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…

How High-Integrity Entrepreneurs Make Followup Easy

What do you do when it looks like a sale is going to close… and then it doesn’t?

Everything looks good, the other person is on board… and then something goes wrong, and the buyer doesn’t buy.

In my work I see over and over again, how people rich in integrity and ethics stop there.

And I get it – it used to be the same for me.

When an opportunity broke down, I just moved on.

And if you do that too, you’re leaving money on the table. As they say: the fortune is in the followup.

And sure, then you get the gurus telling you that you must follow up because it’s your moral and ethical duty to make sure that the right buyer gets his stuff from you, and not someone else, and – well, fat lot of good that does.

Knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to do it – especially if you’re a person who sticks to their values, you treat people with respect, and you don’t want to be a nuisance.

So then, how do ethical people do sales and follow up? What made the difference for me, and could it work for you as well?

Maybe. Most probably: yes.

It’s really simple, too:

Make every interaction a moment of joy. Have fun talking to your customers, serve them, be yourself and be light.

You’re not there to be all dry and professional – or indeed, salesy – because who wants to talk to someone like that?

Instead, make the interaction about connecting, and learning that person, and figuring out what’s real and/or trying for them.

When you do that, you leave people feeling ‘Yeah, I feel respected by you. I’ll talk to you again’.

Do you see where I’m going?

When you have conversations people enjoy, they’ll be open to hear from you again.

Once I got this, following up with folk became as natural to me as writing these daily articles.

But it’s not just about how you follow up – it’s about how you do everything everything in your business.

Do those things – including having sales conversations – in a way that makes people love dealing with you.

You know, like friends do.

That way, you’ll never have to fret about following up again.

Bye friend. Talk again soon :)

Martin

Oh, and: if you haven’t yet, make sure you watch this training, where I show you how the above works… and after that, feel free to get in touch to talk about working together and implementing this type of selling in your business.

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 yo 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…

Cheers,

Martin

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…

Cheers,

Martin

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?

Cheers,

Martin

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 :)

Cheers,

Martin

Buyer Objections and the Dreaded No… What if It’s an Invitation?

The other day, someone said: “When a buyer tells me no, or that they don’t have time to talk about my offer, I’m not really sure what to do.

“Usually, I default to trying again, push a little harder, try a different angle”.

Yesterday, someone else said: “When they tell me no, I just considered it a lost sale”.

Option 1, going in harder, will rarely work. If a buyer objects for whatever reason, there’s a fear going on, somewhere on a deep psychological level.

It’s the lizard brain signaling ‘danger’.

And if you press on, you’re only confirming to the lizard brain that it’s seeing things correctly (even if it isn’t), and objections and resistance increase.

Option 2 – walking away from the sale – obviously doesn’t help either.

But what about a middle way?

What if someone’s objection or refusal isn’t a rejection, or the end of the conversation, but instead it’s an invitation?

What if you use the no as a starting point for a different line of conversation?

What if the no is an invitation for you to… ask a question?

After all, a no means there’s something going on that prevents the yes, and why not try and figure out what that thing is?

Like so:

Buyer says “No”.

You: “Excellent, thanks for telling me”.

You now know where you stand, and where they stand. And, you’ve honoured their stance graciously.

Next, you ask a question. For example:

“Can you tell me in what way the offer doesn’t meet your needs?”

Or: “Quick question: What would make it a yes?”

Or: “Shall I follow up with you at a later date, when you have more time?”

Or: “Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Or: “Would you like me to point at some resources that might help you solve XYZ? There’s a few books I know that might be useful to you”.

And if none of these seem appropriate, why not ask for an introduction?

“Anyone come to mind who might be interested?”

See, the no can never be met with force. It’s not nice, and not effective – not unless you’re a pushy seller and who wants to live in the 80’s?

And the no is never the end of a conversation, not if you keep the conversation open.

And you do that by asking questions.

Make sense, right?

Then come join us this Thursday for an ethical sales training, where you get a whole bunch more of this…

Register here: http://martinstellar.com/leap-ethical-selling-system/
Cheers,

Martin

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.

How?

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.

Cheers,

Martin

Things Are Bought, Not Sold

The moment you tell someone “Do this thing”, they’ll rebel.

That’s why traditional selling is so icky.

A seller trying with all his might to show the buyer that the seller is right, and that the buyer needs to change their views and make a decision, and buy? Yuck.

But even if the seller is right – if he or she correctly surmises that their product or service is right for the buyer – that doesn’t mean they get to tell the other that they are wrong.

And like it or not, even if your heart is in it and you truly care, the moment you try to tell someone that your view must be adopted, you’re making the other person wrong, because you’re right. And that never works.

Hence the saying:

Things are bought, not sold.

Buying is inward, it’s a pull. ‘Selling’ is outward, it’s push.

This is why I teach entrepreneurs how to communicate in such a way that there’s no pushing, no ‘selling’, but instead there’s pull, and buyers buy, of their own accord.

If you want to learn how, there’s still a few seats open for my training on ethical enrollment.

Let me know if you want access…

Cheers,

Martin

Selling Is Not Binary

In business, your job is to help a buyer advance, get better, solve problems – your job is not to ‘close a sale’.

Sometimes people buy from you, sometimes they don’t, and that’s up to them.

It really depends on what that person needs, and wants, and the timing of your encounter. Maybe their best choice is to not buy today, but tomorrow or next week.

Because even if someone has the money to work with you, it also needs to fit into their plans and projects.

Whether you sell a product or service, in most cases a client will also need to dedicate a certain amount of time to the project – and that already starts before buying: even the decision to work with you or not requires an investment in think-time.

So if they don’t buy today, who knows what they’ll want to decide tomorrow or later down the line?

This is why selling isn’t binary. It’s not a ‘sale/no sale’ scenario, because if you see it that way you’ll shut things down if you don’t get a yes.

Instead, consider it a ‘sale/or something else’ situation, where ‘something else’ is an outcome that you both benefit from, and one that keeps you in touch.

This change in attitude does magic for the relationships and conversations you have, because it takes the pressure off the situation.

It creates encounters that leaves people feeling ‘I feel respected by you. I’m happy to talk to you again’.

Which is great, because what better person to follow up with, than someone who’s open to dealing with you again?

This kind of conversation and relationship is what I teach in my LEAP training for ethical selling.

It’s in pilot launch at the moment, and there’s still a few seats left for a live, 1 on 1, 10-week training.

Are you in?

Cheers,

Martin

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