a one year membership model where I call it bronze, silver, and gold coaching through my platform, which is untapped your sales potential. And through that the gold is private coaching with me. The group the silvers group coaching in, in the bronze is online coaching and online access. So I’ve built a amazing portal with all kinds of training modules. I meet with a mastermind every week where we have live events and group calls and I do private coaching for my most exclusive clients at, wanna work with me one on one. Just to give you some numbers, the business already is surpassed seven figures and we are just in October right now for my first full year as a solar RV (04:03): Show. Wow. IK (04:05): Yeah, it’s doing, it’s going great. I got, I got 70 paying clients, 20 in gold 50 in silver and I haven’t even launched the bronze yet. So this is all, yeah, it’s all happening very quickly and it’s very exciting for me. RV (04:17): Man, that’s amazing. So seven figures in your first full year well that’s awesome. So, Well thank you for that. Thanks for sharing that. And you know, I I, I remember if you’re listening and you’re a client of, of brand builders, you know, we teach the content diamond, which is like our social media strategy where we talk about answer one question every week on social media, on video, just five to seven minutes and just do it over and over and over. And we’d always tell people like, if you’ll just do this, if you just buy into this and you just follow the process, like it will work. It never doesn’t work, it always works. It’s just a question of when, and you started posting videos on LinkedIn in 2019, and I remember you’re getting eight views and six views and you did that relentlessly. And I don’t know how many views your videos are getting now, but I saw that you recently were ranked as like the number one LinkedIn sales star by sales success media, like, and so you’ve just been doing that one thing relentlessly. IK (05:23): Yeah. Content market is how many and RV (05:24): How many views are you getting now on those videos? IK (05:27): I’m averaging per post 30,000 views per, RV (05:30): Oh my IK (05:30): Gosh, that’s not, I’m, yeah, , it’s, it’s, I looked at that analytics with my social media my LinkedIn, I have a LinkedIn strategist that I work with specifically for that platform now. And we were looking at some of the, the data yesterday and it’s averaging, yeah, just under 30,000 views per post. I’ve had several posts go viral. I’ve had one a few weeks ago get a million and a half views. Wow. And here’s, here’s the remarkable thing, worries, I’ve, I had a consistent strategy. I did follow the content diamond and, and specifically I did one post a week, I made a video and then I had that go to a blog newsletter LinkedIn and that, that and YouTube, right? So the YouTube channel is several thousand, you know, subscribers, but LinkedIn’s really been the source of traffic. Well, the goal is really to build the audience. IK (06:17): In the beginning it was like, okay, just stay consistent, stay consistent, gradually built up. And, and what happened is the, for anyone who’s thinking of building brand and has like their own business still that they’re, you know, employed at corporate or whatever, I would say start the audience building now. Cuz when I was finally ready to launch my platform, it was in May of 2022. So I’d been building my brand for three years up, up to that point since joining Brand Builders. And when I launched my private coaching, the gold coaching sold out in two days, all spots, ah, and then the silver sold 50 seats. So I, I had over a half a million dollar launch as a result of, you know, building this audience. So people say it’s like the tip of the iceberg, you’re only seeing the tip, but what was beneath it in this case was consistent content posting every single week for three years prior to that launch. IK (07:06): And when you finally have a product, you’ve established that reputation, you established trust. Here’s the best part, and I don’t know a single person in the world who’s done this. If you know someone, please tell me. But the launch occurred without any sales calls. So everyone spent either 6,000 or $12,000 online in paying via credit card. Wow. No sales team. So that’s, that’s really what I was most proud of is the fact that there had been so much trust established that people were gonna pay 12,000 without even talking to me or having a sales person to talk to about the program. So it really does work when you’re consistent and when you’re answering the right questions and solving the right problems that people actually face and care about. RV (07:44): Yeah, I love that man. And, and so it was once, so you did it once a week for three years, so like 150 videos, and then by the time you were ready to like, make the jump and do this, you sold half a million bucks in the first launch. IK (07:58): Yeah, that’s right. And, and, and the other thing I started doing is I, I actually hired somebody in 2022, you know, I think it was probably February-ish working with him six or seven months. And he took my top performing videos and my top performing content and he think of them as a ghost writer, but he reposes and rewrites some of this stuff. It almost almost sounds like me. So he helps me. So now I’ve gotten to the point where I do probably two or three original posts, one video and a couple texts, some, sometimes some pictures on LinkedIn per week. And then he’ll fill in the gaps. So I’m actually posting seven days a week now. So my content volume has gone up to daily on LinkedIn and I’ve seen a dramatic increase in traffic from when I posted once a week to when I’m doing posting daily now. So my, my followers is up to 30,000 on LinkedIn and the view is the engagement is, is really high as well. So it’s been, it’s been really interesting to see how well you can scale if you find someone who writes like you, who can analyze the data, who can