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

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

Interesting vs Useful

While asking questions and listening are at the heart of ethical selling, there will come a moment – more likely several – where the buyer wants you to say something.

Answer a question, explain something, repeat something…

That’s a crucial moment, because the way you handle that determines whether or not your sales conversation will go smoothly, or instead ends up a struggle.

Most people, when it’s their time to talk, will go for ‘interesting’, which leads to statements like:

“We’re the world’s largest blah blah”, or “I work with some of the most influential authors” or, “We’re an award-winning agency”, or “I was talking to Richard Branson about that last week”, or whatever message is thought to add weight.

The problem is not that these statements don’t make you look interesting – the problem is that they do.

And a buyer doesn’t give a damn about how interesting you might be.

A buyer wants to know how interested you are in them.

And not in the money they might pay you: they want to know how interested you are in understanding, and solving, their problem.

And for all you regular, normal, non-world’s-largest, not-connected-to-celebs business owners out there: the good news is that even if you’re as boring as a wet sheet of paper, you can still sell your stuff, and at good prices too.


By being helpful, obviously: If your thing doesn’t help, people have no reason to buy it.

And if you want a buyer to understand how much you could help, and how useful you could be, you show them.

And the most useful person is someone who shows an interest in whatever problem or challenge we’re facing.

So when it’s your turn to talk, don’t start with things that make you look interesting.

Instead, say things that are useful: share insights, ask clarifying questions, suggest ideas or changes, and above all, and before anything else: make sure the buyer knows that you really get their situation.

Because it’s super useful to talk to someone who gets us: there’s no way we won’t get something useful out of the conversation.

And even if they don’t buy then, they’ll be happy you spoke, and you’ll be welcome when you reach out again.

There: an easier conversation, with better positioning.

AND an open door when you follow up, just because you didn’t try to look interesting.

Ain’t that useful.



P.s. You can learn how to have conversations like this, where buyers love the way you show up and learn them, here.

Is This You?

In my work with entrepreneurs and leaders, there’s three things I keep hearing over and over again:

1: “I just don’t know how to sell my stuff”.

2: “Selling sucks – if only I didn’t have to sell, running a business would be so much more fun”.

And the biggest painpoint of all:

3: “I just can’t seem to sell at the rates that my work is worth”.

Do you recognise yourself in any of these?

If you’ve ever said any of these things, I might have a solution for you.


If #1 is your issue, you might want to adjust how you see yourself and your relationship to others.

Meaning: yes you do know how to sell. You do it every day, and everybody does.

‘Selling’ (or: exchanging value) is older than language.

We’ve always traded: safety, food, community, protection, companionship… selling is inherent to being human, in that everyday we find ourselves in situations where we try to have others see our point of view, and buy into it.

If you struggle with the 2nd problem: same thing. You have an idea of what ‘selling’ is, and you dislike that idea – but it’s not that hard to reframe it in terms of simply seeking to find common ground with people, enabling the both of you to move forward together.

And if it’s # 3 that does your head in? You can’t get paid what you’re worth, or people keep walking away even though your work is a perfect fit?

Then very likely, there’s a lack of empathetic alignment between what you’re trying to communicate, and what the other person is hearing, feeling, or thinking.

And for all these sales problems, I have a training that will cause a dramatic shift in your thinking and your sales process.

Now, this is not your standard sales training, with a 3-step close, and ‘the top 15 ways to overcome objections’, and ‘how to get past the gatekeeper’, and all that stuff that regular sales trainers teach.

No, with the LEAP Framework for Ethical Selling, you get a complete shift in how you relate to the kind of people who most need your work.

It enables better conversations, easier followup, voluntary buy-in from prospects at each stage of the enrollment process, and, best of all:

You develop a skillset and attitude that allows you to enroll more buyers, with more ease, without ever compromising your values.

If you’re the kind of person who wants to serve buyers, you might find it quite, quite transformative. 

But even if it’s not for you, or the $1500 price tag is out of reach for you, remember one thing:

Humanity has never not been in the business of selling things – or what Dan Pink calls ‘to sell is human’.

We all do it, all the time, always have done, and once you accept that ‘selling’ is a natural part of human interaction, you’ll find that it gets easier and easier, whether we’re talking about buyers, team mates, your spouse or your kids or anyone you want to get results with of any kind.

This will help.







When You Lose a Sale… Was It Because You Were Trying to Steer a Parked Car?

When you try to enroll someone and it doesn’t work, there’s typically two reasons:

The first is when we try too hard, when we push, when we try to persuade.

Good news for you: you can stop doing that. Boom: instant improvement in sales, fun, and relationships.

The second reason is when we try to steer a parked car.

Meaning: some people just aren’t in the market, and nothing we can do is going to change that.

Oh they might have the problem you solve, and they might need it, and they might have the funds to invest – but for some reason privvy only to them, they’re not going to buy.

At least, not from you, or not at this moment.

It’s actually quite easy to tell, too.

Everybody, including potential buyers, gives signals.

