It’s Only a Sale When the Money is There

“Yes. It’s a sale!” he tells me.

I smile, pause, and tell him: “It’s not a sale until the money is there” – and he replies: “True, of course – you’re right”.

He continues to tell me that he’s decided in favour of my proposal though, and he wants my help.

In the end, it didn’t happen – it wasn’t the right moment for his business… and obviously, that’s fine by me. I’d never want anyone’s business unless it’s 100% the perfect moment for them.

But that moment, when a potential client tells you yes: that’s where it can go wrong SO easily.

When we hear a yes, we’re thrilled: a new client, new project, money coming your way… whoohoo!

Ah, yes. But there’s a difference between saying yes, and doing yes.

And if we as a provider confuse the two, we can easily screw up a sale.

If we get all excited and cheery, and ask for a credit card number right then and there, all kinds of things can go wrong. The buyer could sense neediness, or they might feel you’re moving too fast – too much, too soon – or they might need to address a few things before proceeding. Can be anything.

Of course when a client sends you money, or signs an actual contract, then yes: of course you should cheer. You’ve just landed a client, and you’ve got the payment to show for it, so by all means: buy yourself shoes or champagne or whatever spells ‘reward’ for you.

But very often, at the moment that someone says yes, your best reaction is to slow down, and actually question the yes.

“I’m happy to hear it, but before we move forward, let’s look at this again.

“Are you 100% certain that this offer, in this configuration, at this time, is what you need?

“Is there anything that would make it a no? Because it’s really important that you make this decision 100% convinced, all in – so whatever issue or doubt you’d like to address, this is a good time to do it”.

When you question a yes, several things happen.

For one thing, a buyer will reconsider their motivation, and often reinforce their choice.

Also: they’ll often raise issues that haven’t been addressed properly yet, which also helps them reinforce their decision.

Or, obviously, it might cause them to change their mind – which might be disappointing for you, but ultimately it’s in your (not to mention their!) best interest.

Because when you demonstrate clearly that you’re ok with a no, especially after they’ve said yes, you show that you’re not in it for your own sake, but that the only goal you have, is for them to make the right decision.

And that goes a long long way in building trust, which increases your chances of landing the client later on down the line.

Of course you can consider it odd, that I reacted that way. I admit it was ballsy, possibly even arrogant, and it’s not something I’d recommend you generally say.

Then again, this gentleman was a very seasoned business owner, a very skilled seller, and equipped with an excellent sense of humour, and someone I’d known socially long before we had that sales conversation – in other words, I knew who I was talking to.

Anyway, question the yes. Making a purchase is never a small thing, and you want people to be 100% ready and convinced they’re making the right choice.

It’s the right thing to do, and it’s the best thing for your bottom line as well.

Btw: finding your own, natural, maybe even humourful to have easy and fun sales conversations is one of the things I help clients with. You know, in case that’s something you’d like to learn for yourself…

Cheers,

Martin

Why You Need Permission in Sales, and How to Get it

Selling without permission is coercion.

You can’t morally or ethically have a sales conversation with someone who hasn’t given you permission for that type of conversation.

And, selling without permission is ridiculously ineffective.

You’ll have heard people talking about ‘handling objections’ – but, isn’t it better to not have any buyer objections at all?

Then seek to gain permission first, before ever talking about your offer.

It’s the difference between talking to a person who says ‘yes but’, and someone who says ‘Tell me more’.

And that ‘tell me more’ is what you get when you gain deeper levels of permission, ongoingly.

Level 1: permission to ask questions. You get that level when someone agrees to meet with you. Not that difficult.

Level 2: permission to ask deeper questions, to find the problems behind the problems, and the causes behind the causes (google ‘the 5 whys’ for more on that kind of inquiry – it’s pretty useful).

Level 3: permission to discuss how you might be able to help. This isn’t where you’re selling, it’s where the two of you are exploring if you’re a good fit, mutually.

Level 4: permission to ask for the sale. Asking for the sale is often the most daunting of the entire sales process, but it won’t be if you first took care of gaining the first 3 levels.

When you do, asking for a sale will be as easy and natural as saying to a friend ‘So shall we catch that movie tonight?’.

It’s not for nothing that Seth Godin coined the term ‘permission marketing’.

Well, there’s permission selling, as well.

So how do you gain permission from your buyer?

Ask questions.

We say too much. Recommend too much. Expound and reason and explain and… well, we waffle a lot, don’t we?

