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Samantha Bove Of ZenBoss Academy: How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesy

Never assume. I was recently coaching a fitness trainer who was talking to a bride-to-be about signing up for her online workout program. My client left the conversation open-ended because she assumed her prospect couldn’t afford her because she was spending so much money on the wedding. I encouraged her to set up another call and as it turns out, the bride was 100% in, she just didn’t know what the next steps were or how to pay. Assumptions cost us money. Confirmation closes sales.

As a part of my series about how to be great at closing sales without seeming pushy, obnoxious, or salesy, I had the pleasure of interviewing Samantha Bove.

Samantha Bove is an international business coach who specializes in working with online entrepreneurs in the fields of wellness and personal development. Through her signature program, ZenBoss Academy, she teaches experts and coaches how to build an online brand, launch their first digital course, and sell with integrity. Using her strategies, Samantha’s clients have been able to have five-figure launches, quit their jobs to work full-time on their businesses, and more.

Thank you for doing this with us Samantha! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this career path?

My path to entrepreneurship was very unconventional. When I was in college, I discovered a health food startup at my local farmer’s market. I loved the product and their mission and became their most eager and excited intern. Being an advertising major and self-proclaimed health nut, I knew their packaging and branding were hurting their sales.

I put together an entirely new brand aesthetic, solidified the target market, and validated my ideas with focus groups. I pitched my new brand idea to the founders and they loved it. Sales quadrupled the week we released the new packaging.

A couple of months later, I was offered the position of CEO. I was blown away by the belief they had in me as a 21-year-old college student. This was definitely one of the most defining moments of my career and life.

I went on to raise venture capital for the company for about two years and in that time negotiated major grocery chain deals, launched our ECommerce platform, secured worldwide publicity, and just about 10x’d our growth. It’s amazing how far Google, the right mentors and not being embarrassed to ask “silly” questions can take you.

While I loved my role, deep down I always knew I wanted to pursue my own vision. After a family health crisis, I finally took the leap of faith and launched my own online coaching business so I could manage my role as a caregiver and CEO.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

I was competing for a $10,000 reward at a pitch competition to an audience of 300+ people. Despite my crippling fear of public speaking, I went up there and gave my speech. When I was finished, I sat back down next to the people I was competing against and began hysterically crying. I thought I had done such a terrible job and I was having a full-blown panic attack. As I was gathering my things to run for the door, the judges announced me as the winner.

This experience was immediate feedback that my negative thoughts about myself were wrong. I learned that I am doing a better job than I think I am. This applies to everyone. You are your own worst critic. You’re doing a way better job than you think you are. I wish there was an easier path to growth, but the reality is that we just have to move through the fear and do the hard thing. If we don’t, we’ll never know what we are really capable of.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’m so happy you asked! I’ve never been more excited about a project before. After thousands of hours coaching early-stage entrepreneurs, I took my proven system and made it accessible for more people.

The launch of my online business school, ZenBoss Academy, is officially happening this summer. ZenBoss Academy is a 4-month business accelerator for experts and coaches in the fields of health, wellness, and personal development.

I distill everything I’ve learned into a step-by-step blueprint including identifying your niche, creating your irresistible offer, building your email list, growing an engaged social media community, structuring sales calls, and landing your dream clients. It’s packed with training guides, templates and how-to videos but my favorite part is how hands-on it is.

Unlike most business programs out there, there is a group coaching component where you receive real-time feedback from me and get to connect weekly with a supportive community of like-minded entrepreneurs to keep you accountable. By the time students graduate ZenBoss Academy, they are fully equipped to run their online business and sell with complete confidence.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Oh man, I’ve asked for a lot of help through the years and am always blown away by people’s generosity.

One person who stands out the most is my best friend and now guardian angel– my dad, Vinnie Bove. He instilled an unshakeable faith in my ability to succeed by celebrating my heart above anything else. He constantly reminded me that if your heart’s in it, your clients will always get great results because at the end of the day what people need the most is for someone to believe in their greatness and potential. Because of his belief in me, I learned how to believe in myself. In my job, I now have the honor to help entrepreneurs do the same.

