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

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

Success Is Not the Solution

Last year at a round table discussion in Malaga, one of the guests was a lady preparing to open a lingerie shop for plus size women.

In itself, an idea that definitely has legs.

But for her as a bootstrapper with a limited budget, I had serious doubts about the nature of her plans.

She wanted to rent a storefront in Malaga’s most famous shopping street, launch with a bang, and  with that she hoped she would be on the road.

Which might work, sure.

But to *make* it works means a lot of moving pieces have to be in the right place. Brand choice, marketing, provider deals, targeting, pricing, promotion… it’s a lot.

And if you’re bootstrapping and you bet all you have on getting all the ducks in a row, just right, just so… and something’s off?

Then you’re back where you started, minus the savings you invested. Oops.

Again, it’s not that it can’t happen, but is it the right approach?

Doesn’t it make more sense to test first?

Get feedback from the market, test your marketing, see if people buy?

And then when it’s not only your own plans and strategies that say it’ll work, but the market confirms, voting with their money?

That’s when you know how to put all the moving pieces in place, and that’s when it makes sense to build bigger and launch with a bang.

For example, this lady could have had her shop up and running in one or two weeks, by partnering with a business that serves a similar audience, and offering her products indoors of her partner’s premises.

Low-cost, low risk, direct customer feedback. What’s not to like?

But nope, she didn’t like that.

She wanted a shop, by golly, and she wanted to open properly.

Can’t blame her, but the thing that still worries me is that she was *in love with the idea of being a successful shop owner*, when it’s much more effective to be *in love with developing strategies, systems and actions that create your success*.

The former keeps you looking at the goal and how pretty it is, and while you’re doing that you’re not looking at the latter, which is the thing that’s meant to get you to that pretty goal.

Here’s the mistake people make:

The envision success, and think that reaching success will be the solution to everything.

Where success can be whatever you want: wealth, a successful shop, a million dollars a year, buying your own home, going nomad… whatever you want.

“Once I have XYZ, then all my problems and struggles will be over. Solved!”

In reality though, success is not the solution.

Success is the consequence of the solution – i.e. strategies, systems, and actions. Those solve for the obstacles preventing you from achieving success.

Success is never the solution – it’s the consequence of it.

And if you’re the kind of person who gets this, and who makes sure that development gets time and attention, and you want to get more leverage and ROI on your efforts, maybe we ought to talk.

I only work with a handful of clients at a time, and I’m looking to connect with the kind of person who is driven, is guided by purpose, is able to look in the mirror, and has a bias to taking action.

If that’s you, let me know…



Ten Rules of Ethical Selling: #1 – Diagnose Before Prescription

If a doctor would prescribe medication or treatment without doing a proper diagnose, it’s called malpractice. It’s the stuff that hurts patients and get doctors sued, and rightly so.

It’s not just legal obligation and best practice: it’s the right thing to do.

As a business owner, our responsibility is not very different.

Yet each day, I see people with a great product or service, real good eggs trying to make a difference, and they ruin everything because they come charging in brandishing their thing, saying things to the effect of ‘You really need this!’.

And sure, maybe the other person really does need your thing – but how would you know?

If you don’t properly ‘diagnose’ the buyer’s situation, needs, and urgency first, how can you know whether they need you thing or not – how can you prescribe before you diagnose?

If you solve problems for a client, the way a doctor treats illness, do you not solve problems better, and more often, if you first figure out whether or not people actually, really, need your thing?

Now, this goes beyond good practice and doing right by people:

It’s also an excellent attitude to take when selling.

Because when you ask enough questions so that you’re able to accurately diagnose a problem someone has, you’ll gain a deep insight into the problem, its causes, and possible solutions.

And if you then state the problem better than the person you’re talking to could state it, they’ll automatically become interested in your solution.

And if that solution then is right for them, at this moment, they’ll enroll themselves – no selling required.

When you hear me say ‘I help people fall in love with selling’, that’s really what it comes down to:

A shift in perspective and attitude, that transforms ‘selling’ into enrollment, or: moving forward with people.

It’s fun and I can teach you – just holler.

On that note: I know that many people who might want to get in touch with me, don’t do so because they’re concerned about the cost.

