Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Units of You

Any given day, you have a finite amount of energy to spend, both mentally and physically.

Once used up, it’s time to rest and recover, and the next day you get another batch of energy. Kinda fun to be alive, isn’t it?

I call this energy ‘units of you’.

How much an actual unit is, isn’t relevant, and it varies day by day.

But, the number of ‘units of you’ that you can spend is finite. Even if you crank yourself out of a dip with copious amounts of coffee (or, god forbid, energy drinks), you’ll still run out.

The problem is that at the start of a day, with a whole new batch of ‘units of you’ at our disposal, we tend to vastly overestimate how many units we have, and how much we can accomplish whilst spending them.

And so we fill our tasklist with items, far more than we can possibly do in a day, and do well.

In other words: we task our future self with a level of commitment and performance that’s wholly unreasonable, and completely unattainable.

Put differently: we bankrupt our future self.

And by the time our future self runs out of ‘units of you’, it sees the remaining tasks, sees the deposit empty, and there you go: let’s procrastinate, let’s put it off until tomorrow.

Come tomorrow, you see how much you didn’t do, and you start out your day feeling bad about yesterday, and schedule even more unreasonable expectations, just to make up for yesterday.

And so begins (and continues) the downward spiral of procrastination.

And to make it even worse: a lot of the work we schedule is hardly relevant, in that it doesn’t actually do anything to drive results.

They might be useful things, but they’re busywork instead of growth-driving activities.

You’ll agree that this is no way to run a business, or indeed to live a happy life.

The solution?

Be stingy with your units of you.

When planning, know that your actual reserve won’t reach to complete everything you want to get done, and schedule only growth-driving activities, and:

Only schedule a few, or even just one. What you put on your tasklist for today should be 100% attainable, even if you run into complications or setbacks.

Ultra-attainable goals, is what I mean.

That way, you’re far more likely to reach them – and when you do, you get a powerful neurological feedback, because hey now! I did what I said I’d do!

And, bonus: you’ll have energy left to do another thing – look at me go!

This however does come with a caveat:

If you make your goals ultra-attainable, there’s a risk that the positive feedback you get, might cause you to rest on your laurels, and make you feel that you’re now free for the rest of the day.

So, make a resolution: when you complete your ultra-attainable goal, first reward yourself with a shortish break – but ONLY after you schedule your next (attainable) growth-driving activity.

After all: if you’re done with an important piece of work and you have units of you left in your reserves, it’d be a pity to let them go to waste, no?

Cheers,

Martin

Verbs VS Interrogatives: How to Ask Buyers the Right Kind of Questions

The more you ask, the more you’ll hear, and the more you’ll learn about why someone is looking to purchase your work.

Which, obviously, gives you the information you need to figure out if you can or can’t help them.

But the easiest kind of question to ask, is also the worst:

Binary questions, which usually start with a verb.

“Can you see this working for you?”

“Have you tried other solutions before?”

“Is the problem you describe something you want to solve at this point in time?”

You might get a yes, you might get a no… but even a yes isn’t the same thing as a purchase.

And, how do you proceed, after you get an answer to a binary question?

You opened a door, they threw an answer at you, and now you have to ask another question, from scratch.

This way, you don’t advance the sales process.

Instead, ask questions that start with an interrogative.

“What would make this work for you?”

“What other solutions have you tried before?”

“How urgent is it for you, to solve this problem?”

Questions like these are powerful, because they cause the other person to think, to see things from different angles, and to create their own vision – which is important because it’s their vision of either the pain of not solving the problem, or the joy of having solved it, that causes them to buy in to making a decision to do so.

Whereas binary questions suggest that your vision – not theirs – is relevant to them. Which it might be, but they don’t care unless they see it.

And the best way for you to get someone to *see* the usefulness and power of that vision, is to ask questions switch on their brain and inner cinema.

Binary questions, the verb-led ones can easily cause distrust, objections and resistance.

So, ask interrogative-questions instead, because those are the ones that move the sales process forward, while leaving autonomy with the buyer.

Here’s another example:

What would it do for your business, if you learned ethical selling?

Cheers,

Martin

Push VS Pull, and the Worst Thing That Can Happen to a Person

There’s a reason why imprisonment is the punishment of choice across the world.

Not because it’s very effective, but because – bar solitary confinement and capital punishment – it’s pretty much the harshest punishment there is:

To remove a person’s autonomy.