repurpose what’s relevant. Yeah. It’s almost like he, he’s my voice, right? So RV (09:03): Yeah, that’s the, that’s part of the content I’m in is get the videos transcribed and send ’em to a writer and then, and then have ’em repurpose the content. Like, I mean, it’s just awesome, Ian, because you know, I’ve known you for so long, you’ve always been super successful in business. Like, but to actually see you doing it and go, oh man, what we teach works like it actually works. Oh my gosh. Like if you do it, it works. Like it really, it really, really fill me up. So, so I do wanna talk about the sales specific because like brother, you have crushed it. I mean now, even now in your own business you’re still selling and, and you know, using your personal brand to do some of that. But like, how did you become the number one, Like you were number one at rico, like you were one of the number one like directors of, of sales, I remember that. So you had, and you had 70 account executives underneath you. That was about the time we met. Then you became number one at Salesforce. Like what is it about what you do, do you think that has made you a number one salesperson versus, you know, all the sales managers, the salespeople, you’ve managed other sales people that have been on teams, you know, people you’ve met in, in the industry. Like what, what makes you a number one or what makes a number one salesperson? IK (10:18): Yeah, I love the question. And for anyone I don’t know if you have links, but I’m, I’m happy to share. I put together a an ebook or it’s really like a infographic on the top 10 traits of elite sales performers, the top kind of, you know, 1% of sales performers. And I studied a lot and I partnered with them RV (10:37): And I, and let’s do this, I do want people to get it. So if you go to brand builders group.com/ian cognac, so go to brand builders group.com/ian cognac, we’ll put, we’ll put a link here to what you’re talking about, Ian. So in his last name’s K O N i k K o N I a k K O N I a K. IK (10:56): So I’ll, I’ll get you that link. But fun, fundamentally for me personally, I get to ask this question a lot. I think, I think one of the things which I tend to, to do really well is I have a firm, it’s energy, right? Sales is a transfer of energy from one person to another. So for me, I genuinely have a lot of energy in that it contagious, it’s infectious. And I hear that a lot from clients. I ask someone why they bought for me for a corporate client and they said it was your energy. We, we thought the sales team needed more energy and we knew you brought that to the table. Now again, is that repeatable? Is it re reusable? No, that’s a personal thing. So I, I’d say for anyone who wants to improve their energy, right? You need to think about how you can actually help your clients and believe in the product or service you provide, right? IK (11:47): The reason Roy, you do really well at selling, even though you may not consider yourself a salesperson, you’re an amazing salesperson, is cuz you believed you can help anyone who joins your program and follows the steps that you teach. And because of that belief, your conviction, your energy when you’re talking to prospects is going to be extremely high. So if you wanna improve your energy, it starts with strengthening your own belief in in. How do you do that? Well, you need to talk to customers. You need to see the results they’re getting. If you’re brand new to a company, find out who your top customers are, interview them and really learn about what their before state was and what their after state and how you help them. Once you know you can help people fundamentally, once you know that you can truly improve their lives or improve their company’s performance, you are going to feel more energized, more, more passionate and, and become a better salesperson. So I think it starts with belief, which then transfers to energy, which then transfers to how you engage with your clients. So that would be probably not my number one. RV (12:45): I mean, it’s funny how you say that. Like I literally just experienced that in the opening of this interview. Like cuz you’re a past customer also, like hearing you go, yeah, I went from zero to seven figures in less than three years and really in my first full business year, I’m getting 30,000 views, like following this process. I’m going, gosh, it works like this stuff. It’s so convicting, like we’re gonna raise all our prices after this impact is what we’re getting. You need IK (13:10): To RV (13:12): Like, it just, it’s just, it’s so invigorating. And I think sometimes I think honestly, honestly, sometimes salespeople are a little bit afraid to talk to their past customers cuz they’re like, oh, you know, like, did it work? Was it good? Like, did they have a good experience? And but you, when you see that actual transformation, you just get so convicted on it. Yeah. IK (13:33): So I, I just did, I started my program in May, so I just did a pulse survey for Q1 for all 70 members and I asked them specifically, you know, what do you think this program is worth it? What value have you gotten? How has this helped you in your personal life? How has it helped you in your professional life? Right? So I’m capturing not only feedback so I can continue to improve the program, but I’m actually capturing success stories that I can use for marketing for future launches. But the, the real value is like hearing these stories, hearing people, Hey, I’m spending more time with my family. I’m not burning myself out, I’m selling more than ever. And I’m also able to play with my kids like cuz cause I don’t just teach sales, I teach, you know, a lot of like mindset and habits and balance and you know, I I I practice my faith, I have family, I have other values that, you know, my story and you know, my struggles with addiction and I had to overcome a lot of personal challenges that I incorporate into what I teach. IK (14:25): Cuz ultimately