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Craig Andrews Close More Deals Faster with Craig Andrews
Neuro Agent

Take your sales game to the next level with strategies to close high-value deals quickly and efficiently. Craig Andrews shares how he applied his experience in a coma to a new way of approaching sales, and how a “scarecrow” fits into that equation.

Close More Deals Faster with Craig Andrews Summary

Key Takeaways

  • Understand Broken Beliefs: Customers often come with preconceived notions. Learn how to identify and shift these beliefs to facilitate better sales.
  • Self-Discovery Workshops: Instead of overwhelming customers with facts, guide them through workshops that help them realize the value themselves.
  • First-Time Offers: Create compelling first-time offers that solve a problem and build trust quickly, making future sales easier.
  • Five Stages of Intimacy in Sales: Build relationships with potential customers step-by-step, mirroring the stages of intimacy in personal relationships.
  • Filtering Ideal Clients: Structure your offers to attract your ideal customers while deterring non-ideal ones, ensuring a more profitable client base.

Close More Deals Faster with Craig Andrews Episode Transcript

Rich: My guest today is a U.S. Marine turned electrical engineer and mobile phone designer, turned marketer and multi best-selling author. He’s driven over a half billion dollars in revenue during his career. In 2009, he launched his own company, which became allies4me. He believes marketing and sales becomes magical through systematic process that produce surprising results.

In August 202, he began three months in the hospital and six weeks in a coma when he nearly died. During that time, his team ran allies4me without him. Now, he shares lessons from the ledge of death and how they apply to both marketing and life.

Today, we’ll be talking about how to close more deals faster and at higher price points with Craig Andrews. Craig, welcome to the podcast.

Craig: Rich, it’s such a delight to be here. I’ve been looking forward to this.

Rich: Me too. And I have to say of the 500 and something episodes we’ve done, the word ‘coma’ has not appeared in any bio. So just if you could, in a couple minutes, tell us a little bit about what the lessons were that you learned for being in a coma that you’ve come to associate with sales and marketing.

Craig: Oh my goodness, that literally that would take two hours. When you spend three months in the hospital, there’s a lot that you learn. But let me tell you about one.

So first off, let me give the context so people know what was happening. This was Covid. I was part of the less than 1% of people that got Covid that went in the hospital, then even a smaller percentage that went on the ventilator. And I had the Delta variant of COVID. If you went on the ventilator with Delta variant, you died. That was the outcome. And that was what they told my wife from the day they put me on the ventilator. Until they finally, not even immediately after they got me off the ventilator, it was five weeks before the first doctor told my wife that he thought I might live.

But it was really interesting. Anybody that’s been married or has a significant other in their life, they’ve had some stupid argument. And the good news for everybody is, I’ve got you beat, I’ve got the dumbest argument ever. And it started this way. I told my wife, “I want to go home.” And Karen, my wife, said, “You can’t. You can’t walk.” I said, “I can too, I can walk.” And she’s like, “No, you can’t. You’re lying in a bed, you’ve been in a hospital bed, you’ve been in a coma for six weeks, you can’t even lift your arms or legs. You can’t walk”. I’m like, “That’s not true. I’ve been up several times already.”

And we go back and forth, and the argument ends. She’s presenting facts and data to show that I can’t walk. By the way, the facts and data were in her favor, overwhelmingly. I’m sitting there saying, no, you’re wrong. And it was because some of the dreams in my coma were reality to me. And in my dreams, I’d been up several times already. And so the facts were overwhelming in her favor. I was in a hospital bed. I couldn’t lift my arms or legs. I wasn’t even strong enough to hit the nurse’s call button. But not only that, I had a big tube coming out of my throat that was tethered to a machine beside the bed.

But I believed I could. And I would say that’s a broken belief system. I had some broken beliefs. And it was limiting me from being able to move forward. And she thought by presenting more evidence, she could change my mind. I would say that’s one big lesson from that is when we run into our interactions with our customers, our prospective customers, they come to us with broken beliefs. We know if they believe differently, they would obviously want to buy from us, because we would be able to change their life.

And so what we do is we try the same thing my wife tried. And that is, let me present the facts and the data. Here it is. Let me lay it out. And I’ve got news. If in that situation, me laying in a hospital bed, can’t lift my arms or legs, can’t press the nurse’s call button, have a big tube coming down my throat, tethering me to a machine next to the bed. If she couldn’t persuade me in that situation that I was wrong, you don’t have enough facts and figures to change your customer’s mind.

