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.



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:


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.



Evolution, Scarcity and Ethics

“Hey”, I said. “I thought you didn’t eat sugar?”

“I do!” she replied. “But my parents won’t allow me, and in school I can’t because the teachers will tell on me. That’s why I always turn down birthday cakes and stuff”.

A school excursion, and we were about 8 years old. This girl’s parents were severely into holistic and healthy living, and apparently sugar was of the devil.

The moment we’d gotten off the bus, she’d spotted a little shop and bought a bag full of sweets which she was now moving into her mouth in an industrial manner.

“You won’t tell the teacher, will you?”

I told her no, and she offered me some of her stash.

The desire for something unattainable is baked into our psyche, and we can’t avoid judging something scarce as something valuable.

Goes back to our prehistoric times, when leaves and predators were abundant, but prey, berries and nuts were hard to get.

Scarce resource = high value… that’s how our subconscious works.

Marketers have figured this out, and created an artform out of manipulating us.

Sale ends, limited stock, offer expires, buy now, don’t miss out… we all know the drill, and most of the time the scarcity is artificial and fabricated. Marketing teachers even tell us to use these methods, in order to get more sales.

In itself, there’s nothing wrong with a limited-time offer: it can help people who are the right buyer, to get off the fence and make the decision to purchase.

But the way it’s usually done, scarcity is used to trigger super-primal survival instincts, making us feel on a subconscious level that unless we buy now, our safety, well-being and lineage is at risk. That might sound dramatic, and it is: rationally we know it ain’t all that bad, but our subconscious is highly irrational, and simply perceives: ‘Scarce! Grave risk, unless I get! Must! Get!’.

The first problem is that it ain’t right to treat people that way. It’s manipulative and very dodgy.

The second problem is that if you drive too hard a sale, you end up with the wrong buyers.

You’ll pull in people who buy not because they want or need your thing, but because their lizard brain drives them to do it.

And then you get refund requests, buyer’s remorse, info-products that never get used, bad reviews, complaints on forums… all the things that don’t help your business.

Selling something is fine – after all, we all like buying things and most people sell things that are worth buying.

But there’s a line between manipulating people based on fear, and helping people who want to buy make the decision to do so.

What side of the line are you on?



FOMO and the Inefficiency of Convincing

It makes no difference what problem your business solves: there are people who want a solution now, and those who don’t, not yet.

And if you want your sales process to be effortless and easy, you’ll do well to focus on the ‘hungry crowd’, and feed them.

But most business owners try to target everyone, and waste tremendous amounts of time and energy trying to convince people.

But, look at the diagramme:

Don’t you agree that the top of the pyramid is where you’ll have the biggest chance of converting prospects?

Of course.

The reason that we waste time with people below that level, is FOMO: fear of missing out.

Because of course, yes: in the ‘lower’ levels, there are also people who might become a buyer.

But the question to ask yourself is: how much work will it be for you to turn those people into buyers?

The answer is: lots of work, because you’ll have to convince them that they have a problem, or that it needs solving… feeling tired yet?

And so we churn through prospects, running into one ‘no’ after another, and we get frustrated that things aren’t working better. That more people aren’t buying our thing.

Now, I understand that it’s not just FOMO. After all, we’re good folk, we do actually solve problems, and we don’t want to do a disservice by ignoring people who may, or may not, be ready to business with us now.

How to solve the conundrum?

It’s simple: the people who aren’t quite ready yet – you serve them by creating content. You educate them on the consequences of not solving the problem.

You get to choose how you do it: a daily email, instagram stories, videos on Youtube, publishing ebooks or publishing on Medium… share as much as you want.

That way, you’re serving people who may become a client later on, and you’re casting a net for the small percentage who are ready to change their mind and are ready to go from ‘not ready’ to ‘yeah, actually, I want that solution’.

And the people in the top level?

Make them an offer. After all, they’re actively looking for a solution, and guess what: that solution is exactly what you sell.