It’s your job as the provider of a product or service, to read those signals, and you do that by applying empathy.

Stepping in the other person’s shoes, and asking yourself what the meaning is, of the signals you get.

Very often, you’ll find that when you take the pressure off and you stop trying to steer a parked car, the conversation changes and something useful happens.

Could be they give you permission to follow up at a later date, or they might think of someone to introduce you to, or they might ask you the key question that actually does ready them to consider a purchase.

Whatever you do: listen in to the conversation in someone’s head, read the signals, and never be afraid to stop trying to steer a parked car.




P.s. In case you’re ready to start using empathy as the driving force of your entire enrollment process, this training will help you do just that.

Why You Shouldn’t Have Good Ideas

From the outside, it’s easy to see what would be good for other people.

This one would benefit from more exercise.

That one would feel better if they’d go on a diet.

Your spouse would be happier if they stopped hanging out with that toxic friend.

Your kid would feel proud, if only they’d do their homework.

Your buyer, well obviously they’d see results if they would proceed to checkout and buy your thing.

And, yes, everybody would feel much less of that low-level (or not so low, as the case may be) anxiety that’s so common these days, if folk would take in less news and spend less time on social media.

Good ideas, all of them.

If only people would adopt your good ideas, they’d benefit.

But if someone didn’t ask for your good ideas, it’s better to not share them.

Because no matter how good the advice is, sharing it without the other person inviting you to do so, will almost always have the opposite effect of what you want for that person.

Unsollicited advice causes resistance and gets defenses up, because it tells the other person: “You’re doing it wrong”.

That might not be what you mean, but what someone hears is far more important than what you mean. 

After all, the message heard is the real message – not the message sent.

So if you *really* want the best for others, have no good ideas for them.

Instead, have questions for them.

Keep asking questions, so that they may find clarity, and discover their own good ideas.

And if they don’t, keep asking questions up until the point that they ask you what you think.

At that moment, share your idea, suggestion, or recommendation.

They’ll be open to what you have to say, receptive to your viewpoint, and they’ll be far more likely to take on board what you think, and they’ll own it too.

Want people to pick up your good ideas?

Then try not have any – not until they ask for them.




P.s. Oh, and not that you asked (hah!), but here’s a good idea: learning how to sell your work, without every compromising your values. 


The Best Way to Get People’s Help, Purchase, or Support

Everything is easier when others are on our side, help our cause, or contribute to our mission.

Whether you want to raise awareness about pollution, get your team to perform better, improve communication between your teams or you want a buyer to say yes and become the owner of your thing:

You need others to buy in to the vision that you have.

You need others to enroll in your vision, in order for you to advance your mission and purpose.

And, sadly, most people completely sabotage their efforts to get buy-in from others.

“You should eat your veggies, it’s good for you!”

“I think you ought to buy my course or book or webdesign or SEO services – it’ll solve exactly the problems you just described”.

“Together we can start a movement to clean up the oceans. We need you to join us”.

See the pattern?

In all these examples, it’s about what you think would be best for the other.

And sorry, but nobody likes to be told what to do, or what’s best for them.

Communicate as above, and you’ll directly work against your mission, whatever form it may have, because it’s push, and it’s pushy.

It’s this attitude that has given ‘selling’ a bad name.

Instead, try the opposite: create a way for others to want to be pulled in.

People love to buy (or buy in, if it’s about a ‘sale’ that doesn’t involve money), but pretty much everyone loathes being sold to.

When you can create a vision in the other, of a kind and intensity that they want to be part of or step into, it’s that vision that will pull them in.

It’s a much nicer, more ethical, and far more effective way to get people to get on our side and say ‘yes’.

And how to create that vision?

I’ll show you, if you’re ready to step up to the plate, and get my training on ethical selling. 



Fix, Prevent, or Improve?

There’s three kinds of value a business can deliver: Fix, Prevent, or Improve.

When something in the world or business of our client is failing, we can offer to fix it.

If there’s an immediate, painful problem, you need to offer your buyer a fast, practical solution.

Then there’s Prevention, where there’s fear or a threat, because of a current or future risk.

Disruption in the marketplace, changing laws or treaties or algorithms…

For that kind of client, you use trusted, reliable, proven solutions. You solidify what’s going well, and remove bottlenecks and obstacles.

And then there’s Improvement, where you help your client go from good to great.

You upgrade things.

Here, you bring knowledge, skills and creative thinking, in order to identify assets to be leveraged, and you bring them together to take a client to a level they couldn’t have reached on their own.

The reason I’m sharing this, is because it’s a handy model for choosing what to work on in your down business as well.

Often, we double down on trying to fix something that’s failing, hoping that once we’re done, life will be good.

Which may be the right choice, but what if you’d ignore the failing part for the moment, and instead improve something that’s already working, to start with?

There’s things in your business that are working well, that if you were to push forward on them, might end up working awesomely terrifically well.

And sometimes, it just make more sense to let something that’s broken be broken, and maximise on something that’s already pretty good.