if you’re successful in one area, you’re making a lot of money, but you actually don’t have time or presence to be with your family or you’re not actually happy, then how is that successful? Right? So for me it really is more than that. And, and I think genuinely that, that’s what attracts a lot of clients is they want that balance. They want that true success, not just in how to sell more, but actually how to do it in a way that is high integrity, where it’s not sacrificing what’s most important to them, whether it’s their time, their family, their health. So I think knowing your uniqueness in positioning your service so that you can be your true, authentic self rather than just teaching a piece of content is also a big part of what I do and how I’ve been able to really, really grow my, my own business very, very, very quickly. RV (15:11): Well when you say talking to your past clients, like that’s so huge. Like, just cuz you kept the stories, I mean we did the trends in personal branding, national research study, you know, like earlier this year when we released it and it’s, you know, we were asking what we asked the average American citizen, what’s the most influential factor that contributes to you making a decision? And we said, Oh, the person is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author, a New York Times bestselling author, they have a large social media presence or da da da da. None of those were number one, not even close. The number one thing was they said they have customer testimonials on their website. That was the number one thing. It’s like, it makes people believe that if other people are saying this is good, it’s, it’s the single most powerful thing and you just don’t get it. RV (15:59): If you don’t talk, you don’t call your past clients. Like if you don’t talk to ’em or you don’t survey ’em, you don’t, you don’t get that feedback. So how else, you know, when you think of account executive and, and I wanna make, you know, help me understand that term a little bit because at Salesforce you were doing truly like enterprise sales. You’re selling to like large companies. Some of our, some of our personal brands do that, right? They sell corporate training and they sell ’em to like big fortune 100 companies. A lot of, a lot of our, our, you know, listeners of the show and are more like small business entrepreneurs that, that sell more like business to consumer. So help us understand what does account executive mean? And then I know at Rico that wasn’t really like enterprise sales, that was more like B2B sales, but sort of give us the landscape of the different types of sales. And, and then what I’m specifically looking for is what is it, what can someone selling their personal brand learn from someone who has been selling enterprise accounts and like what’s the transferable skill set? Cuz you’ve, you’ve now straddled all these worlds at Rico. You were B2B at, at Salesforce, you were enterprise sales and now you’re a small business like solo per selling B to C to individuals. Yeah. So you’ve done it in all all three, which is very rare. IK (17:21): Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s such a good question. So I think, I think if I can just pan out and give you kind of the, the landscape of sales. A lot of people think sales and they think like B to C, right? And in the big influencers out there on Instagram, whatever, that is not what, what I did for 19 years I did specifically b2b. And in B2B there’s really two segments RV (17:42): Of business to business y. If you’re not familiar with the term, B2B is business to business. B2C is business to consumer. IK (17:48): Yeah. And for anyone who wants to know how this relates to people who have their own per personal brand or entrepreneurs, if you are selling to a company, you’re selling your training, your coaching, your portal, your services to a company, listen up because that’s business to business, okay? There’s a lot of universal principles to that apply to all three, but I’m gonna kind of give you a quick school in, in, in kind of what the differences are. So, love it. There’s two types of B2B sales. There’s strategic sales or enterprise sales, and there’s transactional sales. So think of B2B transactional as I’m selling copiers, I’m selling paper products, I’m selling janitorial services, I’m selling something, computers, it’s a commodity, right? Short sales cycles, generally price is gonna be very important and it’s gonna be high volume. Okay? High volume, high activity, kind of grinded out, do the activity, then you build the pipeline, then you get the sales. IK (18:44): So it’s, it’s kind of like anyone can go into that job and if you’re a hard worker and if you just do what you’re told and you basically stick to the, the numbers, it’s very metrics driven. You’re probably gonna be successful selling commodity. Now, typically that range, you see people maybe go from like a hundred, 2000, a hundred thousand dollars a year, right? And, and top earners might make 2, 2 50, but in general you’re not getting paid because it’s an easier sale. It’s transactional, it’s high volume. And there’s not a lot of differentiation between providers cuz it’s commoditized enterprise selling B2B enterprise or B2B software. If you think of companies like Workday or Salesforce or Microsoft or Oracle or any of these IBM big C selling software, these are much higher volume sales. So these sales oftentimes are several hundred thousand dollars, or in my case, several million dollars. IK (19:37): Now, if company’s gonna spend two, three, 4 million a year with you, you better believe there’s going to be multiple decision makers. It’s going to be a longer sales cycle. You’re going to have more stages in a sales cycle where you have discovery and demonstration and actually you have to do a business case. Maybe it has to go to a board. So think of RICO as transactional for 10 years and then me going to Salesforce to sell