And that’s how you turn your marketing and selling endeavours into something that’s efficient, fun, and effective.

Want to jump an call with me, and get clarity on exactly which people are in that top section?

Book a time here, no cost (and no sneaky sales pitch either… I trust that if you want more of my help, you’ll let me know).



Push VS Pull, and the Worst Thing That Can Happen to a Person

There’s a reason why imprisonment is the punishment of choice across the world.

Not because it’s very effective, but because – bar solitary confinement and capital punishment – it’s pretty much the harshest punishment there is:

To remove a person’s autonomy.

For someone to no longer be a free agent, to not control their own decisions, is horrible.

This mechanism is also why the military is so good at creating good little soldiers.

It’s also why the industrial revolution so successfully turned society into a class of obedient, non-thinking worker drones.

To take someone’s autonomy is terrible, harsh, and depending on the purpose: effective.

In selling your work though, it’s pretty much the worst possible thing you could do.

Right? Who in their right minds would ever want to tell a buyer what they should do?

*Nodding heads*, I’m sure.

And yet…

It’s staggering to see how many people (unwittingly) try to remove a buyer’s autonomy.

Now you probably think “Yeah, but that’s not me”.

Are you sure though?


When you try to persuade someone…

When you try to convince someone by making a powerful argument…

When you skip over someone’s objections, fears, or doubts… and you continue to make your case…

That’s when you are in fact, in a subtle way or not, removing a buyer’s autonomy.

And because that’s the worst thing you can do to a human being, it’s not very likely to result in a sale – and if it does, chances are you’ll end up dealing with buyer’s remorse.

It’s never a good idea to push someone into a sale or a point of view.

What is a good idea though, is to invite someone in.

Invite them to consider a viewpoint.

Invite them to consider a purchase.

Invite them to ask you questions, or even better:

Invite them to tell you what concerns they have.

Doing that has the opposite effect of pushing people:

Instead of them putting up barriers, they’ll lower their guard and consider what you’re telling them.

And if at some point they accept the invitation to buy, they do so under full control and autonomy, and you bet that’s a way to buy that people love.

So today, I’m inviting you (see what I’m doing here?) to reflect on situations (with clients or with anyone else in your life) where you’re trying to push an agenda on others (hint: it’s those times when it seems like an uphill battle), and see if you can turn your agenda into an invitation.

Next step: put it into practice. Invite instead of push.

Let me know how it goes.



What Do You Not Sell?

“Guys, meet Martin. Martin, these two are lawyers. Be careful around them!”

Chuckles and smiles all around… never bad to poke a little fun of people, and the two lawyers clearly had a sense of humour. And obviously they’re not the wrong kind of lawyer, otherwise they wouldn’t be friends with my friend Antonio.

This was last night, at the inauguration party of Antonio’s co-working company in Malaga (which I helped him grow pretty big – I’ll share a case study of how we did it shortly).

The chat with the lawyers was fun and ranged from dating to whether capitalism and democracy should go together.

At some point, one of the guys asked me: “What do you *not* sell”.

What a brilliant question!

It took me a moment, and then I said: “Lies”.

And I realised how important it is to be ultra-clear on what you do not sell, offer, or promise.

See, a buyer has more than just one problem they need solving.

They might show up asking for a specific thing, but there’s always a bunch of related issues they also need resolved.

And naturally, there’s a (often subconscious) hope that buying from you will bring those solutions.

And that’s where the ‘no lies’ policy is a super powerful element of your sales process.

Of course I don’t think you would literally lie to buyers – you probably wouldn’t read me if you’re that kind of person.

But, the more clear you are about what your work does *not* do for a buyer, the easier it is for them to trust you.

Whereas if you leave it in the middle, or if you try to include a service, outcome, or benefit that isn’t in your core area of expertise, you’re actually harming your chances of closing the deal.

That’s why “Is not” is such an important element in the LEAP sales system I created.