Especially when we’re uncomfortable with the sales process, which is largely due to not having paid enough attention to what level of permission we have from a buyer at any given time.

Instead of talking, listen more.

Ask questions.

Questions are the currency that buys you permission.

Cheers,

Martin

P.s. I’m looking for a few people whose business exists to make a difference in the world, to work with me 1 on 1 this winter.
I’ll coach you on how to make a bigger impact (and a bigger splash, financially :) than you thought possible, by showing you how easy sales becomes when you let your values and integrity lead the process.
Let me know if you’re interested…

Frames and Status

For some reason, I enjoy watching blacksmiths on Youtube.

No, not because of their manly physique and bulging muscles – I just happen to like relaxing while watching a master craftsman at work.

At the end, he says: “Thanks for watching”.

Wait, what? No dude… thanks for making!

Now, I get his gratitude. I too am grateful for my readers (hey you! :)

But in terms of framing, he’s not helping his business.

You might thinks it’s trivial and in this context it is: whether he says thank you or something else will make little difference to his bottom line.

But consider:

In every human interaction – whether in person or across the digital divide – people have different status. In a social sense, economically, experience, age, education, network… everyone relates to others in terms o

We always relate to others who are either ahead of us, or behind. This isn’t qualitative – it says nothing about a person’s worth, just in the way a university professor might be ahead of a welder (or indeed, a blacksmith), but is not a better or higher quality because of his education or status.

It’s just status, and we all have one, and always in relation to others.

What mr Blacksmith got wrong is minor, but it’s a fact that by saying thanks instead of something else, he’s taking the lower status, or smaller frame, position.

Here’s a dude who just posted a well-made, carefully edited, highly entertaining and educational video for free… that means his status is that of generous, consummate, expert… and mine is that of a humble student and grateful viewer. It’s I who should be grateful.

By positioning, or framing, himself as needy of views, he takes the smaller frame.

And we do that all the time, and it’s terrible for business.

For example: I once landed a copywriting client – a very successful C-suite female executive, in a fiercely male niche.

When you’re talking to a buyer, you’re a doctor, inventor, problem-solver, expert, strategist, or whatever it is you do. That’s a huge frame.

You’ve got something and you know it’s super valuable.

And it’s for the buyer to discover whether or not they see it as just as valuable.

In other words, you get to be confident in having expert status, and the buyer gets to assess you.

Meanwhile, as the seller, you get to assess the buyer, to see if they’re right for you, and if you’re right for them. Expert status, again.

Problem is, we often inadvertently let a buyer take the lead, and drive the conversation.

That means they take your status, when in reality as a seller it’s your job to guide the conversation. After all, you’re the expert, right?

So I’m inviting you observe your interactions, and those of others.

See what messages people send – what body language, remarks, replies… which frames and statuses do you see in your world?

And, in what way do you yield your own status, in moments when actually you shouldn’t?

Cheers,

Martin

Why Things Sometimes Break When You Try to Improve Them – and What to Do About It

Ever tried to improve something, and then you find that instead of creating betterment, your efforts caused the thing to break?

You organise your office or hard drive and suddenly you can’t find a thing.

You’re running an ad campaign and it’s working and you go in to change a few things – and suddenly numbers drop.

You have a handy little checklist for routines that keeps you executing on the important work, you decide to expand and improve it, and suddenly you don’t see any clarity, no right next actions, and you stop doing the work.

An example for me was Twitter, a few years ago. Used to be great fun, got me clients too, but then I decided to set up lists and columns, and follow a large number of people – and suddenly my entire group of social connections were distributed according to business-y labels and buried under people I’d not gotten to know yet… and I just couldn’t enjoy it any more.

Or that time I had all my projects and tasks set up so well in Todoist and it really worked – but then I changed a bunch of stuff, and suddenly I had no more clarity on all the different items and my productivity crashed… much in the way buildings would crash into the ground if that were the thing buildings tend to do.

When you try to improve something and you find it broke or stopped working, it’s because you changed so much, you lost control and clarity.

You introduced entropy into the system. That’s where that awful feeling of confusion and overwhelm comes from, right when you thought you’d improved things: disorder, chaos, no clarity.

And that loss of control and clarity is deadly for your productivity and results.

The normal thing to do is keep chipping away, trying to improve on your improvements.

But you’re wading through molasses, because that clarity and control are missing.

Much better, faster, and easier to revert to the last known functional state of things.