And if that’s you, worry ye not: getting in touch has no cost, nor does an initial friendly chat – and as for coaching programmes:

I’m always happy to work out a coaching programme that works if you’re on a budget but you do want help and you want it now.

If that’s you, say ‘yay’ and let’s see what we can do…



What Fronting a Band Taught Me About Selling

It had been years – decades, really – since I’d been in a situation like this:

On a ‘stage’, with a band, guitar around my neck, in front of an audience… and I was loving every second of it.

(‘Stage’ in quotes, because really it was ‘us against the back wall in a local restaurant last summer, but still)

The people were grooving and so was the band, but c’mon… the song proper had long ended, we’d been jamming and soloing for a good while now on the back of it, and it was time to call the tune to a close.

Except we hadn’t really rehearsed ending songs.

During rehearsals, songs mostly just fell apart at the end.

(No, we weren’t prepared to play live – it just… kinda happened. Long story)

A quick look around, to check in with the guys – I could tell they were all wondering ‘where next, Martin?’

I nodded, signalled, and… bam. A perfect, tight, together, way to end a song.

Now here’s the thing: I’m not a ‘band leader’. I’ve seen musicians do it, but it was all new to me.

I just did what felt natural, and everyone played along, and it all ended well (ba-dum-tshhh…).

And that’s a sale. Selling is nothing more or less than moving forward with people, in a way everyone is happy about.

At that moment, without even thinking, I ‘sold’ the guys the ending of the song, and they were happy to buy.

And leadership plays a big role in selling.

Not because you need to ‘control the conversation’ (or the band), but because unless there’s a plan and someone to keep track of its implementation, people don’t move forward.

Leadership means plans get implemented right, and good leadership means everyone is happy.

And you want folk to move forward, right? I mean, does your business exist because something good happens for your buyers…?

They move forward in their life, in their well-being, in their status or skills or wealth or career?

Right, then in order for them to move forward, you need to learn how to move forward *with* them – i.e.’selling’ or ‘enrollment’.

Because unless they buy, they don’t get your help moving forward.

And that means you don’t get to have the impact you want, or the revenue, or the lifestyle – or, indeed, the ability to invest in growing your business so that you get to have a bigger impact.

Not pretty.

But, everything gets different, and better – and sold – when you move forward with people.

Because really, that’s all that selling is.

Each day, I talk to people who are doing something good, and they want to reach more people.

And when they learn, and internalise, the framework I teach, they go from ‘selling sucks and it’s hard’ to ‘huh, this ain’t so bad, and I’m getting the hang of it’.

Want some of that for yourself as well?



What I Want for You, and What That Might Look Like

It’s a delicate thing, when you’re in business and values matter to you: yes you want to sign on a new client, but you don’t want to seem needy, or greedy, or pushy.

And yet: unless you sell, you don’t get to have an impact, so something’s got to give. But values of course won’t ‘give’ – those are immutable and non-violable.

And so one of the biggest dilemmas for ethical people, is that while we want to give, help, and serve, we’d never want to make the impression that we ‘want something’ from the other person.

So here’s how I would flip that around, because it’s never about what I want from you.

Instead, it’s about what I want FOR you:

I want for you to grow, achieve, succeed.

I want for your people to be touched by your work.

I want for you to have impact, and a thriving abundant life as a result.

Thing is, I don’t know what any of that looks like for you. Do you want to scale? Grow? Move fast? Work in sprints, or marathons?

Do you want high visibility and the rewards that come with it, or are you more the slow-burn type of entrepreneur?

And what about money? What kind of returns do you want, what sort of personal income, what type and levels of investments do you want to make?

And yes, I know: it’s not about the money – same here. Money is just a nice reward, and a way to measure impact.

It’s not the only measure, but it’s damn useful because it keeps a company going.

So one of the things I want for you, is to enroll more buyers.

And I’d love for you to have fun doing it, knowing that you’re strengthening your company without ever having to go against your values.

Instead, you’d be enrolling people with ease, and really enjoying it.

Yeah… that would be awesome… I can see it now! :)

Let’s schedule a short video call, and see how I could help you make the above real?



Buyer Psychology, Price, Impact&Value

There’s a common misconception in the mind of many business owners:

That selling at a lower price point makes it easier to earn a living or make a profit.

