Frank Bria is the author of “Scale: How to Grow Your Business by Working Less.” He has launched several startups in the fintech sector and now works with B2B service businesses to craft a superior customer experience.
I’m opening up my private vault of unreleased interviews to kick off this podcast while I’m recording new episodes. This interview with Frank was recorded in 2016.
Sterling Valentine: We’ve got Frank Bria with us. Frank, thank you for joining us today.
Frank Bria: My pleasure. Absolutely.
Sterling Valentine: And Frank’s got a high tech background as well as a high ticket background and he’s also in the financial services industry. And what’s cool about Frank is that he’s changed his revenue model, which is something that you’re really going to want to listen to because he’s gone from trading time for dollars to a more scalable revenue stream. So maybe we can get right into that, Frank. How important is it when we’re wanting to charge high ticket prices and move into more of a premium offering, how important is it to get our revenue model properly?
Frank Bria: Yeah, absolutely. It is the exact issue because what ends up happening with a lot of people is what keeps them out of doing something high ticket is because they’re afraid it’ll mean more time that they can’t do the things they want to do. It’ll tie them to very specific kinds of clients or it will basically mean that they’ve just got a job. You know, a lot of people have business models today where they’ve got a smaller dollar offering and they’re looking to do something bigger. They think they have to give up the freedom associated with that sort of smaller offering or a membership site or whatever it is, in order to do something bigger, and that’s just not true. You can create very scalable high ticket offerings.
Sterling Valentine: Let’s take a look at some actual practical tactical revenue models a little bit. We’ll dial back in a few minutes and try to get into your story, but I just wanted to see upfront, what kinds of things are you offering that you would consider or people in your industry would consider that are more of a high ticket end?
Frank Bria: Yeah, so basically, I work with management consultants, and we help them basically create things that are $10,000 and above per client. So, many of my clients are charging $50,000 a client or $100,000 a client in order to get something high ticket out there. And fundamentally, you know, there are a few kinds of easy models, when you start talking high ticket and I kind of talk about four levels of offerings and as you go up the levels, the price goes up, the value goes up and your relationship, you know, how close of a relationship you have with your client also goes up. But at the very bottom is sort of the thing we all know and understand, which is training. Teaching, teaching people.
This is a business model that’s been around for decades now and it’s becoming so popular now, that it’s a little tough to create super high ticket value just around the concept of teaching, but you can do it. So that’s kind of that first level. The second level is when you take that teaching and you layer on top of it elements of mentorship and accountability. And this creates essentially a path you can travel with your student. A lot of people call this the done with you model. So you’re trying to help your client get to a particular outcome and you’re going to walk that path with them. Since they’re doing the actual work of getting that done, it’s great because you’re able to scale your mentorship and accountability across multiple people.
So a lot of people see this show up as group coaching programs or mastermind programs. It’s fundamentally this element of walking the path with you rather than just sort of dumping all of the content on you. Now you can go one level up from there where you actually take some of the work back from your client and you have sort of moved from a done with you to a done for you model. Now the challenge here is to keep it scalable. So this is where a lot of people make a mistake. They end up doing the work, and were willing to take on sort of whatever work comes in from your client, but then you’re basically working for your client. You don’t own a business anymore, you just have a job and it happens to be that your client is your employer.
So you want to avoid that by focusing on those programs where you can create repeatable processes that either don’t take you any additional time to add one more client to or that you can train people that essentially you can pay less than you would want to pay yourself in order to do that work. So you have to be cautious about that model. Oftentimes what that means is you have to be selecting your client profile and the thing that you’re going to do very, very carefully.
Finally at the top, the fourth and most lucrative thing you can do is to create experiences. And this is the thing that people actually pay the most amount of money for. It’s to wrap a transformation, change, and outcome into a full experience. These are the wonderful high ticket offerings you hear, people taking people to Tahiti or you know, going through Antarctica or something like that. It doesn’t have to be that dramatic, but fundamentally what they’ve done is they’ve wrapped that outcome into a full experience where you’re getting things from a lot of different directions and you feel sort of enveloped in the entire transformation process. So usually they’re going to fall somewhere on that scale.