Rich: I’m guessing that we’re going to get into this in the conversation, but what are some things that we can do, first to understand what is the mindset of our customer when they’ve got a tool coming out of their throat or whatever it may be, that they have a worldview that we feel is incorrect. How do we first figure out what that worldview is? And then, are there steps we can take to change their worldview into a place where they can take a look at our facts and figures, and maybe some other things, so they can make a logical decision rather than just continue to live in their own worldview?

Craig: Yeah. So the thing is, something has locked him into that worldview. In my case, it was these dreams, which were as real as life. I remember my dreams from my coma like you remember reality from two years ago. And so that was my reality. And it took some, it takes shifting them out of that, but it’s about the process of self-discovery. And so there are different ways of doing that.

And one way we would call workshop and let me show you how my wife did that for me. Because the next argument almost happened a few days later. I said, “I want my phone. I want to be able to text people.” Now I couldn’t talk at the time, so I guess I whispered it. I’m not sure how I communicated it, but she knew I couldn’t use my phone because my brain was mush. But instead of having that argument, she said, “Sure.” She reached into her pocketbook, pulled my phone out, set it in my hands. And there’s a picture of me sitting in bed with my phone in my hands, big tube coming out of my throat, and I’m just staring at that phone. And after about five minutes, I had no idea how to unlock the phone. I had no idea how to use it. And five minutes later, I just handed it back to her. Argument one.

And I think that’s one of the keys of having the patience to lead them in their own process of self-discovery. And one of those mechanisms is a workshop. And just sit down and become the champion of whatever outcome they’re trying to achieve. And when they start doing that, they will start discovering some of the limitations.

So if somebody is listening and they’re an expert in their field – I hope whoever is listening that you’re an expert in your unique field – part of the curse of expertise is you make the difficult look easy. And so if you’re really good, people look at what you do and they think, Oh, geez, I could do that. And the reality is, they can’t. So at that point, one of the belief systems that’s messed up is, hey, that’s easy, I can do that. Instead of sitting there and saying, No, you can’t. It takes special expertise. You just don’t understand. Instead say, “Hey, you know what? Why don’t we work on that together?” And you start guiding them through. And all of a sudden they start realizing there’s some steps that are just too hard.

I experienced that literally this morning. I was taking some folks through a workshop. It was actually an avatar development workshop. And when we first encountered them, they said, “Hey, we’ve got all this avatar work done. We know who our avatar is.” I’m like, okay. And I said some version of, “Humor me, and just go through this process. Because there’s a couple of things I still need.” And when we got to the end of that workshop this morning, I asked them, “What was your biggest takeaway?” And they said, “I’m completely incompetent in this”, not speaking about me, but of their own abilities. But it was done in a way that preserved their dignity. It preserved their dignity and preserved their autonomy. You start taking somebody’s dignity and you start taking somebody’s autonomy, things are about to start heading south fast.

Rich: All right. It sounds to me like, and maybe this is just because so many of your examples are with your wife, that you view marketing and sales like the way that many people might view relationships. And I know in your book, you talk about the five stages of intimacy. Can you walk us through that process?

Craig: Yeah, and there’s a deeper study. There was a book released in ‘72, and I’ve just forgot the title of it, but that lays out to 12 stages. We could greatly reduce those into, it starts with an introduction, that’s stage one. Then you have a conversation, that’s stage two. If the conversation goes well, you don’t jump to commitment, you go out for coffee. Coffee is where you go. You go on coffee dates because you hope for bigger and better things. You believe there’s an opportunity that this is going somewhere very positive.

But because you’ve had a bad date in the past or a bad relationship in the past, you’re bringing some baggage into this conversation. Our customers are bringing baggage into the conversation. You say, “Let’s just go for coffee”, and you meet at the coffee shop separately. You do it in the light of day. Women tell me that they’ll have a girlfriend call in about 15 or 20 minutes to see if they need a rescue. And so there’s all these boundaries of safety. There’s no commitment there. Commitment risk is minimized. Safety risk is minimized. Financial risk is minimized. But you go on it because you have a need. You have basic needs. And humans, we have a need for connection. We have a need for relationship. And so you overcome these fears. But it’s easy within a managed risk environment.

And so when coffee goes well, then you jump to dinner, you start going out to dinner. That would be stage four. And then if that goes well and continues to go well, that’s when you move to commitment. And what I see so many times, this is the golden dream of having a lead come in and just immediately converting them to your high ticket, high trust offer. If you’re doing low ticket stuff, impulse purchase stuff, yeah, okay. No worries. Convert people in their first visit. Not a huge concern.