For someone to no longer be a free agent, to not control their own decisions, is horrible.

This mechanism is also why the military is so good at creating good little soldiers.

It’s also why the industrial revolution so successfully turned society into a class of obedient, non-thinking worker drones.

To take someone’s autonomy is terrible, harsh, and depending on the purpose: effective.

In selling your work though, it’s pretty much the worst possible thing you could do.

Right? Who in their right minds would ever want to tell a buyer what they should do?

*Nodding heads*, I’m sure.

And yet…

It’s staggering to see how many people (unwittingly) try to remove a buyer’s autonomy.

Now you probably think “Yeah, but that’s not me”.

Are you sure though?

Because:

When you try to persuade someone…

When you try to convince someone by making a powerful argument…

When you skip over someone’s objections, fears, or doubts… and you continue to make your case…

That’s when you are in fact, in a subtle way or not, removing a buyer’s autonomy.

And because that’s the worst thing you can do to a human being, it’s not very likely to result in a sale – and if it does, chances are you’ll end up dealing with buyer’s remorse.

It’s never a good idea to push someone into a sale or a point of view.

What is a good idea though, is to invite someone in.

Invite them to consider a viewpoint.

Invite them to consider a purchase.

Invite them to ask you questions, or even better:

Invite them to tell you what concerns they have.

Doing that has the opposite effect of pushing people:

Instead of them putting up barriers, they’ll lower their guard and consider what you’re telling them.

And if at some point they accept the invitation to buy, they do so under full control and autonomy, and you bet that’s a way to buy that people love.

So today, I’m inviting you (see what I’m doing here?) to reflect on situations (with clients or with anyone else in your life) where you’re trying to push an agenda on others (hint: it’s those times when it seems like an uphill battle), and see if you can turn your agenda into an invitation.

Next step: put it into practice. Invite instead of push.

Let me know how it goes.

Cheers,

Martin

What Do You Not Sell?

“Guys, meet Martin. Martin, these two are lawyers. Be careful around them!”

Chuckles and smiles all around… never bad to poke a little fun of people, and the two lawyers clearly had a sense of humour. And obviously they’re not the wrong kind of lawyer, otherwise they wouldn’t be friends with my friend Antonio.

This was last night, at the inauguration party of Antonio’s co-working company in Malaga (which I helped him grow pretty big – I’ll share a case study of how we did it shortly).

The chat with the lawyers was fun and ranged from dating to whether capitalism and democracy should go together.

At some point, one of the guys asked me: “What do you *not* sell”.

What a brilliant question!

It took me a moment, and then I said: “Lies”.

And I realised how important it is to be ultra-clear on what you do not sell, offer, or promise.

See, a buyer has more than just one problem they need solving.

They might show up asking for a specific thing, but there’s always a bunch of related issues they also need resolved.

And naturally, there’s a (often subconscious) hope that buying from you will bring those solutions.

And that’s where the ‘no lies’ policy is a super powerful element of your sales process.

Of course I don’t think you would literally lie to buyers – you probably wouldn’t read me if you’re that kind of person.

But, the more clear you are about what your work does *not* do for a buyer, the easier it is for them to trust you.

Whereas if you leave it in the middle, or if you try to include a service, outcome, or benefit that isn’t in your core area of expertise, you’re actually harming your chances of closing the deal.

That’s why “Is not” is such an important element in the LEAP sales system I created.

The features and benefits of your offer consist of two parts: What it *is*, meaning what result or outcome you promise, and ‘what it is not’ – meaning, the outcomes or results that *might* show up, but that aren’t elements you promise.

And the more explicit and clear you are about ‘is not’, the higher the degree of trust a buyer will have in what your offer *does* do or solve.

Never be afraid to be clear and explicit about your ‘is not’.

Not only will you avoid signing on clients who expect things you can’t deliver, with all the complications that brings, it’ll make your selling easier and more fun as well.

There’s still some room in my calendar for a complementary coaching call, should you want one. Pick a time here.

Cheers,

Martin

Quick Favour, Help Me Out?

One of the most important things in business and selling your work, is knowing as precisely as possible who is your ideal buyer.

But, it’s an area where we often go by assumptions, thinking that we know who our ideal buyer is… without ever doing the research to make sure we’ve got it right.

And, it’s one of the reasons we struggle when selling. After all, if we try to sell to the ‘wrong’ people, how effective are we going to be?

