Ten Rules for Ethical Selling, #5: Never Sell Without Permission

Nice people don’t force others into things. It’s not how we work.

But, if you’ve ever seen a potential client go cold right when they seemed about to say yes to your offer, it might just be that the other felt forced.

This can happen even if you have no intention of pushing an issue, if you’re completely OK with either a yes or a no, and you’re as non-pushy as can be… the other can still feel like something is being decided *for* them, instead of *by* them.

This is how many sales break down, and it’s really easy to prevent:

Ask for permission.

Oh I know, they teach you about the ‘assumptive close’ – “So let’s book our first meeting in and then deal with the contract”.

And in some cases, that works. Very often though, that one small move can give the wrong signal, and make the buyer feel as if they’re not the one making the decisions here.

And if integrity matters to you, clearly you want the buyer to make the decision.

So how do you prevent giving that wrong signal, and make sure that the buyer feels confident and in control?

Ask for permission.

“Do you want to book the first meeting in?”

“Would you like me to tell you about the programme?”

“Would it make sense to meet again and discuss working together?”

“I have an idea that might help – do you want me to explain what I have in mind?”

Hardcore sales trainers will probably snub their nose and call me a softy, but whatever. I hope they enjoy their polyester suits, as much as I enjoy hearing clients say ‘yes’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘take my money’. (yes, someone actually bought whilst saying that last one).

Point is, you’re not the boss of your buyers. They are.

And the slightest signal that ‘you know what’s best’ will set off all kinds of warning signs and alarm bells in them.

But if you ask permission to ask for a sale, or to explain a programme, you’re giving the other person reign and autonomy. “Your decision – do we proceed?”

Not only is this the right, integrous way to sell, it’s also highly effective, because when a buyer steps in fully self-motivated, they sell themselves – and you’ll agree that that’s a more fun than trying to ‘convince’ or ‘persuade’.

Cheers,

Martin

How to Not Try, and Actually Help People

It’s kinda cruel, how we’re wired.

The more someone else struggles or suffers, the more we feel it and the more we want to help them, make things right – but in far too many cases, we get the opposite result… and it’s only down to trying too hard.

For example, you’ll know that I’m very hot on meditation. It’s a wonderful thing, I’ve done it for 25 years, it’s done me tons of good, has scientific backup as to positive effects…

And yet, you rarely hear me talking about it here, or in general.

Until someone asks me – then I’ll talk for hours. But until that moment? Probably not the best time, yet.

But if I know how good it is… shouldn’t I promote it more? Be vocal about it, recommend and urge and suggest?

Well, no. Because that would mean ‘trying hard’, and the problem is that today you might be swayed by my recommendation, and try it, and because the choice was made because of my clever pitch and not your own inner pull, you’ll likely find it a disheartening experience and give up. Trust me, I’ve seen this hundreds of times since I started, 2,5 decades ago.

And then you might consider yourself ‘not fit for meditation’ or vice versa, and never get back to it. Or maybe you’ll try again in a decade or two, which is a long time to not meditate.

So by trying too hard, I would risk putting you off your own course. Much better to help those who want change, or meditation, or growth or whatever, and who want to start it now.

Self-motivated, self-inspired. It’s the best way for anyone to step into change, and the best way to help with that is by helping the other find their own solution, and not imposing our own good ideas on anything or anyone.

Now back to opening lines: the more we care about someone, and the more we hurt seeing their struggle, the more important it is to give the other space for wanting change or help, instead of proffering our help and suggestions before that person is ready.

It goes completely against our mind’s direction, because we know – our minds know – that we can help, that there’s a solution, that if only they’d listen…

But the mind will have to suck it up, because the more we try, the more wrong it is in its conviction.

Go ahead and try, helping someone who isn’t ready yet… has it ever worked? Most likely, you ran into resistance and objections, and the other person’s process didn’t speed up, no matter how hard you tried. Could even be that things stalled or slowed down, or maybe the conversation got difficult… or maybe you’ve been on the other side, where someone just wouldn’t stop trying to fix things for you and didn’t give you space to even think. All because of ‘trying too hard’.

