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

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

Solutions Rarely Find Problems, But…

…problems very, very often find solutions.

Here’s the thing: a fundamental mistake we make far too often as entrepreneurs, is to create a solution, and then go out looking for people who want that solution.

This makes for excruciatingly ineffective marketing and sales.

A solution looking for a problem to solve will rarely find that problem it can solve.

If we go out looking for ‘people who want the thing we have’, two things happen:

First, we become myopic. We narrow down our vision, to the select set of people or companies who might want our solution – but we only know so much about who they might be.

So we miss opportunities because we’re not finding what we think we should be looking for, and we keep looking for it.

Thus we keep ourselves blind to the actual problems out there, that we might be able to solve, and that people do want our help with.

Secondly, our communications become self-sided, because we have that solution in hand, right? “Look at this cool solution, and what it can do, and why you might be interested. Are you interested, in my solution?”

Your buyer will hear or read that discourse, and they’ll disconnect. Because nothing in business is ever about us, or even our solution – it’s always about the other and the problem they want solving, and that’s the kind of messaging we ought to be giving them.

It’s not ‘This is an awesome thing, the best I have’ – it’s: ‘This is exactly for you, for the kind of problem you want to solve’.

When you communicate that, you’re ‘speaking into the buyer’s world’, instead of from inside your own world.

And that gets people interested, and that makes for sales.

So as you go about your business building and marketing and sales etc, remember:

Don’t be a solution looking for a problem to solve.

Be a researcher, trying to find out which problems exist for those you want to help, before you do or say anything else.

And only once you’ve achieved that and identified those problems, do you talk about the solution you have for them.

And, if you’re dealing with a problem in your business related to growth or sales or impact, maybe I do have a solution, who knows.

But tell me about the problems, first.

Cheers,

Martin

Ten Rules for Ethical Selling, #3: Prevent the Sale

“But wait! Don’t we want the sale?”

Yep, we want the sale. I sure do, and I hope you as well.

Except when we learn that buying wouldn’t be the right choice for the buyer.

And that’s where you see the difference between ethical sellers, and who only care about the numbers.

Selling is a way to facilitate a decision-making process, and if a buyer is about to make the wrong decision?

Then it’s not just a friendly respectful thing to stop the sale: it’s your duty.

If they ought not buy, they should not buy. That’s how you sell with the other’s best interest in mind, and that’s how you build the trust that causes people to come back to buy later on, when the time is right for them and it IS a good decision.

And that’s why, when I talk to new people, I’m not there to sell. That’s not my job.

My job is to help you figure out what’s the best decision – for you.

Because that ultimately is the best decision for me as well.

So… been on the fence about talking, because you might want help but you’re not sure?

Then let’s meet, have a conversation, and see what’s the best decision for you.

Book a call here

Cheers,

Martin

Things You Want

Obviously, I have no idea if anything of what I do fits into your world. I may be a great ethical sales coach etc, but we’ve never met, and I have no idea what you would or wouldn’t need – or if my approach even resonates with you.

In that sense, there’s nothing that I can ‘sell you’ (Yep, I’ll bet you’re happy to hear that :)

But seriously: everything really is about where you are at:

Could you get more sales – do you miss out on opportunities?

Is enrolling, or selling, something you kind of dread, and you would like to come to terms with it, or maybe even enjoy it?

Do you find it hard to earn the kind of money you ought to?

Are you frustrated that your work isn’t having a bigger, wider impact yet?

If any of that resonates with you, the next question is:

Are you like me – are you a driven entrepreneur, on a mission to do something good, led by values…

…and is ‘doing right by people’ something sacred in your life and business?

And you want to improve your reach and impact?

Well like I said: I can’t know if you need any help, or want it from me, but we could find out…

We’ll take 20 minutes to talk about your business, your goals and challenges, and I’ll show you the ethical sales framework that enabled two of my clients to net $9K in a week, a while back (true story).

And if we both feel there’s a good fit, we can talk about working together.

Sounds good?

Here’s a link to my calendar.

Talk soon,

Martin

Context Before Content (And Awesome Sales Conversations!)

When you show up to a potential buyer – whether it’s in person, by email, phone or on social media – you’re asking them for their most precious and scarce resources:

Their time and attention.

And, if you do it right, people will be happy to give you those. Get it right, and people will give you permission to talk, ask, inquire, and explain.

What often goes wrong though, is that we launch into the content – the meat and potatoes of our thing – before we set the context.