But when you’re asking somebody… let me give an example. Let’s say managed service providers. I’m thinking of one that I was speaking to, and they have a minimum of a three-year contract where the average contract value is a quarter million dollars. And they were trying to cold call their way into that business. And I was like, guys, that’s just never going to work because that’s not how people work. And they’re like, we got it to work three or four times. I’m like, great. Bless you. That’s awesome. Do you want to scale this? If you want to scale this, you need a better process that doesn’t have people basically going from, Hi, nice to meet you. Let’s get married. And a three-year, quarter million-dollar commitment feels a lot like marriage.

Rich: Absolutely. So it seems like we need to understand what those steps are along the way, those five steps – the intro, convo, copy, dinner, and ultimately commitment – if we want to make that long-term relationship last.

And I understand your point. Low ticket item, you can get away with the Tinder approach to dating, perhaps. But if you’re looking for a long-term commitment, you got to go through all the proper steps. And we’ve all had that time when somebody, we cold called them or we were just introduced to them, and they’re ready for commitment. But that is more the exception that proves the rule, than it is the rule itself.

One of the things that I’ve seen you talk about and write about is this idea of first time offers and how to create one. What is a first time offer? Why is it so valuable? And then what goes into it?

Craig: Yeah, so let me start with two examples. One would be what we call a simple offer, which doesn’t work for complex high-ticket deals. And the other is a complex offer. Neither of these are ones that I designed, but people will get them immediately.

For folks that have been around for a while, they probably remember Columbia House Records used to have this deal. You get 11 records for a penny.

Rich: Yeah. 11 records for a penny, or whatever it was. It was maybe different.

Craig: Yeah. It’s great. If you’re somebody who wants to build a record collection, they will get you 11 steps closer to your goal for one penny. Just join the record club. And so that’s one that worked fabulously.

Sports Illustrated had this deal with a football phone. Sign up for a subscription, you get this tacky little football phone. They sold a crap load of subscriptions with that football phone. But those are good for simple offers.

Here’s another offer that’s really interesting. And I love it because everybody will get it immediately, and it makes a really powerful point. There was a guy named Bob Stupak who bought a dumpy old hotel on the Vegas Strip. Today you would know it as the Strat, or the Stratosphere. But when he bought it, it was some dumpy, old hotel that was nothing. And he decided he was going to turn it into a player on the Strip. And he renamed it Bob Stupak’s Vegas World. And he ran an offer. He said, give me $396 and I will give you three days and two nights in one of my deluxe suites. When you arrive, there will be a bottle of champagne waiting for you in your room. All of your drinks on property are free whether you’re gambling or not. Even if you’re sitting in one of our entertainment lounges, you pay nothing more for your drinks. Not only that, but for your $396, I will give you $600 of chips to use in my casino.

So you look at that. So we went from a simple offer, 11 CDs or albums for a penny, to you get these four distinct things. You get the room, which was $396 was a 10% discount. You get the bottle of champagne. Don’t know what that costs, let’s call it $100. You get all the drinks for three days. Now, if you’re sharing a room with somebody you care about and you both like to drink, that could be a lot of money. And then you have $600 of free gambling money, for less than $600. You look at that. You don’t have to do a mental calculation to figure out if it’s a good deal. It’s obviously a good deal. And we would say that’s a complex offer because it moved up to four deliverables.

But there’s something I really love about that deal, and it’s another important point that people need to take away. Bob Stupak realized that he was going to make the most amount of money when every room in his hotel was filled with somebody who likes to drink and gamble. Because if he could get somebody in the casino, he was about to make a lot of money. If he could get them drinking in the casino, he was going to make a ton of money. And so he structured an offer that was attractive to his most profitable customers.

For me, I don’t gamble. I drink wine, but I don’t think he was serving the wine that would get me excited. And so if I’m going to Vegas, there’s 150,000 hotel rooms in Vegas, and I don’t know if I would stay there. I’d probably stay somewhere else that sparked another interest. Which was good for him. He didn’t want me in his hotel because I wasn’t his most profitable customer.

And so when we put together offers, we add what we call a ‘scarecrow’. So first time offer has a minimum of four, maximum of five deliverables, but has a scarecrow built in. The scarecrow is invisible to the ideal client. Or they see it and they’re like, “Hey, this is really cool,” like free booze and free gambling bucks. But the non-ideal client sees the scarecrow and they don’t like it and it chases them away. And so the beauty of that is your offer also starts acting as a filter to separate your ideal from your non ideal clients.

