Reverse Truth, Trust, Assumptions, Sales

Reverse truth is another way of saying ‘believing in your assumptions’ or ‘taking your hypotheses are verified’.

Aaaand… we all do that, aaaaaall the time.

We observe, we interpret, we conclude. On and on.

In business, and in selling too, that’s deadly.

A client might say “I need help with XYZ’ and you might go “Oh, so they want exactly what I have!”

Do they though? They said they need help, your kind of help – but they didn’t say they *want it from you*.

You’ll only know that for a fact when the money is in or the contract signed.

And when a prospect says ‘yes’ to your offer, that might mean yes literally and the money is on its way – or it might be a false yes, or a way to buy time to think (you’ll have seen it happen, where a client confirms the project, and
then you wonder why they didn’t pay, sign, or indeed reply to your emails any longer).

Reverse truth means that you seek confirmation of what you want to believe or know, and bend that so that it makes sense.

“Well he agrees that he shouldn’t bring home icecream, so obviously that means he won’t. So then why is there a gallon of the stuff in my fridge, dammit?”

That statement can only be made by someone who created a reverse truth. To conclude that one thing means the thing that we want it to mean.

And until you have proof – there is no more icecream showing up in the house, the money is in, the spouse has actually stopped gambling – no assumption should ever be taken as true.

Especially when selling, because people need to trust you if they’re going to buy.

Now, you might think that as long as you’re truthful and operating out of integrity, you don’t damage trust.

But you’d be wrong.

Reverse truth is a terrific way to break trust.

When you seek confirmation where it doesn’t exist, when you take an interpretation as true, you’ll instantly disconnect your buyer from you.

Their reaction (usually subconsciously) will be “Wait, that’s not what I said. I didn’t mean that – this person is not getting me”.

That’s unsettling. ‘I’m not being heard, they don’t get me. Are they listening?”

Bam. Trust crashes.

Reverse truth is dangerous so it’s good to start looking at it.

In what ways, in your day-to-day, do you seek ‘evidence’ to ‘prove’ your assumptions?

Where do you do that in your sales process?

Cheers,

Martin

What Is It You Do For a Living?

Most people answer that question by not answering it:

“I’m an author” or “I’m a massage therapist” or “I’m owner of a design agency”.

Those are not answers, because they say what you *are*, not what you *do*.

And people are a lot more interested in the thing we *do* that makes us different, than in the label we put on ourselves. It’s why they asked the question, isn’t it?

Leave it up to Seth Godin to answer the question, and answer it right. In an interview he gave, he said:

“I notice things for a living, and then I try to point them out to people”.

Wonderful, isn’t it?

When people ask what you do, you need to know what message to convey, that has them see the change you make, in just a few words.

Elon Musk could say “I’m CEO of a couple of companies – Tesla, The Boring Company, SpaceX, amongst others”.

Or, he could say “I’m working on a multi-business plan to improve humanity’s conditions, and help ensure its survival”.

You’ll agree (whether or not you support his approach or not) that the latter sounds a lot sexier than the former.

My current best is “I learn people for a living, and then I try to come up with ideas that grow your business”.

Though admittedly, it’s wonky: It’s not learning people that earns me a living, but coming up with those business-growing ideas. In other words: my reply is still under construction.

But what about you?

What is it that you *do* for a living?

Not what you are, but what do you do, that someone else might value so much, they’d pay money for it?

What value do you create, what change do you make, what does your work for others?

Find the answer to that, and you’ll never have to lose another person’s interest again, when they ask what you do.

And the secret to finding the perfect reply?

Make sure that it answers the two most fundamental questions that literally everybody needs answered when dealing with a business:

‘So what?’ and:

‘What’s in it for me?’

Craft a reply that answers those two, and you’re set.

Oh and hey, let’s play a game!

Send me your best reply to the question “What do you *do* for a living?” and I’ll use my old copywriter-brain to help you turn it into a nice 1-sentence introduction for when people ask you.

Want to play?

Alright, here we go:

What is it that you *do* for a living?

Cheers,

Martin

Wanted

“Hey Martin, sorry to hear that the headset broke. But yeah, it’s beyond warranty, I can’t help that. Here’s a discount code though, for 20% off”.

A nice gesture, to be sure.

But as compensation for a fairly expensive headset that broke just as its warranty expired (and I was too late writing in – my bad), it’s not stellar treatment of a duped customer either. It’s good, but it doesn’t get a ‘wow’.

So, since I’ve been studying negotiation lately, I decided to practice a little. You know, have a little fun with the situation.

“I totally appreciate that, but given [reasons I described above] I think a 60% discount would be fair, don’t you agree? Especially that it’s the kind of thing that creates a lifelong customer :)”

He wouldn’t have it: “I can’t give you more than 20%”.

Fair enough, and kind enough.

But, a net loss for his company.

So far I’ve enjoyed buying from them – they’re very helpful and nice people.

And if he’d conceded to my (admittedly crazy) request, they would have become my go-to, don’t-care-about-others audio device provider, for as long as they’re in business. You give me 60% off? Hell yeah.