In other words, it’s extraordinarily important to establish what’s called ‘product-market fit’.

That way, you can focus your marketing and selling efforts on those people who actually are right, and ready, for what you offer.

Me I’m also researching, specifically for the LEAP Ethical Selling System that I created.

So, in order to help – could you do me a favour and answer 4 simple questions for me?

I’d be super grateful!

So the LEAP sales framework I created stands for Listen, Explain, Ask, Profit, and hinges on integrity, ethics and empathy.

I built it specifically for people rich in integrity – the kind of person whose operations are based on a values-first approach.

Below are the questions – please click reply and fill in your scores:

1:
How do you rate your skills at selling (or enrolling clients, if you prefer)?

Where 1 = Not very good, and 5 = I’m extremely good at selling

Your answer:

2:
How much fun is the sales process for you?

Where 1 = Selling sucks, and 5 = I love sales

Your answer:

3:
How would you score your success rate?

Where 1 = Not very successful at all, and 5 = Very high conversion rate

Your answer:

4:
To what degree do you feel values like integrity and ethics either help, or hinder your sales process?

Where 1 = Such values make selling harder, and 5 = The more I honour my values, the more clients sign on

Your answer:

Thanks!

Martin

Watch Out for Inflection

Things can – and often do – change at any moment.

And whenever you’re trying to get someone on your side (either in selling, or getting collaboration, or buy-in for a project etc) it’s your job to pay close attention to what’s happening with the other person, and notice when they reach a point of inflection.

Very often though, we don’t notice when someone changes their attitude, inner state, thoughts or what have you.

That’s a problem, because when the other person reaches a point of inflection, you get a chance to react and move your mission forward – but if you don’t notice their change, you’re likely to move forward on the same track, and you miss an opportunity.

This is why empathy is so important.

Empathy enables you to tune in to what’s happening in that other person’s world, so that you can change your strategy and approach accordingly.

So, watch out for inflection. Read the other person. Observe them, and notice changes that indicate something has shifted for them.

Body language can be a great tell.

But also surprise, or sudden vehement agreement, or the breakthrough question they suddenly come up with.

Be mindful, attentive, observant, and you’ll know when the shift happens.

As a result, you’ll no longer fall in the trap that causes so many lost sales, bad communication, or unsatisfying outcomes with people.

Change can happen at any moment. Make sure you don’t miss it.

Also don’t miss: the opportunity for a complementary 30-minute strategy session, where you get to ask me anything you like about your business, sales, or marketing.

Schedule a time here, and see you soon: https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=11652475&appointmentType=544906

Cheers,

Martin

Now They See It, Now They Buy

There’s a guy I like to learn from – the late Jim Camp, known as the world’s most feared negotiator.

One of his lessons is that ‘vision drives decision’, and since every sale is a negotiation, it’s really important that you work with your prospect’s vision.

Because unless they see themselves experiencing the benefit of your product or service, your only chance to cause a sale is to force the issue – and we’re nice people, we don’t force people into buying.

Now, most people try to persuade a vision onto someone. Compelling arguments, explanations, paint the ‘after’, pointing out the problems that remain without the purchase…

But it’s much more effective to have a prospect develop their own vision.

That way, they own the vision instead of ‘borrowing’ it from you, which makes it far more likely that they’ll also buy your work.

And the best way for someone to develop their own vision of ‘problem solved because I bought this thing’?

Questions.

The last thing you want to do when selling, is tell people what to see.

Instead, ask questions that have them gain clarity and insight, and they’ll develop their vision all by themselves.

What kind of question to ask is hard to say, because it depends on the product or service you offer, on the personality of the buyer, the price point…

But, as long as your questions come from a place of empathy (i.e. putting yourself into their world), you’ll be fine.

Empathy shows the other that it’s about their results first, their decision second, and your sale last.

And that’s exactly the kind of ethical, integrity-based selling that I teach.

Want to dive deep on what questions to ask your particular buyers?

Then let’s chat: I’m offering my readers a no-cost, 30 minute strategy session.

Book yours here: https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=11652475&appointmentType=544906

Talk soon,

Martin

Problems Worth Solving?

To you, it seems clear: the problem this person has, is totally something you can solve for them.

And they are on board as well: they like you, trust you, they know what’s in the tin and they’ve got the budget, and yet: the sales process stalls, and there’s no purchase.