enterprise for nine years. So I had to go from this transactional hustler, grind it out, hard work, do the activity selling rep to a strategic selling rep. And the skills are not the same. The skills of an enterprise seller selling software, you need to be able to get to senior executives in a company, not office managers or lower levels, but senior executives who are responsible for making those big decisions, right? So how to access the C-suite, that’s a skill. Another skill is how to put together a business case in an ROI so that CFOs can justify this type of investment. Another skill is what’s called multi-threading. On average, there’s seven decision makers in the enterprise selling space. It’s not one person, it’s the legal team, the IT team, the security team, RV (20:47): What do you call it? Multithreading, IK (20:49): Multi multithreading. Okay. So just, just for the sake, I don’t wanna get too technical, but for the sake of the different sales cycles, they’re very different. A strategic person needs more organizational skills, time management skills, project management. They are not hard closing because again, there’s so many different decision makers and it’s a longer sales cycle. So they need to build partnership and relationships with clients. That’s primarily what I teach in my coaching programs is how to do this B2B software, strategic selling. And the upside of this is, when you’re doing this well, you make north of seven figures. This is the elite, the NFL mvp, the highest paying sales job in any business to business sales is selling software. Okay? So if you wanna, if you’re thinking of your business to business and you want to make as much money as you can selling software, you can make seven figures a year as a individual W two employee, which is unheard of. IK (21:45): I never knew this was possible. I’ve done it a couple times at Salesforce. Okay. So that’s the second se segment of sales. The third segment is B to C. This is when you’re selling direct to consumers. So think of a real estate agent or Rory selling me the program of joining Brand builders group. This is what I sell. Now I sell individuals that are joining my programs. I also sell B to B because sometimes I do company trainings to go out and actually train sales teams. So I’m doing both B2C and B2B right now as an individual B2C sellers, the cycles are gonna be much shorter. Okay? It’s also going to be, typically you’re dealing with one decision maker. Maybe they need to talk to their spouse, but it’s a much, it’s one or two sales calls, right? Whereas the B2B could be 20 or 30, right? So again, you’re, these are six to nine month sales cycles in some cases. So it, it really is about getting to value very quickly. But there are some common elements of all three segments which are critical to success. And the reason I was successful in all three is I took those same elements of what makes people successful and I applied them to all three of those segments. So I hope that clarifies things for anyone. Like, cuz sales is not just sales, right? RV (22:54): Yeah. That’s, that’s huge. To just, to just understand that landscape and the different types of skill sets, you know, and there’s so many preconceived notions that people have about sales people and it’s like they’re usually thinking of one type, not all is like, I mean, a lot of people don’t realize that salespeople are some of the highest paid people in the world. I mean that in, in our organization, the highest paid people are the salespeople like that if, because without sales you don’t, you don’t have anything. So, so now thinking about personal brands and, and you know, just like you, like I said, a bit a part of our audience cuz when we sell keynotes, right? Keynote speaking is a B2B sales model. We’re selling to companies, they’re multiple decision makers. It’s a longer sales process. People are, you know, there’s a, there’s usually a, a event planning committee, you know, or speaker selection committee that’s a B2B sale. RV (23:46): In our former life we sold consulting, we sold training. That’s b2b. So there’s a lot of personal brands that sell b2b. There’s not that many personal brands that sell enterprise where you’re selling something that is, you know, 5,000 seats at a time. Yeah. There’s a couple that train the trainer model, which is like what Franklin Covey did, where that model is more of like where you’re shipping kits, which I don’t know if you’ve ever stumbled across anyone as a personal brands that do this, but you, you could end up being in this space one day, Ian, which is basically just like you, you create a kit right? On your methodology and then you’re selling it to United Healthcare to their HR department and then you certify people internally and then they buy 5,000 kits and you’re shipping, you’re shipping kits. Like that’s what kind of Franklin Covey model is. IK (24:34): Yeah. Yeah. And there are people, Grant Cardone, I think I, I can’t quote the numbers, but yeah, RV (24:39): He does some of that. He IK (24:40): Does Cardone University card company companies where all their sales team have seats. And I think that business, I mean it’s definitely eight figures, but I heard something around like 40, 50 million just for that specific line of, of Cardone University and that’s b2b. He’s got whole sales team. So it absolutely, if you’re a personal brand, if I wanted to scale up and take my program and then sell it to Salesforce, for example, where they have 20,000 users and then they go through my program, I could do that. It’s not something I’m choosing to do. But it’s absolutely relevant to personal branding space if you have programs that have, you know, audiences in those companies that you can sell seats to, for example. RV (25:18): Yeah, that’s really cool. I mean that’s a whole nother thing in and of itself, of going, you know, when you think about the vision of how big a personal brand could be, you know, like Grant Cardone is