When a Buyer’s ‘No’ Is a Good Thing

Which is, basically, always. “No” is nowhere near as bad as you think.

Hey look, it’s never fun when someone decides to not buy from you.

But me, I welcome it. Because a No is the start of a relationship.

Not a professional one, sure. Doesn’t help your business… YET.

Follow my thinking here: most people consider a failed sale as an endpoint. Closed case.

One of those that got away.

But that’s a shame, because you never know when someone ends up being ready to get down to business.

Could be a week, a year, or three years.

And all you need to do is maintain a relationship with people.

Stay in touch. Share a book when you find one that’s perfect for them. See what they’re up to on social media. Answer a question, exchange emails.

You know: be a human being – which comes down to ‘being nice people’.

In my business, lots of clients ended up working with me months or even years after initially saying ‘nope’. Maybe as much as 50%.

That’s sales that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t stayed in touch and kept the relationship alive.

That ‘no’ you might dread so much?

Welcome it.

Here’s something for you to say no to, btw: my brand spanking new business-building, spot-coaching programme: http://martinstellar.com/business-growth-coaching-when-putting-off-the-important-work-is-no-

Just don’t say no to putting off the important work, mkay? You’re welcome.



A Cold, Hard Business Lesson We All Need to Learn

It’s never about you.

It’s a cold hard lesson because it’s a fact, but at least it’s rooted in care. Behold:

It’s never about you, no matter how good your work is, or how beautiful, or how worth it.

No matter how much you need the money.

No matter how passionate you are about your work and what it does.

If you want a healthy business, it’s always, only and exclusively, about them:

Your buyer, and whether or not their life gets better by buying.

This attitude shows, and creates trust – a requirement for sales.

And if you can also step away from the sale, be 100% ok with it if they don’t buy, you build even more trust.

And you can’t fake that.

The only way you can create that level of trust is if you genuinely, really, have “the right decision for them” as your first and foremost interest.

But doesn’t that contradict the notion that a business must make money, and that you need to look out for #1 first?

No contradiction at all, because the more trust you create in others, the more you’ll end up selling.

That’s why in the enrollment conversations I have with potential clients, I’m not trying to sell anything.

I show up, I serve, I coach.

That either makes someone want to work with me, or not. Whatever’s best for you.



Loathe Being Sold To

If you look at the amount of money that gets made each year at times like Christmas, you might think it’s simply because of the aggressive, pervasive, inescapable advertising and marketing that gets thrown at us.

But that’s not really why.

The real reason so much stuff gets sold, is that people love to buy.

A book, shoes, a holiday, education and training: each time you decide to spend money on something, it’s because you want to.

You’re willing to part with money so as to have that thing that’s on offer.

But at the same time, we loathe being sold to, and we notice that especially at seasons like these, when we’re bombarded with ads and discounts and sales.

So people love to buy, but loathe being sold to – where does that leave us, the friendly, non-pushy business owner?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you’re nice and your product or service rocks, clients will find you and show up to give you money, all by themselves.

I used to think that, and it cost me a small fortune and a tailoring company. You do need to get out there and find the buyers.

But people don’t like being sold to, so what can you do?

It’s simple, really really simple.

If you want to sell your work and you don’t want to be pushy or manipulative – but you do believe in your work and you know that people would benefit from buying…

Then make it your job to facilitate the purchase.

Be the trusted advisor.

Position yourself as someone whose interest is in the world and benefit of the buyer, instead of making money in your pocket the primary interest.

Yes of course you want to get paid, but if someone wouldn’t be happy with their purchase… do you really want their money? (If the answer is yes, I’m afraid you and I don’t have a lot in common).

Everyone else here, who does really want the buyer to be happy, remember this:

The trick to ethical, non-pushy sales, is to facilitate the buying process.

Turn yourself into a helper, whose job is to assist the buyer in making the right decision.

Even if that decision is to not buy at this point.

When you’re willing to lose a sale if that’s the best choice for the potential buyer, you’ll have achieved something essential for a healthy business: the other person will know – feel – that you’re not just in it for the money.

Or to borrow a quote from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

And how does it feel when someone does not force a sale on you, but has the grandness and fortitude to let you walk away? It feels awesome! And you bet people will remember that.

And that means that even if you get a no, you’ll still have a healthy relationship with that person. Which makes it far more likely that they’ll come back at some point, compared to someone who walks away feeling like they made a narrow escape.

