EPISODE 155: HOW TO BUILD A SCALABLE HIGH-TICKET PROGRAM WITH FRANK BRIA
Frank Bria is the founder of High-Ticket Program and the go-to authority on scalable program design and execution, having helped thousands of entrepreneurs design and execute their High-Ticket Programs.
Frank is also the author of Scalable Consulting: Use a High-Ticket Program to Transform Your 6-Figure Practice into a 7-Figure Enterprise, as well as the host of The 6 to 7 Figures Show podcast.
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"Often times when we start talking about the value, we get sucked into what it is that we do - our process. It's not valuable for that reason. It's valuable because of the change that you bring in the person's life who goes through the process."
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Topics Discussed In This Episode:
- Leaving a high-paying role in the Fintech sector launching tech startups so that he could be more present for his family
- The business mentors that have made an impact in Frank's business
- What he considers a high-ticket offer and the misconceptions behind selling a high-ticket program
- The 4 reasons why people buy and the importance of quantifying your coaching results
- How to build scalable high-ticket programs (step-by-step)
Resources Discussed In This Episode:
His entrepreneurial journey and how he started his business.
I started in the FinTech sector and launched several tech startups. We sold the banks and mortgage companies, things like that. It was a really exciting opportunity and because we were working with financial services companies and their vendors, I had an opportunity to work with a lot of fortune 500 large corporations multi-national.
And on the back end of that, it launched a consulting career for me. After the last FinTech that we sold off, I started consulting. It had me all over the world, I've worked in Russia and South Africa. I got paid a lot of money to show up in person. It was, "Hey Frank, we need you in Johannesburg in three days."
And it was amazing until it wasn't, you know? It's physically exhausting. I had kids growing up that I didn't really get a lot of time to see. It wears on you.
So I made a decision a number of years ago that I was going to get out of that. It hit me because I was in Kiev one morning and did the unthinkable. I woke up, I was in a meeting where people had flown in from all over Eastern Europe to hear me present what we were going to do, and I got a text message that a member of my family had gone in for emergency surgery, and my kids were home alone.
Now they weren't little kids, they were teenagers, but still they had to get to school and get fed and all this stuff. Basically I had to get back from Kiev, it was a 36 hour flight. There's no direct flight from Kiev to Phoenix. It gives you a lot of time to think about what you've done with your life.
I realized that this isn't what I got into being an entrepreneur for. I wanted to own my time, I wanted to be in control of my life. I made a decision like, okay, I'm not going to travel anymore, so I told all my clients I'm not going to travel and half of them quit. Half of them left because I was the product. If I wasn't going to come out, they weren't going to pay me.
So then I need to replace the income somehow and I went online and listened to all these gurus talking about how to do online stuff, and was like, oh, well, I guess I'll create a $300 PDF and create like an information product. And then all my other clients left, because they were like, what are you doing?
We had multiple-six figure contracts, and suddenly you're selling $300. So it just doesn't make any sense.
And I realized that the answer actually was in all of the things that had been teaching my clients, because what I had been doing for these Fortune 500 multinational companies is helping them productize their service.
They would have a large consulting group and it's hard to sell consulting. You go out and you're like, well, we're a bunch of smart people. Okay, that's great. But if they know you and they know you're smart people then, okay. But as soon as you get through your Rolodex, you run out of your contact list.
All of these things I've been teaching these large corporations, I sort of didn't think apply to me as a solo business, but they do. And so I started to go back through and look at how do you actually take these scalable concepts and apply them to a service business? And that's when everything changed.
I was able to go out and rebuild a practice, not just because a lot of people say, well, that's great, Frank. Now you're going around and you're an online entrepreneur teaching other online entrepreneurs. No, no. I have still an income from scalable services for corporations. I just changed what we did. I still work with financial services and just change how we do it.
So now it's a scalable model and I have team members that help with that. But that was really the journey through to get here where I am today. Suddenly, high ticket program was born.
On the mentors who have inspired him.
I think the first mentor in this particular industry that I had was Michael Port. Michael Port is the author of the book, Book Yourself Solid, and he now owns heroic public speaking.
I bought his book when I first was trying to figure out what to do. I bought his book Book Yourself Solid because I thought I had a sales problem, because we all think we have a sales problem. When really what I tell people is it's probably a product problem, it's probably not a sales problem.