One day we were talking about what makes a great salesperson. He shared something that redefined how I saw selling forever. “Care more than other people do and you’ll never lose a sale that’s meant to be yours. If you don’t care or believe in what you do more than any other coach or business person out there, you don’t deserve the sale. It’s that simple.”

For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit why you are an authority on the topic of sales?

Prior to starting my own company three years ago, I was CEO of a health food startup where I nearly 10x’d the revenue of the business. I also received formal training on how to pitch our company as a valuable investment to venture capitalists.

Since launching my own business, I’ve generated six figures coaching entrepreneurs around the world. Using my sales and digital marketing strategies, my clients have been able to have five-figure launches, officially get out of debt, and quit their jobs to work full-time on their online businesses.

My expertise has been featured in Forbes and Thrive Global.

Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the COVID-19 pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

You can’t heal it if you don’t feel it. I try to be mindful of not distracting myself with work, tv, books, or whatever my distraction of choice is that day and encourage my loved ones to do the same. The anxiety of COVID-19 and global events can activate old wounds, self-limiting beliefs, anger, and fears you’ve neatly tucked away into your subconscious. If we don’t make space to feel our emotions, they will continue to show up as anxiety.

I will literally schedule “feeling time” into my calendar if I can’t address it at that very moment. I will then turn to one of my go-to practices like breathwork, journaling, hypnosis, Emotional Freedom Technique, Neural Manifestation™, or talking it out with my coach or therapist.

I also make a habit of assessing my “energy leaks.” Energy leaks are people, places, things, or activities that leave me feeling depleted. For example, maybe I’ve been chatting too much with a relative who exclusively talks about catastrophic events or maybe I’m overindulging in social media and news sites. To assess where your common energy leaks are, start by bringing awareness to how you feel after you engage in daily tasks. If you consistently feel depleted after certain engagements, then it’s a sign you need to set some loving boundaries. You can start small by avoiding social media for the first hour of the day. The more you practice setting boundaries, the easier they become to set and keep.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know, nearly any business a person will enter, will involve some form of sales. At the same time, most people have never received any formal education about how to be effective at selling. Why do you think our education system teaches nearly every other arcane subject, but sales, one of the most useful and versatile topics, is totally ignored?

Our school systems are not set up to cultivate entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial skills- like sales. Our school system is set up to create workers. This is mirrored in the hierarchies of teacher versus student, the grading system, standardized testing, and the way that the day itself is structured. The school system is a microcosm of a corporate system.

At the heart of entrepreneurship is creativity, innovation, and dynamic problem-solving. Very rarely, if ever, are these skills celebrated in school. In fact, they are typically frowned upon.

I remember being reprimanded constantly by my teachers for not reading directions close enough. Basically, we’re telling children, “You will fail if you do not follow the rules. You should trust my instincts over yours.” This puts kids in a box and cuts off their creative powerhouse and spirit to take risks and do things differently. Ultimately, it says don’t be brave, be a rule follower. Selling is all about being brave and putting yourself out there.

I see things slowly changing, but from my perspective, the school systems are not ready to give that type of power to the public.

This discussion, entitled, “How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesy”, is making an assumption that seeming salesy or pushy is something to be avoided. Do you agree with this assumption? Whether yes, or no, can you articulate why you feel the way you do?

Yes, seeming ‘salesy’ or ‘pushy’ is something to be avoided IF you genuinely feel like you’re being salesy or pushy.

We are only in control of our actions. We are not in control of the way other people see us. You could be completely genuine and non-attached during a sales conversation, yet someone can still be triggered by your “audacity” to put yourself out there. I encourage people to focus less on how they are perceived and more on how they FEEL during a sales conversation.

Here’s a tip: replace the words pushy with inspiring and salesy with supportive.

Feeling salesy arises when we start to share our offer. When that icky feeling presents itself, I remind myself that I have this incredible tool to support this person in need of help. When I look at it that way, it seems like a huge disservice not to share it with them.

Feeling pushy comes up when you are trying to close the sale with questions like “Does this work for you?” or “Would you like to take the next step?” Instead of viewing these important questions as “pushy,” which suggests you are forcing someone to do something they don’t want to, think of how you would speak and act if you were inspiring someone to take action instead. These are two totally different sensations. If you feel forceful energy coming up, take a deep breath and think about how you can inspire instead.

