The Shift: Serving Customers Before They Buy

As a coach, I meet lots of people – and it’s amazing how many folks are hung up where it comes to selling their work.

Stressful, ‘no good at it’, awkward, ‘I just want to do my work without having to sell it’… these are some of the things people tell me.

It’s a sad state of affairs, especially since most people have a truly valuable offer, are good people, and genuinely want to serve their buyers.

But, until you land a client, you don’t get to serve that client, right?

Actually: wrong.

If you really want to serve a buyer, then your serving them starts before they buy.

If you deliver a rocking product or service, then your first order of business is serving your buyer in the process of making a decision.

That decision being: whether or not to buy your thing.

It’s a bit like coaching, in that sense: you’re not there to convince or persuade, but to hold a space where someone reaches their own clarity, uncovers their own motives for making a decision to buy, and where they enroll themselves into saying yes and sending you money.

This shift in attitude – from ‘I got something and I need to figure out how to get people to pay me’ into ‘Let’s help this person figure out if they actually want my thing’ makes all the difference.

It changes the dynamics, creates conversations that are zero % pushy and 100% enjoyable, and lands you buyers that really want your work (i.e. you drastically reduce buyer’s remorse).

And, if a prospect doesn’t buy, they’ll remember you as someone with integrity, and they’ll very likely welcome it when you follow up again in the future.

It’s a significant shift, with big consequences, and all it takes is for you to reframe what a sales conversation is about.

From selling… to serving… so that you get to serve your buyer even more, once they buy.

So how does that sit with you… are you ready to shift your framework, and move from selling to serving?

Cheers,

Martin

How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love ‘the Close’

When new subscribers join my list, I like to ask a question:

What’s your biggest obstacle when it comes finding buyers for your work?

The answers are often interesting.

Some people say it’s finding buyers in a down economy, others say it’s their own penchant for procrastination, and yet other say it’s identifying their ideal buyer in the first place.

And the other day someone said their biggest struggle was the close.

You know, the point where someone commits to giving you money for your work.

Personally, I don’t like the term. Sure you close a deal, but I much prefer to think of it as a starting point instead.

You open a buyer relationship with your client. Much nicer than ‘closing them’. No?

This isn’t just semantics, either.

Think about it: when someone wants to buy from you, they’re buying into your world.

They enroll in what you offer, and the premise that paying for it is worth it.

Someone who buys from you enrolls into your world.

And that makes all the difference, because all of a sudden it’s not longer about you wanting the other person to buy something.

It’s become a matter of them wanting to own what you have.

So instead of an outward ‘buy this’ push, ‘the close’ is about extending an invitation.

Which the other is, of course, free to accept or not.

A lot of salespeople know this, and use it to create successful and satisfying business relationships.

But there’s also a ton of marketeers and sellers who move beyond the social nature of selling, and who make it into a sort of ‘buy this or the puppy gets it’ transaction.

Which has given sales a bad reputation, but more dangerously: it has caused quite a few ethical providers of high quality goods and services to dislike ‘the close’.

And so, I often hear people say “I don’t like selling. I’m just not good at it”.

If by that you mean the notoriously unethical ‘ram it down their throats’ sales process, then good on you. Nobody should like that kind of selling.

But if you’re not like that, and you care about solving problems for your buyers…

I would suggest you switch your view on selling to having someone enroll in buying the solution you offer.

Because that way it becomes a lot more fun, and a lot easier too.

Want some personal, 1 on 1 help with that?

Then sign up for a no-cost strategy session, by answering a few questions here: https://martin283.typeform.com/to/v7Dsh8

Cheers,

Martin

Permission –> Trust –> Vision –> Decision –> Sale

And, always in that order.

A potential client will only make a decision to buy, when they’re ready – and that means, they need to *see* themselves enjoying the benefit of having bought your thing.

That’s the vision element of a sales process: getting to the point where they see the vision you have for them.

But before they’ll buy in to that vision, they need to trust you.

Unless there’s trust, they’re not going to have that vision.

And, in order to gain trust, you need to gain permission first.

Permission to explain, permission to ask questions, and, yes: Permission to ultimately ask for the sale.

And so selling in an ethical way, where you have sales conversations that people enjoy, works like this:

First, you gain permission – to explore their situation, to address objections, to discover what they need.

Do that right, and you’ll earn their trust. Trust that you’re looking out for them, that you’re not just in it for the money, and – very importantly – that your product or service is what they need, and that it’ll solve their problem.

That trust causes people to get curious, to ask you questions, and that builds a vision in their minds.