That’s pretty much what’s wrong with traditional selling:

We have a solution, and we go out looking for a problem that it can solve.

And so we show up, and the pitch is on.

Thus, the context becomes ‘I have a thing, I want to tell you about it, tell me if you want it’.

In that context, it’s no surprise that people have no time, or make excuses, or raise objections.

Instead, set a different context right at the start: one that causes your buyer to care about the conversation.

And you do that by being *interested in them*, instead of trying to be *interesting to them*.

Nobody cares how interesting we might be, or our offer or service or product, until they realise that we are interested in them.

That’s a context most everyone will like, agree with, and it’s how you start conversations that everybody enjoys.

And that’s the kind of conversation that causes people to listen, consider, and buy, all without you ever having to sell anything unto them.

Much nicer for people to buy, instead of us having to ‘sell’, don’t you agree?

Cheers,

Martin

Oh, and: if it so happens that you want to buy ethical sales training, just raise your hand. It’s super effective, will rock your business, and is MUCH more affordable than you would think. Let’s talk…

Ten Rules for Ethical Selling, #2: Invite, Don’t Close

‘Closing a sale’ is fun, of course. Everybody likes to land a new client and earn the money.

But there’s a reason why in my LEAP framework for ethical selling, the 9th pillar isn’t ‘the close’, but:

The Open.

I know, English doesn’t work that way – but it’s how *I* work, and you’d do really well to try it.

Don’t close a sale – open a door.

Invite a buyer into a new phase in their life or business.

Invite them, open the door, to start a new type of relationship with you.

You’ll find that plenty people are more than willing to buy, so long as we don’t try to pull them or push them through the door.

Nobody likes being told what to do, everybody’s autonomy is sacred, and therefore the most damaging thing you can do is coerce, persuade, or otherwise leave the other person feeling as if they’re being told what’s good for them.

Nobody likes that, and the feeling is super easy to trigger.

So instead, hand people their autonomy.

Lead with the no. Invite it, even.

Give people the right to veto and be explicit about it.

“Hey tell me if this isn’t for you, but I could see programme XYZ make short shrift of the problem you’ve described. Shall we talk about implementing it?”

Look at how that feels: the other is completely allowed to say no, they’re being asked to make a choice, of their own volition, to engage in a deeper conversation, and the seller pre-empts the entire autonomy issue by leading with no.

If you want buyers to move towards you and enroll themselves, invite, don’t close.

If you get it right, you literally can get people saying ‘Take my money!’ – it’s actually happened to me once.

And, I can show you how to get the same eager, happy-to-buy, I’m-enrolling-myself kind of response in buyers that I get.

Want that for yourself?

Let me know, I’ll show you how.

Cheers,

Martin

Whose Reasons? Their Reasons, of Course

When you have something for someone – a product or service, or a plan, or a great idea, or a different viewpoint you’d like them to try, you know why it’s good.

You have reasons that you know are valid.

They’ll be happy with the purchase, it’ll solve their problem. They’ll enjoy the restaurant you have in mind. Your kids will grow up healthy and strong, if they eat their veggies. Folks will enjoy the movie or the book you have in mind for them.

In short: your reasons for wanting them to want what you have, see, or think, are solid and correct.

Except there’s one problem:

People don’t buy (or buy in) because of your reasons – no matter how valid those are.

No, when people buy something or enroll in something, they do it for *their* reasons. Not yours.

And that’s where so much communication (and indeed: sales) break down.

We try to persuade, convince, influence… we try to reason with the other person.

But they need their own reasons… once they find those, they enroll themselves – they buy in willingly and voluntarily.

And no matter how much you try to reason with them, remember that you’re only making it harder for them to discover their own reasons.

So instead of trying to reason with the other person, appeal to their desire for change, and give them space to figure out *if* they want the thing or idea you have, and most importantly: *why* they would want it.

It’s not your reasons that make people buy or buy in: it’s their reasons. Help the other person discover those reasons.

Cheers,

Martin

It’s Only a Sale When the Money is There

“Yes. It’s a sale!” he tells me.

I smile, pause, and tell him: “It’s not a sale until the money is there” – and he replies: “True, of course – you’re right”.

He continues to tell me that he’s decided in favour of my proposal though, and he wants my help.

In the end, it didn’t happen – it wasn’t the right moment for his business… and obviously, that’s fine by me. I’d never want anyone’s business unless it’s 100% the perfect moment for them.

