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

What to do When ‘the Face Ain’t Listening’

So you’re talking to someone whom you’d like to buy in to your idea – buyer, spouse, team mate, etc – and you realise:

They’re not buying. No matter what I tell them, they don’t seem to be enrolling in my idea.

So you try a different approach, different logic, another kind of appeal to their senses…

But nope, no cigar – they still don’t seem to get the sense and usefulness of that thing you’re trying to have them see.

In other words: it’s like you’re ‘talking to the hand, and the face ain’t listening’.

When that happens, you need to realise that (very very likely) you’re trying to reason with someone who isn’t in a rational state.

Their emotional senses are looking for the stuff that feels good, and you’re here, trying to appeal to their intellect, intelligence and insight.

Obviously, that will go nowhere: the other person’s emotional world doesn’t understand stuff – no matter how compelling, logical, and sensible your argumentation may be.

You’ve probably had the experience, and if you don’t remember: if you’ve ever thought to yourself “But why don’t they *see* what I’m saying, that it makes sense?”, then you’ve been trying to reason with their emotions.

You can explain until the cows come home, but the mind won’t deal with information if the emotional world doesn’t feel it yet.

The other person’s emotional world is large, mostly subconscious, and it’s got power to overrule the mind, because the subconscious is tasked with keeping us safe, watching out for threats. It knows more than the mind does, it intuits – and it’s a paranoid gatekeeper.

Looks, feels, sounds, like a potential threat? Best be safe, and consider it a threat.

Live another day, in terms of evolutionary psychology.

Now obviously, it’s illogical that they’d feel some sort of unconscious threat – after all, you’re not trying to harm anyone, or force anything on them – but that lack of logic is exactly what the irrational nature of emotions is about.

So. If ever you find yourself reasoning with someone who’s just not getting it, seeing it, buying in to your idea and vision:

Stop.

Something in their subconscious triggered an emotional defense or disconnect, and hammering your point is only going to strengthen it.

Stop, and instead get that person to talk. Ask questions such as ‘what’s on your mind’ or ‘what does this situation look like to you’ or ‘are there any concerns you have about any of this’ or ‘if you were master of the universe, how would you solve or arrange this?’

The actual question you ask depends on the situation, but the important thing is that you get the other person to share their view, the vision that they’re working with.

With a bit of luck, you’ll uncover the reason why their emotions block understanding or adoption – which gives that person the validation that their concerns are valid, and that will help them trust you enough to at least try and see –
understand – the sense of what you’re trying to say.

In short: never try to reason with emotion, because it’s a ‘face’ that will never listen to reason.

Cheers,

Martin

Reality? It’s Relative

One of my favourite notions is that nobody, ever, shares the exact same experience of reality.

And you wouldn’t believe the amount of pushback I sometimes get on that.

Because, the argument goes, reality is there, it’s real, and we all perceive the same reality.

And sure, I suppose we do (leaving philosophy about the nature of reality aside).

But we can’t ever share the same perception.

To illustrate: take a pen, and hold it up horizontally. Imagine there’s a person in front of you, and the pen is inbetween you and them.

For you, the point is on the left, and the end on the right. Right?

But obviously, for the other person, the opposite is true.

Now, imagine you’re side by side, looking at the same pen. Same reality?

Sure, but not the same perception. Slightly different viewing angle, different light refraction, different way sound waves bounce off it… It’s subtle, but it’s a different perception.

So what does this have to do with selling?

Simple: it’s a big mistake to assume that you know what your buyer is experiencing.

They might nod, but they might feel concern or contemplate a doubt.

They might say yes, but that might just be to win some time, while they think something through.

In the sales conversation, making assumptions is a big mistake.

Yes, you’re having the same conversation, together – but what do they make of it?

The way you think it’s going is only one side, and we must be careful not to project our views onto the other.

Because if we do, the other person will experience discord – they’ll experience that you’re not aware of their experience, and that doesn’t help the situation.

Instead, enable the other person to tell you what their experience of the situation is.

After all, every person is a world, and what they experience in their world, is their truth. It’s what’s real for them.