Yes, I’m advocating downgrading the upgrades you make, each time you find that the upgrade broke something.

It’ll be quick, it’ll give you clarity, and then you’ll be able to make new decisions, about smaller changes, which don’t break the system and don’t cause confusion.

On a different note:

What’s currently your biggest challenge in your sales process?

Getting meetings with people?

Identifying your best niche?

Having the sales conversations?

The ‘money conversation’?

What makes sales hard or frustrating for you?

Cheers,

Martin

Mind the Gap

You break the egg now, but it takes a while before it’s cooked and you get to eat it.

That’s the action-results gap, and it’s the cause of much entrepreneurial struggling.

Of course nobody minds having to wait for an egg to fry. It would be insane to expect it to be ready when we want it to.

But with our work, we’re not quite as rational.

We put in a ton of work – be it creating a course, launching a funnel, or setting meetings…

And then we enter the gap. No results.

But wait – what about all the work that went into it?!

Wasn’t that meant to get results?

Yes, but they show up when they do – not when we want.

And that moment, when we hope to see results for our actions but they’re in the future, that’s where (certainly in my case) we very often stop pushing forward on the actions we set out with.

And I can tell you: it’s tiring.

Starting something, expending ourselves, getting demotivated and then starting something new… such a waste of energy.

Which is annoying

So what’s the solution – how do we survive the action-results gap?

It’s nice to think of delayed gratification – especially the example of the marshmallow experiment (researchers put children in a room with a marshmallow and said “I’m stepping out for a bit – if you don’t eat the marshmallow, you’ll get a second one when I come back”. In later years it was found that the kids who could control themselves (i.e. were able to delay gratification) did better in life, in terms of career and money).

But if you don’t *have* much ability to delay gratification, what do you do?

You measure.

See we put in work in order to reach a goal – a sale, a thriving business, a Ferrari, whatever it may be), and then we keep looking for that goal to show up. But it does so only on the other side of the gap.

So you want to measure two things:

– Actions

If you don’t keep up with the work, the action-results gap will never close. So, measure every day how much effort you put in, and you track it.

– Secondly, measure signals

Sure it takes time for the goal to materialise, but on your way there, you’ll see signals telling you whether you’re on the right path, and what adjustments and course-corrections you need to make.

And while it’s not as sexy as landing a big client, you can’t afford to not measure signals.

The reason actions and signals are so important, is that they are feedback.

They tell you, in the moment and every day, whether it’s working or not, whether you need to adjust – and as long as you keep measuring, you won’t be as likely to fall prey to the devastating ‘let’s try something else’ effect.

There’s no fix for the action-results gap. There’s only a choice as to how you move yourself through it.

And if you want to move through it with the help of a coach who can make you more effective at selling, I’m here whenever you’re ready.

Cheers,

Martin

, and how the marshmallow experiment showed that if a kid is able to not eat the marshmallow so that he’ll get a second
Couple of things to keep in mind:
First, learn to love delayed gratification. The more you’re able to

Count Yourself

Yeah I know – there’s only one ‘you’ to count, right?

But check the way you write your business communications… emails you send to your list… replies on Messenger and Whatsapp… blog posts, your about page…

In the things that you write, how often does ‘I’ show up?

Ah… suddenly there’s a lot more of ‘you’ to count…

Look, it’s natural to reference self when writing. After all it’s us, ‘I’, in dialogue with someone else.

But most business writing is full of self-reference and the word ‘I’ shows up so much, that the reader can’t help but feel that it’s not about them.

And then they’re lost, they stop reading, they unsubscribe, or don’t follow up on your proposal.

So to make your business writing better, remember a few ground rules:

Never start a message with ‘I’. You might be the most loving and compassionate person in the world, but when ‘I’ leads the message, the reader reads ‘self-important’.

Following on from that: Avoid as much as possible, starting a sentence with ‘I’. Reason: see above, but cumulative.

Ok so with that, you’ve edited and improved your missive. Well done.

But if you count self, you see there’s still a lot of ‘I’ in there… now what?

Simple:

Replace each ‘I’ with ‘you’, see how it breaks the sentence, and then: rewrite the sentence so that you keep ‘you’ and it makes sense again.

Do that with each instance of ‘I’, and you’ll be sending messages that instead of driving people away because it *feels* like it’s all about you, will draw people in to working with you, because the absence of that ‘I’ focus allows them to relate your message to themselves.

Make people feel it’s about them, and they get closer – which is pretty damn required if they’re going to buy from you.

