The Cost of Business That Nobody Should Pay

Being in business has many upsides: you call the shots, you set your prices, you are the only one you’re accountable to, you plan your days and vacations as you want, etc…

And, to have all that, we know that there’s a price to pay:

Long hours, patience, trial and error, sacrifice, and so on. And as an entrepreneur, we’re happy to pay that price.

But there’s one price nobody should pay:

Losing out on buyers.

Think about it: for each prospect you enter into conversation with, you have to spend time, money, and elbow-grease in order for that person to find you.

And yeah, it’s a fact of business that you’ll never ever convert every prospect into a buyer.

They might not have the budget, maybe timing isn’t right for them, or maybe what you offer isn’t exactly what they need.

But what about people who do have the money, who do need what you have, and who do want it, and they want it now… except in the end, they didn’t buy?

Horrible feeling isn’t it? Everything looked so good, ducks in a row, stars aligned, and yet: \

‘Damn. Another one that got away’.

Emotionally this can be devastating. But it can also cause your business to itself to fail, if this happens too often.

Because, again, for each prospect you meet, you have to work, and if you fail to convert those who could be, ought to be buyers, you’re losing on the most scarce resource available to you: you.

The solution?

Learn how to get good at selling. Whether by working with me, reading books, listening to podcasts or going to trainings: the one skill that will make or break a business, is the ability to enroll people.

And guess what: when you learn how to enroll in a way that’s based on empathy and values, it’s fun, a lot easier, and you’ll never have to convince or persuade anyone.

If any of this resonates with you and you feel that yes, the time has come to develop your enrollment skills, reply to this email.

We’ll set up a time for a short chat, to figure out if I can help – and no, I won’t try to convince or persuade you.

Seeing qualified, enthusiastic prospect declining your offer is not a cost you should be paying.

Let’s talk…

Cheers,

Martin

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?

Cheers,

Martin

Indispensable If You Want to Get Results With People

[Housekeeping note: I’m currently travelling, which has caused some disruption in my productivity – apologies for the intermittent service in sending these articles. Normal daily service should resume next week]

If you’ve ever driven on the Boulevard Périphérique (the ring road around Paris), you’ll know that the French have a… well, very special way of driving. It’s sketchy, sometimes aggressive, very unpredictable, and requires that you pay very close attention.

And when it comes to lane closures and merging traffic, you’ll know how hard that can be. No matter how long your signaling light is on, or how much you try to nudge your way into the other lane, it seems people just don’t give a damn.

But yesterday, in what some consider the worst possible city for driving, magic happened:

I had to merge to the right, many cars were passing by, and nobody let me in.

But then I leaned forward and to the right, and looked at the driver next to me – he saw me, nodded, and instantly slowed down to create space for me.

Pretty much unheard of in traffic, especially in Paris.

Why did he do that?

Eye contact.

Connection.

One human signaling to another, and the other picking up on it – because we’re hardwired to connect with those who petition a connection.

And that’s where we often fail to get results with people: we don’t signal a connection request. We don’t connect our humanity to the other person.

But once you do, and the other person reads ‘I see you’, everything changes.

So if ever you’re trying to get results with someone, be it selling or getting collaboration or having someone hear you out, and it’s not working, ask yourself:

Are you trying to push your own agenda, at the cost of trying to truly connect with the other person?

Cheers,

Martin

Verbs VS Interrogatives: How to Ask Buyers the Right Kind of Questions

The more you ask, the more you’ll hear, and the more you’ll learn about why someone is looking to purchase your work.

Which, obviously, gives you the information you need to figure out if you can or can’t help them.

But the easiest kind of question to ask, is also the worst:

Binary questions, which usually start with a verb.

“Can you see this working for you?”

“Have you tried other solutions before?”

“Is the problem you describe something you want to solve at this point in time?”

You might get a yes, you might get a no… but even a yes isn’t the same thing as a purchase.

And, how do you proceed, after you get an answer to a binary question?

You opened a door, they threw an answer at you, and now you have to ask another question, from scratch.

This way, you don’t advance the sales process.

Instead, ask questions that start with an interrogative.

“What would make this work for you?”

“What other solutions have you tried before?”

“How urgent is it for you, to solve this problem?”

Questions like these are powerful, because they cause the other person to think, to see things from different angles, and to create their own vision – which is important because it’s their vision of either the pain of not solving the problem, or the joy of having solved it, that causes them to buy in to making a decision to do so.

Whereas binary questions suggest that your vision – not theirs – is relevant to them. Which it might be, but they don’t care unless they see it.

And the best way for you to get someone to *see* the usefulness and power of that vision, is to ask questions switch on their brain and inner cinema.

Binary questions, the verb-led ones can easily cause distrust, objections and resistance.

So, ask interrogative-questions instead, because those are the ones that move the sales process forward, while leaving autonomy with the buyer.