selling BTA c getting people to buy tickets to come to Growth Con or whatever. Yep. And he’s selling b2b, like they’ve got trainers going out to companies doing stuff and then he’s selling Enterprise Cardone University, like buy a thousand seats in this, in this virtual, like there’s a big, there’s a big world here of how personal brands can become, you know, multi eight figure and, and all of that. So I wanna talk about referrals and lead generation specifically mm-hmm. . Because what we find Ian is that that’s the number one thing that small business owners and like new entrepreneurs and new personal brands struggle with, is they don’t have enough leads. RV (26:05): A lot of times once they get into the conversation, right, they’re talking with someone, they do a decent job cuz they are convicted on their product. Many times at Brand Builders group, you know, we say as you know, we serve mission driven messengers. So these are people that have like dedicated their life to their expertise. They believe in it. It’s almost like they’re a bleeding heart where they would give it away for free because they just love it. What they have a harder time doing is creating sales conversations and meeting new people. So what tips do you have in the way of lead generation referrals? How do I get, I mean obviously content marketing, which is a big part, part of what we do. What, what your story is recently, but like you weren’t doing content marketing at Salesforce, you weren’t doing content marketing at Rico yet, you were still generating new business like crazy. So let’s not allow content marketing to be part of the answer. How do you generate, how do you generate leads? IK (27:03): I mean, genuinely you can do it in a number of ways. I think in, in B to C specifically what I do is I go on podcasts like this. I I, it’s part of my strategy. So I’ll go to a lot of podcasts and people will hear me. So I identified like the top podcasts that are in the sales specific B2B sales space. And I you know, I reached out to the podcasters. I actually hired a agent to help me get booked on this. And I, I probably do at least two or three podcasts a month and I get a lot of leads coming in through, through that. I think another channel is, is just referrals. I set up, I didn’t even set this up yet, but I have a lot of people in their programs that are coaching with me right now tell their friends about it. IK (27:58): So I’ll just have people reach out and say, my friends in the program is getting a lot of value. Cuz again, if you’re, if you’re people that are joining you are, are getting success, they’re gonna talk about it, they’re gonna talk about coaching. And so what I typically will do is I will you know, I won’t even ask for referrals, they’re coming organically, but I’ll ask people to share their success stories. And part of my 2.0 launch is to set up kind of what you did with, with bg. I, I have referred a ton of people to, to BG over over the years. But I wanna have that same affiliate structure where, you know, if people have had results, they can refer their friends. So now you have 70 sales people versus, you know, this, this mm-hmm. , you know, me trying to sell myself. That’s part of my no call, you know, sales approach. So I think getting the current customers to sell on your behalf and putting some skin in the game is a, is a huge one for them. And then again, RV (28:52): Oh, just so y’all know, what Ian’s referencing is we actually pay our customers lifetime referral fees when they, when they introduce someone to us. And so it’s like we, we have never run a paid ad and, and I want to, I’m trying to, but like we’ve been generating so much demand that we haven’t been able to scale our team fast enough to keep up with the demand coming from the word of mouth referrals because we pay people to do it too. So they actually make some of our clients make a lot of money. I mean, we have clients that make six figures a year just in referral fees. So IK (29:24): Yeah. And it’s coming. I, I’ve been building up now where I’m seeing, I’m seeing the impact there and I get the get the get the bill.com payment. RV (29:33): Oh, from us. Yeah. We send you money IK (29:34): Every month. Yeah. Yeah. Cause cause I believe in it and that’s the thing, like if I believe the program works and I’m a, and I’m, I’ve experienced firsthand I’m gonna be your best salesperson, there is, there’s no better salesperson. So really capturing the results and then putting a structure together where you have an affiliate program and if you are a personal brand, you can do this through like Kajabi’s got a tool for it and all the, you know, the ma major CRMs have have ways to set that up pretty easily to link you know, attribution to, to the referrals here. But, but RV (30:05): Even what I, even what I hear you saying is even if you can’t do affiliate links, just get your customers to share their story. Like that’s what it’s really about. IK (30:13): Yes, yes. RV (30:14): Get them results and then let them share their story. IK (30:17): They’re texting every time they text you and say, I got this. Capture it right and save it. So you can keep those text message every time you get a voice note every time anyone shares a success story or a win capture that, that’s gonna be your asset library on your website, on, you know, any sales calls you want to use. If you ever do a deck or a pitch deck or anything, you can share that. It’s just something I’ve done since the very beginning and it’s been absolutely huge in, in, if you go to my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see over a hundred referrals and it’s literally stories I, when someone finishes my program and say, if, did you have a good experience? Yes. Well, can you leave a referral on LinkedIn? Fortunately I haven’t had anyone that’s had a bad RV (30:53): Experience. Oh, a recommendation you mean? Yeah, IK (30:55): Yeah. A recommendation on they RV (30:57): Go write a public