(Especially if you know, in your heart of hearts, that you’re going to procrastinate the hell out of the fixing you say you need to implement anyway.)

Sometimes, it’s better to do what will work, rather than do what you tell yourself would be right.

And if the thing you want to improve, is the number of qualified prospects who say yes to your offer, then I made this for you. 



What If You Just Ask?

People get so hung up on the selling thing.

Psychological resistance, self-value considerations, fear of looking pushy…

And a therapist could have a field day working through it all with you, but really selling is nothing very special.

It’s a person to person thing. Two people trying to figure out a way forward – or not, as the case may be.

What’s more human and natural than talking to someone, and helping them make a decision?

And as for that ‘looking pushy’ thing:


Just ask people.


“Would it make sense to talk again next week?”

“Is it useful to you if I remind you in a month?”

“Is this a good time to talk about what it would look like to work together?”

“Sounds like solving that problem would have a big impact on your business/life. Should we look at ways I might be able to help you?”

“Given what you’ve told me about the problem and you agree that my thing will help, is this a moment where it’s time to solve the problem?”

“Do you want to move forward on this and get started?”

See, you don’t need to force, or push, or anything like that.

Just ask.

Everything gets easier when you ask.

Ask for permission, ask for insight, ask for info… and yes, when appropriate: ask for the sale.

No pushing, just a question.

You’ll be surprised how well people respond – especially if you handle your sales conversations the way I teach.

Where and how? In a 10-week live 1on1 training via Zoom.

For a limited time, this is available at the pilot price of $1500.

This is a rare opportunity: a personal training session weekly, and direct email access to me throughout,

Plus, of course, the kind of homework that will cause a massive shift in how you handle selling.

And yes: you’ll learn a ton about how to ask the kind of question that makes a buyer want to enroll themselves.

So, a question: is this a good time for you to upgrade your selling skills?



Is Every Business a Relationship Business at Heart?

On one side, there’s business and sales and clients and selling… but on the other side, there’s relationships and communication.

Because no purchase is ever a strictly technical transaction.

Any time someone buys something, there’s a conversation going on in that person’s mind.

When you join that conversation, i.e. when you really *get* your clients, the conversation deepens, and a relationship starts – and inside that relationship, is that conversation.

Put differently: being in business means you’re in a relationship business.

It’s you, a thing you do, another person, and a problem they want to solve – and those are all related.

And if all works out well, you get money and they get your solution.

But only if the relationship is quality, and the conversation is about that other person and their needs and aspirations.

Here’s where it’s very easy to go wrong: far too many people talk about their offer and their accolades, but those only serve to persuade, and that automatically triggers resistance and defensiveness.

That way, the conversation doesn’t improve and the relationship doesn’t transform from ‘Tell me how you can help me’ to ‘Help me figure out if I should get your help’.

And that switch is crucial.

Initially, you’re a listener and provider of information, and that information is related to an existing problem or goal.

But after the switch, you’re a helper, serving someone in making the best decision for themselves.

Put differently: the ‘switch’ is a moment where the relationship changes.

When that change happens, a potential buyer has gone from being curious to being interested, and good things can happen from there.

But, only if you take care of the relationship.

Because the sale happens inside a conversation, which exists in a relationship.

In other words: whatever it is you do or make or offer or solve or provide:

Ultimately, you’re in the relationship business.

Now, I often get asked ‘how’. How to have conversations that work, how to build relationships, how to ask for a sale, how to ask questions that clearly show you’re not pushy and are looking out for their best interest?

“How, Martin, do I land more clients?”

Well, one way to do it is getting my 10-week, 1 on 1 training on ethical selling.







Transactions VS Relationships

It might look like a simple equation:

You have a product or service that solves problem A for such and such a person – so when you meet that kind of person, they pay you and you deliver your solution.

After all, a business solves problems or fulfills needs, and earns money in return.

But if you look at it that way, you make it transactional, and that means you’re likely to ignore a host of items that matter a lot to your prospect.

Wants, aspirations, fears and frustrations… trust and concerns and objections… all kinds of things that are very much alive in your buyer’s mind.

And until your buyer has a resolution to all of those, there will not be a transaction, because they won’t be ready. (unless you bully people into a sale, but that’s not the kind of person you or I are).

The thing to remember is that a sale happens in the context of a conversation, and a conversation happens in the context of a relationship.

So if you find that prospects don’t end up buying even though they seem ready, willing and able, ask yourself:

Are you focused on the transaction, or on the relationship?

In nearly all cases, backing away from the transaction you hope for in favour of developing the relationship, will enable your prospects to bring items to the table that they need resolved.

Whereas if you keep your focus on the transaction, they’ll feel incomplete, that there’s something missing in the overall picture – and as long as that state exists, they’re not going to buy.

Relationships lead to transactions.

So: Build relationships, so that conversations lead to the sale.

And that’s exactly what you learn to do, in my 10-week training on ethical selling. Details here.



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 might be 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.

And that’s 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 won’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 that switch on their brain and inner cinema.

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

So, ask interrogative-based 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?



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