There are people with sales problems, but they're rare. Mostly it's the offer. So I bought his book and and I joined his program. I joined a mentorship program and just immediately we just hit it off.
He taught me so much about who you have to be, if you're going to stand up in front of a group of people and lead them. I just really fell in love with him personally and all the great stuff he does. And he's turned into a great friend and now he's off doing heroic public speaking with his wife, and it's amazing to watch that.
I've been to a couple of those and I've been fortunate enough to moderate a couple of panel discussions he's had and things like that.
And then, there's been a lot of colleagues, a lot of people that I look up to who have done some great work. Mitch Russo is a good friend of mine. I think he would object if I called him a mentor, but I probably would call him that. He was the CEO of Tony Robbins and Chad Holmes' company for a while, and he also sold a lot of software companies off before he did that. So we have that in common, and that's why we kind of hit it off.
What Frank considers a high-ticket offer.
So what is high ticket, and then what's a program? Well, we start with program cause that one's easier. I call it a program because it's not a service anymore.
A service is something that, again, takes you as an entrepreneur to do, but it's also not a product. It's not like we've turned it into software or we're shipping widgets out via Amazon or whatever.
So something in the middle, it is a productized service. And since that's difficult to say all the time, and for some reason like productized gets like spell-checked, we use programs.
But before I get to the numbers, let me say that I very strongly believe that if you're going to price something, you need to stand up for the return on the investment to your client.
So if you're going to put out a price that needs to generate a 10 to 20 times return on investment for your client, I find that's a good sweet spot. If you can generate 10 to 20 times return, you're usually not going to have an argument about price.
The problem where people run into with prices when they don't really know what the return on that investment is, or it's squishy. Then it's like, okay, is it $50? Or is it $5,000?
So given that, I like to tell people that I want them to solve a six-figure problem. That's like one of my core tenants, because that's big, right?
If you're going to be an entrepreneur needs to be big stuff, not small little finessing around the edges stuff. So solve a six figure problem. You're going to generate a hundred thousand dollars of value.
So if that's the case and we're getting a 10 to 20 times return on investment, that means your price point needs to be somewhere between - minimum - $5,000 to $10,000. That's kind of my guide for high ticket.
I want to see above $10,000. $5,000, maybe. We definitely have had clients come through and they released their pilot out, like around $3,000 or $4,000. But I will tell you... and my coaching team knows this. I have to personally approve where they go out in the market because I refuse to let someone underbid themselves because they just haven't done the work either inner right.
Because sometimes it's just a mindset thing or the actual product design work in order to justify the return on investment. So that's generally what I mean, is that you're charging, let's just say $10,000 to make it easy, and you are doing it in a productized way so that it's not just custom work and one-on-one coaching.
The big misconceptions around high-ticket programs.
People think if I'm going to charge a lot of money, it's going to have to involve a lot of my time. You know, because money is time.
And the funny thing is that in the entrepreneurial online entrepreneurial community, we kind of tell ourselves that. But then when we come to thinking about product design, we think, oh shoot, well, I don't want to be involved in this. If I charge $25,000, it's just going to be a lot of my time and I don't want that. So, I'll go for less in order to, you know, my lifestyle.
That's a misconception. Price doesn't have anything to do with time. It has to do with return on investment.
There's the old joke about there's a machine that breaks down and a mechanic comes in, and literally looks at the machine, takes out a hammer and hits it one time and the machine starts back up again.
He gives the person an invoice for a thousand dollars, and the person is like, "you were only here for like three seconds. How could this be a thousand dollars? Itemize this for me."
And so he breaks it down and it says, "$5 for hitting the machine, and $995 for knowing where to hit it."
So that's the thing. If you can reduce the amount of time that it takes to get the result, trust me, your clients will pay for this.
I work with CEOs of large corporations all over the world. They don't want my time, they don't want to get on the phone with me. They're busy, and so if I can get something done faster, they're going to pay more for that.
On whether high-ticket is suitable for new businesses.
It's a little bit tricky. You obviously have to have some kind of skill, but honestly that's true to get into business at all. What I find is more the issue is that people feel like the way to build up a business is to start by charging cheap. Low, low prices.