Which means I’d spend anywhere from 500 to, who knows, 5000, in the next 5 or 10 years. That’s a lot of revenue, and now they lost it because – and get this – I somehow don’t feel good about the situation.

It’s not because of anything they did wrong – it’s because they didn’t do what’s ‘right’, in order to make me feel in love with them.

They offered a gift, they treated me correctly – but they left me feeling not important to them, not wanted.

Which is kinda weird, but think about it:

It feels good to know that the provider we buy from wants us to stay, because it tells us that they’ll do their best work, in order to keep us around.

On a subconscious level, this is powerful stuff. It speaks of care, stewardship, commitment, long-term relationship… all the things that make for a healthy and surviving society, and therefore appeals enormously to the individual.

Giving discounts isn’t workable in all business models, but there’s always something you can do, some extra mile or half-mile, that you can go to surprise and delight people.

There’s always something you can do, or say, that tells people:

“I care about you, I’d love to treat you so well that you’ll be around forever”.

Cheers,

Martin

Stewardship

An average seller tries to reason with people: “Once you understand how good of a choice it is to buy this thing…”

A good seller works with benefits and desires: “You’re telling me you want outcome X, which is precisely what we created this offer for. It looks like this is the thing you’ve been looking for”.

A terrific seller works relationships and service: “I’m here to help you get to the right decision, be it buy or don’t buy – talk to me about any concern you may have, I’m not pushing anything here”.

And someone who sells with a purpose, from the heart, out of sheer desire to make a positive impact?

That person seller sells stewardship. “I’m here to make sure you’re taken care of – by me, and by the product or service you’ll be using. I’m here to be a steward over your outcomes”.

That seller btw is the one who gets the easiest sales, most referrals, and best clients.

Sell stewardship: let people know you’re there for them.

Cheers,

Martin

How to Not Look Needy When Selling

Ever noticed the way a hungry animal behaves? The way it walks, sniffs, looks at everything asking itself ‘is it food?’

Not a pretty look, right? Pretty desperate.

That’s pretty much how we look to potential buyers, if we allow neediness to show up in how we show up.

And I’m not talking about a hungry kitten – it makes us look more like predators, when neediness appears in a sales situation.

Yeah you need the sale, I know. Bills, payroll, suppliers, subscriptions… but you can’t afford, literally, to look needy. Just not.

And so, you need to dissasociate yourself from the outcome. Sale, no sale… be ok with either.

But that’s easier said than done, because: see above —> you need the sale.

And yet, you need to detach yourself from the outcome.

How?

As always, by performing the one master move to make everything in life and business easier: make it about them.

You’re selling something, so by default what you need isn’t the point. It’s what your buyer needs, because that’s what people pay for: the things they need.

So the only question really, is ‘do they need this?’

And that’s it. Stay with that question, let your buyer answer it, and a) they’ll sell themselves if they really need it and b) you’ll not look needy.

Simple, right?

Cheers,

Martin

Good Deeds, Acceptable Costs, Thousands of Eyeballs

It’s always fun having visitors from abroad – never a dull moment.

“Martin I injured my knee, can you make an appointment with your fysiotherapist?”

I make the call, and: first option is ten days from now. Clearly not ideal, when someone is in pain, but that’s life.

“That’s a pity – could you recommend someone else, where we might be able to get an earlier appointment?”

She thinks for a moment, and I can almost hear the names going through her head coming out of my headset, and then she says: “Sorry, I couldn’t tell you”.

Which is fair enough, but it’s not how you create great relationships with your customers.

If she were to recommend a few people, I’d really appreciate that – and why wouldn’t she? It’s not like the clinic is empty, so… why not?

So far for good ideas on treating customers.

But if you want your people to have a stellar treatment?

Then you take their number, you call your friends and peers in the industry (whether you’re a fysio, coach or designer), and you set an appointment for the client.

Not only will the client love it, you’ll also have created a stronger bond with your peer, who will be more likely to refer work to you if ever they need to.

Does it require guts to do this?

Does it make people love you and talk about you?

Does it require a bit of faith in humanity?

Does it require that you choose wisely who to refer to? (givers and matchers only – there’s no point in giving to takers)

Yes to all the above.

Does it pay dividends over time?

You bet.

Doing things that make people talk about you is enormously profitable, even if there’s a cost or a client buys elsewhere.

Consider this story, where a bride called FedEx, because her wedding was the next day, but her wedding dress had not yet arrived.

Turned out, a routing error had landed the dress in a different city.

The FedEx operator arranged for a private plane to fly the dress in on time (literally going the extra mile), and guess what:

Not a single person at the wedding did not hear the story – easily 100 to 200 people, many of whom would relate the story to others afterwards.

And because it’s such an awesome story, it has real selling power in terms of having at least some of those people choose choose FedEx instead of a competitor, next time they want to send something.

Multiply by the lifetime value of a typical customer, and the cost of a private plane suddenly becomes very acceptable indeed. And you even get guys on the internet talking about it in articles.

One good deed. One cost. And thousands upon thousands of people who hear about it in articles, word of mouth, podcasts, mentions in books, and training materials.

