May 13

Max Traylor on Consultant’s Survival Guide


Max helps sales and marketing consultants discover what their knowledge is really worth: define it, package it and use it to improve their professional lives. He helps his clients stand out from the competition, increase personal income and deliver value more efficiently to their clients.

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:01
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone! My name is Umar Hameed, I'm your host on the No Limits Selling Podcast where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I've got a question for you, do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I'm gonna help you remove that voice and under 30 days guaranteed, not only remove it, but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there's one that propels you to much higher levels of performance and success. There's a link in the show notes, click on it to find out more. All right! Let's get started.

Umar Hameed 0:40
Hello everyone. Today, I've got the pleasure of having Max Traylor here with me today, Max is someone that guides professionals to monetize their businesses much better than they've ever done before. Max, welcome to the program.

Max Traylor 0:54
Umar, it's gonna be fun.

Umar Hameed 0:56
So what's gonna interesting is, in our society, we have beliefs in many buckets. Three, the most important ones are money, we have a lot of beliefs around money, and most of them turn out to be negative, sales, lots of beliefs around salespeople in selling, most of them negative and then love but let's focus on the first two. Money, a lot of people have money issues, it's like, you know, we want money, but we have hang ups around it. What do you think about that statement? penny for your thoughts? That's a joke.

Max Traylor 1:29
Ah, well,you know, yeah. So what was that?

Umar Hameed 1:34
Oh, penny for your thoughts, it was just a joke. Nevermind.

Max Traylor 1:38
Yeah, I'll let you know where to make out the check. No, I grew up with my dad, we did a lot of drives to Disney World, we grew up in Jupiter, Florida so a lot of time listening to him in the car and he always worked from home and he was he was a sales guy. And he would always say on his calls, "Hey, I do it for free, but I got to keep the electricity bill going." So I think that, I think that for a lot of reasons, people's relationship with money is a negative one but the fact of the matter is, in order to do all of the things that you want to do, and create that space in your life, you do need to create that freedom for money, you do need to charge for it. But he always, he always treated it in a in a joking kind of way and said, "Look, selling is helping for a profit. And we're really just out here to help people and if we don't charge for it, if we don't charge enough, we will not be able to help people. So you know what, we're going to charge an arm and a leg?"

Umar Hameed 2:39
Did he actually charge an arm and a leg?

Max Traylor 2:42
Well, I grew up with the business mantra, digital, scalable, residual. And the story is I'd walk into his office as a five year old and I'd say, "Dad, where do you make the money?" I thought he was actually printing money in his office. And he said, "No Max, that that's illegal, you can't print money," but the reason we're able to do all of these things is because I have a digital, scalable, residual business model, if I do something once I get paid forever. So I'm sorry, what was the question?

Umar Hameed 3:11
No, that's a good answer, who cares about the question? So you work with clients...

Max Traylor 3:15

Umar Hameed 3:15
...that are talented at your craft, and but they feel uncomfortable charging what you think it's worth, because they're perfectly charging for what they think is worth. But when you look as an outsider coming in is like, "Wait a minute, you have something really valuable, why are you under charging for it?" What do they say and how do you convince them to charge appropriately?

Max Traylor 3:36
Well, when I when I got into, I was having trouble finding a job, turns out, I'm on hireable. And I was having trouble finding a job and I called my dad and I said, you know, "I'm frustrated." He said, "Max, what do you want to do?" And I said, "I want to be a consultant." And he, I couldn't see him, we were on the phone, but he waved his hands and he said, "All right, Max, you're you're a consultant, because all that means is that you make up the price, that's what consulting is, is that you make up the price." And after a while, I realized that there's a real negative side effect of not charging enough and that is that your clients don't pay attention. And that's really the only rule I've found in charging too much or too little. In fact, charging too much, often leads to a really good conversation and it often leads to more money, no matter what you can always come down and your price point but you can't...

Umar Hameed 4:26

Max Traylor 4:26
...magically establish more credibility by saying, "Oh, no, you don't get the $5 package, actually, you know, this is gonna be really valuable for you so I'm gonna charge you $100,000". You can never come back from a client putting you in a, in a commoditized low price point, it can't be that important because it's not that expensive bucket you can never get out of that, it's like a game of Chutes and Ladders you can always go down you can never go up. And so I try to encourage people to consistently push the price point, I don't think they're, I don't think there is a right price point, the price is never right. Bob, Bob Barker, "The Price Is Right," okay, good, I just want to make sure I'm getting that right. But the price is never right, the price is either too low or too high. And when it's too high, it's the start of a great conversation and when it's too low, you'll just get an immediate yes. And, and so I really just try and get people to remember that we're out here to help people. And in order to help people, you have to charge more, the more you charge, the more freedom you create to come up with innovative solutions that helps everybody. To charge less is selfish in a way.