Then you build yourself up and then at some point you graduate. And what I tell people is there is no fairy entrepreneurial ferry that come and anoints you, that it's time for you to start charging more. That doesn't happen. You know? You are ready.
The moment you can justify the expense, the moment you can justify the return on investment, you're ready.
The other thing I'll say is that from the business model perspective, and this is something we don't talk a lot about as online entrepreneurs, as a business model, it is very, very difficult to build up a business charging low dollar figures.
There's a mathematical reason for this. If you start charging, let's just say let's pick $500, if I start charging $500 per client, and I want to make a certain amount of money, I have to get a lot of clients in the door.
Now we kind of tell ourselves, "well, that's easy though, because it's not a lot of money." The problem is that you have to get a lot of clients, you have to have a bigger audience, which means you need to invest in automation and marketing and a lot of things - things that a lot of businesses consulting businesses don't have to invest in.
So you're immediately at a disadvantage because that $500 comes in, but it's out the door. And generally speaking, that's the case. People who are charging low amounts of money kind of feel this cashflow thing, even when you have clients coming in, you're like, where did the money go? Like it's gone. Where did what happens?
And that's actually the trap. When you flip the model around and you can get it, and again, internalize it from a mindset perspective, but also product design, but also be able to articulate the value proposition.
I mean, think about it. You're charging $10,000. How many clients do you need to make it that month? So it's a very different game. I don't need an audience or a list of 50,000 people.
All those things that we think, "oh, I've got to build this up and build that up." But that's not true, I don't even need a funnel. I just need to talk to 5, 10 people and have the right value proposition.
On finding high-ticket clients and why it isn't more difficult than getting low-ticket clients.
I will say something and no one's going to believe me, but I promise I've got stories backing up. It is easier to sell something for $10,000 than it is to sell something for $49.
And people are going to be like, what?
And you can't just take a $49 product and raise the price to $10,000, you have to do the work. But if you do the work for a $10,000 program, it's easier to sell. Why Because you have a huge outcome you're trying to create.
Now, I'll tell you this from personal experience. So, there was a woman who came to our business a number of years ago and she wanted to join. One of our programs was a $2,000 program was a course that was run by my coaching team.
When we talked to her, she was like, well, I want to do monthly payments. And we're like, "okay, how many monthly payments?"
"I want to do 12 monthly payments."
"Sorry, we don't do that. That's just not a lot every month and we find that doesn't work. You know, we need a little commitment. And if you don't have $2,000, this may not be the right thing for you to do right now."
So she left. About a year and a half later, I did a partnership with with someone. We launched a program, the program was a hundred thousand dollars to get in. Now you paid $25,000 cash upfront, no payment plan. You wire-transferred the money in the remaining $75,000 was paid in payments over a two year period. But you had to have $25,000.
The woman transferred $25,000. And I said, "Wait a minute. We talked to you just like a year and a half ago, and you're talking about breaking up $2,000 into 12 equal payments. What in the world?"
And she said, "Well, I had it in savings."
So this is the thing. People who tell us, they don't have the money... I mean, there are people who don't have the money for sure, but the vast majority of people, they have the money. You just haven't made it important enough to them yet.
In that case, we had a a hundred thousand dollar offer that was generating a million dollars of value. That's my 10 to one ratio. And so she saw it and realized it was for her, and she immediately got the money out of her savings account, wire-transferred it.
A lot of times, we just tell ourselves the story that it's hard to sell something that's a higher price point. There definitely are some art to audience targeting.
One of my favorite people that I've ever worked with, her name's Francine Graley. She's an amazing sales woman. She was my sales woman for a while. She was so good, she went off on her own and now she's got her own company. Literally every year, I write her a note and I'm like, what do I have to pay you to come back? The answer is not enough.
So she said something amazing - Let's stop selling to broke people.
That is true. We oftentimes find these audiences that we think we're connected with and they don't have the money, and we're trying desperately to figure out how to make it work. It's not going to work.
You want to be a philanthropist. Great. But go make your millions and then come back and be philanthropists later. There's nothing worse in this world than a broke philanthropist. So it really is about product design and mindset.
On how to convey the value of our high ticket program in our marketing.
To make it very simple, there are only four reasons why anyone buys anything in this world - make money, save money, stay out of jail, and have a better life. That's it.
So we as entrepreneurs, we have to figure out which of those four categories we're talking to.
