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

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

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

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

Trust, Trust, Fibs and Sales

Hi, we’re from the electricity company – we’d like to ask a few questions to see if you could maybe save on your monthly bill”.

Two kids – boy and girl, about 22 years old. And I knew they weren’t from ‘the electricity company’ (Endesa, in Spain), but from one of the many competing ‘open market’ providers.

“Endesa”, I asked?

“Um… yes”, stay stuttered.

I tried to smile, but probably failed. Trying to be nice though:

“Guys, I know you’re not from Endesa. You’re with the competition, and you want people to switch providers”.

Gobsmacked, they stared at me.

“I know what your job is – in fact I teach people how to sell, but real selling is about ethics, you know?

“Knocking on people’s door is one thing, but telling lies? C’mon, is that the job you want?”

I know, I was being pedantic – high moral ground and so on. But I don’t like being lied to, and if a couple of kids knock on my door and try to BS me? Then I guess they’ve just sold me the
privilege of throwing a little lecture at them.

Now, if you read my articles, I doubt you’re the kind of person who would tell a blatant lie to a buyer.

It’s not the kind of thing people like us do.

But what about fibs and little white lies?

It’s easy to say something like “I was just in the neighbourhood so I thought I’d drop in”, but people know that it’s not true, and that means you instantly reduce the amount of trust they have in you. Even if it’s a seemingly innocent fib.

And the fact of the matter is: people need to trust you in order to buy from. Especially these days, with all the hucksters and liars out there.

It might be scary to be completely honest in all cases, but it increases trust – fast! – and makes selling a lot easier.

Fib, and you’ll be seen as ‘one of them’.

Be truthful, and you’ll be seen as respectable and reliable, and guess which kind of people most like to buy from?

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

Careful: Don’t Major in Minor Things

Whatever it is you want to achieve, improving your knowledge and skills are a great way to make it happen faster and with more ease.

But are you majoring in minor things?

Yes, it’s useful to learn the ins and outs of managing your website, but once a site is basic-ready, how much will it add to your bottom line to be a WordPress ninja?

Taking a course in how to use social media for your business: yes, totally. But spending days researching what hashtags to use… how much ROI will that bring you, given that social media isn’t a platform for selling, but for building visibility and audience?

It’s not that such things are unimportant, because they can be.

But are they so important, that it makes sense to reach expert level, whilst the skills that bring in sales remain underdeveloped?

You only have so many hours in a day, so it’s wise to consider what are the small things to improve, and what are the big things.

So far, so good.

But here’s where it’s easy to make a mistake:

To develop things at which we’re bad, or mediocre.

In many cases, it’s a lot better to leave them as is, and instead spend our time on things that we’re already pretty good at.

For example: I sing in a band, and I play rhythm guitar – and as far as the guitar goes, I’m somewhere between capable and reasonably good. Now I could spend a lot of time upping my guitar game, and it would be useful. But it would steal time from my vocal training, and I’ll never be as awesomely terrific as our lead guitarist. So becoming GOOD at playing the guitar would mean I’m majoring in something minor. Meanwhile, I’m the lead singer so I’d better be as good as I can at singing, and leave the guitar-y awesomeness to Phil.

It’s all about efficiency.

To go from zero or sub-par skills, to reasonable ability, can take a long time and a lot of hard work. And you’ll still be only reasonably skilled.

But to go from ‘pretty good at this’ to expert level is often a lot easier to achieve. AND you’ll end up being highly skilled in it, which beats ‘reasonably skilled’ any day of the week.

Besides, if your modus is to constantly develop skills you don’t have or suck at, you’ll end up what they call ‘a bag of highly developed shortcomings’.

Again, it’s not bad to learn things. By all means, please make learning and training part of your world.

The question is though: what is the one thing that you do fairly well, and that if you dedicate yourself to it, you could do terrifically well?

What major things should you major in?

Cheers,

Martin

Be the Prize

When it’s your mission to find a client, or enroll a prospect in working with you… what kind of position do you take?

If you’re like most people, you take the small role, the position and attitude of a supplicant.

“Please mrs. Buyer, would you please buy this thing from me?”

But wait a minute… how many potential clients are out there?

Probably thousands, right?

And how many of you are there?

One.

Which makes you into a super-scarce resource, with only 24 hours in your day.

And that means that your needing to win over the client is only half the story.

The other half, that’s the client winning you over. Getting your ok on working with them.

Because not every client is an ideal client, and you want to be deliberate and intentional with how you ‘spend’ your most precious resource.

If you work with someone who isn’t right (micro-manages, or drains you, or keeps changing the scope of the job), you’re in a bad situation: you have to put up with things you don’t like, AND you have less time to search for better, more fun clients.

This is why we need to ‘qualify’ clients, just as much as clients need to qualify us.

So if ever you feel like you need to win a clients’ approval, remember this:

There’s only one you.

You’re the prize.

Cheers,

Martin

Can Selling Be Fun?

Almost every day, someone tells me a different reason why they don’t like selling.

“Selling is stressful”.

“It’s frustrating that the process takes so long”.

“I wish I wouldn’t have to always look for new prospects”.

“It’s such a waste of time, to issue proposals and not get the sales”.

I get it. Building your business, marketing, having sales conversations, writing proposals… it’s work, of the kind that you simply can’t get around.

But it doesn’t have to be a slog.

In fact, for me it’s the opposite. I find the whole marketing and sales process fun – a ton of fun.

Why?

For one thing, because it’s like a puzzle: who is this for? How can I reach them? Who’s most likely to buy? What do they want to hear, or know, in order to want what I’ve got? Puzzle, puzzle, puzzle. Shifting pieces, figuring out what works, seeing a picture emerge… it’s endless discovery and learning.

Which brings me to the second reason I like sales so much:

Learning. Learning about myself, for one thing, but also: learning other people.

Every person is a world, and for that person to buy my work, means I need to learn that person.

What are their fears and frustrations… which wants and aspirations do they have…?

How committed are they, how can I help them, what can I do to help them get out of repetitive and dysfunctional thinking and operate from the heart?

What’s the key I need to turn, in order for them to see their own abilities, leadership, communication and sales skills?

Who, in other words, IS this person – and how do I need to show up so that they can relate to me?

You can see selling as a separate thing, something you just have to do if you’re in business – or you can see it as an integral part of being human.

Where ‘being human’ means you exist in relation to others, and at any moment you have the opportunity to connect with someone, share in an experience, and figure out how you can create resonance with that person.

Much like you would with relatives, a partner, or a friend.

Selling isn’t some terrible task: it’s what we do all day long anyway.

And once you internalise that, once you make the shift into selling as a normal, helpful human activity, suddenly it becomes fun.

You don’t need to ‘get over yourself’ or ‘suck it up’ or ‘just accept sales’.

All you need to do is discover your own innate curiosity for others, and make it your mission to learn.

It’s fun, and it’ll make selling a lot easier too.

Cheers,

Martin

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