Pay attention to the gut-wrenching feelings of grief and compassion and pity at seeing another person’s struggle, and when you notice them: check yourself.

Be available, ready, present, but be careful not to hamper the other’s process by inadvertently getting in the way.

If you really want to help, create a space and a conversation that enables the other person to seek and find their own inner pull, and avoid trying too hard to help.

Which, incidentally, applies to all kinds of relationships and conversations: spouses, children, vendors, team members, clients and prospects.

No matter who it is: the harder we try to help, the easier it is to help less. But now you know what to look out for…

Cheers,

Martin

Making Time for Our Most Important Roles

I often talk about ‘the suits we wear’ – the different roles we play depending on the context we’re in, or the task that’s at hand.

One of the fastest and easiest ways to create a sense of purpose, achievement and well-being – and to actually make results happen – is to get very conscious of these roles, and get very deliberate and intentional with them.

Because there’s a ton of them that we use – suits we wear – throughout our days: the seller, the writer, the listener, the bookkeeper, the courier, the self-carer, the student…

This can be either massively helpful, or dreadfully destructive, and the difference lies in intentionality.

Because most of the time, we jump from one role to the next as the situation seems to demand – like we’re multitasking our way through different ways of operating and showing up.

And that switching from one role to the next, that’s very costly in terms of our mental and emotional energy.

And, it slows us down because with each switch, we need to adjust and settle in, which can easily take 20 or 30 minutes.

Switch three of four times in a day, and and you lose an hour or more of your day – and most of us are switching all the time… no wonder we feel so drained and ineffective at the end of a day!

So to get the most out of all you got, consider the three main roles, and plan time for each:

There’s the Maker, who executes on tasks, gets jobs done, checks things off. That’s the creative, productive role, the one that produces output and tangible assets.

There’s the Strategist, who analyses the status quo, assesses the playing field, and who creates and schedules plans, develops hypotheses and tests in order to improve operations.

And, very importantly, the Strategist lays out the work for the Maker, who loves that because the Maker doesn’t want to think, plan, or decide – the Maker just wants to know what nail needs hitting next, so that he can get on with it
and get jobs done.

And then there’s the third main role, which I’ll call The Performer, though that’s not an ideal label.

But the Performer is the one who shows up, delivers a talk or a pitch, who publishes videos and articles, who writes books and teaches and coaches and trains:

It’s the public-facing side of your brand and business.

Each of these core three roles need attention, and space blocked out in your calendar.

Because these roles are essential for building and growing a business – for anything in life that you want to achieve, really.

I mean, you’ll never catch that flight unless you spend at least some time, and yesterday’s dishes tend to not get done unless we call in the Maker.

That’s why I like to see these roles as distinct identities I can step into, and I make sure I plan time for each of them.

And if ever you find yourself struggling, or annoyed that things aren’t working, ask yourself:

Is my Strategist getting enough time, and doing a good job?

Is my Maker supplied with outlined workplans, and given time to make things?

Is my Performer (or Artist, or Teacher, or Coach, or whatever is your ‘show-up’ archetype) getting out there enough, and am I creating enough time for him/her?

You’ll notice that each question includes ‘time’, and you’ll likely find that one or more aren’t getting dedicated, intentinally planned time, but instead are being given the scraps of the calendar.

Switch that up, block out time for that role, and watch what changes.

Should bring interesting results, so let me know if you anything cool happens…

Cheers,

Martin

Business Growth, Made Simple

Ever notice how easy it is to complicate things?

We decide to grow our business, choose an approach and a plan, and before we know it there’s endless todo-lists, multiple areas of attention, several projects simultaneously under development, and a feeling of overwhelm that creeps up on us like thunderclouds on the horizon.

When in reality, growing a business can be very simple, even if that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

That said, the simpler things are, the easier to handle they are.