Rich: That makes a lot of sense. So the filter makes a lot of sense. It’s almost like a velvet rope. It’s going to turn some people on for sure, other people are going to be turned away. That works for Vegas. And I don’t even know how he made any money on that to be honest, but okay, he did. He figured it out.

But as we’re developing our own first-time offers, what are some of the things that we should consider, besides having an offer that might turn away a non-ideal customer? What are some of the things that would spark interest to get those people to try us out for that first time?

Craig: There’s a lot of details in the offer, but let me focus on the most important one that I see most people get wrong. It has to solve a problem. It must solve a problem. So when I present this concept, probably the most frequent thing I hear once somebody gets the concept of a first time offer, they say, “Hey, we’ll do an audit”.

Here’s the problem with audits. Audits just expose the problems that are there. They don’t solve a problem. Some people say, we don’t do audits, we do assessments. I’m like, yeah, an assessment’s just a nice word for an audit. But here’s why an odd here’s why solving a problem is so incredibly important. When you come shoulder to shoulder with somebody in life and you help them solve a problem, it causes a release of oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone that bonds baby to mother. And when you solve a problem in their life, they’re all of a sudden bound to you. It’s a tighter bond. And so when you’re moving them up to the high-ticket offer, you’ve just built trust at an insane speed. It is truly the fastest trust building mechanism I’ve ever found.

The other thing that makes that possible, and this is something else that people would easily miss, is they’d say, “Hey, cool, I’ll spin up this automation. Maybe we’ll give them a class or an online course, and we’ll do this, that and the other”, which depending upon what you’re doing, that’s fine. But if you’re going for the higher ticket stuff, if you’re asking somebody to make that three-year, quarter million-dollar commitment. Sending them off to some course and saying, “Hey, take the course. Hope it works well for you. Come back when you’re ready to buy.” That’s not going to happen. So one of the things that you have to do is you have to build workshops.

Remember, I said my wife did that for me. She had this workshop, which was instead of arguing with you about why you can’t use your phone, I’m just going to put the phone in your hands. I’m going to become the champion of what you’re trying to achieve. And she knew very quickly, literally, I didn’t even know how to unlock it. My brain was mush, and I didn’t know how to unlock that phone. And so all of a sudden, it became my belief instead of her belief that she was trying to persuade me.

When you come in, you start doing these workshops, they do a number of things. One, this is the place where you change. The harder beliefs that you have to change, you change during workshops. And you do it patiently, where you lead them to the answer. You lead them into that process of self-discovery. And then a few things happen then. One, they realize that what you make look easy is actually, and that there’s skill and value in what you do. The other thing that happens is they start seeing value that you bring that they didn’t previously see.

And that’s one of the challenges for high ticket consultants. Is there bringing value that they have trouble getting paid for because people don’t appreciate it. These workshops give you an opportunity to start presenting a taste so that they see that. But the other thing is, and this goes back to the dating scenario, if you want to build intimacy with somebody quickly, do different things together.

So the way it looks like in dating is you show up this Saturday, jump in the car. If you look at with my wife when we were dating, I said, “Hey, let’s go out driving the Texas Hill country in my convertible.” We go out and we do that. That creates an experience. Then we went off and did something, went on another date, and did something else. Then we went on another date and did something else. Each one of those instances creates intimacy. When you change the environment and you change what happens, you’re accelerating intimacy.

So we believe there should be a minimum of two workshops in the delivery of this first-time offer. But when you’re trying to close those high ticket, high trust deals, especially when there’s other people in the industry that basically do what you do, this gives you an insanely unfair advantage.

Rich: So when you’re using the word “workshops”, obviously when your wife handed you the phone, she wasn’t putting on what we might consider a workshop. Now, you’re using that kind of as a way of explaining what she’s doing.

So what are some examples of workshops that we might do that wouldn’t be about getting a client or some prospects in a room and literally leading a workshop? What are some other ways that either you’ve worked on it, or you’ve seen other people doing this that might fall under the category of workshops?

Craig: Yeah, so we do Zoom meetings. And like this morning I mentioned we were working on an avatar, and so I actually have worksheets that we fill out any time that we’re doing an avatar, and I just pop them up on the screen and I start asking them questions. And it’s good for me because in the process of doing this, I always learn things and often learn some really valuable things about the client that they wouldn’t have revealed to me previously. Not because they were trying to withhold it, they just didn’t think it was important. And what it does is it gets them in the position of answering these questions.