Annoying and confusing, to be sure.

But there’s a simple, effective way for you to unblock stalled sales situations, and it comes down to problem-finding.

Because in many of these cases, where everything seems to line up and yet there’s no sale, it’s because we try to sell a solution for a problem that’s not worth solving.

‘My website is outdated’ is a good problem to solve, sure. But for a business owner, an outdated website is not the problem. Not if there’s other, bigger problems to solve first: make payroll, deliver product or service, manage the team, improve IT or fleet of vehicles… oh yeah, and then there’s that website. We’ll deal with that later, once I get this stuff off my plate.

So the problem ‘outdated website’ isn’t worth solving for your buyer, at that time.

But if you identify the actual problem, and the cost of not solving it…

Like so: “Your competitors have spiffy websites, with great SEO, and they’re signing on clients. Because your site isn’t up to date, you’re losing out on sales, while your competition is ‘eating your tortilla’, as they say in Spain”.

Lost sales? Overrun by competition? Now that’s a problem worth solving!

Your job as a seller isn’t to convince someone that their problem needs solving.

Your job is to identify the actual, underlying, costly problem.

Point at that, and your buyer will convince themselves that it’s a problem worth solving.

Cheers,

Martin

The Blindingly Obvious, Yet Usually Ignored Relationship Between Measurement and Results

If the saying ‘what gets measured, improves’ is true, then what’s the first thing to measure?

The self, of course – and I’m talking about your performance, not your height or waist-size.

Yet curiously, that’s often the last thing we ‘measure’.

We set a goal, for the year or the month, and then we measure the results: the number of clients, revenue, whatever kind of goal you have.

But the thing that gets you towards your

But what about the thing that gets you towards your goals?

Meaning: the way you show up to your work, and the way you handle the tasks you need to execute on – do you measure those?

I’m willing to bet ready money that you don’t keep track.

Oh sure, you plan and review – but that’s not the same thing as measuring performance.

Me, I measure my actions. Number of emails sent, number of appointments with potential buyers. Conversion rates, list growth… I still need to improve, but I’m keeping track of what I’m doing.

Which is why aside from todo lists, I also have a ‘done-list’, where I record the actions I took that day.

And, I record every day what my level of exertion has been.

None of this is because I’m obsessive, but because the brain simply loves direct feedback.

When you put your performance on a dashboard or chart, and you observe the levels of activity, you’ll start to see a correlation between how you show up, and the results you get. Duh, right?

Yes, but are you doing it?

Are you, actually, measuring yourself, to see how you perform in your business?

Cheers,

Martin

When They Resist… Are You Selling Them an Identity They Don’t Want?

Yesterday I explained that behind buying into the features and benefits of your work, what a customer really buys into, is a new version of themselves.

The bigger the price tag, the more impactful and meaningful the change in identity.

This gives us as sellers a massive clue, especially when we find that our prospect isn’t buying in.
when you encounter objections, or resistance or fears, there’s a couple of things you need to do.

First: back down. I know it’s tempting to push on, argue more persuasively, highlight the benefits and so on, but don’t. If someone resists, you’ll do better playing judo than playing force.

That other person has a reason for their resistance, and your working against it will only make it stronger. So give them space. Have them explain the why of their doubts or objections.

Next, put yourself in their shoes.

As in: how do they see themselves?

What vision of themselves, and their world, and their place in it, have they formed?

What story about who they are, do they tell themselves?

And once you have a bit of an idea of that, ask yourself:

What version of themselves am I asking them to buy into?

And, finally, the ultimate question:

Can they identify with that vision, that version of themselves?

More often than not, you’ll discover that there’s discord, some lack of alignment for them.

You see a outcome-focused ‘next’, where they have bought from you and experienced the benefits.

They however, also see problems, complications, and a bunch of unknowns.

Even though they might trust that they’ll get the outcome you promise, they also need to see their lives as fundamentally better, and themselves as significantly upgraded by having bought from you.

When someone isn’t buying in, it’s very likely you’ve been trying to sell them a version of themselves they don’t really want.

You as a seller, you’re asking a buyer to become someone different.

And instead of asking them to become who you think they should become, figure out who they want to become, and invite them to become that.

As for you, my dear reader: who would you like to become?

If you were to work with me, what next version of you would you want to become?

Cheers,

Martin

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