Umar Hameed 5:38
Yeah, you know, Mark Wahlberg, the movie star or no of him?

Max Traylor 5:42
Yeah, Marky. Mark, Mark.

Umar Hameed 5:44
Yeah. And I was listening to an interview with him and Terry Gross on NPR, and he was saying, "You know, for my recording work, being a music artist, you know, we get a big fat check in and I'd go buy a Lamborghini, but we didn't have enough money to get the insurance for it but I never worried about it, because I knew the money would just keep pouring in." And that was his mindset that there's more than enough money, it's coming in, so he said, "I made the dumbest decisions on the planet and it always worked out because of that thought, the money's coming." And very few people have that kind of mindset, it's always like, there's not enough money, I'm charging too much, they're not gonna realize if I ask for too much, they're gonna dismiss me. So how do you help your clients go from that mindset, the scarcity mindset to one that I need to charge fairly, because it isn't like you tell them when they do it, there's probably a process in place. Tell me about one of your clients and how you took them from being stuck to being free?

Max Traylor 6:37
Well, honestly, I wish I had a professional in my Rolodex to help people with it because brute force I would say is my approach, what I have found is that when you do it, once you're cured,

Umar Hameed 6:49

Max Traylor 6:50
if you start increasing your prices, you fall in love with it, because 9 times out of 10, you say a number that to you sounds ridiculous, and the client goes, "Oh, I can do that". And you very quickly realize in that first experience of like, "Oh, my God, the world didn't crumble, the prospective client didn't tell me to get out of here and I'm crazy. They actually took the deal so I must not be charging enough." So I really just forced them to spit it out, you know, today, we're going to charge $45,000 and I want you to spit it out, and I want you to be open to the response that you get from your client. And again, 9 times out of 10, it's a positive response so I think they realized that the reason they're shifting and this is what I try to get businesses to do, is to shift from selling commoditized deliverables that anybody can do, to selling their unique knowledge that they've developed over an entire lifetime. And when you make that shift, the ,the, the worth is completely determined by the client, and their perception of what it's worth. So there are no rules.

Umar Hameed 6:50
Hey, Words To Live By, I'm going to write that down on my notes. Give me an example, and you can change the names to protect the innocent of one of your clients, that they were doing this, charging that and I helped them realize they've got this unique knowledge, we need to repackage it, maybe, and now we're going to charge that. Walk me through that, because I think our listeners and viewers need to get a real life example to kind of go, "Oh, okay, now I understand what that means, everything so far has been just words."

Max Traylor 8:23
Yeah. I'll you know, all sort of generalize 20 or 30 companies that that I've helped, the simplest thing that I that I always find is people are giving away planning during the sales process, at you know, at some point, everyone says, "Oh, I want to provide value in the sales process," so they, they go through this discovery, they get all this information, and they give the client a detailed plan that you couldn't screw up like there's, there's the resources, the task, you do this, you do that you do the other thing. And the problem when you don't charge for something as valuable as a strategic plan that's being given away in the sales process, in this case, is that the perceived value is very low, if you charge nothing, you are saying that this isn't worth money in and of itself. So most of the time, your clients gonna say,

Umar Hameed 9:11

Max Traylor 9:11
"Oh," they're gonna pick it apart, they're gonna say, "I want to do this, I don't know about this over here," and you're basically surrendering, surrendering your control to the client. So oftentimes, it's just a matter of looking at the value that you provide during the sales process and saying, "Wait a minute, there are entire industries where people sell just this, they sell planning, they sell strategy, they sell knowledge," and the value of it is to help your clients spend the money with the right people doing the right thing. So a lot of times, I literally take their sales process, put a pretty name on it, wrap a bow around it, put a dollar sign in front of it, and all of a sudden you're being paid $10,000 to go through the process that you're doing for free today. And magically, people don't argue with your recommendations when they're paying 10 grand for your recommendations.

Umar Hameed 9:55
Yeah, it's amazing when you, when you put your money where your mouth is then all of a sudden it, it seemed differently. Another thing that's kind of interesting is, when I go in as a consultant, and I have this amazing piece of knowledge to share, there's somebody in the room that's been telling them within their company, the same frickin' thing for the last three years, and they've never listened to that person, but when I say it is like genius, because they're paying me to say it, and they're getting it for free for their own employee, and it had no value, which kind of talks to what you just kind of described.