Sterling Valentine: So before you were actually able to help your clients do that, you had to move into that territory yourself.
Frank Bria: Yes.
Sterling Valentine: So, what was your experience in going from what you would consider less than premium pricing into the high ticket pricing and was it challenging for you, did you have any bumps along the way, or was it easy for you? You know, tell us about that experience.
Frank Bria: Great question. It absolutely was a challenge, but it didn’t have to be a challenge. And I’ll hopefully share a couple of things, lessons I learned along the way, the hard way, that maybe as people go back through that path, they don’t have to experience the same thing. The first thing is this mindset block. I think a lot of people have this mistaken idea that it’s much more difficult to sell something high ticket than it is to sell something low ticket. And I’ll tell you that that’s just not true. So for example, you know, let’s say you’re selling something today for $1,000 and you want to sell something tomorrow for $10,000. People have in their head that it must be 10 times more difficult, but it isn’t.
It’s actually not 10 times more difficult, and in some cases it might even be easier. And here’s the breakthrough that I had, that hopefully as people are trying to develop their own, they’ll figure it out.
There is a relationship between price and value. If you’re charging a lot of money, you’re delivering huge value. And that value needs to be transformative. It needs to be life-changing in order for somebody to pay the money. So oftentimes what happens is that when we offer things for small dollar amounts, we get a little lazy. Cause we’re not really thinking all that much about the value we’re creating because oh, it’s just a few hundred dollars, right? People will pay a few hundred dollars. It’s an impulse purchase. Well actually it’s getting much more difficult to get people to open their wallet for things they just don’t see the value in. But when you do the work and you structure a high ticket offer the right way, it’s because you’re creating true value for your customer. When they see that, when they recognize it, then they are willing to invest in that kind of transformation. So if you do that development piece up front, actually it’s easier to sell a high ticket item than a low ticket item. So you kind of have to break through that mindset first. Then it comes down to developing that value and communicating it well.
And here I think my first mistake was I fell into what I like to call the consultant’s error. So since my background is in consulting, I kind of thought, well I’m a smart guy. I’ll go out, I’ll take a look at some clients, I’ll go talk to them, I’ll find out what their needs are and then we’ll go offer something. And so I’d have conversations and they’d say, well, Frank, what is it that you do? And I’d kind of say, well, I help you solve your sales and marketing problems. What kind of problems are you having right now? Well, that conversation doesn’t go anywhere. Because your client recognizes that what you’re doing is, you’re fishing, you’re fishing for something to sell.
Well, that used to be the good consulting model, to do this listening to your needs assessment. But today’s buyer is much more savvy and much more educated about what they want. They often come to the sales conversation already with an idea about what they need. So what you need to be able to do is clearly communicate what you do. The way that I like to do that is to basically design what I call the GPS turn-by-turn instructions for your outcome.
So if you’re delivering a particular outcome for your customer, what are the turn-by-turn directions to get there? What are the three to five major steps along the way? Design those steps, name them, identify what you do in each of those stages, talk to your client about how you help them get to the end of that stage, how they recognize that they’re at the end of that stage and what it means for them along the way.
If you can clearly articulate this process, you build confidence in your prospective client that you know what you’re talking about, you’re not just making it up as you go along and you’ve thought very clearly about how you’re going to get the promised outcome for your customer. Those two things there are probably the biggest learnings that I had to get through my head in order to roll out a successful high ticket program.
Sterling Valentine: Did you initially start at a, you would say, average price point and then move up higher? You know, where were you on your price points when you first started?
Frank Bria: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, I’ll give you the example of our bootcamp. So our bootcamp right now it’s a 12 month program, it started off as a 12 week program in pilot. So we ran a pilot, I identified what the outcome was I wanted to create for people, I told them how I was going to take them along that journey and we launched as a pilot and the very first people who signed up signed up for $1,000 for that 12 week program. And, we learned a ton, we learned we had content out of order, we learned that there were certain people we were putting into the program that weren’t a good fit for what we are trying to do.