So if you want to grow your business in 2020, here’s a simple (heh) rule of thumb to guide you:

Create incremental growth in three core areas:

1: More potential clients

Plenty of options to make that happen: Social media posting, speaking gigs, workshops in your area, host webinars, organise an online summit, run FB ads… whatever is easiest (sic) for you in order to increase visibility

2: Higher conversion rates

Lots of people don’t pay attention here, and that’s costly because every potential customer who finds you or contacts you, has incurred a cost in your business – either in terms of time or money. The more people you can enroll, the more efficient your business becomes.

So ask yourself: what can I change in my branding, my site, my activities, my communications, so that more people sign on? (Hint: getting better at enrolling helps here, and my LEAP Ethical Sales Training makes you lots better).

3: Increase value per customer

I’m not saying you should supersize your customers, and unless you’re MacDonald’s I doubt your customers ‘want fries with that’.

But, there’s a good chance that a buyer will want an add-on when they buy from you, or perhaps after working with you, there’s another programme or course that would help them.

Except many business owners wrap up client projects and move on to finding more buyers, which that means you’re leaving money on the table – and it means that you might be underserving your buyers.

Sure, you’re not going to foist an upsell on anyone… but what if you can provide or do something that would delight a current customer, after their first stint with you?

Well, if you don’t offer it, nothing will happen. But if you do offer it, what might happen is that they buy, which brings the total lifetime value of that customer up.

So here’s some questions for you:

Do you think you could generate 10% more potential clients, next year? Can’t be too hard, can it? Only 10%….

And, could you raise your conversion rates by 10%? Probably yes, right?

And then, what if across the board you could raise the average customer lifetime value by 10%… could that be done? Very likely, yes. Again, 10% isn’t that much.

But if you apply the 10% growth across all three areas, you end up with a total of 33% growth for your business, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

AND it’s something that most businesses can attain, AND it’s a super simple, testable strategy: 10% across three areas… what could be simpler?

So if you want to grow in 2020, do it the smart, simple way. Increase prospects, increase conversion rates, increase customer LTV, go for 10% in each area.

Simple, manageable, and a nice way to stay clear of overwhelm.

Want to chat and work out a few (simple!) ideas to help you grow 10% in each area?

Let me know…

Cheers,

Martin

10 Principles for a Fun and Profitable Business

Some of these took me a long while to accept, others to discover, and some to implement.

All of it is, I guess, a work in progress – like the self, our business, and life in general.

So here’s what I learned over the years, in no particular order, to help make your business easier, more fun, and more profitable.

1: Learn how to write copy. Business will always require writing, and the sooner you get a grip on how to write tightly, in a way that’s clear and compelling, the better you’ll do. It’s an unmissable skill in business.

2: Learn how to enroll people. You can call it selling or persuasion or whatever you want, but if you have a business, you deal with people and you want people to align with your vision, right? Whether we want buyers, high-performing teams, active and responsive followers… you want to really *get* psychology in such a way that you’re able to *move people*. Because that’s what enrolling and selling are ultimately about.

3: Always stay active in growing your list. It’s the core asset of your business and you should never stop growing it.

4: Speaking of assets: your business is full of them, except we tend to overlook or discount them, especially when they aren’t tangible. A fleet of cars is an asset, but so it a list of past customers, who might buy again or introduce you to someone. More assets: your reputation, your network, the quality of your work… all assets that can be leveraged, and your life and business are full of them. Get of your assets, put them to use for your business.

5: Never get good at the small stuff. Sure it’s great if you know how to fix the printer or design a logo – but if your money-making activity is, say, doing SEO at $100 an hour, you spending an hour fixing the printer cost you a hundred bucks. Better pay someone 25 and use your time to do work that pays.

6: Protect the owner (that would be you, operating as a business owner, instead of a business operator). Most of the time, we work *in* our business, and forget to work *on* our business. This is a massively bad idea because it keeps us stuck in the hamsterwheel of doing and making, stealing time from architecting, strategising, and planning, which is what make for business growth.