Next time you have a chance to do something wildly loveable for a client, even if you’re concerned about the cost or loss of it, you might be well off doing it.

Cheers,

Martin

Today’s Your Day

A savvy marketer would make good use of that subject header.

“Today’s your day, because I have a super interesting offer and it might just be for you”.

But nope.

Today is your day because you get to make an offer to other people.

An offer to share in the state you’re in.

It’s a simple exercise, superbly useful for your sales conversations, and it’s called:

Making other people smile.

Think I’m being silly?

Think again:

Smiling feels good.

When people feel good, they find it easier to feel good about themselves.

When they feel good about themselves, they tend to feel good about others, especially the people they’re with.

ESPECIALLY the person who made them smile in the first place.

And if ever you want to sell something – an idea, a product, a different approach – it’s spectacularly important that they feel good about you, and the interaction with you.

And smiles are one of the simplest – and most disarming, non-invasive – ways to do it.

So today is your day to go make people smile, and get better at selling in the process.

Go make the most of it.

Cheers,

Martin

Interesting vs Useful

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

Answer a question, explain something, repeat something…

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

Most people, when it’s their time to talk, will go for ‘interesting’, which leads to statements like ‘As the world’s largest blah blah’, or ‘I work with some of the most influential authors’ or, the best of the worst: ‘I was talking to Richard Branson about that yesterday’ (or insert whatever more minor celebrity that someone might know).

The problem is not that these statements don’t make you look interesting.

The problem is that they do.

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

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

And not in the money they might pay you, but in the solution they’re hoping to get from you.

And for all you regular, average, non-world’s-largest, non-connected-to-celebs business owners out there: the good news is that you can be as boring as a wet sheet of paper, you can still sell your stuff, and at good prices too.

How?

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

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

When it’s your turn to talk, don’t start with things that are interesting, or make you look interesting.

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

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

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

There: an easier conversation, with better positioning, AND an open when you follow up, just because you didn’t try to look interesting.

Ain’t that useful.

Cheers,

Martin

Confidence vs Neediness

It makes no difference if I ask for sandpaper, or a screwdriver or a tube of instant glue: she never gets it ‘right’.

A hardware store down the street from me, and the lady who works there always comes back out of the storage area with something different than what I asked for.

Like that scene in the Muppet Show, where Simon Soundman asks for a trumpet by making the sound of a trumpet – and the shopkeeper comes out the back room with a violin? That’s pretty much it.

The first few times I didn’t mind, and explained what I actually needed.

Then I started getting a little annoyed, and over time, kinda cross: “Why doesn’t she just listen? I barely get to finish my sentence, and she’s already off inbetween the racks, looking for something different than what I’m trying to ask for. How annoying!”

But the other day – when I asked for snap-off blades, and she pointed me at a range of kitchen knives ,I realised something: it’s not that she doesn’t listen…

What happens is that she’s simply very keen to be helpful, and probably wants to be perceived as smart as well (a pretty common combo of attitudes).

Put differently (and harshly, I admit): people-pleasing + approval-seeking.

Lesson #1 is that knowing this, there’s no point in being annoyed. That feeling just came from my own judgment and opinion, and I can change that.

The second lesson is more useful to you, and it’s about sales:

Being helpful is good, but if you get too close to people-pleasing, you’ll be perceived as desperate and that breaks trust.

Combine that with an attempt to be liked and approved of, and you have the perfect reason for a new client to back out, right at the moment that they’re getting on board with buying from you.

Help if they ask for your help, and before that: give them space to tell you what they need and want. Don’t be overly eager to offer your help, it sends the wrong message.

As for the approval part of it: who cares about approval?

You’ll get far more mileage from respect – for you, your status, expertise, authority in your field and so on.

And how do you get respect?

Show the confidence to not act needy, and you’ll be well on your way.

Cheers,

Martin

Freedom (And Perceived Threats)

One moment you’re talking to a potential client who seems really on board, ready to work with you…

And the next, they seem to have disconnected, tuned out, run into a problem.

Gone is the ‘same page’ feeling, evaporated is the harmony and resonance, and you wonder what went wrong. Weren’t they getting ready to buy? What happened!?

In many cases, it’s because you’ve triggered what psychologists call reactance: a natural reaction to the feeling that our freedom is being limited or threatened.

But why? How? Surely you want what’s best for them, and you’re definitely not being pushy, so what are they reacting to… something you said?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Point is, what you did or said isn’t nearly as important as what is going on in their world.

And what’s going on is that somewhere on the evolutionary level of their psyche, a warning sign lit up.

Somehow, for some reason, their lizard brain senses a threat: “I’m being pushed” and while that might be entirely not what you’re trying to do, their subconscious thinks differently.

When that happens, step back.

Ask questions.

And, very importantly: be quiet. Give people space to think.

Lots of sales conversations break down simply because the seller talks too much, preventing the buyer from sorting through their thoughts (which, in itself, is a way of limiting freedom).

And ask yourself: in what way could they have perceived me or my words in a way that threatens their freedom to choose, their agency and autonomy?

Cheers,

Martin

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