And this morning where somebody started choking and sputtering was when we were talking about what were their ideal client. And this was built around a real person that they know, what were some of their challenges and pain points. And all of a sudden they were just like, I don’t know, I don’t know. And you start coaching them through it. And when you’re there as the coach, we’ve all had coaches in our life when somebody looks like a coach, that they’re in your corner, rooting for your success. In a sales call, you’re not somebody’s coach. You’re sitting there explaining why they should hire you. It’s a completely different paradigm. And so that’s typically when I’m doing a workshop. Typically it’s, let’s jump on zoom call, let’s knock out some work together. The way I describe it is like bowling. I put up the bumper guards and then I make them roll the ball down the lane. And it does some really cool things.

So I know you’re big in the neuroscience. When you do that, it triggers a couple cognitive biases. It triggers the endowment effect, and it triggers the IKEA effect. So when people are doing that work, their perceived value of the work product goes up. One, because they’ve invested in it. But two, they also have a sense of ownership. These are their ideas. If you’re telling them what to put on the paper, those are your ideas. The probability of them implementing your ideas is much lower than the probability of them implementing their ideas.

So your job is to make sure it’s their ideas, put up the bumper guards, make them roll the ball down the lane. The other beautiful thing about that is when it comes time to move forward to the higher ticket thing, if it’s their ideas, for them to not move forward would require them to reject their own ideas.

Rich: It definitely seems like in the traditional sales process, it is an adversarial process. We are often trying to convince our prospects to part with their money and give it to us in exchange for some goods and services. Where this definitely feels like from the coaching standpoint, that we’re both on the same side of the table working together towards a common goal, which definitely changes some of those paradigms that you were discussing.

Craig: Yeah. And here’s the thing that’s really neat. I know we talked about this a little bit in the green room, we talked about getting to the first kiss. When I was dating my wife, I remember the first time we kissed. It was a big deal, we were both excited. But you also have that tension, at least I have it. Maybe some other people don’t. Maybe some people should have more attention than they do. But you have that tension of what will she do? Is she ready? Can I, and once you do it that first time, second kiss is given third kiss is a given. As a matter of fact, this morning I was about to walk away from my wife and she’s just, “Hey, kisses”, so she starts demanding the kiss.

And so that’s the thing. The first kiss is getting somebody to pay you money to solve a problem for them. And sure, you can choose to make that first payment a signature on a quarter million-dollar, three-year contract. If you like to have a frustrating life, yes, please continue that. I find it’s a lot easier to get that first payment on something that’s priced stupidly cheap and delivers disproportionate value to price. Kind of like Bob Stupak’s Vegas World offer or the Columbia House records. Getting that first payment. Make it easy, because once you get them to pay you once, the next time can be so much easier.

Rich: It makes a lot of sense. I understand that you actually have a kit that people can use to create the essential ingredients of their first-time offers. I want to ask you a little bit about that process and where we can find it online. And also, if people want to learn more about you and your approach. Where can we send them?

Craig: Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve put together a guide on how to build these offers. And I also have a course. And what I found, because let me just tell you about my journey. When I first started building these offers, I was stepping on the rate for 18 months. My first first-time offer failed. My second first-time offer failed. My third first-time offer failed, a little bit less, but it took over 18 months for me to actually make my first real sale using it. And so this guide will help you avoid some of the mistakes that I made in the process.

And then we also have a course for doing that. And it’s 23 days access. The reason we’re doing 23-day access is we want this to change lives. And we study, we’re relentless students of psychology. We know if you sign up for a free course, with no boundaries, you will sign up, you will never take it, and it won’t change your life. So we put 23 days, that’s plenty of time to consume the content.

And so both of those gifts are for your audience. And all they have to do is go to our website, which is allies4me.com/agentsofchange, that’s spelled a l l i e s, the number four, m e dot com, and then add slash agents of change. All lowercase, all one word, allies4me.com/agentsofchange. And they’ll get that if they want to reach out to me directly, go to our website.

There’s ways to contact me from that. I think if you Google my name, if you Google “Craig Andrews”, the number one search result is my LinkedIn page. And so LinkedIn is a great place to connect with me. So those are a couple ways. Pretty easy to find on the internet.

Rich: All right. And we’ll have all those links in the show notes make it even easier. Craig, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate learning more about your personal journey and how it led you to first-time offers and to this podcast.

Craig: Rich, it’s been great conversation. Thank you for having me.

 

Show Notes:

Craig Andrews turned a near-death experience into a new approach to marketing and has used that strategy to help businesses close higher priced deals more efficiently and effectively. Be sure to connect with him on LinkedIn, and don’t forget to access his free online course, exclusively for listeners to The Agents of Change podcast.

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 25+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.