Never forget: if people love to buy, the best thing you could possibly do, is facilitate the buying decision.

Me, I never try to convince, coerce, or persuade a potential client.

I show what I do by giving people a coaching session, and if there’s chemistry we might talk about a coaching programme.

If that leads to someone becoming my client: splendid.

If not? No problem. You’ll have gained something, and I’ll have served someone – we both win.

In other words: if you’re on the fence about speaking with me, but you’re afraid you’ll be sold to, don’t worry. I’m only interested in you making the best decision for you and your life and your business.



Did You Buy the Story?

All of us, we tell ourselves stories. And, we buy into them. We believe the stories we tell ourselves.

And some of those are not at all helpful. Allow me to explain:

Right now, I’m preparing a series of talks that I’ll be giving in Malaga soon.

It’s part of a project I’m running with my friend and business partner Antonio, who runs a co-working office, which is the place where I go on Thursdays.

Anyway, the talks will be around the subject of sales – something we all need in business, but at the same time, there’s a bunch of misconceptions.

So let’s play dispel-the-myth for a moment, shall we?
Myth #1:

Selling isn’t ethical

Oh I don’t know. A hammer is as harmful as the person wielding it. Likewise, sales are exactly as ethical as the business person conducting a sales process. So long as your primary interest is the customer’s well-being, and your mission is to have them make the best possible decision (including if that means not buying, and you accept that gracefully) you’ll be fine and perfectly ethical.

Myth #2:

“Sales require being pushy”

Hey now… the fact that too many companies use aggressive sales techniques doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to go. And in fact, a non-pushy, conversation-based sales process is quite effective. Equally effective, maybe even more so, as the pushy kind. See Myth #1 and the bit about “it’s about them, not you”.

Myth #3:

“People these days are smart and informed. They make up their own minds to buy, I don’t need to sell.”

Let me know how that works out for you. Even though the first part – people are (generally) smart and informed – is true, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t do them a favour by being active in the process.

It’s a fact that people take more action the more you prompt them, and if your product or service really delivers and improves things for the buyer, your being with them as a trusted advisor, and guiding them to the best decision is effectively an act of service.

But if you leave it up to the buyer to decide what to choose and when, they might get distracted by life etc, and never take action. Which means they wouldn’t benefit from what you sell.

And worse: they might end up buying from a competitor whose work isn’t as good as yours, but whose marketing is more effective. That would be a disservice to your prospect.

Myth #4:
“Selling isn’t required if the product is good”

Ha! Pardon me while I laugh my head off. I have a misspent $150K inheritance saying this isn’t just a myth, but a full-blown fallacy-cum-sophism, with a side of delusion, wrapped in speciousness. Add foolishness, makes its own sauce.

See, I used to make suits, by hand, that would fetch $3K, and people were more than happy to pay the price. They were that good. But I believed in the myth that quality sells itself and so I did almost no marketing.

Consequently, I went bankrupt and I had to close my tailoring company.

Quality may, in some cases, sell itself. But if you don’t get out there, show up, and invite people to buy, the odds are high that it won’t work. Very very very high. Don’t make the mistake I did, but learn (ethical and fun) marketing and selling before it’s too late.

Myth #5:
“I’m just no good at selling”

This might be true on the level of business agreements and actual sales (and you can learn to improve in those areas), but on the level of being human, it’s outright false.

You sell all the time, every day, we all do.

We sell our spouse on getting milk on the way home. Sell our kids on eating their greens. Sell our colleague on helping out with a project. We sell someone on an idea we’d like them to consider. We sell a friend on spending some time together instead of each lounging on the sofa watching Netflix at home.

But here is where it gets interesting: we also sell ourselves on the idea that we’re no good at selling – and we buy into that story! How’s that for disproving that you’re not good at selling!

Food for thought methinks.

So anyway. Any time you want to talk about growth, or sales, or relationships – if you want a no-cost strategy session, let me know.

I promise that IF we end up talking about working together, your best interest, not ‘the sale’ will be my primary concern.



When They Try to Sell You a Free Lunch

And email I received yesterday, basically saying:

“Hi Martin, we’re hosting an online event, and we would absolutely love for you to join our line-up of accomplished speakers, authors and coaches”.

Ah, a nice bit of stroking for my ego.