The features and benefits of your offer consist of two parts: What it *is*, meaning what result or outcome you promise, and ‘what it is not’ – meaning, the outcomes or results that *might* show up, but that aren’t elements you promise.

And the more explicit and clear you are about ‘is not’, the higher the degree of trust a buyer will have in what your offer *does* do or solve.

Never be afraid to be clear and explicit about your ‘is not’.

Not only will you avoid signing on clients who expect things you can’t deliver, with all the complications that brings, it’ll make your selling easier and more fun as well.

There’s still some room in my calendar for a complementary coaching call, should you want one. Pick a time here.



Anyone With a Pulse (But You Know Men Don’t Wear Bras, Right?)

Anyone with more than two fingers of forehead would know to not try and sell bras to men.

(Yes, I know: it can be argued that the size of my man-boobs warrants me wearing bras, but if you *must* have that argument, kindly have it with someone other than me – thanks)

Kids don’t buy cars. (Most) men don’t wear bras. Heavy metal fans mostly don’t listen to Bach. You’ll never sell a steak to a vegan. Someone with arachnophobia will never buy a subscription to Spiders Monthly.

Makes so much sense and yet:

The majority of business owners make hardly any effort to find out which kind of person is most likely to buy.

“If they’ve got a pulse, it’s a potential client” is how the thinking goes.

I’ve literally had people answer my question “Who is your ideal buyer” with “Anyone who has money”.

Sorry, no, doesn’t work.

See, there’s a market for everything, literally. Furbies, trash novelettes, t-shirts with bizarre prints, tattoos of famous people… art, cars, yoga, smoothies, you name it.

I’ve yet to come across something that nobody will ever buy.

But whatever it is you make or do, there are people who are absolutely not interested, and people who are super-keen to get their hands on it – in other words: the hungry crowd.

So if you find that your business isn’t running or growing the way it should, there’s a big chance that you’re not being specific enough, that you’re trying to attract all and sundry, instead of the hungry crowd.

The result: low sales, too little revenue, wasted time, frustration…

Marketing means figuring out who is the hungry crowd.

And, ethical selling means directing yourself exclusively to those people who really want or need what you offer.

Add in empathy, and you’ll be able to create messaging and conversations that have people qualify and select themselves.

The result: more sales, with less effort.

Want to get clarity on your ideal buyer?

Schedule a complementary coaching call, and let’s see who are *your* people.

I’m travelling next week so there’s limited slots in my calendar, but go ahead and pick a time here.



How to Prevent Headaches When Selling

The roadworks in my street do a great job of showing just how fearful – and deeply irrational – human beings are… and, it’s a perfect lesson in who to sell or not sell to.

This town (Salobreña) is built on a rock, and the streets are steep, narrow, and bendy. And because half the pavement in the old town is tore up, normal traffic laws are suspended.

So you get two-way traffic, up and down narrow streets and around blind curves, on streets that are intended as one-way only.

Now because everyone is civil and you can’t really drive fast here, everything works. People give way, respect each other, shows respect and patience, and traffic flows in a more or less fluid way.

But some people are afraid, fearful of what’s around the corners. And so they sound their horns incessantly, constantly announcing that they’re around a bend.

Me, I never even touch the horn. If you drive carefully, and you watch out, you see who’s there, and you’re always going slow enough to break on time.

A careful driver doesn’t need a horn here. But those people, they don’t trust.

Even though they’ve managed it through life for 30 or 50 or 70 years, they don’t trust their own driving skills and ability to react.

They’re afraid, and it’s irrational.

But, fear overrules the mind, and so they make one hell of a ruckus in my neighbourhood.

Anyway, the lesson today?

Don’t try to sell to people who would sound their horn.

If someone doesn’t trust themselves enough, you’ll find you have a damn hard trying to have them trust you enough.