These perspective shifts have not only given me the confidence to close sales calls but have helped me truly enjoy the process.

The seven stages of a sales cycle are usually broken down to versions of Prospecting, Preparation, Approach, Presentation, Handling objections, Closing, and Follow-up. Which stage do you feel that you are best at? What is your unique approach, your “secret sauce”, to that particular skill? Can you explain or give a story?

Presentation is a favorite of mine because I am able to practice compassionate listening and truly understand what my potential client’s needs are and how I can help them better their life. My secret sauce is showing the person I care deeply about their situation and their goals by listening without judgment or rushing them to make a decision. Compassionate listening is something I learned from a spiritual mentor, Thich Nhat Hanh, and is at the root of my sales strategy. Sales conversations can be deeply healing because if done right, you’re just listening really well.

Deep listening helps me see if I need to ask more questions or pull back. Are they really interested in results or more human connections? Are they more detail-oriented or outcome-oriented? Future-oriented or present-focused? The answers help me tailor my presentation and close the sale.

I know deep listening is a powerful tool because when I ask my students why they signed up with me, they consistently say, “I felt like you really understood me — more than anyone else I spoke to.”

Lead generation, or prospecting, is one of the basic steps of the sales cycle. Obviously every industry will be different, but can you share some of the fundamental strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

The two fundamental strategies that have made the biggest difference in my business are fostering strategic partner relationships and engaging on social media organically.

Start by finding out where your ideal clients are hanging out online. Some tips are to make a list of their problems and solutions as it relates to your offer. For example, if you are a health coach you can search for Facebook groups that have to do with wellness or specific issues like bloating, fatigue, etc. Enter these communities with the intention to provide value and serve. Take notes on what people are sharing and use their words in your copy and content. You attract quality leads when you create quality content. Pretty soon you’ll be attracting your dream clients because you’ll know exactly how to speak to them using their own words.

Social media is an opportunity to get SOCIAL. Don’t wait for someone to make the first move- that’s your job. Some examples: when someone follows you, send them a little voice note or customized message welcoming them to your community. Let them know a little about your purpose on the platform and encourage them to tell you about themselves. This small step makes a huge difference.

Social media also gives us the opportunity to create connections with strategic partners. I define strategic partners as people in our entrepreneurial network who are in an industry that is complementary to our own. For example, if you’re a health coach who focuses on diet, I suggest creating strategic partnerships with industry experts in adjacent fields like yoga instructors, meditation teachers, and fitness coaches to add a different type of expertise than you do.

Expanding my network has helped my students and me increase our social followings by hundreds of quality leads, get asked to be featured in huge publications like Forbes, land podcast interviews, and so much more. Some tips to collaborate and cross-pollinate your communities: Do an IG Live or Clubhouse together, Instagram takeover, or be a guest expert in each other’s online communities or courses. It’s a win-win relationship.

In my experience, I think the final stages of Handling Objections, Closing, and Follow-up, are the most difficult parts for many people. Why do you think ‘Handling Objections’ is so hard for people? What would you recommend for one to do, to be better at ‘Handling Objections’?

Okay so I have grown to LOVE objections, but it obviously didn’t start out that way.

First, people misinterpret objections all the time. In most cases an objection is not a NO, it is an invitation for you to provide more clarity. Objections are just an opportunity for you to step up and put your expert hat on. Take it as an exciting challenge and opportunity for you to flaunt your expertise.

Second, people are often unprepared to address objections. Always prepare for all possible objections and what your solutions would be. For example, a money objection could be solved by offering a payment plan or the fear of not benefiting from the program can be solved by sharing specific client testimonials to deepen their trust. I also suggest bringing up objections before they do. It will show your prospect that you have nothing to hide. They will trust that you understand them even more.

The third reason is that people often interpret objections as direct rejections of who they are as a person. Separating your offer from your worth as a human is essential, especially if your offer is YOU as the service provider or face of your brand. What you sell has nothing to do with your worth as a human because your worth is infinite.