So we honed in on our target market and as we continued to add people to the program, we continued to raise the price, testing where basically the ceiling would be for the return on investment. You know, our bootcamp creates seven figure businesses for consultants. So, charging a $1,000 is way, way, way low and we knew that going in. But over the course of about a year, we were able to raise the price, and currently our bootcamp, we offer it for close to $36,000.
So, it’s grown as we’ve added people to it, as we expanded it out to a year, we added additional content, we added onsite activities, all to help support the transformation we were taking our students on.
Sterling Valentine: And I can just hear my students right now saying, you know, ask Frank, where do you get a lead that spends $36,000?
Frank Bria: Absolutely.
Sterling Valentine: I can hear them right now shaking at the screen, where are the leads coming from?
Frank Bria: Right, where’s the money? Yeah, absolutely. Well, I’ll tell you this, first thing, I’ll give you some very specific advice about what to do to find folks. But the first thing I’ll tell you, because I’ve had this conversation with almost every single one of our bootcampers when they start. I feel strongly, and my head strategist Francine has kind of coined a hashtag out of this. It’s “stop selling to poor people.” A lot of times we just have this feeling like we’re meant to help people who are, you know, in dire straits. There may be opportunities for us to be more philanthropic about our business, but you’ve got to have a solid business first before you can do that kind of mission-oriented work. I’m a total fan of it. I love being able to help entrepreneurs who wouldn’t otherwise be able to help themselves, but I wouldn’t be able to do that if I didn’t have my own successful business. So if you’re struggling today with cash flow, my advice is stop selling to poor people.
Now having said that, let’s get that through our head. Here’s the way to do it. Okay? There’s three things that we need to do. Number one, it all starts with the problem that you’re solving. So I tell our bootcampers one big important thing. You need to solve a six figure problem for people. Okay? Or even seven figure, if it’s a seven figure problem, even better, but at least a six figure problem. So if you sit and think about what it is you do, the transformation you create for your customer, are you solving a six figure problem? Now for those people who do lots of life transformation work where it’s really not hard dollars and cents, they have a hard time translating that into is this a six figure problem, but the good news is that business owners who create a better life for their clients actually can end up charging more because people put a premium on having more time, having a better life, having a more enjoyable life. And the way to sort of figure out if you’re solving a six figure problem is to ask people in your target market, what they would pay to achieve that kind of transformation. Ask them, would it be worth it for you?
So for example, one of our bootcampers works with women who have IBS symptoms and she helps them become symptom free. So you know, no more wondering where the bathroom is, no more wondering if you could eat that food without it upsetting your stomach, all of that essentially goes away. Now, obviously a high ticket program around IBS is going to have to focus on people, women with serious severe symptoms, right? If this is just something that’s kind of happening occasionally or you know, every once in a while, you know, if I eat too much pizza, my stomach gets upset. That’s not a six figure problem, right? But if you literally cannot go to social activities anymore because you are afraid of how many times you might have to visit the restroom, that’s a six figure problem, ok?
So she focuses on a core community of sufferers that have that problem intensely. So think first about that. Are you solving a six figure problem? Then we can turn that question around and use it as a pre-qualification device. So for example, as we are in a sales conversation with folks, we can say, listenm would being symptom-free from IBS for the rest of your be worth $100,000 to you? Would you pay a $100,000 to never again, like if you had a ticket that would absolutely get that, the people who say no to that are not your ideal clients. So this is a great way for you to quickly bucket folks into people who value the solution to the problem you’re solving, and those who do not. Just because someone is suffering from the problem that you’re trying to solve, doesn’t mean you should sell it to them. Only the people who truly value it. So they have to get it, they have to value it.
Finally, as you’re looking for lead sources that are willing to pay high ticket, look for folks who also invest in other similar things. So we look for adjacencies and people who have the behavior of spending a lot of money. So that could come down to income. That could come down to other people who have made similar large purchases in other areas. But as you’re looking at behavioral targeting, whether that’s Facebook ads or some kind of ad buy or if you’re just kind of looking to be at conferences with these folks, look for those kinds of purchase behavior because, someone buying something for high ticket is much more likely to also buy something else from you that’s high ticket.