But that moment, when a potential client tells you yes: that’s where it can go wrong SO easily.

When we hear a yes, we’re thrilled: a new client, new project, money coming your way… whoohoo!

Ah, yes. But there’s a difference between saying yes, and doing yes.

And if we as a provider confuse the two, we can easily screw up a sale.

If we get all excited and cheery, and ask for a credit card number right then and there, all kinds of things can go wrong. The buyer could sense neediness, or they might feel you’re moving too fast – too much, too soon – or they might need to address a few things before proceeding. Can be anything.

Of course when a client sends you money, or signs an actual contract, then yes: of course you should cheer. You’ve just landed a client, and you’ve got the payment to show for it, so by all means: buy yourself shoes or champagne or whatever spells ‘reward’ for you.

But very often, at the moment that someone says yes, your best reaction is to slow down, and actually question the yes.

“I’m happy to hear it, but before we move forward, let’s look at this again.

“Are you 100% certain that this offer, in this configuration, at this time, is what you need?

“Is there anything that would make it a no? Because it’s really important that you make this decision 100% convinced, all in – so whatever issue or doubt you’d like to address, this is a good time to do it”.

When you question a yes, several things happen.

For one thing, a buyer will reconsider their motivation, and often reinforce their choice.

Also: they’ll often raise issues that haven’t been addressed properly yet, which also helps them reinforce their decision.

Or, obviously, it might cause them to change their mind – which might be disappointing for you, but ultimately it’s in your (not to mention their!) best interest.

Because when you demonstrate clearly that you’re ok with a no, especially after they’ve said yes, you show that you’re not in it for your own sake, but that the only goal you have, is for them to make the right decision.

And that goes a long long way in building trust, which increases your chances of landing the client later on down the line.

Of course you can consider it odd, that I reacted that way. I admit it was ballsy, possibly even arrogant, and it’s not something I’d recommend you generally say.

Then again, this gentleman was a very seasoned business owner, a very skilled seller, and equipped with an excellent sense of humour, and someone I’d known socially long before we had that sales conversation – in other words, I knew who I was talking to.

Anyway, question the yes. Making a purchase is never a small thing, and you want people to be 100% ready and convinced they’re making the right choice.

It’s the right thing to do, and it’s the best thing for your bottom line as well.

Btw: finding your own, natural, maybe even humourful to have easy and fun sales conversations is one of the things I help clients with. You know, in case that’s something you’d like to learn for yourself…

Cheers,

Martin

Why You Need Permission in Sales, and How to Get it

Selling without permission is coercion.

You can’t morally or ethically have a sales conversation with someone who hasn’t given you permission for that type of conversation.

And, selling without permission is ridiculously ineffective.

You’ll have heard people talking about ‘handling objections’ – but, isn’t it better to not have any buyer objections at all?

Then seek to gain permission first, before ever talking about your offer.

It’s the difference between talking to a person who says ‘yes but’, and someone who says ‘Tell me more’.

And that ‘tell me more’ is what you get when you gain deeper levels of permission, ongoingly.

Level 1: permission to ask questions. You get that level when someone agrees to meet with you. Not that difficult.

Level 2: permission to ask deeper questions, to find the problems behind the problems, and the causes behind the causes (google ‘the 5 whys’ for more on that kind of inquiry – it’s pretty useful).

Level 3: permission to discuss how you might be able to help. This isn’t where you’re selling, it’s where the two of you are exploring if you’re a good fit, mutually.

Level 4: permission to ask for the sale. Asking for the sale is often the most daunting of the entire sales process, but it won’t be if you first took care of gaining the first 3 levels.

When you do, asking for a sale will be as easy and natural as saying to a friend ‘So shall we catch that movie tonight?’.

It’s not for nothing that Seth Godin coined the term ‘permission marketing’.

Well, there’s permission selling, as well.

So how do you gain permission from your buyer?

Ask questions.

We say too much. Recommend too much. Expound and reason and explain and… well, we waffle a lot, don’t we?

Especially when we’re uncomfortable with the sales process, which is largely due to not having paid enough attention to what level of permission we have from a buyer at any given time.

Instead of talking, listen more.

Ask questions.

Questions are the currency that buys you permission.

Cheers,

Martin

P.s. I’m looking for a few people whose business exists to make a difference in the world, to work with me 1 on 1 this winter.
I’ll coach you on how to make a bigger impact (and a bigger splash, financially :) than you thought possible, by showing you how easy sales becomes when you let your values and integrity lead the process.
Let me know if you’re interested…

Frames and Status

For some reason, I enjoy watching blacksmiths on Youtube.

