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

Whose Reasons? Their Reasons, of Course

When you have something for someone – a product or service, or a plan, or a great idea, or a different viewpoint you’d like them to try, you know why it’s good.

You have reasons that you know are valid.

They’ll be happy with the purchase, it’ll solve their problem. They’ll enjoy the restaurant you have in mind. Your kids will grow up healthy and strong, if they eat their veggies. Folks will enjoy the movie or the book you have in mind for them.

In short: your reasons for wanting them to want what you have, see, or think, are solid and correct.

Except there’s one problem:

People don’t buy (or buy in) because of your reasons – no matter how valid those are.

No, when people buy something or enroll in something, they do it for *their* reasons. Not yours.

And that’s where so much communication (and indeed: sales) break down.

We try to persuade, convince, influence… we try to reason with the other person.

But they need their own reasons… once they find those, they enroll themselves – they buy in willingly and voluntarily.

And no matter how much you try to reason with them, remember that you’re only making it harder for them to discover their own reasons.

So instead of trying to reason with the other person, appeal to their desire for change, and give them space to figure out *if* they want the thing or idea you have, and most importantly: *why* they would want it.

It’s not your reasons that make people buy or buy in: it’s their reasons. Help the other person discover those reasons.

Cheers,

Martin

“Can’t They Guess?” Maybe They Can, but Is That Their Job?

Of course the other person has intelligence. And ears, and intuition.

They know how to compute and make sense of what you’re saying.

But, when you want to get results with people in any sort of way, you shouldn’t give people the job of trying to figure out what you mean.

It’s your job to make sure your meaning gets across, and gets registered on the other side just the way you meant it.

But very often, we don’t do that job.

We say vague things, or give ambiguous messages, or we use catch-all words, like ‘you know’ and ‘kinda’ and ‘wow’.

But what does ‘wow’ mean? It underlines an emotion – but which one? And because of which impression, experience, thought, or insight that you had did you get to feeling ‘wow’?

Pretty unfair to let someone else do the job of figuring that out, isn’t it?

Even worse, when you don’t speak clearly and unequivocally (meaning: there’s only one possible interpretation of your message) you give the other person a job to do, where they need to spend cognitive resources, and guess what:

The other person will be too lazy, disinterested, or occupied with their own thoughts, to do that job for you.

And there you go: misunderstanding, confusion, broken communication, and in the context of business: no sale.

Want to move your relationships, sales, and conversations forward?

Then let everything you say have only one possible interpretation. In other words: take on the job of communicating so well that you’re understood, instead of leaving the other person responsible for figuring out what you meant.

Cheers,

Martin

That’s Right!

It’s nice to be right about things.

Especially when selling, when you know you’re right: you know that once the other person buys, they’re doing what’s best for them.

You know your stuff, you understand their problem, and yeah, you’re right: buying your thing would be a good choice.

But being right is only as useful, as how right the other person thinks you are.

And very often, we’re satisfied when someone says ‘you’re right’.

But as Chris Voss – a former hostage negotiator – says, ‘you’re right’ is a blow-off. It says ‘I’m done with this conversation. Just stop talking and leave me to do my thing’.

When a buyer says ‘you’re right, it makes sense’, your reaction will determine whether you’ll land a client or not.

If you think it’s confirmation – a proper ‘yes, I’ll buy’ – you’ll miss the opportunity and they probably won’t buy.

Instead, go for ‘that’s right!’.

Because when someone buys, it’s because they trust – they know – that you truly *get* their situation.

That’s the highest level of rapport and resonance, when all someone can say is ‘that’s right!’.

That’s when you’ve completely absorbed, integrated, computed and summarised their situation.

In other words, at that moment you’ve moved into their world, got a perfect workable map, and you’re now showing it to them.

And they go: ‘Holy cow, this guy totally gets me’.

And that’s when they’ll be most likely to make a yes-decision and buy your work.

Don’t fall for ‘you’re right’ – always seek to understand the buyer so well, that they’ll say:

‘That’s right!’

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

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

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

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