Sterling Valentine: For sure. And that’s good advice on sorting those leads. Let’s just dial one step back for a second and ask maybe a different way. Where are most of your leads coming from when you sell the $36,000 program? Is it Facebook ads or how are you actually sourcing them?
Frank Bria: Yeah, so we have leads that come in from basically three main sources right now. First of all, because we work with management consultants, we find actually management consultants are much more likely to be on LinkedIn than on Facebook. They are on Facebook, there definitely are people who are there, but they’re much more sort of in tune with their consulting business on LinkedIn. So that’s one area where we engage individually, and essentially introduce them to the concept of pivoting their business model. We start to see if that’s a pain point for them. The second area that is a source for us is from my book. So I put out a book about a year ago called, “Scale: How to Grow Your Business by Working Less.” And in that book there are lots of concepts about pivoting your business model. And so folks who were interested in drilling more deeply into those concepts will often contact us, and if they’re a good fit for us, we’ll see them there. But honestly, the biggest source right now of leads for our business is from partnerships. So we have found networking with other professionals who also sell to similar businesses that we sell to, and working out a joint venture partnership has been very lucrative. And I would recommend that highly to anyone who’s looking to grow a high ticket offering quickly. Find partners with adjacent services to yours who sell to a similar audience and work out a joint venture partnership.
Sterling Valentine: And a quick follow-up to that. How are we doing the actual funnel? Is it a webinar model? JV webinar model?
Frank Bria: Yeah, so our funnel’s got a couple of different entry points. Obviously our partnerships will go straight to a webinar. We have an hour long webinar where we position the bootcamp, we explain why you need to make a business pivot, why you would need support in being able to execute on that. We then invite people to apply for the bootcamp and get a strategy session where we can mutually determine if it’s a good fit. So that’s kind of at the last stage for us. Before that, we have a video series where we teach three major elements that are important in a scalable high ticket business model, for those who are interested in pivoting. And each of those videos is in turn directed to a webinar, and that webinar, we run automatically. It’s an automated webinar so you can get instant access to it if you want. The ones we do with our JV partners, we do live.
And then finally at the beginning, we have a roadmap that we’ve put together that talks about the journey so people can kind of really quickly in one page, get a sense of what that journey would look like for them, and then we follow up with an invitation to participate in that video training series. So, that’s generally how things work.
So people read the book, generally go into the bottom. People who we talk to on LinkedIn, we’ll usually send them directly to the video education series, and then our partnerships will go directly to the webinar.
Sterling Valentine: And 30 second follow-up question, the actual webinar that the JVs promote, what’s the price point on that offer?
Frank Bria: So we will offer sometimes a discounted price on that webinar, and so we may start at our sort of a full priced offer at $36,000, we may decrease it into the $20,000 range. I think earlier this year we’ve even gone as low as $12,000, in order to get more people into the program, but it sort of depends on where we are from an enrollment perspective. But we do offer sort of one time fast-acting bonuses for people, which is a pretty common thing to do on a joint venture webinar just to get the traffic going there. But you know, we’ve been raising price, so we began testing a number of different price points over the year.
Sterling Valentine: But for clarity’s sake, we are charging $12,000 to $36,000 on a JV webinar.
Frank Bria: Correct.
Sterling Valentine: Nothing wrong with that, brother.
Frank Bria: That’s right.
Sterling Valentine: So ultimately, final follow up question now, what would you say is your final piece of advice for folks who are inspired by your story, who want to learn a little bit more about how to do it? You know, if they’re blocked in some way, what’s your final piece of advice as to actually pulling the trigger and going high ticket?
Frank Bria: Yeah, the piece of advice I’ll give you is find that six figure problem you’re solving. Because none of the tactics of marketing, none of your sales execution skills, none of that will work if you’re not truly changing people’s lives. I know when I say that it sounds overly dramatic, but the fact is that unless you’re really transforming people’s lives, it’s just not going to matter, you’re not going to be successful in a high ticket offer.
Sterling Valentine: Thanks very much, Frank, awesome to see you, thanks very much for joining us, see you again real soon.
Frank Bria: Thanks so much, my pleasure.