But that’s the kind of sloppy thinking that makes for a tough business to run.

Think about it:

For every lead that you create, you have to spend resources: money, time, mental resources, and so on.

If you then try to create a client at say $100, you have to spend ten times the resources to reach *counts fingers* $1000 in revenue.

And then you have to deliver your service – your coaching, training, consulting, whatever it is you do.

But if you try to create a $1000 client, you have just reduced your efforts and cost by a factor 10.

And the ‘secret’ is thatq*0987T28HQHyQg%KrzStWp#8Zo it’s usually just as much work to land a 1K client, as it is to land a $100 client.

So far for the logic.

Next up: the psychology of the buyer.

See if you do something really valuable for people, that gets them a high return on the investment they make with you (whether that’s in terms of cash returns or changes in their life), you want people to buy because of the value you deliver.

Your best buyers are those who want the impact you provide.

And if you price your work low, you’ll end up talking to people who aren’t looking for high impact and high ROI, but instead they’ll be looking for low price.

And the psychology of low price is that as long as the dollar amount you propose isn’t what they’re happy to spend, no amount of promised impact will convince them to hire you.

In other words: there’s value-buyers, and price-buyers, and price buyers are very, very costly because they are hard to convert.

Whereas value-buyers are more discerning, easier to identify, less concerned about dollar amounts – AND they are overall much more fun to work with.

A price-buyer thinks in terms of scarcity. They want ‘value for money’, and while you should obviously provide value for money, that kind of buyer will always want more, because they tie value to a dollar amount.

Value buyers however, tie value to impact.

And if you position yourself right, and put yourself in front of people who want impact, you’ll find that they’re far easier to enroll.

Yes it’s scary to ask for the big bucks, but you’ll find that people who want to buy impact are the kind who are *much* less concerned about the actual price.

And, bonus: that’s also the kind of buyer who is more likely to actually have the money to invest with you.

So before you go out and underprice yourself, ask: Who do you actually want to work with.

People who count dollars… or people who size up the impact you can deliver for them?

As for me and the impact I deliver:

I can help you fall in love with selling.

And the impact of that… well, that’s huge.

No more stress, no more awkwardness… and instead, an approach to enrollment that both you and your buyer enjoy.

And, you’ll be working to earn a dollar, instead of ten nickles. And that’s a lot easier.

Want that?

Then talk to me, and let’s see what we can do.



How to Improve Your Marketing and Sales: Apply Empathy and Generosity

If ever you wonder why your marketing isn’t working better, ask yourself:

“Have you built enough generosity into it?”

If the answer is ‘yes’, ask:

“Am I being generous to the ‘wrong’ kind of person?”

Because if you give to takers, your gift goes nowhere and your generosity is wasted.

Adam Grant writes about givers, takers, and matchers, in his book Give & Take.

Research shows that generous people tend to be the most successful.

But, generous people also tend to be the *least* successful.

The difference between successful givers and unsuccessful givers, is that the successful ones don’t give to takers.

That’s not selfishness or being uncaring: it’s efficiency. It’s putting your resources where they’ll have most impact. For you, the recipient, and those that they give to.

Takers are like a black hole: whatever goes in, never comes out again.

Matchers and givers however, give back or pay forward, or both.

Be generous to those two, and hope that takers will learn someday.

But don’t give to them.

No matter how big your heart is, you’ll never have enough energy to make it worthwhile to give to takers.

They’ll just want more and you’ll burn up whatever resource and goodness you have; it won’t benefit them, or you, nor anyone else

Point is, generosity – in marketing and sales – is an enormously powerful driver.

It’s leverage.

It rests on the principle of creating value, before asking or wanting anything.

Do things that are valuable.

Make things that are valuable.

BE valuable – and not just as a human, because you already are.

Be valuable as a professional. In your marketing and sales.

Tune in to the people you want to serve, create something they’ll love and that will help them, and give it to them.

The above was a tweetstorm I wrote, off the cuff.

And the last tweet was:

“Huh. Looks like I wrote a tweetstorm.

“Well, best turn it into an article, and send it to my subscribers.

“I hope they’ll get something valuable out of it.”

See how it works?

That’s how you create value, and I hope this one was valuable for you.

Want a little more generosity from me, and you’re a giver or matcher?