thing on your LinkedIn. Yeah, that’s another great one. Like the whole world can see it right there. IK (31:03): And, and I’ll just point people if they have doubts or, Hey, go read the recommendations. Like, I don’t want, here’s the thing. In order to be the, the common thread, I wanna give you some tips on what makes a great seller across all the space. So if you sell b2c, B2B keynotes, whatever, it doesn’t really matter. The, the common thread here. Here’s something really important that I want everyone to, to think about is the best sellers are not attached to outcomes, Okay? And it’s contrary to what may, may many people believe when they have quota goals or revenue goals. But if you’re focusing on your own outcomes, you are going to be inward focused where you and your goals are more important than your customer’s goals. You see, the best sales reps are actually invested in truly wanting to help their clients. So when they show up to a sales call or an interaction, they really wanna understand, does this client need my help? IK (31:55): Where do they struggle? What problems do they have? And am I a good fit to solve those problems? And if the answers yes, asking for money and getting ’em to a role is going to be the easiest part. So in a sales call, I’ll spend in a 30 minute sales call, 20 or 25 minutes really just understanding their world, their situation, where their struggle, what is the impact that these problems are having on their life, on their family, on their income. I literally will have people crying and happens almost every time where you really get ’em to open up and say, I’m not where I not wanna be. I’m not providing for my family, I’m not achieving the goals that I set out to, I’m sick and tired of this. And I’m like, Yes, you’re ready. Right? So it’s, it’s the same concept in B2B or b2c. IK (32:35): You really wanna show up with the intention of helping your client solve a problem or achieve a goal rather than trying to pitch or sell something. Okay? That is the common language of the best sales people, is they don’t, doesn’t feel to the customer like they’re being sold, It feels like to the customer that they’re sharing their world in that this person is interested in learning about them. So what I always tell people is, be interested, not interesting. In other words, the more you can show up with curiosity, interest, and really trying to understand the world of your clients, the more interesting you are going to become to them. Okay? So don’t try and impress, don’t try and pitch. Don’t try and, you know, show up and, and wow them, right? Or else like you’re gonna lose them. Instead just leave your ego at the door and be really curious and interested. IK (33:26): And if you can’t help them, then go in and it’s your obligation to get them to, to sign up because you know it’s in their best interest. And then again, closing becomes the easiest part of the sale. So I think that to me is like really key in terms of, you know, some of the, the commonalities across all these different, you know, different schools of sales. It’s like if you’re, if you’re selling keynotes for example, and, and you want to go in and, and position yourself as the keynote speaker for their annual conference, you’re gonna wanna know like, what is the biggest problems that your employees are facing today that you want the keynote to address? Where are are struggles? What do people wanna learn about? What are they asking for? What would you consider successful if they walked away from? What would you want the energy to be? IK (34:11): What is the biggest thing? Why’d you reach out to me? Why’d you reach out to me? A as a potential speaker, right? So it’s really, you’re, you’re trying to uncover their goals and what success looks like to them. And then you tailor your messaging around how you’re gonna help them. Cuz if you don’t know what they want first or what they’re trying to achieve or what their problems are, then your pitch is gonna fall flat. So I think again that’s really important. I want to give, give some of those tips away. But that’s, that’s the key. It’s like if you do that, RV (34:36): I think that’s the big thing people don’t understand. Like they think of sales is like being a, you know, a smooth talker and like having the right thing to say, like whatever. And just going, all you’re doing is trying to really understand what their situation is and, and can you help. So, okay so basically most of your leads come from your existing customers. IK (35:01): They’re all from content marketing. I know you don’t wanna but they RV (35:06): Down. I don’t mind hearing that. That’s what we teach people how to do, right? Like that’s, that’s I know that especially in a B2C world like content marketing, podcasting, social media, like, you know, email marketing, all that stuff. Can IK (35:17): I walk you through exactly how I got my leads? Cause I have 13 on my wait list, so I’ll tell you what my strategy is and you just, hopefully your users can use it. So find the channel where your clients are in mind. It’s b2b, right? Sales people. So it’s LinkedIn or if you’re again, potentially selling two businesses and you’re a personal brand and this resonates, this could be a source of lead traffic, this podcast, right? So fundamentally find your source and go there where your clients are. So wherever that is, that’s where you want to be most active. So anyone who I post every day on LinkedIn, okay? And people connect with me, so I’ll get, you know, 50 connection requests a day. Every person that requests me, not that I’m requesting that, that raises their hand and says, I wanna connect with you or follows you, or whatever it is, depending on the channel you’re on, I send them a message, right? IK (36:04): Or actually I have a VA send it and the message is simple. Hey, thanks for requesting me as a connection. If you’re looking to grow sales, right? And I only send this to the people that are sales professionals