7: Values and shared values are the core of finding product-market fit – and enrolling buyers. Not everyone who shares your values will be a good client for you, but if you look at your best, most lucrative and most fun clients, you’ll likely find that those people had a lot in common with you, in terms of values. Find more of those people.

8: Keep it simple. And that’s how simple I’ll keep this point :)

9: Systemise everything. Systems aren’t boring: they are what free up your mind for creative thinking, problem-solving, and creating content that attracts people or that people will pay for. After all, these days we’re all a publishing company, whether we publish work for marketing or for getting paid.

10: Talk to your people. Video, email marketing, public talks or social media: it doesn’t matter where you do it, but you’ve got to show up. Nothing will show up (clients, opportunities, partners, etc) unless you do.

There’s a lot more that goes into a business that’s fun and profitable of course, but if you look at this list, you’ll see there’s a nice set of do’s, don’t’s, skills and attitudes in there, enough to keep you on the right track.

And, if you want a goalsetting strategy session to get started right in the new year, let me know. I’m currently offering 50-minute sessions for $50 – something I’ve never done before. Let me know if you’re up for some serious work on setting goals that will work for you.

Cheers,

Martin

Assumptions Blind, but Hypotheses Guide: Treat Everything Like a Test or Experiment

Assumptions blind, but hypotheses guide: treat everything like a test or experiment

It’s impossible to not make assumptions. We all do it, all the time, and we should thank our subconsciousness for feeding us assumptions – after all, it’s what has kept humanity alive for a long long time.

But, it’s a mistake – and often a very serious mistake – to let to treat an assumptions as fact.

When you do that, your actions are based on untested data about the world, the market and your audience, and that means you might well end up moving in the exact opposite direction of where you want to go.

“I’ll just put ads on Facebook for my business, and then I can scale up”.

Maybe. But you’re basing that on success that others have had, you assume that you can replicate that success in your own way and for your own audience, and you assume that Facebook actually shows your ad to the right people.

That’s a lot of assumptions behind your strategy, and if you then also assume that ‘more ads’ will lead to ‘better results, in the end’, then poof: gone is your advertising budget.

Instead, treat everything like a scientist would:

“My hypothesis is that Action X will produce result Z”, and then you test whether or not the hypothesis holds ground.

Measure results, adjust the strategy (meaning: use a new hypothesis), and run the next experiment.

I’m not a scientist, but it seems that’s how scientists go about things.

After all, proof is a lot more useful than assumptions, and testing hypotheses is how you establish proof.

So if ever you try something and it’s not working, the first action is to ask yourself:

Which assumptions did I hold as true?

Where did that divert me from taking the actions that get me the results I want?

Cheers,

Martin

The antidote for feeling bad, hurt, angry, frustrated, upset, etc etc

Angry with someone?

Remember rule #6.

Upset, hurt feelings?

Remember rule #6.

Feeling battered by the unfairness of life?

Remember rule #6.

Impatient, wanting results now even though you know that things take their time?

Remember rule #6.

Annoyed, frustrated, unhappy with life?

Remember rule #6.

What is this mysterious rule #6, you might ask?

Simply this: ‘Don’t take yourself so damn seriously’.

Any other rules?

Nope, that’s the only one you need to remember, any time your state dips below the baseline level of well-being.

Because when you’re not in a good mood, there might be all kinds of reasons out there in the world that cause that, but there’s only one thing that’s causing your mood to dip:

The self-importance that says ‘in my life, things should be different and I have the right to feel bad or be angry when they aren’t difference’.

Sure you have the right, of course.

But does it help you at all, in any way, to feel bad or get angry?

Exactly.

So there’s your antidote whenever you want to raise your state:

Remember rule #6.

Cheerio,

Martin

Careful With Other People’s Problems…

It’s good to be compassionate and caring, to look out for others and help when you can.