Max Traylor 10:24
Yeah, I figured out pretty early on that if you're a good consultant, the companies are going to try and hire you, it's a it's a control thing. They want to control people, they want to pay you a salary, pay your benefits, so that your only choice is really to stay in that job right now, if I lose a client doesn't matter, I got plenty of other clients lined up, so, so the full time employment thing that I never really got into, it's a method of control. And the thing is, they don't, that leadership doesn't really trust their employees, because they know they're motivated to stay in their job to avoid change, they don't trust them. Which makes for a good business for outsiders to say obvious things and facilitate and clarify, but yes, oftentimes, somebody is sitting there in the back of the room going, "Yeah,' I remember, you know, I have been saying this all the time and it's, 'it's fun to pick up champions in that way."

Umar Hameed 11:19
So going to sale so you have a lot of professional firms, and they could be good practitioners of their art, whether it's digital marketing, or consulting or what have you, but being a salesperson is something that may not be something they good at, primarily, because their beliefs around what things are worth. So how do you take people that are that have a good product, you help them charge appropriately but how do you get them to start selling more effectively?

Max Traylor 11:48
Well, the first thing I've found in professional services is that most people that even bear the title of sales have never sold anything in their life. They have engaged in a buyer led buying process, that's what people are doing in professional services today, people don't have a problem, they go online, they look up what they want to buy, they call an agency or a professional services firm and say, "I want to buy this from you," and then the salesperson says, "Great, this is why we're different, this is what we charge," that ain't selling. So first of all, I have to, I have to teach them that this has to be difficult. the order taking, right? This is going to be difficult, this is going to be new. And when you're talking to business owners, you're talking to a really smart people, it's easily it's easy for them to get in their own head so I have to simplify it. And after interviewing a lot of people, the best I can figure is that you can sell anything to anyone for any price, if you understand three things, one, their most important opportunity, not the opportunities that they have. If you understand their most important opportunity, the challenges standing in the way of that opportunity, and the initiatives that they have already committed to. If you can identify those three things, you can sell ice to an Eskimo.

Umar Hameed 13:01
So walk me through an example of that, like a particular client, where they needed to focus on they had many things, they focused on one thing, that they identify the challenges and the initiatives that are done. So walk me through a real life example.

Max Traylor 13:16
Yeah, so I had a client come to me and say, you know, "Max, I want you to help us sell," I don't know, maybe it was maybe it was professional, IT services professional, it managed services. And in my mind, I'm gone, I have no idea if that's the greatest opportunity. So instead of saying great, here's my process for helping you, you know, they wanted, they wanted me to branded essentially, they wanted some branding work around their managed services. So I'm talking to the CEO, I say, "You know, what's, what's really going on? Let's back up here. What is the greatest opportunity? What's the board really want you to do? Is there any, are there any changes taking place?" and turns out that there was a directive from some really important people that they needed to increase recurring revenues. And at that point, the only recurring revenues were these managed services. So we went through a process of first understanding what their greatest opportunity was, which was actually sell to sell recurring, recurring revenues. The challenges were that well, let's imagine there were a lot of challenges. And there were existing initiatives in place to create demand, there was a lot of demand, there was a lot of demand gen, you know, campaigns going on. So I said, "Well, look, I can come up with a strategy for you. I don't know what we're creating at this point, but my strategy will detail the best way to increase your recurring revenues," And that's what they paid for it. So I that was a perfect example of going from a buyer led, they're in control, "Max, we want you to do this," and me doing the crazy thing of saying, "Well, let me let me just make sure I understand your situation properly because doing some branding around your managed services might not be the thing." And in that, in that way, I gained more trust, I gained access to more of the decision makers, we ended up doing a workshop with all of their, with all of their leadership team. And we ended up creating a completely new service, which happens to be what I do. Now, I didn't stand there and say, "You're wrong, that's not what I do this is, this that," the other thing I said, "Sure, you could be absolutely right, but let's get everybody together, let's make sure we understand the greatest opportunity, the challenge is standing in your way, and how we can best leverage some of these initiatives," and magically, we created something, something completely new, and it completely changed, completely changed their business and has a, has a big impact on recurring revenues.

