Interview: George Varanakis
Let's take a moment from the overwhelmed the feeling we have just having done this shoot because it's really hard to do right we're going to we're kick into the process we're really close towards the end let's take a break because we have really chunked through the system process happened we should we take a mental break all right I think we take a mental break and we talk a little bit because this is a part of this entire process all the way through let's talk about the idea of active listening none of this is possible if we're not listening we don't know what they want unless we're listening we don't know how to sell to them unless we know what they want which we need to listen for and we don't know how to overcome objections unless we're listening I want to do a little bit of a chat with mr george baron akkus who is now heading up photography I do believe he's waiting in the wings about sales george would like to join me sure go hide your eyes t you george and I are friends we actua...
lly went to prom together most people don't go with this again you're gonna think we did all right you guys all that george right everybody all right tell us a little bit we're going to do a little bit of a break from what we've been doing thank you for giving us a break no problem. You wouldn't believe how hard that sheet wass were exhausted. Are you guys exhausted? Yeah. Isn't it hard? It's a hard job. Great job. Thank you. Right around. So you were going to dial back a little bit? What is your new job here at creative life? I am running the photo division, I think very well, thank you. I've been here like ten days. It transmits. Amazing. All right, I know it's been amazing so far. I love it. And the people here are so nice creative, no pun intended on dh. Just passionate. It's great. I love it so far. And this is what I'm saying. And you guys have all gotten the sense of this. But when you come into creative live and not that we're doing, we're stopping to do a commercial for creative life. But everybody here is so nice, right? Like nice. And when I talked about earlier about likability niceness khun wear off after a while, they're actually likable. They're friendly and their everybody israel and everybody's hustling and stuff yeah, there's a lot of hustle, hustle you find because you're you're obviously still transforming from all suit I tried to, you know, give me on camera today, so I kind of wanted yeah well you were having these half geez yeah have sued have teams usually I'm all suit time yeah kind of you know he's in the things I like next time I'm on camera be like shorts and a tank top smoking just like super comfortable you know s so you tell me what s so in terms of your new role here what is it dale um I will be in charge of bringing on speakers and also creating new revenue streams and things like that you know what I did at w p p r yeah well you come back yes what you did it w b I for nine years yes right and that was mostly sales a lot of it was sales I started out on his sales and then moved over kind of oversaw the trade show over some magazines yeah and when you when you first started doing sales of super easy for you right oh my god I was terrible I was awful my first job my first sales job out of college was a range finder have actually been there twice and sold advertising and I'll never forget my first day it was just like mr jones you want by an ad no ok and I would just hang up on like crawl into the deaths kid I would just go home and be like uh this is not going to go well terrible it was really bad and then as time wore on, like you kind of find your groove and you figure out that the best sales people that I have ever seen always ask questions more than they talked, and I think that's the key really the sales is that if you ask your clients questions, they'll tell you everything that you want you need to hear so you couldn't kind of tailor your presentation that way. And is that something that you had you learned to dio I learned to do right? I didn't have this didn't have creative live tv to watch. I know, right? I didn't either. Initially it would've been great, it would like save me a lot of stress. I know I was just starting out, right? We to claw our way. I took my last three bare feet. Hungry? Hungry. Okay. So as you have been evolving throughout this sales process, what do you think is the biggest state people make? I mean, obviously not listening very well, but what else? Talking too much like you don't ever go in just straight pitch that will never, ever work. My job was a little bit different than what you guys do, but it's all kind of the same I mean, um, never lead with the pitch always ask questions to figure out what your best tactic will be um once they tell you it's to be fair it's right on you it is they talked my hands a lot but now that's really the best way to go is is ask questions don't talk too much and figure out what they want to hear and then tailor your pitch from that. So the biggest mistake I see are people talking way too much I've had I worked at major magazines and big time publishers and I'd be in meetings with him and would literally go in an ad agency and they would sit down and would just be like can pitch and that never works I mean it'll work maybe sometimes, but for the most part ask questions that's your best yeah you've told me before about people coming up to you to be I and timing matters timing is also key is also ok even this past year you working like eighteen hour days so I just want to go to the bar and have a beer at the end of the day and I would get approached every five seconds like I'm going to be the next jasmine star you have to put me on next year and I would be like, I just want to sit my timing was just it was terrible now I get that they saw me and they're like that was their chance but the timing was terrible because a soon as they said I want to speak next year or I'm going to be the next super rice or jasmine star, it was like, ok, great don't call me, I'll call you right and somebody coming up and saying, I want to be the next anybody is setting yourself up to fail for sophia reza, so true, just be yourself really don't try to be somebody else. Yeah, george, very max has already taken that's, right? There's only one yeah, there's