So ask questions. Explore. Discover. You’ll learn a lot when you put yourself in someone else’s shoes – and you’ll be far more likely to land yourself a client.

Cheers,

Martin

The Three Biggest Mistakes in Sales

The first one is blindingly obvious: too much talking, not enough listening.

If you want a buyer to care about what you know, or do, they first need to know that you care about them and their problem.

The second mistake, is selling on features and benefits.

The saying goes: features tell, benefits sell – but that’s only part of the story.

What *really* sells – and amazingly well – is a person’s own desire… meaning, their wish to gain a positive outcome, or alleviate a burden or problem.

And guess what: listening and asking questions that facilitate insight and discovery, helps your buyer discover just how deep the desire goes.

The third mistake is the hardest to get around: being afraid of the no, and therefore not asking for the sale.

It’s hard to hear no, because nobody likes being rejected – and the fact that ‘no’ to your product or service isn’t a personal rejection, makes no difference. It still feels bad to hear no.

But, being open to a no, or welcoming it – or, best: asking for a no – is the best move you could ever make in the process of sales conversations.

“Here’s an idea… I don’t know if this will fit into your world, so tell me if it doesn’t, but: what if I could help you get outcome X? (Or solve problem Z)”.

Say that to a potential buyer, and you’ll be giving them the right to veto, which means you respect and emphasise their autonomy, and that means they won’t feel threatened, rushed, or pushed – which obviously means they’ll be more open to considering what you have to offer.

Obviously, there’s a lot more that can go wrong, when selling – but these three need attention and improvement, before anything else.

And, while I don’t know if my work will fit into your world, I’m happy to schedule a 20-minute sales audit with you, to see if I can help.

After that we can discuss ways to work together, or if you don’t need further help, we simply part as friends.

Sound fair?

Let me know, and I’ll send you a schedule link.

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

How to Make Enemies and Alienate People

Saw two examples of how to network with people, at an event in Malaga a while ago.

One good, and one disastrously wrong.

Before the socialising part, each attendee got one minute to pitch their business.

Afterwards, I was accosted – literally – by an attractive young woman.

She came up to me, introduced herself, and without pause launched into an endless, aggressive salespitch.

How her co-working space is this and that, how there’s seminars and a virtual mentoring programme… on and on.

I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

Not even to say that I have no need for any of it, because my friend Antonio runs his own co-working place, and I get everything she offers and more, at his company, each time I go to Malaga.

Silly of her, because showing up this way meant that she made herself absolutely unattractive to me, from a business point of view. Repellent, even.

On a personal level too, because there was nary a smile or friendly expression during her entire rant.

Compare that to the second experience.

Guy comes up and tells me that my pitch really interested him.

And, would I mind if he gave me a little feedback, and a tip on how to improve my presentations?

Look what he did there: he built rapport (in a sincere way, I could tell he wasn’t faking it) and then asked me permission to give feedback.

Next he told me something useful, and invited me to stay in touch.

Effectively, he sold me on liking him, and on wanting to meet again.

Obviously, he’s hoping to get business out of me at some point – every business owner is.

But the way he did it pulled my closer, whereas the lady drove me away.

Now I imagine that you’re far more like that guy, than that lady.

I imagine that if you read my articles, you probably like to give value, and listen, and try to attune to what others experience and need.

But what if all that doesn’t land you the clients you want?

What if you don’t manage to get paid what you’re worth?

Or, what if you do, but you just really don’t like the sales process?

And, what if you want to do something about it?

Then I can help.

More information here: http://martinstellar.com/how-can-i-help/

Cheers,

Martin

Proof?

Maybe you doubt it works, when I say that listening, and silence, help you sell with more ease.

If so, read what a reader named Mark Keefner sent me, after yesterday’s article:

“Hi Martin!

Just read your email about silence and sales. Super true, been applying the art of no-pressure listening as of late and customers just seem to magically order products from me when I let them think about what they want or need rather than telling them about all the great stuff I have for sale!”

(I also received a – joking – reply from a friend who told me that in order to not get any objections, the best method is to talk non-stop and bulldozer over people… something I do not recommend, unless you wear 80’s polyester suits and enjoy living in a ‘boilerroom’ full of sales people).