So I replied that maybe, why not. Came a reply from the organiser, saying that I could only join if I have an email list of 5000 readers or more.

Which I don’t, but that’s not the point.

So I sent them this:

“I’ll decline: if the promotional contribution I could make is more important than the value I could deliver, it’s not for me”.

Arrogant maybe, thinking that I have ‘so much’ value to deliver, but hey. I do. I got a great story to tell, and valuable stuff to share, for
those who are able to listen.

And it’s not that I object to promoting someone else’s event, if I’m speaking there. Goes without saying.

But something about these setups (and I get these invitations almost every month) just isn’t right.

It’s like when a gallery contacts an artist: “We love your work! You’re special, we must have your work in our gallery!”

And then the artist finds out that there’s a hefty fee to pay – basically, renting wall-space.

Or last year, when someone offered me to co-author a book, along with a few others.

For the honour of which, I’d have to pay $5000. Yeah, what about: No.

The problem isn’t that someone is trying to earn money from third party cash or third party promotion.

The problem is that it’s not done overtly. It’s presented as an awesome opportunity, under the guise of “You’re so special”.  And that’s simply uncouth.

And the biggest problem is that this kind of thing works. Plenty of people fall prey to rackets like that.

So if someone shows up with an awesome opportunity, and they do it in a way that clearly is meant to stroke your ego, be wary.

Ask for the fine print, and if there’s a cost: you might want to pass on by and get back to work.

Of course you might be offered free lunch at some point. That kind of miracle does happen.

Just beware of people who are trying to sell you a free lunch.

And when they do?


Your time is too valuable to be building somebody else’s business.

I say build your own.

Want some help with that?

You know where to find me…



Did I Actually Destroy My Own System?

Remember that email the other day, where I said it’s a good idea to stop explaining so much and listen instead, when you are looking to find buyers?

It’s ironic, because “Explain” is actually part 2 of my LEAP marketing system.

(I haven’t talked about it in the last year or so because I discontinued the LEAP marketing newsletter, but “LEAP” stands for “Listen, Explain, Ask, Prosper”.

And so, yes: explaining matters when you’re trying to sell your work.

Except most people skip over the first part.

Which part is that? Oh, the one called ‘Listen’ – have you not been listening?

Joking aside, listening really does come first, in the sales process.

You need to know who you’re dealing with, what they need, what keeps your buyer up at night, and what kind of solution they’re looking for.

Only once you really get that (and this applies no matter what you’re selling – art too solves a problem for those who buy it), do you get to explain.

So when your sales are lacking, use this benchmark:

Listen: Have I spent enough time listening to this individual, or to my ideal market?

Explain: Have I adequately explained that I get this person’s/demographics painpoints? (I.e. have I listened so much that *they* feel understood when I explain?)

Ask: Am I actually asking for the sale? (plenty of people skip over this one)

Prosper: Am I doing those three things consistently enough to prosper? Are my prices and my Terms&conditions set up to allow for prosperity in my life?

It’s a simple system, but it’s effective: use it in your sales process, your conversations, and your overall business planning.

And use me if you want to get that system set up and running like a machine.

Because there’s nothing as useful and as much fun as having a system that you can run, test, adapt and iterate, when it comes to being in business.



Tell Me…

How can I help?

What are you struggling with?

What’s going on in your life?

How can I serve you better?

What do you need from me?

How can I make your life and your business better?

What questions do you have that urgently need an answer… any answer?

Tell me.

I’m here to help.



P.s. The lesson here? That if you’re in business, you earn your living by helping people. Whatever you may create or deliver as a business owner, your primary mission is to help and/or serve.

So whenever you get stuck and you need direction, start with that question:

“How can I help?”

When All Seems Grim and Dreary… Remember This:

I know, the world is in a messy state these days.

And if you follow the news (which I recommend you don’t – you’ll hear what you need to hear anyway and the news only depresses anyway) it seems like everything is going to hell in a handbasket with bells on.

So it’s no surprise that so many people feel that there’s really no purpose, no use to anything.

And if you tend to get beset by feelings like that, remember this:

While you aren’t looking because you’re overwhelmed with all the bad news, there’s amazing and wonderful things happening.

Some examples:

Digital currency is disrupting the financial industry, and I believe that in our lifetime we’ll see a much healthier economic model evolve, where we’re not slaves to money-grabbers, but in control of our cash.