Umar Hameed 15:42
Brilliant. So you probably go into some places where you are seen, as you know, almost like obliterating what they're doing. Because people get caught up and this is what we've done, this is what we've always done, this is what we feel comfortable with, then you have somebody coming in saying, you know, "Yes," but so you've probably had people welcoming you and there's probably people that have been pushing back, "You're wrong. Max, you don't understand our industry." Tell me about one of those where you had a you don't understand what's going on?

Max Traylor 16:15
Yeah. Honestly, I honestly, I don't get a lot of that because I've been trained basically from birth. To avoid that is the consultants worst, worst fear is that your people don't want to listen to your advice and, and so in a process for consulting, you have to get really good at making it sound like their idea. And from birth, my dad always told me no, no, there there is no, there is no yes but, as soon as you say but you're basically telling them that they have shitty ideas, and it's all negative from there. Yes and, so you're always you're always playing off what they're doing and my dad would say, yes, we're doing exactly what you're doing only we're taking it a step further. So all of my work, I have to make it seem like it's their idea, the art of asking questions, leading questions and when you hear what you want to hear you dig deeper into that you have to make people feel good, that they are smart, it's really their ideas, it's everything that they've been doing to date. And what I do, it's, it's, it's relatively easy, because they're often doing the things that I would recommend that they do, they're simply not charging for it so it's a matter of getting them to see the their own value that they provide, and motivate them to charge for it. And but yeah, as a as a consultant, the most important skill you can have is making it seem like their idea and never telling them they're wrong, because the client is always right.

Umar Hameed 17:44
Brilliant. So if we take this Max, year 2021, and we take time travel back to the year 2015 and you see that Max, what advice do you give that Max that would allow him to be better, stronger, faster?

Max Traylor 18:02
Raise your prices, which is really all I've done, I mean, look, we're all on it, we're all on a path of learning, the more work that we do, the more times we do it, it's pattern recognition, we get better and better. The only thing that's changed for me as I've slowly built confidence and I probably raise my prices every three to six months. If I was going back to 2015 doing exactly the kind of work that I'm doing today, I would just say multiply the price by five because 2021 Max is, yeah, he's a lot smarter, but he's got the same level of confidence, there's still shit that I'm doing, that I have no idea is gonna work, I'm constantly writing the edge, that's what entrepreneurs do. So confidence is silly,

Umar Hameed 18:40

Max Traylor 18:40
and I would have started to, I would have started much earlier, charging big boy and big girl prices and going after people with more money. I don't know how long it took but I eventually talked to somebody that said, "Max, if you're working with people that do not have money, you will soon have no money," simple statement, but powerful changes in my life started for people with more money and magically they, they, they pay higher prices.

Umar Hameed 19:09
What's interesting is back in the day when...

Max Traylor 19:11
One more, one more thing Umar, one more thing is that I was always afraid that larger companies were like more mature, like the larger the company was, the smarter they were and the more in the more they wouldn't need my services, they'd be far ahead. If I have found anything, it is the exact opposite, the larger I go, the more of a rat's nest I find, the more unstructured it is. So it's funny because I do, I end up doing less work for larger organizations with a larger impact and I'm getting paid more. The only thing that was holding back 2015 Max is limiting beliefs as as Umar would say.

Umar Hameed 19:51
Yeah. Interesting. It's, as we kind of go into any large organization, bottom line, they're going to have communications issues, no one knows what the roles and responsibilities are, there's no clear idea of vision, like it may be written on the wall but people don't know exactly what it means, come to that fundamental human kind of stuff that gets in the way of things that has probably happened since the dawn of time. So if you were building an organization that's going to grow into a large organization, let's say you're starting a new business with three people, and within 10 years, it's going to be 3000 people, what kind of infrastructure do you put in place to make sure everyone is, is lean and hungry and focused and supporting each other, like, what does that look like?

Max Traylor 20:37
Well, to be honest, Umar, I have zero intentions of growing an organization where I pay people to produce no results, which is basically a generalization of every organization that I find, people are paid a full time salary and benefits to sit in a dark room somewhere, and they're incentivized to do nothing. What I have experienced is that there are folks out there with the exact opposite of business model, it's only becoming more popularized today, as the freelance gig network has produced what the Bureau of...