Anyway:

Yes, silence and space and listening make selling easier.

Add in the habit of asking strategic questions about wants, needs, fears and frustrations, and you have the makings of a sales conversation that causes people to enroll themselves, just the way Mark is experiencing these days.

And, add in 1on1 sales coaching, and selling will get even easier, and it’ll become a lot more fun as well.

More info here: http://martinstellar.com/how-can-i-help/

Cheers,

 

Martin

Music, Space – Silence and Sales

Way back when, I spent 6 months in university, studying musicology.

My favourite professor was a Sinologist (where Sinology is the study of Chinese culture, language, history, etc) and he taught me something that serves me to this day.

In Eastern traditions, music isn’t a matter of sounds, notes, patterns, and rhythms:

Music is the silence inbetween the sounds, punctuated by the sounds.

Something that a guitarist I know has no idea of, because when he plays, he’s not silent for a single moment – his playing is literally an endless progression of sounds… which makes for pretty awful music.

How does this relate to business and selling?

Very simple:

When you’re in a sales conversation with someone, one of the best things you can do is to shut up.

Not just to let the other person talk, but also to let the other person *think*.

Which most people get wrong: instead of giving others space, we fill every silence with words.

We keep talking, afraid to let a conversation pause – but it’s in those pauses that the other person reaches insight, identifies objections and comes up with questions.

Silence and space are what make a sales conversation natural and progressive, whereas if you just keep talking, you give the other person no space, and they clam up.

Yes, it can be uncomfortable to be silent and wait for someone else to say something, or to give you a cue to say more.

But in that silence, that’s when things shift for people.

And the most important moment for you to hold still and say nothing at?

Right after you quote your fee.

Think about it:

You’ve just told someone a number, and now they need to figure out how that number fits in their world, their business, their emotions, their budget…

The worst thing you could possibly do at that point, is keep talking.

Instead, sit back. Be quiet. Take the pressure off. Give that person time to integrate the conversation you were having, with the dollar amount required to acquire your product or services.

Put differently, let that person hear the ‘music’ (i.e. their own inner world) inbetween the sounds (the things you’ve been saying to each other).

The result?

Beautiful music, and a far easier sale than if you keep talking.

Space and silence might be uncomfortable for you, but the more you can accept that and stay quiet all the way until they start talking again, the better you serve them and the more likely that you’ll get that sale.

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

Compared to What?

I’m sure it’s happened to you:

You’re talking to a prospect, everything seems to line up, they want what you have, but then comes the devastating price objection.

“I don’t have the budget”, or “It’s too expensive”.

The one thing you never want to do at this point, is lower your price. For one thing because it attacks your own self-worth – never a good idea – but also: it gives the buyer the feeling that you were asking too much to begin with. Result: broken trust, meaning the sale is much less likely to happen.

One thing you can do when a buyer objects to a price, is to increase the scope – i.e. the overall value of what you’re offering.

You can probably think of something extra you can do, give or provide, at little cost to you but of meaningful value to the buyer.

And that word – value – is key.

Because most people don’t mind paying an asking price, so long as they value the purchase high enough. Just look at Apple computers and phones – very costly, yet very popular.

So when someone says ‘too expensive’, why not ask ‘compared to what?’

Very often a buyer will walk away from a purchase, but the next day you see on Facebook that they ordered a flatscreen TV or booked a cruise. And they told you they didn’t have the money!

Well, looks like they did – except they preferred to spend it on something else – and when that happens, it means they didn’t fully internalise the value of your work.

So next time someone objects to your price, admit that your fees are not the lowest, and then move the conversation away from price, and into value.

It’s your job as a seller to figure out what someone wants, and why – and if their view is on price, it means you’ve not yet helped them see the value of your work sufficiently.

Price objections are not the end of a negotiation: they’re a new jumping-off point, where you get to focus on value.

And to do that, ask questions that help the buyer uncover their fears&frustrations, and wants&aspirations.

That way you’ll shift from price to value, and that’s how you create clients.

Cheers,

Martin

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