And once that vision is ready, and they’ve sold themselves on wanting your thing – that’s when you get to ask for the sale, and that’s when they make the decision to buy (or not).

And if they don’t, you graciously accept their no, and you continue the conversation (i.e. followup) until such time that they are ready.

There you go: ethical selling in a nutshell.

Ah, you want a deeper dive?

Got one right here for you: a webinar where I go into detail on how these four elements (permission-trust-vision-decision) are built and supported by the 9 pillars of my ethical selling framework.

For your enjoyment and edification, right here: http://martinstellar.com/ethical-sales-training/

Cheers,

Martin

About You

If there’s one thing that nearly everyone in business gets wrong when it comes to marketing and selling, it’s this:

Making it about ourselves.

We tell people about our work, our credentials, our guarantee policy and our T&C and our experience and our success stories…

And your buyers… well, I don’t mean to be harsh, but: they don’t care.

That’s not because they don’t care about you (in fact, if you do sales right, people will actually like you, and thus care about you to some degree), but because a buyer can’t live without asking:

WIIFM?

What’s In It For Me?

If I spend this money, what will I get out of it?

What will my results be?

How will my life change, my business grow, my relationship evolve, my back feel, my team collaborate, my golf game improve?

In other words: a buyer has no choice but to look out for themselves.

Everybody needs to preserve their well-being: it’s a biological and evolutionary imperative.

Problems arise when the ‘for you’ message gets buried under ‘about me’ messaging.

That’s when a buyer fails to feel that what you’re offering really will help solve their problem, and when they don’t feel that, they don’t buy.

You want people to care about what you do, and what you could do for them?

Then talk to them about them – their fears, frustrations, their wants and aspirations.

Cheers,

Martin

Evolution, Scarcity and Ethics

“Hey”, I said. “I thought you didn’t eat sugar?”

“I do!” she replied. “But my parents won’t allow me, and in school I can’t because the teachers will tell on me. That’s why I always turn down birthday cakes and stuff”.

A school excursion, and we were about 8 years old. This girl’s parents were severely into holistic and healthy living, and apparently sugar was of the devil.

The moment we’d gotten off the bus, she’d spotted a little shop and bought a bag full of sweets which she was now moving into her mouth in an industrial manner.

“You won’t tell the teacher, will you?”

I told her no, and she offered me some of her stash.

The desire for something unattainable is baked into our psyche, and we can’t avoid judging something scarce as something valuable.

Goes back to our prehistoric times, when leaves and predators were abundant, but prey, berries and nuts were hard to get.

Scarce resource = high value… that’s how our subconscious works.

Marketers have figured this out, and created an artform out of manipulating us.

Sale ends, limited stock, offer expires, buy now, don’t miss out… we all know the drill, and most of the time the scarcity is artificial and fabricated. Marketing teachers even tell us to use these methods, in order to get more sales.

In itself, there’s nothing wrong with a limited-time offer: it can help people who are the right buyer, to get off the fence and make the decision to purchase.

But the way it’s usually done, scarcity is used to trigger super-primal survival instincts, making us feel on a subconscious level that unless we buy now, our safety, well-being and lineage is at risk. That might sound dramatic, and it is: rationally we know it ain’t all that bad, but our subconscious is highly irrational, and simply perceives: ‘Scarce! Grave risk, unless I get! Must! Get!’.

The first problem is that it ain’t right to treat people that way. It’s manipulative and very dodgy.

The second problem is that if you drive too hard a sale, you end up with the wrong buyers.

You’ll pull in people who buy not because they want or need your thing, but because their lizard brain drives them to do it.

And then you get refund requests, buyer’s remorse, info-products that never get used, bad reviews, complaints on forums… all the things that don’t help your business.

Selling something is fine – after all, we all like buying things and most people sell things that are worth buying.

But there’s a line between manipulating people based on fear, and helping people who want to buy make the decision to do so.

What side of the line are you on?

Cheers,

Martin

Ethics vs Exploitation

“Excuse me, where can I find the bottled water?”

I’m shopping at my local supermarket, which has recently been completely redesigned, and as a consequence it’s practically impossible to find anything.

“Sure!”, he tells me. “It’s on the other side of the store, by the laundry detergent”.

I sigh and mutter that since the redesign, everything is a complete and confusing mess.

“Yep”, he says. “That way people end up buying more”.

Well, ten points for honesty, I’ll give him that.

But really, is this a way for a company to treat their customers?