Here’s another example:

What would it do for your business, if you learned ethical selling?

Cheers,

Martin

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 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, it’s very easy for a potential buyer to get the wrong impression – the easiest and most damaging one, that we would be needy.

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 r.e.w.a.r.d. 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 quite sure that this offer, in this configuration, at this time, is what you need?

“Is there anything that would make it a no? It’s important that you make this decision 100% convinced, 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, 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, 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 – 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 good for your bottom line as well.

Cheers,

Martin

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?

Because:

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.

Cheers,

Martin

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.

Cheers,

Martin

Now They See It, Now They Buy

There’s a guy I like to learn from – the late Jim Camp, known as the world’s most feared negotiator.

One of his lessons is that ‘vision drives decision’, and since every sale is a negotiation, it’s really important that you work with your prospect’s vision.

Because unless they see themselves experiencing the benefit of your product or service, your only chance to cause a sale is to force the issue – and we’re nice people, we don’t force people into buying.

Now, most people try to persuade a vision onto someone. Compelling arguments, explanations, paint the ‘after’, pointing out the problems that remain without the purchase…

But it’s much more effective to have a prospect develop their own vision.

That way, they own the vision instead of ‘borrowing’ it from you, which makes it far more likely that they’ll also buy your work.

And the best way for someone to develop their own vision of ‘problem solved because I bought this thing’?

Questions.

The last thing you want to do when selling, is tell people what to see.

Instead, ask questions that have them gain clarity and insight, and they’ll develop their vision all by themselves.

What kind of question to ask is hard to say, because it depends on the product or service you offer, on the personality of the buyer, the price point…

But, as long as your questions come from a place of empathy (i.e. putting yourself into their world), you’ll be fine.

Empathy shows the other that it’s about their results first, their decision second, and your sale last.

And that’s exactly the kind of ethical, integrity-based selling that I teach.

Want to dive deep on what questions to ask your particular buyers?

Then let’s chat: I’m offering my readers a no-cost, 30 minute strategy session.

Book yours here: https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=11652475&appointmentType=544906

Talk soon,

Martin

Problems Worth Solving?

To you, it seems clear: the problem this person has, is totally something you can solve for them.

And they are on board as well: they like you, trust you, they know what’s in the tin and they’ve got the budget, and yet: the sales process stalls, and there’s no purchase.

Annoying and confusing, to be sure.

But there’s a simple, effective way for you to unblock stalled sales situations, and it comes down to problem-finding.

Because in many of these cases, where everything seems to line up and yet there’s no sale, it’s because we try to sell a solution for a problem that’s not worth solving.

‘My website is outdated’ is a good problem to solve, sure. But for a business owner, an outdated website is not the problem. Not if there’s other, bigger problems to solve first: make payroll, deliver product or service, manage the team, improve IT or fleet of vehicles… oh yeah, and then there’s that website. We’ll deal with that later, once I get this stuff off my plate.

So the problem ‘outdated website’ isn’t worth solving for your buyer, at that time.

But if you identify the actual problem, and the cost of not solving it…

Like so: “Your competitors have spiffy websites, with great SEO, and they’re signing on clients. Because your site isn’t up to date, you’re losing out on sales, while your competition is ‘eating your tortilla’, as they say in Spain”.

Lost sales? Overrun by competition? Now that’s a problem worth solving!

Your job as a seller isn’t to convince someone that their problem needs solving.

Your job is to identify the actual, underlying, costly problem.

Point at that, and your buyer will convince themselves that it’s a problem worth solving.

Cheers,

Martin

The Blindingly Obvious, Yet Usually Ignored Relationship Between Measurement and Results

If the saying ‘what gets measured, improves’ is true, then what’s the first thing to measure?

The self, of course – and I’m talking about your performance, not your height or waist-size.

Yet curiously, that’s often the last thing we ‘measure’.

We set a goal, for the year or the month, and then we measure the results: the number of clients, revenue, whatever kind of goal you have.

But the thing that gets you towards your

But what about the thing that gets you towards your goals?

Meaning: the way you show up to your work, and the way you handle the tasks you need to execute on – do you measure those?

I’m willing to bet ready money that you don’t keep track.

Oh sure, you plan and review – but that’s not the same thing as measuring performance.

Me, I measure my actions. Number of emails sent, number of appointments with potential buyers. Conversion rates, list growth… I still need to improve, but I’m keeping track of what I’m doing.

Which is why aside from todo lists, I also have a ‘done-list’, where I record the actions I took that day.

And, I record every day what my level of exertion has been.

None of this is because I’m obsessive, but because the brain simply loves direct feedback.

When you put your performance on a dashboard or chart, and you observe the levels of activity, you’ll start to see a correlation between how you show up, and the results you get. Duh, right?

Yes, but are you doing it?

Are you, actually, measuring yourself, to see how you perform in your business?

Cheers,

Martin

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