cuz that’s my icp. I wouldn’t send this to someone who is a marketer or project manager, just the one, I’d say, if you’re looking to grow your sales, here are three ways I can help. And I say, number one, I have an email newsletter that you can get new videos every week sent to number two. You wanna capture the whole archive, go to my YouTube subscribe here, and I have link to subscribe. And then I say number three, my coaching programs are completely sold out, but if you want to join the next coaching cohort, here’s the wait list link to work with me directly on that wait list link. IK (36:43): I have my pricing laid out, I have the program laid out, and when they sign up, they know what they’re getting. So when they sign up for the wait list, they know what the investment is, they’ve already raised their hand, they fill out a form, right? And if I really wanna basically call them or create true lead source, now I have 1300 people that are teed up and I could set up calls with them and I would have them fill out a form before they book it to further qualify them and make sure they’re fit using, using ly. So that’s kind of the way I’ve been doing it, minus the calls because again, it’s just me and I don’t have sales team right now, but that’s exactly, you know, the strategy that I was used. Once that wait list is ready for launch, then I’ll warm up the, the wait list. IK (37:22): So I basically cap my enrollment, I cap my members, and then I have a a nurturing campaign to everyone on the wait list, Hey, it’s coming get ready enrollments in three months, here are some success stories, here’s the curriculum. Hey, you have questions, just email me or reach out on LinkedIn. And so they’re continuing to hear from me. It’s not like five months and then they lost interest them, I’m nurturing them and then they’re also on my newsletter getting, you know, continued content where I can build that trust. Then before I launch, I say I only have 20 spots available. First come, first serve, put the link and in, and then I make it, you know, more of a, a time based in a, in a, in a cap, a member cap based program where I’ve already done the math and I know how many people I need to hit, you know, the target revenue goals for, for, for what I want to do. So that creates overwhelming demand because they need to get in and they know that it’s a limited offer and there’s only limited spot. So I, I love that versus just open all the time. Anytime you want it, just hop on a call. It’s here when you, you’re ready, right? So by the time I get to the launch, everyone’s like literally dying to, to get in the program. So that’s the strategy I’ve used and it’s working really well so far. RV (38:27): Yeah, I love that. That’s so great, man. I, it’s just so simple. I mean, it’s just, you know, adding value and building trust and then just letting people raise their hand and say when they’re ready. We are, we’re evergreen. Like we always, we’re like an evergreen open option. So it’s always interesting to see like how people use the launch strategy to, to sort of like build the demand and, and there is always that more natural urgency in a launch model than with the evergreen. And if you’re doing an evergreen model, you gotta, you gotta have some type of urgency for something. So I really love that. So Ian one last thing here. I already, so I already told everybody, you know, by the way, go to brain builders group.com/ian cognac, we’ll connect you to Ian where you can like download some of his free trainings and, and be plugged in with everything that he’s going, he’s got going on. RV (39:20): His last name is K O N I A K, Coac. Before I let you go, a few tips on closing. Like any other tips on like, if you’re in an active conversation, I know you’re not doing calls now, but you’ve done years and years of calls and, and you know, it, I think when you’re selling enterprise or when you were doing b2b, like even when you’re selling copiers, like that’s still a big decision. How do you bring people to a decision quickly? You know, on, on, especially like high dollar offers, right? So whether you’re selling, you know, millions of dollars of CRM software, or you’re selling them a copier that’s tens of thousands of dollars or a consulting program or a coaching program. Any, any tips or advice on like you said, if you’ve done a good job asking the questions and listening to their need and, and, and that this is the easiest part. So what would you say about closing? IK (40:22): I, I think again I just shared this, I, I’ll, I’ll give three tips that I, I think work well. But the premise is if you were attached to an outcome and you need to get the sale, you are gonna show up as needy and you’re gonna have commission breath and commission breath stinks. So like above all else, the tone and the energy you need to bring is one that this is for you. It’s not for me. This is going to help you. If you wanna do it, great, I’m here. And if you don’t, hey, that’s your decision. No, no sweat off my back. I’m here to help. But honestly, some people can’t help themselves. You lead ’em to water and you can’t hold their head and force them down to drink. They need to go down and wanna drink themselves. So I think that is a mindset shift more than anything else. IK (41:10): And in realizing like, Hey, I don’t need this to feel worthy. I don’t need them to sign up. Okay, this is good for them and if they miss it, it’s their loss. So that’s, that’s kind of the underlying energy. Now as far as like strategies or closing tips I think it’s really important, and this goes without saying if you’re, if you’re selling business to business, so if you’re selling a keynote or to a company, you need to be dealing with the decision maker directly. So never take no from someone who can’t say yes. So if, if they’re not paying for the keynote, you need to get to the people who are deciding what speakers are there and who are paying for it, right? Versus somebody