Everything in the shop is now intentionally designed to confuse and distract: where products are placed, the way light enters the building, and even the mirrors that are now all around the cashiers, so that a shopper gets distracted right at the moment of checkout, in order to have them pay less attention to the amount they’re paying.

It’s despicable, disgusting, and unethical. They do anything they can, just to squeeze a bit more money out of people.

What’s even worse, is that this in a fairly impoverished part of Spain, in a small town where the majority of the population is not very well off. Tricking people here to spend more is a scoundrelous move. Pure exploitation.

But does the corporation care?

Of course not. Money money money. Grab grab grab.

Oh and then of course they’ll justify it: ‘People are independent agents, it’s up to them how much they buy’.

Yes it is BUT YOU’VE SCIENTIFICALLY ENGINEERED IMPULSE-BUYING INTO YOUR ENTIRE SUPERMARKET, YOU ^%&^$&%!

Or they’ll say: ‘This is just standard marketing practice. Everybody knows that we place premium items at eye-level, and lower-price products on the bottom shelves. What’s the difference?’

The difference is subtle, but important, and it’s something that a great many corporations (as well as entrepreneurs and solopreneurs) either don’t understand, or don’t care about:

Ethics and integrity.

It’s one thing to highlight a premium product, or to place a rack of crackers next to the cheese display.

But it’s a completely different level of douchebaggery to intentionally throw shoppers off balance, just so that they buy more things they don’t need, in order for profit margins to go up.

So why the rant today?

Because of trust.

When you take liberties with integrity, you might be able to sleep at night (though in my opinion, it means you don’t deserve a good night’s sleep), people notice.

Usually at subconscious levels, but the message gets through: “I’m being used, this isn’t about me, they’re not looking out for me. I’m being exploited for profit”.

And when that happens, trust breaks and you’ll find it very hard to run or grow your business.

So if you want to sleep at night (with my permission and blessing, heh) AND you want to have an easier time selling your work, the recommendation is simple: Do right by people. It always pays off.

Cheers,

Martin

Indispensable If You Want to Get Results With People

[Housekeeping note: I’m currently travelling, which has caused some disruption in my productivity – apologies for the intermittent service in sending these articles. Normal daily service should resume next week]

If you’ve ever driven on the Boulevard Périphérique (the ring road around Paris), you’ll know that the French have a… well, very special way of driving. It’s sketchy, sometimes aggressive, very unpredictable, and requires that you pay very close attention.

And when it comes to lane closures and merging traffic, you’ll know how hard that can be. No matter how long your signaling light is on, or how much you try to nudge your way into the other lane, it seems people just don’t give a damn.

But yesterday, in what some consider the worst possible city for driving, magic happened:

I had to merge to the right, many cars were passing by, and nobody let me in.

But then I leaned forward and to the right, and looked at the driver next to me – he saw me, nodded, and instantly slowed down to create space for me.

Pretty much unheard of in traffic, especially in Paris.

Why did he do that?

Eye contact.

Connection.

One human signaling to another, and the other picking up on it – because we’re hardwired to connect with those who petition a connection.

And that’s where we often fail to get results with people: we don’t signal a connection request. We don’t connect our humanity to the other person.

But once you do, and the other person reads ‘I see you’, everything changes.

So if ever you’re trying to get results with someone, be it selling or getting collaboration or having someone hear you out, and it’s not working, ask yourself:

Are you trying to push your own agenda, at the cost of trying to truly connect with the other person?

Cheers,

Martin

Push VS Pull, and the Worst Thing That Can Happen to a Person

There’s a reason why imprisonment is the punishment of choice across the world.

Not because it’s very effective, but because – bar solitary confinement and capital punishment – it’s pretty much the harshest punishment there is:

To remove a person’s autonomy.

For someone to no longer be a free agent, to not control their own decisions, is horrible.

This mechanism is also why the military is so good at creating good little soldiers.

It’s also why the industrial revolution so successfully turned society into a class of obedient, non-thinking worker drones.

To take someone’s autonomy is terrible, harsh, and depending on the purpose: effective.

In selling your work though, it’s pretty much the worst possible thing you could do.

Right? Who in their right minds would ever want to tell a buyer what they should do?

*Nodding heads*, I’m sure.

And yet…

It’s staggering to see how many people (unwittingly) try to remove a buyer’s autonomy.

Now you probably think “Yeah, but that’s not me”.

Are you sure though?

Because:

When you try to persuade someone…

When you try to convince someone by making a powerful argument…

When you skip over someone’s objections, fears, or doubts… and you continue to make your case…

That’s when you are in fact, in a subtle way or not, removing a buyer’s autonomy.