People who are nervous, fearful, jittery, yes you can sell them things. And sometimes your sales conversation is what they need in order to get to relax and trust (meaning: trust you, as well as  their own evaluation and decision-making).

But pay attention, and watch out for the signs of someone who isn’t going to switch and become trusting.

These are the kinds of (non) buyers who can take up a lot of your time, without ever making the big decision to work with you – which you’ll agree is a major headache.

Your time is better spent with people who don’t need convincing, and who need help getting clarity instead.

Those people already trust you enough to let you advise them.

Sell to those people.


The Sales Coach Monk

Everything That’s Wrong With Marketing and Sales, in One Handy Sentence

The other day I saw a salespage for some new thing that Tony Robbins is doing – I forget the details, but it’s some sort of programme designed to help people start mastermind groups, or something like that.

So far, so good: a mastermind group is a fantastic tool in the life of any business professional, and everyone should be in one. Seriously.

But somewhere on the page, it read:

“Social Pressure – This is going to be one of the biggest launches in history with more hype leading up to it then ever before. And people are going to be affraid to miss out on this new wave of opportunity.”

Well, yuck. Made me feel like I needed a shower.

Because that single line describes perfectly why marketing and sales have such a bad reputation.

I mean, come on Tony: Hype? Afraid to miss out? New wave of opportunity?

Oh sure, it’s effective marketing. Hype works.

And it’s effective selling too: Painting a ‘wave of opportunity’ reels people in, and pushing scarcity buttons and triggering fear of missing out, that works too.

But it’s scuzzy, manipulative, and in my monkly opinion: highly unethical.

Marketing and sales campaigns like that, they prey on the gullible. It’s designed to coerce people into buying something – not because they actually need it, but because there’s an artificial sense of need being created in the buyer. It’s manipulation.

Now while I’m sure Tony is a good guy, nice to his grandma and so on, I’ve never been a big fan. Too much hype, too much stage antics.

But seeing this? Bleh. I wash my hands of it all.

Selling – done right and done ethically – doesn’t need any hype, or ‘wave of opportunity’ or fear of missing out.

Selling done right means you serve a buyer in making a yes/no decision – based on actual, not manufactured, need.

Do you need more and higher-ticket sales in your business?

And maybe a sales coach is what you want?

Then why not reply, and we’ll set up a time to talk.

We’ll take 20 minutes for a strategy call, to see if we’re a match.

And I promise: 100% hype-free.

Let me know…



Timing and How Not to Break the Sale

They might seem like a perfect client for you, and they might seem really keen on working with you.

And yet, there’s indecisiveness. Vacillating, no decision.

It’s a yes, but not a ‘hell yes’.

Whenever you’re in a situation like that, be careful not to break the trust they’re building up.

Yes you might know for certain that paying you and becoming a client would solve exactly the problems they described – but they’ll only experience that solution if they buy when the time is right *for them*.

And that’s where most sales break.

We’re too keen, too eager, too needy – and so we try to rush, to persuade, to make a compelling argument.

The result?

The buyer shies away.

Whereas if you take it easy, sit back, ask more questions and take the pressure off, you’ll often find that the buyer shares concerns that haven’t been addressed yet.

Or, they might simply not be ready, for whatever reason is relevant in their world.

And when you can handle that ‘not ready’ elegantly, with a ‘No problem, let’s talk again in a few weeks’, there’s a very big chance that when next you talk, they *will* be ready.

But if they aren’t and you try to persuade them?

They won’t be open to you following up, and when you do they’ll feel that same kind of indecisiveness that stopped them in the first place.

A sale is a good thing for you, of course. And you should strive to get them.

But a sale is never right if it’s not the perfect time for the buyer.

After all, your business exists to serve your buyer, and your sales process should serve them just as much.

On another note: do you feel that working with a sales coach would help your business?

Do you want to have a conversation, and see if this is the right time for you (and obviously, whether I’m the right guy for you)?

Then hit reply, and let’s set up a time to chat.



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