But there are certain types of people you need to be careful with, especially if other people’s wellbeing matters to you greatly.

The first type of person is the Taker (as opposed to Givers and Matchers – see Adam Grant).

Takers only receive, and don’t give back nor do they pay forward – and you can deplete yourself completely, dealing with those people.

Then there’s the people who don’t realise that their problems are affecting others.

These are the people who always create drama, who amplify problems, who blame and rant and rave and complain bitterly – and consistently leave you worse for having dealt with them.

Avoid those people.

We all have problems, and only those who own their problems end up solving them.

Those who don’t dare look in the mirror don’t benefit from our help.

Because ‘helping’ someone who doesn’t take ownership isn’t helping – instead, it’s enabling their destructive behaviour.

I suppose it’s related to ‘misery loves company’, and so you get dragged down to their level of misery. Their problems – Somebody Else’s Problem, or SEP as Douglas Adams called it – become yours.

And you’ll agree that this doesn’t help them. And, if it leaves you worse off because now you’re saddled with someone else’s problem, you’re less able to properly help those who do take ownership, and who want actual help instead of enablement.

So to make sure you perform and help and serve as best as can:

Never let an SEP (Somebody Else’s Problem – kudos to Douglas Adams) become your problem.

If you’re going to help, help those who’ll benefit. It’s the only way to give people your best and have it actually have an effect.

Cheers,

Martin

Simple

Building or running a business can be hard, but it should never be complicated, because that’s just no good for the mind.

Simple is good.

The fewer moving parts in anything, the easier it is to run the thing, test it, find flaws or bottlenecks, and fix and optimise.

Same thing goes for business. You can make your business as complicated as you like, with teams, advertisements, funnels, infrastructure, franchise – you name it. A world of options.

But the more you add in, the more complex it gets and the harder it gets to figure out what’s broken and needs fixing, or what works and merits more resources.

So here’s a model I came up with, which you can use to analyse your own business, and keep it as simple as possible:

Step 1: Values.

These inform your purpose and your mission. And, they enable you to identify and find people who share your values, so that you’ll have rapport with them.

Step 2: Assets

These can be tangible, like a list of names, hardware, office space – or intangible, such as your network, your skillset, your footprint and visibility, or the amount of goodwill and buy-in your audience has for you.

Step 3: Systems

This is where you tie the first two steps together, and build structures, frameworks, standard operating procedures – and points of measurement, so that you’ll know what works and what doesn’t.

Now as a framework this is useful, but how do you make it *work*?

Simple: ask yourself these questions (longhand brainstorming is best, for this kind of Q&A).

1: What are my values? What would I stand on a barricade for? What do I not accept, what change am I willing to fight or stake things for?

2: What assets do I have in place? What tangible value does each have in my business, what economic value if applicable, and what potential does each asset have, given smart leverage?

3: What systems are in place, and in what way can they be simplified or improved so that they work better, or become easier to measure for output and results?

4: What outcomes are my systems producing?

Because everything is a either a system or part of one, and every system is perfect for the outcome it produces. So if you see outcomes you’d like to change, you now know which system to improve.

How to improve it? By looking at how your values and assets can be combined and leveraged so that the system, again, becomes simpler and more measurable.

Yes, this is an exercise that can take a few hours, but it’s super useful, because it gives you clarity, direction, and purpose.

Or, we can have a conversation, to have a look at your values, assets, and systems, and to see what’s the quickest way to get you to landing more clients and making more money.

It’s a 30 minute strategy session, there’s no cost, but it will be useful and fun.

(In case you’re wondering: Yes, I’ll likely ask if you want to work together afterwards – but trust that I won’t be trying to convince or coerce – that wouldn’t be fun, would it now :)

Here’s my calendar, just pick a time…

Cheers,

Martin

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.

First, you’re a listener and provider of information, which 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?

Too much to explain here, but I do have a training webinar you might want to watch, and you can do so here.

And if afterwards you want to talk, let me know.

Cheers,

Martin

Menu Title