Book a 20-minute call. I won’t sell anything at you, though of course I’ll be open to the idea of you wanting to work with me, and I promise:

You’ll take something valuable from it, regardless of whether we end up working together.

Direct link to my calendar here.



Buyers Are Not Liars

In the world of conventional sales (as opposed to ethical sales, the way I teach it), there’s a saying that ‘buyers are liars’.

Which in itself is pretty nasty and cynical thing to say – and complete devoid of empathy (where empathy is, again, part of the way I teach selling).

Sure, a person might say ‘I want it’ and then not follow through.

‘I’ll send the check’ and then it doesn’t show up.

‘I’ll be there at noon’, and then they don’t show up.

‘This problem at my company needs solving, now’, and then they stop responding to your calls and emails.

Is it because they were lying?

Probably not. People say things for a great many reasons, and who knows why they say one thing and then do something else?

They know, is who.

And, guess whose job it is to figure out why they said something that didn’t end up true?

Your job – the job of the seller.

Here’s the thing:

In a selling situation, when the other says something, you need to test what they say.

Not, again, because someone would be lying, but because we as humans, all of us, assume stuff.

We take things at face value.

‘Yeah I like it, I want it’, and we instantly assume that the deal is done.

But it ain’t, not until the money is in your account or the contract has been signed.

But when you assume that thing A also literally means thing A, and that ‘yes’ means ‘it’s a sale!’, you bypass that other person’s reality.

Whenever you assume something about someone else, and we do it all the time, you break rapport and create a disconnect.

It’ll show in your reactions, your questions, your body language, the way you structure your sentences… and that other person goes ‘Hey wait a minute, I never meant/said/implied that’.

And… they’re gone.

This is precisely why my framework for ethical selling starts with questions, then answers, and, very importantly, pillar three: meaning.

What someone says is one thing… but what does it *mean*?

What are they really trying to say?

What did they not say?

What do they mean for you to hear?

And, is that what you heard… or did you hear what you wanted to hear?

What’s said is one thing. What’s being heard is another. And what was meant is something entirely different.

Learn your buyer. Test your assumptions. Ask more questions.

Let your buyer tell you whether or not you actually heard what they said.

That’s how you enroll ethically, with empathy, and yes, with success and profit.

And if you want the ins and outs of ethical selling, watch this. Seriously :)



What Do You Do?

It’s one of the hardest questions to answer for most any business owner.

In far too many cases, the answer is ‘I am a designer’ or ‘I’m a consultant’ or ‘I’m a personal coach’ – but that’s not an answer to the question.

They’re asking what you *do*, not how you identify or label yourself.

Now you might be ahead of that curve, and say something like ‘I build websites’ or ‘I coach female business owners’ or ‘I help artists build a business’, and that’s a lot better, but it’s not best.

Best, for the question ‘what do you do?’ is to give a statement that says what you do, AND why that’s something the questioner either will or won’t be curious and excited about.

‘What do you do’ is an opportunity to give a little pitch – and no, not in the sense of trying to sell someone right then and there, but to pitch the person on why you’re different, what your unique ability is, and above all: what specific benefit you deliver for your clients.


‘I teach heart-centered entrepreneurs how to rock social media and build a loyal, profitable following’.

‘I coach female IT entrepreneurs on how to become an in-demand thought leader in their niche’.

‘I help social enterpreneurs raise seed capital, so that they can go from kitchen-table startup to enterprise with impact, faster than by building everything up manually’.

You see the pattern?

It’s always ‘I do [this specific thing] for [this specific kind of person/company].

That’s how you answer the question ‘what do you do?’

And now, the full disclaimer: it took me years to figure it out for myself, and even now I still sometimes answer by saying what I am, instead of what I do. Last Sunday at my friend’s house, who had friends over. ‘I’m an ethical sales coach’, and I was met with a confused frown. ‘A what?’

What I should have said was, for example:

I help purpose-driven entrepreneurs, people who are committed to doing good, impactful work, and I take them from ‘Selling sucks’ and ‘I don’t know how to sell myself’ to: ‘This isn’t so bad’ and ‘Selling my work? I got this’.

And on that note: if you are like that – motivated by purpose, on a mission to make something wonderful and meaningful happen in the world and run a profitable business while you’re at it…

…and you do indeed want to land more clients by having service-based sales conversations, I just might be the ethical sales coach to help you.