Umar Hameed 21:08

Max Traylor 21:08
...Labor Statistics is calling the industrial revolution of our time, a much better business model, if you want people that are self-organized, hungry, self motivated, these people are called entrepreneurs, maybe they're not entrepreneurial, creating multiple businesses, but they are out there making their own money being their own boss. And so if I want to do something, if I want to help agencies, productize their consulting services, which is my current positioning today, I am not going to hire people hoping that they do great work, I am going to find people that do great work, I'm going to say, "Look, I have clients that I'm going to give to you and in order for giving you deals on a silver platter, I want you to do it my way and I want 60% of the money." They're like employees that only pay you there's zero risk, zero overhead, like my dad always said, "Don't have a business that eats while you sleep." Now granted, I was pretty much cured of having employees from some, you know, as you might dissect in a later workshop Umar, some negative experiences, where I pour my heart and soul into some great employees and they end up leaving for a software company. So early on in my career, I was scarred of the traditional let's hire employees, invest a ton of money in them and hope they don't go away, I was hiring millennials and turns out they're a pretty deep flight risk. So I'm a little you know, a little jaded in that regard but you can't ignore the business models where professional services companies look a heck of a lot more like product organizations that are selling intellectual property and you go into a lot of the top consultancies. Today, you don't find consultants, you find product developers, and like 10 of them for a $10-20 million bankroll, so I don't, I don't see the need to have employees, I think, I think the entire professional learning, professional services landscape is changing and the real opportunity is to curate disciplines in a business model that doesn't eat while you sleep.

Umar Hameed 23:01
It's brilliant coz it's a changing landscape about 15 years ago, we used to do logo designs for people and we were on the lower end of things, and we would charge $8,000 to a logo. And there are other firms out there that were charging,

Max Traylor 23:24
I can get one for 10 bucks, I can get one for 10 bucks, I'll raise you, I have it, have it in 20 minutes.

Umar Hameed 23:29
Absolutely. But this there's no middle ground, things like logo tournament, because what happens is when you have a logo designer is like, "Max, you're the customer and you're an idiot, so I'm going to give you six designs, for them a crap, I'm going to guide you towards the two and help you pick one and you'll get a good design," and now with things like logo tournament, you've got 60 amazing artists around the world, each donating their logos to compete for the business, and the quality of the work and the expense, so instead of like the 10 bucks, it might be $500, but you get something breathtaking that would have cost $20,000 in the past. So we do live in a new world where you have this ability to virtually create this company that you want with the best of the best. They're helping you execute what you want to execute.

Max Traylor 24:16
Yeah, it's why toys are made in China.

Umar Hameed 24:19
Absolutely. So Max, can you share before we parted company today, one mind hack, something that you do that just allows you to leverage your time or your productivity or your happiness?

Max Traylor 24:31
Yeah, I'd say the most powerful thing is the, the double your price policy. So I've got a policy when I went when I went to deal I double the price, I'm charging $30,000 today and when a deal or charge $60,000 tomorrow, when you get a no, you get four more no's, then you split the difference. So in all likelihood, I will be at $45,000 for the same service, I was at 30 of the same service I was at you know whatever before. And it forces you to constantly be in a state where you're learning and having real valuable conversations about why it was too expensive, and what you will find is every time you double your price, you can negotiate down to a higher price than you were at before. Meaning, if I want to charge 40, I don't raise my prices to 40, I raise them to 60, and when they say, "Oh, that's too expensive," that's when I sharpen my pencil, I lean in and go, "Well, I really, I really think we can do something special here, what does it need to look like to you? What are what are some of the things that we need to get navigate? Is it a budget issue? Are there certain people on the leadership team that aren't bought in for a number of reasons," and all that information is golden. And what will likely happen is you'll either understand that there are some things that you can surpass, I've even, I've even discovered things like, "Oh, just payment terms." They couldn't drop 30 grand, you know,

Umar Hameed 25:52
Like give me your time.

Max Traylor 25:54
They can't drop 30 grand all at one time, so I'm sitting there, they're going, "Oh, we can't move forward." And instead of me charging too little, or giving them a discount, we now enter a really valuable conversation about why we can't move forward, and turns out it was a cash flow issue, "Hey, you guys can cut me a check for 10 grand once a month for the next three months,' 'Oh, man, if we could do that we can move forward today, Perfect," you shouldn't be in a conversation about why it's too expensive. And you can't do that unless you're consistently changing your...

Umar Hameed 26:22

Max Traylor 26:23
...increasing your prices.

Umar Hameed 26:24
Max, you're a breath of fresh air, thanks so much for joining me today.

Max Traylor 26:28
Yeah, I enjoy it too. And you know, Umar, as you know, I'm having a baby like any minute now so I'm just having fun, I appreciate the time.

Umar Hameed 26:37

Umar Hameed 26:44
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of neuro-linguistic programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.


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