‘Closing’ is of course the proverbial Holy Grail. Can you suggest 5 things one can do to successfully close a sale without being perceived as pushy? If you can, please share a story or example, ideally from your experience, for each.

5 Things Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXpPN-EwrjE

  1. Ask brave questions. The quality of your sales conversation depends on the quality of the questions you ask. This is especially true for high ticket offers. For example, if someone expresses that they are worried my service won’t work for them, I’ll ask “Why are you worried you’ll fail?” or “Have you felt this way before with an investment you’ve made in the past?” The answers give me direction on where I need to go next.
  2. Don’t be scared to flaunt your expertise during the sales conversation. People worry a lot about giving too much away on a sales call, but I see it as your time to shine. If you can bring someone even a little bit of clarity, you build immediate trust. A little coaching goes a long way.
  3. Practice active listening. Active listening means you are fully concentrating on what the other person is sharing with complete focus. For example, I’ll often say, “What I’m hearing is XYZ… is that correct?” to make sure I understood them. Most of the time when people speak, our default is to start preparing our response in our head so we have something valuable to share when they finish talking. This habit causes us to miss crucial information. By paraphrasing and recapping what they share, we avoid miscommunications and show our prospects that we get them. When you understand your prospects’ goals, you can spotlight the areas of your offer that are most aligned with their needs. This helps you close the sale.
  4. Speak your price with confidence and remain silent after you share it. One of the most common mistakes I see with entrepreneurs is after they share their program and how much it costs, they start to justify it or discount it immediately. This implies insecurity and fear in your offer. Show your prospect how grounded and secure you are by speaking confidently and giving them space and silence to think about it.
  5. Never assume. I was recently coaching a fitness trainer who was talking to a bride-to-be about signing up for her online workout program. My client left the conversation open-ended because she assumed her prospect couldn’t afford her because she was spending so much money on the wedding. I encouraged her to set up another call and as it turns out, the bride was 100% in, she just didn’t know what the next steps were or how to pay. Assumptions cost us money. Confirmation closes sales.

Finally, what are your thoughts about ‘Follow up’? Many businesses get leads who might be interested but things never seem to close. What are some good tips for a business leader to successfully follow up and bring things to a conclusion, without appearing overly pushy or overeager?

I have never lost a sale because I followed up too much. If someone is interested in your offer, they are going to buy or they aren’t. Don’t worry about being perceived as eager, if you want to help this person and you think they’re a great fit, show them how much you mean it!

I think the fear of seeming too eager or desperate prevents people from closing the sale. I see this, especially in empathetic entrepreneurs. They are often hyper-conscious of annoying or bothering someone. Those same sensitive qualities are the exact reasons why you should follow up — it shows you care.

Until someone says “I’m not interested. Do not follow up anymore,” I suggest to keep going. If someone doesn’t answer me three times in a row, I take the hint, but still, check in with them once per quarter.

A little tip- if someone needs time to think about it, I suggest picking an exact day and time you will follow up with them and write it down. I am a big fan of permission-based marketing, so I suggest asking them during the call “Do you mind if I follow up with you on this day of the week?” This also gives them a timeline for making a decision so the conversation doesn’t linger on.

As you know there are so many modes of communication today. For example, In-person, phone calls, video calls, emails, and text messages. In your opinion, which of these communication methods should be avoided when attempting to close a sale or follow up? Which are the best ones? Can you explain or give a story?

I avoid text messages because I think it impedes people’s personal space. I love taking sales calls on video because it helps me read the person’s body language and helps them see my expressions and what it would be like to work with me. I prefer to follow up on email and on social media. I love to send little videos or voice messages so people can hear my voice and enthusiasm. I consistently get feedback about how much people value those human touches.

Ok, we are nearly done. Here is our final “meaty” question. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

If I could start a movement it would be to help people listen better and ask braver questions. I wish people actually asked how one another was doing and meant it. Inviting people to share their deepest desires, dreams, struggles, fears and pain and just listening without trying to fix or solve anything can facilitate such radical healing. Deep, compassionate listening has the capacity to change the world.

How can our readers follow you online?

Website: Samanthabove.com

Instagram at @zenbossacademy and @samantha.bove

Community Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/theabundantceo

Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!

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