A lot of times, I hear a lot of entrepreneurs say, well, we actually sell to both the two or three of those. No, you don't. It's really one.
And the example I give is imagine a business coach whose value proposition is "I help you make money so you can have a better life." Great, so it's all about the money.
Then you have another business coach, who's like, "I want you to have a better life. Now In order to do that, you're going to need to make some money."
We can already tell those are two different businesses and two different audiences. Those are not the same people, and so we have to be very clear about what that audience is. So that's the first thing.
The second thing is, notice how all four of those things are all about the client. They're all about the customer. They're not about us.
Oftentimes when we start hanging that value, we get sucked into what it is that we do our process. And this especially happens with consultants, but it also happens with life coaches and in the personal development space.
I can't tell you how many people I've talked to are like, "it's life design and I've got this like 59 point thing" You know what? That stuff is incredibly valuable, but it's not valuable for that reason.
It's valuable because of the change that you bring in the person's life who goes through the process. And so we have to start thinking about it from that perspective, what is it that changes?
So the exercise that I have my clients do the very first thing is have them write down what I call a customer journey map. So I have them fast forward three years into the future of working with the client. What do they have now that they did not have before? I force them to get super tactical.
Clarity is not an outcome. Confidence is not an outcome. It is a stepping stone to something. Your client uses clarity to do something. They leverage their confidence to do something.
So I'll give you an example. One client that I worked with a number of years ago, she does work life balance with female executives. It's a tricky thing, like how do you balance a career as an executive with a family, especially if you've got kids.
So she says, I do work life balance. And I said, well, what does that mean?
She thought about it, and was like, "Really? We all know what that means." And I'm like, "no, what does it mean to your clients? What does it mean when they have work-life balance? How could you tell if you had two women walking down the street, how can you tell that one has work-life balance and one does not?"
And she got stumped on that for a little bit. We had to talk about it for a while, but the answer for her clients was that one of her clients has work-life balance when she can finally achieve her personal goals.
Because all of these other things that are pulling away from her time are now gone or they're managed, and she can now do something for herself.
So what she did is she transformed what she was selling to basically saying, "okay, female executives, I'm going to help you set and achieve one audacious goal in the next 12 months. And by the way, if it's figuring out how to organize your pantry, I'm not your gal. It's gotta be big, it's gotta be audacious."
Suddenly you went from this theory, a work-life balance thing, to this beautiful sales process where she'd bring people in for a free lunch at a hotel or something nice. She'd spend the entire hour while they were eating, talking about setting goals and something amazing.
So she would take all the women in the room through this exercise, where they would set some amazing goal out there and they'd get all excited about. They'd stand up, they read it, there's applause. It was all this energy in the room.
And then at the end of the hour, she had the easiest sales pitch in the world, which is, "who wants to achieve this in the next 12 months? Raise your hand." That was it. That was the sales pitch.
So that gives you an idea of what happens when we transform to the actual value, when you actually hook into the emotional need that your client has.
We talk about it a lot, but it's sometimes hard, especially when you're in the personal development space to do that work.
How to find your six-figure problem.
You won't know until you ask. And that's one of the things that I think, especially in the online entrepreneurial space, we miss, because it's so easy to run your business behind your laptop and hide behind your laptop, just sending out emails and putting funnels.
We forget that there's actual human beings on the other side, and the easiest way to find out whether or not you've got a product is to literally talk to these people.
What we do in our program is we have people go through a validation process. We make them talk to seven people who are their ideal client - don't talk to your mastermind, don't talk to your best friend, don't talk to your mom. Don't talk to any of those people. It needs to be someone who would literally pull out their credit card to pay you for this program.
And you ask them, did we get this right? You learn from it. And oftentimes it's wrong, and you go back and you figure it out. But the beauty of that is because you talk to a live person, you often know exactly what you need to fix it.
Now they'll give you that feedback. That's something you just can't get from AB testing if you put up a funnel and you just do AB testing, great, like this page wins, that headline wins, that color wins. You'll have no idea.
Early in my career worked for Capital One, they were just a credit card company back then. They would send out a letter to get you to get a credit card, and they tested 91 things on that letter.
They tested font and color and placement and paragraph and words, everything. And they knew that, by the data that they would have, on average they need 36 times before you actually sign up for credit card.
