Expert Q&A: Jason Kanigan

Jason is a consultative sales trainer, business development consultant and copywriter. We’ve managed to squeeze a load of valuable sales information out of Jason and some great insight into doing your own thing.

Jason Kanigan1. When did you realise you wanted to start your own business?

I had run my own businesses twice before, in 2000-1 (copywriting) and 2006-8 (business process improvement). In 2009 I moved to the US and was not allowed to work during the immigration process. After a couple of roles, including one as a sales trainer, I was sick and tired of giving responsibility for my revenue to an employer. That income stream can be taken away at any time. But if you develop something yourself, it is yours. People need to understand there is NO stability in working for someone else. That’s an illusion. So in 2011 I started out again with sales training and copywriting, incorporated the following year as Sales On Fire, Inc., and that’s what I continue to do today.

I have a business admin degree and a diploma of technology in operations management. The OPMAN diploma was two years of hell, twice the maximum recommended university course load. Gave me everything in my toolkit that makes me a huge problem solver today. Drop me into a new town and I’ll have business flowing by sundown. Just thinking about having an employer throttle that energy and try to box me into a cubicle makes me angry. That’s why I run my own business.

2. How did you get started and what was the biggest hurdle you overcame?

For copywriting I had a couple existing steady clients already, and I found more on freelance sites. There are a handful of potentially good clients out there on these sites, and my most recent big copywriting client came from a small job I did on a freelancing site. I also call targeted companies to find out of they need copywriting help.

For sales training I decided to fuse internet marketing, which I knew very little about at the start, with offline skills. Nobody else I’m aware of was doing that. The key problem was how to package my knowledge into something easily consumed by the target market. I went on a well-known IM forum and in the Offline section spent three months just answering questions, and giving great advice. This built up my reputation and also pent-up demand for a product from me. In the new year I released a 30 minute live call offer, and that sold very well–so well my time was all tied up and I hurt my voice. I then created a recorded version to sell and that also went on to do very well.

Since then I have improved and added to the original product, and created other products.

3. What’s been your most successful way of getting clients?

Forum marketing was a great start for me. I also use Kindle products as tripwires. Sometimes I’ve used webinars, and cold calling to focused prospects. I also blog, at www.salestactics.org and that is the best way to express my approach uniquely.

As I have moved from individuals to more corporate clients, my prospecting methods have changed. I no longer rely on forum marketing. It’s more about relationships and referrals now.

Typically, people encounter content of mine online when they’re searching for help in the sales area. Often they get a Kindle report. They read a bunch more of my content, and then either contact me to talk–usually a ‘confirmation’ conversation–or buy outright.

4. How do you get clients to stay with you and use you for more work?

For copywriting, it’s very simple: results. When someone makes a lot of money and a great return on their investment in my copy, they will use me again. My clients also tell me the process of working with me is a good experience all by itself.

For sales training, ongoing reinforcement is necessary for success. You cannot learn this stuff in a seminar. You have to see it over and over, and add it to your personal experience you had since the last review. So if a client really uses these techniques and commits, they will continue working with me. Again, it’s ROI and the experience of working with me personally.

5. Do you ever have issues with clients paying late? How do you manage that?

No, I typically do 100% up front to get money off the table and focus on solving the problem. Sometimes I will do 50/50, but only when I already trust the client. If someone is unwilling or unable to make the investment, they just aren’t a fit. This is an excellent qualifier. I realize many people are desperate for sales, but their problems are more an indicator of the individual’s self-esteem/self-image and the pool they’re fishing in than anything else.

If someone was late, I have 4 years of collections for a national electrical wholesaler to draw on. I was responsible for $2 million a month then and did very well with my “Polite But Persistent” approach.

6. What does your typical work day look like?

This has changed a great deal in the past six months…deliberately. It’s also one of the things I’m most passionate about now: the proper use of your time. I am training my coaching clients to think and behave this way, too.

It used to be that my schedule was packed wall-to-wall every day, and some weekends, too. I had to carve out Wednesdays and say “No client meetings” then so I wouldn’t go crazy. I was pulled in dozens of different directions and any time I popped my head up, 20 people would want to try to get free consulting from me.

Nuts.

What I’ve been doing in the past six months is really concentrating on who my clients are…that they have a big problem for me to solve, and can therefore afford my fee. I work with a much smaller group of people, work fewer hours, and make more money doing so. Frankly, because my energy isn’t split up trying to help so many individuals, I can do a much better job of pleasing those few clients who are a great fit.

This is the #1 thing I have done to transform my business, revenue and personal peace of mind. I now work a few hours a day with clients, do a few more of marketing activities and product development, and then recharge. If I want to take time to do something else like go on a day roadtrip, or a client emergency comes up, I can smile and handle it.

The worst part about the old way is I used to look at my stuffed-to-bursting calendar and think, “Yeah! I’m really doing something!” Sure I was. Tiring myself out. You have to be on your game in the fields I’m in and the business had better be consciously designed accordingly.

7. Any piece of advice/wisdom that you’d like to give the readers at Business Unleashed?

Here are four critical things I see people who “play at business” completely miss…they have an inconsistent hobby and that’s all it will ever be unless they change. I cannot overstate the importance and power of these ideas.

Develop competency at delivering a product or service before you go into business for yourself. If you don’t know how to fulfill competently, you shouldn’t be running your own operation. Stick with something. Learn it and get known for it. Being known as the guy or gal to talk to about whatever it is you do is vital. It takes bare minimum three months of strenuous effort to accomplish this. No lillypad-leaping in search of the next greatest thing. I do two things well and stick to them. If you want people to take you seriously, treat yourself and your business seriously.

No one is responsible for your income except you. Sitting around hoping will produce failure. Seeking magic bullets or beans will produce failure. You have to get out there and talk to people to make money. No dialogue = no sale. Solve a problem for them.

Control your time. Price your products or services so that you can do this. Most people make huge mistakes here; I know because I was one of them. For years!

Be deadly serious about your business. If you aren’t obsessed, you aren’t really in business. I eat, sleep, breathe copywriting and sales training. I’m learning all the time. My wife stole my iphone and was laughing because all my Kindle books are either horror tales, sales training books or copywriting manuals. That’s very telling. You are what you eat.

You can find out more about Jason at www.salestactics.org