Job security is disappearing and as a consequence, the age of the entrepreneur is in full swing, which gives you power to earn your keep on your own terms, instead of being beholden to a boss.

Science is on overdrive, discovering more and more about the mind, the body, our planet and our cosmos and our health, at breakneck speed.

Countries in Northern Europe are planning to build an artificial island with thousands of electrical windmills on it.

Solar energy is getting cheaper every day.

People and companies with deep pockets and oodles of ethics are working to solve big and important problems for humanity.

So while I’m not saying you should stick your head in the sand, it does make sense to not let yourself feel defeated just because the bad news gets the most press.

Because there’s a lot of good things happening.

And if you feel it’s not enough, then I courteously invite and urge you to chip in and add your own two cents.

Like that story the Sufi’s tell.

Once there was a big fire in a forest. All the animals were in uproar, and elephants kept running to the river to fetch water.

A tiny bird joined in, snapping up a few drops at a time with its beak, and dropping it on the flames.

One of the elephants said: “You silly little bird, do you think that helps?”

“I don’t know”, said the bird. “But it’s all I can do. Would you rather I didn’t?”

And for you and me, it’s the same.

I’ll never send people to Mars, like Elon Musk is planning to do.

But I’m doing what I can, within my means. Because that’s my duty.

So what about you?

What can you do?



On Marketing, Scarcity and Ethics

Comes another question about what is and isn’t ethical in marketing:

Specifically, around the topic of scarcity.

You’ll have seen the offers and pitches:

“While supplies last”.

“Offer ends at midnight”.

“One time only offer”.

So is that kind of thing right? Is it ethical?

It depends.

Of course it’s tempting to create an offer based on scarcity.

And as long as it’s genuine, I don’t see a problem with it.

An artist for example can have a limited edition of prints. Nothing wrong with that. Get one before they’re gone.

But if the artist then creates another limited edition run, that’s where it gets dubious. Limited means limited, and if you are an ethical business person, you have to stick with what you said.

I’ve made offers based on scarcity too.

For example, my 2,5 hour masterclass on marketing: that was $25 before the event, 50 afterwards, and at some point I announced that the price would go up to 100 by a certain date.

But if I were to say ‘while supplies last’, that would be deceitful, because they are videos, and there’s no end to the supply, they won’t run out.

And I could invent another thing that makes it scarce, but why would I?

It’s good to offer something special at a special price, with a limit on time or volume.

But only if the scarcity is real, and not a lie.

Because nobody likes a liar, and there are far too many unethical business people out there. You don’t want to be one of them.

Meanwhile, if you want that masterclass, it’s still available. No scarcity there.

It’s a workshop I gave to a group of artists last year, but the lessons and methods for communication, marketing and selling in it, apply to any (ethical) business.

And you can get the full 2,5 hours here: https://gumroad.com/l/artmarketingmasterclass#



Everybody Does It

A client in the Cabal mastermind group I run asked the group’s opinion.

She’d been to an art show, where someone had put up a sign saying that prices were 50% off.

Except the final salesprice was what the works had originally been priced at.

In other words, an artificial price hike, in order to make the work appear more valuable.

Before posting her question in the group, she asked a few people their opinion, and she heard things like:

“That’s just marketing”.

Um, no. It isn’t.

It’s deceitful and unethical. It’s marketing done wrong.

Very wrong, in my not at all humble, ethical opinion.

Others said: “Everyone does it”.

Which is just plain silly, and infantile to boot. What’s next: “They started it”?

Come on.

Obviously, I was pleased to see that the Cabal members didn’t think that way, and called it wrong.

Smart bunch, ethical too.

If you want to give discounts, give them on the original price, whatever it is that you sell.

But I say, don’t give discounts.

You’re not Walmart, you’ll never win big if you try to compete on price.

And also: if you’re reading me, I doubt that your work (art or coaching or training or whatever) falls in the low-price category.

Here’s what to do instead: give more value.

Deliver stellar service. Give something extra for free. Be your buyer’s best purchase ever.

That’s the ethical way.

There’s a wide grey area in what is and isn’t ethical, and that’s exactly the problem.

There’s no clear defining line between what is and isn’t. Like ‘white lies’, there’s arguments and justifications you can make. “Ah, just a little bit wrong. That’s not so bad”.

Except it is.

My recommendation is to always stay very far away from the entire grey area.

You’ll feel better about yourself, and in the end it’s better for business.



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