One of the things I love doing for clients, is take their pieces of copy and knock them into shape.

I’ve done it a lot so it’s a quick jobbie, and for my clients it’s great, because they can focus on doing their work, while they get a pro to create written business communication that causes sales.

It’s not that I sell that as a service, but it’s a nice – and super profitable, for my clients – bonus to give. Like that series I wrote a few weeks ago, and which helped my client net almost $10k in five days.

Could be the kind of help you have in your corner.

Maybe we should talk?

Cheers,

Martin

A Tale of Pessimists, Commerce, and Starfish

Met an old acquaintance a while ago, at an outdoor concert here in town.

Asked me what work I do these day, so I tell him – and I tell him that I like working with people who are trying to do something useful.

Says he: “What difference does it make!? The world is a mess, the oceans are dead, corporations and governments exploit everything they can… do you really think a regular company can do anything to make a difference?”

Yeah, that was about the end of the conversation – because following on from yesterday’s email, here’s one thing that really gets my goat – something I just won’t put up with: Bitching about how bad things are.

Because no matter how bad things are, nothing ever gets better from bitching about it, and I refuse to deal with people who self-righteously complain, but do nothing to make a chance.

Besides: Even if his arguments hold true, does that mean we should try nothing and let out-of-control capitalism ruin life?

Oh, it makes no difference if we try?

Well, if 1000 starfish wash up on the shore, what difference does it make if you throw one back into the sea?

Answer: it made a difference to the one you threw back. That’s the difference.

And if someone thinks that that isn’t worth the trouble, they either have such a big ego that they think they’re above helping out with small problems, or they might be depressed and in need of therapy. Dunno, ask a psychologist.

The point in all this:

Commerce drives a lot in society. Whether it does good or harm depends on how we use the tool, a tool which is in itself agnostic of morals, right&wrong, or what capitalism should or shouldn’t be.

Business is a tool. You either use it for gain, or for good (and as a bonus, that will get you gains).

Where do you stand?

Cheers,

Martin

Niche <--> Alignment <--> You

You can get all marketing-technical when it comes to finding the right niche for your work – and it’s useful, if only for the ‘huh, they made that for me!’ reaction people have when you get your niche right – but it’s easy to forget that a niche consists of people.

So who are the best people to talk to? Who are your most likely buyers? What are they like? What do they care about? What do they need to hear, in order to care about my thing?

Questions like these are what an entrepreneur’s business – and nightmares – are filled with.

And nope, it’ll never get easier, you’ll always have to re-think and re-adjust, as your business and your person evolve.

Here’s three questions though, that may help you shift your thinking:

1: What values would I love to see in my buyers?

The trick here, is to look for shared values. When you have the same brand of ethics, integrity, morality and values as a potential buyer, you’re more likely to get along – to have rapport, even before the first meeting.

This bit is a must-have: shared values are what make selling SO much easier.

2: What would you take a stand for, and what would your ideal buyer take a stand for?

This contemplation isn’t about must-have, but rather: nice-to-have.

Perhaps you’d take a stand for equality, but John Prospect might be all over workplace health and fair treatment. John and you don’t need to take a stand on the same things – but they are similar enough for you two to have overlap in terms of purpose and mission.

That helps you align, helps you two move together forward – which hopefully will include moving forward in a professional (i.e. paid) relationship.

3: What drives you up the wall, and what about them?

In your ideal buyer… what are the kind of things that they loathe, resent, would never stoop to, condemn or remove from their life?

What about you… what kind of thing really gets your goat, makes you angry, is unjust, should stop or change – what would you stand up against?

The overlap of what you and the other consider as ‘this is wrong, it should change’ is where you have a shared drive, an energy, a motivation to make stuff happen.

Again, these are nice-to-haves in terms of matching – not specific hard items like the values in point 1.

How to make this work:

Do some journaling, make lists, map things out. Be exhaustive and brainstorm-y.

In the center of the Venn diagram, start jotting down aspect and qualities about your ideal person – the kind of *person* inside of your niche that might be in the market for your work – AND they’ll have so much in common with you, you could have been friends for years.

None of this guarantees a sale – but it’s a damn fine way to find people you can move forward with, in some way or other.

And because you’ll have so much common ground, the chances of them buying go up enormously.

Every day I help entrepreneurs – coaches, trainers, artists, designers, authors – land more clients, by getting real specific about identifying, and finding, the people they love working with and who are ready for it.