And because that’s the worst thing you can do to a human being, it’s not very likely to result in a sale – and if it does, chances are you’ll end up dealing with buyer’s remorse.

It’s never a good idea to push someone into a sale or a point of view.

What is a good idea though, is to invite someone in.

Invite them to consider a viewpoint.

Invite them to consider a purchase.

Invite them to ask you questions, or even better:

Invite them to tell you what concerns they have.

Doing that has the opposite effect of pushing people:

Instead of them putting up barriers, they’ll lower their guard and consider what you’re telling them.

And if at some point they accept the invitation to buy, they do so under full control and autonomy, and you bet that’s a way to buy that people love.

So today, I’m inviting you (see what I’m doing here?) to reflect on situations (with clients or with anyone else in your life) where you’re trying to push an agenda on others (hint: it’s those times when it seems like an uphill battle), and see if you can turn your agenda into an invitation.

Next step: put it into practice. Invite instead of push.

Let me know how it goes.

Cheers,

Martin

Everything That’s Wrong With Marketing and Sales, in One Handy Sentence

The other day I saw a salespage for some new thing that Tony Robbins is doing – I forget the details, but it’s some sort of programme designed to help people start mastermind groups, or something like that.

So far, so good: a mastermind group is a fantastic tool in the life of any business professional, and everyone should be in one. Seriously.

But somewhere on the page, it read:

“Social Pressure – This is going to be one of the biggest launches in history with more hype leading up to it then ever before. And people are going to be affraid to miss out on this new wave of opportunity.”

Well, yuck. Made me feel like I needed a shower.

Because that single line describes perfectly why marketing and sales have such a bad reputation.

I mean, come on Tony: Hype? Afraid to miss out? New wave of opportunity?

Oh sure, it’s effective marketing. Hype works.

And it’s effective selling too: Painting a ‘wave of opportunity’ reels people in, and pushing scarcity buttons and triggering fear of missing out, that works too.

But it’s scuzzy, manipulative, and in my monkly opinion: highly unethical.

Marketing and sales campaigns like that, they prey on the gullible. It’s designed to coerce people into buying something – not because they actually need it, but because there’s an artificial sense of need being created in the buyer. It’s manipulation.

Now while I’m sure Tony is a good guy, nice to his grandma and so on, I’ve never been a big fan. Too much hype, too much stage antics.

But seeing this? Bleh. I wash my hands of it all.

Selling – done right and done ethically – doesn’t need any hype, or ‘wave of opportunity’ or fear of missing out.

Selling done right means you serve a buyer in making a yes/no decision – based on actual, not manufactured, need.

Do you need more and higher-ticket sales in your business?

And maybe a sales coach is what you want?

Then why not reply, and we’ll set up a time to talk.

We’ll take 20 minutes for a strategy call, to see if we’re a match.

And I promise: 100% hype-free.

Let me know…

Cheers,

Martin

Timing and How Not to Break the Sale

They might seem like a perfect client for you, and they might seem really keen on working with you.

And yet, there’s indecisiveness. Vacillating, no decision.

It’s a yes, but not a ‘hell yes’.

Whenever you’re in a situation like that, be careful not to break the trust they’re building up.

Yes you might know for certain that paying you and becoming a client would solve exactly the problems they described – but they’ll only experience that solution if they buy when the time is right *for them*.

And that’s where most sales break.

We’re too keen, too eager, too needy – and so we try to rush, to persuade, to make a compelling argument.

The result?

The buyer shies away.

Whereas if you take it easy, sit back, ask more questions and take the pressure off, you’ll often find that the buyer shares concerns that haven’t been addressed yet.

Or, they might simply not be ready, for whatever reason is relevant in their world.

And when you can handle that ‘not ready’ elegantly, with a ‘No problem, let’s talk again in a few weeks’, there’s a very big chance that when next you talk, they *will* be ready.

But if they aren’t and you try to persuade them?

They won’t be open to you following up, and when you do they’ll feel that same kind of indecisiveness that stopped them in the first place.

A sale is a good thing for you, of course. And you should strive to get them.

But a sale is never right if it’s not the perfect time for the buyer.

After all, your business exists to serve your buyer, and your sales process should serve them just as much.

On another note: do you feel that working with a sales coach would help your business?

Do you want to have a conversation, and see if this is the right time for you (and obviously, whether I’m the right guy for you)?

Then hit reply, and let’s set up a time to chat.

Cheers,

Martin

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