only, but it's true and somebody and and that that is, I think, one of the biggest errors that people make when they're trying to learn a sales process, which is why I'm trying so hard to say, let me give you a lot of what I do when other people dio what the general themes are because a huge is trying to say, I want to copy this exactly that, that it will never work that's what kind of finding your groove and kind of how I did through kind of going up the ladder, I picked different things that I liked about different sales, people that were good, something like this may be your process might not work for everybody, but they're going to pick certain things that work for them. There were certain things that I was like. Ok I don't want to do that on day were and things like that but that was really good I'm going to use that so as you go you kind of pick up certain things that kind of work for your style exactly collects for you so what do we have to expect with the ongoing changes with creative live that you can share with us now no um we've got some amazing speakers lined up that will be announced in the next couple weeks you guys you're gonna love him um there's some exciting stuff and just going back to being creative on being here again no pun intended but just might was like my third day and just sitting in a room and we came up with like a game changing idea I think um for the photo industry so I'm really excited that I'm saying all this stuff will be announced in the coming weeks months very cool ok so a lot of have been talking about is this sales process what you do what you hear when you listen how you respond clarifying et cetera I asked you the other day to sell me something that was I can't believe you did that is right you go ok there's a the end of this you go sell me this pen it was what which was kind of funny because it brought back like nightmares because I was actually on an interview this was like ten twelve years ago a major magazine and the publisher I literally sat down I was like hi, I'm george bernard kids and he was like so me this pen it was and it was like a nightmare right back so thank you for that so I don't know it was kind of off the cuff is what we did he hasn't kind of that natural sales process but no but but it was perfect because within three minutes of being sold this pen we were able to go back and I said that we sat down upstairs and went through each piece of ok that is where he listened that's where he did this and what we're doing we're gonna show this little three minute cliff on good to get a little label at the bottom that says what's happening in the subtext of this seemingly three minute talk is there something that says I can't believe she asked me some way didn't have our little pop so do you think we can roll that clip? Is that something that could be done easily as I just say that from here awesome ok so do you think maybe you could sell me this pen? We'll see first of all I would ask you so what kind of pens air using right now uh I could find a pen I'm using just like it's like a roller ball or something do you love that now no, so you really want to find, like, a pen that really like you love like you want to carry it in your purse in your ear but like, anywhere so it's something that, like you have all the time yeah, yeah, yeah, let me tell you about the big sharpie x one thousand what about that we'll see now I'm already going into smite my can't sales pitch, but like, I want to keep asking you questions about, like, pens that I don't really know that much about pens by, like, when you're writing, like, what do you use your pen? Mostly for besides writing, of course, but are you, um, writing a lot like a journal or you just, like, take notes or, like, what exactly you're doing with said penn? I mostly tried to use it tio right? Thank you cards to clients. Ok, so you like writing like, eight hundred pages for a novel now you're writing you type that take ok for your novel. All right, great. So this pen that you're that you're looking to find your music using like a roller one right now? Yeah, not working smudging everywhere. Yeah, so it's much okay, it's, I'm annoying, so I think you'd love this one because this doesn't smudge I hate magic who doesn't hate smudging because then you have to start all over again and then it gets all over your hands yeah, I had one yesterday it was all over my hand so um this plan actually does not smudge which is great and you can carry it anywhere you can put it there no way it has one of these yes has one of those which is amazing right? And and uh and then the other thing is it's like it goes very very very quick some pens it takes a while to press her dad back this flows wow this pen flow yeah which is great glowing don't who doesn't love flowing that I can't tell you how much I want that rand you know what? Write something down with his pen and just I could be that it won't hurt that I feel like the shamwow guy right now uh oh my gosh it feels really smooth great right? So when you're using that han tio write notes and write thank you cards your clients not even finding it doesn't smudge yeah it's great ok, how much is that going to cost may nineteen ninety nine, ninety nine for paying for it seems really expensive I don't have enough wall space what I what I do about that I don't I mean it sounds great but it's a lot of money to spend on a pen it is but this has a ten year guarantee so if you lose the pen yeah, we'll replace the pen for you no hey yeah you know lou spends every day everybody does yeah, because most don't have this little thing that I love that you know I think it's a great idea I probably talk to my husband about it we'll bring him in and you know, if he has any questions I'm happy to answer it any time yeah and you have my number so you can call and happy to do it okay, but wouldn't you if you took this pen right now yeah for nineteen ninety nine yeah ten year guarantee what more do you want? I don't know I just I think it makes me look fat ten makes you look up then it is it is but you know it comes in black because saul's old where do we sign way I right now I want that this is not good enough for one day event I can't feel anything oh yeah every train show and I'm going to go to for the rest of my life and