But we don't have to do that. We don't need that. And I tell my clients like, listen, I'll give you the best advice I have, but oftentimes I'm not your ideal client. And so, I'll give you my opinion, but I want you to go talk to your ideal client because they will know they'll know how much it's worth, they'll know whether the value proposition is right. They'll know whether you're using the pain points that resonate with them. They know all of that stuff.
And we miss that a lot. When we're online, we feel like I'll just send out emails and we'll just see what our response rates are.
On the steps to go from consulting to building a high-ticket program.
So there's two really important elements of this - one is process and the other is delivery.
Oftentimes, especially if we're consultants and or one-on-one coaches or life coaches, we kind of don't know our process. And it's true, if you're really good at what you do, there probably is some magic to what you're doing, but that magic is actually a process and it can be repeated most of the time.
We oftentimes need some outside perspective to kind of look at that magic and go, oh, so what you're doing is that. When I started off early and did a lot of one-on-one coaching with people on this, that was exactly the conversation I would have.
They would go, "well, I don't really have a process."
And I go, "well, tell me about it." And at the end, I go, "oh, so you do this and this."
"So, yeah, it is a process."
So you first need to have a process because if you're going to repeat something, which is what you need for scalability, then you need to have something that's repeated.
But the second thing is delivery. This is where a lot of times when we get stuck, because we think one-on-one coaching or custom project work, or the flip side, we go, oh, I'll just put up an online course, and we're good.
The problem is that oftentimes these things don't get our clients to the end result that they want. And so it turns out that there's really five building blocks that are scalable, and if you use these building blocks in your program design, you're good to go.
The first one we know and love is virtual training, that everyone is kind of familiar with that if you've ever been in an online course.
The second one is masterminds. And by that, I want to be really clear what I mean, because this is a term that gets misused a lot. A mastermind is a small group of people who come together to achieve a common goal. So they help each other.
You, as the mastermind leader are the facilitator, not the guru, you're not the leader of the group. You just facilitate the dialogue. The group actually leads itself. That's what a true mastermind.
Then there's group coaching, and that's often what people think is mastermind. Group coaching is where you are the guru, and you have a bunch of people together who are trying to implement, and you're helping them through that process.
The fourth done-for-you services, where I know people are like, "whoa, wait a minute, Frank, you said, don't do done-for-you."
Services means that your business has a very specific process that executes like a machine. It's like a factory. There are no custom orders, it's not like Burger King. You don't get it your way. It's the same for everybody - rubber stamped.
And then live events and workshops. So those are the five. And honestly, that's it. If you stick to those, they're kind of like Legos, you can put them together however you want.
As long as you use those five Legos, you're going to end up with something that's scalable.
You have to have both - you have to have process and you have to have design deliverability. Once you have those, you can really put up a scalable high ticket program.
A really good high ticket programs are going to have a combination of things because each of those deliverability elements does something different. I like to say, "your client, if they're going to get results has to have three things - skills, accountability, and mentorship, and they need all three."
A lot of times we make the mistake of thinking, well they just need skills and then they'll go do it by themselves. But that just doesn't happen very often.
And frankly, even most things that we need to learn in this life, we can't just get skills. If you don't believe me, go get brain surgery from the guy who just read the textbook. I assure you that you're not going to want to do that.
So you're going to need all three. You're going to have to create something that provides for all three.
Virtual training only provides for skills. We can't hold people accountable from an online course. We can't help people get stuff done or apply the things to themselves. Oftentimes what you need something like a group coaching program, and that's really where the mentorship can come into play and the accountability.
Oftentimes you're going to need a number of these things at the same time. If you have a first program, to start out, one of the best approaches is to create a 12 week curriculum where you've got an assignment for every week, and then they watch a video to understand the skills they need with very clear about this, the skills they need to execute on the assignment, and then hold some kind of office hour call where people then ask questions about getting that particular thing done.
This is again another way where group coaching can kind of go off the rails. It's not an Q&A, it's not an open ask any questions you want, we are trying to get something done. We have an assignment, let's get the assignment done.
So that is an office hour call. And then you need to have some kind of a accountability system where if people don't show up to, and they're not getting stuff done, you're following up with them and you're saying, "Hey, what's going on." That's a really good way to run a very simple program.
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