And yes, we have things in common: we agree that truthfulness, integrity and justness are inviolable values. We both take a stand for doing right by people, and using commerce as a way to improve things – and we don’t abide things like racism, bigotry or divisiveness.

So if you’re like that too and you’re ready to convert more opportunities into sales, and stop losing so many, I can help.

Ready?

Cheers,

Martin

Skybridges and Aircastles vs… You?

Daniel Priestley, author of the excellent book ‘Key Person of Influence’ tweeted:

“If I came to work in your business for a month, what would you want me to do?”

Some pretty intelligent replies came up, and as you’d expect on Twitter, some jokes as well:

“Sell for me”

“Social media scheduling”

At least I hope they were jokes, because if you want the boss of a small empire to sell for you, you’d better have some seriously high-value opportunities he would help with…

…and if you expect someone like him to schedule social media, you’re either joking or insane.

Humour is built on tragedy though, and the sad truth is that an idea like ‘awesome salesperson on board’ or some other miracle solution to make every ill go away is deceptively attractive.

And we all have ideas or goals or dreams or milestones like that, in some way and to some degree.

Of course, there might be things that would make everything right in your life and business, but the chance of that thing happening in your life or mine, is so small as to make no odds.

And spending time or thought on how you could make that thing happen might be fun, but it’s not so useful when you realise that it cannibalises the time and thought you could dedicate to building a business that works.

The ‘one thing that will change everything’ is a diversion from what really matters:

Critical thinking, listening to your gut, making intelligent decisions, and doing the work.

Especially doing the work.

Put your time and thought there instead of trying to invent a skybridge to an aircastle, and your business will flourish.

Oh, and part of ‘doing the work’ is getting your stuff sold.

Which is what I help with, so holler at me if it’s time for you to start selling more.

Like that client I helped with a sale last week – as part of the coaching relationship, I wrote three emails perfectly adjusted to their brand and their audience…

…and they grossed almost $10K in sales in one week.

Now that’s the kind of work I like to do, so let me know if you want the same :)

Cheers,

Martin

Three Questions That Determine Whether They’ll Buy – And the 2nd Gets Way Too Little Attention

Yes yes, of course: people need to know you, like you, and trust you, if they’re going to buy your thing.

But Know, Like, Trust, isn’t enough.

On a very primal psychological level, evolutionary style, everyone subconsciously asks three questions when dealing with others.

Do I like you?

Can you help me?

Do I trust you?

And that middle part – the other’s belief in our ability to help – is something often overlooked.

Think about it:

A buyer needs to have the conviction that you help with their thing. Otherwise they don’t need what you have.

But saying that you can do X or Y for them doesn’t cut it.

Whether you say ‘I make a good breakfast’ or ‘I fix your SEO’ or ‘I help you get really good at enrolling buyers’ (that would be me saying it – hi!) does nothing to convince someone.

It’s data, information, a statement.

For someone else to believe it – to trust that it’s true – that you can help them, something has to happen in their mind.

A doubt or question needs to be addressed in such a way, that they go from ‘Can they?’ to ‘Oh wow, they can!’

Saying it won’t make it happen.

Persuasion doesn’t make it happen.

Nor does a list of awards, education, resume or bio.

For a buyer to believe that you can help, they need to have an insight that leads to conviction.

They need to know that yeah, you’re the guy or gal for the job.

That’s when people buy.

So is there nothing you can do to have a buyer go through that process?

Sure there is!

1: Have a conversation, and frame it as an exploration into goals, current situation, and obstacles inbetween those.

2: Sell only one thing: your care and concern for them as a person and as a business owner. Be genuinely interested.

3: Ask questions that invite the other to try out different perspectives.

Keep doing that, and if you’re talking to the right person and you’re truly not being pushy or needy but interested in them, interesting things will happen.

For one thing, bits of the different viewpoints will stick, and the other person will composite their own viewpoint – or rather, their vision – on their situation, next steps, and the way you fit into all of it.

Another interesting thing that will happen: when a buyer reaches that vision, they’ll have decided for themselves – no persuasion required – that for their case, yeah you’re the right person.

And the most interesting: that’s when people ask ‘Where do I pay?’ or ‘When can we get started?’.

And I’ll bet you’d like to hear that more often, right?

Well, then let’s have a conversation, to see what we can do.

Let me know if you’re ready to talk, and I’ll send you a schedule link.

Cheers,

Martin

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