Want to have a conversation and find out?

Then schedule a call, and let’s chat.

Talk soon…


Never Let Bad Become the Baseline

You may have heard me say it before: any skill or talent is also an achilles’ heel, and vice versa.

An ability to listen deeply can cause you to not speak when the other person needs you to.

Creative skills can work against you if you lean into them so much that you don’t take time to think clearly and you end up making sloppy decisions.

Being open-hearted, compassionate and generous can cause us to take crap from people when that helps neither them or us.

Or, a very common one: being intelligent and well-read often goes together with overthinking things.

And the big one: our innate ability to be gritty, to push on, to keep ourselves together under stress, can be utterly devastating.

When that happens, bad becomes baseline. And I’m beginning to suspect that rather a high percentage of people deal with that.


Anxiety is horrible, but once you learn how to deal with it, it becomes less noticeable, and constant states of anxiety become the baseline (something that media play into very cleverly).

Lack of sleep sucks, but you get used to it, and being tired and cranky becomes a baseline.

Depression creeps up but it gets pushed down, and it becomes baseline to feel gloomy or angry about things.

A hateful marriage becomes baseline over time, when we teach ourselves to just suck it up and deal with it.

In all such cases, we accepted something bad, got used to it, got good at dealing with it (read: got good at pretending we don’t notice), and it became the baseline.

I haven’t read any studies and I’m not an expert, but I’m seeing a LOT of people who have a low baseline for things – relationships, free time, money, business results, time spent on hobbies, crappy jobs, a business that runs you versus the other way round – and it hurts me to see it.

So today I want to ask you:

Is there any area in your life, where without you being aware of it, you allowed a bad thing to become a baseline?

And if there is, isn’t it time to raise the baseline back to normal levels?

If yes and yes, and if one of those things is ‘too many sales opportunities are lost’, then that’s something I can help with.

*Especially* if you’re a kind and compassionate person whose work is meant to make things better for others, because heart-centered entrepreneurs are often those who struggle most to create new clients.

(It’s what I call the good-egg problem, where we don’t sell effectively because we don’t want to violate our values).

Enrolling buyers gets easier though, when you let values drive the sales process – and I can show you how.

There are still a few seats available for the pilot launch of my 10-week training on ethical enrollment, so if you’ve been on the fence about joining the programme, let me know.

I’ll send you a calendar link where you can schedule a call with me, and we’ll have a friendly conversation to see if this is the right programme for you, at this point.

Let me know…



Good Ideas? Volunteer Nothing

Good ideas abound, and they’re a dime a dozen.

But unless someone accepts a good idea, it’s little use.

And each day, we volunteer our good ideas to others.

“This thing would really help you!”

“Have you tried XYZ?”

“Dude, you’re holding it wrong – that’s not how it works”.

“Darling, maybe we should stop and ask for directions?”

If you’ve ever volunteered good ideas, you’ll know how rarely they get picked up. It takes a special relationship, or at least the right circumstances, for someone to pick an idea and run with it.

Meanwhile, each time you suggest something, the other person subconsciously is being told that they’re wrong, which is exactly why so many good ideas get lost.

Nobody likes to be made ‘wrong’, and while our intentions may be excellent, our coming out unbeckoned with our good ideas, just doesn’t work.

Everything changes though, when someone asks for our good ideas. That’s when they listen, consider, and often also implement.

This principle – inadvertently ‘making someone wrong’ – is why so many sales opportunities break down.

So how do you get your child, your spouse, your assistant, or indeed your buyer, to ask for your good ideas?

Well, you can’t ‘get them to’. We don’t control other people.

But, we can be the best possible partner in the conversation, for them to want to know, and ask for, our good ideas.


Volunteer nothing. Offer no good advice. Have no excellent recommendations for them.

Instead, learn that person. Investigate what they’re up against. Ask questions and keep asking them, until they ask you: “What would you do?”

Then you offer your idea, and then you’ll very likely see it heard, considered, and maybe even adopted.

But until they ask?

Volunteer nothing.

Not only is it respectful to leave the other to ask instead of taking the high-ground that comes with knowing what’s best for others, it’s also vastly more effective.



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