No, not because of their manly physique and bulging muscles – I just happen to like relaxing while watching a master craftsman at work.

At the end, he says: “Thanks for watching”.

Wait, what? No dude… thanks for making!

Now, I get his gratitude. I too am grateful for my readers (hey you! :)

But in terms of framing, he’s not helping his business.

You might thinks it’s trivial and in this context it is: whether he says thank you or something else will make little difference to his bottom line.

But consider:

In every human interaction – whether in person or across the digital divide – people have different status. In a social sense, economically, experience, age, education, network… everyone relates to others in terms o

We always relate to others who are either ahead of us, or behind. This isn’t qualitative – it says nothing about a person’s worth, just in the way a university professor might be ahead of a welder (or indeed, a blacksmith), but is not a better or higher quality because of his education or status.

It’s just status, and we all have one, and always in relation to others.

What mr Blacksmith got wrong is minor, but it’s a fact that by saying thanks instead of something else, he’s taking the lower status, or smaller frame, position.

Here’s a dude who just posted a well-made, carefully edited, highly entertaining and educational video for free… that means his status is that of generous, consummate, expert… and mine is that of a humble student and grateful viewer. It’s I who should be grateful.

By positioning, or framing, himself as needy of views, he takes the smaller frame.

And we do that all the time, and it’s terrible for business.

For example: I once landed a copywriting client – a very successful C-suite female executive, in a fiercely male niche.

When you’re talking to a buyer, you’re a doctor, inventor, problem-solver, expert, strategist, or whatever it is you do. That’s a huge frame.

You’ve got something and you know it’s super valuable.

And it’s for the buyer to discover whether or not they see it as just as valuable.

In other words, you get to be confident in having expert status, and the buyer gets to assess you.

Meanwhile, as the seller, you get to assess the buyer, to see if they’re right for you, and if you’re right for them. Expert status, again.

Problem is, we often inadvertently let a buyer take the lead, and drive the conversation.

That means they take your status, when in reality as a seller it’s your job to guide the conversation. After all, you’re the expert, right?

So I’m inviting you observe your interactions, and those of others.

See what messages people send – what body language, remarks, replies… which frames and statuses do you see in your world?

And, in what way do you yield your own status, in moments when actually you shouldn’t?

Cheers,

Martin

Why Things Sometimes Break When You Try to Improve Them – and What to Do About It

Ever tried to improve something, and then you find that instead of creating betterment, your efforts caused the thing to break?

You organise your office or hard drive and suddenly you can’t find a thing.

You’re running an ad campaign and it’s working and you go in to change a few things – and suddenly numbers drop.

You have a handy little checklist for routines that keeps you executing on the important work, you decide to expand and improve it, and suddenly you don’t see any clarity, no right next actions, and you stop doing the work.

An example for me was Twitter, a few years ago. Used to be great fun, got me clients too, but then I decided to set up lists and columns, and follow a large number of people – and suddenly my entire group of social connections were distributed according to business-y labels and buried under people I’d not gotten to know yet… and I just couldn’t enjoy it any more.

Or that time I had all my projects and tasks set up so well in Todoist and it really worked – but then I changed a bunch of stuff, and suddenly I had no more clarity on all the different items and my productivity crashed… much in the way buildings would crash into the ground if that were the thing buildings tend to do.

When you try to improve something and you find it broke or stopped working, it’s because you changed so much, you lost control and clarity.

You introduced entropy into the system. That’s where that awful feeling of confusion and overwhelm comes from, right when you thought you’d improved things: disorder, chaos, no clarity.

And that loss of control and clarity is deadly for your productivity and results.

The normal thing to do is keep chipping away, trying to improve on your improvements.

But you’re wading through molasses, because that clarity and control are missing.

Much better, faster, and easier to revert to the last known functional state of things.

Yes, I’m advocating downgrading the upgrades you make, each time you find that the upgrade broke something.

It’ll be quick, it’ll give you clarity, and then you’ll be able to make new decisions, about smaller changes, which don’t break the system and don’t cause confusion.

On a different note:

What’s currently your biggest challenge in your sales process?

Getting meetings with people?

Identifying your best niche?

Having the sales conversations?

The ‘money conversation’?

What makes sales hard or frustrating for you?

Cheers,

Martin

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