george hastily and that's great thank you that's great. Okay, so as ridiculously over the top cheesy is that what what do you mean? It was like my best sham well impression I felt like I needed like an english accent I would have been like complete but you see like in terms of those little line is the bottom what is happening in the flow of the conversation there's objections there's responses there's clarification is easing pressure they're saying ok, I understand that and then there's this so it's a way you know, we kind of moved through it in a tongue in chief away very true but I bought that name hand well it's a nice pen yeah and it's gonna tell you which is the board when you're buying a pad mean that's the first thing I ask uh still selling because that does anybody have any questions from george about sales or pens or drinks at the bar? Did he drink tickets? I do actually that's a wonderful if you ever want to be fbi george is known for giving out drink tickets so he's like a magnet people just I think it was more than a train tickets but thank you whatever appreciates is that right? That was great really wear a part that resonated with me is can I can I talk to my husband about buying us? Because I think all of us I hear that a lot so you ease the pressure off the client instead of opting to close it right then without her speaking to her husband yeah, what did you say that he also came back because of course you can however right yeah no, I mean that was I was like oh here come here goes that sale kind of thing you want to bring him yeah I mean, how important do you think it is too like you got you got to close it right now or it's just the lands like you kind of have to feel that the situation there's there are times when I would probably let her go kind of thing and you just kind of and then you follow up with like and you're kind of building that relationship um and it really just depends no one likes to be sold to no one likes hard closing penn guy you know, I mean, who goes to the used car lot every weekend you know, just like by a car and you get sold you know, no one wants to do that, so you just really have to feel it out. Uh it just depends on really kind of where you're thinking this is going to go because a lot of times people are gonna want to be hard told right there they're going to want that they're going to want to go think about it a little bit and that's where you kind of build a relationship and with follow up on things like that and that has a lot to do with setting your intention for the meeting, right? Right um I actually go before every meeting sales meeting, I write down three things. What three objectives? Do I want to get out of this meeting? Um, is it I want to build a relationship? Do I do I want to up, sell him into something? Do I want to, you know, push a certain. So I wanted for you guys to be like, do I want to get a minute more like canvas prints or things like that? Do I want to build an album with them? Um, so that that's always the one thing that I always try to go into is like, what three things do we want to get out of this meeting? And it really helps, because once you have your objectives you're going in with, like, a plan instead of just winging it, if you mean yet like, who knows what could happen? So that's that's men thing that's what? That's, what happens? You become sham. Well, pen guy? Yeah, that that is what you don't know, right? Exactly. So always write down three things before you go into every meeting. Three objectives. What do you want to get out of this and that's? And that is good, because sometimes the objective is simply to continue to build in the relationship. You know and in the large picture I'm going talk about this a little bit later in the larger picture of a long term client relationship where you see the many times over the years if you have a lower sale one time that's okay it's ok there's not a lot of advantage to be gained in that because you let them know that you're not like going to get weird on them already like all right that's a goal we'll see you in here fine bigger picture smaller, smaller obstacles the soft sell is always for me has always been the way to go, so if you let them leave that's okay, but you follow up after yeah and you know, we were talking the other day about how when you you know when you bring in speakers and stuff there's a bit of sales office, but with that, you know, and when you reach out to me about hosting people you in atlanta, you started like a has it going and then you did list the benefits there is to be this there's going be this thing with this, but you were it was super cool, you know, like he was selling, but it didn't feel like sales I felt like a conversation, right? And because I was passionate about people, yes and when you're passionate about something it's not sales because you're just selling you really right on and I think that's also key and for you guys you're all passion about your photography passionate about what you do so you're not going to come across is like penn shamwow guy it's you're going very passionate about you know how you sell and I think that's really important yeah and I also closed with in our conversation I have a lot of dream ticket you like soul I mean that's you know what your clients real desires are exactly very good e one question for george so if if I understand things frankly have ah great report with a whole bunch of people in the industry I'm just curious what your attraction to creative live laws you know, I'm kind of a sort of life junkie so I'm a huge fan and supporter of the of the business in general so I'm really excited that you're here welcome and I'm just curious about you know what it is that project in icy creative live is like the next frontier for education I mean, it is so amazing what I guess it's hard because I've only been here two weeks but what we dio I've noticed creative live from the second they came on it was like, wow, this is pretty amazing you don't have to lead your house toe learn and that's amazing and you can watch it for free live it's it's great! And then if you want to buy the download later that's great too on and keep that learning process showing even better even better, right? So I mean, but that there were so many advantages teo being