who’s just collecting information on all the speakers, right? You need to make sure you’re dealing with the heads of that department. IK (41:49): So anytime I was selling coaching or training to a company or keynote to a company, I need to make sure I find out first and foremost, who is the key decision maker? How is this decision made? I have a framework that I use that I’m gonna give you called predict selling. So predict selling stands for P is the problem. What problem are you solving? Okay? That’s the P You need to make sure you know the problem, okay? The R is really important. It’s, it’s the why, the reason why do they wanna do this? Okay? What’s in it for them? What outcomes it’s gonna help ’em achieve. That’s the, that’s the r stands for reason, okay? The E is engagement. Are they engaged? Okay, In other words, go get their cell phone. Here’s another, probably give you five, five tips on this one acronym. The E is go get their cell phone, get on the text thread, Ro you and I are on a text thread. IK (42:40): Now if even if I don’t have anything to ask of you, I’ll share a win, I’ll share a voice note, I’ll share a memo, right? Because I want you to think of me right in general and stay top of mind for you. You wanna do the same thing with your clients. Drive engagement, get on text, thread with them and have a relationship. Okay? D is decision maker and decision process. Make sure you are dealing directly with the decision maker that is above and beyond the number one in B2B way. You need to make sure you’re dealing with the right person who can say yes. And you need to understand their decision process, right? Does it have to go to a committee? When is it going to be decided? Do you have to do legal contracts? Is there a purchasing department? You need to understand, especially if you’re selling as a personal brand to businesses, there are many layers of approvals that people have to go through. IK (43:23): So that’s the second D in is decision process. Okay? The I is impact. If they work with you, what is the impact? What are the results? What is the payoff they’re going to get? Right? So show them the value. That’s the i is impact. The C is cost of in action. If you don’t do this right, what is that gonna cost you? Are you gonna continue to be in pain? What happens if nothing changes in the year? Right? Really get them to say, Hey, let’s say you do nothing. What is your life gonna look like in three months and six months in one year? Very, very powerful. Tony Robbins uses that quite a bit to get people to want to change, right? Cause ultimately sales is getting people to change what they’re doing. So what is it gonna cost you if it you, if you don’t do anything, right? IK (44:03): There’s hard costs and there’s opportunity costs. And then the last thing t is timeline. Why now why is it important for you to do this right now? What’s driving this on your side? Maybe there’s a product launch, maybe they’re hiring some new sales people, maybe you know, they, they’re getting married. What whatever it is, like find out why now is relevant for them to enroll in your service. So if you can go through, predict and have all those question answers, by the time you get to close, it’s going to be natural and you’re going to basically say, Great, well it sounds like we can help you. There’s a lot in it for you. The timing is perfect. Let’s go ahead and get started. All I need is your authorization, right? So then ask for the business, right? Which is basically ask ’em to buy, tell ’em how to buy and then ask them to buy, right? IK (44:45): A lot of people are afraid to just ask them. So you just be direct and ask them. And then if they hesitate, they need to think about it. Don’t get off the call, find out like, hey, we’re here now. Do you mind me asking plain and simple, what is it exactly that you need to think about? What is it specifically that is causing you hesitation? Sounds like everything we talked about is a great fit, but I believe in full transparency. Would you mind sharing what it is? So be really direct and get to, you know, the true objection and then address, address it, right? That’s the bottom line. Address it, directly work with them. Make it a win-win. And and ideally, if it’s not a fit and they walk away, you know what? It’s their loss, no attachment, their loss. Plenty of go after someone else, like, no big deal. Move RV (45:25): On. I love it. I love it. Predict, predict, predict. I love your framework. I see your modular, I see your captivating content, modular content method frameworks. I love it. Build, building out the so good, Ian is so good. Y’all again, brand builders group.com/ian cognac. If you wanna learn more about Ian, if you’re looking for some sales coaching, this, you know, Ian is, you know, obviously got a wait list, but somebody that we highly recommend. And n I just love this brother. I’m, I’m, I’m so excited about the journey. It’s been such a blessing to know you and see you early in your career, rising as a salesperson, a sales manager joining one of the top sales organizations in the world, becoming number one now, teaching people how to sell because you’re most powerfully positioned to serve the person you once were. And that’s you brother. So thanks for being here, Ian, We, we believe in you brother. And just keep going out there and, and keep, keep serving and keep selling. IK (46:26): Thanks for having me, Rory. And thanks for all you do, for everyone out there that’s trying to get their message for, for so many people. You’re making a huge impact in, in, in my life and in my families and all of my customers as a ripple effect of what you’ve put together. So I appreciate you just as much. RV (46:42): Thanks brother. Thank you so much.

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25 of the World's Most Recognizable Influencers Share Their Tips on How to Build and Monetize a Personal Brand

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