able just tow watch it on your computer and watch it live just I loved it the passion sounds like yeah, yeah, I was just gonna say the the model is very transformative. I have a formal education in photography and, um, I've learned exponentially mohr to creative five nothing, but but were in school, but when you bring in the best on dh, you know, you get feedback from around the world. I just think the model is not only from a creative standpoint in this particular genre, but I think it's thie ideas absolutely fantastic thie idea I agree with you, it's great and, you know, I have talked about this, but you know, when when people because I I've been lucky enough to talk to a lot of speakers who are considering coming on critical eye with conversations, and I've been asked again because this is the fourth workshop, you know, what are the parameters, what you know what's in it for you as a speaker and one of the forms of currency that you can't really pin down? Is this amazing connection to everybody suddenly and obviously, that you're able to get some of that year round with social media and stuff. But just in the last few days, the amount of questions that have come in the mount of correspondents have had the amount of going back and forth thehe mount of affirmation of like you little that when I say life changing, I mean life changing. So securing et cetera you hear things on such a level that it's so significant that as an instructor you can't help but say like that, I want to be a part of that I love that I will have that that is the big form of currency, because, yes, you do private workshops of this and that this course is ninety nine dollars, you know, I mean that I don't know of course like this probably cause I built it, but I don't I don't know, of course like this that were all of this when you watch it start to finish what it can be for u s so it really is I mean, I understand the passion to join this no doubt and it's real time, I mean, people can ask questions right now, we're screwing up live right, which is so cool, I mean, you don't get that type of interaction with anything else out there well, I'm excited be a part of your live introduction yeah thank you so much for bringing me on. Yeah, you didn't thank you. This was fun yeah, well think anything else you wanna have known we have questions, george you're acting this way. Just make sure you get all right. Okay. Question for george this is from gina marie a photography what do you do if you really can't close the deal that day what should you do to stay on top of it? Uh follow up its key always follow up some of the best. Um, well, um it's alive it's alive. You know, I didn't see anything not the ghost that just ripped down that shade. Um the key is is follow up on and you don't want to pester him to death, but you also just want to let him know that hey, you're still there, you're still there for whatever service they services they might need um, maybe you send him like a thank you card some of the best speakers for w p p I which is funny because they always said thank you cards and everything after they spoke or after we had a conversation before even like booked him to speak of them if you guy was like, thank you so much and that goes so far andi that's one thing that, like I've tried to incorporate into, like my sales process is just like a nice handwritten card if they can read my writing, but yeah, I need I need the shamwow, but now that, like that follow up is really, really important and also that likability factor when you, when you're following up and you've built a report that's, genuine and simple, and you based in terms of genuinely bur follow up isn't a pain. It's okay, you call that george great to hear from you house going like it's not bothering me, it's nice to hear from him. So in the example that you gave where she might have had to go home toe asked her husband to buy the pen, do you that encourage them to come back in together? Or did you just call? You would agree I would encourage them to come back the next day if they wanted to or when it worked for their schedule, and you can talk pens with the husband and watch when it relates tio photography, you can nip that in the bud photography sales specifically by simply setting expectation that when the time comes for this border session, all the decision makers should be there, and I do sometimes oh, my husband couldn't make it he's working so then you say get out of there just get out right now just leave or you just book an appointment right there for a follow up appointment okay about monday why don't you come in um and do something like that yeah especially if you can that's the nice thing about having some sort of communication prior to physical meeting like right up front if you learn it two o'clock that he couldn't make it I'd rather know that then you show up and that's reschedule yeah if they are leaving andi didn't close try to book a follow up meeting with husband or whoever need where were the other decision makers are right there right that's great yeah so another question from trina trina c u two is when is it time to let go after following up several times you know I probably after the third time I would say and that's probably a little much if you don't hear for a woman after this after two times probably just cut and run would you agree yeah it's not like you but that's the point we have different week of completely different things yeah I would probably say like greece but you know we are so we'll meet if I've already done the work I'm not as apt to let it go because already invested if I'm if I'm selling a pen you know if I'm selling them asking for somebody to sign up for service right, or step forward and instructive course, or be a sponsor. My boot. That's. Totally different, because your initial right, right, I'm saying, in the case of sales, if the follow up, if the follow up is, you've really done the whole shoot and it's just getting the meeting to happen, then would your answer be different for that? And what would you do? Well, statistically speaking, it's after the fourth try that most of the closes happen, which is bizarre because most of us give up after the first call up. Captain, you go for. I'm already looking like a boy is right, it's, all good it's degree.